OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.

Literal this that and the other

Mark Driscoll, who is beginning to inhabit the darker regions of my consciousness like some baleful theological bogeyman, recently announced by Tweet that Charles Haddon Spurgeon is his favourite mentor outside of scripture. You have to wonder what sort of nightmarish world Driscoll is living in if he is willing to let himself be mentored by someone who not only is dead but was, as Driscoll himself writes, ‘kicked out of his own Baptist denomination for his unwillingness to stop teaching such things as eternal torment in a literal hell, the literal truthfulness of Scripture, a literal creation by God, and the perfection and divine inspiration of Scripture’. I just don’t see what hammering on about everything being literal and perfect is supposed to achieve these days.

So yes, I have trouble fathoming Driscoll’s attitude - and, I have to admit, his popularity. But the bigger question must be this: How are we going to break down the wall that divides the hard-preaching, literalistic, reconstructed neo-Calvinists from the soft-pedalling, sceptical, deconstructed emergents? Not to mention all those other dividing walls, partitions, garden fences, ditches, trenches, coils of razor-wire, and mine-fields that criss-cross the landscape of the church. Is this just something we have to live with? As Paul said, there are bound to be factions so that the genuine among us may be recognized (1 Cor. 11:19). I take some (albeit ironic) comfort from that!

Something in me wonders if the fragmentation of Christian worldviews isn’t just a matter of healthy competition. Perhaps it’s a good thing that the story is told in different settings, in different ways. Perhaps in some deep Darwinian sense it’s a good thing that we fight tooth and claw over our theologies. Perhaps it’s a good thing - or at least unavoidable - that we construct our belief-systems in the conflicted territories of the human mind. But at the same time, surely, the Spirit in us is groaning to be one. I just wish I knew what to do about it.

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Re: Literal this that and the other

How are we going to break down the wall that divides the hard-preaching, literalistic, reconstructed neo-Calvinists from the soft-pedalling, sceptical, deconstructed emergents?”

Andrew, I am not sure this is possible. Remember, Driscoll was heavily involved in the beginning with the pre-Emergent Village folks, however his literalism and heavy Calvinistic approach motivated him to break off all ties and get back to what he considers fundamentals of the faith.

The gray of emergent Christianity does not go well with the black and white approach present in virtually all-things-Driscoll.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Yes, I know Driscoll went over to the black and white side, but it’s not really about him. In a way I would like to celebrate the resurgence of Calvinism. I don’t think it will last. I don’t think it provides a long term solution for the post-Christendom church. I think it is theologically misconceived. But I don’t want to get angry and frustrated with it all the time. I don’t want to treat them as a threatening other. I’m very conscious of the fact that pretty much all of our divisions and disagreements arise because we find it almost impossible - emotionally - to choose one path through the forest without denigrating all those who choose to follow a different path. It is a very emotional business. How do we get beyond the adversarial structure of our theologizing? How do we all become large-spirited and large-minded enough to pursue even our most passionate thoughts while remaining in constructive dialogue with others?

Re: Literal this that and the other

I think Brian McLaren was heading in the right direction in “Finding Our Way Again” when he said (and I am paraphrasing) “We need to restructure our faith into a ‘way of living’ rather than a theological construct or some sort of systematic theology.”

Systems invariably create opposites and polarise people while living allows for observation and the display of exemplary life.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Why would anyone assume that it is an “either/or” when discussing “way of living” and “theological construct”? Jesus taught us a way of living when He loved everyone unconditionally AND He created a theological construct when He said that He was the Way the Truth and the Life and that no-one comes to the Father except through Him.

If we replace theological construct with a way of living instead of working to ensure that they live side by side, aren’t we really making our way of living into our theological construct.

It seems to me that Jesus made it clear that we need to be seeking Him and seeking truth when He said in Matthew 7:13 (NLT)13You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way.

Those words from Jesus make me want to find out what the narrow gate is and how to get through it. And seeing Jesus love the unlovely and heal the sick make me want to follow His example. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

Re: Literal this that and the other

I’m not sure it is we who has to get beyond the adversarial structure. Black/White is adversarial and I’m not sure neo Calvinists want to get beyond it. Indeed, I would say it is the adversarial relationship between Driscoll and his naysayers that makes his approach so popular for some.

Re: Literal this that and the other

It seems to me that persons who shout that the Bible is inerrant and must be interpreted literally tend to converse more about Scripture than with Scripture. The more I have read the Bible (something I love to do) the less convinced I have become that it is inerrant (a trait it never claims for itself) and must be interpreted literally (an approach that creates at least as many problems as it solves).

Re: Literal this that and the other

It doesn’t actually surprise me that Mark Driscoll is so popular, after having listened to a few of his sermons. He is very talented as a speaker, and he knows how to appeal directly to mainstream American Christianity with his language.

I agree that unity is important and we can often get sidetracked fighting over petty issues. The analogy of a path through the forest is a good one. I also agree that theological differences can be celebrated, not as a good thing in themselves, but as a good sign. When people care deeply about the truth, disagreements rapidly arise.

I think Mark Driscoll is ultimately doing more good than harm. He is at least pointing people to Jesus, although in a rather peculiar and roundabout way. He is at least encouraging people to read the bible. In a sense, Evangelicals are to be thanked for their emphasis on the bible which led many people to greater truths which the Evangelicals themselves didn’t teach. Tom Wright says something like that somewhere - that if he’s come to different conclusions, it was only by doing what they insisted he do: take the bible seriously.

Also in many ways, Mark Driscoll is preparing people to be taught new things. As soon as he has convinced them of the importance of the bible, then really the truth of the bible itself can take over in their lives. Any of us having a conversation with one of his fans is on a solid ground of agreement if we can have the bible as a starting point. What more could we want? And if he’s moreover training people to think critically, then any falsehood in what he’s actually teaching them will be washed away by the very foundations that he’s given them as soon as they encounter greater truths.

