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cksalmon

Is the Bible self-authenticating?

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9 hours ago, Spammer said:

I wrote above: “That’s a subjective determination. We can’t escape it. We examine the evidence and decide who is the likely candidate. Then, we submit.” There must be an arbiter, so who has the best claim? Deciding that is the inescapable subjective aspect of the process. But in the end you can at least point to something outside yourself to support your assertions. The ‘me and my Bible’ and ‘me and the Spirit’ crowd can’t do that. That’s why LDS prophets, popes and councils are necessary.

To me this is a distinction without a difference.

If you have to pick one side or another- why pick anyone?   Why disparage God's ability to communicate with you if he can communicate at least what church you should join?

Or does he leave us alone to pick?   That doesn't make sense to me!

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9 hours ago, bluebell said:

I don't know that I agree with that.

I mean, does the fact that Troy actually exists, and that the Trojan war actually  happened, and that many histories believe that the Iliad is based on some actual events, make it easier to believe that Zeus is really a god?  Does the existence of Greece, and pagan temples, make it easier to believe in the existence of Athena or Artemis?   For most people, no, it really doesn't.  Historical evidence of pagan civilizations (and there is just as much if not more as there is evidence of biblical places) has little to no affect on people's beliefs in pagan gods.

I think the bible is easy for people to believe because there are so many people who already believe it.  It's the 'can a billion Chinese be wrong?" and 'the emperor's new clothes" concept.  The more people that believe in something, the more valid and legitimate it seems.

Great points!  I really liked the Zeus analogy!  Especially when tied to BOM and BOA history. True religion does not require historicity

Edited by mfbukowski
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12 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

To me this is a distinction without a difference.

If you have to pick one side or another- why pick anyone?   Why disparage God's ability to communicate with you if he can communicate at least what church you should join?

Or does he leave us alone to pick?   That doesn't make sense to me!

Ok, but if Jesus established an arbitration mechanism to resolve disputes, then it’s incumbent on every Christian to defer to it. That’s the only way to bridge subjective spiritual experience with the objectivity of what God really wants.

A powerful spiritual experience is not evidence that God is it’s author. That requires getting outside of your experience to observe it from the outside. It’s only evidence that you experienced something, that you privately interpret in a given way. The experience applies to you alone and to no one else. If I have a contradictory experience, I can validly ignore yours, and vice versa, without consequence.

Believing the Spirit speaks to me personally to guide me to truth, without seeing the need to refer my experience to the arbiter to test its validity, is to assert that my spiritual experiences are self-authenticating. This is why I placed ‘me and my Bible’ and ‘me and the Spirit’ people in the same camp in an earlier post. 

Without a God-appointed arbiter, every Christian is in the same boat, with no basis for making any pronouncements about what is objectively true from a spiritual standpoint - about spiritual truths that God applies to everyone equally. There’s no standard of truth against which to compare rival claimants to authentic spiritual experience to see which are closer and which have ‘arrived.’ 

I know what you’ll say, Rorty, etc. I see your distinction without a difference and agree that our identification of God’s arbiter is subjectively determined. Still, I wonder whether a loving God would leave us trapped in our subjective bubbles, with no possible way out. It seems to me that’s why Jesus established the church, so we can know the truth in an objective way, since he deposited His teaching there. Thus, it should be - ‘I had a spiritual experience. Was God really it’s author? Let me see if it aligns with what His appointed human arbiter says.’  Without that, people can believe they had a spiritual experience and make up any old thing they want and no one can say a word to them. 

That’s the only reason I’m commenting on this thread, to show why the position of the self-authenticating Bible people and self-authenticating testimony people (another distinction without a difference) is untenable. Neither the Bible nor interpretations of it ground themselves. Yes, identifying the arbiter is subjective, but you have to point to something outside yourself, e.g. empirical evidence of some kind. Testimony has to be partially grounded on something other than testimony, something other people can see and test for themselves and have a conversation with you about. Otherwise, testimony bearing is just preaching to yourself.

BUT - if interpretation of empirical data is also subjective, which it is, then the attempt to identify an arbiter is merely trading one vicious circle for another. Did God not provide a way to break the cycle?  If the pragmatic philosophy is ‘true’, then it seems the answer is no. No matter how powerful the spiritual witness, it applies to no one else and there’s nothing objective that’s accessible to our perception to bridge the gap between rival claimants to truth possession. If that’s our state, then all pretense of really knowing the truth must be dropped, along with all expressed assertions of truth possession. Just stop all that. So much for testimony meeting, no matter the church.

 

Edited by Spammer

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21 hours ago, Spammer said:

To the extent that the interpretations of men agree with [your private interpretations of] scripture, that is. That’s my point. Your interpretation is yours alone. No one else interested in truth need pay any attention to what you say. God didn’t appoint you to that role.

