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I, for one, do not have a corner on the truth. (Does anyone?) From my perspective, however, truth would seem to be the payoff for a thoroughgoing hermeneutic. If as interpreters we do our job well, we are entitled, I think, to say with at least some measure of confidence, "Thus saith the Lord," and not just "Thus saith the text"!

The approach to hermeneutics which limits itself to a dry intellectualism may--no, it does--have its place, but biblical hermeneutics must not stop with "This is what I believe the text says, and what it says makes sense contextually, and here's why." No, biblical hermeneutics must continue with "This is what the text means in the larger context of the entire Bible and how it applies to our lives existentially."

As Jesus said,

"Sanctify them [, Father,] through your word; your word is truth" (John 17:17).

The former approach I find to be sterile, lifeless, and like salt which has lost it savour, should be rejected.

Some contributors to BH beta, however, seem to think we need to halt our interpreting at the point where we feel we have "made our case" as to what the text says. That approach may have its place, but it seems--to me, anyway--to stop short of truly applying God's truth to our lives. Furthermore, even the most cerebral approach to hermeneutics comes with presuppositional baggage, and when we take umbrage with a contributor's truth claim, we may fail to realize we ourselves, however unconsciously, cling to our own version of truth.

I've expressed quite clearly in some of my comments on the site that I am perfectly willing to precede each of my contributions to the website with a caveat to the effect that

"The following material will likely be of interest only to Christians, and it is based on the doctrine of the Analogy of Scripture, which to some Christians means the Bible comprises both the Tanakh and the New Testament, the former of which laid a foundation for the latter in true Judeo-Christian fashion, and both of which are not in conflict with each other, but rather are characterized by complementarity."

Jesus' hermeneutic in Luke 24 (v.27, "he explained") was not some dry exposition on the ten commandments of helpful hermeneutics, but a step-by-step exegesis of the "things [in Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms] concerning Himself" (vv.27, 44). As a result of his Bible lesson with the two disciples on Emmaus Road, their hearts burned within them (v.32). That's not dry intellectualism but a fire in their bellies from the paradigmatic vista which Jesus had just opened to them.

Sorry for my prolix plaint, but there's a question in there somewhere, I think.

