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On the Subjectivity of the Spirit and the Objective Written Scriptures

Every time you think you’re receiving something from the Spirit, a word, and impression, a leading, a discernment, a call to action, or an understanding of “something new,” you must verify those via the written word of God, the Bible.  “Wait!”  You say… “Isn’t the Bible, the written Word of God, also subjective?”  No, it’s not.  Here’s why

The Bible is objectively the Word of God because it has objectively verifiable data which can be checked for its veracity.  Just because it’s been interpreted or translated doesn’t mean it’s not objective.  Those translations and interpretations have been based on objectively verifiable data and rules.

The canonization of scripture, how the Bible was put together, which books belong, etc., is also an objectively verifiable process.  There may be disagreements regarding which books or letters belong in scripture, but those disagreements or conclusions must, and can be, verified objectively.

Whether or not you believe the data contained within the Bible doesn’t make it make it subjective.  For, in the moment you say, “I don’t believe that,” you’ve objectified what you don’t believe.  

I am not rejecting subjectivity within Christianity.  Both objectivity and subjectivity are real and needed.  I’m also not creating a false and unnecessary dichotomy between the two.  Further, I’m not saying that I don’t want to be lead by the Spirit or that you shouldn’t be either.  But, If how you’re being lead now contradicts how He has already led via His God-Breathed scriptures, then, no thanks.

 I am saying that all things subjective must be submitted to the objective word of God.  More simply put, if your subjective feelings, spiritual leadings, guidings, and discernments are not submitted to the propositional, written, and objective word of God, then there will always be the possibility that your revelations are the result of bad mushrooms on pizza instead of the knowledge that comes via Spiritual wisdom and understanding which comes through the scriptures. Colossians 1:9 

My point is simply this:  We must submit all of our subjective notions to the objective scriptures.  Regardless of what you tell me the Spirit is telling you subjectively, I can not accept what you say until I verify it (as much as is possible) in the objective written scriptures.    

A few questions:

Are we supposed to make our subjective spiritual notions objective?  

Must we always verify what we think the Spirit is telling us by confirming it in the Bible?

Doesn’t subjective data remain in the realm of opinion until it’s made objective? 

 

 

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    1. Jonathan September 8, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      Dude, you’re going to lose your Charismatic/Pentecostal street cred with posts like this.

      • Laurie Norris September 8, 2012 at 10:43 am #

        Are those two subjects in your cartoon or two objects?

        • Miguel September 8, 2012 at 10:49 am #

          Outstanding Laurie!

        • David Woods September 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

          They’re two parties…Dem. and Rep. Didn’t you notice the colors?
          Oh, and for the record…ALL mushrooms on pizza are bad.

    2. Miguel September 8, 2012 at 10:35 am #

      I have charismatic / pentecostal street cred? Hold on, I need to objectively verify that on Klout.

    3. Alan Knox September 8, 2012 at 11:04 am #

      Whenever God communicates, that communication is objective. Whenever we interpret what God communicates, we interpret subjectively.

      -Alan

      • Miguel September 8, 2012 at 11:10 am #

        Alan,

        Is it possible to receive God’s communication without “interpreting” it?

        • Alan Knox September 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

          No, I don’t think so.

          -Alan

      • Jim Wright September 8, 2012 at 11:32 am #

        Alan, I agree. But that misses the point, I think.

        There is a huge qualitative difference in the life the church and in the life of the individual believer between saying God privately told me this, and saying God externally wrote that.

        God always speaks objectively – on that I wholly agree. But when we place our personal “revelation” over God’s written revelation, as though they are equivalent in authority, we ignore that qualitative difference. The problem of subjectively in claims of authority over private revelation is totally different than any problem of subjectivity when it comes to the external, public revelation of scripture.

        When you tell me that God privately told you something, I have no external standard to assess if what you say is, in fact, objectively true – both as to you claim that God spoke, and as to your claim as to what He told you. If it relates totally, personally, to you, fine – it’s none of my concern and you stand solely before God in what you do with it.

