Things I Think

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96 Responses

  1. David Sloane says:

    Once again pastor Michael you blow me away with some of your thoughts. Back in the old hippy days we would have called someone like you “deep.” You served up a meal that most fastfood pulpits can’t offer on their menus.

    While celebrity pastors have some interesting company:
    http://www.zergnet.com/news/114472/80s-stars-you-wont-recognize-today

    There are others that God does make truly great like King David:

    2 Samuel 7:8-9

    New International Version (NIV)

    8. “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 9. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth.

    A valid pastor does not seek out to be the greatest, God will lift him up if He (God) is so inclined:
    Matthew 18:4
    Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

    In 1975 I was in Santa Barbara CA where I visited a small unknown church one Sunday at the request of a friend. The pastor was in his late 80’s. I to this day recall his sermon on Jesus as described in the book of revelation. This unknown faithful pastor gave such a powerful message that morning that to this day I still recall it. That is what so impacted me the most. I never knew the man’s name nor do I recall his appearance, but I certainly do recall his Biblical message.

    How do people remember us? What stands out about us in their memories?

    Children live in the moment. Children have no interest what so ever in being anybody of recognition. Children do not project image or attitude at other children.

    One of the first things I recall thinking when I saw someone striving to have many “friends” on face book when it first started was how opposite that was to what Jesus had said about becoming little children positionally. At a recent Christmas family gathering one of the men made a comment about his fiance. He said that when he met her she only had about 8 “Friends” on her facebook account. But since he took over her account she now has hundreds. I was blown away by his attitude as he made the comment as if it held some kind of great merit.

    I personally have zero friends on facebook. Why?

    Because I don’t have a facebook account…

  2. Nonnie says:

    “The gay lobby and rogue pastors have one thing in common…a small percentage of the overall population drive the whole public narrative.”

    Agree!

  3. Bryan Stupar says:

    #6 Will get one in trouble w/ hardline fundamentalists who may/may not be guilty of a quasi-idolatrous relationship w/ a leather-bound book (usually in the KJV variety). Your nuance is important IMO, “The Bible pronounces itself to be alive…and that’s a far greater claim.”

    Those most concerned about protecting the authority of scripture ought to allow “it’s language” about itself to inform readers rather, than importing foreign (and perhaps confusing or misdirecting) concepts to do so…

    Words from the Living God are “alive”, and ARE powerful, profitable, corrective, instructive, piercing, discerning, searching…and authoritative & true!

  4. Nonnie says:

    As to number 10: I’ve lived overseas for 26+ years and for me the internet is a precious gift. When we moved our children to Asia (ages 6,8,10), they only had phone calls with their grandparents 1 or 2 times a year and didn’t see any other family for 5 years. When we first moved to Asia, it took 6 or more weeks for a letter to get to it’s destination and then another 6 weeks to get a reply. Phone calls were $1 or more per minute. Now, living overseas, I can actually watch my own grandchildren as they open the Christmas presents we got them (via the internet, and without paying more for postage than the present was worth). We can talk free on the phone. We are not strangers to family, with only once a year phone calls and a visit every 5 years. I know there are horrible abuses on the internet (just as anything else that is meant for good, but can be used for evil) but I am very thankful for the opportunity to keep and build relationships with family and friends. Very thankful, indeed!

  5. EricL says:

    I think that celebrity status makes for great speakers but terrible shepherds. I recently visited a good friend and former pastor. He has gone through much suffering over the years but now, in his 70s, he is back in the ministry as a part-time Spanish pastor in a well-known mega-church. He gave me a quick tour of the church’s three story office building and mentioned that they recently had to move the senior pastor off-site to separate, unmarked offices due to continual threats, etc. That’s so sad for both the church and that leader, because it just means a far greater clergy-laity divide than any robe or collar ever caused.

  6. Nonnie says:

    A “pastor” that teaches on Sunday mornings, but is not “pastoring” the church (visiting the sick, meeting with people, marrying and burying, baptizing, speaking with and encouraging folks in the church, having people over for dinner,speaking Jesus into their lives, one on one, etc, etc,)…..that person is not a pastor. That person is a Christian speaker/teacher.

  7. Bryan Stupar says:

    Nonnie,
    With respect, regarding your #6 I’d add, the NT word for “pastor” is typically used as a verb. Teaching & instructing (as in “a “pastor” that teaches on Sunday mornings”) ARE forms of “pastoring”, albeit, different than some of the ones you mentioned, “visiting the sick, meeting with people, marrying and burying” etc.

    “Pastoring/shepherding” (verb) are the determining factors as to weather or not one is a “pastor/shepherd” (noun). Part of the NT job description of a “pastor” who “pastors” is teaching/instructing, (be it a large group or small) among other forms of service, such as acts of mercy, council, etc.

