Saturday, January 21, 2017

And Bob, If You Didn't Get It The First Time





How NOT to Study The Bible

"Whom will He teach knowledge? 
And whom will He make to understand the message? 
Those just weaned from milk? 
Those just drawn from the breasts? 
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept,
line upon line, line upon line,
here a little, there a little" 
(Isaiah 28:9-10). 

Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorIf you don't know the above scripture, then you can not have been part of the Worldwide Church of God or a current member of its many splinter and sliver groups.  This scripture ranks right up there with, "The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it," and "So how did you come into the truth?"

Many fundamentalists misuse this scripture in Isaiah thinking it is the key to understanding just how to unlock the mysteries of doctrine and truth or to solve the puzzle that God has put before us to figure out.  If we only study our Bibles taking a little from here and a little from there, properly combining the elements in to the true right and correct picture, we win!!!   It implies that truth is found scattered throughout the Bible and one simply needs to prooftext their way through the pages of the Bible properly, and the truth shall set them free.

That's the good news.  The bad news is that it has NOTHING to do with how to study your Bible.  Lets look at this scripture in context.  I know, I know...but give it a try anyway...
 7 And these (Prophets and Priests) also stagger from wine
   and reel from beer:
   Priests and prophets stagger from beer
   and are befuddled with wine;
   they reel from beer,
   they stagger when seeing visions,
   they stumble when rendering decisions.
8 All the tables are covered with vomit
   and there is not a spot without filth.
 9 “Who is it he is trying to teach?
   To whom is he explaining his message?
   To children weaned from their milk,
   to those just taken from the breast?
10 For it is:
   Do this, do that,
   a rule for this, a rule for that[
a];
   a little here, a little there.”
 11 Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues
   God will speak to this people,
12 to whom he said,
   “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”;
   and, “This is the place of repose”—
   but they would not listen.
13 So then, the word of the LORD to them will become:
   Do this, do that,
   a rule for this, a rule for that;
   a little here, a little there—
   so that as they go they will fall backward;
   they will be injured and snared and captured
What we're seeing here is God mocking the priests and mimicking their drunken rules and laws that they give the people. God is not paying them a compliment but it is rather like God saying they go  "blah blah blah," or talk like whining children in their drunken state.  It has nothing to do with some profound teaching on the correct way to cobble the scriptures together to come up with truth.  They teach the people like they are children and this is not a compliment.

Isaiah then goes on to say that God can play that game too if they wish,  and will tell them to "do this, do that, a bit here, a bit there," and they will fall backwards and be overcome by God.  In other words, God can take the childish, "blah blah blah" out of their way of teaching and knock them out some of his own. 

 Barnes Commentary notes:
"For precept must be upon precept - This is probably designed to ridicule the concise and sententious manner of the prophets, and especially the fact that they dwelt much upon the same elementary truths of religion. In teaching children we are obliged to do it by often repeating the same simple lesson. So the profane and scoffing teachers of the people said it had been with the prophets of God. It had been precept upon precept, and line upon line, in the same way as children had been instructed. The meaning is, 'there is a constant repetition of the command, without ornament, imagery, or illustration; without an appeal to our understanding, or respect for our reason; it is simply one mandate after another, just as lessons are inculcated upon children.'
Line upon line - This word (קו qav), properly means "a cord, a line;" particularly a measuring cord or line (2 Kings 21:13; Ezekiel 47:13; see the note at Isaiah 18:2). Here it seems to be used in the sense of "a rule," "law," or "precept." Grotius thinks that the idea is taken from schoolmasters who instruct their pupils by making lines or marks for them which they are to trace or imitate. There is a repetition of similar sounds in the Hebrew in this verse which cannot be conveyed in a translation, and which shows their contempt in a much more striking manner than any version could do -" 
While perhaps not the most recommended translation, this one has captured, in this case the intent of the scripture.

               "They speak utter nonsense. "             


So the next time your Pastor says, "We know how we are study God's word.  It is line upon line, precept upon precept. Here a little, There a little, and God will reveal his truth to us, his chosen ones,"  just say "ummmm, no....that's not what that means." 

God doesn't have a puzzle to solve and the true people are not defined as those who know how the puzzle all fits together by jumping around the Bible looking for the proof for their all too often human perceptions. You certainly cannot use this scripture in Isaiah to do that as if it was how God reveals truth. 

Pretty cool huh?   I got more!  :)



18 comments:

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Dennis said,” It implies that truth is found scattered throughout the Bible and one simply needs to proof text their way through the pages of the Bible properly, and the truth shall set them free”.

