Responses to Mr. Molina’s First Reply

Posted By on February 27, 2009

I’m posting this due to the length of Mr. Molina’s reply.  I’ll follow this post with his second reply and my responses.  See “MSH” for my thoughts.


(start of Mr. Molina’s statement on inspiration)

I believe that God intended to deliver specific, direct revelation at certain times, to certain people both to provide information and as a way to preserve (and for us to glorify) what He would accomplish through His Son for all time.

MSH:  I like it

This revelation was strictly, by nature, spiritual and moral, not scientific. He allowed holy (therefore receptive and discerning) men the freedom of expressing it while exercising Providential Sovereignty in the curtailing of such expression.

MSH:  wondering about the word “curtailing” – ?

I believe that God’s Spirit must ignite within us-the receptors and beneficiaries of these endeavors-the faith and spiritual insight to grasp the message conveyed by the words on paper, so that we can, not only apply the direct logic of them as we need them, but learn about His attributes from the larger message that inspired them-the hidden context that isn’t so obvious at first glance to the rational faculties.

I understand that although it was both necessary and ordained for the Jewish nation to be the keepers of the oracles they were not able to discern the larger message they pointed to in the coming of Jesus, His Redemptive work, and the mystery of the Church; therefore, Jesus is portrayed as bringing correction to the mentality that is birthed from living only by the letter and not the spirit of the letter even as He fulfilled the letter. Though they preserved for all peoples the archetypes, symbols, doctrines, prophecies and commands that God inspired-directly and indirectly-and which encompass the revelation of God before Christ, the Jewish Nation could go no further until Jesus began to open the Scriptures to them.

MSH:  no problem for me here; not sure I’d need to say all this though in the Bellingham Statement

(end of Mr. Molina’s statement on inspiration)

Mr. Molina continues:

From which I take two things: It is important to preserve the word of God as much as it is possible; however, we cannot understand it strictly from a logical point of view (even the Jews got in trouble this way missing whole swaths of Messianic revelation by blindly adhering to sacrifices that, in the end, could not truly help them) no matter how hard we try because it does take some Divine Assistance to unlock the truths within it…

MSH: Agreed – you are really saying that the Western way of looking at things (Enlightenment rationalism) is insufficient – and perhaps even misguided at points.

… now I don’t believe that post the Ascension every human being is somehow able to read the Bible and automatically “get it” because Christianity is mainstream enough that many non-believers can accurately describe its tenets, yet it does nothing for the unregenerate mind-God is still needed to “light the spark”…therefore, how far can one look at the Scriptures from a purely academic perspective until one loses the focus of its true intent and therefore miss the forest for the trees? I mean, clearly I’m a bit disillusioned here (sad smile) as many things one holds dear do slowly begin to crumble under the weight of stark-naked fact (Hey blog-missioned accomplished!) yet, I am not in despair or any such thing…

MSH:  that’s good – It isn’t that you’re “losing truth” – you’re actually losing “falsehood” in the sense that familiar articulations of some point of doctrine or some point of exegesis really wasn’t accurate.  I know how you feel, but (because I’m older!) have long passed the feeling of regret when a poor understanding in my mind is shed or jettisoned.  It’s an occasion for praise and joy, because it’s a progression toward seeing Scripture as it came from the God who gave it – it is a baby step toward understanding God’s revelation more clearly in the context in which he chose to dispense it.  Don’t shed any tears when poor understandings fall by the wayside and give way to better ones.

I just simply want to know how one does reconcile the obvious…that God is Supernatural and we are not and His approach at direct revelation (the Bible) reflects both truths? (I understand this is a whole separate topic and that I may be out of turn, or sort of late in the race to bring it up now, but I think the point underpins Dr. Heiser’s entire exercise)

MSH: Yes – As I’ve tried (perhaps poorly) to express in this blog and with respect to the subject of inspiration, discerning this gap between us and God is a GOOD thing. God knew what he was dealing with (he made humanity) and thus he knew “what he had to work with.” The cool thing is that HE didn’t despair and went through with the task of revelation anyway. And frankly, if he had sidestepped the human element, the human recipients wouldn’t have been able to grasp much of what was coming to them. It was a necessary condescension and (the “A” word for Dr. Grudem) – ACCOMMODATION.

So…so far I’ve learned you cannot separate the realia of the mistake-laden and contradictory scrolls

MSH:  I still find myself wanting to NOT use terms like these (“mistake”; “contradictory”).  Perhaps this is the hardest part of my view to express. I don’t see pre-scientific language as either. It is what it is. To us, yes, pre-scientific language would be a mistake, but I don’t sense that this language (its content) was what God was trying to tell us to believe.  It was baggage that came with the messengers. I don’t feel like shooting at them for the way they communicate points.  Sure, if God were using us to deliver the message now we’d write differently and more scientifically, but does that matter?  Would the ideas of “God is creator and not the other gods” be communicated any better by Stephen Hawking than someone who didn’t know what a molecule was? I really don’t think the scientific acumen is important.  I’d view Paul’s language the same way.  Do I (did God?) really need someone who understood human reproduction in scientific terms to communicate the theological point Paul was making? I don’t think so.  This is why I don’t consider such language as evidence of errancy – what’s errant about the point being made?