    Side note: the NT is silent on such “pastoral duties” as “marrying and burying”, and one could argue that “baptism” was not exclusively the the job of pastoral leaders…in others words, anyone with a renewed heart can baptize.

  8. Bryan Stupar says:

    My guess is that your #6 was in the context of frustration aimed at celebrity pastors who give the impression that they ONLY “speak/preach” and rarely if ever interact w/ the rest of us.

  9. Nonnie says:

    Maybe I am wrong, but I always thought that the word “Pastor” seems indicative of a shepherd, (as in pastoral care) one who cares for his flock, one who nurtures, has personal contact, guides, nourishes, comforts, etc. Is a person that has never even met the majority of his/her congregation a pastor? I would think that person is more of a Christian teacher. He/She may be a great teacher, and people may very well be growing in their faith listening to that person in the sanctuary, on the radio or internet. Teaching is surely a part of pastoring, but someone who only teaches at a church and leaves the rest to others….is that person truly a pastor?? Of course, that may be what many people want nowadays.

  10. Bryan Stupar says:

    Nonnie, “Is a person that has never even met the majority of his/her congregation a pastor?”

    Well, I guess that would depend upon several factors, such as, size of congregation and the abilities of the one/s doing the pastoring/shepherding.

    Did the apostles (who were no doubt the quintessential examples for pastoring/shepherding) meet/know the “majority” of people in their congregation (which for at least some amount of time had grown to 5000+ souls)?

  11. Nonnie says:

    I don’t know. Were they “pastors” or were they apostles…ones sent to preach the gospel. I always thought a “pastor” meant shepherd. Maybe we are semantic hoop jumping. 😀

  12. Bryan Stupar says:

    Nonnie you asked: “is that person truly a pastor”, “who only teaches at a church and leaves the rest to others”?
    …IMO, no, IF the emphasis is on the word “only”.
    If however the said pastor is also responsible for pastoring/shepherding teams or communities of people who are pastoring/counseling/meeting, etc then, yes, he is pastoring/shepherding.

    Perhaps there are a variety of people who call themselves “pastors” who do “ONLY teach at a church and leave the rest to others”…but I’VE not met them. Even the ones in times past I had misjudged, assuming ALL they did was “speak” to large audiences, I had come to find out they actually had an active pastoring life off stage. Yet, because the main times “I” had ONLY seen them were under a set of lights in front of a mic, I hadn’t been privy to much of their pastoral life off-stage.

    Yet, I’m in agreement w/ you that if one claims to be a pastor, they ought to have the actions of pastoring to follow.

  13. Michael says:

    Bryan,

    It’s odd how sometimes we read things over and over again and really never see what is said.
    It never has sunk in that the Bible defines itself as alive rather than any of our apologetic terms until recently…but when you embrace that definition you don’t have to worry about the other ones.

  14. Michael says:

    Nonnie,

    I’m tracking right with you… 🙂

  15. The internet can be rife with abuses, but I lean more towards Nonnie’s position.
    Re: David Sloane’s #1. Pride/merit can come from large numbers of FB friends, but it can also come from saying that we have none. Pride /merit comes at us from a lot of different directions.

  16. Michael says:

    David,

    Facebook is very good for maintaining existing relationships…not very good at actually creating real ones from scratch.

  17. Tim says:

    Because the Bible does pronounce itself to be alive & fully breathed-out by God, it necessarily follows that it is inerrant. Just as creation is itself proof of a Creator, so is a Bible breathed out by an inerrant God proof of an inerrant Bible.

  18. Mohler’s “He is Not Silent” is a great little book on the topic of Scripture being alive. I’m fine with doing away with the word “inerrancy” if you want, but “authoritative” will hold the same baggage. If you are going to tell me the Bible is authoritative, but contains errors, then you are not accepting the Bible as authority. You (or someone else) is then the authority who decides which things the Bible got right, and which things are mistakes. If we agree that the Bible is authoritative, I would assume, regardless of the terminology, that we both think the Bible is correct.

  19. Michael says:

    #10 was more for me than anyone else.
    I’ve proven to myself again that my joy comes from being outside in Oregon…and I find myself having two personas, one online and one sitting watching hawks hunt with my son.

  20. EricL says:

    I think even a celebrity pastor with the best of intentions will be hampered by their star-status from being an effective shepherd. The trade-off for the fame is isolation from the majority of the congregation, and not just because there are so many attending. That pastor has body guards to protect him from the whackos who regularly send threats, but that certainly separates him from the rest. How many others in that congregation, including CEOs, come with bodyguards? You might get a chance to say a few words to that celebrity pastor after a church service, but I think most people would be very much aware of his elevated status and not want to “waste his time” with their personal concerns. I just hope such men have carefully considered those facts and made sure that there are many additional pastors on staff to do the actual shepherding.