        But if it impacts me, the church, or that person’s witness in the world in the context of other believers, then without an external standard we are at an absolute qualitative impasse. You can claim whatever you want, with total impunity.

        Where God has spoken through His external Word of scripture, however, I am not left at a loss as to whether or what God really said – like I am with your private revelation. We may disagree over interpretation – that’s for sure – but we still have an external standard. Assuming we accept the plenary authority of scripture as God-breathed for correction, reproof, doctrine, and all of life (2 Tim. 3:16), then we qualitatively have a common standard on the critical of issues of (i) Did God speak? and (ii) What did He say?

        Those who place God’s external written revelation on par with, or even make it inferior to, private revelation, lose that common bridge between us. In such a case, you heard from God privately and there is no basis for evaluating the legitimacy or the applicability of your claim.

        So to say all communication from God is objective should never be used to claim that all the ways He communicates are to be treated as equivalent or of equal authority. To do so would be a huge non sequitur.

        I’d be interested in your response.

        • Jim Wright September 8, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

          I also want to be clear that although God speaks objectively, when it is received existentially it will always become subjective to the hearer – and to others. His objective communication to me personally necessarily is filtered through my subjective perceptions, my subjective fallen nature, my subjective biases and sensibilities, and the like before I “understand” it. It proceeds as objective, but is nominally understood subjectively.

          God can cut through that clutter, and His Word in all its forms will be effective and accomplish His purpose. Is. 55:11. But what He intends, for example, may be a warning – knowing I will distort and reject what He says to me – so as to hold me accountable and to help correct a rebellious attitude. Are we to give credence, then, to all claims of existential “revelation” as being on par with or superior to external written revelation – given that all existential “revelation” unavoidably is filter through the hearer’s private subjective understanding before it even gets to the rest of us?

          Yes, we are personally accountable for all He says to us – existentially and externally in His written Word. But certainly we totally lack objectivity over any claim of hearing God existentially. My private revelation can never be claimed – by me or by anyone else – to be objective or authoritative because I will always be subjective in how I receive, understand and in turn communicate it.

          • Alan Knox September 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

            Jim,

            My comment was related to the title of this post. The Spirit is not subjective. The Spirit is objective. What the Spirit communicates is objective. Our interpretation of what the Spirit is communicating is subjective.

            Also, whatever God communicates is authoritative. (Of course, that doesn’t mean that our interpretation of what God communicates is authoritative, because our interpretation is subjective.)

            It seems to me that the concerns you’re raising have more to do with the scope of the revelation (i.e., for the individual or a group or all followers of Jesus) or whether one revelation from God overrides another or whether personal revelations should be subject to corporate interpretation. I think these are all valid concerns, and I’m concerned with the way these things often play out as well.

            I think there are some great examples in Scripture that can help us understand how to deal with any revelation that we think we have received from God – whether that revelation is in written form, in a vision, in a dream, from another person, etc.

            -Alan

        • Miguel September 8, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

          Jim,

          You’ve assessed the intention of this post quite well. I remember, many years ago when I was working in community development on the internet when Facebook and the like didn’t exist, we agreed on these NORMS of Objectivity:

          Not an interpretation – Objective and demonstrative (not subjective)

          Observable – Observable directly through your senses

          Reliable – Two or more people agree that they have observed the same

          Measurable – An objective description that includes a way to measure it

          Specific – Detailed and descriptive terms (who, what, when, where, why, how)

          While these NORMS were applied to behavior in the work place and in community with our clients, I think they apply here as well. Perhaps in a follow-up post.

    4. Kirk Stephens September 8, 2012 at 11:09 am #

      Bad mushrooms, huh? Explain that to some Native American cultures, or to those American cultures who went native in the late 60′s.

