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You are invited to a Bible Study!

February 1, 2010

This is going to be a phenomenal experience! A Bible study on a blog!

Are you up for the challenge? 🙂

First of all, I would like to give a few reminders of our common ground and then correct a possible misunderstanding that some of us may or may not have.

Our Common Ground:

1) we both accept the Bible as the Word of God

2) both of us think our beliefs more accurately resemble the beliefs of the original apostles

3) both of us think the Bible backs up our beliefs

Before we begin I would like to address a misunderstanding that has been observed by BYU professor Stephen Robinson in How Wide the Divide. I believe resolving this misunderstanding will reduce the level of our disagreement so that we can have productive and friendly debates related to the interpretation of the Biblical texts.

According to Robinson, there is an erroneous assumption among both LDS and non-LDS regarding the “plain and precious” things that the Book of Mormon says are missing from the Bible. Robinson says the present text of the Bible did not undergo a “cut-and-paste editing process to remove these things.”1 Rather, he says, “the bulk of the text-critical evidence is against a process of wholesale cutting and pasting.”2

Further, he states,

“I think that informed Latter-day Saints will affirm with me that the present books of the Bible are the Word of God (within the common parameters of the eighth article of faith and the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy) and that the texts are essentially correct in their present form—but that there once were other ‘God-breathed’ writings that are now missing.”3 (emphasis mine)

Robinson’s clarification is helpful (if LDS here agree with him) because the scope of our disagreement is greatly reduced by his statement. If we can agree that the Biblical texts are “essentially correct in their present form” then we are left to determine whether or not these texts allow for simultaneous existence with other 1st century texts (whole books written by apostles and prophets) that allegedly taught the doctrines unique to Mormonism.

How can we determine whether or not we are missing “lost” scriptures that contain the Mormon gospel?

One way to test this out is to compare the books of scripture we have to see if these books allow for the simultaneous existence of doctrines that would have been present in the alleged “lost” texts. For example, can the overarching themes of the book of Galatians co-exist with a “lost” letter to the Galatians that would have included the Mormon gospel?

This will be no easy task and will require in-depth, inductive Bible study of whole books in their historical setting to gain a comprehensive understanding of the context and purpose of the writing.

So, I will ask one more time: Are you up for the challenge? 🙂

Or are you at least the teeniest bit curious about how we will we conduct this online Bible study on a blog?

Stay tuned to find out…

_____________________________________________________________

1. Blomberg, Craig L. and Robinson, Stephen E., How Wide the Divide? A Mormon & an Evangelical in Conversation, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997, p. 63.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. The Red Dart permalink
    February 1, 2010 1:02 pm

    Jessica,

    Have you ever read the articles in this volume of the FARMS Review?

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=11&num=2

    The FARMS Review had this entire issue devoted to reviewing How Wide the Divide. I actually found the articles in this volume more interesting than the book itself, if I am being honest. I think it would be worth your time to (re)read Blake Ostler’s criticisms of Steve Robinson’s views on scripture (Daniel Peterson and David Paulsen have some issues with that topic as well), since I believe that most informed Mormons you will encounter will express views more in line with his presentation.

    Also, how familiar are you with scholars such as James Dunn, N.T. Wright, Ben Witherington, Krister Stendahl, James Sanderson, and other New Perspective on Paul (NPP) writers (or quasi-NPP scholars)? I ask this, because, for the most part, many, if not most, mainstream Pauline scholars have adopted a number of NPP positions and conclusions, and have quite roundly rejected reformed (Calvinist) readings of the Pauline corpus. Whether or not you agree with any or all of their views, you would probably do well to engage such scholarship in your Bible Study if you choose Galatians or Romans (it seemed you were hinting towards Galatians in the post).

    Best wishes,

    TRD

  2. The Red Dart permalink
    February 1, 2010 7:07 pm

    I just realized that I wrote James Sanderson when I meant E. P. Sanders. For some reason I conflated the names James Robinson (of Claremont) and Sanders into James Sanderson when I woke up this morning and wrote that comment. Fascinating! 🙂

    Best,

    TRD

  3. The Red Dart permalink
    February 1, 2010 11:13 pm

    Sorry, one more thing: in response to your final question, I am interested in hearing more about how you plan to conduct an online blog bible study. As for my two cents, I say we start at the beginning: Genesis (grin)

    TRD

  4. February 2, 2010 12:54 am

    Great! I consider it a real accomplishment to have aroused your curiosity, TRD! 🙂 As far as all the scholars you mention, we might get to look at some scholars later in the study, but I plan to do an inductive study which would preclude reliance on any outside sources at first. Are you familiar with the inductive method?

    As for the Farms review, thank you for the link and I hopefully will have a chance to review your suggested reading materials at some point, but to be honest I am really more interested in hearing your views. I gather that you disagree with some (or all) of the quotes by Robinson? Could you share how you disagree with his view?

  5. Cindy permalink
    February 2, 2010 12:55 pm

    I’m in! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while…thanks!

  6. The Red Dart permalink
    February 2, 2010 1:29 pm

    Jessica,

    I am familiar with inductive reasoning.

    I would be happy to tell you about my views concerning scripture, both in theory and in practice. However, I suggested Blake’s reading to contrast with Robinson so that you can see the kind of variety in views that you may see among your LDS Christian participants.

    Best,

    TRD

  7. February 3, 2010 3:17 am

    Hi Cindy!

    Welcome! 🙂 I’m so excited you want to join in!

    Thank you, TRD. I look forward to learning more.

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