    Speaking to strangers (even if the strangers are your own congregation) doesn’t make you a pastor, or at least not an effective one. Sadly, many people prefer that distance- hence the popularity of video churches. Its a mutual thing: the pastor isn’t held accountable but neither are the strangers who are listening. It makes for a weak church, no matter the level of energy or entertainment, unless that church leadership is very determined to prevent that distancing, that lack of connection and mutual accountability.

  21. Michael says:

    The problem as I see it is that we have gotten caught up in terms like “inerrancy” and lost the greater truth…that this is a living word.
    I told my church last night that the reason we always read the entire chapter together is because the word will do it’s work no matter how bad my exegesis of it sucks…

  22. Michael says:

    EricL,

    I’ve been struck by how often the Bible tells us to look at the life of the pastor as much as the teaching…and you can’t observe the life of someone who is isolated from the people who are supposed to observe him.

  23. To #10 – since I sit and work at my computer for 10-12 hours a day – if the internet crashed, I would take a nap. 🙂

  24. Babylon's Dread says:

    Just saw the article where the Pope was asked about gay priests…

    What a great option.

    Can’t imagine how it could be an issue for priest who keep their vows. Those who do not are not priests anyway. So…

  25. Steve Wright says:

    What can never be avoided in this discussion is whether there should be a mandatory limit on the size of a church. There was (is) certainly a limit as to how many sheep are actually entrusted to one shepherd in Israel and elsewhere.

    That should be the question, with all the issues that flow from the answer. Should a church put up a sign “Sorry we are full.” Should Christians be forced into smaller congregations even if they are perfectly happy not personally knowing the pastor because they actually go to church to worship God first and foremost.

    How exactly, practically, would one deal with such issues in larger churches?

  26. Michael Sewell says:

    Hi Bryan S,
    Could you give an example or two of what ” importing foreign (and perhaps confusing or misdirecting) concepts to do so…” you mentioned in your #3? That’s interesting to me, but I’m not sure what you’re referencing.

  27. Michael says:

    Steve,

    I have a limit on the one I pastor…people used to think that was cultish, but I think it’s biblical.

    I taught on this passage last night;

    “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.”
    (2 Timothy 3:10–11 ESV)

    The things that Timothy was commended for following can only be discerned up close and personal…and I told my folks to use those qualities as a checklist if I die and they have to go elsewhere.
    If they can’t get close enough to do so, then my advise is to move on…

  28. Perhaps a pastor should ask – “why could Jesus get only 120 and I can get 3,000?”

    Now the follow up question should not be “what the heck was he doing wrong?” 🙂

  29. Michael says:

    How can a pastor “watch over the soul” of someone they don’t have a relationship with?

    “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
    (Hebrews 13:17 ESV)

  30. Steve Wright says:

    I’m 100% a city-boy, but I assume if I had 10,000 sheep. I would not employ only one shepherd. I would employ several in order for all the sheep to have the needs met.

    I assume one of those shepherds would be more of an overseer as well to the other shepherds. Like a manager. Each shepherd would have their responsibility, but at the same time they would all be willing to help when needed. In other words, no shepherd is going to let any of the sheep go unaided just because “That sheep is not my responsibility”

    The elders oversee the needs of the church. However, I don’t see the necessity for there to be a constant rotation in the teaching elders each Sunday. Sometimes the absolute best person to minister God’s grace to a sick person is the last person you would want trying to prepare and deliver a message to a couple thousand people.

    Seems like this speaks to the different gifts found in the Body of Christ.

  31. Nonnie says:

    Bryan, Thank you for replying and giving me your perspective.

    “If however the said pastor is also responsible for pastoring/shepherding teams or communities of people who are pastoring/counseling/meeting, etc then, yes, he is pastoring/shepherding.”

    I’ve lived the past 12 years in the UK, attending and visiting small churches and have seen so many pastors who could tell you the name of each person in their church, who would be at each funeral, who would be at the hospital to pray for folks, having each family over for dinner to his house within a few weeks of their attendance at church. That was what my pastor in Ca. modeled for us and what I have seen here in the UK. I guess I just can’t see how that kind of pastoral care can happen in the mega churches. I’ve even heard of “pastors” of some mega churches that don’t live in the same city (immediate area) their church is in.

    Bryan, I hear what you are saying and I respect you. I guess I have a more “personal” view of a pastor.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to reply. I really appreciate that!