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    @rhetorician-I thinks you justs needs to be who you is, Don-all that 'brouhaha' is just an attempt to cave in to their pressure. 'Tightening' your responses(i have seen some very measured responses from you in the past) could help. But giving into 'the Bible is an idea in the midst of ideas' is just plain wrong. You know when you believe what the words say, they become truths you base your life on. That is the purpose of scripture "..so the man of God may be equipt in every good work". Any Hermeneutic that doesn't pursue the truth is intellectual effeteism. – Tau Jan 26 '14 at 3:02
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    I am an atheist (and can not be converted), but with a Biblical and a Scientific background - but there is one thing that I have learned, is to respect everyone's views, beliefs and 'truths'. I approach questions here strictly through a scientific, cultural and historical perspective, but can see that a full answer (or at least, set of answers), could include all aspects including spirituality. I think by respecting that each of us have different 'truths', beliefs etc it should not be a problem. – user3376 Jan 26 '14 at 3:15
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    'Some contributors to BH beta, however, seem to think we need to halt our interpreting at the point where we feel we have "made our case" as to what the text says.' -- This is expressly stated point of this website. This is not a Christian website. It is a biblical studies website for anyone of any background. What you have in mind is something more like Christianity.SE, or even just a Christian message board. It isn't justifiable to come to Hermeneutics.SE and then try to steer it in a direction it was explicitly not created for. – user2910 Jan 26 '14 at 6:53
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    Even from a Reformed Christian perspective believing strongly in the need to declare the Scriptures as absolute truth and apply them with the help of the Holy Spirit, I see a number of issues with this articulation. Probably most troublesome is the "all we have is a hammer therefore everything is a nail" stance it takes as if different venues can't have different purposes and be different pieces of a puzzle. – Caleb Jan 26 '14 at 7:01
  • @user2479: Thanks for the vote of confidence. "Effeteness" (I can't spell effete-ism) may be overstating the case, but a "pi_ _ ing contest" may be more apropos. Or perhaps the ol' "This is my sandbox, and in my sandbox we play by my rules." Or perhaps "Just the facts, ma'm, just the facts" (Sergeant Friday in TV's "Dragnet"). What's the use of facts if they do not point or contribute in some way to something bigger--like truth. We have "facts + truth" in the courtroom. In biblical hermeneutics (not the website) we have "facts + Truth." Without the "T" we have a handsome, uh, gelding! – rhetorician Jan 26 '14 at 23:25
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    @rhetorician Comments are removed under a variety of circumstances, and votes on them are often meaningless. I highly encourage you to write your own answer giving your perspective so the community can voice their approval or disapproval of your perspective as well. This is better than a myriad of comments. – Dan Jan 27 '14 at 0:03
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    @MarkEdward: Believe it or not, I am not trying to steer BH beta in any particular direction, including "my" direction. In virtually all (if not all) academic pursuits, there is value in the dialectic. It is in the give and take of intelligent and informed (even heated)discussion that participants in the dialectic emerge with any number of things. These things might include: a) a grudging respect for an interlocutor's point of view and perhaps even for his or her consistency, even if I disagree vehemently; b) an epiphany that strengthens or weakens my perspective; or c) the ol' ad hominem – rhetorician Jan 27 '14 at 0:23
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    @All-OK, so I go to Barnes & Noble and I get this book called "Holy Bible", then after I wander through the introductory stuff, I go to the 1st page and I read,"In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth". God who? God what? Is it Vishnu? Buddha? The Great Pumpkin? Then I come to an amazing realization....who was the reporter on the scene when it happened? This must be "God's Book"! Oh-oh, we can't let this get out.Scripture is not "string theory"-people have and are currently dying for what is written on these pages. To respect differences, I agree. To disrespect the Author? No! – Tau Jan 27 '14 at 5:46
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    @All-I'm going to really crawl out on a limb here....The fact that some have so-called religious reasons for flying airplanes into our buildings, or the fact that certain denominations took it upon themselves to 'rid' the earth of people that didn't believe the way they did, or (tragically) people didn't respect God's Covenant people and pogromed and persecuted and attempted to annihilate them doesn't make the Author of the Book any less esteemed. There is "Truth", and there is what you do with it: one helps, the other harms, all in the name of Truth. – Tau Jan 27 '14 at 6:18
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    I hope you are not discouraged by the DVs on your question or the responses here: this is a useful productive discussion and this is the right place to have it. Thanks you for asking this question! – Jack Douglas Jan 27 '14 at 8:37
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    @user2479 there are some of us who seek only archaeological and scientific evidence - which is within the scope of this site. My questions do not and never will ask about God, but about the archaeological evidence of particular passages. – user3376 Jan 27 '14 at 19:43
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    Re your last comment to me ending "I'll think on it." As you think on what your participation is going to look like, realize that the choice before you is whether you will respect this community and its guidelines or not participate. At this point in you should see that there is a pretty clear mandate that some things are not acceptable here. You are not being offered the option to just keep doing things that explicitly violate community consensus, however misguided you may think that consensus is. You may not use an MO until you convince folk here on meta that it is good for the site. – Caleb Jan 27 '14 at 21:38
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    @rhetorician, I think that it is an invitation to continue to participate, but within the community held guidelines. – user3376 Jan 28 '14 at 7:01
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    MO stands for modus operandi, and you are being invited to adjust yours to one that fits community expectations. – Caleb Jan 28 '14 at 8:28
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    Oh please. That sort of talk only using words to obscure what would otherwise be plain. It my profession ATM means Asynchronous Transfer Mode and refers to a way to encode datagrams in cells and transfer them over a wire using a time-division multiplexing. But I would be a fool to thing that's what most people usually mean. The most common usage DOES mean Automated Teller Machine and that this usage was intended is generally eminently clear, even in your trick comment. I'm sure there are other usages but that is the one you intended to come to mind given no other context. – Caleb Jan 28 '14 at 18:32
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The approach to hermeneutics which limits itself to a dry intellectualism may--no, it does--have its place [...]

And this is that place.

I disagree that it is - or must be - dry intellectualism, but it should absolutely be rigorous and focused. As with all sites on Stack Exchange, this site exists to help folks with specific interests solve specific problems: in this case, those interests are centered around specific texts, and the specific problems are those directly involving the interpretation of that text.

Y'all have other interests as well. And there are other problems related to the text... But this is not the place for those. If this site has a purpose, it is to equip its members with the knowledge and tools necessary to make use of these texts elsewhere: on other Stack Exchange sites, on other forums, in their work, their ministry, devotion or education.

And if you lose sight of that, you're doing your fellow members - and yourself - a disservice.

