July 9, 2022
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September 11, 2012
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March 28, 2015
“I take the Bible seriously but not always literally.” Excellent link, Michael.
Respectfully, this article come on the heels of a discussion between Dread and me. While I understand much of what is said here, I have to confess it has totally taken the wind out of my sails. What I have believed in and taught for 30 plus years, that one can rely on the scriptures—that they are trustworthy for faith and practice—is wrong.
What this article says to me is my faith has no foundation. It makes me just want to crawl in a hole and hide my face in shame.
I just want to go back to when I knew next to nothing and was just fat, dumb and happy Christian.
My heart is broken. I don’t know that there is a God. I feel I should be ashamed for ever trusting and teaching the scriptures. Because it’s all open to interpretation.
There are those who call my response “reaction” but I don’t think so.
Respectfully, no conversation here is between two people.
There are exponentially more people reading than commenting.
This is the statement of my church, which I affirm.
VI. Of the Sufficiency of the holy Scriptures for salvation
Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the holy Scripture we do understand those Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
Officer happy. I stopped commenting because I didn’t think it was helpful. I don’t
process the world the sane as others. But, I still stop by and scope out the latest. It is after all, an online community.
Last week I saw the Innerency conversation and read a majority of the back and forth and I feel bad for you.
Rest assured- The Word of God is true…his Word is truth. Your 30 years where not in vain. A prophet will receive a prophets reward. But, you sound overwhelmed…something that happens to us all at times.
May I suggest that when overwhelmed it can be good to break a large problem down into lesser, smaller segments, and hopefully assigne yes or no answers where possible. Let’s have two examples, and let’s center those on Innerancy since it was the start of last week’s conversation.
1. You questioned whether your faith has a foundation. I would be overwhelmed by this question as well. You have a vague question regarding the accuracy of God’s statements. Your time-frame spans from last week all the way back to Genesis 3.
And now for a smaller more specifically focused question.
2. Yes or no, where you aware that Innerancy arose in New Jersey shortly following the Civil War, and therefore explains why Innerancy does not appear in our translations?
..sane as others..
That literally is a Fraudian slip.
I don’t understand how this conversation has unhinged faith in God.
Knowing Christ is personal experiential and rooted in union with God by Holy Spirit.
KNOWING CHRIST does not require an inerrant text. It requires receiving him.
Hoppy you were safe fat dumb and happy and are just as safe now
And inerrancy does not = reliability especially when even inerrantists admit that no such text exists.
If one has a faith crisis when discussing the sacred text, one should question what the object of their faith is…Jesus didn’t come to me in the text…I find Him there now, but that’s not where we started or where we will end.
I used to be one whose faith hinged on everything in the Bible adding up perfectly and if a discrepancy was pointed out, I would literally lose sleep until I could find a way to make things fit perfectly and if I couldn’t, my faith in Christianity (and God) wavered. I completely understand how this could be.
I was taught all my Evangelical life that the Bible was the most important thing there was in the life of the Christian. God was perfect only because the Bible said He was perfect, and if I perceived a flaw in the Bible, my whole belief system became shaky.
Back in the day when I taught at an Evangelical high school, the whole purpose of the Bible class was to prove to the kids that the Bible had no contradictions and had to be taken literally whenever possible. If a student lost faith in inerrancy and literalism, often his whole faith crumbled. I’ve seen it happen over and over and I’m sure you all have, too.
But if you lose faith in the Evangelical notion of Scripture, you need to have something better to leap to or you will feel lost and disoriented. In my case, I had the Orthodox Church to leap to. Now, we do believe the Bible is one hundred percent absolutely true, and most of our liturgy comes straight out of the Scriptures, but proving the Bible is inerrant never comes up; we are satisfied to believe it is true.
So…. how many churches’ statements of faith have, as the first statement, something like “We believe in the inerrancy of the Bible.” A belief in the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, His death and resurrection, etc. all come later on the list, as if they are only true because the Bible says they are true. Yet these things are true even if the Bible never existed, which was the case in the first few decades of Christianity.
