This was originally published May 18, 2010 on Facebook as a Note. But I publish it here, to help tell about my faith journey.
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The title “a priori conjecture” is a phrase I heard yesterday. It seemed like a quality statement about religious people and their presuppositions about the meaning of any particular bible passage that leads them to conclude certain things from said passage. So I looked up the terms a priori and conjecture on Wikipedia and was helped.
If I understood the point the person was trying to make, they are correct. Too many times we come to the scriptures reading what we believe to be there instead of reading what is there. Case in point, I was reading from Acts 17 the other day and when I arrived at 17.28, I said out loud “prophets” instead of “poets”. No big deal, per se. I did not know it at the time, someone had to bring it to my attention. So, I took a look at the verse in the KJV that I was reading, I was incorrect, but since our eyes make patterns from letters, the pattern for “pr” “f” and “ets” where all in my text surrounding and embedded in “poets”, but I failed to recognize “poets”.
When we come to the Bible, the Bible is to confront us, even the most capable of us. I dare say, that if you go to the Bible and you continue to read it the same manner, with the same theology, the same “a priori conjecture” that you received at your conversion, you are not letting God teach you.
“a priori conjecture” is everything that your religious upbringing taught you to see. “a priori conjecture” many times equates to “traditions of men” not the teachings of God. There is a difference. But our traditions, and our traditional interpretation are so ingrained, so personal, that there is hardly anything I, or another person, can say to persuade you differently.
“a priori conjecture” is fine when misreading “poets” as “prophets” but “a priori conjecture” is not fine when things get taught as reality when they are not. “a priori conjecture” will prevent us from reaching the fullness of Christ in God. My “a priori conjecture” must be challenged, I must have it challenged, if the truth, and God’s glory is really all that important, then mine and your “a priori conjecture” have to be broken down so that we can see what God is really saying. This is why translations matter.
When I say the next statement, I will not make many friends but it remains true nonetheless. Translations, each and every one of them, are someone else’s work, whether the translation was done by a team or an individual. The translator’s theology, their “a priori conjecture” becomes your theology and your “a priori conjecture”. Even the cherished KJV, is for the theology and “a priori conjecture” of the Church of England, that it is why it was their “Authorized Version”. If you are unwilling to have anyone else’s theology and their “a priori conjecture” to become yours, then the solution is simple but the application difficult, learn Hebrew and learn Greek, draw your own conclusions; but your own conclusions should be drawn regardless of language. Your conclusions are yours and your conclusions can and will be at odds with other Christians, this is established fact, and is exampled in Romans 14.
The phrase “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity” is a nice little pithy statement, and works well until, until Christians have different interpretations for sin, worship, salvation, baptism, etc. etc. etc. Even “the essentials,” “the unity,” “non-essentials,” “the liberty,” “the things,” “the charity” get redefined and have their own definition from denomination to denomination and from non-denomination to non-denomination. “a priori conjecture” conjoined with the collective unwillingness of Christianity to reexamine anything it holds sacred is and will continue to be the point of contention, debate and division.