Last Sunday (23 September 2007) the Phoenix East Valley Tribune ran a story about Lyndon Lamborn’s excommunication from the LDS Church. The article begins,
“Being excommunicated for apostasy by the Mormon church is one thing, but Lyndon Lamborn is livid that his stake president has ordered bishops in eight Mesa wards to take the rare step of announcing disciplinary action against him to church members today.
“’I thought if he could go public, so can I,’ said Lamborn, a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who said his research into church history gave him ‘thousands of reasons the church can’t be what it claims to be.’”
Mr. Lamborn has been an active Mormon. He served a mission. He was elders quorum president 4 times and has held several other callings in his local ward. But in 2005 a co-worker asked him a question about Joseph Smith’s wives, which sent Mr. Lamborn on a quest to research LDS history.
According to the article, the historical research “led [Mr. Lamborn] to question many church teachings.” He went to his stake president with questions, “but received no definitive answers.”
“’I was planning to leave the church quietly, but was denied that opportunity, presumably because I was speaking openly to other members about my findings and (was) writing things down,’ Lamborn said.
“Lamborn has compiled his research into a lengthy testament called, ‘Search for Truth 6/07,’ in which he states: ‘There comes a time in the life of many church members when the desire to know the truth about the church becomes stronger than the desire to believe the church is true.’”
In another online article that appeared on Sunday, Scott Tracy wrote “Why they leave” for the Utah State Valley College newspaper. In this opinion piece Mr. Tracy begins,
“Recently on a former-Mormons website, a poll was taken asking the question ‘Why did you leave?’ and the results might be somewhat shocking to most current members of the church.
“Kevin Whitaker, in his recent article on postmormon.org expressed the view that most members who leave the church are sinners, offended, or weak in the faith. This, while may be true for some, fails to cover the reasons that most people leave the faith, and reflects the most common misunderstanding between members of the LDS faith and their former Mormon counterparts…
“The number one reason listed by people who participated in the poll was ‘I found out about Mormon history’. In fact, this was the number one response at 67 percent and might be shocking to most faithful LDS.”
This certainly held true in Mr. Lamborn’s case. It also held true for his friends and family. The East Valley Tribune said,
“[Mr. Lamborn] said he learned that his five brothers ‘were doing the same research and arriving at the same conclusions’ and doubts, he said. The same was true for his best friend since childhood.”
Some might easily dismiss historical issues as unimportant in determining the truth of an organization; history isn’t doctrine and everyone has skeletons in the closet. I suggest that an important issue here is not necessarily the actual history, but rather the dishonesty and manipulation involved in covering up or changing history — keeping the truth hidden in order to deceive.
This makes me think of the Wizard of Oz behind his curtain. He ruled his world by convincing everyone that he was all-powerful; if they knew he was really a mind-mannered man who couldn’t find his own way home, he would lose his position and power.
I believe Mormonism is like that. It succeeds on faith-building historical tales of revelation, persecution and sacrifice. It’s a beautiful and inspiring façade, but don’t look behind the curtain. For if the curtain is pulled back, it becomes clear that the LDS Church has been engaged in some serious commandment-breaking about and throughout its entire history. Then the question arises, “Could this be ‘the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased”? (D&C 1:30)
A majority of former Mormons conclude no, it couldn’t be.
Discussion Questions:• What role did history have in your disillusionment with the Mormon Church?
• Why is it important to give a “warts and all” account of history, if at all?
• Can Mormonism be divorced from its history like other religions can? Is there something particular about Mormonism that makes its history more crucial than church history would be for evangelical Christianity?
At postmormon.org Mr. Lamborn has made this generous offer:
If any of you would like to read my summary of searching for truth, e-mail me at lclamborn58[at]yahoo.com and I will be happy to e-mail you a copy… There is MUCH more to tell, as most of you know. Polyandry and Helen Mar Kimball are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg
Keyboard replaced. Hoooorahhhhh!