… that exist from the actual work of the Spirit of God…He obviously did not demand perfection of the text copies through time but He did ensure the message within them remained intact. I doubt, however, if we miraculously were given the original autographs our problems would disappear entirely…

MSH: agreed

because they would still be words given to a pre-scientific audience with intent to solve their problems first and not, directly, our own…so where does that leave those conservative Christians who believe that every jot and tittle have to mean something? I think they’d be forced to admit that the intent of God was superior to the means He used to deliver them and that the words on paper, themselves, (as always) weren’t to be worshipped in any peculiar way but were just tools to direct our faith to the God they revealed; to see the Spirit in the Letter…even if the letter is spelled with one “t” instead of two or even when we discovered that the sky was gaseous and not solid!


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8 Responses to “Responses to Mr. Molina’s First Reply”

  1. Jonnathan Molina says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my long posts Dr. Heiser. I’m amazed you agreed with me at all, so now I know I’m on the right track following your posts. I liked what you said about it being a good thing discerning the gap between us and God. It’s also frightening, though, kind of like looking at a big chasm. It makes me realize how ignoring the context can lead to so many problems. If Genesis is not literal, and it’s a polemic (?) to establish God’s supremacy over other gods then it does seem silly to continue to try to make science match it…but it opens up other questions of course: how do we divorce the spiritual truths (Satan talked to Eve) from what’s perhaps just impressing the pagans (Adam named all the animals) without a degree on ancient legends (no disrespect meant)–most christians I know would never even know there was a connection.

    Oh for your question on your 2nd response here’s what I meant by curtailing: that God shortened, or cut or blocked any other revelation from appearing that didn’t pertain to Salvation (perhaps strictly cultural/archaic) and to keep people from being confused; that is we know, for example, that Paul wrote many letters to churches by his own testimony but they never survived…I’m sure whatever he had to say was important, perhaps even inspired, just not for us.

    Also, I love that phrase: It was baggage that came with the messengers. Ha, so true. I for one would like to at least throw a bucket of water on one of those messengers, lol. Thanks again!

  2. MSH says:

    @Jonnathan Molina: Just one quick note: The Eve-Satan thing (aside from the word “satan” not occurring in Genesis 3): I have no trouble with Eve talking to the nachash (“serpent”) in Eden and it not being “weird science” since I don’t believe the nachash was a member of the animal kingdom (the nachash, in my view, was not a snake).

  3. Jonnathan Molina says:

    I don’t believe that Satan (I realize that is not the name given in Gen 3) was a literal snake talking to Eve; hence, I have no problem with wierd science scenario as after reading your work on this (from your other site) it left me quite convinced (Funny enough it was my google search of the word “nachash” that brought me to your site and I am so thankful!).

    What I was saying was that not knowing the context of Genesis (the style it was written in I guess you have said elsewhere has to do with the author proving how Yahweh was a superior creator to other A.N.E. gods or something?) i.e. Genesis is not a literal account scientifically but it is one spiritually and if you don’t know that then you get all these wierd doctrines. I’m sure Adam did not name every single animal that ever existed (as we’re still discovering new species ourselves and some may not have even existed at that time) and maybe that was the author’s way of debunking some pagan myth…but I DO believe the spirit being “nachash” spoke with Eve literally and that is painfully obvious as the consequences of it affect every book of the Bible and our lives today. So my whole point was that in reading your blog I realize how important context is and it’s too bad most Christians don’t have the right persepctive or training or teaching so they get into trouble rationalizing the things that aren’t so obvious.
    While on the subject: I believe the nachash as a spirit being is a stronger definition but could you explain why Gen 3:1 and 3:14 he is still grouped with animals? it doesn’t make sense if he was a divine council being, does it (‘craftier than the other animals; cursed above all livestock) the explanations you gave in your paper seemed rather unsatisfying or am I missing something that ties it together? Thanks.

  4. MSH says:

    @Jonnathan Molina: I probably won’t rabbit-trail on this one for now; remind me in a couple weeks and maybe I will pull the chapters on it from the book draft I’m working on.

  5. Jonnathan Molina says:

    Will do sir, thanks!

  6. Jonnathan Molina says:

    Hi Dr. Heiser, it’s been a couple of weeks and I was just refreshing the reminder regarding my question (above: “I believe the nachash as a spirit being is a stronger definition but could you explain why Gen 3:1 and 3:14 he is still grouped with animals? it doesn’t make sense if he was a divine council being, does it (’craftier than the other animals; cursed above all livestock) the explanations you gave in your paper seemed rather unsatisfying or am I missing something that ties it together?”

    I’ll understand if you’re still too tied up to rabbit trail (your new posts are keeping me busy) but it would really help as I’ve been hung up on these questions since I first read your papers on site last year (and subsequent issues i had as I attempted to purchase some of your more in-depth papers via paypal were never resolved; long story short there: they took payment but never delivered the paper. I’ve already been refunded). Anyways, thanks for responding either way in advance. I really love your blog!

  7. MSH says:

    @Jonnathan Molina: This is a rabbit-trail.. If you want my thoughts on this you need to subscribe to the archive. Email me for the link.

  8. MSH says:

    @Jonnathan Molina: the link to the file, that is.

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