  32. Steve Wright says:

    And before my critics snipe, let me go on record that our church is not nearly too big as to have more needs than the pastor can fill.

    I’m speaking about mega-churches. If I went to one (and I have), I would not expect the Senior Pastor to visit me in the hospital and would be more than blessed to have one of the assistant pastors/elders come and pray with me – if I really wanted/needed to be with someone.

  33. Mark says:

    The Bible doesn’t claim inerrancy…though valuable, that’s a man made construction.

    The Bible pronounces itself to be alive…and that’s a far greater claim. “All Scripture is breathed out by God”

    Michael- how can God be in error? The Bible is like the Constitution. It was written at one time to apply to all time. God knew what He was doing. It is NOT up to man to change what God wrote. I’m very interested in what areas of the Bible you find ERRANT- if you claim the Bible not to be inerrant.

  34. Michael says:

    Steve,

    In many ways i agree with you.
    I’m, a very introverted, private person offline and it took years for me to develop from just a teacher to something more pastoral.
    Having multiple, well trained elders is vital in my opinion in a large church.
    Where we might differ is that I don’t see church attendance as simply going to worship God…I see it as the family of God gathering to not only worship God but to edify and lift each other.
    The relational aspect of the church is as important as any other part of belonging to a local church.

  35. Mark says:

    The Bible pronouces itself alive- as compared to being dead- or lifeless. That does not in any way suggest that it is growing or changing

  36. Michael says:

    Mark,

    Where…anywhere…ever…have I claimed that the Bible was errant?
    NOWHERE!
    What I said was that the Bible never goes through the theological hoops that scholars have done since the Reformation.
    My point was that the Bible makes a simpler, far greater claim and THAT’S what we should emphasize.

  37. fyi says:

    Michael, you are a brilliant guy but your #10 is practically the most brilliant thing you’ve said! Thanks.

  38. Michael says:

    Mark,

    Can you point me to the places where I said that the Bible was errant, growing, or changing?
    Because if you can, I’m writing when unaware I’m doing so…and I need to seek medical help immediately.

  39. Steve Wright says:

    I don’t see church attendance as simply going to worship God…I see it as the family of God gathering to not only worship God but to edify and lift each other.
    The relational aspect of the church is as important as any other part of belonging to a local church.
    —————————————————
    Oh we don’t disagree at all there. I agree with you 100% However, what does that really have to do with the Senior Pastor? Mutual edification and fellowship is not directly connected to the pastor.

    I do think this is why the larger the church, the more smaller group opportunities are possible and warranted. So those connections and friendships can be made. The Senior Pastor has a role in encouraging and supporting such groups, as well as ministering to those who oversee these groups within the church.

    Sometimes though it sounds almost like people need a Senior Pastor to be a personal friend, like one needs to know a good mechanic, a good florist, and a good “religious guy” when that need arises – which to me is far more indicative of the world’s attitude than the priesthood of all believers and Body of Christ perspective as the Bible would indicate.

  40. Mark says:

    MIchael- you opened this can of worms. The nuance you are getting out is lost on me. I’d suggest you stay away from the topic lest you stumble others

  41. Michael says:

    fyi,

    You’re too kind…I’m just a plodder who knows he needs to get outside more. 😉

  42. Mark says:

    The inerrancy of the Bible is a foundation of the faith. I’m not sure you have adequately explained what you are trying to say.

  43. Michael says:

    Mark,

    I would suggest that because nuance is lost on you doesn’t preclude it from being something for others to think about and profit from.

  44. Michael says:

    Mark,

    Which is the greater claim…that a text is without error or that a text is alive?

  45. Mark says:

    Michael- you didnt state those things. But in saying the bible does not claim inerrancy- you imply the opposite.

  46. Bryan Stupar says:

    Michael, what’s up my man? It’s been a long time!
    I was mainly referring the word Michael mentioned.
    In the instance of “inerrancy”, it’s not a word the bible gives it’s self, but rather it’s an import. (like the word, “Trinity”).

    These imported words have shelf-lives, or expiration dates. They may work in certain contexts for certain amount of years then at some point they decay and can become more confusing to some than helpful…though the truths they point to don’t. Take for instance the word “Evangelical Christian”. This is not a native bible phrase, though the concepts they point to are.

    The challenge of the Christian is to discover fresh ways of expressing the living truths found w/in the scripture.

    Not sure it that helps.

  47. Mark says:

    I would say that a text is without error.

  48. Mark says:

    Michael- I just do not understand why you wrote #6. What are you getting at?

  49. Bryan Stupar says:

    Mark, in your #45, could it be that YOU have read this implication into Michael’s statement? I for one did not assume that he was implying the opposite.