Consider a situation where you needed knowledge of some other discipline in order to do some important bit of work. Say, mathematics. And you found a place dedicated to teaching math, but it was clogged with teachers who spent their time telling stories about how useful math was to them, and all of the great things math had been used to accomplish, and they were wonderful stories and well-told but... At the end of the day, you still didn't know enough math to do your job. Would you go back? Would you recommend this place to others who needed to learn this subject?

In various conversations here today, you've mentioned the teachings of both Jesus and Paul, both of whom are fine examples to follow indeed! But you realize, both were extremely well-versed in the text and its interpretation... The text tells us of Jesus as a youth, sitting among the teachers, listening and asking questions. And of Paul's years of study. Long before they stood up to preach, they sat and listened and learned the history and the law. Dry though it may be, upon this foundation they built something awesome.

Let us work here to offer such an education to those who may later go on to use it for great things elsewhere. If we can do even that, it will be enough.

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  • Your argument from similitude is good, though flawed (as ultimately all analogies are at some point). See Richard Weaver, author of "The Ethics of Rhetoric," or get a little taste of his thesis at faculty.gvsu.edu/gillesr/WEAVER.html. There is truth with a lower-case "t". There is Truth with a capital "T". If I want help in math, I want truth, aka facts. If I want help in the Judeo-Christian faith, and I want it from a text, I want Truth, and I want it from the Bible via a thoroughgoing hermeneutic which balances Truth with truth. I do not want the person to whom I go for help to say, – rhetorician Jan 27 '14 at 1:51
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    This is not a site for help in the Judeo-Christian faith. There are other places for that, and I would hope they might build on the work done here - but the goal here is merely to build a foundation. You should not finish one corner and immediately start in on the wall - your place is to finish the foundation so that others can build up. Now, of course one does not lay a foundation without regard for the structure that will sit on it - and it would be dishonest (indeed, potentially counter-productive) to require questions to be asked without regard to the need that motivates them. – Shog9 Jan 27 '14 at 1:59
  • "Sorry, we have to bracket Truth and limit ourselves to the best truth/facts we can muster." Of course my own analogy breaks down at the point where you (and others) can counter by saying, "But the raison d'être of BH beta is to get at the truth, not the Truth. Truth (i.e., truth) is about facts, and arguments based on facts; Truth is about doctrine, which is not amenable to facts per se but to beliefs, and BH is not about beliefs but best guesses based on facts." Fair enough. It's just that I do not believe in such a rigid bifurcation between facts & belief. IMO, they are complementarities. – rhetorician Jan 27 '14 at 2:02
  • I do like your loophole, Shog9 (and I use the word "loophole" with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek): " . . . it would be dishonest . . . to require questions to be asked without regard to the need that motivates them." I'll definitely think on that. Well done. (Not touché, but well done.) – rhetorician Jan 27 '14 at 2:09
  • Oh, and +1 for the math analogy (and a "useful comment" upvote for your loophole). – rhetorician Jan 27 '14 at 2:12
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    @Shog9-I'm ok with the Jesus and Paul analogy-but they based their lives on what they learned, and eventually lost their lives(Jesus being resurrected) for what they taught. We can have differences over programming techniques or string theory-but at the end of the day does it matter? Not so with Truth. – Tau Jan 27 '14 at 6:03
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    I'm not sure how that's an argument against careful analysis and rigorous verification of the results, @user2479. – Shog9 Jan 27 '14 at 18:20
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    @Shog9-The discussion concerns Truth. Truth should stand up to careful analysis and rigorous verification. The difference is Truth is what you base your life on-careful analysis isn't. – Tau Jan 28 '14 at 7:53
  • I base my life on careful analysis, of choices, of evidence - I have not always been this way, but after experiences, events and reflection - I found that this path is the best for me to be enriched and happy (not content, but truly happy). – user3376 Jan 28 '14 at 9:21
3

This request is nothing new, users have weighed in over years so I will not retype what has already been written extensively elsewhere. I will merely quote existing meta posts that have been upvoted by the community.

We discuss the text, not the things to which the text applies

The majority of users have agreed that:

Questions are on topic if they are focused on the text, rather than things to which the text may apply.... Questions that seem to be seeking to apply the Bible are off-topic.

We do indeed "stop short of truly applying God's truth to our lives," that is a well-defined guideline for participation here:

We stop short of application when answering questions about the Bible (which means we don't fully exegete the text in the religious sense of the practice).... Questions about the application of the Biblical texts are best asked on sites devoted to specific religious traditions such as Christianity.SE or Judaism.SE. We try to avoid eisegesis as much as possible.

