Friday, April 28, 2006

Inerrancy... you have obviously mistaken me for someone who cares.

Every few months I am part of a conversation where the inerrancy of the Bible comes up. In the past, I listened quietly but rarely put in my opinion. Mostly because I really didn't have one, and the argument seemed to be driven by folks who enjoyed theological fencing.

However, I have become more embolden to offer my opinion because I have seen these discussions take a turn in which they begin to elevate the Bible to a place, I believe, it was never meant to be.

Consider - "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" 2Tim 3:16

It is profitable for doctrine - correction and reproof - instruction in righteousness.

This is not how I am seeing the bible used. Here is how I do see it being used; see if you have encountered this.

The divinity of Scripture - The Bible as the fourth entity in the Godhead.
I see this transformation in two ways:
First, for eternal life we have added to dependence on Christ the qualification that you must believe the bible is inerrant. I am hearing more and more Christians equalize belief in Christ with belief in the Bible as inerrant. You must almost pass through the inerrancy door before you can come to Christ. The argument goes, "In order to believe in Christ, you must believe in the Bible because if the Bible contains error then how can we believe in Christ?"

The Second way I see this happening is through the synonymous usage of Christ, the word, and the Bible. Christians use them so interchangeably, that to many, there is nary a difference. Algebraic logic - Christ is the Word, The Bible is the Word, Christ is the Bible.

Pharisees and the Law, Christians and the Bible
Another thing I have encountered is the Bible being used by Christians the way the Pharisees used the Law. The Pharisees used Scripture to distance themselves from the irreligious. They made stuff complicated and difficult and thereby kept their club clean and exclusive. Unfortunately, the Bible seems to be used in the same way - not inviting people in, but keeping people out.

I believe few people come to Christ through proof. I see Christians get side tracked, and rather than talking about Jesus with unbelievers, they start arguing inerrancy. The reality is, you cannot prove the Bible is inerrant. If you choose to believe that, some of that belief must be taken on faith. So why argue it with an unbeliever? It will not change their heart. If proof were the turn-key, then the Israelites should have been the most godly, compassionate, and loving group around. No one in history saw more proof than them.

What does one mean by inerrant?
I am finding that the word inerrant has as many hues in explanation as the Trinity. What does one mean by it? To hear some folks explain it, you would think Paul was merely taking dictation. I have committed some of Paul's epistles to memory and one of the nice benefits of memorizing large portions of scripture is that you quit basing your theology on sound bites. One starts to see that it really is a letter, written by a man who is on a mission from God.

Yep, I said it, written by a man.

Is that so horrible?

This is Paul, a man who spoke with Christ, who faced all kinds of persecutions, who established churches, who was martyrd.

He is credible. I could do worse than to follow his instructions.

Are you saying you don't believe the Bible is inerrant?
No, I am saying I don't know.... and I don't particularly care.
In History you have primary and secondary sources. Primary are people or items that actually touched the event. Secondary is what it says... it came from a source secondhand.

For me, the Bible is THE primary source. I love CS Lewis, but if I find doctrine that contradicts the Bible, I will always go Bible first. For me, the Bible is used to develop doctrine, for correction and reproof, and for instructing me in righteousness. That is all it is intended for. I think to do more is to mold it into a golden calf.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


"Once you label me, you negate me" ~ Soren Kierkegaard

The truth of that quote has become very real to me of late. I was listening to a talk show host who was telling a story of his mother. While driving with her, they were listening to talk radio. The mother heartily agreed with the radio announcer until she learned who it was. Once she learned it was a person she disliked, she no longer considered what the host had to say insightful or witty.

I have seen that happen so often. Rarely can an idea stand on its' own merit. We almost need to know the political or theological stance of the person advancing the idea before we will commit to an opinion.

I was talking with a gentleman I know in class recently. Our conversations have sometimes turned to the theological and I was tempted last week to ask him what he was. As the words were about to escape, I caught myself. What advantage would that knowledge bring? Would it not be more misleading than helpful? If he were to tell me that he was Baptist, or LDS, or atheist, would that not cause me to consciously and unconsciously assign to him a lot of baggage and history that may or may not be true? Would it not take me longer to then unlearn all of my incorrect assumptions than to simply learn by conversation what he believes?

I probably fall under the category of Christian Evangelical, but there are numerous points of my beliefs that would fall out of line with that general definition. I sometimes hesitate to define myself as Christian, because then I feel a need to clarify all the points that one would associate with me based on that definition, and yet are not true of me.

In Silence of the Lambs, Clarice wants Hannibal Lector to fill out a personality profile. He laughs, "Do you believe you can dissect me with this blunt little tool?"

I think we do a great disservice to our development with relationships when we label. We do it for ease, but are short cuts beneficial when they lead you where you do not want to be?
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