I think Mark is a great guy. I disagree with most of what he says, but I respect and admire him nonetheless. If I met him, I hope I would become good friends with him. I also hope that we could have a great many fierce arguments and he could be persuaded of his theological mistakes! But doubtless he would say the same thing about me.

Re: Literal this that and the other

HI Josh,

I do tend to agree w/ your first comment regarding conversing about Scripture than with it.. but your second assertion about the in errancy took me by surprise especially w/ a verse like 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

I used to have the same outlook as you did.. but then I started to realize that I was essentially editing out portions of the bible I didn’t like (i.e Job etc) and came to the conclusion if I was going to do this I was going to accept the goods and the bads of the bible.

Re: Literal this that and the other

blendahtom:

My two points go together. It seems to me that if people spent more time reading Scripture, then they would spend less time making dogmatic assertions about things like the Bible’s inerrancy—precisely because the Bible itself does not make this kind of claim. I am quite familiar with the prooftext you have cited, as it is commonly used to argue for the importance of Scripture: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16). Here is a classic statement about the nature and purpose of Scripture. It does not, however, say as much as you seem to want it to say. About the nature of Scripture, it says only that it is “inspired by God”; it makes no mention of inerrancy before moving on to a list of practical functions. Inerrancy can be read into this text, but not read out of it. Certainly, “inspired” points to God’s initiative; it says nothing, however, about the human authors who were moved by God to write Scripture—much less that they did so perfectly or without error.

One other point about this passage: it was written sometime during the second half of the first century, while the New Testament was still in the works and long before the Bible as we know it came into existence (canonization took place in the fourth century); it therefore most likely has only the Hebrew scriptures in view.

For the record, I believe the Bible is inspired by God, do not go about “editing out portions” of it, and like the book of Job.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Neo-Calvinism eh? Whatever next. Here’s an interesting introduction to the ‘New Calvinism’. A quick glance at Wikipedia, the inerrant bible for postmoderns, reveals that neo-Calvinists have been around a long time (since Abraham Kuyper at least), are supra- (not infra-) lapsarians, and believe the following:

1. Jesus is lord over all of creation. Jesus’ lordship extends through every area and aspect of life – it is not restricted to the sphere of church or of personal piety.

2. The idea that all of life is to be redeemed. The work of Jesus on the cross extends over all of life – no area is exempt from its impact. All knowledge is affected by the true knowledge of God through redemption in Christ.

3. Cultural Mandate. Genesis 1:26-28 has been described as a cultural mandate. It is the mandate to cultivate and develop the creation. There is a historical development and cultural unfolding. Some Neo-Calvinists hold that the Cultural Mandate is as important as the Great Commission.

4. Creation, fall and redemption. God’s good creation has been disrupted by the fall. Redemption is a restoration of creation.

5. Sphere sovereignty (Soevereiniteit in eigen kring). Each sphere (or sector) of life has its own distinct responsibilities and authority as designed by God – for instance, communities dedicated to worship, civil justice, agriculture, family, etc. – and no one area of life is sovereign over another. Hence, neither faith-institutions nor an institution of civil justice (that is, the state) should seek totalitarian control or any regulation of human activity outside their limited competence.

6. A rejection of dualism. Dualisms are (purportedly false) bifurcations, dichotomies, contrasts, or oppositions, such as the dualism between nature and grace that dominated much of Scholasticism. In the Neo-Calvinist view, nature is the God-created and sustained cosmic order, not a “non-supernatural” category, and grace is God’s means of renewing the cosmic order, it is not something “non-creational” added onto nature (albeit eschatological in consummated glorification of bodily resurrection to eternal life and cosmic transformation of the new heavens and earth).

7. Structure and direction. Structure denotes created laws and norms for things, and created things themselves. Direction denotes relative deviation or conformity to norms; primarily regarding the central orientation of the human heart toward or away from God in Christ.

8. Common grace. God providentially sustains the created order, restraining of possible evils and giving non-salvific good gifts to all humanity despite their fall into sin, God’s curse, and his eventual condemnation of the unredeemed.

9. The antithesis. There is a struggle in history and within every person – between submission to and rebellion against God; between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness; between the age to come (already inaugurated in Christ) and this present evil age (of sin).

10. World views. Neo-Calvinists reject the notion that theoretical thought can be religiously neutral. All thinking and practice is shaped by world views and religious ground motives. For the Neo-Calvinist, life in all its aspects can be shaped by a distinctively Christian world view.

11. The role of law. For Neo-Calvinists, “Law” is more than the Mosaic Decalogue, or even the entire abiding moral will of God. Law is, rather, the order for creation (or creation ordinances) established by God and includes a variety of types of cultural norms including physiological, psychological, logical, historical, linguistic, social, economic, aesthetic, juridical, and faith norms.

Maybe I’m a neo-Emergent-Calvinist then (though neither supra- nor infralapsarian). Which surprises me, as I also thought I was a neo-Arminian, or even a neo-Pelagian (just to be controversial). And certainly a neo-Open Theist. Definitely neo-Mennonite. But probably not neo-Emergent - as far as Emergents have any discernibly coherent theology. Certainly neo-Post-Evangelical. Neo-Charismatic? Maybe.

Neo-Mark Driscoll? No. Neo-John MacArthur? Certainly not. Neo-John Piper? Not really. Neo-Rick Warren? No. Neo-Albert Mohler? Don’t know, but probably not. Neo-Thomas McCall? No. Neo-Colin Hansen? Yes. Neo-Rob Bell? Maybe, but he’s not a Neo-Calvinist. Neo-Evangelical? Hmmmm.

