March 28, 2017

My Theology Can Beat Up Your Theology: Thoughts on always saying more than the other guy.

shouting.jpgI’ve had an idea running around in my mind for a few months, and I’m going to try and get it down on paper. It’s slippery, and rather than try to sound profound, I think it would be best to say this is a bit of advice for those in the mood to listen (which some of you won’t be in the mood for, I’m pretty sure.) Perhaps I’ll manage to put something into words for those of you who, like me, often get these vague feelings that you can’t quite grab and get into a sentence, like…”What do you call it when someone says you’re a theological sissy because you won’t (fill in the blank with daring, bold, untoppable words!)

I’m going to talk about theology and how people choose to express it. One point I want to make immediately is that I believe the contemporary evangelical scene is impoverished in expressing anything theological, so I don’t want to be heard as criticizing those who actually DO think God-centered thoughts. My hats off to you for rising above the level of the childish nonsense that passes for theology these days.

Among those who are doing theology, however, I detect something that I can only call, with any honesty, a kind of game. I’ll call it the “More, Higher, Most, Highest” game. (MHMH) By using the term “game,” I am not raising the issue of insincerity, because I genuinely believe it is a manifestation of true zeal and devotion. But I use the word “game” because there is an element of comparison and competition that I can no longer ignore.

The “More, Higher, Most, Highest” game is the tendency to escalate theological claims and language, and to claim that the escalation of claims and language indicates an accompanying increase in truth, faith, commitment or other valuable commodities among Christians. (I would say the tendency to escalate theological rhetoric, but that word seems to upset some people beyond any possibility of clarification. But it’s what I mean exactly.)

The basic form of this game could be seen, for example, among those who believe in the continuance of spiritual gifts such as healing. Let’s say someone affirms the continuance of some kind of healing gifts, manifested as God sovereignly chooses. It will not be enough to say that one believes God can heal. This will be greeted by someone claiming God ALWAYS heals. This will be followed by the claim that if God DOESN’T heal, it’s our fault. And then we hear that God WILL heal if you use this prayer or attend this church. Then God heals big things, and does so immediately, IF we really believe. Of course, someone has heard that God is raising the dead somewhere, and someone else will settle for nothing else but perfect health for all true Christians, because by his stripes we are healed……

And on and on and on we go. Easy to see with the Pentecostal team, right? Well look in your rear view mirror.

Should we bring on the “How can I say the Bible is true?” team and see what rhetorical height we can climb with claims of the Bible’s perfection? I can cite you a well known reformed church whose web site says you are “saved by the Bible,” which is news to me.

Or just look closer to home. Respected blogger Tim Challies has just completed a short series on inerrancy. Tim will be here on Thursday answering questions about his new book, so just so you’ll know Tim and I are not on the same bus on many issues, take a look at what he says regarding those of us- and that’s me in that us– and a whole lot of other Christians as well- who do not use or endorse the term inerrancy. (Bold face is mine, so you can see what Challies is saying in regard to those, like me and many others, who do not use inerrancy as the way we understand Biblical authority and inspiration.)

First, if we deny inerrancy, we make God a liar. If there are errors in the original manuscripts, manuscripts that testify they were breathed out by God, one of two things must be true: either God purposely lied or he mistakenly lied. Either way this would indicate that God is capable of making or of producing errors. Needless to say, this would destroy our ability to trust any of God’s revelation and cause us to doubt God Himself.

Second, if we deny inerrancy we lose trust in God. If there are errors in Scripture, even if in the smallest detail, and these were placed there intentionally by God, how are we to maintain trust that He did not lie in other matters? When we lose trust in the Scriptures, we lose trust in God Himself and we may consequently lose our desire to be obedient to Him.