    5. Peter September 8, 2012 at 11:11 am #

      I appreciate that you added “as much as is possible”. Sometimes, it is not possible to verify something in the Scriptures. I think we also must verify things in the Ekklesia. It is in the Ekklesia, among the saints, that we are able to fully discern the mind of Christ.

      The reason I emphasize the Spirit over the Scriptures, is because that is what I see in the Scriptures. I respect and enjoy the Scriptures very much, so I emphasize the Spirit. I often enjoy Christ, by the Spirit, through the Scriptures.

      The need for both the Scriptures and the Spirit is evident in the story of the wise men. The wise men had the star, representing the Spirit guiding them. Whereas the Jews had the Scriptures. The wise men had to ask the Jews, where Jesus was to be born. Yet, the Jews, knowing where He was to be born, had no desire to go see Him themselves. The wise men had the revelation, but lacked the knowledge. The Jews had the knowledge, but lacked the revelation.

      • Miguel September 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

        Peter,

        Sometimes it’s not possible to verify a conclusion, assumption, or interpretation from scripture, but it’s always possible to verify something “in” scripture. The scripture says what it says. I can go to it and see (Observe) Objectify what it says.

        I happen to agree that Ekklesia is crucial to verification of God’s word. In fact, I would suggest that Ekklesia is key to good biblical interpretation. However, we can never let consensus, from the church or otherwise, dictate what is true.

        As to emphasizing Spirit over scripture, I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. What the Spirit says is on equal level to what the Spirit once said. If the scriptures are God-breathed, then they are Him. We can not separate the Spirit from His words. I’ll have more to say on this soon.

        I LOVE the example of the wise men and the star… Excellent! One in which I will dwell for a while.

        • Jim Puntney September 8, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

          My brothers and sisters, first and foremost our desire, our very lives, our meaning, and purpose is found in Jesus Christ.

          We are united by, strengthened by, and walk by Jesus Christ. As it has been stated, “in Him we move and have our being”.

          As we ponder, and as we collectively desire this Life giving presence, this divine Second Adam, we see in part, and know in part. Yet there is a revelation of Christ, this revelation is not in words, but the Living Word, Logos, Voice, or Expression of, by, and for Jesus Christ.

          Yes, and a thousand times yes scripture is a means, a vehicle, a guide to “see” the unseen, to know the unknown, and to understand this central focus of all creation, Jesus Christ. Yet may I state again we do not know Him from written words, we know Him from Him, the Logos, the Living Voice of God.

          I beg of you my brothers and sisters, to live out His prayer, this prayer to the Father for all of us all is clear, clean and precise, “that we may be one”. This Oneness is truly a treasure, in this oneness, we will collectively provide His desire, “that all men may know the we are His disciples, students, His beloved”.

          We collectively need “one another” in this we can see more fully, hear more clearly, and love more deeply, Jesus Christ. In so doing we gain this profound appreciation for His “voice” that we share as He is expressed in one another.

          May I please offer a few points to consider:

          1- The keel of the Ekklesia was founded in and through the Holy Spirit
          2- The scriptural authority of the Holy Spirit is to reveal Jesus Christ
          3- Our interpretation of scripture can only be trusted as it is unified by the Holy Spirit
          4- Scripture reveals how the Holy Spirit resolves differences, (Acts 15)
          5- Can we agree the John’s letter to the Ekklesia, past , present, and future depends upon the Holy Spirit providing us understanding?

          May we reflect a deeper sense of grace and peace as we collectively move, grow, and thrive, in the Life we each have “in” Jesus Christ.

        • Kat September 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

          Miguel, I think we are to submit to the body what we receive from Him and the body together, the ekklesia, aids us to not be entangled in a “misunderstanding” of Him. The ekklesia is where His fullness comes to Light, bearing “the wisdom of God.” I think you are on to something here: “I would suggest that Ekklesia is key to good biblical interpretation.” :-)

    6. Jonathan September 8, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

      The Scriptures, in a number of places, testify to the nature of its own authority (Hebrew 1 is a good example). There is authority in this revelation of God that does not exist in my own personal claim of being led by the Spirit or in the collective claim of any particular local body.