Maybe the problem is that postmodern Emergents aren’t as good at doing theology as (neo) Calvinists.

Interpreting the bible literally: since the time of Luther, sensus literalis has meant ‘reading scripture according to the sense suggested by the literary context’, not ‘reading scripture literally’. I don’t think anyone seriously does the latter, in a dogmatic way.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Josh,

I am new to this forum as a good friend who is active in the emerging church was trying to explain its purpose, etc. and pointed me to this site as a way to gain an understanding. As it seems that the object of the debate is to seek a better understanding of God’s truth, I thought I would jump in…..

I for one believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God in that He inspired it and there is nothing in it that He did not intend to be in it. But your response is interesting in that it neutralizes the need to debate the point because the point isn’t whether the Bible is inerrant. The point is whether all (not some) Scripture is useful to teach us what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our lives (New Living Translaton). Verse 17 goes on to say that the the scripture “is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.”

It seems to me that the debate about inerrancy is really a debate about whether we, as humans, have the right to edit God’s word to fit our own belief system versus accepting God’s word and editing our lives to fit God’s belief system. The way many people justify editing God’s word to fit their belief system is to take the position that God didn’t really mean what the Bible says which is the same as saying that the Bible erred in presenting God’s position on a specific topic.

That being said, if you don’t edit and you believe that the Bible is inspired by God….how are your views different from someone who takes the position that the Bible is inerrant?

Re: Literal this that and the other

Bobby, welcome to the conversation.

If by “a better understanding of God’s truth” you have in mind getting to know Jesus better, then I am with you—after all, the Bible tells us that Jesus is the truth.

I’m not sure the second part of your second paragraph’s first sentence (“there is nothing in it that He did not intend to be in it”) has biblical support; you seem to be making an assertion rather than an argument. Insofar as my earlier comment “neutralizes” the debate about inerrancy—well, I guess I’m cool with that. I definitely think the church would do well to focus less on the nature and more on the purpose of Scripture, thereby encouraging people to stop talking about what the Bible is and to start talking about what the Bible says. As Andrew Purves and Charles Partee lament, “[S]ome people seem to have devoted more effort to developing a doctrine of scripture than to reading it” (ENCOUNTERING GOD, p. 129). According to the verses in question (2 Timothy 3:16-17), the Hebrew scriptures (what Christians have come to call the Old Testament) are useful—if read and (presumably) read well. (That 2 Timothy has in view the Hebrew scriptures rather than what would later come to be the Bible is a point I made earlier that you seem to have missed.) Discerning how a particular passage is useful in a particular context requires prayerful and careful interpretation; and biblical interpretation is a complex matter.

The way you frame the issue of inerrancy in your third paragraph simply assumes that the Bible is inerrant. You beg the question—that is, you assume your premise (that the Bible is inerrant), which is a logical fallacy. Your frame makes the question, “Should people not submit to an inerrant word?” I think the question is this: “Is the Bible inerrant?” I have not taken Paul’s advice to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 regarding stomach ailments (which was to drink wine). Is this decision an “edit” of God’s word? (I have not crossed out that verse or torn out that page.) Or am I merely using the brain God gave me to discern that Paul was in error on this matter?

Now, you may respond with a comment something like, “It is a little known fact that there is one rare stomach ailment that wine does alieve.” This kind of response would provide an example of why rejecting the doctrine of inerrancy matters (which is a question you get at in your last sentence). A commitment to biblical inerrancy puts the person holding it on the defensive every time an apparent error or discrepancy comes up in the reading of Scripture; said person then feels compelled to engage in time-consuming and energy-depleting mental gymnastics to arrive at an (often unconvincing) way of explaining away the apparent error or discrepancy. All this effort just to defend an extra-biblical doctrine—a teaching not found in the Bible! In the meantime, opportunities to indwell the biblical narrative—an undeniably life-transforming story—waste away.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Josh,

Thanks for your welcoming. I am certain that I will learn much in the process of these discussions.

I certainly learned something about logical fallacy. After having looked it up in Wikipidia, I would disagree with you conclusion as to logical fallacy as I disagree with your assessment of my intent. I wasn’t asking the question, “Should people not submit to an inerrant word?” My paragraph read as follows:

It seems to me that the debate about inerrancy is really a debate about whether we, as humans, have the right to edit God’s word to fit our own belief system versus accepting God’s word and editing our lives to fit God’s belief system. The way many people justify editing God’s word to fit their belief system is to take the position that God didn’t really mean what the Bible says which is the same as saying that the Bible erred in presenting God’s position on a specific topic.”

My intent was to respond to your comment: “For the record, I believe the Bible is inspired by God, do not go about “editing out portions” of it, and like the book of Job.” And my point was merely to say that if one is willing to submit to the entirety of the Bible (which I inferred from your comment that you don’t edit out portions) and adjust their lives to fit God’s belief system, then there is no reason to debate inerrancy because ones actions essentially reflect the belief that the Bible can be trusted and believed. If there is a logical fallacy (which I would contend there is not) it is that I assume that just because one adjusts their life to match what the Spirit reveals in the Bible, then one must believe the Bible to be inerrant but it isn’t that I was assuming in that paragraph that the Bible was inerrant.

It is interesting that your proof for your argument was Paul’s advice to Timothy which I don’t see as proof at all. Paul was not telling you or me or everyone who read the passage that they should drink wine for stomach ailments. He was telling Timothy to drink wine because Timothy apparently had frequent infirmities. Advice from one friend to another. That doesn’t mean that everyone who has frequent infirmities should drink wine any more than Paul telling Timothy to remain in Ephesus means that we should all be in Ephesus. What the verse does for me is to give me insight into Paul because we recognize that he cared about Timothy’s physical health as well as his spiritual health.