Third, if we deny the clear testimony of Scripture that it is inerrant, we make our minds a higher standard of truth than the Bible. At the outset of this series I indicated a concern I felt towards those who deny inerrancy is when they indicate that the doctrine does not “feel right.” But nowhere does the Bible appeal to our feelings or our reason for its authority or inerrancy. We must submit to the Word, for it will not submit to us. We must give to the Bible the place it claims for itself. We cannot stand in judgment over it.

Fourth, if we deny inerrancy, and indicate that small details are incorrect, we cannot consistently argue that all the doctrine the Bible contains is correct. Admitting error in even the smallest historical detail is only the thin edge of the wedge, for we then allow the possibility that there may be error in doctrine as well. And when we allow this possibility, the Christian faith soon crumbles into a mess of subjectivity and personal preference.

So inerrancy is not an optional doctrine—one we can take or leave. Rather, it is a doctrine at the very heart of the faith and without it we impoverish our faith and destroy our ability to trust and honor God.

Now I have great appreciation for Bro. Challies’ confidence that inerrancy is a no-option issue. I’ve been beat around with that word for almost three decades in Southern Baptist life, and I know the presentation pretty well. For the record:

I don’t believe God is a liar and I recoil from ever saying such a thing. I don’t have to believe in inerrancy to endorse the truthfulness of God. I don’t believe God lies in allowing Biblical language to be inspired human language. For what it’s worth, neither does N.T. Wright, just to name one scholar who wouldn’t use the term inerrancy.

I do not doubt God or his ability to express revelation exactly as he wants it to be. The thought that God cannot reveal truth unless it is in a book that is supernaturally prevented from having normal, imperfect, human expressions of its time really never occurs to me. I assume that within the expressions, thought world, worldviews and literary genres of the time, God got exactly what he wanted and I can preach it without having to be concerned about “errancy.”

I have not lost trust in God as a result of not using a word I never heard until 1979 when a bunch of guys came to my seminary and said we had to believe it or we didn’t believe the Bible enough to be Baptists. I have no problems in affirming God’s dependability even though I am guilty of not using a word that the Westminister Confession itself never uses. (Go read WCF I on scripture and see if I’ve missed it.)

I am not claiming to know more than God or that my mind is “above” the Bible. I submit to what I understand God is saying in the Bible. Is there a way to understand and interpret the Bible that doesn’t involve my mind making judgments? Is it sinful to do so?

I am in no way constrained to believe the Bible’s message is false because I do not use a standard of perfect scientific precision, for example or perfect linguistic expression. To me, inerrancy is a concept that has to have so many qualifiers, so many explanations, so many footnotes, so many exceptions that it is cumbersome and far from helpful. “Perfection” has to be redefined for inerrancy to be meaningful, and what finally emerges allows so many kinds of less than precise statements that the whole concept collapses.

For instance, I don’t believe Jesus cleansed the temple twice. I believe John has no interest in chronology when he puts the cleansing of the temple courts in chapter 2 of his Gospel. I am not interested in the kinds of “harmonizing” that are necessary to stop one of the Gospel writers from being in error. The category simply doesn’t apply.

The word inerrancy, which a lot of people in my denomination used to club a lot of other good, believing people in my denomination right out the door, just isn’t the only way to talk about Biblical authority. (Again, see Wright, The Last Word, for an example.) But it is a triple-word score in the game of “More…high…most..highest.”

Back to the topic of this post. I just don’t play the “say more…more…go higher…higher” game with the Bible’s truthfulness. What I see happening with “inerrancy” is an escalation of terms into the potentially useless.

The Bible is true. The Bible has authority. The Bible has the authority of God’s word in human words and expressions. While I know there are many who can state reasons we need to say “more…more” and make “higher and higher” claims, I don’t see the usefulness. Ultimately, we wind up defending our own language and our own formulations.

And the person willing to say the most, to make the highest claim- like a KJV Only-er for example- feels justifiably proud that he’s climbed further out on the limb of faith than anyone else. And I suppose he should. I’m not going that far, even if I sound like I don’t believe the Bible.