I grew up singing “jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so”
From our conversations here, this article, and private discussions with others, I can no longer sing that song.
If the Bible is not reliable how can i know He loves me? How can i know anything about God that is reliable
I came to Christ in 1969 after hearing the words of the Bible “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”…and, “the wages of sin was death” but, “the gift of God is eternal life thru Jesus…” I learned later that the Holy Spirit, also mentioned in the scriptures, used those scriptures to draw me to Him.
With out the scriptures being reliable, how do I know my salvation experience is real and of God? They served as a road map to Christ or a GPS to Jesus.
Am I “saved” simply because I want to be? What is the foundation of my belief?
If i found errs in a newspaper, I’d stop reading it or at least, believing it’s reliable. Wouldn’t that be true of the sacred text?
Is my salvation the result of some mystical personal experience?
I dunno. This whole discussion has really left me feeling defeated.
Michael, i didn’t mean to imply the article was posted as a result of a conversation between me and Dread. I realize many people read and comment here.
I have to do some rethinking. I’m in Hawaii now and headed to the beach to think further on this. But this discussion and this article, while friendly, and thought provoking, if true, has thrown a wrench in my faith.
I have to either mentally switch gears, hold on to my belief system, or say heck with it all.
Regardless, i appreciate the discussion. I don’t want to live a lie.
I would say the inerrancy camp did it to themselves…. they taught everyone that the collapse of an inerrant text was the end of Christendom. Circular reasoning is very dangerous.
The scripture points out that authority is of a very different nature to textual perfection … I would add however that my use of the text is that of a plenary verbal textualist — the text not I is the source. Those moments of insecurity created by an ambiguous reading are not threatening they are times of holy stretching. When the relationship is in the Spirit there can be no serious risk.
It is good to see you reply… I have one question … why do you conclude the text must be inerrant to be reliable. The details of your Hawaii trip do not have to be perfectly related for your Hawaiian adventure to be reliable. Light analogy … I know but we all report that the text is reliable, the critics’ challenges notwithstanding.
But the Bible IS reliable. It is.
It’s not all one thing or the other. Because I believe the Church produced the Bible (and not the other way around) it doesn’t mean I think the Scriptures can’t be believed, they CAN and MUST be believed. But “believing the Bible is true” is not the same thing as the kind of bibliolatry I was part of in former days.
It’s a matter of shifting one’s focus off the Bible and onto God Himself. Now, granted, most of what we believe to be true about God comes from the Bible, but the Bible, while important, is not the point of Christianity, Christ is. In modern Christianity, the Bible and Jesus have become confused with each other.
That song: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so” was something I thought about myself when I was converting. No, Jesus doesn’t love me because the Bible says He does, He loves me, period, and the Bible points this out to us. There’s nothing to fear here. Actually, I found letting go of the Evangelical view of the Scriptures to be a huge relief.
I could sing “Jesus loves me, and one of the ways I know He does is because the Bible says He does.” There are plenty of ways I know Jesus loves me, mostly based on real-life experiences.
It is also good to see you reply
Again, as I said before, would you trust a newspaper that reported erroneous news?
Let me ask you a question: what do you believe about the scriptures?
I realize there are soul pondering passages in the scriptures and there are things about God I will never understand. I realize too that interpretation of scripture is one thing and what the scriptures actually say are another.
I realize too that the OT canon anticipates Christ. I believe God clearly presents the gospel from Genesis to Revelation—salvation as an act of free grace from a loving God.
But I also believe the scriptures present a holy and loving God a conundrum settled at the cross.
But the scriptures, have to be reliable and trustworthy at face value and they are God’s way of communication our need for grace and our only hope which is Christ.
The scriptures tell me that. Otherwise I am just reaching in the dark
Why is Islam wrong in it’s belief? Or Hinduism, or any other belief system (if they are indeed, missing it?)
Why is my belief system right (or is it right?)
