There are a few places where the idea of "relationship" (in the dictionary sense of connectivity) is clearly expressed, like 1Cor.6:16 -- how can you have a closer connection than "one flesh" with a sexual partner? -- but that is not what Relationshipists mean by the word when they use it, so the translators (Relationshipists all of them) don't use the word "relationship" where its dictionary sense of connectivity would most clearly express what the text means. There are a few (half-dozen or less) places where the Bible encourages some other kind of connectivity (to God), like John 15:4, but that is also not what Relationshipists usually mean by their Relationshipism, so they never mention it.
There are a few other places where the idea of "relationship" (in the dictionary sense of family relations) is clearly expressed, like John 1:12 which is clearly about believers being related to the Father as "children" -- but that is not what Relationshipists mean by the word when they use it, so the translators also don't use the word "relationship" where its dictionary sense of family relations would more or less clearly express what the text means.
The translators understand what the word "relationship" means to the people who use it (in the churches), and that idea is also vaguely there in a few verses, but not unambiguously, and certainly not applicable to all people, so they wisely refrained from using the word in those contexts also. See also my essay "Relationship, Not Religion", which phrase similarly fails to be found in the Bible.
But the Bible is full of "relationships" of various kinds, so therefore the Bible teaches "relationship" as a proper understanding of our Christian faith. There, in that one line you see the complete argument for "relationships" in the Bible.
You can find a much stronger argument for "molecules"
in the Bible. Like "relationships", the word "molecules" is not in the
Bible, nor any synonym of it. But there is plenty of teaching about physical
objects -- all of them made of molecules. God created the molecules, and
commanded His people to form some of them into particular objects, and
(this is important) God Himself became "flesh" (molecules) and dwellt among
us. Of course there are no Moleculists, nobody arguing for Moleculism and
claiming it is taught in the Bible. Why? Because Moleculism is not a value
important to a large class of people running the churches.
It is a logical fallacy to argue from "is" to "ought", to infer moral
imperative from a description of something that exists. The Bible describes
relationships. The Bible describes physical material objects (molecules).
But that's not the same as teaching them as normative. The Bible describes
sin, but it does not teach that everyone must become a sinner. We already
are. God teaches rather that we should "stop sinning."
This is a very strange moral situation, where obedience to God's command is contingent on some other person. Nowhere in the Bible are you made morally culpable for another person's moral failure to which you gave no assent. Did Adam sin when Eve ate the fruit? No, Adam sinned when Adam ate the fruit. In fact, Eve was deceived. The blame is entirely on Adam -- because Adam ate the fruit willingly. Relationship as a moral imperative is therefore immoral, because you become a sinner unwillingly.
For God to require of us "relationships" thus makes God unrighteous.
But God is Holy and Righteous and Just. Therefore God cannot morally require
"relationship". And God does not require it. It is not taught in the Bible.
What is taught can be obeyed unconditionally, regardless of what the other
party does or does not do. You can "Love your neighbor as yourself" even
if he hates you back. Loving your enemies is an explicit virtue, taught
2009 April 25, revised 14 April 22
Relationships are not obscure. Relationships are everywhere. Everybody understands relationships. There are (a few) verses in the Bible that teach particular kinds of relationships, but not relationships in general. There are Greek and Hebrew words that (more or less) mean "relationship", just as there are other English words, like "connected" that more or less mean the same thing. If the connectedness were the point of any particular Biblical teaching, the translators -- honest people, every one of them -- would have used "relationship" to express what is being taught. They did not. There is a reason for that.
There is no Greek or Hebrew word that means "Trinity" (nor anything
like it) available to the Bible authors at the time they wrote, because
the word was not invented until the Christian church understood the
idea, hundreds of years later. That is why the word "Trinity" is not in
the Bible. The same is not true of "relationship". The Trinity is not a
Suppose I wrote a book about trees and only mentioned leaves, trunk, limbs, bugs, insecticides, red oak, live oak, silver leaf maple, gum, apple, orange, pear, bradford pear, fertilizer, water, sun, soil, dung and never used the word tree...İis then my book not about trees?This is a good argument, but fatally flawed. If Mike wrote a book about trees, then it would of course be about trees. But he would have to go to heroic -- perhaps even perverse -- efforts to do so and never once use the word "tree" nor any words that mean something similar, like "tall bush" or "dendritic flora" or "forest". An easy way to know what a book is about is to count the uses of each significant word (not including "the" or "and" or "is") in it. The most frequent word is always what the book is about. Mike could write a book about a particular kind of tree, say silver leaf maple, and he would still have a great deal of difficulty -- well nigh impossible -- to do so without using the word "tree". God is not perverse, and the sacred authors were not intentionally avoiding the one word their writings were all about. They could not avoid it, if that's what they were writing about -- and they did not. The Bible is about God, not relationships.
Dan works in the marketing arm of his employer. He (and others in business)
tell me that business is built on relationships. That is true, so long
as you recognize that by "relationships" they mean "mutual affirmation"
and not merely connections. If either party in a business transaction starts
disaffirming the other party, the "relationship" is broken, the transaction
aborted. Telling the other party an uncomfortable truth affecting their
decision ultimately affirms their intelligence and their right to make
their own decisions, so truth is an important component in affirmation,
but it is the affirmation that creates the business relationship, not the
truth itself. Disaffirming truth -- for example, truthfully telling an
incompetent buyer or seller of his folly -- is a sure deal-breaker.
Comments added 2010 January 11, August 23