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Posted by John Brook on June 27, 2003 18:51:12 UTC

"Is the bible to be taken litteraly and strictly adhered to for one to be a 'pure Christian', or are we to take the bible in an appropriate interpretation within the context of our times?"

Although this has nothing to do with the line of argument I am pursuing, I'd like to attempt an answer because it's a very good question. What I am discussing with Harvey is the validity of addressing Christian doctrine from a secular perspective, which I think is nonsense. You either take it or leave it; if you start misinterpreting the traditions so that they don't offend your intellect is dishonest and a recipe for future disillusionment. Whether the doctrine makes sense and should be taken seriously, is a far more complex issue.

I can only think of two ways of addressing your question. One, I could look up some passage in the bible which I could interpret to solve the dilemma you noticed. Two, I could argue that there's no dilemma to start with, that you are misinterpreting the command to stone criminals. But I don't think either approach would mean much to you. They certainly mean little to me.

In order to fully appreciate the true value of the Christian tradition, one must understand that the doctrine is essentially paradoxical. Nay, one must understand why it MUST be paradoxical to have any meaning. This is a really complex issue which some people understand early in life, some take longer, and some never do. I certainly don't have the power to convince an intelligent person that a paradoxical teaching is far more valuable than a purely logical one; all I can do is invite you to entertain the possibility. Look at your own life and see if your behaviour can be fully understood by anyone other than yourself. To other people's eyes, you are a living paradox, but to yourself you make perfect sense.

The same goes for wisdom. Don't expect wise people or wise teachings to be logical, clear, unambiguous. You wouldn't take them seriously if they were.

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