That being said, there are certainly bigger issues at stake in the debate of inerrancy—evolution for example. When the Bible tells us that God created the earth and all that is in it…can we rely on that?

You asked the question of my intent relative to understanding God’s truth? I will say that I agree that getting to know Jesus better is the same as understanding God’s truth. But one of the main ways we get to know Him better is through the “undeniably life-transforming story” as told in the Bible. To that end, I am curious how one discerns who Jesus is without a view that the Bible is the inspired word of God and that He intended for it to be exactly as it is. Did Jesus perform miracles of healing (including raising people from the dead and multiplying the loaves); did He die on the cross and rise from the dead; was He sinless; did He actually challenge the status quo of 1st century Judaism; is He currently sitting at the right hand of God; is He the “truth”? You note that you “use your brain” but many people believe they are using their brains when they reject these ideas as mere fantasy and claim that Jesus was nothing more than a good man and a prophet? Who decides what is true (or truth) and what isn’t?

You note that “[S]ome people seem to have devoted more effort to developing a doctrine of scripture than to reading it”….I agree with that but that doesn’t mean that it is right to ignore doctrine. The bottom line is that we all have developed doctrine. This discourse indicates to me that you have developed doctrinal beliefs that are important enough for you to spend time posting comments. Paul (and by inference God since God inspired Paul) certainly thought doctrine was important or he wouldn’t have taken the time to write multiple letters to address bad doctrine popping up in the church.

You also state: “I definitely think the church would do well to focus less on the nature and more on the purpose of Scripture, thereby encouraging people to stop talking about what the Bible is and to start talking about what the Bible says.” My question to you is why should people focus on what the Bible says unless they believe what the Bible is? That, I would contend, is the logical fallacy. If I don’t believe it is the inspired word of God, why should I care what it says about Jesus any more than I care what the Sunday morning paper says about Jesus? And if I don’t believe it is inerrant why should I follow the teachings that I disagree with instead of just coming to the conclusion that the Bible must have been wrong on that point?

Blessings,

Bobby

Re: Literal this that and the other

I know you’re having a conversation with Josh, but this caught my eye:

Paul was not telling you or me or everyone who read the passage that they should drink wine for stomach ailments. He was telling Timothy to drink wine because Timothy apparently had frequent infirmities…. That doesn’t mean that everyone who has frequent infirmities should drink wine any more than Paul telling Timothy to remain in Ephesus means that we should all be in Ephesus.

This is a rather trivial example, but I wonder whether the argument could be applied on a larger basis. For example, the book of Revelation is ostensibly addressed to churches in Asia Minor in the first century. Does this mean that much or all of the content of the book does not or need not apply to us? I’m inclined to think that is actually the case, but I raise it because it seems a logical extension of your argument about Timothy’s wine drinking.

Or to take another example, much of Paul’s argument in Romans appears to be framed for a Jewish audience under particular eschatological conditions, including the statement in 3:24-25 about Jesus’ death being a ‘propitiation’ (hilastērion) and the general notion that he was punished because of sin. This seems to me another example of how an important theological motif actually makes much better sense when restored to its original narrative context - but that also has the effect of bringing into question (perhaps with good reason) its direct relevance to our own situation. Many people today are uncomfortable with ideas of penal substitutionary atonement - they find the whole idea barbaric - and would rather edit it out of their belief system. I think we need to keep it but recognize that finds meaning only really at a particular point in the narrative.

That being said, there are certainly bigger issues at stake in the debate of inerrancy—evolution for example. When the Bible tells us that God created the earth and all that is in it…can we rely on that?

I would argue that evolution has nothing to do with inerrancy - it has to do with genre, it has to do with how we read Genesis 1-3. This is a good example of how the conservative argument for inerrancy is no less captive to culture than liberal complacency towards scripture. Plenty of God-fearing, Bible-believing evangelicals have no problem accepting the theory of evolution and can’t see what all the fuss is about. In Europe it’s barely an issue, and long may it stay that way.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Andrew,

Thanks for chiming in.

I actually thought the issue you raised in your first question might surface. I can’t give a theological answer but I can give a personal answer. As I read the scripture, I try to discern between historical information and biblical truth meant to relay God’s heart. Historical information would be God sending Jonah to Ninevah. Biblical truth would be that God loves the people of Ninevah and wanted to reveal Himself to them or that God is in control of the winds and the sea and the animals of the sea or that God had a plan for Jonah. As such, I don’t assume that God wants me to go to Ninevah but I do recognize that if God had a plan for Jonah (and Paul and Peter and John, etc) He has a plan for me so I want to know what His specific plan is for me. I also recognize from this passage that God is in control of everything and can, when He chooses, change the weather or perform miracles to cause me to draw near to Him.

When I read that Jesus rebukes the Pharisees, I see a bit of how Jesus hated hypocrisy. If Jesus hates hypocrisy (and all sin for that matter) I better hate hypocrisy (and all sin) and try to keep it out of my life.

When I see that Jesus loved and forgave the woman at the well. I see His heart and recognize that He loves the sinner while hating the sin (He told her to sin no more). I don’t think I need to find a woman at a well to talk to.

I am not certain if I have given the best examples but I trust you understand my point. There is a difference between something that happens historically and something that reveals God’s heart. Paul telling Timothy to drink wine seems like an obvious example of something that didn’t reveal God’s heart but I certainly understand that there are times when it isn’t so easy to discern whether something is a Truth or whether it only applied to that time. As an example, I eat pork so I must think that was a message only for that time (though I certainly understand that pork is in fact not healthy which confirms that God knows what He is talking about). If I thought eating pork was a “heart” issue, I wouldn’t eat it.

