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______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

A Brief Post On Biblical Inerrancy September 6, 2012

This morning, during my pre-work walk, I was for some reason thinking about the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.
I don’t know why, but I was.
Some of the following statements I’ve made before.
Some not.

Anyway,
I was thinking about people who say they “just believe the Bible.”
Many of those also insist the Bible is inerrant/infallible.

They do not see the incongruity.

The thing is, the writings of scripture make no claim of inerrancy about themselves. Therefore, to believe said doctrine, one must look to extra-biblical teaching. This, of course, means their beliefs about the Bible do not in fact come from the Bible.
Put simply, as someone once said, the doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy isn’t Biblical.

Now, that’s all well and good.  I certainly believe things about the Bible that do not come from the Bible. But I can do that, since I do not claim to “just believe the Bible.”  (Which isn’t really something anyone can do anyway.  Well, not without being schizoid.)

Some will point to “divine inspiration” as a proof-text for infallibility.  “If God inspired it, it must be infallible.  God doesn’t make mistakes.”
That approach only works if we misinterpret “inspiration” as “dictation.”

I’ve written and recorded a number of songs.  False modesty aside, I believe many of them were, in fact, divinely inspired.
However, it was still me who wrote them.
Not God.
There are (hopefully) elements of divine truth in some of my songs.  There’s also a lot of me in my songs.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, et al,  may have indeed been inspired by their Creator, but their writings are still their own.  Their human compositions are flavored, influenced by, and reflective of their individual perspectives, personalities, life experiences, flaws and personal goals in creating their records of events.
None of that even remotely lends itself to inerrancy.
These people still believed that the sun revolved around the earth!  Using their works as some kind of science text, as some do, is not just religious devotion.  It’s willful ignorance.

This antiquated doctrine is so easily proven false, there’s really no way to affirm it without burying one’s head in the sand.  The hoops people will jump through to defend their cherished tenets is astonishing.
I’m pretty sure the doctrine originated as a means for the Church State to have “God’s authority” for their unquestioned rule.
That’s still how many institutions use it today. That’s how some politicians want to run the country.
God help us.

Again, for the record, I love the divinely inspired community library we call “the Bible.”  It certainly is, as it does say of itself,  “useful.” (II Timothy 3:16)

Well, my title states this is a brief post, so I should attempt to keep it that way.
Although, it may not in fact be brief, since this post, like the Bible, makes no claims of inerrancy.

-df

—–

Additional information, not adding to the length of the above BRIEF post:

“There have been long periods in the history of the church when biblical inerrancy has not been a critical question. It has in fact been noted that only in the last two centuries can we legitimately speak of a formal doctrine of inerrancy.”  (Click HERE for some history and discussion.)

Oh, I mentioned I write songs.  Check THIS out.

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A Generous Orthodoxy March 22, 2012


A Generous Orthodoxy:
Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed- yet hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian.


Wow.  That’s one l-o-n-g book title.  But that pretty much tells you the general material that’s covered in the pages of this book.
Rather than rejecting the various branches on the tree of “Christianity,” Brian McLaren looks for the good that each has contributed to our understanding of, and relationship with God.

This, my 5th McLaren book, was hard for me to get into, at first.  I had started to read it many months ago.  I ended up putting it back on the shelf and reading other books instead.  That difficulty was, I’m convinced, due mainly to all the reading before you ever get to “Chapter One.”  There are TWO forwards, an introduction, and what’s called “Chapter 0,” all before you start the first chapter of the book!  Anyway, once I committed to reading it, I found it fascinating, very interesting, and quite educational.

Indeed, Brian is generous in these pages.  Probably more so than I would have been.
That’s a good thing.
He acknowledges this generosity in discussing the “good”, but admits that much could be said regarding the  “bad and the ugly.”
But the focus here is what we can take with us as the journey and growth process continue.
Just as the ancient world emerged from the prehistoric world, and the medieval from the ancient, and the modern from the medieval, we are now emerging from the modern to the post-modern (which will likely be re-named by future generations).

With this emergence comes, as it always has, new understanding; new ways of thinking; new ways of being.  This includes a growth and expansion of how we perceive and relate to God.
When we grow up within a particular religious culture, we tend to believe that what we have is that which has been handed down “since the beginning.”
We have it “right,” and those other branches just missed it somewhere.

Well, this book helps us realize there has been a vast variety of “Christianities” throughout the ages.
The first chapter, titled “The 7 Jesuses I Have Known,” sets the stage for our journey of enlightenment through the potpourri of beliefs held by those who have sought to follow the leading of Christ.

There is rich, nuanced history here, of which I was predominantly unaware. I came away with a new understanding of many of the branches named in the expanded title of this book.
Without doubt, there’s enough bad “sap” in those branches (including those I was involved in) that I would not consider being a part of them, but I have a respect for the good in those traditions, as well as those who engage in them.