MY COMMENT – Speaking from an Armstrongite point of view, that is exactly what the WCG under Herbert Armstrong taught. According to Armstrong, the Bible is a coded book that needs to be pieced together ‘precept upon precept, line upon line” in order to receive true understanding. It was a litmus test to determine whether or not one was being “called by God”. And don’t forget the quoted Isaiah scripture was taught in the Church context that God is not calling the masses in this present age – that God’s true Church is a small scattered flock. The “Armstrong version of truth” becomes circular.

Richard

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Dennis said, "God doesn't have a puzzle to solve and the true people are not defined as those who know how the puzzle all fits together by jumping around the Bible looking for the proof for their all too often human perceptions. You certainly cannot use this scripture in Isaiah to do that as if it was how God reveals truth.

Pretty cool huh?"

MY COMMENT - Very cool! Your explanation of the Isaiah verses makes perfect sense to me. I have often thought, "Why does God make it so hard to understand his word?"

Of course, your continued writings challenging what we were taught in the WCG qualifies you to be "more toasted" than others condenmed to the Lake of Fire for questioning the teachings of the Apostle of God.

You are toast, Dennis, unless you repent of your ways. :)

But you are not alone - I created the Lake of Fire Church of God to minister to those freed from Armstrongism condemned to the Lake of Fire for having a brain.

Richard

DennisDiehl said...

Thanks Richard...

Does LFCOG have a retirement plan?

:)

DennisDiehl said...

I'm totally toastable as an average human bean.

DennisDiehl said...

Actually I have my original ordination certificate "signed" by Herbert W, Garner Ted and David Antion which should go for $1.95 on Ebay. I'll be fine :)

Douglas Becker said...

Biblical Scholars and critics should read the rest of the commentary by Barnes and then check against Clark, Gill, Henry and the JBF, because seeing the context will render a different conclusion.

Nevertheless, an interesting call.

They speak utter nonsense.

The Armstrongists? Of course they do. Find the words, "United States", "Britain" or "British Commonwealth" in the Bible.

But that's what you get when you base your whole religion on an insane Canadian from the 18th Century: Utter nonsense.

Hello! You Armstrongists are wrong! Give it up! Accept the truth for a change.

I promise that I will go away immediately after every Armstrongist goes out of business and the insanity of British Israelism disappears from the face of the earth.

You aren't listening.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Douglas Becker said, "Hello! You Armstrongists are wrong! Give it up! Accept the truth for a change."

MY COMMENT - What? Are you in some sort of contest with Dennis to see who can get fried the most in the Lake of Fire?

Does "French Fried Becker on a bun" mean anything to you? :)

Richard

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Dennis said, "Actually I have my original ordination certificate "signed" by Herbert W, Garner Ted and David Antion which should go for $1.95 on Ebay."

MY COMMENT - Dennis, you can cut the midlle man (ebay) out by contacting "that prophet" Gerald Flurry directly. My understanding is that Flurry's a buyer of anything that is vintage Armstrong and WCG. You might be able to talk him all the way up to $14.95 without any ebay seller fees to mess with. :)

Richard

DennisDiehl said...

Hey good idea Richard. I had my gold college ring melted down and swapped the lion and the lamb for American Silver Eagles :)

Douglas Becker said...

MY COMMENT - What? Are you in some sort of contest with Dennis to see who can get fried the most in the Lake of Fire?

Does "French Fried Becker on a bun" mean anything to you? :)


Now Richard, you know better than this: Fat greasy foods are bad for you and besides, I'm unclean -- not only that I'm descended from Barbarians -- you know the ones: The ones who took down the entire Roman Empire. I see that as a good thing.

Maybe us Barbarians can take down Armstrongism. I see that as a good thing too.

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Oh, that's right Douglas. You are an unclean meat. What a delimma for the true Armstrongite looking to "roast you and toast you" in the Lake of Fire.

Richard

Douglas Becker said...

No doubt Lord Xenu will get there first.

No wait, is the Lake of Fire of the Armstrongists the same as the Supervolcanoes of Dianetics?

I get confused about fantasy things.

Hoss said...

And Johnny Cash sings in the background, I fell in to a burning Lake of Fire...

eddby said...

bob just "doesn't get it".

Byker Bob said...

Anyone at any time could pull a Wade Cox on Thiel, calling those who host his drivel, complaining, and getting him shut down. But, what would be the point? He's so danged amusing, and if someone shut him down, all it would do is to get rid of some of our entertainment. What would we do then?