Relative to your comment on Romans, I believe that passage is a reflection of God’s heart and of His plan. It happened at a point in history which is why there was a cross versus an electric chair or something else. But I do believe God intended Christ’s death to pay the penalty for all of my sins as a Gentile living in the 21st century. I see the OT and NT as a continuing story that reveals who God is and what is important to Him and I don’t think that His character ever changes. That means that He hates sin today just like He did in the first century and He, as a holy God, demands justice. But He loves people and wants to reconcile us to Him so He sent Christ to pay for my sins on the cross. I don’t claim to understand why He chose to reconcile mankind in this way but I believe He did choose this way and He is the one who has the authority to make the decision.

I also believe the book of Acts proves this point because the gospel moved beyond the original Jewish narrative into the Gentile world and the Apostles didn’t change the message of penal substitutionary atonement when the context changed.

On your comment relative to evolution, I agree that one could make the case that the debate over Genesis has to do with genre. This is not the forum to discuss that issue but wouldn’t you agree that, at the very least, the passage is meant to tell us that God created everything including man? As I understand classic evolutionary theory (as it is taught in the US), there is no concept that God created anything. That, my friend, is a line in the proverbial sand that I must not cross. God did create everything. I won’t waste too much energy trying to convince someone that He didn’t use the evolutionary process to do it (though I believe science proves that He did not use evolution from one species to another) but I believe it is a crucial tenent of the Judeo-Christian faith that God was and is the creator. This concept is not only found in Genesis but throughout the Bible.

Blessings,

Bobby

Re: Literal this that and the other

But He loves people and wants to reconcile us to Him so He sent Christ to pay for my sins on the cross.

My point was the particular interpretation of Jesus’ death in relation to i) notions of Old Testament sacrifice, and ii) the argument that God punished his Son because of humanity’s sin. But I also think that this sort of dogmatic summary (‘He sent Christ to pay for my sins on the cross’) has the adverse effect of obscuring the narrative structure of New Testament theology in a way that overemphasizes the significance of the individual and de-emphasizes the significance of the community.

The New Testament does not (certainly not principally and perhaps not at all) speak of Jesus dying for my sin - that is a perception that can be defended only by taking verses our of context and interpreting them in the light of our highly individualistic modern culture. Rather the New Testament speaks of Jesus dying for the sins of the people, of Israel - as the angel said to Joseph: You will call him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).

Now there are clearly important implications for those who were not or are not part of the historic people of God - we have been incorporated into a people that was saved from the wrath of God by the faithfulness of Jesus. But I think we miss a massive part of the New Testament perspective if - in the interests of a simple, workable belief system - we collapse the complex historical narrative into a uniform message of personal salvation.

I also believe the book of Acts proves this point because the gospel moved beyond the original Jewish narrative into the Gentile world and the Apostles didn’t change the message of penal substitutionary atonement when the context changed.

What do you have in mind?

As I understand classic evolutionary theory (as it is taught in the US), there is no concept that God created anything.

No, of course not, and I don’t see why evolutionary theory should include the concept that God created everything. I don’t expect history teachers in our schools to attribute the Persian victory over the Babylonians or the Jewish War of AD 66-70 or Claudius’ expulsion of the Jews from Rome or the eventual collapse of the pagan Roman empire as acts of divine judgment - though arguably that is how all these events are interpreted in scripture. I expect history teachers to give historical explanations for things, and I expect science teachers to give scientific explanations of things. I don’t expect medical text books to include a chapter on miracles, any more than I would expect undergraduate astrophysicists to be told that the movement of the planets has an effect on human destiny.

Try as I might, I can find nothing intellectually incoherent in affirming both the truth of a Creator God and the plausibility of the evolving theory of evolution.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Looking at this conversation on inerrancy and word of God, this would be my comment on the alternative hermeneutic which Andrew provides, in place of a supposedly modernistic hermeneutic which he rejects. The modernistic hermeneutic is, however, largely a caricature of Andrew’s invention - just as, for instance, in this country Richard Dawkins rejects Christian faith as medieval superstition, without seriously exploring the faith in question.

As a student of Andrew’s ideas, which I have found very stimulating as well as challenging, I can also say that Andrew believes in penal substitionary atonement (you can find it on the site if you search back far enough). It’s just not a penal substitution for us; rather it was exclusively for historic Israel. Which always raises the question for me: how are sinful us incorporated (to use Andrew’s word) into a people for whom Jesus’s sin-atoning death was only effective for them?

Note also Andrew’s comments here on one thread and my responses here to another thread opened by Andrew but which no longer seems to exist (but it is in Andrew’s book Otherways, page 175, Why the emerging church should believe in penal substitution). The subject title of the latter thread indicates Andrew’s position – there is ‘penal substitionary atonement’ within Andrew’s narrative historical interpretation.

A not too serious narrative reflection on the theme as it has wound its way through OST may be found here, and a miscellany of OST extracts with a light running critique can be found here as well as a shorter companion volume of the continuing narrative here.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Andrew,

I see salvation as being very personal. In the context of your view that it is more about the community, can you address these passages?

Luke 5:31 (NKJV)31Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Acts 2:21 (NKJV)And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.’

Romans 10:12 through Romans 10:13 (NKJV)12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”£

———————————————————————————————————-
I need to better understand where you are coming from in your statement:

Now there are clearly important implications for those who were not or are not part of the historic people of God - we have been incorporated into a people that was saved from the wrath of God by the faithfulness of Jesus.”

Who is the “we” who “have been incorporated” and how does the we get incorporated?
 ———————————————————————————————————-

You ask what I have in mind relative to Acts: Acts 1:8 (NLT)8But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus is telling His Jewish disciples to take the gospel beyond the Jewish world to the ends of the earth. After his conversion, Paul leads the charge and the gospel moves to the gentile world. In Acts 13, a Roman governor is converted.

