@David Read: Sean, I think people ultimately have to accept …

Comment on Biblical Interpretation and Credibility by Sean Pitman.

@David Read:

Sean, I think people ultimately have to accept Scripture on faith.

Ultimately people who come to any conclusion about the truth of anything that exists outside of their own imaginations must use some degree of faith. This includes the conclusions of scientists as to what is and is not most likely true.

In short, one can’t avoid making leaps of faith when coming to conclusions as to what claims, among many competing claims and potential options, are most likely true.

This isn’t to say, however, that leaps of faith must be entirely blind, without a basis in solid evidence. Without any evidentiary basis, blind leaps of faith are simply no more helpful than is wishful thinking.

For me, the Christian faith can be so much more than mere wishful thinking or fanciful speculation. We aren’t simply peddling “cunningly devised fables” here… – 2 Peter 1:16

But ultimately these arguments are not sufficient to coerce the skeptic; ultimately one must make a faith decision to believe that Scripture is the inspired word of God.

No evidence is sufficient to force belief in anything. We are talking about what it would take to convince someone with a rational candid mind who really did want to know and follow the truth. We are not talking about those who will not accept the truth because they don’t want to accept the truth. These kinds of people are the ones Jesus talked about who wouldn’t believe “Even if someone were raised from the dead.” – Luke 16:31 NIV

So faith can never be replaced by sight. Faith is a necessary ingredient in the Christian walk, without which it is impossible to be saved.

The faith of all true seekers for truth is always increased by additional information in favor of the truth. It is not blind and cannot increase without evidence. It is for this reason that the faith of the disciples of Jesus increased when they were given empirical evidence by Jesus.

I’m also a little unclear about whether you regard the recent creation and the Genesis Flood as being verifiable or falsifiable. I don’t think they are of that character. The data that bear on these things are subject to interpretation, and how one interprets the data determines how one feels about the historicity of these events.

All data are subject to interpretation. No human ideas about the truth of anything that exists outside of the mind are absolutely or can be known with perfection.

This doesn’t mean that the best available empirical evidence cannot be said to clearly favor the Biblical model of origins. I think that such a claim is perfectly valid – and true in my opinion.

For example, the data of the geological column and the fossil record can be interpreted as evidence of the Genesis Flood, or as evidence of the long, slow development of life across immense ages of time.

Indeed, but not with equal predictive power. The Biblical model of a universal Flood and the recent formation of life has significantly greater explanatory power and is more consistent with the totality of the evidence that is currently available.

The common genetic language can be interpreted as evidence of common descent or as evidence of common design. One can choose to interpret them either way, and the choice of interpretive filters is essentially a religious choice.

The choice for design isn’t just a religious choice, but the best scientific choice for the origin of various genetic features given the totality of genetic evidence – not just one particular feature that can easily be interpreted either way with equal rationality. While the nested pattern can be explained by either deliberate or mindless processes, the associated functionality cannot be equally explained – not even close. The hypothesis of intelligent design is far far superior when it comes to explaining such features.

Obviously, the faith choice comes before the interpretation of the data.

Not true for many many people who have been converted to Christianity, sometimes against their natural choice, because of the overwhelming nature of the evidence in its favor.

The same thing can be said for the disciples of Jesus who were naturally skeptical people. They didn’t choose Jesus before they had good evidence that he was someone special and they didn’t become bold in faith until they saw the resurrection.

Again, a useful faith doesn’t decrease with evidence, but is based on evidence and increases as the evidence in support of one’s faith increases.

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Biblical Interpretation and Credibility
To All,

Please keep your comments relevant to the topic of this thread and this website. There are many hot potato issues within the Adventist Church. Other topics that are not directly related to the limited scope of this website will most likely not be posted or will be deleted. You are welcome to carry on such conversations privately via the chat group that is provided by this website.

Thank you.

Educate Truth Staff

Biblical Interpretation and Credibility
@Bill Sorensen:

Everything anyone does outside of Christ is sin. Even honest mistakes made by the angels of heaven are “forgiven” by virtue of their relationship with Christ.