Geoff, no offense, but your response shows me that you didn’t understand what I was saying. Maybe this will help. The Bible is the revelation which my spiritual “eyes” are opened to see as true. In my view, Mormonism says that we need revelation (apart from scripture) to testify to the truthfulness of scripture. In other words, it teaches that we need revelation outside and about God’s written word. I would instead say that in true Christianity the Holy Spirit opens our heart’s eyes to see the revelation of scripture as true. In fact, the Holy Spirit wrote scripture, so when he opens my eyes to see the revelation of scripture, what he “tells” me is in scripture and not outside scripture. I don’t mean to be condescending or arrogant, but I still don’t think you have a basic understanding of the evangelical view of the Holy Spirit’s illumination of scripture, the scripture itself being the very self-evidencing, self-authenticating revelation that decisively convinces the heart. What the Holy Spirit does is open our eyes to see existing revelation (God’s written word) as true. Perhaps a big stumbling block here is that Mormons usually identify and interpret the term “revelation” as the inner emotional experience sometimes called the “burning in the bosom”.
Geoff redirected my own question back to me:
No, I would not, because according to the Bible someone who issues a false prophecy is a false prophet, not sent by God, and exploiting one’s supposed office to get young women to sleep with you calls into question your character. Paul was a sinner but was in a significant way above reproach, the same standard he promoted in his letters for those in leadership. He would effectively be a liar if he was using his credibility with others to sleep with multiple teenage women.
There is something huge here, Geoff, that you’re missing. Jesus taught in Matthew 7:15-19,
Who am I to rebelliously spurn the teaching of Jesus and prefer the certainty of my emotional experiences (through which I think God is telling me something) over the objective word of God which itself tells me to recognize false prophets by their fruits? Instead of dismissing the criteria of fruits in favor of inner euphorias we should rather rather trust Jesus’ warning. I want to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, testing the truthfulness of supposed new revelation with the truth of past revelation.
Grace and peace in Christ, who justifies the ungodly by faith apart from works (Romans 4:4-8),
Aaron: First, Jesus is Yahweh, and Yahweh issued very harsh criticism through Isaiah of the false gods
Ok, but you’re not Jesus. If Jesus wants to criticize me for my interpretations of his word that is his job. But he isn’t doing that — he has been commending me for my choice to follow him through his restored church. I don’t doubt he commends you for your efforts to follow him as well…
The Bible is the revelation which my spiritual “eyes” are opened to see as true.
Hmmm… I assume you mean something coherent by this but I am having trouble deciphering what that meaning is. So you believe the Bible is the word of God revealed to people and then written down, right? (I agree. I have met some uneducated people who thought that the Bible was actually penned by God himself and sort of magically appeared on earth and I know you aren’t in that camp.) So the reason you believe the Bible is the word of God is because God “opened your spiritual eyes” through his Holy Spirit to see it as such right? So how is that different than what I or Falcon said earlier? Is the only difference that I believe that Holy Spirit has power to do more than simply open our eyes about the truthfulness of the Bible?
No, I would not
So this tells me that you think it is possible that the Bible is not the word of God and not scripture after all. You are saying that if you discovered through historical research that Paul was not as wonderful as you view him you would reject the eye-opening experience of God gave you concerning the truth of the Bible? So archeology and history would trump your God-granted testimony of the Bible? Wow. (Somehow I find that hard to believe in you — you must mean something else here right?)
At issue here is the foundation your faith is built on. Do you trust history and archeology about the Bible most or do you trust the message God gave directly to you as he opened your eyes about the Bible through the Holy Spirit most? Your answer here indicates it is the former for you. Is that really what you want to say?
The idea that I can’t follow the Christ-like model of criticism in the criticism of Mormons rests on the premise that Christ approves of Mormonism. I don’t agree with that, of course. I wasn’t responding to this issue though. I was responding to the idea that Jesus only criticized those “in the faith” and doesn’t give us a model for harsh religious criticism of those outside one’s faith.
Yes, but by “though the Holy Spirit” I don’t mean that the Spirit communicated additional private revelation about the written revelation.
Come on, Geoff, is this question really honest? Do you really believe that I don’t think the Holy Spirit has the power to give an additional internal witness? I have already spoken on this, saying that the Bible speaks of this internal witness as affirming our status as adopted sons. What I’m saying is this
1) I reject the idea that additional internal witness (i.e. separate private revelation about public revelation) is needed or normative in one’s conversion experience to believing the Bible as God’s word. While a post-conversion internal testimony confirming the truthfulness of the Bible certainly can’t be ruled out, if someone ever points to this as their primary reason for believing the Bible, I’ll suspect that they might not have spiritually encountered the Bible itself as the shining, heart-conquering, God-revealing, Spirit-authored revelation.