A further example would be claims of God’s sovereignty. Just how big, bad and bold a statement of God’s control can we make in the aftermath of tragedy?

Or the presence of Jesus in our…..Eucharist? Or Praise music? or Revival? He’s present. Really, really, really…REALLY present.

Or I’m not postmodern. Look how non-postmodern I am. I’m 19th century. Or 18th. I’m a Puritan.

Or I’m in the real church. The true church. The only church Jesus founded. The church that’s in the Bible.

Or we’re not compromising with the world. We’re really about the Gospel. Really. Really. That’s all. Nothing else. How about you? Did you have a New Year’s bash? See…I told ya.

Or how about shocking you with what I’ll say about what it really means to be committed. Or how bad we all are. Or what you REALLY would do if you were a Christian.

I could keep going, but this is annoying even me, and I’m writing it.

“More…higher…more…highest.” “You can’t say more than I’m willing to say. You can’t pay more compliments, make more claims, use stronger language, be more public, make more noise…..than me.”

Is all of this really necessary? Or is this a manifestation of the need of theological types to find some way to create a stadium full of people who just don’t believe enough, or believe right or believe enough right?

The Bible makes some massive claims, but everything we believe isn’t to be expressed in a kind of rhetorical competition that sneers at the other fellow for being too much of a theological sissy to be as “stout” as we are with our theological affirmations. Call me liberal or worse, but much of what we need to say accurately can be said simply without shouting, setting the bar ever higher or taking the dare to climb out on the limb so we’re the only one with enough correct theology (and correct faith) to say what needs to be said. It can be said without setting up a way to say most other people who express their understanding differently actually have bailed out.

Before I head out the door on this topic, one last thought.

We’re justified by faith, right? Not works? Not any kind of works?

Not by saying “I believe in justification” MORE and LOUDER and with BIGGER WORDS and MORE ARGUMENTS than the other guy? Not by bluster and sticking our chest out? Not by being shocked that others won’t climb as far up the mountain as we’re willing to go?

Could it be that for some theological types, they’re doing the “works” of high-powered theological rhetoric rather than trust in the finished work and the trustworthy, simple word?

We’re saved by a perfect savior and simple faith. No hype needed. God isn’t going to get more impressed with anyone of us and what we say than he already is with Jesus. There’s no special commendation for the person who dared to really, really, REALLLLLLY believe.

Talk about it amongst yourselves….in the comments. But don’t shout at me. Please. I’ll get your point in plain english and a normal volume.

Comments

  1. “Outside Protestant confessions??????”

    Really Michael.

    How about the Reformers….

    “Holy Scripture cannot err”

    Martin Luther, Luthers Deutsche Schriften, XXVII,33

    The reason why he wanted to get rid of James was because he thought it was in error.

    Calvin charged Servetus with believing that the Bible contained a geographical error, a charge later dropped when Servetus refused to take responsibility for stating that belief.

    There are some areas where personally I am outside protestant confessions – for example, after 15 years of being a trinitarian I’ve now come to wonder whether this is a Scriptural doctrine or not – but inerrancy is not one of them.

    And speaking of the trinity. One of the reasons you have a problem with inerrancy is, so you say, that it is not a Scriptural word.

    Well, I’ve never found the word “Trinity” there either but you have no problem believing in it.

  2. Anna,

    What is truth, you ask.

    Jesus said “Thy word is truth” speaking to His Father.

    There is no disputation that “thy word” was “what was written.”

    Show me evidence where a 2nd Temple Torah observant Jew had a view that “what was written” could err in the slightest degree.

    As to your other questions, I answer yes to all three of them. Poetry tackles truth in a different form than prose, but both speak truth. And the Bible is full of poetry.

