Thursday, March 05, 2009

Reading sacred texts and other inconveniences

More from you-know-where:
Elena,
“your analysis of Muslims is ill informed”
Where have I “analyzed Muslims”?

I have cited specific texts. Can you point out from those texts where I've erred?
"Have you read the Quran?" is as silly a question as "Have you read the Bible?"
By “read” I do not mean making up whatever meaning makes you happy; I mean understanding the texts as they were intended to be understood.

Words have meaning. Authors intend their work to be understood in a particular way. If you want to claim that it is impossible for reasonably-intelligent, intellectually-honest people to determine an author's intent, then every word you've ever written is utterly worthless.
“The same is true of a selective literal reading of the Quran. D.P's colleague got it right: there are many types of Christian and there are many types of Muslim”
By this it is clear that you do not understand how both major sects of Islam (Sunni and Shia, up to somewhere around 95% of Muslims or more, depending on whom you ask) officially interpret the word of Allah and the example of Mohammed. Of course individual practice and devotion varies, but I'm not talking about “all Muslims.” I've been addressing the texts and how Islam officially understands them.

Do you have actual knowledge of Islamic texts, doctrine, theology, and law? If you do, then this should be easy to answer: Which major school of Islamic jurisprudence rejects offensive warfare against non-Muslims?

(The answer is: None. Ask the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at – who reject offensive warfare – what happens when you break ranks. Even “moderate” Indonesia calls them “heretics.”)
“Do you (either of you or anyone else for that matter) believe that the inspirational work of the Holy Spirit has stopped? Surely she (Sorry but she it will always be for me) did not stop her work of inspiration once the canon of scripture was set. The Bible is only one revelation and not the final word or we would all be living very different lives today.”
The Holy Spirit works continually through Word and Sacrament: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not a good way to prove that the Spirit works in you.
“We learn all the time about the nature and will of God.”
Not if you're denying His clear revelation.
“Of course C.S. Lewis isn't Christ but that does not mean he has not had inspiration from the Spirit. Theology exists outside the Bible and so does the Spirit.”
Theology that contradicts Christ is inspired, but not by God.

If someone's “revelation” contradicts the Word – which comes to us by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then that “revelation” is false, for why would God contradict Himself?
“As I understand it the process of the construction of the Canon of Scripture would not stand up to much close scrutiny today and seems to have been dangerously arbitrary.”
That's a serious misunderstanding, since the Canon was set (for the most part; squabbling later over the Apocryphal texts was primarily political) by the brightest minds of the early Church, and they were guided by the Holy Spirit.
“I don;t think we help ourselves by a slavish reliance on scripture to the exclusion of the promptings of the Spirit. The Bible is 2000+ yrs old but the Spirit is with us today.”
What does God say?

To imply that one can have Scripture without the Holy Spirit is false, for, “no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21), “the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (Acts 10:44), and “take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).

A slavish reliance on Scripture is the only prudent position, for Christ said, “everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:26-27).

And as for the efficacy of the Biblical texts, no matter their age:
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

“so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Luke 21:33).

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

“the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).