As the kids song says ‘For the Bible tells me so”.
I don’t see this as an Evangelical vs Othodox issue. It hits at the very core of belief. How do I know Jesus died for my sin? The Bible tells me so
How do I know th sacrifice offered for my sin was accepted? The Bible tells me he rose from the dead
How do I know thee even needed to a sacrifice for my sin? The Bible
How do I know there is a loving God? The Bible tells me so
How do I know there is a Holy Spirit? The Bible tells me so.
I realize that there is a God. My empty heart and my rational mind tell me that. But what he wants or requires of me well, that’s another thing.
Using the Rock climbing analogy, the rope and harness, caribeaners, are my faith, and experience. But the rope and harness have to be anchored to something or I’ll go splat. I believe it’s the Jesus of the Bible
Help me here my patient and tolerant friend; in your theology what is your faith anchored to?
Thank for taking the time t clarify
You said a couple of things I’d like to comment on. One, “ In modern Christianity, the Bible and Jesus have become confused with each other.” That may be your experience but not mine. For some, yes, but generally no.
Secondly, “ Now, granted, most of what we believe to be true about God comes from the Bible, but the Bible, while important, is not the point of Christianity, Christ is.” I believe that but I know that because the scriptures tell me that.
Thanks for you comments
Get to the beach… I will reply
I believe the Bible is just as true as I did when I was an Evangelical, and to be honest, I take it just as literally as I did back in the day. We can be perfectly confident that Jesus, St. Paul, the other apostles and the prophets all said the things that we read in the Bible. I don’t doubt any of it. What has changed in my case is the relationship of the Scriptures to the Church, which I’ll try to explain:
I used to believe it was reasonable to start up a church/congregation by reading through the Bible to get one’s personal game-plan for doctrine and practice. In other words, I used to think it was a good idea, a Holy Spirit idea, that if I was going to start up a church in my living room (assuming I was a man), that I’d “start fresh” by reading the Bible for guidance, that is to say, the Bible produces the church. It’s the blueprint, it’s the direction booklet that comes with the Osterizer, all subject to my own personal interpretation, of course, but I’ll give credit to the Holy Spirit.
But it’s the other way around. The Church, the early Church, produced the Bible. St. Paul and the other writers were part of the Church , were writing to the Church, and their writings were read to the Churches. The Church decided which writings were going to be called “Scripture,” all guided by the Holy Spirit Who works through the Church. The Bible exists in the context of the Church.
And how do we know which doctrine/practice we should follow and which biblical interpretation? What has the Church always taught? What did the Fathers teach? What did the Councils decide? We have 2000 years of history and practice to guide us.
“what do you believe about the scriptures?”
They are the unique record of the kingdom action of God revealing himself through his mighty words and deeds. The scriptures are the necessary outcome of the work of God in the world recorded by prophets and apostles for our edification. They are the very breath of God given expression. They were necessitated by his action on our behalf forming and fashioning a family.
There is no other repository of truth like holy scripture… but Gospel was a thing done before it was a thing recorded. This is always true old and new testament. God acted in history … God acted finally and definitively in his son. We only truly know the father because of the Son. He revealed him in his passion and victory. But scripture is not the authority it is the record. To be sure there is no record of God’s work like it but had we no written words we would still have a Gospel. The Son that proceeded from the Father and the Spirit that proceeded from the Father through the Son would have surely birthed a family.
The Bible is not the Father Son or Spirit but it is the record of that revelation to mankind. Authoritative? Absolutely because the living God will it.
But the progression was God in action prophets speaking Christ reconciling, apostolic witness resulting and Spirit birthing a family. Or as Xenia notes the church was created by the Christ and they produced a record and we benefit.
But I will say it again … there would be a kingdom family in Christ were there no scriptures at all … of course God in his goodness willed it.
