Sunday, December 02, 2007

Revised debate link bumped to top

It's good to have unlimited time to reconsider how best to answer CNN debate questions! I've revised a bunch of original answers, and shortened and smoothed a bunch - and I'm proud of the post in it's current form: Link.

I revised the Bible inerrancy question (# 19) six different times! As much as that question had no place in the debate, I nevertheless found it's inclusion fascinating. In the moment, onstage, Romney was flummoxed by it. In the moment, I might've also been flummoxed. Giuliani was decently good in answering the question. Huckabee was better.

I first answered as if the question were:

What is the definition of "inspired word of God?"
The men who wrote the Bible were especially filled with God's inspiration - yet they remained fallible men who retained free will. God did not author exact words straight from His consciousness, through the human hand, and thence onto pages. Inspired yet fallible humans - with their free will intact - composed the Bible.
The Bible represents fallible, free-will exposition of inspired truth onto a page. It does not represent infallible, unfree, forced recording of absolute truth onto a page.
I threw these in - they seemed relevant:
I'm reminded of a quote, which I shall now mangle:
"Man cannot write so clearly as to not be misunderstood."

"But the Bible has some messages that nobody really can confuse and really not left up to interpretation. 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
And as the only person here on the stage with a theology degree, there are parts of it I don't fully comprehend and understand, because the Bible is a revelation of an infinite god, and no finite person is ever going to fully understand it. If they do, their god is too small."
The second pass at the question included a rumination: if the Bible were literally delivered - specific word for specific word - directly from God to us - without man's free will intervening at any point in the process: mightn't there be only one Gospel book in the New Testament, instead of four? Wouldn't God have gotten everything correct on His first try?

The third pass at the question was an indignant rant that the Bible inerrancy question represented a religious test, and as such was positively UNAMERICAN!

The problem with the third pass, I later realized:

While there is no religious test to determine who can run for office, running for office and being elected are different things. Voters can take religion into account when deciding who to vote for.

Thus, the fourth pass was a consideration:

What do voters really want and/or deserve to know about a candidate's religious belief?

Voters want to get a sense of how a candidate was formed into who he is. It is relevant for voters to know a candidate is Christian, for instance, as this infers a candidate was shaped by the Bible's over-riding themes, such as "Love your neighbor as yourself."

The key question: How much do the minutiae of a candidate's biblical interpretations reveal about how a candidate was formed as a person?

Not much, imo. The candidates are rarely theologians who have dived deeply into scripture study. Candidates mostly are familiar with over-riding themes, and not much more.

What about: How much do the minutiae of a candidate's biblical interpretations affect how the candidate will govern?

Also not much. Diving deeper into the Bible is diving deeper into the spiritual - not into secular questions such as how to govern a country. Jesus rendered unto Caesar. He never commented on constitutional government.

The fifth pass was a flowery refusal to answer the interlocutor's inappropriate question. This fifth pass included some political flowery-ness, in order to make me look good as a candidate. The fifth pass sucked eggs.

The sixth pass slashed the flowery language out of the fifth pass. I think I'm going to let the sixth pass stand as the best televised debate answer. It contains a good combination of pugnacious, yet polite, plus serious and to-the-point. I think it's the best answer for the format...

Do you believe in every word of this book?
This gentleman's actual question is:

Do you agree with my interpretation of every portion of the Bible?

I can give a short answer: no.

Even Bible scholars cannot agree on the meaning of everything in the Bible. I am confident not a one of us on stage agree with this gentleman's interpretation of everything in the Bible.

Vote Greg in 2008!

I'm able to revise answers at will(!) - against good blog etiquette - and for my own enjoyment(and understanding) - then bump the revised answers to the top of my blog!

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