      This hierarchy of authority seems to be dividing line between various individuals and groups within Christianity…and the division is really unnecessary. Show me someone who values the experience (feeling) of being “led” by the (“a” ?) Spirit over the direct revelation of God in the Scriptures and I’ll show you someone who has not declared war against the rebellion and pride in their own flesh.

      • Miguel September 8, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

        Powerful statement. It reminds me of those who are so worried about “free – will” that they become enslaved to it.

    7. David Woods September 8, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

      Again, I guess I must preface by saying feel free to kick me off your blog if any of this offends you too much to deal with. I credit largely (although, of course, not completely) the teachings of absolutes, and the objectivity of Scripture (which is, I guess what you mean by it) for my falling away from God at age 14, and staying away until age 30 or so when I started getting a clue.

      People would tell me the Bible was objective and absolute, but then, when I would read it for myself, I saw (for example) that God told Adam to cleave to his wife (singular tense), that Bishops were to be the husband of one wife, but then 2 Sam 12:8 tells how God gave (not God tolerated, God allowed, or God permitted hesitantly, but God gave) David Saul’s wives and concubines, and would have given more had that not been enough. There are myriad other examples of the subjectivity of scripture (as it’s being called), but sticking with this one for now, how does a God who changeth not, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever go about breaking His own absolute, objective one wife rule? Is He a fickle God, or is maybe the rule not quite as absolute and objective as some may think. I tend to think the latter now, but at the time, I just thought these people obviously didn’t know what they were talking about, and therefore, weren’t worth listening to and taking instruction from, and it (among other things) ended in me putting off my life with Christ by several years.

      The answer to this particular question came in the form of revelation later. I believe that God told me it was because in that culture, those women, who were used to palace life, wouldn’t have had a chance at any kind of life after that—had they not been given to David. He cared more for the women than the “rule” at that point, and did what He did for their sake. Take this as you will. It’s not meant to clarify or teach, about that particular subject, just to give a testimony of God speaking to me. If anyone doesn’t believe God spoke to me here, I completely understand, and don’t expect you to in the first place. However, the question has been raised about extra-Biblical revelation, so I figure I’d be a little transparent, and give an example of a time where I believe God spoke directly to me.

      Regardless of what one may think about the former paragraph, I think the existence of so many denominations that believe so many different things—all based on Scripture is testament enough that the Scriptures are written in such a way as to cause relationship to happen, and not necessarily to answer every question, but to maybe even cause some questions for the purpose of furthering relationship with the Father.

      Personally, I see the teachings of absolutes and objectivity of Scripture (because of my own experiences) to be a hindrance to the spread of the gospel, and not a help at all. Most of the arguments put forth for Scriptural contradictions are because of these teachings and would vanish with them.
      I know I am allowed only one wife because the Holy Spirit tells me so, and since it is backed by some of the scriptures, I see no reason for an argument for polygamy in my life.

      I think the biggest question that may need to be asked, one that seems to be the very foundation for some of the questions on this blog, and the very foundation for a lot of the denominational differences, arguments among the saints, and general disunity in the church is this: Can the Holy Spirit be trusted with someone else’s life? Can we trust the Holy Spirit to guide others into all truth the way John 16:13 says He will, or is it up to us to lead them into all truth, and judge when their salvation is complete?

      • Miguel September 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

        David, as always thanks for your very thorough comment. I appreciate, and I’m sure others do too, your transparency. If this blog has a purpose wrapped un in it’s title, it is to explore those things were the majority would consider “deviations” from the accepted norms of the church.

        It’s funny, but I’ve never considered 2 Samuel 12:8 as anything other than God “handing over” to David the spoils of war. The word “gave” there in that text is used over 2000 times in the Old Testament and in over 50 different ways.