This is a university, not a church/synagogue

As articulated in our (highly upvoted by the community) site distinctives under point #4:

We are interested in questions about Biblical texts and the process of translating and interpreting them, not absolute truth(s). We want to know how things are and have been—what they should be is your concern.

In the university, the Bible (viewed as an academic text of literature rather than as 'scripture') is taken up as an object of philological, moral, aesthetic, and antiquarian interest.1 The university’s goals are "to avoid controversial ideologies, outmoded systems of thought, dogmatism, and extreme positions on either end of the theological spectrum."2

Imagine being observed by a bunch of professors who know the Bible, but don't necessarily believe it (at least not in the same way that you do). That is your audience—even if many of us are adherents of a religion. In a university setting (such as a rigorously academic seminary), truth is often less important than how you arrive at it. A quote from the movie Indiana Jones comes to mind:

"Archaeology is the search for fact... not truth. If it's truth you're
looking for, Dr. Tyree's philosophy class is right down the hall."

That is not to say that truth isn't important (indeed, those of us who adhere to religious beliefs and practices are very concerned about truth in our lives)—it's just secondary to scholarship in this context. We make the Internet a better place by bringing rigorous scholarship to bear on the real questions people have about the Biblical texts and the process of understanding them (stopping short of the application of these texts).

The good news is that there are other places on the web that welcome modern religious interpretations of texts that focus primarily on absolute truth—this is simply not that place. We offer something different.

Stay on target

Another meta post points out that historical, linguistic, and literary questions about the Biblical texts are primarily what we ask about here, while religious, theological/doctrinal, ethical, and liturgical questions about the text are best asked elsewhere. Questions asking about linguistic features of a text should receive linguistic responses, not theological ones, and so on. In other words, answers should stay on target.

This isn't because these other aspects of the text are unimportant, but rather because this site has chosen to focus only on specific aspects of it because there are plenty of other websites focusing on the aspects we exclude. This helps reduce to the signal-to-noise ratio, resulting in this site making the Internet a better place by providing well-researched, scholarly, and 'on-target' answers that are hard to find elsewhere.

This also makes our answers useful to a much broader audience (which is important considering that we explicitly "welcome Jewish, Christian, Atheist and other viewpoints as long as they take seriously the process of understanding the Biblical texts").

Showing work helps minimize "presuppositional baggage"

You also mention that "even the most cerebral approach to hermeneutics comes with presuppositional baggage." I fully agree with you here. We can't eliminate all bias. But we can expect some of it to be bracketed in the interest of welcoming all perspectives, and we also require that users show their work so that we can understand how someone came to various conclusions, not just what they think:

...we try to minimize unstated presuppositions in questions and answers. For this reason, we expect good questions and answers to lay out a logical argument beginning from the Biblical text. This is like mathematics homework: you shouldn't give an answer without showing how you derived it.

As also explained elsewhere,

What makes us different from those sites is that here, our focus is primarily on the process of hermeneutical analysis, not the final output of that process. This distinction is significant and critical for users of this site to understand, but in practice the degrees of implementation are often subtle.

We are different, but we're glad you're here!

I will close by quoting the final point in our site distinctives:

We are different, and sometimes it takes a little bit of a paradigm shift to adapt. Every student who enters an academically rigorous seminary feels that way at some point. Having your assumptions challenged, your motives questioned, and your contributions edited is not always pleasant. However, if you endure the initial 'poking and prodding,' you'll quickly realize that you have found a community that cherishes the Biblical texts and desires to understand them in a unique way not found anywhere else on the Internet—and you'll learn a lot and make some new friends along the way.


1 Michael C. Legaspi. The Death of Scripture and the Rise of Biblical Studies (USA: Oxford University Press, 2011), 31–32.