2) I reject the idea that true private revelation from the Holy Spirit would ever contradict God’s already-given public revelation.
3) If a private burning in the bosom or if a public angel in white splendor comes preaching a different God or a different gospel than spoken of in the Bible, let that private revelation or public angel be anathema (or as Galatians 1 says it, “be accursed”; in the vernacular this would essentially be “go to hell”).
In a remote sense, yes: If I came home to find my wife sleeping with my next-door neighbor it wouldn’t exhibit reasonable or honoring trust to say, “Stacie, I trust you that you always have and always will be faithful!” My trust of my wife and my trust of the Bible are built on a foundation of demonstrated trustworthiness. I don’t think those foundations will ever be compromised, but I don’t want to have a blind faith.
So yes, if I ever discovered that Paul made false prophecies I would reject him, and if I ever discovered (with overwhelming, compelling evidence) that Jesus faked his death I hope I would reject him. This kind of vulnerable faith has value, and is the only kind of faith I want to ever have. It has substance, and is reasonably corroborated in ways that one should expect it to. I don’t want to believe simply for the sake of believing, I want to believe something that is true. And I don’t feel like this is in the end hazardous, because if you really believe Christianity is true and Jesus wasn’t faking his death, what is there to lose? In my view, those who in secret parts of their heart don’t believe something sometimes set their hearts up like an invulnerable fortress to prevent established beliefs from ever being challenged. To me this is no better than a physically abused wife stubbornly continuing to believe that her husband really loves her and that the abuse isn’t the kind of evidence that should challenge that.
This doesn’t mean my faith has to be blown by the wind. If some junk like the Gospel of Judas or the Da Vinci Code or some claim that my wife has been unfaithful pops up that doesn’t mean I’m going to take them all hook, line, and sinker. Like a faithful wife who has demonstrated herself, the Bible will likewise always shine through to the end. Having been so faithful, I’d hope to treat any future Da Vinci Code junk with caution and warranted skepticism.
The Mormon view of private revelation on the other hand seems to negate altogether the call of Christ to consider the fruits of prophets as potential negative “defeaters”.
In case anyone got any false notions, my wife has always been faithful. 🙂
Aaron: What I reject is 1) The idea that additional internal witness (i.e. separate private revelation about public revelation) is needed or normative in one’s conversion experience to believing the Bible as God’s word.
Maybe we are simply not understanding one another… When a person reads/studies the Bible and perhaps (though not necessarily) even prays to God and asks if the Bible is really his word (aka scripture) we both agree that the Holy Spirit can and does answer people with a “yes”, right? That experience of confirmation from the Holy Spirit is communication from God right? And communication from God is what revelation is right? And such “heart warming” experiences (as Wesley described them) are private experiences right? So how are we disagreeing here? Everything you keep describing sounds like what I am saying as well…
3) If a private burning in the bosom or if a public angel in white splendor comes preaching a different God or a different gospel that spoken of in the Bible, let that private revelation or public angel be anathema
This of course is an exegesis issue. If one accepts that the interpretations of the Bible as spelled out in the creeds are the only true and living way to understand the Bible then God’s hands would be somewhat tied here. So deeply investigating the value of the interpretations of the creeds is paramount. As you know, I consider the creeds to be man-made and politically motivated documents that should never limit our conversations with God.
if I ever discovered (with overwhelming, compelling evidence) that Jesus faked his death I hope I would reject him.
What sort of discovery would that be? A new book discovered claiming Jesus faked his death? Would that be sufficient for you to reject Christianity and the Bible? What sort of evidence would convince you? And how would you know if that evidence was a hoax or not? Is your faith in archeology greater than your faith in your own personal experiences with God through the Holy Spirit? If so, I’d say your faith in Christ is built on a sandy foundation.
I contend that nothing short of personal interaction with Jesus through his Holy Spirit right now is a sufficient foundation for our faith in Jesus Christ. All else could be a hoax. The buck has to stop somewhere with our faith in God. If it stops at archeology we are in trouble. If it stops at believing the writings or testimonies of other people we are in trouble.
In his book “Beyond Mormonism” Jim Spencer relates a two way conversation he had with God pp.109-111. The conversation led Jim to receive Christ as his savior and leave Mormonism. Now I want to know how Seth’s contention that “…nothing short of personal interaction with Jesus through His Holy Spirit right now is a sufficient foundation for our faith in Jesus Christ.” How does this apply when God leads someone out of Mormonism by this method. Jim Spencer became a Christian pastor and apologist after leaving Mormonism.