————————————————————————————————————-

On your final paragraph relative to evolutionary theory, a couple of points. First, I notice that you italicized theory. In the US, evolution (specifically evolution without a God) is not being taught as a theory but a scientifc fact. But the reality is that evolution is neither a theory nor a fact based on standard definitions of scientific theory and scientific fact appied to all other scientific research and thought:

David Menton notes that: “evolution is not observable, repeatable, or refutable and thus does not qualify as either a scientific fact or theory. Evolution must be accepted with faith by its believers, many of whom deny the existence, or at least the power, of the Creator. Similarly, the Biblical account of creation is not observable, repeatable or refutable by man. Special creation is accepted with faith by those who believe that the Bible is the revelation of an omnipotent and omniscient Creator whose Word is more reliable than the speculations of men. Both evolution and creation, however, can be compared for their compatibility with what we do observe of the facts of nature.” Is Evolution a Theory, a Fact, or a Law? Or — None of the Above? By Dr. David N. Menton, Ph.D. Copyright (c) 1993 by the Missouri Association for Creation [No. 4 in a series]

Second, you say: “Try as I might, I can find nothing intellectually incoherent in affirming both the truth of a Creator God and the plausibility of the evolving theory of evolution.”

Can you explain what you mean? When you refer to “plausibility” are you allowing that it is plausible because the theory is evolving and may one day come to the conclusion that while there is evolution, it was controlled by the Creator God? Are you allowing that it is incoherent that there can be both the truth of a Creator God and the truth of the world evolving from nothing without God?

————————————————————————————————————-

You state that you “don’t expect medical text books to include a chapter on miracles, any more than (you) would expect undergraduate astrophysicists to be told that the movement of the planets has an effect on human destiny.”

I don’t expect secular thinkers to consider the Bible either. But, I do think the Bible is consistent with correct scientific thinking. Some of history’s greatest thinkers (Sir Isaac Newton for example) looked at the world around them through both a scientific and a Biblical lens. Here are some examples from the Evidence Bible of the Bible and correct science lining up and some situations when false scientific thinking was not consistent with the Bible:

Encyclopedia Britannica documents that in 1845, a young doctor in Vienna named Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was horrified at the terrible death rate of women who gave birth in hospitals. As many as 30 percent died after giving birth. Semmelweis noted that doctors would examine the bodies of patients who died, then, without washing their hands, go straight to the next ward and examine expectant mothers. This was their normal practice, because the presence of microscopic diseases was unknown. Semmelweis insisted that doctors wash their hands before examinations, and the death rate immediately dropped to 2 percent. Look at the specific instructions God gave His people for when they encounter disease: “And when he that has an issue is cleansed of his issue; then he shall number to himself even days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in running water, and shall be clean” (Leviticus 15:13). Until recent years, doctors washed their hands in a bowl of water, leaving invisible germs on their hands. However, the Bible says specifically to wash hands under “running water.”

At a time when it was believed that the earth sat on a large animal or a giant (1500 B.C.), the Bible spoke of the earth’s free float in space: “He…hangs the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7).”

The prophet Isaiah also tells us that the earth is round: “It is he that sits upon the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22). This is not a reference to a flat disk, as some skeptic maintain, but to a sphere. Secular man discovered this 2,400 years later. At a time when science believed that the earth was flat, is was the Scriptures that inspired Christopher Columbus to sail around the world (see Proverbs 3:6 footnote).”

Medical science has only recently discovered that blood-clotting in a newborn reaches its peak on the eighth day, then drops. The Bible consistently says that a baby must be circumcised on the eighth day.”
  

Re: Literal this that and the other

Mind-numbing.

What’s your point?

Re: Literal this that and the other

No one point…I was trying to respond to a number of questions/issues raised by Andrew.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Andrew:

While I struggle with the penal substitutionary theory of the atonement, I am able to admit that it finds support (probably its strongest support) in Romans 3. You write, “I think we need to keep it but recognize that [it] finds meaning only really at a particular point in the narrative.” I’m wondering if this assessment is similar to my own, which is that emphasizing the penal substitutionary theory does not make missiological sense in our contemporary Western context, given its disconnect from the temple in Jerusalem and the animal sacrifices there (not to mention its aversion to the latter).

Also, thanks for your mention of the importance of genre considerations in biblical interpretation.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Bobby:

I believe that you believe you did not commit the logical fallacy of assuming your premise. However, I am finding it difficult to agree with your self-assessment because I have not heard you offer much if any argument for your premise (that Scripture is inerrant). In other words, it seems to me (still) that you simply assume biblical inerrancy. What is the biblical and historical argument for it?

As for the (admittedly trivial) example from 1 Timothy, I did not intend it to be a “proof” of anything. What I have been attempting to say is that debates about inerrancy and the like are unfruitful, partly because they lead people to waste their resources performing mental gymnastics in an effort to explain away what appear to be errors in Scripture. You proved my point by spending time and energy offering an explanation for Paul’s seemingly suspect medical advice.

I don’t think the creation story (saga? poem?) serves well as an example of biblical error; it seems to me to serve better as an example of the need to take genre seriously in biblical interpretation (at issue is the interpretation of Scripture rather than the inerrancy of Scripture).

I believe Jesus is the truth, as Scripture witnesses to him teaching. I believe Scripture is a trustworthy witness to the truth—but not that it is inerrant in every detail. A commitment to this dogmatic doctrine would put me in the position of having to explain away every apparent inaccuracy or inconsistency that comes up in my faith-community’s study of the Bible.