    The question of inerrancy is not about genre. It’s about, really, what we believe about the ultimate origin of the written word, because that determines it’s status. If we believe Peter when he writes “but holy men of God spoke being borne along by the Holy Spirit”, how can we even dispute a word like inerrancy? Can the Spirit err? Were the “holy men of God” left to their human limitations in delivering to us what Paul says is “not the word of men, but what it is in truth, the word of God?”

  3. Michael said,

    “Of course, saying that there were “errors” in life that aren’t reported in scripture is a useless piece of info. Your claim is that the Bible is without error. That’s a meaningless statement without dozens of qualifiers.

    What you mean is that the Bible is true and teaches truth, which is a defensible statement, without the need for major or special qualifiers. ”

    So… The Bible is true. So you mean, the Bible is true in what it claims? In other words, the Bible makes good its claims, and achieves that measure of focused truth for which the authors aimed?

    Since that’s exactly what the the authors of the Chicago Statement said, I’m left once again puzzled.

    You keep repeating this idea: That “inerrancy” requires dozens of exceptions and qualifiers.

    No. It requires one qualifier. That the Bible is true in what it claims. Everything else is the working out of what it does, and does not claim. Everything else is the basic analysis of cultural expectations that is required for reading any text. (An analysis which, by the way, you must do yourself. You acknowledge that saying Adam didn’t exist would be “denying what scripture says”.)

    If someone tried to tell me that I “made an error” when I said that the sun rose at 6:45am, I would think they were being absurd. If someone tried to tell me that I “made an error” because I said there were a hundred people in the room when there were exactly 117, I would think they were being absurd (unless I was a census taker, I suppose). If someone tried to tell me that I “made an error” by recounting various events out-of-order–but I didn’t tell them they happened in that order–I would likewise think they were being absurd. (Incidentally, I asked you a question about the temple-cleansing. It may have gotten lost in the length of my comment, but I think it would be helpful for you to go back and answer it.)

    Only one qualification. Many cases where our 21st century American expectations don’t match up with those of the biblical audience or the intentions of the biblical authors.

  4. P.S. Again, you could have a point that the label “inerrancy” is a poor communicator. If so, then the discussion should just be about finding a better label. You could say, “I believe in the doctrine called inerrancy, but the name for that doctrine isn’t good, because it sets up the wrong expectations in our minds–things that the doctrine does not teach.”

    If you would put the discussion in those terms, you would have far fewer cries of “Heretic!”

    If you can’t put the discussion in those terms because it’s about more than that, then you need more clarity than the way you’re arguing in this entry & combox. You say things like, “I am in no way constrained to believe the Bible’s message is false because I do not use a standard of perfect scientific precision,” when inerrantists are not saying you are constrained to believe such a thing. (For me, an answer to my question about the temple-cleansing would help.)

  5. I think “inerrancy” comes down to knowing when to say when as you eluded to…Otherwise we give up unity for the sake of a theology/faith sizing contest. We need to be reminded of the difficulties of translating from the original eastern languages to English as well. We should also be reminded of the literacy rate now vs. in the early centuries. I have an uncle who cannot read nor write, is he disqualified as a believer? When I tell many fellow Christians about his illiteracy, many respond with a fix, i.e. theres a reading program downtown, etc. Like it’s a disease, or even a requirement to being a Christian! He has tried to learn to read but he has a major learning disability, yet he can carry on a sharp witted conversation and listen to Bible all day long. He understands Biblical concepts and we discuss Christ almost everytime we talk. Dare I say, that he is more qualified to receive the word of God than even myself? I personally, would rather a man meditate and contemplate only a few books or even just the words of Christ his entire life… than read through the entire Bible in one year. Thanks for the article!

  6. Mark Shea, fortunately, I’ve never made a statement one way or the other about you and Mary, and also fortunately, I don’t say crazy things like “God is one with the Bible.” If all protestants were too thick to miss the irony of an avid inerrantist using Luther as an example but failing to see how that put Luther literally in the position of judging scripture, and therefore apparently judging God, well, then I wouldn’t want to be a protestant, either! 🙂

    Fortunately, Luther later translated James, and not all protestants are lumps — any more than all RCC folk are nominalists. You seem to be a stand-up guy, for example.

