Baker Academic

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Anthony Le Donne: “Jesus told me that if I looked upon Daisy Duke with lust in my heart, I was guilty of adultery”—Chris Keith

Pete Enns is hosting a very interesting series of blog posts on his blog under the theme of "aha moments," where scholars and non-scholars alike are (or will be) discussing the process that took them away from an overly conservative reading of Scripture.  Don't miss the latest installment, from the Jesus Blog's own Dr Anthony Le Donne.  It includes such classics as:

"Lust was a big deal when I was an adolescent. For boys of a certain age, lust is a fulltime job."

"Jesus told me that if my right eye continued to sin, I should pluck it out. And here I was looking upon Linda Carter with both eyes!"

"But any way you slice it, Ezra 9-10 is deeply troubling—especially so to folks with an owner’s manual view of the Bible."

"A high view of Scripture—for me at least—is one that views the Bible as much more than an owner’s manual."

This entry in the "aha moments" series shows why it was such a privilege to work alongside Anthony for two years.


  1. Thanks for your personal reflections there on Enns' blog. It was refreshing to see honest thoughts about "hard sayings of Jesus" (HT: F. F. Bruce). I wonder if, during your trek through Ez 9-10 and Jer 29, you had ever encountered the notion that it was not interracial marriage but interfaith marriage that God condemns? This could resolve the tension, as I see it.

    1. Hi Paul,
      Yes, I've encountered the notion that perhaps interfaith marriage is the big no no. I don't think it quite captures the chief worry of the author of Ezra 9-10.

      I should also say that I'm not looking to resolve the tension. The desire to resolve tensions in Scripture tends to make me a poor interpreter. But even if I was looking to resolve tensions, your solution only creates a different kind of tension when we bring Paul into the conversation. Paul seems to think that inter-"faith" marriage (if this is the best way to label it) can have ultimate virtue.


  2. Great writeup Chris! Guess I'd be totally blind after Charlie's Angels!

  3. July 18, 2014

    “The Bible is not an owner's manual.” This is a curious phrase; what does it mean? On the one hand it makes a kind of sense: 1) it seems true in the sense that no human being can “own” God; God or Truth is infinitely complex, and no single human being (or book?) can claim to have a monopoly when it comes to saying who God and Truth are, or what they are like. On the other hand though? 2) The Bible itself definitely does present itself, continually, as a system of rules; as a series of commands for believers, subscribers, to do this or that. Follow the Ten Commandments and so forth, and you will do well and prosper, it constantly tells us. “Do this” and you will prosper; you will have eternal life and so forth.

    “Do this” and you will prosper. But over the centuries, many people have come to believe that however,we might, like Job, follow the rules of the Bible … and yet disaster, not prosperity, may be the result. So what should we say here? Lots of different answers are proposed by apologetics sermons; apparently “the Bible isn't an owner's manual” is one of them. But I propose that amazingly, the Bible itself came up with a final and astounding answer. In the end the Bible seems to suggest that we try its rules out (“Put me to the test says the LORD,” Mal. 3.10). But then, if following the rules doesn't bring the promised results? Then far from continuing to follow its rules, I show that the Bible itself suggests that … we simply deduce that the rules were simply wrong. The rules were not really from God after all; but from “false prophets.” ( Deut. 18.20 ff.; 1 Kings 18.20-40; Dan. 1.4-25 KJE; 1 John 4.1 ff.; 1 Thess. 5.21). We should deduce that the rules were not really from God at all.

    So what should we do, if we try to use the Bible as an “owner's manual,” full of rules, but then things don't work out? If we listen to and follow the rules attributed to God - but then things did not turn out well? Surprisingly, the Bible itself simply told us to simply deduce that someone, some “false prophet” or false religious leader, just made those rules up - and wrongly attributed them to God. If following the rules attributed to God, turns out to be a disaster? Then amazingly, I suggest that the Bible itself tells us to simply deduce that those rules, those sayings, were not really from God. But were from a “false prophet.” Someone who falsely claiming to speak for God (as in the books of Jeremiah. In say Jer. 24.16-21-39). Even if those sayings appeared in the Bible itself.

    In this way, the Bible I suggest, intended to subject itself to self-criticism, and testing. And amazingly, the Bible was prepared for some to find that some parts of it – or readings of it -were not authentic; but were from “false prophets.”

    So that indeed, no one – not even the Bible itself – had definitive, proprietary rights to god and truth. Though amazingly enough, the Bible itself allowed that conclusion. It presented dozens of rules to be sure; but allowed that we might find that those rules were not really from God. If they were not “fruitful.”

    - Woodbridge

    1. Dear Woodbridge,

      False prophets is a category that I don't understand. To be honest, I'm not sure that I want to understand it because if I ever met a real, live false prophet - and I was certain that s/he was a false prophet - I would have to put him or her to death (cf. Deut 13). Or, more likely, I would attempt to turn the command to execute false prophets into a metaphor for something that I don't mind murdering - like my television. I would miss Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, but it would be less of a sacrifice than becoming a murderer. At this point in the hermeneutical process, I'd begin to question whether your false prophets approach to Scripture was really fruitful.