You close by asking, in effect, “Why bother with the Bible if it’s not inspired and inerrant?” I’ve already said that I believe Scripture is inspired. I will add this: Scripture does not need to be inerrant to have authority. It’s common for people to obey imperfect authorities—parents, teachers, employers, government officials. We do not say that because these people are imperfect they lack authority. It seems sufficient to me to say that since Scripture has survived the test of time, showing itself to feature “the greatest story ever told” by its transformation of countless lives and communities across many cultures and almost two thousand years, it can be regarded confidently as the most authoritative witness to God’s work in the world.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Josh,

We can certainly agree to disagree, particularly since it seems to be a moot point given your willingness to submit to the authority of scripture.

I will say that your example of parents, etc. is weak at best as my God is the perfect authority and cannot be compared to earthly authority.

On the issue of the creation story. Setting aside the debate on how He might have done it, what is your view of whether God is the Creator God?

Finally, you suggest that it is unfruitful to discuss such matters as inerrancy. I have made the case that it is not a waste of time to understand what the Bible “is” so that one can determine whether to rely on what is “says”. Frankly, I think you also believe it is important to know what the Bible “is” as you seem to have a fairly well thought out opinion of what it “is” and that opinion seems to influence how you deal with what it “says”. I believe the debate is fruitful because there are a lot of people including those who profess to be Christians who don’t believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God.

Blessings,

Bobby

Re: Literal this that and the other

Bobby:

I’d rather that we learn from one another than “agree to disagree”—which is why I invited you to offer a biblical and historical argument for the inerrancy of Scripture.

My example of listening to human authorities who are imperfect was made in relation to Scripture, not God. The move you have made (“my God is the perfect authority and cannot be compared to earthly authority”) conflates the Bible and God. This conflation is arguably an example of bibliolatry (the idolatry of a book), yet another reason—in addition to the exegetical and practical reasons I have given, and the historical and missiological reasons Andrew has given—to steer clear of the doctrine of inerrancy. Colin Greene writes:

…the fundamentalist and literalist approach that claims the Bible is the infallible and inerrant word of God apparently dictated, over time, by the Holy Spirit to a number of human secretaries who wrote down what they were instructed to write; consequently, the Bible is literally the historically and theologically accurate utterly reliable word of God that must be read and believed as such before full salvation can be enjoyed…. [T]he bibliolatry that flows from this apparent miracle of divine dictation leads to an obscurantism and a pathology of religious neurosis and judgmentalism that is clearly deleterious to the persons who hold such absurd beliefs and the practice of sane religion in general” (METAVISTA, p. 95).

Certainly, the Bible is more than a book; and, as you say, what we say it “is” matters. However, why it matters to say that it is “inerrant” continues to elude me. I continue to believe that the best way to help people see the value of Scripture is to encourage them to indwell its story.

I encourage you to expand your imagination by reading some books other than the one you have mentioned in this thread (THE EVIDENCE BIBLE, which is a product of the American Religious Right, and as such has a pronounced ideological slant). N.T. Wright, a biblical scholar who has a clear appreciation both for Scripture and serious scholarship, is one possible starting place. I recommend THE LAST WORD: SCRIPTURE AND THE AUTHORITY OF GODGETTING BEYOND THE BIBLE WARS. In this very readable book, Wright critiques ideologues on the right and the left, naming many of their common misreadings of Scripture.

Re: Literal this that and the other

It seems to me that the debate about inerrancy is really a debate about whether we, as humans, have the right to edit God’s word to fit our own belief system versus accepting God’s word and editing our lives to fit God’s belief system.

Bobby, very nice to hear from you. Is your ‘good friend’ who I think it is?

I don’t myself think that the main problem with the modern doctrine of inerrancy is to be framed in terms of this choice between editing and not editing God’s word. It seems to me that the problem is that the doctrine inevitably gets attached to a particular hermeneutic, a particular way of reading, a particular interpretation of scripture, and prevents it from being questioned or examined. It functions as the padlock on the door of interpretation: it stops us going in and looking around and asking, Have we really understood this correctly?

It is obviously true that there is always a danger of fitting scripture to our personal belief system. But it is equally the case - though in a more subtle way - that interpreting communities of all forms (conservative and liberal) read the Bible from within a particular worldview and a particular narrative. Liberal interpreters have their own way of safeguarding their interpretations; conservatives have tended to resort to an explicit doctrine of inerrancy that has a best a marginal relationship to what scripture actually says about itself.

But I think it’s fair to say that the modern anxiety about the inerrancy of scripture is essentially a reaction to certain forms of rationalist critique - it belongs to a narrative in which a beleaguered church, unable to provide convincing answers to the trenchant historical, philosophical and scientific onslaught of the 19th and 20th centuries, went on the defensive, dug its heels in, and insisted that scripture is absolutely true whatever everyone else may think. It was one way of defending the faith.

That may once have been a necessary strategy, but the question is whether it helps us make good sense and good use of scripture now, when that battle has been fought and lost, and the church needs to reinvent itself following the collapse of the modernist worldview. I agree with the point that has been made that people have often been more concerned to defend the truth of scripture than to engage with it, but I also think that the challenge that confronts us currently is not whether we are willing to assert that scripture is true to whatever extent but whether we really understand it. There’s no point in furiously defending a misreading of scripture.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Andrew,

She is in deed the friend you think she is.

Can you help me by responding with your definition of inerrancy? That will help me understand if we are even talking about the same thing. I believe the Bible is inerrant in its original text (there is nothing in it that He did not intend to be in it) and that God is big enough that the truths He is trying to convey have made it through the translation process. Further, the Bible does not contradict itself and even the scientific and historical information is accurate. I don’t believe inerrancy means that there is not a word out of place in the KJV of the Bible. This foundational belief in inerrancy doesn’t change the fact that we must interpret scripture properly.