  50. Steve Wright says:

    Just a thought…

    Inerrancy applies to the original autographs – always. We recognize there are disputes and issues with all copies and translations from those copies. As a result, we always qualify inerrancy by noting “in the originals”

    However, when saying the Bible is alive….well, I can say that about the book I am holding in my hand, no matter the translation. That Bible is alive, powerful, and life-transforming.

  51. I think churches can get large and the pastor / pastors can keep up with the needs of the folks.

    1.) Communication methods are better – I can call or email the pastor. In Bible days etc, it had to be face to face.
    2.) In days of old everything was transmitted orally – bible readings, sermons, bible studies – you needed your pastor for everything. Today I may shoot him an email about something I am reading – but i am doing the reading, where before no one had a Bible or other study materials.
    3.) As I have said many times, I think in a mega church setting, the majority of people are there because they do not want the pastor pestering them.
    4.) Churches (at least mine) have newsletters and email blasts to communicate with us folks.

  52. Mark says:

    Bryan- yea thats possible. But Michael knows hos #6 is edgy- and meant to “tweak” someone. Who does Michael intend #6 to tweak- besides me?

  53. gomergirl says:

    Michael…. as for your #16, I politely disagree. I have met people, through various avenues on Facepants, whom I consider real friends now. We may never have met in person (in-skin friends as we call them) or talked on the phone or skype or FB chat (although both have happened) but I consider them as good as or better than the people I know in my hometown. Many of them know more about me than anyone I know in person. I am planning a trip this summer or fall to meet 2 more of them in person, and feel so grateful to have them in my life. I have a hard time retaining friends when I am not going to a church, and in fact, the friends I make at churches seem to wane away when, for one reason or another, I stop attending. There is no feeling of community in that at all. So, all in all, I think it really depends on the situation.

  54. Michael says:

    Mark,

    Steve flat nailed it at #50.
    When we argue about inerrancy we bring in questions about transmission, texts, scribal errors, and a host of other factors.
    When we simply say what the Bible says about itself, we are being true inerrantists…and we avoid profitless disputes.
    My intent was not to tweak anybody, but to share what was staring me in the face all week as I prepared to teach.

  55. Michael says:

    GG,

    That is a good correction…I’ve had similar experiences.

  56. Michael says:

    Now…if I just wanted to tweak people I would have said something like;
    “Inerrancy is found nowhere in the creeds and confessions of the early church.”
    Maybe next week… 🙂

  57. Steve Wright says:

    I like what was done in Chicago on inerrancy.

    From one of the Articles:
    ————————
    WE AFFIRM that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.

    WE DENY that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.
    ———————–

    This is so well stated. Our Bibles certainly are faithful representations of the original and thus properly to be called The Word of God. And likewise, though we may not possess originals, that does not make inerrancy an invalid or irrelevant assertion.

    Brilliant.

  58. Michael says:

    Who wrote the Chicago Statement On Inerrancy?
    That would be J.I. Packer with some help from Jim Boice.
    Who is my spiritual father who has taught me most of my theology?…J.I. Packer.
    I would no more “tweak” Dr. Packer than spit on my mother…

  59. Bob says:

    “The Bible pronounces itself to be alive…and that’s a far greater claim. ”

    Mark asked, “How can God be in error?”

    OK Mark, since I have been through the schools which teach the scriptures here’s the best quote I remember for you from a scholar,

    “The bible is the inspired record of people doing some very uninspired things.”

    Mark if you think the text, yes even the original autographs, are free of “errors” then you are wrong, because they are. Now if you think the word “error” means God’s instructions are wrong, then you are again wrong.

    The text has grammar errors, translation errors, scribal additions, differences in the narratives between different writers, differences in the order of events the narrators describe and possibly more. So if your version of “error free” means you are looking for a book of rules to follow so you can get to heaven my best recommendation is you look elsewhere (although it will be impossible to find).

    The scriptures are many things that include God’s words recorded, man’s words recorded, the wrong interpretations of men about the scriptures, and the bulk of the scriptures are imperfect men writing about their imperfect lives and God’s mercy shown to all creation in spite of that imperfection and error.

    Yes it is a living and closed document recorded so we would know God and His will for creation. We are living epistles of God’s love and mercy and should shine as a light and example of those who love and follow the mercy He has shown to all humanity in Jesus the Messiah and Lord.

    I will also point out God is very exclusive and narrow, something the scriptures point out, and while HIs mercy is really really big the path he demands for creation is only the width of single Man.

    Can I rely on the scripture in spite of all the error prone people who it is written by and about? You bet! The errors are what makes God’s mercy so great!