(Looks like I tweaked my post as you were responding.)
No, not in the way Mormonism talks about this “yes” answer. I would say that the “yes” is found in scripture itself, and the Holy Spirit opens one’s eyes to see this “yes” for what it is. That is what I mean by self-authenticating and self-evidencing. The “communication from God” is in the Bible, the confirmation is in the Bible, and the experience is in encountering the word of God as revealed in the Bible. This is foreign to the notion of reading a chapter, closing the book, asking for an answer, and feeling a rush of emotion or euphoria or burning in the bosom (or however one would describe it) and then later telling people it was then that God told you there that the Bible is true.
What one believes about the Bible and how one believes a person can come to faith in it is largely fleshed out in how they encourage other people to find faith in it and bear witness of it. I primarily or normatively wouldn’t bear you a testimony of the Bible’s truthfulness by speaking of an emotional experience apart from the Bible itself. I would speak secondarily of things that externally corroborate the Bible to encourage belief in the Bible (or at least take it seriously; this would include its effect on my life, archaeology, philosophy, history, etc.), and speak primarily of its internal content, which itself is a shining light of revelation, the self-authenticating and self-revealing, and self-evidencing very word of God. In being exposed to this word (either via immersion or via exposure to bits and pieces) the Holy Spirit can open the eyes to see it for what it is. The real “heart warming” experience I am talking about is one where the subject is you and the object is God’s very word, written in scripture, either being seen or heard. “[F]aith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
Paul notably said in Galatians 3:1-6 (read carefully!):
Paul hearkens them back to the time they believed (and were justified, i.e. counted righteous) and received the Spirit as they were “hearing with faith” of “Jesus Christ… publicly portrayed as crucified.” Likewise, you’ll never find an example in Acts where believers went off and prayed for a private emotional experience to see if something publicly preached was true. Rather you find many examples where people believe and the Holy Spirit “falls” on them as they hear the word of Christ publicly preached.
Where did I bring up the creeds? This is a needless, silly, perhaps even petty red herring insertion. It veers from the point: If new supposed revelation contradicts already-established revelation, let it, as Paul essentially says, go to hell. Either this principle is true or it isn’t.
An example: multiple, separate, established, corroborating accounts of the apostles who said that they were lying about the resurrection of Christ. I don’t know all the details of what exactly it would take to press my faith over its boundaries, but I am open at least in principle. It would have to be significant historical evidence, the kind used to establish solid history. I’m not worried about this because I don’t think anything truly compelling against Christ could ever surface. Just because my primary foundation of faith is my encounter with Jesus through his revelatory word doesn’t mean I can’t be open to defeaters. In fact, because of my relationship with Jesus I am all the more confident that Christianity can say, “bring it on”, and no truly compelling defeaters will ever surface. Mormonism can never do that. History is too overwhelmingly damning of Joseph Smith. The more one learns of Jesus and his apostles, the more Christianity is believable. The more a reasonably humble person learns of Joseph Smith, the more one becomes increasingly uncomfortable with him. Even sickened by him. That is why, no offense intended, Mormonism can only truly last as a misleading cult overprotective of its story and image that fosters a spiritual bunker mentality in people who are often deeply afraid of even being exposed to “anti-Mormon” literature.
Grace and peace in Christ, who justifies the ungodly by faith apart from works (Romans 4:4-8),
If archaeology plays a part in the authentication of the Bible, then what are your thoughts about the lack of archaeological and historical evidence of the first part of the Old Testament before King Ahab? There is no evidence at all that Moses, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, King Saul, King David or King Solomon existed. There is only one thing external to the Bible that references a “David” that some have thought refer to King David, but it is not confirmed yet. There is no evidence of a Kingdom of Israel reaching as far as it did in King David’s or King Solomon’s time – in fact all the evidence points to Egypt controlling that area then.
As for false prophecies, I have previously pointed to a website that shows that Ezekial, Jonah, Samuel, Jeremiah and a few other prophets in the Old Testament did give prophecies that did not come to pass (http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_prophets.shtml#infallible). For example – Ezekial prophesied that King Nebuchadnezzar would destroy Tyre and it would never be rebuilt (Ez 26:14 & 27:36). According to Ezekial’s own account this did not happen, AND according to history it did not happen as Tyre is still a city in existance today.