My interpretation is not mine alone. There are those who are so authorized. 

3 Nephi 21:11 Therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant.

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On 12/6/2018 at 9:34 AM, Spammer said:

...and, in fact, it’s a compilation put together after the fact by Catholics.

Agreed.

On 12/6/2018 at 9:34 AM, Spammer said:

The canonicity of the compilation is not self-authenticating . . .

Again, agreed.

On 12/6/2018 at 9:34 AM, Spammer said:

 but rests on the authority of the compilers to declare it to be canonical.

This, I disagree with.  One can reject the authority of the compilers and still accept the collection as canon.

 

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1 hour ago, RevTestament said:

My interpretation is not mine alone. There are those who are so authorized. 

3 Nephi 21:11 Therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant.

Ok. So you agree that a standard - an arbiter - is needed, against which interpretations are measured?

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1 hour ago, Vance said:

One can reject the authority of the compilers and still accept the collection as canon.

Based on what? Personal testimony? The pronouncement of some other authority?

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18 hours ago, Spammer said:

Edit: If you’re looking for a verse by verse list of official, infallible interpretations, you won’t find one, for the reasons I’ve explained.]

Fair enough. 

18 hours ago, Spammer said:

The infallibly declared interpretation of John 6 is inseparable from the infallible pronouncement on the dogma.

To come at an earlier question again from a slightly different direction, without intending to be pedantic... Granting ex hypothesi that the Real Presence is an infallible doctrine, where specifically does the Magisterium infallibly declare the interpretation of John 6? 

You say one won't find a chapter-and-verse list of infallibly-interpreted scriptures (fair enough -- although some Catholics have been brave enough to try), but you claim that the interpretation of this particular passage of scripture (presumably John 6.48-58-ish) has been infallibly declared. Again, fair enough. But, specifically, where can one find this infallible declaration of meaning regarding John 6? Where does RCC state that this passage has an infallible definition?

You seem to be suggesting that you know the verse has been infallibly interpreted just insofar as competing interpretations would be imcompossible with the irreformable teaching of the Real Presence. In other words, the belief that John 6 has an infallible interpretation is merely a corollary of the belief that the Real Presence is an infallible dogma.

Is that a fair assessment? If not, how would you phrase the justification for your knowledge that John 6, in particular, has been infallibly interpreted by the Magisterium?

What's the line of reasoning that leads necessarily to that conclusion?

Cheers!

 

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3 hours ago, Spammer said:

Based on what? Personal testimony? The pronouncement of some other authority?

See thread title. Ha. :)

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On 12/5/2018 at 6:09 PM, cksalmon said:

The notion of the Bible's autopisticity has evolved to some degree in Reformed circles. Michael Kruger  is a good guide here:

If this strikes you as circular reasoning, you're not alone. That's the Roman Catholic assessment as well. (I don't think that criticism holds much water coming from RCC.)

But it strikes me that Mormons can't (and don't want to) make the same sort of claim about BoM (etc.) as Kruger does about the Bible. For Mormons, scripture isn't the ultimate authority. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I would characterize the difference between Mormons and Protestants on the topic like this: For Mormons the ultimate authority is the agent (the Spirit) who authorizes; for Protestants the ultimate authority is that which has been authorized by the Spirit.

Now, before this devolves into a neener-neener we've-got-the-Spirit-and-you've-just-got-a-book thing, my point is subtler than that. The Protestant idea is not that the Bible is our ultimate authority and God isn't. The idea is that God has uniquely authorized the Bible to serve as our ultimate authority in this life.

Does my rambling have a point? Is the Protestant view superior to the Mormon view?

I think Mormonism is compatible with much of what Michael Kruger says in that lengthy article (really it is a book chapter). Specifically his assertion that God provides a certain epistemological environment that allows his church the ability to reliably identify the canon and the criteria for making that identification (providential exposure, attributes of canonicity, and internal testimony of the Holy Spirit) would be welcome within Mormonism.

There are always devils lurking in the details though, Kruger frames that chapter within a context of Reformed Epistemology that would take a lot of massaging to square with Mormonism. The Book of Mormon gets much more specific about doctrines than the New Testament (i.e. baptism) and as a result we see Mormonism being strongly attached to philosophical doctrines like incompatibilism whereas a Reformed thinker like Kruger would be far more inclined towards compatibilism.

I think what discussions of “authority” between Mormons and Protestants really comes down to is Sola Scriptura. What Kruger lays out doesn’t really address the idea that the canon is an “ultimate authority” in the way Sola Scriptura makes scripture the terminal step in the chain of command, so to speak. I’d feel comfortable saying that the criteria Kruger lays out gives a very strong case that every book within the Book of Mormon (though not the entire standard works) is as canonical as the Gospels, or the Torah, or the Pauline Epistles; I’m sure Kruger in response would have to clear his throat and kindly but firmly disagree, yet the discussion would revolve around individual works and if they met the criteria and what is meant by “apostolic” and it would not revolve around if scripture was a final authority.        

