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Stoning Rebellious Children?


Eric333
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Hi Folks, I was curious what insights you all might have on this. Assuming most of you are up to speed on the overall topic I will cut right to the chase and not worry about citing verses and context. In the OT there are a number of areas of "God's Law" that tell the Israelites to stone / kill rebellious children, or in the case of Elisha's curse God just sends bears to tear the kids apart. Some scholars make caveats that these particular laws are focused toward particular people in a particular time, and not applicable to gentiles today, yada yada. Or others simply posit that the death and resurrection of Jesus means we follow the NT now and ignore all that old brutal stuff. But my more general question is how Bible literalists can rationalize this? Jesus clearly says he does not intend to change the law, and in fact means for every letter to be upheld. The simply question is, if God told anyone that stoning rebellious children was good at one time, why would "he" think any differently now? Of course I say that it all was written by man anyway, so "God" plays no part, but how can literalists harmonize this with the fact that they dont stone their children today? Why would God change his preferred method of discipline from stoning to time-outs?

 

Disclaimer: I don't in any way condone stoning rebellious children ;-)

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general question is how Bible literalists can rationalize this?

 

Eric,

 

It sseems to me easily rationalized by the dogmatic and full acceptance that the Bible is God's inerrant Word and the circular logic thereof whose words include that his ways and plan are beyond our reason, understanding and comprehension. In my view, a rational explanation and the acceptance that it is God's Word make rational thinking incompatible with that acceptance . Rational = Agreeable to reason. But whose reason.... isn't rational itself a subjective thing? And isn't it an individuals option to surrender their own reason to what they perceive as faith to the reason and words of a book?

 

Just some thoughts concerning your post,

Joseph

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Biblical literalists can perform miracles when harmonising diverse cultural attitudes spanning more than a thousand years. It's just that their explanations defy logic in my opinion. :)

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Eric, when I was a literalist, I really didn't try to harmonize these things much. I just generally felt that Christians were supposed to follow Jesus, not all of the OT laws (I tended to be a dispensationalist). And then I always had my good ol' stand-by, "God's ways are higher than our ways" and that we are not to question what we don't understand, just focus on what we do.

 

These things did stay under my skin like a burr for about 30 years, until my faith came crashing down around me (a long story). But the general "answer" was that God was God and whatever he did or called for, because he was God, was justified and above questioning.

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But my more general question is how Bible literalists can rationalize this?

 

First, many Christians are likely unaware the passage even exists. I know that in the church I attended for quite some, the pastoral staff spent 99% of exegetic time in the New Testament. Which makes sense, since there is a major difference between the religion contained in the Tanakh vs. what you find in the New Testament.

 

For those Christians who are aware of this verse, the "New Covenant" conveniently negates all the bad stuff in the OT. It's called selective dogma.

 

NORM

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  • 4 weeks later...

The more difficult question for me is, how can progressive Christians continue to use the Old Testament as an authoritative guide to higher morality? Part of my confusion may be the desirability of being a progressive Christian. It seems to me that the difference between orthodox and progressive Christians is often an issue of politics. For almost all Christians, the Bible (OT included) remains something that must be quoted in support of any moral stance. As a result, peole who want to label themselves progressive (because of their stance on women or homosexuals, usually) are forced to tell more lies and embrace greater intellectual dishonesty, in their approach to the OT. This is another reasy why I feel the OT should be removed from the progressive canon. To earn the title of progressive Christian, let's require tha a person must be willing to denounce the evils that are promoted in the OT. Not just by saying "yeah it's bad, but it's our books, so we're gonna keep on using it," but by demoting the OT to being "just" a book, not an authoritative guide to Christian doctrine or practice.

Edited by Migdalin
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Hi Migdalin,

 

I don't see Progressives, at least on this site, using the OT as an authoritative guide to Christian practice. Personally, i find Psalms and Proverbs in particular to contain inspiring and useful sayings and great historical context in the OT in general.

 

I believe you will find that many progressives like Marcus Borg seem to believe that the NT Jesus must be understood in the historical and cultural context in which he lived and the OT provides a good portion of that context for a critical analysis of the NT. Understanding the historical Jesus and Christ to me is not about dogmas and doctrines even in the NT. Perhaps one might find that many progressives have no single authoritative book. After all, Jesus wrote nothing himself and the first followers had no Bible as we have today.

 

Just some thoughts after reading your post,

Joseph

Edited by JosephM
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