All of that I find in Holy Scripture and Redemption history
The apostles and prophets are the foundation of this beautiful city of God and it is testified to us in the scriptures that they gave us. We have a perfect record of God’s dealings with mankind… but those dealings were enacted by the unity of the Godhead. Authority belongs to God the scripture is a sacrament of that gift ministered to us. Authoritative? So much so that when it is merely read life comes from death …
“The Church, the early Church, produced the Bible. St. Paul and the other writers were part of the Church , were writing to the Church, and their writings were read to the Churches. The Church decided which writings were going to be called “Scripture,” all guided by the Holy Spirit Who works through the Church. The Bible exists in the context of the Church.”
There is no question that there are errors in the text of Scripture.
That has no effect on whether it is “reliable” in regard to the matters it actually addresses.
“Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.”
It is not a guide for science, astronomy, physics, history, or medicine.
“The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’ Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.”
There are your non negotiable as given by the Holy Spirit to the church…
For students who are looking for more straightforward and simple explanations I refer them to the very careful discussion by Roger Olson in his Mosaic of Christian Belief where he distinguishes as many do between infallibility and inerrancy. The former dealing with the scripture being perfect as to its purpose. The latter insisting that it must be without flaw down to the very words.
The very reason we have a Bible is because the church considered these texts to be authoritative in that they reflect the witness of the original apostles whether directly or indirectly. Thus obviously reliable.
However, this process means we trust that the Spirit has superintended the canon as well as the texts. The canon means the Spirit oversaw the selection as well as the original writing.
The scriptures are reliable else they would not be in the canon. And yet human hands are all over them.
Dread, Michael or Xena
When you use the word “sacrament “ what does that mean to you? And how does it apply to this discussion?
I use sacrament a bit more generically but similarly – sacrament means whereby the power of God is mediated. Like virtue flowing from Jesus when the woman touched his garment. It isn’t the fabric it’s the person.
“A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. God gives us the sign as a means by which we receive that grace and as a tangible assurance that we do in fact receive it. “
Dread and all
Ok. I understand. But D-it sounds like you use the term a bit more broadly than others.
I have questions but I don’t think they would be helpful in the current discussion.
I hear several things in all the responses:
*That Evangelicals almost deify the scriptures—Father, Son and the holy bible
*Evangelicals insistence on inerrancy creates tension between science and scripture
*We don’t have the original autographs to compare current translations
*the scriptures are reliable in that they fulfill the grand purpose of God which is to reveal Christ—the restorer of all things
*the church created the scriptures and God would have/could have fulfilled his goal without them.
Not debating on this post. Still trying to understand. Where am i missing it?
Inerrancy, as Dread once said, asks too much of the text.
The text does not have to be inerrant to have authority.
The Word of God is Jesus and He is revealed in the Scriptures by the Spirit.
It’s pretty simple actually.
Well, looks like we’ve come to the end of our discussion. I appreciate your patience and concern. While we may disagree on some issues concerning the inerrancy of scripture, it sounds like we all agree it is trustworthy, infallible and reliable. Rather than push things further, I suppose it best to leave it at that.
I’m still fully engaged just had a full day.
And yes I think I apply sacrament more broadly than some. That’s why I noted my difference.
Catholics tend to formally have more sacraments —
I think it’s a good and important discussion…because whether or not one believes in inerrancy will color their interpretations of scripture…
It’s not that you weren’t engaged. I think I now understand your line of thinking. I still hold to inerrancy although not as tightly as others. But rather than talk more about what we may disagree upon, I’d rather focus on the areas where we agree. I think, on this issue, there is more we agree on than disagree.
But you ( and the others ) made me think and that’s good!
We definitely agree upon more than we disagree. I think so. But you spurred good and useful conversation.
very good discussion guys!
Inerrancy vs. infallibility is not my concern. A much larger concern to me is the free for all biblical twisting narrative changing personal subjective interpretation of scripture. Context, context and context is what is swapped for application, application and application. This is especially true for younger well meaning Christians that want some direction for their life. This explains the tremendous growth in the purpose-driven churches but for me personally, I cannot stomach the pretzel twisting scripture gymnastics happening to make it all about you.