BB

Anonymous said...


The topic of Isaiah 28:9-11 came up after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong in 1986 and the total apostasy of the Tkaches in 1995. HWA had used these verses to explain how to study the Bible. Others now claimed that these verses were just talking about the babbling of drunks, and those who hated HWA immediately believed that theory and quickly exclaimed that HWA had been “wrong yet again.”

Notice that the major Bible translations like the KJV from four hundred years ago and the more modern NIV translate these verses the way they do. The NIV does have a footnote that says, “(possibly meaningless sounds; perhaps a mimicking of the prophet's words)”.

HWA had taught that, “The full explanation or truth of any one subject is seldom made complete and clear in any one passage. Other portions, factors, or phases of the subject are usually contained in one or several other passages in other parts of the Bible either in the Old or New Testament. A true and full understanding of this subject is profitable only when these perhaps several other passages, scattered throughout the Bible, are put together.” HWA wrote, “I learned that the Bible is like a jigsaw puzzle--thousands of pieces that need putting together--and the pieces will fit together in only one way.” (See Mystery of the Ages by HWA, page xi).

I still remember that someone who had been thinking about the matter turned to me in his swivel chair and said the following as I entered his office one day:

“Even if Herbert Armstrong was wrong--and I am not saying that he was--and these verses are just talking about the babbling of drunks, rather than 'here a little, and there a little,' nevertheless, that is how the Bible is written. It is written 'here a little, and there a little.'”

Retired Prof said...

To make the Bible into a unified single work is a grotesque distortion. It is an anthology, a jumble of different literary genres, written in more than one language (and translated into many others), across vastly different historical eras, by an array of authors with individual biases, for a variety of reasons. To make it seem to have the same kind of unity as a history book, philosophical treatise, psychological text, economic plan, novel, or drama you have to leave out vast swaths of text and cram the rest into a shape that inevitably winds up ugly and malformed.

If it had been devised by the creator in the manner of a jigsaw puzzle where "the pieces will fit together in only one way,” it would have been supplied in a box with a picture on the lid to guide the assembly so everybody could agree on how the parts fit together to make a coherent picture. There would be only one sect of Christianity.

Sorry folks. Literature, including sacred literature, does not work that way. The joy of it is that the parts will fit together in so many ways that we can spend a lifetime finding new ones and arguing over which way is the best. An endless source of entertainment, enlightenment, and stimulating debate.

Even simple little stories composed in our native idiom afford such opportunities. Indulge me here.

I once presented a series of lectures defending the notion that jokes have literary value. One joke from the Ozarks was about a dog that learned to catch foxes all by himself, and his master made a lot of money selling the furs. By watching the man stretch the skins on tapered boards to dry, the dog figured out how to bring back a fox the right size to match a particular board. So the man would lean a stretching board up against the smokehouse, and next morning there would be a dead fox to fit it. Exactly. The dog was that good.

The man raked in so much money that season, he bought his wife a new dresser. She got excited and gave the whole house a cleaning right back to the corners, because it would be a shame to put such a pretty dresser in a dirty house. Took a bunch of articles outside so she could mop the floors, and when she put everything back, she forgot and left the ironing board leaning up against the smokehouse wall. It was the same shape as a fur-stretching board for a fox but about three or four times as big.

A terrible mistake. The dog looked that ironing board up and down and took off into the woods. Nobody ever saw him again.


As a dog owner, I had always understood the disappearance this way: the loyal dog was still out there earnestly trying to find a fox to fit that board, but of course with no chance he ever would. One guy in the audience, a union man who had negotiated for workers' rights, figured the dog had said to himself, "Dammit, if he expects me to do that, I'm quitting this job." Somebody else came up with the intriguing, if surreal, possibility that the dog had actually found some monstrous animal, maybe a wolf or something, big enough to fit the board and gotten killed in the fight.

See? All three ways of fitting that piece into the overall pattern of the story make a coherent whole. Now take this ambiguity and multiply it by all the kinds that can occur in all the chapters in the Bible. Is it any wonder that nobody can ever agree on how the pieces of the puzzle fit together?

Anonymous said...

...and the dog was named procrustes. I've always wanted an answer as to Why didn't Jesus just write the book himself? If he couldn't write it, why didn't He demand from his disciples their submissions for it so He could make sure everybody was on the same page? He could have made it more coherent before He decided to wander off again.
But look at what happened.

DBP