Yes, it could be called “sin” in a comprehensive and generic application. In the bible “sin” has many aspects and defined in application in many ways.

Don’t you think that Jesus may have accidentally stepped on someone’s foot, or accidentally bumped into someone, while on this Earth while subject to limited knowledge as we are subject? Did Jesus “sin” when making such honest mistakes?

Your problem is that you define “sin” as any and all mistakes – even an angel accidentally stepping on his friend’s foot would be sinful or evil according to you. And, it seems, as if such “sins” will continue on for eternity in Heaven due to a lack of perfect knowledge.

What then makes the sin of eating the forbidden fruit so different? Adam and Eve were created “in Christ”, just as unfallen angels are. Why then did their sin cause them to be removed from their garden home and place them in the need of the sacrificial suffering and death of Jesus on the cross? Why wouldn’t an angel accidentally stepping on his friend’s foot require the same actions on the part of God?

What you don’t seem to understand is that there are different types of mistakes or “sins” if you want to call them all by the same word. Certain mistakes are not sins against one’s conscience and are therefore not moral wrongs and do not lead to a lost relationship with God – i.e., they do not lead to death.

The difference between accidental mistakes and deliberate sins against one’s neighbor is that accidents are not sins against one’s conscience; against God. Therefore, they do not lead to a loss of one’s relationship with God. Deliberate sins against one’s neighbor, on the other hand, do lead to a loss of relationship with both one’s neighbor and with God.

It is for this reason that sins against one’s conscience are in a whole different class altogether from truly honest accidental mistakes. The conscience is what defines the morality of an individual – what defines true obedience and/or rebellion against God or “sin” – i.e., true iniquity.

You know, at this point I’m not sure if there is anything further I can share with you on this topic that will help you see the difference between honest mistakes and true moral sins? I think you’ve made your position look pretty silly by now. I don’t think very many people are going to find it very difficult to see the difference between accidentally stepping on someone’s foot vs. what Adam and Eve did in eating the forbidden fruit.

For these reasons, comments regarding the supposed moral standing or “sinfulness” of those who hold to opposing doctrinal perspectives from me or you or anyone else contributing to comments in this forum will not be posted. While we disagree with what certain staff members have done and are doing at LSU, and think that these individuals should either resign or be removed from their positions as paid representatives of the Adventist Church within our schools, we do not judge their moral standing before God.

There will be no further discussion along these lines.

Sean Pitman

Biblical Interpretation and Credibility
@Bill Sorensen:

Even your angel in heaven illustration will not support the idea that Gabriel is innocent and/or not guilty. It just means forgiveness is a natural result of ignorance. It is a spiritual faux pau. Not unlike a simular incident in this world where you might bump into someone by accident and say, “Oh, excuse me, I didn’t see you there.”

Oh, but are such errors sinful? – in the same sense that they would require the blood of Jesus for atonement? Why wouldn’t such errors be classified in the same manner with the sin of eating the forbidden fruit? – which did require the blood of Jesus for atonement?

The issue is pardon, or no pardon. Not, guilty or not guilty. People are pardoned because they are guilty, and we don’t plead innocence before God just because we didn’t know better.

You’re mistaken. People have successfully used the argument of ignorance with God many times. – Gen. 20:3-7 NIV.

Ignorance means that one has not sinned against one’s conscience. A deliberate sin against one’s own conscience, against what one knew to be right, is what demanded the blood of Jesus for atonement.

According to your view, sin will always continue in Heaven for ever and ever. As long as we are subject to imperfect knowledge, accidents will happen – even in Heaven. While we will no doubt apologize for these accidence, they will not be classified as moral “sins”.

Note that Mrs. White and the Bible both point out that moral sin will not arise a second time in God’s universe.

Never will evil again be manifest. Says the word of God: “Affliction shall not rise up the second time.” Nahum 1:9.

EGW, GC, p. 504

This situation would be impossible given your view of sin and your misunderstanding as to what makes sin so evil.

Sean Pitman

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