“A Generous Orthodoxy” is another great adventure in literature. It’s an exposition of where we’ve been, and a look at where, with God’s grace, we are heading.
– df

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

——

McLaren has worked to knock down barriers between Christians of different theological backgrounds by preaching that none of us has a handle on the whole truth.  Christianity is much broader than American Evangelicalism. Sometimes this is hard to grasp in a country where Evangelical has become synonymous with Christian.
– Matt Benzing

——

McLaren argues that all of the theological hair splitting misses the core message of Jesus.  I would challenge those like me in the evangelical circles to read this… not to confirm what we already believe… there are lots of books to do that… but to understand arguments outside our collective comfort zone. Whether you adopt McLaren’s conclusions or not, understanding the thought process can be a helpful exercise.
–  Paul Mullen
——

McLaren has given the church a gift- a way to think about theology that actually brings Christians together again, rather than forever splitting into smaller and smaller and smaller groups. Read it and see if you don’t find yourself challenged, taught and humbled.
– Bob Hyatt

Buy the book.  Click HERE.
——

From the back cover:

Whether you find yourself inside, outside, or somewhere on the fringe of Christianity, A Generous Orthodoxy draws you toward a way of living that looks beyond the “us/them” paradigm to the blessed and ancient paradox of “we.”

————

SOME QUOTES:

* The word God itself was reimagined through the experience of encountering Jesus.

* We’re here on a mission to join God in bringing blessing to our needy world.

* [We must] study not only the history of the church, but also the history of writing the church’s history.

* Anabaptist Christians, not unlike liberal Protestants, find the heart of the gospel in the teaching of Jesus. [They] focus on living out Jesus’ teachings about how we are to conduct our daily lives, especially in relation to our neighbors.

* I had met too many certified tongues-speaking Christians who were consistently dishonest, weird, unhealthy, and mean-spirited. Any understanding of being “Spirit-filled” that didn’t include helping people to become healthy, Christlike, and kind didn’t seem to be worth much.

* Most Christians kind of bottom-line everything to heaven or hell, and that makes life feel kind of cheap.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

* The Jesus Movement, especially in its early days, was a truly wonderful thing. But all too soon [it] was co-opted. It was to a different Jesus that I was gradually converted.

* Yes, you can follow Jesus without identifying yourself as a Christian.

* Some Protestants seem to let Jesus be Savior, but promote Paul to lord and teacher.

* The emerging church has the potential of being to North American Christianity what Reformation Protestantism was to European Christianity. – Phyllis Tickle

* Jesus needs to be saved from Christians…
Can we trust Jesus to save himself from the mess we’ve made of his name, and in so doing, save Christianity?

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

* Christians are not the end users of the gospel

* Scripture is always a factor, but it is never sola. [It] is always in dialogue with tradition, reason, and experience.

* When the scripture talks about itself, it doesn’t use words like authority, inerrancy, infallibility, revelation, objective, absolute, and literal. Hardly anyone notices the irony of resorting to the authority of extrabiblical words and concepts to justify one’s belief in the Bible’s ultimate authority.

* The Bible is a story, and just because it recounts what happened, that doesn’t mean it tells what should always happen or even what should have happened.

* We must accept the coexistence of different faiths in our world willingly, not begrudgingly.

* We constantly emerge from what we were and are into what we can become – not just as individuals, but as participants in the emerging realities of families, communities, cultures, and worlds.

* To be in this creatio continua, this ongoing and emerging creation, in front of all this beauty and glory, meants that there can be no last word.


Buy the book.  Click HERE.


 

Back on the Shelf August 14, 2011


I believe, as stated in 2 Timothy, that scripture is useful.
But until people can see that divinely inspired does NOT mean divinely dictated, inerrant, or perfect; and until people start
to see that the Bible is not an “owner’s manual,” “playbook,” “rules for life,” or any of those other crazy things; and until the
Bible can be seen as an unfolding, progressive revelation of God that did not end with the “canonization of scripture;” until
people have a better understanding of how to approach, understand, and interpret the Bible; until AT LEAST we get that far,
I’m close to believing we should put the Bibles back on the shelf and leave them there. That could easily encourage people into
having a close relationship with God, instead of with a book.
— df


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“We’ve gotten ourselves in a mess with the Bible.”

“First, we are in a scientific mess.  Fundamentalism…again and again paints itself into a corner by requiring that the Bible be treated as a divinely dictated science textbook.”  “This approach has set up Christians on the wrong side of truth again and again.”  “Many pious people deny our environmental crises by quoting Bible verses and mocking science.  Just as they were the last to acknowledge the rotation of the earth and its revolution around the sun, they’ll be the last to acquiesce to what science is telling us about our growing ecological crises.”

“Second, we are in trouble in relation to ethics.”  “…we are stuck now…largely obsessed with narrow hot-button feuds (eg. abortion, sexual orientation, nationalism, genetic engineering) that end up being little more than litmus tests for political affiliation.”
“In the United States, white Evangelical Christians are the most fervent advocates of government-sanctioned torture and…frequent churchgoing is a statistical indicator of support for torture.”

“Third, we are in deep trouble relating to peace.”   “When careless preachers use the Bible as a club or sword to dominate or wound, they discredit the Bible in a way that no skeptic can.”
“It’s an old and tired game:  quoting sacred texts to strengthen an us-versus-them mentality.”  “In case after case in the past, there is a kind of Bible-quoting intoxication under the influence of which we religious people lose the ability to distinguish between what God says and what we say God says.

—-  Taken from “A New Kind Of Christianity” by Brian McLaren. Buy the book HERE.

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