  60. Bob says:

    Michael:

    Packer’s statement on inerrancy of the autographs strictly means the translations we all hold may contain errors if they were compared to the originals.

    What it does not mean is the originals do not contain possible errors of record or grammatical and other writing errors.

    Additionally it the statement means we, the readers of the various translations, can trust these translations have been scrutinized, examined and are reliable facsimiles, within reason, of the original drafts which no longer exist.

    Now the big question always comes up, “are the texts a reliable transmission of the very words of God?” The answer is a position of ones faith.

  61. Michael,
    “Who is my spiritual father who has taught me most of my theology?…J.I. Packer.”

    Doesn’t this conflict with your #27 above?

  62. Michael says:

    MLD,

    Nope.
    Packer is not my pastor…he is someone who has been extremely influential in my faith through his writings and actions.
    My pastor is my pastor…and that’s a different level and type of relationship.

  63. Steve Wright says:

    ARTICLE XI

    We affirm that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.

    We deny that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated.

    ARTICLE XII

    We affirm that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

    We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

  64. Michael says:

    Bob,

    I get real uncomfortable with terms like “the very words of God” when we don’t even always have English equivalents of the Hebrew and Greek words that are recorded.
    I do believe that the words we have accurately represent what God wants to communicate to us.

  65. Mark says:

    Bob- I would disagree that ” The scriptures are many things that include God’s words recorded, man’s words recorded, the wrong interpretations of men about the scriptures, and the bulk of the scriptures are imperfect men writing about their imperfect lives”. I will stick with my foundation- which is that every Word of Scripture is breathed by God. That not a “jot or tittle” was added by Man.

  66. Mark says:

    In otehr words, Articles XI and XII from Steve Wright’s #63.

  67. Neo says:

    I’m finding in my interactions with people, more and more the topic of “Inerrancy” is becoming obsolete. Certainly not as relevant as it was, say, 20 years ago when that topic was the hot button topic between so called liberals and Evangelicals. I might chalk it up to Post Modernism, where the search for truth is still alive and well, it’s just much of society goes about it on different paths.

  68. Steve Wright says:

    Errors of record: Absolutely not.

    Errors of grammar: Absolutely not. In fact, we rely on the grammar to build much of our theology and there are plenty of consequences if man is allowed to jump in and argue something like a verb tense is wrongly being used.

    Other errors of writing: Absolutely not. Not sure what those would be anyway given a text without punctuation.

    The only thing to clarify is that lies, when spoken, are not true just because they are in the Bible. Any more than the record of a sin like adultery is indicative of God’s approval of the act. Lies are accurately (inerrantly) recorded for us, but they do not equate to doctrinal truth. It is confusing to discuss the accurate record of lies and sins as “errors”

  69. Steve Wright says:

    We deny that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.

  70. PP Vet says:

    70th!

  71. Neo says:

    I think of Scripture as “more than literal”. It is inspired. Not really caring so much about inerrancy as I used to.

  72. PP Vet says:

    Those feeding at the tree of knowledge care about inerrancy.

    Those feeding at the tree of life care about sustenance.

  73. Michael says:

    Neo,

    It’s a settled issue with me…but I do think that we have neglected the “life’ of the scriptures while defending their veracity.

  74. Em says:

    AMEN to #57
    it recently struck me that God chose the least “fit” group of tribes to spread the message of the cross (all that that message implies) – me and my kind, that is… we, who are of European origins are the beneficiaries, not the creators of our civilization
    Yes, it is fair to say that ambition was our master, but the Bible gave us the power… but, yes, prospering or flailing and suffering, along with all the nations, we are in the plan of God either way…

    again, i read all the good ponders etc here from time to time… i am a debtor to you all
    God keep

    post script – this weekend the JW left a ‘book’ with a relative – it is devoted to rationizing their twisted ways… the Jw handout declares that the Word is “alive and powerful, God breathed…” they kind of overlook the “no Scripture is of any private interpretation” part… do you know that, if we eliminate the finished work of Christ, the efficacy of the blood, the inevitable judgement, the possibility joining Satan in some incarceration of evil called hell and the mystical triunity that allowed God, Himself, to enter into our race and answer Satan’s challenge, we then have a book with a message of bondage? i seldom get in a fight mode, but that foul presumption has me ready for the knock on the door…

  75. Bob says:

    Mark

    I didn’t say that every jot and tittle wasn’t from God nor that it wasn’t breathed by God. Even though I don’t know you I my say that I even have a higher view of scripture than you might.

    But if both you and Steve believe in perfect grammar, interpretations and that the men who actually wrote it were also perfect in their record keeping then you actually disagree with most biblical scholars.

