Where You Begin and Where You End

February 28, 2011 at 9:55 am Leave a comment


I have often said, when teaching in various settings, “Where you begin is where you end.” This is my axiomatic, though admittedly somewhat simplistic, way of expressing the truth that all of us come to a situation, a problem, or a challenge with our own preconceived notions and biases. These preconceived notions and biases, in turn, inevitably color the conclusions we draw and the solutions we formulate. This is especially true when it comes to working with the text of Scripture. If you approach the Bible with a stance of pessimism and incredulity, what you find will be appropriately pessimistic and incredulous. Conversely, if you approach the Bible with a stance of awe and a desire to “give the Bible the benefit of the doubt,” as it were, the conclusions you draw will strengthen your faith soothe your troubled soul. It is no secret that I am in the latter camp of how I approach Holy Scripture. In light of my ABC yesterday on the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture, I thought that this quote from Ben Witherington III, given at the Greer-Heard Forum last Saturday at New Orleans Baptist Seminary, offered some keen insight into why I am in this latter camp:

I don’t believe in “justification by doubt.” I don’t believe that philosophical skepticism is the same thing as critical thinking, and I also don’t think that the sort of historiography that is undergirded by such a prioris can help us very much with the question are the Gospels reliable, truthful witnesses when it comes to the historical Jesus. In fact, if you want to actually get at the truth of something, you have to enter into dialogue with that source giving it the benefit of the doubt, allowing it to have its say, and while one doesn’t put one’s critically thinking cap aside, if you do not approach the material with an open mind and a willingness to learn from it, you won’t get at the truth of the matter, not even the historical truth of the matter. You can’t possibly analyze the actual nature of a raging fire, by pouring cold water on it, and then picking over the ashes and charcoal thereafter.

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Entry filed under: Devotional Thoughts. Tags: , , , , .

ABC Extra – The Perfect Book ABC Extra – So Many Translations, So Little Time

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