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3 minutes ago, MosiahFree said:

I think Mormonism is compatible with much of what Michael Kruger says in that lengthy article (really it is a book chapter). Specifically his assertion that God provides a certain epistemological environment that allows his church the ability to reliably identify the canon and the criteria for making that identification (providential exposure, attributes of canonicity, and internal testimony of the Holy Spirit) would be welcome within Mormonism.

There are always devils lurking in the details though, Kruger frames that chapter within a context of Reformed Epistemology that would take a lot of massaging to square with Mormonism. The Book of Mormon gets much more specific about doctrines than the New Testament (i.e. baptism) and as a result we see Mormonism being strongly attached to philosophical doctrines like incompatibilism whereas a Reformed thinker like Kruger would be far more inclined towards compatibilism.

I think what discussions of “authority” between Mormons and Protestants really comes down to is Sola Scriptura. What Kruger lays out doesn’t really address the idea that the canon is an “ultimate authority” in the way Sola Scriptura makes scripture the terminal step in the chain of command, so to speak. I’d feel comfortable saying that the criteria Kruger lays out gives a very strong case that every book within the Book of Mormon (though not the entire standard works) is as canonical as the Gospels, or the Torah, or the Pauline Epistles; I’m sure Kruger in response would have to clear his throat and kindly but firmly disagree, yet the discussion would revolve around individual works and if they met the criteria and what is meant by “apostolic” and it would not revolve around if scripture was a final authority.        

Thought-provoking, MosiahFree. 👍

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8 hours ago, Spammer said:

Ok, but if Jesus established an arbitration mechanism to resolve disputes, then it’s incumbent on every Christian to defer to it. That’s the only way to bridge subjective spiritual experience with the objectivity of what God really wants.

A powerful spiritual experience is not evidence that God is it’s author. That requires getting outside of your experience to observe it from the outside. It’s only evidence that you experienced something, that you privately interpret in a given way. The experience applies to you alone and to no one else. If I have a contradictory experience, I can validly ignore yours, and vice versa, without consequence.

Believing the Spirit speaks to me personally to guide me to truth, without seeing the need to refer my experience to the arbiter to test its validity, is to assert that my spiritual experiences are self-authenticating. This is why I placed ‘me and my Bible’ and ‘me and the Spirit’ people in the same camp in an earlier post. 

Without a God-appointed arbiter, every Christian is in the same boat, with no basis for making any pronouncements about what is objectively true from a spiritual standpoint - about spiritual truths that God applies to everyone equally. There’s no standard of truth against which to compare rival claimants to authentic spiritual experience to see which are closer and which have ‘arrived.’ 

I know what you’ll say, Rorty, etc. I see your distinction without a difference and agree that our identification of God’s arbiter is subjectively determined. Still, I wonder whether a loving God would leave us trapped in our subjective bubbles, with no possible way out. It seems to me that’s why Jesus established the church, so we can know the truth in an objective way, since he deposited His teaching there. Thus, it should be - ‘I had a spiritual experience. Was God really it’s author? Let me see if it aligns with what His appointed human arbiter says.’  Without that, people can believe they had a spiritual experience and make up any old thing they want and no one can say a word to them. 

That’s the only reason I’m commenting on this thread, to show why the position of the self-authenticating Bible people and self-authenticating testimony people (another distinction without a difference) is untenable. Neither the Bible nor interpretations of it ground themselves. Yes, identifying the arbiter is subjective, but you have to point to something outside yourself, e.g. empirical evidence of some kind. Testimony has to be partially grounded on something other than testimony, something other people can see and test for themselves and have a conversation with you about. Otherwise, testimony bearing is just preaching to yourself.

BUT - if interpretation of empirical data is also subjective, which it is, then the attempt to identify an arbiter is merely trading one vicious circle for another. Did God not provide a way to break the cycle?  If the pragmatic philosophy is ‘true’, then it seems the answer is no. No matter how powerful the spiritual witness, it applies to no one else and there’s nothing objective that’s accessible to our perception to bridge the gap between rival claimants to truth possession. If that’s our state, then all pretense of really knowing the truth must be dropped, along with all expressed assertions of truth possession. Just stop all that. So much for testimony meeting, no matter the church.

 

So how do you PICK this arbiter?

Or know to follow Jesus and not Mohammed or Billy Graham or Buddha?

You skipped the entire point in question.

And there's a lot more about "truth" but you right about that. Its not definable. You don't understand that the only way to justify any religious beliefs.