  7. Philip,

    You label “crazy” my statement that because God is of the utmost integrity “He and His Word are one” yet you can say the following over at the tavern….

    “You argue that you’re talking about “Jesus defined by scripture,” and I say that Jesus won’t be defined by scripture, but that scripture is defined by how it points to Jesus. Christ is authoritative over scripture, as He is authoritative over all things, and I will make — or accept — no claims about scripture that Jesus made about it or it makes about itself.”

    Is that sane? Jesus is not defined by Scripture but is only “pointed to” by Scripture? How does that work? Never mind, I don’t want to know.

    Jesus is defined by Scripture. You wouldn’t even know anything about Him except for the word of the apostles, which as Paul states is “not the word of men, but as it is indeed, the word of God.”

    I’ll say it again, with added comment.

    God and His word are one. That’s the summit of integrity of speech. Everything that comes out of His mouth is truth. He never said a careless thing. He never misled. He never let His human prophets misrepresent Him in any way by their weakness or fallibility, but “holy men of old spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

    Theopneustos. That is God-breathed TO US, not just to the prophet or apostle who then in turn breath their best but fallible rendition to us.

    About some supposed irony regarding Luther.

    He said “Scripture does not err.”

    He wanted to toss James because he thought it contained error.

    That’s different from saying something spooky like “Well, I won’t say that my Bible is inerrant, but it is nonetheless, despite it’s human element of fallibility sprinkled here and there, authoritative, and even if it doesn’t define Jesus it somehow mystically points us to Him”

    Have the courage of Luther! If you think the book has errors, GET RID OF IT, so you can have a pure book.

  8. “Jesus is defined by Scripture.”

    “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” – John 21:25

    Jesus is described by the Bible. Jesus is revealed through the Bible. Jesus speaks through the Bible. The Bible is the written and inspired word of God. As a Catholic, I would say, along with the Second Vatican Council that “the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation.” But Jesus is not defined by the Bible. It’s not God.

  9. Mark: Double amen.

    I’ll be a Yankess fan before I’ll be a Roman Catholic, but I think the CCCs statement on the inspiration of the Bible is outstanding.

  10. Let’s not equivocate on “defined by Scripture”. I doubt Joe means “defined” as in “this, and no further”. He means, “exactly and fully this”. It’s not that Jesus is constrained to be no more than what Scripture reveals. He means that the authoritative understanding of Jesus is contained in Scripture; if our understanding of Jesus disagrees with the understanding defined in Scripture, then our understanding is wrong. Why? Because Jesus’ Spirit breathed out the text.

    Assuming I’m right: That said, Joe, I think that “He and His Word are one” is just about the worst possible way you could express that idea. You’re setting people up to take you the wrong way. “He and His Word are one” may be true in some sense, but not in the sense that “I and the Father are one”. And that seems to be how people are taking it. That’s how I would naturally take it.

    If I’m wrong, and y’all actually were understanding Joe correctly: Goodness. Never mind.

  11. I mean that God and His word are one in the same sense that Jesus said He and His Father are one.

    That’s exactly what I mean.

    How could it be otherwise?

    Jesus and God were one in the sense that when you saw Him you saw the Father, when you heard Him you heard the Father, when you accepted Him you accepted the Father, and if you rejected Him it was also a rejection of the Father.

    Watch how I can plug the word in there for Jesus and it works perfectly….

    God and His word are one, so that when you understood the factual content of the word you understood God, when you heard the words read you heard God, when you accepted the word of God you accepted God, and if you reject the word of God it is also a rejection of God.

    The written words are spoken by God.

    But this does not mean I worship the word as a person in the trinity.

    It does mean that I cannot worship God apart from the word, since I can’t know Him or hear Him or serve Him apart from it.