2 Ibid., 41.

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    that is awesome and what attracted me to the site. – user3376 Jan 27 '14 at 0:12
  • So there IS a place for truth; namely, in Dr. Tyree's philosophy class! That is the kind of bifurcation I find distasteful. If Dr. Tyree were real, his approach to truth would likely be to examine all the major philosophies down through history in an attempt to determine a) what they had to say about truth; b) the meaning, to them, of what they said; and c) how what they said and meant fits into the bigger scheme. Truth (T) gets left out. That's because Prof Tyree doesn't believe it exists. All we have is a plethora of truths, some of which have a certain "je ne sais quoi" (e.g., elegance). – rhetorician Jan 27 '14 at 18:19
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    And @rhetorician you are free to do a lot of truth analysis over at C.SE, so there is indeed a place on the SE network where it can be done. It's just out of scope here (to certain extents, as explained). – Dan Jan 27 '14 at 18:21
  • Yeah, I contribute there, too. And also at English Language & Usage. I still think I can make a contribution here, but thanks for the referral. Don – rhetorician Jan 27 '14 at 18:28
  • @rhetorician I didn't mean to imply that you can't make a contribution here (several of your recent contributions here have been very good). I only mean that most assertions about (big-T) Truth are not usually received well here. Even so, when qualified, you can still make some assertions and get away with it (e.g. "From a Christian perspective, Jesus Christ is Lord and therefore...."). It may still get some DVs, but people are free to vote any way they please, but if it is truly vital to the answer and logically on topic then it is likely fine. Just 'stay on target' and 'show your work.' – Dan Jan 27 '14 at 19:42
  • @Daи: OK, I'll give it the ol' college try. – rhetorician Jan 28 '14 at 18:26
1

Thinking about this, one thing people have to understand and accept is that one person's 'truth', is not another person's 'truth'. What some refer to as the 'Truth', literally has no meaning to many people.

For example, for me (and this is not up for debate), my 'Truth' is scientific or archaeological evidence. (Hence my frequent use of the science tag).

This site allows and embraces these differences as we all explore Biblical texts as texts.

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  • I heartily recommend the following book to you. It will likely upset you, annoy you, irritate you, and cause you to "run in circles, scream and shout"! (Truth has that effect on all of us, at times.) The book is by Paul Copan: TRUE FOR YOU, BUT NOT FOR ME: DEFLATING THE SLOGANS THAT LEAVE CHRISTIANS SPEECHLESS (Bethany, 1998). Also worthwhile is Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler: THE NEW TOLERANCE (Tyndale House, 1998). Pick either of them up, prepared to prove them wrong; read 'em and be prepared to have a paradigm shift. But only if you dare! – rhetorician Feb 15 '14 at 21:46
  • Your 'Truth'... this seems to assume that I want/need to change. I had a paradigm shift, used to be devout, but found my 'Truth' in science – user3376 Feb 15 '14 at 22:21
  • So you're not open to being re-exposed to your former point of view? How intolerant! (I hope you realize I'm just giving you a playful ribbing here!) By the way, there you go again, saying "my 'Truth,'" as if people can somehow possess the truth. Quite the contrary, truth possesses them, even if it isn't true. By the way, how do you define the word "devout"? – rhetorician Feb 15 '14 at 22:47
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    okay, so the Truth from Science (and mathematics) found and possessed me and told me to get a haircut... I still have faith - but it is in people, that the human race are capable of amazing things. However, I do not debate my beliefs, so I'll leave that there. – user3376 Feb 16 '14 at 1:21
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The following article can be found here (minus my own addendum in brackets, of course). While the theme of the article is "tolerance," it also touches on the notion of truth (see the article's last paragraph). In my opinion, the article's author, Hank Hanegraaff (aka "The Bible Answer Man"), makes a good argument for not bracketing the truth.

Today tolerance is being redefined to mean that all views are equally valid and all lifestyles equally appropriate. As such, the notion that Jesus is the only way is vilified as the epitome of intolerance. Rather than capitulating to culture, Christians must be equipped to expose the flaws of today’s tolerance, while simultaneously exemplifying true tolerance.

First, to say all views are equally valid sounds tolerant but in reality is a contradiction in terms. If indeed all views are equally valid then the Christian view must be valid. The Christian view, however, holds that not all views are equally valid. Thus, the redefinition of tolerance in our culture is a self-refuting proposition. Moreover, we do not tolerate people with whom we agree; we tolerate people with whom we disagree. If all views were equally valid, there would be no need for tolerance.

[I’d paraphrase what Hank seems to be saying here as follows: 1) a preacher of the new tolerance (what I call “the old intolerance”) cannot at the same time say, “All religions are equally valid; therefore, Christ cannot be THE way, truth, and life,” and “I’m tolerant of Christianity and its claims.” To do so is to contradict himself or herself. If all religions are valid, then so must Christianity be valid; 2) a preacher of the new tolerance cannot therefore redefine tolerance in a way that includes an element of intolerance toward Christianity. To do so would be self-refuting. Selah. As an aside: intelligent Christians--yes, there are a few of them--do not insist their religion has a corner on the truth. To many of them, "All truth is God's truth wherever it may be found." Many of them realize that no self-respecting religion can even get off the ground without having at least some truth with which to attract adherents.]