        I never assumed that because God gave them “to” David that David took them on as his wives. Until now, I’ve never heard that before. So what you say that the Spirit laid on your heart has always been common knowledge for me. Namely that polygamy was not accepted nor condoned by God.

        Your problems with objectivity and absoluteness are directly related to the interpretations of scripture and not the reliability or veracity of scripture itself. At least I think so. The very fact that you said “God told me” something, means that you accept the absolute and objective fact that God can tell you something. Which, of course, comes from the scriptures.

        We Christians can’t have it both ways. Either the scriptures are objective and absolute or they’re not. If not, we’re in trouble… for if Christ was not raised, like the scriptures say, our faith is worthless. 1 Corinthians 15:17

        • David Woods September 8, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

          I never really thought polygamy would actually be condoned in America, or in my life, It’s just a logical example to illustrate a point. I just wondered why God, if He really had a one wife absolute rule, would violate His own rule. The part He laid on my heart was why He would. People like Warren Jeffs, however, do take it that way. Which, I think shows how the Scriptures can be taken subjectively.

          What you said about my problems being because of interpretations of scripture is my point about others. Their interpretations are what make it obvious that the Scriptures are not that objective. If they were, there would be no questions. But the number of Christian denominations alone shows how many questions scripture leaves unanswered. As for this particular example, I think it’s obvious from other parts of scripture that David had hundreds of wives and concubines, and there is no reason to think that they would have been a different set of wives. He didn’t defeat King Saul in war, he took his place as King of the country he was a part of. There wasn’t that much interpretation put into it.

          That said, I do believe there are a few absolute truths out there, but very few. I’d like to hear a good definition of absolutes and objectivity with some real-world examples. If we absolutely should not kill one another, for example, why was King Saul told by God to kill everyone in a certain city including women, children, and animals, having his kingdom taken away from him as punishment when he saved the King alive, and a few animals to sacrifice? I say because that rule isn’t as absolute as people think. To me, an absolute is something that God absolutely never endorses or would ever ask anyone to violate.The teaching on absolutes that I’m talking about is the one where people make rules and doctrine based on perceived absolutes that they hold one another to.

          To me, the teaching on absolutes seems to be a modern day manifestation of OT law mentality.

          As to the few absolutes I referenced, God’s Word would of course qualify. If he is telling you to do something, I believe He absolutely wants you to do it, and do it the way He absolutely wants. I can’t come up with any scenario where God would want someone forcibly raped, or any child to be molested, so absolute rules against rape and child molestation may be in order if one were to insist upon a list of absolutes that all could agree to.

          But, my point is, why make the list? The only possible point that I can see of having such a list would be to have something to hold each other to “law style”. I think the Bible does this alone without the extra-Biblical “list”. Along with that question would be the question of what else belongs on the list. A list of things that God, throughout time, culture, and all circumstances would agree would absolutely be wrong for any human at any time, for any reason. If it doesn’t fit this definition, how can it be called an absolute?

          If I’m wrong in the first place about what an absolute is, then let me know, but I think any discussion of absolutes should include (as I said) an absolute definition with real world examples following for clarification. Your example of Christ being raised is something God said happened, so I absolutely believe it happened, for the reason mentioned, this falling under the category of God’s Word being absolute I guess, but I don’t really see why it’s considered one of the absolutes? What else would it be? It’s either true or it’s not. Are you saying because it’s true that it’s absolutely true? Maybe I just don’t understand what the teaching on absolutes really is.

          • Peter September 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

            Actually, I think Jesus spoke to this (or quite near it) in Matthew 19:7-9 where He declares that certain provisions of the law are not due to God’s changing standards but rather because man couldn’t abide by them.

            Think God’s permissive vs. perfect will. God hates divorce but allows it under certain limited circumstances. Monogamous marriage is God’s standard. But polygamy was allowed within certain guidelines.