The existence of God is not an empirical fact. I don't know why you want to stress empiricism.

That's barking up the wrong tree.

Edited by mfbukowski

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On 12/8/2018 at 11:20 AM, Spammer said:

This is where Protestant sola scriptura and self-authenticating bibles collapses.

For me, "sola scriptura" is self contradictory, that is why it collapses.  And "self-authenticating bible" is also self contradictory and so it collapses.

On 12/8/2018 at 11:20 AM, Spammer said:

They have no ground for asserting possession of truth.

Agreed.

On 12/8/2018 at 11:20 AM, Spammer said:

That requires a human agent appointed by God to be a tie-breaker, the one who stands in for God to have the final say. 

The problem I see with this is, "How can we know who God has appointed?"

On 12/8/2018 at 11:20 AM, Spammer said:

The same applies to anyone, including some LDS, who rely on their own prayers and the Spirit as the place where the buck stops. Unless God appointed them to that role for everyone, their conclusions about canon and interpretation of scripture apply only to them.

I can agree with that, to a point.  I believe we can "know by the Spirit" about ALL that God has given us stewardship over.

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On 12/8/2018 at 1:03 PM, Spammer said:

God didn’t appoint you to that role.

Perhaps He did and you just don't know it.  So, again, how do we know who God has appointed as His "arbiter"?

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11 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

So how do you PICK this arbiter?

Or know to follow Jesus and not Mohammed or Billy Graham or Buddha?

You skipped the entire point in question.

No, I acknowledged the subjectivity of choosing the arbiter. What I’d really like to know is whether spiritual experiences are somehow not subject to the deflationary theory of knowledge. If not, spiritual truth claims not qualified by ‘merely true for me’ are massively problematic. 

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23 hours ago, cksalmon said:

Of course, I could just note that your reputation score is 666 and leave it at that. :)

Sorry, mapman, but I laughed at that one.

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23 hours ago, cksalmon said:

I have a special dispensation from my wife. Looking over the thread now. 

She, who must not be named?

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5 minutes ago, Vance said:

Perhaps He did and you just don't know it.  So, again, how do we know who God has appointed as His "arbiter"?

If He did, what are your credentials? Why should I believe you?

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57 minutes ago, cksalmon said:

In other words, the belief that John 6 has an infallible interpretation is merely a corollary of the belief that the Real Presence is an infallible dogma.

Yep, that’s it.

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19 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Otherwise, what is the guard against Jonestown?

I know, I know (raising my hand).

Sugar free Kool-aid.

 

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On 12/8/2018 at 12:35 PM, Spammer said:

I wrote above: “That’s a subjective determination. We can’t escape it. We examine the evidence and decide who is the likely candidate. Then, we submit.” There must be an arbiter, so who has the best claim?

"There must be an arbiter" is a presumption on your part.  Historically speaking, there were many periods of apostasy where there was no arbiter until God called a prophet to be one.

On 12/8/2018 at 12:35 PM, Spammer said:

Deciding that is the inescapable subjective aspect of the process. But in the end you can at least point to something outside yourself to support your assertions. The ‘me and my Bible’ and ‘me and the Spirit’ crowd can’t do that. That’s why LDS prophets, popes and councils are necessary.

Unless we are all in a state of apostasy.

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19 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

If you accept that then you are right.

Why would anyone in their right mind believe that anybody can tell them what God wants for them?  Why would God give us a brain if we just follow someone blindly?

The true nature of God arguably is "unknowable" but certainly one must be able to pick the best paradigm which approximates the theory that works best for them.

Otherwise, what is the guard against Jonestown? 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonestown

 

Sorry I missed this. Who’s to say Jim Jones’s followers didn’t have a testimony and that the paradigm they picked didn’t work best for them - even up to the point when they drank the kool aid?  

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4 hours ago, Spammer said:

Based on what? Personal testimony? The pronouncement of some other authority?

Either or both.  (Of course the "other authority" would have to be recognized by me as an "authority" before I would accept their pronouncements.)

 

I can accept the Greek Septuagint as canon based on either personal testimony or by the pronouncement of or usage by some other authority.  

 

Or are you limiting this discussion to only the New Testament portion of the "canon"?

 

Edited by Vance

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1 minute ago, Vance said:

"There must be an arbiter" is a presumption on your part.  Historically speaking, there were many periods of apostasy where there was no arbiter until God called a prophet to be one.

Unless we are all in a state of apostasy.

My claim is there must be an arbiter whom we reference, if we validly want to remove ‘merely true for me’ from our personal assertions of truth. 

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24 minutes ago, Spammer said:

If He did, what are your credentials? Why should I believe you?

I was not referring to myself but that is not important.  We are back to my question(s), How does God call an arbiter and how can we know it?

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