Furthermore, today’s redefinition of tolerance leaves no room for objective moral judgments. A modern terrorist could be deemed as virtuous as a Mother Teresa. With no enduring reference point, societal norms are being reduced to mere matters of preference. As such, the moral basis for resolving international disputes and condemning such intuitively evil practices as genocide, oppression of women, and child prostitution is being seriously compromised.

Finally, in light of its philosophically fatal features, Christians must reject today’s tolerance and revive true tolerance. True tolerance entails that, despite our differences, we treat . . . [all the people] we meet with the dignity and respect due them as those created in the image of God. True tolerance does not preclude proclaiming the truth, but it does mandate that we do so with gentleness and with respect (cf. 1 Pet. 3:15–16). In a world that is increasingly intolerant of Christianity, Christians must exemplify tolerance without sacrificing truth. Indeed, tolerance when it comes to personal relationships is a virtue, but tolerance when it comes to truth is a travesty.3

-Hank Hanegraaff

NOTES

  1. Excerpted from Hank Hanegraaff’s The Bible Answer Book, Volume 2 (Nashville: J. Countryman, 2006).
  2. All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version.
  3. For further study, see Paul Copan, True for You, but Not for Me: Deflating the Slogans That Leave Christians Speechless (Bethany House Publishers, 1998); see also Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler, The New Tolerance (Tyndale House Publishers, 1998).

In conclusion, I find it interesting that even in our post-modern courtrooms in the year 2014, there is still the search for truth:

"Do you swear that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"

Today, however, many would like to be able to respond to that question by saying,

"Uh, your honor, I swear to testify to the facts as I see them; all the facts; and nothing but the facts, so help me, Me."

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    I testify on a pretty routine basis, and a Bible is not used nor God's name, FYI :P – Dan Feb 16 '14 at 3:04
  • And please understand that you are free to believe what you wish, but for purposes of answers here, the criteria is not which is true nor which is right, but which are helpful. I can upvote an answer that I believe is wrong and yet still find it helpful. Remember, we're not here to determine Truth. – Dan Feb 16 '14 at 3:06
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    @Daи: I think you meant to say "criterion," not criteria. It may be the lateness of the hour, but the way you're bandying about those words "true," "right," and "helpful" is mighty confusin', pardner, especially "helpful." How do you define "helpful"? Some people I know are helped by hearing the truth. In fact, the two go together plum nicely, especially when they're delivered in love. As for the heathen bailiwick to which you refer which mentions neither God nor uses a Bible in a court of law: just where might that be? – rhetorician Feb 16 '14 at 6:05
  • in just about every federal court in the United States. And yes, I should have used a plural verb with criteria. I explained more fully in my answer. – Dan Feb 16 '14 at 20:13
  • @Daи: First, I should've known better about that swearing-in statistic. I'm now curious about what verbiage is used in Pennsylvania's courts. I've read your answer, above. You make some good points. While I agree with some of 'em and disagree with some of 'em, I'm pretty sure you didn't answer my question about what the word "helpful" means to you. Please define "helpful" for me. Thanks. – rhetorician Feb 17 '14 at 2:43
  • the word is subjective, you are free to use your own criteria, to include only upvoting things you believe are true. However, that is not the main point of this site (to determine Truth), even if individuals have this as their goal and use this site as a tool towards that end (but should not use it as the means to that end). For me, 'helpful' means an answer that respects community expectations, shows its work, doesn't impose its beliefs or application upon readers (if it applies the text at all, this is a concession not something I encourage), and is interesting to me. – Dan Feb 17 '14 at 5:12
  • note that the criterion of helpfulness is not some form of tolerance, since we are not determining truth. Something can be helpful and you can believe it to be false at the same time. At least by my definition ;) – Dan Feb 17 '14 at 5:17
  • @Daи: I'm sorry to have offended you. I'll remove my comment. Don – rhetorician Feb 17 '14 at 18:21
  • the comment itself isn't as much of an issue as the attitude behind it. – Dan Feb 17 '14 at 18:22
  • @Daи: I understand. Was just reading this morning about how we need to listen better, and not just to other folks and what they have to say (and how they say it), but to to ourselves. We need more than occasionally to ask ourselves, "Self, listen to what you're about to say. How do you think it will sound to the person to whom you're saying it?" So I did listen, albeit too late, and decided I spoke unadvisedly. Again, I'm sorry. Don – rhetorician Feb 17 '14 at 18:30
  • apology accepted. – Dan Feb 18 '14 at 1:45

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