the RELATIVITY OF TRUTH, part 2

continued from the RELATIVITY OF TRUTH

                                                                 THE MISINTERPRETATION OF TEXTS.

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Language by it’s very nature is ambiguous, whether spoken or written.  So its hard to get at the real truth of what the speaker or the author intended.   For example, there are many interpretations of Bible verses and these multiple meanings are the key factor in creating denominational schisms throughout the history of Christianity.

CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS

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American Baptist Association /  American Baptist Churches / Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America / Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists / Baptist Bible Fellowship International  /  Baptist General Conference / Baptist Missionary Association of America /Central Baptist Association  /  Christian Unity Baptist Association / Conservative Baptist Association of America / Continental Baptist Churches  / Cooperative Baptist Fellowship / Enterprise Association of Regular Baptists /Free Will Baptist /   Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship,  etc.

How does this happen when everyone in these divisions is a Christian?  The Bible is purported to be the final truth that should unite all Christians, but each of these denominations claims that their version of the truth is The Truth.  The process is simple: the  interpretation is reported as a self-evident fact ( not unlike many newscasts).  And if you see things differently, then go and start your own church.

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The Seventh Day Adventists, for example, have interpreted Revelation 13:15–18, which designates the number 666 as the  Mark of the Beast, as a reference to the Pope. Uriah Smith was the first to propose the interpretation to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  In The United States in the Light of Prophecy, he wrote:

The pope wears upon his pontifical crown in jeweled letters, this title: "Vicarius Filii Dei," "Viceregent of the Son of God;" [sic] the numerical value of which title is just six hundred and sixty-six. The most plausible supposition we have ever seen on this point is that here we find the number in question. It is the number of the beast, the papacy; it is the number of his name, for he adopts it as his distinctive title; it is the number of a man, for he who bears it is the "man of sin."

Is this true? Millions of Adventists used to believe so, “for the Bible tells me so.”  I get the feeling they don’t like the Catholics very much, especially the leadership.   Scholars have raised the following issues with this claim:          (1) This phrase is not on the pope’s crown. No photos or evidence of it can be found.  (2)  the numerical value of vicarius filli die was calculated as 666 by adding up the Roman Numerals in the title and conveniently equating U with V  (3)  the King James Bible  is considered by many to be  the standard reference, the True Bible, but it is a translation of a translation of a translation –  The original Hebrew into Greek into the numerous English and International versions.  And some scholars, referring to the original Hebraic have suggested that  the number 666 is incorrect.

TEXT MESSAGE CONFUSION –  WHAT DID SHE JUST SAY TO ME?

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In today’s secular world, the text that matters the most is the text message. Somehow the latest status report from a friend about what they are eating for lunch  becomes a matter of utmost urgency that demands an immediate response. But things can go drastically wrong in trying to interpret some text messages especially since the tone, stress and nuances of spoken language are not available. Consider the video below, which illustrates this point quite well.

WARNING: UNCENSORED! 

IN SUMMARY –   Of course there is some truth out there and it is necessary to trust and believe some things.  Personal experience is probably the closest we come to an absolute truth for each of us.  It is TRUE that you had that subjective experience. This can’t really be denied or argued.  It may also be true that your experience is a universal experience shared by all humans, like love or grief.

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But in a world of conflicting claims of truth, how do you choose?  What makes the Free Will Baptists right and the Full Gospel Baptists wrong?  What makes FOX NEWS right and the NBC NEWS wrong?  What makes your interpretation of an ambiguous text right and my interpretation wrong?   Everyone is free to believe whatever Truth they want to, my objection is the exportation of these truths and their enthronement into the realm of unquestioning Fact.   At least Science, which does make some claims of nearly universal truth, invites and welcomes all valid criticism.

 

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