    Having said that, if it is a stumbling block to you, I can only apologize and continue to assure you I’m not implying what the cheap shots assume that I am.

  12. AT Chaffee says:

    Coming out of lurkdom- blessed by this site!

    I hear everyone here saying that they believe Scripture reliably and faithfully teaches the truths of salvation. I also hear everyone saying that grammar, figures of speech, etc, don’t detract from this revealed meaning. So everyone agrees Scripture is inspired. Do I have it right that the argument is in regard to “verbal inspiration”? not only do the concepts have to be clearly expressed but the exact words used are critical.

    So Paul by revelation understands unity in the church. He passionately writes, in his own language, idiom, and confusing personal style (Peter said it, not me) about these truths clearly enough that we who read it could understand. He writes that he baptized a few people. . .then parenthetically, “Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know if I baptized any other.” Inspiration says that Paul is using an example to show how few people he baptized and how unimportant that number is compared to the headship of Christ in the church. It doesn’t really matter how he says it. Verbal inspiration says there is something Really Important about the fact that he mentions Crispus and Gaius first and then Stephanas later.

    (Yes, Paul turned an argument on seed vs. seeds. Consider the possibility he was making an illustration and not a proof; at any rate, he’s Paul and I’m not exactly qualified to seek for hidden meaning in exact phrasing).

    My outlook on verbal inspiration comes from my teaching experience. At my university we customarily give detailed handouts of our Powerpoints to students. (A whole ‘nother topic about the downfall of college education but I will say there is a lot of technical detail we would prefer they have down correctly). Anyway, there are those who take what may be described as a verbally inspired approach to my lecture notes, memorizing them word for word. This fairly impressive feat has several implications, all of which are true and not just made up for the point of illustration.

    *These students focus on the exact wording rather than the meaning. I’ve had students rattle off an equation but not be able to describe to me what it means.

    *They draw inferences from my phrasing I never meant them to draw.

    *They memorize, regurgitate, and forget because they have missed the point that these are concepts I am trying to explain that live and have meaning outside my notes. (I wonder if they think this is all some ritual we invented, a hoop to jump to graduate).

    *They are flustered if my notes “contradict” someone else’s. One example, if I understood the student correctly, involved a value being quoted as 34% by one professor and 37% by another (missing the point entirely that it was about a third).

    Yes, I know perfectly well the Bible is nothing like my lecture notes. But the readers are the same.

  13. Joe,

    No, you’re not being in any way a stumbling block for me. In the way that you clarify your position, I don’t find much to disagree with. That is, I agree “that when you understood the factual content of the word you understood God, when you heard the words read you heard God, when you accepted the word of God you accepted God, and if you reject the word of God it is also a rejection of God.”

    (I would add some qualifications, but they might just be quibbling over words. For instance, I wouldn’t quite say that you “understand” God just by understanding the factual content of the word, because I think that true understanding requires acceptance. And someone who understands what the word says about God might still reject God. For instance, it’s possible for an atheist to understand the message of the epistle to the Romans about God and man and sin and Jesus and salvation–but that atheist would reject the message. But then, maybe it would be more accurate to say that this atheist doesn’t understand. Like I said, this could just be quibbling over words.)

    Please take this suggestion: Don’t say that Jesus and the Bible are one the same way that Jesus and the Father are one, unless you give the same kind of explanation you just gave me. If you don’t explain, a lot of people are going to read it as some kind of weird fourth person of the Trinity. As people here did.

    If just say, “Jesus and the Bible are one”, I think you’re guaranteed to be misunderstood by many.

  14. OK Joe. Sending letters to the BHT fellows just ended your career as a commenter here.

    Smooth move. If you have time to send letters to my friends castigating me and criticizing them, you have too much time. Go find a soup kitchen.