I finally I read the article. It’s decent but I seriously doubt the earth is billions of years old. The author seems to imply this is common sense but where he got that idea is from science. He assumes science is correct. But modern science for the most part ignores God and you have to choose how your world view is formed. Setting aside the creation account I firmly believe in a worldwide flood with Noah and his family the only survivors just as written. Imagine water covering the entire earth. This would kind of mess up some of your geological assumptions don’t you think? Modern scientists would never consider such an event or for that matter any miracle because God is no longer part of modern scientific inquiry. This is a huge short coming with “science” because it tries to tell an epic narrative without the main character.
The kind of science dealing with light is mathematical and repeatable.
Modern science…or any real science ignores God because He gave us the ability to do math and create scientific observations.
Ignoring science because it doesn’t fit into a particular method of interpreting an ancient document is actually ignoring the God who gifted us the ability to make such inquirys.
I love science dealing with light. But this doesn’t tell you the age of earth and It certainly is not repeatable if it did . I would take Dr. Jason Lisle over Carl Sagan when it comes to understanding light.
Fundamentalists always are able to find one outlier in the sciences to hang their hat on, much to the amusement of the academy…including its Christian members.
Lisle is a crank.
O no! The age of the earth debate……arrruuuggghhhhh! 🙂
That’s what happens when you take prose poetry literally…you have to justify the scientific veracity of the poem…
Michael, I’m not even talking about poetry or the bible. I’m talking about science. Science isn’t at all as cut and dry and black and white as you make it seem especially when you enter the quantum world. Have you even taken a physics or math course? I’ve taken some very advanced courses and the higher levels get more and more philosophical with more assumptions. I’m a trained electrical engineer and I’ve taken more so called science courses than you will ever understand. I also know a ton about optics because I’m also trained in Optometry. What you rightfully say about many fundamentalists you should also be saying about the scientist. In a way you are a fundamentalist scientist. There are many assumptions that scientists make but science should be based on pure fact and math as you seem to indicate. But that is the fundamentalist view of science. One thing I learned from Dr. Lisle is that scientists have never measured the 1 way speed of light. This is fascinating. All scientific experiments have been done using mirrors and such to calculate the round trip speed of light with the assumption using the convention that the speed of light is exactly half of the round trip speed. But scientist have been not able to measure the 1 way speed of light. Thats just one example. Quantum mechanics though is really bizarre. Tell me how you can have a particle in two places at the same time or have a quantum entangled particles separated by miles simultaneously do the same thing? It doesn’t make sense but science can repeat this experiment over and over again.
The AIG guys are kind of doing science backwards, right? They start with this solid answer, and then propose scenarios that could have brought around that answer. Seems you could do the same with any point of view and enough creativity. The majority of scientists say the earth appears to be very, very old. Are they lying? All part of a conspiracy? I don’t think so, just reporting what they find. As information and technology change, their answers will reflect that. To box them in to say you have to do science that only reflects this set of answers, is not science at all. It is a threat to God. He created all it anyway.
I believe that God created the heavens and the earth.
When He did this is utterly irrelevant.
As part of that creation, He gave us brains that could investigate His creation…He gave us the ability to create sciences.
The fact that the universe is millions of years old doesn’t have an iota of effect on my faith.
Yeah, I think when and how He did this isn’t very important in the scheme of things. Like Michael said, we confess that He did it! Glory to God.
What is really being debated isn’t the ago of the age, but a view of inerrancy that is trying to prove the Bible credible in the creation accounts in a literal, linear fashion.
In reality, it’s trying to accomplish something the text itself isn’t…but it makes certain people feel like they are in a noble battle.
Packer, (who literally wrote the book on inerrancy), was honest enough to declare the text “prose poetry” and rejected a literal reading of the creation account.
