Friday, March 15, 2013

Facebook Faith # 13 Is God Bi-Polar?

Do you believe the bible is inerrant? Do you believe that God is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore?

I posed that question along with this meme on Facebook because I think scriptures such as these - and the bible is full of them - present many problems for people who hold such a view of God and the bible.  How do you reconcile verses such as this?

For the most part, you don't. I attended churches that held an inerrant view of the bible and an unchanging view of God for most of my life, and you never hear verses like this quoted or taught.  If you do, it is quickly ejected from the thought process.... nothing is allowed to simmer which might bring the steadfastness of God and his word into question.

Instead, stating you BELIEVE the bible becomes a mark of Faith. As reader and commentor Jonni observed a few posts ago, "To a Christian, the bible is like the terms and conditions on their itunes account. No one actually reads it - you're just supposed to scroll to the bottom and click "I agree".

Two other approaches came up in the Facebook conversation for dealing with verses like this. One was shared by a pastor friend, who is a liberal Christian, and he holds the view that the bible is simply not inerrant. That verse was written by a flawed man trying to speak of God.

This is actually how I view the bible, and why I still find value in it. However, the slippery slope of that perspective lead me to realize that it was a an ancient text like any other... so why give it any metaphysical credence? How does an ancient people writing their thoughts about the divine have any more weight than the many similar texts which do the same thing?

The other response was that God just dealt differently at that time and our understanding is simply unclear... but that doesn't make God wrong.

I think this is a last ditch effort to cling to inerrancy when all evidence is to the contrary.  I also think it does not give enough credit to our ability to make a good judgement - most souls in this world would not struggle to make a call on the following:

Picture dragging a young girl to her father's house on her wedding night and throwing rocks at her unprotected body... skin lacerating... bones cracking... blood running... until she is dead.

Truthfully... is anyone going to try to spin that onto the good ledger?

If not, then the person holding the inerrant view must conclude that the God they worship today is still fully invested in that kind of thinking.

They probably also need to admit that they would view such an act in the Muslim religion as horrific.

So what do you do with those verses of violence?

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7 comments:

Ma said...

I don't know what to do with the violence in the OT. It was something I really didn't want to have to face- I figured I could put it off a few more years. I have been really leaning so far toward the non-inerrant view for now.

That's a start.

recoveringagnostic said...

As you say, the most that can be said is that it's the result of people trying to understand something they think exists. If you try to claim it's actually handed down by God, it raises some obvious and (I think) insoluble problems.

But the same is true in all sorts of areas - as I wrote yesterday, how come the Catholic church are so sure that God likes this/hates that, but can't even decide who He wants to be the next Pope without several rounds of debates and ballots?

jonni said...

Well, I did get a surprise, being mentioned in your post! I'm not even sure where I got the analogy from - it sounds like something my fellow de-convertees and I might have come up with during late night chats!

Andrew said...

Ma- I think that is a common approach to some of the text in scripture, it gets moved to the "Ill get around to it" category. I honestly think the only way to hold to an inerrant view is with blinders.

RA - Heh... I loved your article.

Jonni - My article was repeated a number of times (that I saw) on Facebook... almost all of them used your quote as the tagline in the status. :)

Jon Eastgate said...

Scary picture Andrew. My daughter got married on the weekend. Fortunately she was not preganant so I didn't have to face this fearful choice. Still I don't think I, or any father I know (including the most dyed in the wool inerrantists) would have to think about it for more then a second. Which I think illustrates the huge cultural gap between us and the bible authors. We are literally unable to enter into their mindset. Thank God!

Andrew said...

Congrats Jon!

Yes, I don't think any father needs much reflection to realize that those are not the edicts of a Father God.

Don said...

My best friend and I have had this "bipolar" discussion many times in our journeys out of inerrancy. These contridictions point for me the obviousness of man's hand in writing the contents of the Bible. I have not ruled out inspiration for some of the authors. I'm just not at all sure from where each's inspiration has come. If one is certain of inerrancy, then "bipolar" would be the only way to describe the God of the Bible.

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