Look Before You Give

[cross-posted at North Prairie Pastor]

Helping support research into possible cures for breast cancer (or any other cancer or disease, for that matter) is a good and worthwhile use of the money God has given us. Unfortunately, not every organization devoted to the cure of disease is worthy of support. Anyone who thinks it is a little disingenuous to work to save people and at the same time work to kill others might want to reconsider giving money to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. See here for a list of links noting the fact that the SGKF has given over 72 grants to Planned Parenthood. (See here for facts and links to alternative organizations to support.)

It is irrelevant that SGKF intends its funds to go for “breast services only.” Planned Parenthood performs the most abortions in the United States and a single glance at their website quickly shows how devoted they are to undermining a culture of life. Their contraceptive mentality and unquestioned support for abortion in all its forms (including its most hideous, partial-birth) outweighs any possible good they might do for women. And since there are many other organizations that help women and do not harm children or their mothers, it does not make sense to support Planned Parenthood for any reason. If you wish to support breast-cancer research, support an organization that conducts its research without hypocritically supporting the murder of the most vulnerable.


Theses on the Perspicuity of the Scriptures (in conversation with Stanley Fish)

[Open for debate!]

  1. The perspicuity, or clarity, of the Scriptures is not of the sort that we should say, “Any reasonable person can see that this is what such-and-such Scripture says.”
  2. The question is begged, who is a “reasonable” person?
  3. When it comes to the Scriptures it is not true that any person who can read the marks on the page and put them together into some sort of sense can automatically come to the “correct” meaning.
  4. The meaning of the Scriptures, as with any and every other mode of communication, is a matter of interpretation.
  5. Interpretation takes place every time the Scriptures are read or heard.
  6. Conversely, at no time when the Scriptures are heard or read does interpretation not take place.
  7. Even when we think that we hear an absolutely clear and impossible to misunderstand passage of Scripture, we are interpreting it.
  8. However, our interpretation seems “natural” for various reasons:
  9. E.g., we have heard multiple times a particular interpretation and have become convinced of its truth;
  10. The multiple constraints that make up our context (all of the things that make us who we are) have led us to simply assume an interpretation as correct;
  11. In light of our assumptions and presuppositions, we regard a given interpretation as correct.
  12. This does not mean that all interpretations are therefore equally valid.
  13. Or, even if an interpretation is valid according to a given context that it does not necessarily follow that it is correct.
  14. But the question is begged, how is an interpretation judged to be “correct”?
  15. It is judged to be correct based on an individual’s or a community’s context.
  16. Thus, the interpretation cannot be given or judged correct except from within a context.
  17. No one operates a-contextually, or apart from a context from within which one interprets.
  18. A person who thinks he is interpreting without assumptions or presuppositions simply has not recognized his context.
  19. Therefore, the perspicuity of the Scriptures may not be assumed;
  20. Or rather, any given “clear” interpretation of the Scriptures may not be assumed to be apparent to anyone at any time, regardless of that person’s context.
  21. Thus, what is apparent to one group of Christians, even to an entire denomination, may not be assumed to be clear to any other group or denomination.
  22. It is not sufficient to simply assert that a particular passage of Scripture is perspicuous.
  23. Since no asserted meaning of a particular passage is without interpretation, i.e., simply and absolutely “literal,” every interpreted meaning requires related argument.
  24. Whether such an argument is given every time an interpreted meaning is asserted is irrelevant.
  25. If the argument is not given, it is simply assumed.
  26. If the interpretation is not questioned or challenged, the hearer or reader either assumes the same argument, or has accepted some meaning that fits equally with the words of the speaker or author, or has not understood the interpretation given.
  27. The perspicuity of the Scriptures can only be accepted equally and in the same way among those who have the same context, i.e., the same assumptions and presuppositions.
  28. Hence, different Christians disagree about various “clear” passages of Scripture because they do not share the same context:
  29. E.g., one person accepts the historicity of all of Jesus’ sayings and actions, while another person accepts only some of them;
  30. Or, one person has one interpretive “key,” such as, “All Scriptures testify to Christ;” while another person has a different interpretive key, such as, “God is absolutely sovereign.”
  31. Or, one person believes that Christ’s actual crucified and risen Body and Blood are eaten and drunk with the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper because “Jesus says it is so;” while another person believes that Christ’s Body and Blood are spiritually present or symbolically present because human bodies are not able to be in two discrete places at the same time.
  32. Interpretive keys are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but they cannot be equally applied:
  33. E.g., two individuals’ understandings of Predestination will differ if one applies the interpretive key of election in Christ while the other applies the interpretive key of election from the absolute sovereignty of God.
  34. Thus: the Scriptures are equally perspicuous to either party in a dispute, but they are perspicuous to either party only according to each party’s context.
  35. There is no “outside” authority to which either party can appeal, because there is no “outside” for contextualized people;
  36. And everyone is contextualized.
  37. Thus, there is no possibility of ending the argument by saying, “The Scriptures are clear here; my interpretation cannot be challenged.”
  38. An interpretation can always be challenged.
  39. Therefore, it will again be necessary to make an argument for one’s interpretation.
  40. Every argument for a given interpretation will be an attempt to change another person’s context.
  41. If the context is successfully changed by an argument, then a new interpretation of a passage of Scripture will become “clear.”
  42. This does not mean that a given interpretation is free-floating, irrelative to any substantial moorings or bearings.
  43. There is no such thing as a free-floating interpretation.
  44. Conversely, every interpretation is bound by the context of the interpreter.
  45. Therefore, saying that an argument must be made for any given interpretation is simply to state what every interpreter has always done: make an argument for a given interpretation;
  46. E.g., Luther, in The Bondage of the Will says that the Scriptures are externally clear;
  47. That is, anyone can read the marks on the page and understand that the Scriptures simply confess the trinity of God, or the humanity of Jesus, or the unforgivable sin;
  48. On the other hand, because, outside of Christ, the hearts of all humans are darkened by sin, even if they understand the marks on the page they “apprehend and truly understand nothing of it.”
  49. Luther acknowledges that unless a person has the right context (i.e., “in Christ”), the testimony of the Scriptures to the Christ who saves will not be perspicuous.
  50. Luther: “For the Spirit is required for the understanding of Scripture, both as a whole and in any part of it.”