    8. Jack Smith September 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

      I may, or may not, have Jewish linage; mother is from a family of (Jewish name), but is definiitely “unaffalited”, meaning she, wants nothing to do with the religion in practice, and much less, it appears with the Christian religion, like her late husband – she confirmed is Jewish – did not attend.

      So jokingly I grew up on the ABP – ass backwards program. You know the kids at school that hated Church attendance, but were forced to attend. I wanted to attend Church, it was expressly forbidden.

      I’ve been in Synagogue (Reform) for many years and what I’ve learned about the Christian religion was in “bits & pieces”.

      The sheer volume of ordinances, halakka, observances, (Christian Church) things that are either required and/or expected to be observed is astonishing. Wikopedia could not get the list all on one page, there are so many observances, they had to be put in sub headings. The observances of the Church goes into the hundreds if not the thousands, the list is long.

      Most of them are terrific people and I am a big supporter of religious freedom (big time). However, when they approach you about “come go to Church with us..” (which is their right to do), and you ask about the doctrine of of observing specifc days and ask about the reasons why, they really don’t want to talk about it.

      Conversly, if a Christian approached me and ask why we observe (ie) Passover, or Yom Kippur, I can take them to any Synagogue, open Torah and point right to the page, where it is clearly written, Moshe received this from ” The Holy One “.

      The prophets warned the people, over and over again – till blue in the face – to not adopt the festivals and observances of “the nations”; they warned the Israeli’s over and over again DON’T DO IT.

      Consequently, someone like me that likes these people – the Christians – on the one hand, but when I hear “I was led by the Spirit” when talking about a Church observance, it simply makes me more curious ( ? ). Arbor Day, Easter, Haloween, Christmans, St Valentine’s day, observance of days for Church leaders from centuries past, etc, etc.These few are not even the “tip of the iceberg”.

      These are observance of the Church, I’ve never seen any of those written anywhere in Scripture, I’ve never seen the word, Arbor Day, Christmas, Easter + the other (ie) hundreds observance of the Chruch as on Wikipedia website.

      I really like them as a people and completely support religious freedom, I’ve never seen these things written anywhere in Scripture.

      Please Help !

    9. Eli September 9, 2012 at 1:16 am #

      “We Christians can’t have it both ways. Either the scriptures are objective and absolute or they’re not. If not, we’re in trouble… for if Christ was not raised, like the scriptures say, our faith is worthless. 1 Corinthians 15:17″
      Scripture is made up of a variety of books and writing styles and goals. Within the sphere of believing the scriptural account of historical events is absolutely true there are still many differing beliefs and practices one can take away.
      Seems kinda obvious since exodus, psalms, song of solomon, isaiah, luke and revelation each read very differently. Terms like objective and absolute just don’t fit right when I’m reading wisdom literature or even a historical story. The story is what it is. It’s only when we move on to interpreting what the story means to us both now and in the future that the door flings wide open for interpretation. Even if we go back to the scripture one event like the death and resurrection of jesus has endless meaning and application, not all of which is exhaustively described in scripture.
      I absolutely guarantee you it would not be hard to find 10 christians who all agree the given propositional truths and objective accounts of events in scripture are true, plain and knowable without relying on personal bias, yet they would each have some significant differences of opinion depending on the subject in question. Did jesus live, die and rise from the dead is probably an easy one… should women lead, is homosexuality a sin, what does leadership look like in the church, can we lose our salvation, how exhaustive are the morality commands in scripture, how do we obey all the commands of jesus etc… those ones are not so easy to find agreement on.
      So sorry but in some ways your overall point is kinda moot. You’re arguing against somewhat of a strawman since although there are those who are out and out liberals, my suspicion is those are not the people you have in mind. You seem to have in mind those who hold the scripture in high esteem and consider it authoritative, just they don’t use the same terminology as you do… at very least based on the comments thats who you’re debating with.