  15. inerrancy was not in the pardeigm that the bible was written. it is modernist baggage from the enlightenment where humans thought their pea brains could hold absolute knowledge of anything…

    I like to say that i do not care if the bible is inerrant, it does not say so and it for the most part of it poetry and parables … and i would like somebody to explain inerrancy in poetry 🙂

  16. How come I never get letters from anybody? I feel like such a reject.

  17. Well said. As Erasmus put it in “The Praise of Folly” when discussing “divines”(theologians):

    They will cut asunder the toughest argument
    with as much ease as Alexander did the gordian
    knot; they will thunder out so many rattling
    terms as shall fright an adversary into conviction.
    They are exquisitely dexterous in unfolding the
    most intricate mysteries; they will tell you to a
    tittle all the successive proceedings of Omnipotence
    in the creation of the universe; they will explain
    the precise manner of original sin being derived
    from our first parents. They will satisfy you in
    what manner, by what degrees, and in how long a
    time, our Saviour was conceived in the Virgin’s
    womb, and demonstrate in the consecrated wafer
    how accidents may subsist without a subject. Nay,
    these are accounted trivial, easy questions; they
    have yet far greater difficulties behind, which notwithstanding they solve with as much expedition
    as the former.

    As namely, whether supernatural generation requires
    any instant of time for its acting? Whether Christ, as a son, bears a double specifically distinct relation to God the Father, and his virgin mother? Whether this proposition is possible to be true, the first person of the_Trinity hated the second? Whether God, who took our nature upon him in the form of a man, could as well have become a woman, a devil, a beast, an herb, or a stone? A nd were it so possible that the Godhead had appeared in any shape of an inanimate substance, how he should then have preached his gospel? Or how have been nailed to the cross? Whether if St. Peter had celebrated the eucharist at the same time our Saviour was hanging on the cross, the consecrated bread would have been transubstantiated into the same body that remained on the tree? Whether in Christ’s corporal presence in the sacramental wafer his humanity be not abstracted from his Godhead? Whether after the resurrection we shall carnally eat and drink as we do in this life?

    There are a thousand other more sublimated and refined niceties of notions, relations, quantities, formalities, quiddities, hseccities, and such like abstrusities, as one would think no one could pry into,
    except he had not only such cat’s eyes as to see best in the dark, but even such a piercing faculty as to see through an inch-board, and spy out what really never had any being.

  18. Elise Dennis says:

    For years now it has seemed to me that it would be so wonderful if we could simply approach the Bible as being “exactly the way God wants it”. This is not inerrancy. Indeed, where scripture clearly contains passages whose details seem to contradict each other, we could assume that God is not interested in our getting hung up on each and every detail. Where scriptural passages strain against one another at the point of doctrine, seeming to pull in opposite directions and to explode into paradox, we could simply accept that God wants us to humble ourselves in the face of such paradox and not seek to “nail everything down” in systemmatic perfection.

    Then we could all focus on living into passages like “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength and mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” What would our Christian community look like if we began to do this, and abandoned our theological in-fighting? We might even begin to demonstrate the unity in the body for which Jesus prayed in John 17, and which he identified as the means by which the world will ultimately recognize the truth of the gospel.

  19. FungiFromYuggoth says:

    There were some good points earlier about the perceived inerrancy of the Torah, so I did a bit of research.

    As far as I can tell from reading the Internet and not being a scholar of Judaism, the reason the Torah was considered to be inerrant was the extraordinarily careful techniques used for copying it, not divine intervention. The techniques recognize the potential for creating errors in the Torah – and that’s in the same language!

    Considering the number of translations and versions of the Bible that have been created and discovered, I don’t think that Biblical reliance on the accuracy of the Torah is evidence for inerrancy.

  20. A very interesting article.

    Yours are the sort of views that i am trying to collate for a global overview on theology book.

    I have set up a website for this purpose and requires nothing more than filling out a simple form.

    Your views (and any of your readers views) would be massivley appreciated.

    Andy