Another one is DNA evidence – it does not support the Bible’s version of the creation of the earth. Most of the major changes used to track ‘lineages’ occurred at least 15,000 to 20,000 years ago, and according to the Bible, Adam and Eve became mortal approximately 6,000 years ago.
So science, archaeology and history do not support the Bible as much as most Christians think. So if you want this type of evidence for your faith then why do you still believe in the lack of evidence, and in some cases opposition to the Bible. And if for you a prophet has to be 100% prophecy perfect, then you cannot believe in the Old Testament prophets, which in logical manner follows you cannot believe in the New Testament, as this depends on the Old Testament.
Aaron: That is what I mean by self-authenticating and self-evidencing. The “communication from God” is in the Bible, the confirmation is in the Bible, and the experience is in encountering the word of God as revealed in the Bible.
I really don’t understand what you mean with this so I would like to get to the bottom of it. Are you saying that the Bible has some sort of intrinsic magic or something? Obviously the truth of the Bible isn’t self-evident in the common sense of this phrase. Lots of people read the Bible and simply don’t believe it. Lots of people think it is all basically fiction. Just like lots of atheists are convinced that God is a hoax and a fairy tale. So are you saying that the Bible doesn’t need the Holy Ghost to testify of it? Do you think the Bible itself has power completely separate from the power of God? If so, how is it not an idol to you?
Also, does every translation of the Bible have the same magical power (separate from the Holy Spirit)? Is the King James version less or intrinsically powerful than the NIV on your view?
Honestly I am baffled by your comments on this. Isn’t God the one telling people the Bible is true through his Holy Spirit?
This is foreign to the notion of reading a chapter, closing the book, asking for an answer, and feeling a rush of emotion or euphoria or burning in the bosom (or however one would describe it) and then later telling people it was then that God told you there that the Bible is true.
So if a person studies the Bible, feels pretty good about it, then prays to God for a confirmation that it is really this word; are you saying that God cannot open their spiritual eyes to know the Bible is true? How must God work and open someone’s eyes then? Seriously — you’ve lost me here. If God didn’t tell you the Bible is true who did? Are you really saying the Bible is somehow personified and thus somehow independent of God? That’s what it sounds like…
What one believes about the Bible and how one believes a person can come to faith in it is largely fleshed out in how they encourage other people to find faith in it and bear witness of it.
I can’t really understand this sentence, but it sure sounds like circular reasoning to me. At some point you found a sufficient reason to believe the Bible is not a hoax. Is that based on revelation or just traditions? If it is the latter you I think that is a problem for you.
I’m outta space..
Ralph, I never said archeology had to provide proof for every event and person in the Bible. It certainly provides a basic plausibility for much of it, and if it didn’t provide any basic plausibility there would at the very least be a big whoppin’ red flag. I tend to be very cautious with brash archaeological claims the further one goes go back in time, the smaller the populations are, and the more scarce other archaeological data is on contemporary events and peoples. It should also be taken into account the fact that not everything you mention is settled.
Regarding DNA, you’re presupposing Christians have to believe that no metaphorical or poetic literary devices or genre were used in Genesis 1-3.
I think the false prophecy examples Jeff gives are bad, especially the Jonah one (uh, hello, that God relented was part of the larger story?). He attacks a straw man of a myopic view of prophecy itself. Regarding the prophecy in Ezekiel, you’re welcome to read this. Joseph Smith’s false prophecy about the selling of the copyright of the Book of Mormon was just flat out false and not of God to begin with. There was no relenting of God in the story, no condition not met. The prophecy simply wasn’t of God. According to David Whitmer (which was meant by him to be part of a positive recollection of Smith):
Anyways, thanks for providing another great example of Mormonism’s quick willingness to adopt an extremely low view of the Bible and of prophets.
That’s like saying “there is no bright Sun because some blind or imprisoned people can’t see it.” I would attribute the rejection of Christ as revealed in the gospels to the fallen hearts of men, not the deficiency of scripture to reveal him as self-authenticatingly true and beautiful. What creation itself reveals is a parallel to the situation with scripture. Psalm 19 and Romans 1 say that creation is abundantly clear in declaring not only the existence but also the glory and worship-worthiness of God. Paul, unlike Mormons, attributes the idolatrous response to the hearts of men, not the deficiency of creation to testify to the reality of a true and living God who should be worshiped. According to Paul the creation is so clear that wrath is coming down on men that suppress the knowledge of God revealed in it. While I would say that the illumination of scripture and creation is needed because of the deficiency of fallen man, Mormonism would attribute it to the deficiency of scripture and creation. A difference of enormous magnitude.