    10. Kat September 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

      Miquel,

      I have some questions, just so that I may come to a full understanding of what you are saying:

      1) Are you saying that Christ in us is merely subjective?
      2) Are you saying that Christ Himself, the Life-Giving Holy Spirit, is not objective?
      3) Are you saying we should not believe Him until we verify Him with a reasonable research in the Bible?
      4) What if He tells us to do something and we wait because we have not had the chance to validate His words in the scriptures yet, and then it becomes too late to do what He had put in our hearts to do?
      5) Do you know His voice when you hear Him?
      6) Is an interpretation of the meaning in the Writings, objective or subjective?

      Assigning objective and subjective can be very subjective, it seems. Btw, I read the Writings in the Bible! Thanks, In Love! Kat

    11. Jim Puntney September 10, 2012 at 6:06 am #

      If this perspective of only using scripture as a guide, or input how would of the following events unfolded?

      1- Abram leaving his homeland, who would he have verified this suggestion with?
      2- Stephens comments just prior to his death, did he really see Jesus?
      3- The first century ekklesia and their radical departure from the religion of the day, where did they gain their understanding?
      4- Do we,or can we place limits on Christ by saying unless its written in the Bible its not true?

      My brothers and sisters, we can come to a fuller, and more harmonious understanding. We are of the same flock, of the same tribe, and that flock, or tribe is Jesus Christ. May we come together, and reason together, and gain from one another. In doing we will more fully express the Life that is within us all.

      Your brother, Jim

    12. Peter September 10, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

      I understand what you’re saying here, Miguel, and you know that I completely agree. But if I may offer a twist I will say that God isn’t objective at all. That’s right, Kat, and neither Jesus nor the Spirit is objective. They are the ultimate, the epitome, of subjective.

      When we say, “objective” we mean that we’re not biased, we don’t take any side, especially one that we lean to. “Subjective” means that we have a special interest in something going our way that might not be right or fair. But the rightness of objective judgment and the wrongness of subjective judgment is predicated on our fallen state. We aren’t honest brokers.

      But God is neither fallen nor are His thoughts to be judged apart from His desires. He is THE standard and source of all knowledge, wisdom, and judgment. Nothing He does is outside of His nature and therefore everything He does is completely subjective. He is trustworthy, not because He values trust, but because He CANNOT lie. He loves us, not because we are loveable, but because He IS love.

      Everything we know and experience is precisely designed by Him to point back to Him. He is always the center and He is the only eternal Subject. All three members of the Trinity simply and eternally point back to One Another in a celebration of each other. Objective? No way! God is the pinnacle of subjective and He can’t step outside of Himself to be objective.

      I thought I’d put a different spin on the conversation since this came to mind. Back on track, of course scripture is objective and has been declared by God as the ruler by which all personal revelation and experience is judged. This doesn’t mean it leads us into *all* truth (like which car is the most economical), but it does mean that if what I propose contradicts scripture, then what I propose is wrong.

      • Miguel September 10, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

        Peter and others…

        When I make a distinction between subjective and objective, I am using those words in the standard philosophical way:

        Subjective: relating to or determined by the mind as the subject of experience; characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind; phenomenal; arising out of or identified by means of one’s awareness.

        Objective: existing independent of mind; belonging to the sensible world and being observable or verifiable especially by scientific methods; expressing or involving the use of facts; derived from sense perception.

        Not sure if that clarifies or complicates this post. I hope it’s the former.

        • Peter September 11, 2012 at 9:31 am #

          In one sense, using those definitions, God is the only objective Fact, eternal and omnipresent both before and after creation. In another sense He is the most subjective Fact, known in all the universe only as He stirs our spirits or artificially disturbs matter around us. Since God is spirit (not A spirit, but rather immaterial), He doesn’t impact our senses the way a rock or an ice cube does. Flesh and blood (matter) cannot even dwell with Him which is why we all have to be modified to even hope to objectively encounter Him (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

          When Philip in John 14:4 asked Jesus to show him the Father Jesus responded by saying, “If you’ve seen Me you’ve seen the Father.” What did Jesus mean? Did He mean that the Father had ten fingers, ten toes, male genetalia, brown hair, etc.? No. The Father is immaterial. What He meant is the heart of the Father – mercy, love, justice, compassion, and all those insensible, subjective qualities that we praise of God were present in Him exactly as in God.

