Taking [Part of] the Bible Literally

It appears that some young earth creationists take Genesis very literally, but are perhaps a bit less literal in their understanding of 1 Corinthians 6:1-7. The Australian Creation Ministries International is suing the American Answers in Genesis over a number of issues.

For those who might not know, here is the passage from 1 Corinthians:

1Do some of you dare, when you have a dispute with another, to have it judged by the unrighteous and not by the saints? 2Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you then unworthy of judging even the smallest issue? 3Don’t you know that we will judge angels, not to mention the issues of ordinary life. 4So if you have a lawsuit regarding ordinary matters, will you then seat as judges those who are disdained in the church? 5This is shameful! Is there not one among you who is wise, who can judge between brothers? 6Must one of you Christians go to the law against another and before unbelievers at that? 7You’re already defeated when you have to go to the law at all. Why would you not rather be injured? Why would you not rather be defrauded? — 1 Corinthians 6:1-7

Now I understand how to apply time and circumstances to that passage, but then I’m one of those near-heathen liberals who doesn’t accept the literal creation story. I wonder how literalists justify such behavior? Well, here is where they do it, though I think if I got that much liberty to play around, I could find a way to get past the literal interpretation of Genesis as well.

HT: The Panda’s Thumb

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  1. It seems to me that they have looked at the Corinthians passage, but disregard the Matthew 18:15-20 model. The basic principle seems to be to cast someone out of the community who will not listen to the truth and sins against you. So the Corinthians rather than take them to task in Christian manner, but then go to the courts.
    Of course, it defeats their purposes to follow the Matthew 18 model as CMI already excludes those they are suing, and the aim is hardly to return a lost sheep to the fold…but rather to cow an opponent into submission.

  2. It seems clear that they looked at the Corinthians passage, but I’m not sure what variety of interpretation their espousing when they claim that they can’t “turn the other cheek” (yes, I know I’m mixing verses) on behalf of their contributors since they’re a corporate entity.

    It’s actually not bad as tap dancing goes, but it does seem to unintentionally validate tap dancing!

  3. I don’t think they are disregarding Matthew 18. From their own statement, they have attempted Christian arbitration of this matter, but all such offers have been rejected. As a result they are implicitly treating their rivals as Gentiles and tax collectors (18:17), which surely implies that 1 Corinthians 6 no longer applies.

    I understood that this must be the implication when I had a dispute with a fellow Christian. When I pointed out that he was acting illegally and a court would find against him, he appealed to 1 Corinthians 6. I agreed that I should not take the matter to a secular court and offered to take it up with his church if he would put me in touch with his pastor or whoever. But it turned out that this man was not attending a church and (at least this was alleged and never clearly denied) had at least once been asked to leave a church because of church discipline. In such a case, despite the man’s protests that he was a believer (which contradicted his actions), I think I would have been within my rights to take him to court. In fact I didn’t because the matter was essentially trivial. But 1 Corinthians 6 can hardly be taken to apply to anyone who claims to be a Christian but refuses to act as one.

  4. My point here is not that they are unjustified in going to court. It is that these are people who regard folks like me who do not take Genesis in precisely the way they want as heretics or worse, yet they can use a much more nuanced form of interpretation in the case of another passage.

    There are those who would interpret 1 Corinthians 6 absolutely, as in requiring a Christian never to go to court. Their arguments against Creation Ministries International would sound very much like arguments like CMI’s arguments against old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists.

    I admit my post was a bit brief, blunt, and un-nuanced, thus perhaps obscuring this point.

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