Folks here can denial it, but there was a fundamental shift in understanding theology and the bible with the scientific acceptance of evolution in the mainstream. People changed their theology to match science. That’s a fact. I don’t like that any more than trying to change science to correspond to a fundamentalist view of the bible which I don’t deny happens as well. My point is that the fundamental understanding of science used to be undergirded with a belief in God. Not anymore. Science now assumes God does not exist. The big bang used to be the friend of a believer in God. However check out some of the newer work by physicist Roger Penrose and Steven Hawking’s in the conformal cyclic cosmological (CCC). Mathematically and with strong empircle evidence these strange new theories make complete sense. I almost believe in them. But I don’t see how you could ever fit this into a Christian worldview under any stretch of the imagination? But there will be some who will try and it’s tempting. What we all need to realize is that science has now become a religion in its own right.
“People changed their theology to match science.”
Certainly some have done this. And yes, for some, science has become their religion. But to directly address the topic at hand here, if you go back and research the church’s response when the scientific claim first came about that the earth and universe is millions/billions years, you will find that it was actually the exact opposite that eventually many people ended up changing their science to match their theology.
With the exception of a few pockets here and there, the church accepted the old ages when they were first proclaimed by science without having any issue of a conflict with their theology. This included the conservative fundamentalists at the time who were very much against evolution. It wasn’t until several decades later when one segment which did have a problem with an old age started gaining momentum in changing the viewpoint of other conservative Christians. It was at this point that people started changing their scientific beliefs to match their newly accepted theological beliefs.
God isn’t in danger of being overthrown by curious minds. Any scientific studies can fit into a Christian worldview, we just acknowledge that however it happened, it was started by Him.
Science isn’t a religion. Its an exploration of the universe based on evidence. Religion is an exploration based on faith. Both can be valid, even if they aren’t always getting the same conclusions.
We need scientists to continue exploring and finding truth, wherever that leads. If we are confident that God is truth, and that all things true are from Him, then we can explore freely with no fear of condemnation. If we lock scientists in certain boxes, we can never unlock the potential that is already hidden in our universe. New technology, new medicines…hey, maybe even better understanding of the age of the earth, etc. God has already built those truths in to humans and the universe around us. They just have to be unlocked. Sometimes the exploration threatens our current understanding of certain things, and that is scary, but in the end, we can be confident that God is true and that none of this is a surprise to him.
It is quite easy to dismiss any one who rejects evolution as a quack. I love Ben Steins movie “expelled ” it’s just not allowed to question the prevailing orthodoxy in academia. This was and is cancel culture in academia.
I’m not a scientist and am barely identifiable as a theologian.
What I can do is read and study…not science, but expositions of the biblical text.
The list of conservative theologians who understand that the structure of the Hebrew text in the creation accounts points us to a non literal understanding of the text is long and impressive.
I have doctors appointments all morning where machines and treatments based on our scientific understandings will be employed and I’m grateful to God for them.
My faith has been tested…not by the findings of science, but by life…and my faith is strong because its object is Jesus, not the limited revelation we’ve been given about his works…
Anyone who believes science is devoted to finding truth wherever that leads needs only look at what happens when science meets ideology as in transgenderism. Further, when science meets government funding …wow… there’s purity!
Without doubt religion has locked ‘scientist in certain boxes’ over time but science is never free of the eyes of man. Science never runs naked in the sunlight without fear of the power of shame. Science doesn’t just happen in the controlled environments of labs. It happens in the controlling environment of religion, law, government, culture, money, power and human will. Science doesn’t wield itself.
This is not to denounce science. I sit ensconced in the benefits of much science. It is merely to say that science doesn’t guarantee truth any more than sex guarantees love.
“science is never free of the eyes of man.”
Of course. No one is suggesting “science” or the views of any scientist is infallible. They get stuff wrong all the time. But their error is not a threat to the bible, it is a threat to their own field and career.
” No one is suggesting “science” or the views of any scientist is infallible. They get stuff wrong all the time.”
And even more so, that’s kind of the way science works. You have to keep getting stuff wrong until you find the thing that really works. Just let the scientists do their thing and don’t be threatened by it.
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