    The debate has always been whether those who recorded the scriptures were wooden literal secretaries who took dictation from God or if they wrote things from their own perspective and context as God led.

    I believe the latter is true.

    Let’s look at a couple of examples.
    Jesus said what about Moses and why he allowed divorce?

    Jesus corrected the traditional interpretations of the Torah.

    Two prophets in the time of the dispersment, one wrote from Jerusalem and the other from Babylon. One had a crazy vision of God’s throne.

    Judges is by most not in chronological order as well as many of the Gospel accounts.

    These are God breathed stories, accounts and instructions from God. However if you don’t consider the authors and context you’re just looking for rules and scripture bites.

    Sorry for the length. This topic has been debated for millenniums. I’m sure all that will happen here is division and wicked comments with thoughts of heresy.

  76. Couldn’t elaborate earlier, ’cause I was on lunch break.
    #5 Read some articles on gender this week that really disturbed me. Experiments in other countries in doing away with mentions of it and an article on how to ignore gender in a date. Some extremely bizarre stuff. Men and women are different and there is no getting around it, but some people will go to crazy lengths to deny it.

    #6 Was good stuff! The fact that the Word of God is “living and active” is the higher way to look at scripture.
    Inerrancy is a good thing, but can be often misconstrued by critics of the Bible to make the Bible look bad, as has happened here a lot.

  77. Steve Wright says:

    The debate has always been whether those who recorded the scriptures were wooden literal secretaries who took dictation from God or if they wrote things from their own perspective and context as God led.
    ——————————————-
    That is “a” debate. Certainly not THE (only or even most important) debate. And certainly not the reason for the Chicago gathering or anything remotely connected to what I have challenged when someone speaks to errors of historical record.

    In fact, a common trait of liberal theology in reducing the authority of Jesus is to remark that He just did not have all the historical truth we now have, and so while He was not consciously lying, He was wrong on some stuff that we now know about better.

    I’m sure you do not support that sort of nonsense, but it is a direct connection to the “authors were wrong on the facts” argument

    I deny the dictation idea, as (once more) does the Chicago statement.

    ARTICLE VIII
    We affirm that God in His Work of inspiration utilized the distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers whom He had chosen and prepared.

    We deny that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that He chose, overrode their personalities.

    Likewise, the Chicago statement covers things like chronological order (as I already posted @69).

  78. Bob says:

    Steve you missed it entirely

    Let’s take the jot and tittle statement, who said it, who wrote and which scriptures are they referring to?

    Another, which accepted version of the OT is the most correct one, the Greek or the Hebrew?

    Deuteronomy is written entirely by whom?

    Daniel is written in which original Language or languages?

    The three Gospels are written by whom an was there an original copy lost that made the rounds from which they copied?

    Mark’s gospel accounts are often dressed up in what is known as Marken enthusiasm or embellishments, does that make these accounts wrong or in error?

    When Peter states the scriptures are beneficial for a bunch of stuff which scriptures is he talking about?

    Ok the scriptures are inerrant And God breathed because He has preserved them over the millenniums to provide the reader with revealed knowledge of His will, accounts of the administering of that will and to provide a way beyond the observation creation to know Him.

    They are holy, set apart, because of and for these reasons.

    Steve, I also hold that knowing God is a life time pursuit and spending time reading, studying, meditating and attempting to live out the scriptures.

  79. Bob says:

    Steve:

    I’m at areal computer now and not typing from my mobile device.

    I want thank you for your strong faith an defense of the scriptures, without such faith in people they would have been lost long ago.

    I want to address the idea that the originals, autographs, are free from any sort of error what so ever.

    Your statements in post #68 are neither affirmed either by the Chicago article, by me or by common sense after reading any translation in the least form or critical observation.

    Additionally to solely (or even to heavily) rely on the grammatical construct of the Greek or even Hebrew version will lead eventually to error in interpretation. All interpretation of scripture must include, as best as possible, a historic and contextual criticism of the text in light of the intent it was written and recorded. Our major difficulty, and common error, is to interpret and apply the text in the context of the cultures we live in, the most often result is a synchronization of the text with cultural error.

    In the end Steve it always comes down to one thing, faith and what each individual chooses to believe about scriptures and the accounts held in them.

    At some point to become a follower of Jesus one has to agree He was born according to the scriptures, lived according to them, was tried and put to death according to them, was raised from a cold stone death according to them and now lives at the right hand of God according to them.

    How did I put my trust in that? Because it’s in da bible!

    PS. I wear a tassel because the scriptures told me it would remind me of God’s words and how I should live my life according to them. It works for me!

