Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
From the Mail Bag:
11/11/2009 - James White
An honest iniquiry about Dr. White's blog statement: I wanted to illustrate that simply taking the Qur'an as the final authority without recognizing that it is not mubinun, "clear" or "perspicuous," on so many points (and this is one of the most vital assertions it makes, in denying the atonement of Christ!) leads to irrationality."
How does this claim of "irrationality" differ from the Reformed 'Sola Scriptura' and the Catholic's claim of this doctrine causes irrationality?
The question mixes categories and ignores the context of my original statement. The Muslim starts with the Qur'an and reads backwards to the Bible, replacing the Bible's original context with that of the Qur'an. But while the Muslim will adopt an over-arching assumption of the corruption of the Bible, they will not even consider that possibility for the Qur'an, despite it coming after the other revelations, and claiming consistency with them. Further, the Qur'an is not clear in its text, lacking the kind of historical grounding found in the Bible. Hence, merely starting with its claims and overthrowing the Bible's as a result leads to irrationality, as you have to accept an unclear revelation at the expense of a clear one. I illustrated this with the mention of Surah 4:157 and the Qur'an's flying in the face of all the sources that come from the first century after Christ. The Muslim has to reject all of these sources while accepting, de fide, the Qur'anic revelation.
I do not know how to even connect this with the Roman Catholic argument against sola scriptura, as there are no connections historically or logically. One would have to prove discrepancy and error on the part of the Bible; one would have to make Rome's traditions prior to biblical revelation, etc., to even begin to try to make a case.
Next question from the mail bag:
The only thing I wish he'd addressed better was this: Dr. White speaks of the authors' intentions when the wrote something which was part of the Bible. But if he in fact believes that it is the Divine Word of God, why does the "writers'" intention and the context matter? It would be God's intention that matters as to his inspiring the writer to write. God could easily have inspired a writer to write for the time (context) as well as for all times and places. Two layers of meaning. Why would God waste words that seemingly apply only to the historical situation if those same verses didn't have great meaning for a person in any other age and place?
Meaning is carried in words. Words are spoken in a context. Without that context, words become empty containers into which we pour our own meanings, which is exactly what Harold Camping does. By removing the context, the words lack substance, and Camping can then fill them with whatever he wishes. This is classic eisegesis, reading into the text a meaning it never had.
The Bible being the Word of God does not tell us that we can simply ignore what it meant when it was first revealed. Surely there can be a "higher" fulfillment in prophecy, for example, but the prophecy still carries the original meaning it had when given. Even if one asserts "two layers of meaning" the text still has to determine both "layers," and without context, that second layer once again becomes an empty vessel just waiting for someone to come along and fill it with their own meaning, all the while claiming they are just following Scripture. It is a very shallow view of the means by which God revealed Scripture to refer to a "wasting" of words. God chooses the means by which He reveals Himself, and we are in no position to judge on the matter.