Geoff, you are only putting more nails into the coffin and are reaffirming over and over again to me that you don’t truly believe in the full inspiration of scripture. If scripture is God’s very word, then it has the very same power that God’s word has. God created and upholds the universe “by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). God says, “let there be…” and there simply is what he commands into being. Paul, who understands the “word of [God’s] power”, draws a parallel between creation and conversion in 2 Corinthians 4:6:
So to mock the idea of the power of scripture as God’s very word as mere “magic” or idolatrous is unsettling indeed. It shows you really don’t believe in scripture as God’s very word to begin with, or at least that you don’t believe in the power of God’s word at all, which is probably the deeper root issue related to one’s view of God’s nature.
Regarding translation issues, I would say that any translation is inspired as far as it is translated correctly. I mean that very literally and without the baggage of innuendo that Mormonism puts into it.
Yes, in scripture, which is God’s word, God is “telling” things, and this “telling” is authored by the Holy Spirit himself. Again, Geoff, the real decisive issue here is that you don’t truly believe scripture is God’s very word, his very “telling”. If you did, you wouldn’t be asking questions like this.
I’m saying that the experience would have the person as the subject and God’s revelatory, scriptural word as the object. If the book was physically closed, the thing being considered in one’s minds would be the content of scripture itself. The experience can’t be divorced from the object of scripture. When the spiritual eyes are opened, they are essentially “looking” at scripture.
I’m saying that the Bible is the personal word of God. God literally “tells” you things in scripture. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) That is literally God’s living, active, personal word. You can no more divorce this verse from God than you can a love letter written by your wife from your wife. I mean that very seriously. Just as it is true that my wife said “please take out the trash” tonight, it is true that God told, said, and is telling me, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” There is a relatively short article by John Piper called, “The Morning I Heard the Voice of God”. If you haven’t read it, please, please do. It might help bring some sense to this. If you can understand the evangelical view of “plenary inspiration” perhaps a lot of other things about the evangelical worldview would make more sense to you.
Glad to have more space than everyone else so I can keep up with you crazy guys :-),
PS I lowered the daily comment limit to three to slow things down even more. As the only active moderator right now, I can barely keep up with everything else going on in life.
Wow Aaron. I am blown away by that last comment of yours. It sounds like full-fledged idolatry to me; worshiping the Bible in lieu of the living God.
I posted on it at my blog: http://www.newcoolthang.com/index.php/2007/09/scripture-worship/450/
I actually find what you wrote very refreshing, Geoff, because although I disagree with your assessment, a little of what I’m saying about inspiration is breaking through. God is still “telling” us things in scripture today. When you quote John 3:16, you’re essentially quoting God. The Bible is in a sense continuing revelation.
For what it’s worth, there is a good explanation/discussion of “inspiration” of the Bible in “A General Introduction To The Bible” by Norman Geissler. It’s hard to explain this logically, but the Bible came to life to/for me AFTER I accepted Jesus as my Savior. There are people, who get saved WHILE reading the Bible. What is the supernatural process that takes place? I don’t know. But the Bible is God’s Word. The Spirit inspired the writers. Even at that,people often come to erroneous conclusions with their “interpretation” of scripture i.e. the snake handlers. So we have inspiration, interpretation, application, not to mention translation. All in all God works through His Spirit to our spirit, but we also have to use our intellect in the process.
Falcon, just to be clear, I would agree with you. The Bible points to Christ, and conversion is having one’s spiritual eyes opened to the truth and glory of Christ. The gospel is the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). However, what we know of Christ is communicated through scripture. This is why Paul had just said, “We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2). Even if a person doesn’t fully understand this, his heart has been opened to “Jesus Christ… publicly portrayed as crucified” (Galatians 3:1) as spoken of in the word. After all, we receive justification and the Spirit by “hearing with faith” (Galatians 1:2,5). What is “heard” in one way or another is the word, for “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) So even if you didn’t know it, when you accepted Christ, you accepted Christ as he is publicly portrayed in scripture.