  80. Perhaps context would be the first starting point to any record of history?

    Then direct application within the story/narrative/law/statute?

    Finally, is it something Yeshua Himself focused on or does He shift focus within any of the 4 Gospels back to a more general principle?

  81. Steve Wright says:

    . All interpretation of scripture must include, as best as possible, a historic and contextual criticism of the text in light of the intent it was written and recorded.
    ———————————————————
    Bob, I think Michael and others around here would confirm that I say this loudly and repeatedly…

    Maybe we are talking past each other when it comes to error – and what is meant by the term in this discussion. One reason I say that is because it seems you bring up interpretation a lot, which really is a separate issue.

    By grammar errors – I mean if the original had a Perfect tense, instead of an aorist tense or an imperfect tense (all categories of what we sometimes call the “past tense”) then that is because God wanted that tense used. Even if the average Greek in a similar circumstance would normally use one of the other tenses. The Scripture is not ‘wrong’ grammatically in such instances. Would you agree with this?

  82. Neo says:

    Michael, that’s great. Either way, I believe there’s a need to rediscover the “magic” of the Sacred Text.

  83. Bob, not perfect in any way (pish pot) says:

    Steve:

    For the record, I don’t disagree with your last statement on the grammar.

    My whole point is this, and the Chicago does not deny it, to assume the autographs are with out any error is to assume the writers wrote with some sort of inspiration that circumnavigated their writing styles and abilities, a spiritual grammar checker so to speak. Additionally it is often agreed when they wrote certain prophecies they may have not intended, nor understood those prophetic utterances to be interpreted in the light they eventually were proven to be held true.

    You would have to agree that both you and Michael have spoken and written words which are words from God and can be held to that standard, however I would never assume your grammar, intent, or accuracy would be without error. Such is it with the writers of the scriptures, they are mere men who loved God and are called according to His purposes.

    I will also say without a doubt scripture indicates there are two men who actually heard from God directly (and a group who did once and told their leader they didn’t want to hear directly again) and their names are Moses and Jesus. Yes there are probably others but the scriptures clearly point these two out.

    So yes the definition of error and its context is the big hold up and debate.

  84. Steve Wright says:

    My whole point is this, and the Chicago does not deny it, to assume the autographs are with out any error is to assume the writers wrote with some sort of inspiration that circumnavigated their writing styles and abilities, a spiritual grammar checker so to speak
    ————————————————
    Bob, it does not require such an assumption. I just addressed in my #77 the issue of individual style, vocab and such of the author. With a direct reference to Chicago as well.

    Can you give me an example or two of the sort of error you imagine might be possible in the original, inspired Scripture. I’m not getting what exactly you are allowing for….everything you bring up so far does not seem to be erroneous at all, but part of the inerrancy doctrine when explained in detail (as in the Chicago statement)

  85. Neo says:

    In my opinion, consider the source, the methods of “exegetical” Bible “Study” employed by Calvary Chapel has completely sucked the life right out of the Bible.

  86. PP Vet says:

    CC bible teaching is good stuff. The question always remains: Is it lacking any EAAs?

    Essential amino acids.

    It’s one thing to be missing a few in what you are serving. It is another thing to also tell people they are poison!

    You end up with malnutrition in the ranks of course.

  87. Neo says:

    Vet, lmao, good stuff.

  88. David says:

    Guys – The point is that inerrancy is not only true but it’s assumed amongst the many claims of Gods word being perfection and truth; BUT – The way the word interacts with our spirit makes it alive… Much greater then just being true – the gospels arrows can always find their mark because that mark is alive ; it’s our soul. The wisdom of the bible can always amaze and bless us; because the spirit inside us is alive; not the bible itself… Well that’s my take anyways…

  89. David says:

    Let me add – because our spirit and the one who wrote it are alive and one and the same… That’s why it’s alive..

  90. Neo,
    I’m guessing you’re experiencing the freedom that comes from being beyond the reach of mecca.

    Welcome to liberation

    😉

  91. From #87 for those who do not speak “Urban” Imao means “Lauging my (behind) off…

  92. Neo says:

    Thanks G. Been there for years now. You may have just missed me. 😉

  93. Neo says:

    …further, it wasn’t Costa Mesa that had it’s hand firmly planted on my shoulder. Something far worse. Took me a year or two to break free but it’s been a peaceful, exciting path since.

  94. Neo,
    Whatever you’re free from, keep dancing!

  95. Neo says:

    Nice, G.

    “I walk, I stumble, I fall and get back up again. But all the while I keep on dancing” Hillel

  96. Neo says:

    “We cannot dance well if we are too concerned with getting the steps just right”. Lamonte

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