          God is insensible except by Himself. No instrumentation will reveal Him nor can any objective measurement define Him. No creature in our universe will experience Him but as He stirs its spirit. Thus to us God is forever subjective. The mode of existence within the Trinity is beyond our comprehension. Presumably it is objective as Father, Son, and Spirit interact with one another. Thus God can say to us, “I AM.” But alas, we are, at least for now, only allowed a subjective experience of Him.

          • Miguel September 11, 2012 at 9:35 am #

            Peter,

            All of that might just be blown away by the Incarnation. God in the Flesh (Jesus) is the most objective statement ever made in the history of history.

            *might*

    13. Tom September 11, 2012 at 2:35 am #

      Miguel,

      First, I tried to locate a list of all the articles on your blog but was unable to. Could you please provide a link to the page where your articles are listed?

      Second, in one of your replies to Peter, you wrote, “If the scriptures are God-breathed, then they are Him. We can not separate the Spirit from His words.” What is your basis for making such an outrageous claim? The scriptures are God? Are you serious? If the scriptures are God, then God is the scriptures, and the scriptures are worthy of our worship. Furthermore, if the scriptures are God, then the Godhead consists of four persons instead of three, and the scriptures have become the fourth person in the Godhead. This is the ultimate conclusion to which the doctrine of the Bible as the Word of God leads and is the reason why so many Christians subconsciously worship the Bible. Besides bordering on blasphemy, this is a gross and serious error that is the direct result of a failure to understand what Paul meant when he wrote, “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6). If the Spirit cannot be separated from His words (and vice versa), then Paul could not have written this statement. In other words, the writings in the Bible—including those writings that are actual words that God HImself spoke—are dead and void of the Spirit for the simple reason that they are “letter.” Therefore, those writings cannot be “the Word of God.” It’s as simple as that.

      • Miguel September 11, 2012 at 9:03 am #

        Tom,

        I appreciate your comment. When I am in error, I need to be called out. As to its “outrageousness,” or “blasphemy,” we’ll see. Your “if-then” conclusions violate so many logical laws that I don’t know where to begin. To that end, I’ve written a 4th post in a series called “The Anti-Scripture Scriptures,” which you can see HERE.

        • Tom September 11, 2012 at 9:58 am #

          Miguel,

          I read your other post, and I must correct you once again. I did not accuse you of blasphemy. I said that your statement “borders” on blasphemy. There is a difference.

          Also, you did not provide a link to the list of your articles. Does one exist?

          • Miguel September 11, 2012 at 10:13 am #

            Tom,

            I’ll make a correction on the newer blog post. All of my posts can be seen here: http://www.Deviations.in

            • Tom September 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

              Thanks, Miguel. I appreciate that. BTW, while I am convinced that the belief in the Bible as the Word of God is based on flawed logic and inconclusive evidence, I am also aware that many of those who believe otherwise (and I am referring to Jesus’ followers here) will oftentimes dispute this belief with faulty logic and weak evidence themselves because they don’t have a proper grasp of the fundamentals that are involved in this issue. Consequently, confusion reigns. So, I want to thank you, Jim Wright, and others for your efforts to clear up the confusion by asking the kinds of questions that expose the deficiencies in your opponent’s thinking. However, I do not believe that a clear winner will emerge in this debate until someone covers all of the important aspects of this teaching from the proper perspective of its fundamentals and in a comprehensive, balanced, and easy-to-understand manner. That will take a hefty book.

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