I am afraid I don’t know how to respond to your comment about the “trenchant historical, philosophical and scientific onslaught of the 19th and 20th century” and the conclusion that “that battle has been fought and lost”. My best answer is not going to sound very intellectual but I would say that we haven’t lost. As I read the Old Testament, I see the people of God moving away from Him and back to Him. Sometimes they act as if they believe He is the One True God that they need to follow and whose scriptures and commandments they need to adhere to. And sometimes they give in to the pagan rituals of the world around them. Then God draws them back and then the fall away, etc. Did God “lose” during the times of rebellion of His people? Did His truth change during those times? No….God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

God’s word and truth NEVER changes but His methods of reaching a lost world do change. Therefore, while I can’t change my interpretation of scripture based on the worlds view of God, I can agree that the church needs to reinvent itself in the way it presents God’s truth and in the way it lives out God’s truth. We must get back to the basics of meeting peoples basic needs as we seek to help them see their real need of redemption through Christ.

The caveat of course, is captured in your comment that “there is no point furiously defending a misreading of scripture.” I agree with you that we, as a church, should not continue to teach based on a misreading of scripture. But we can’t decide what the proper reading is based on what the world around us says or what 20th century science says or what current philosophical thoughts are. We must seek to understand the scripture in the context of the 1st century writer/reader and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to us.

I wonder….if we don’t believe the scripture is inspired by God and is inerrant (as I have defined inerrancy)…why are we spending so much time trying to interpret it? If God can’t be trusted to give us a Word that is accurate (though not full in its account) as to creation (which takes into account science and hisotory), how can He be trusted to accurately relay the truth of the resurrection? And if the resurrection isn’t true…..our faith is futile.

Blessings,

Bobby

Re: Literal this that and the other

Andrew writes:

I think it’s fair to say that the modern anxiety about the inerrancy of scripture is essentially a reaction to certain forms of rationalist critique - it belongs to a narrative in which a beleaguered church, unable to provide convincing answers to the trenchant historical, philosophical and scientific onslaught of the 19th and 20th centuries, went on the defensive, dug its heels in, and insisted that scripture is absolutely true whatever everyone else may think. It was one way of defending the faith.”

N.T. Wright agrees:

[T]he phrase ‘authority of scripture’…has emerged in situations of protest, whether that of Martin Luther against the pope, of the great free church movements against Anglicanism…or, within various denominations, of a would-be ‘biblical’ minority against a supposed ‘liberal’ leadership. In other words, the phrase is invoked when something is proposed or done in the church to which others object: ‘You can’t do that, because the Bible says…’” (THE LAST WORD, p. 27).

And David Yeago adds:

[T]he doctrine of inspiration really functioned to ground the doctrine of perspicuous propositional revelation, according to which God speaks by propounding universally accessible true propositions for our belief. Plenary verbal inspiration explains how there can be a book made up of inerrantly true propositions that everyone can understand: such a book can be, it was taught, because God produced it in a miraculous way. The aim of the whole construction was to undermine as massively as possible Roman Catholic arguments for an authoritative teaching office in the church” (KNOWING THE TRIUNE GOD, p. 62).

Andrew continues:

That may once have been a necessary strategy, but the question is whether it helps us make good sense and good use of scripture now, when that battle has been fought and lost, and the church needs to reinvent itself following the collapse of the modernist worldview. I agree with the point that has been made that people have often been more concerned to defend the truth of scripture than to engage with it, but I also think that the challenge that confronts us currently is not whether we are willing to assert that scripture is true to whatever extent but whether we really understand it. There’s no point in furiously defending a misreading of scripture.”

Colin Greene concurs:

To claim that the Bible contains absolute truths vouchsafed by God solves nothing in regard to the problem of identifying exactly what these absolute truths are, what criteria we use to locate them and what language we would use to describe them” (METAVISTA, p. 95).

Re: Literal this that and the other

Hi Josh,

Sorry if my “editing out portions” statement rubbed you the wrong way.. It was not meant that way..

As far as your comment goes towards the inerrancy I guess we will agree to disagree when I see “Inspired by God” I don’t see “Breathed out by God” which to me… means it is perfect..

One other point about this passage: it was written sometime during the second half of the first century, while the New Testament was still in the works and long before the Bible as we know it came into existence (canonization took place in the fourth century); it therefore most likely has only the Hebrew scriptures in view.”

This goes right to a soverignty view and I think that we have different views on this as well. I appreciate your thoughts on this subject :)

Re: Literal this that and the other

blendahtom: No worries—I’m not thin-skinned. I’m not sure what you’re trying to say when you write, “[W]hen I see ‘Inspired by God’ I don’t see ‘Breathed out by God’ which to me… means it is perfect..” You may be referring to 1 Timothy 3:16, which the NRSV translates, “All scripture is inspired by God….” The Greek word that is translated “inspired” is theopneustos, a fascinating compound word in which both “God” and “spirit” can be heard. Woodenly translated, it reads “God-spirited”—not far from “inspired by God.” The Greek word translated “spirit” (pneuma) can also be translated “breath” or “wind” (as is the case with the Hebrew word ruach). So, another possible wooden translation would read “God-breathed” (still not far from “inspired by God,” though “inspired” does not contain an echo of “breath” as it does “spirit”). The Greek word for “perfect” is not used here. Had the writer of 2 Timothy wanted to say that all Scripture is perfect, he had a word available to do so—teleios. Matthew 5:48 uses this word twice: esesthe oun humeis teleioi hos ho pater humon ho ouranios teleios estin. You have read inerrancy into the text in question. As for your mention of the sovereignty of God (something in which I too believe—I’m Presbyterian!), it would indeed make moot my observation that 2 Timothy was written before the completion and canonization of the New Testament—if God wrote 2 Timothy. According to 2 Timothy, however, Paul wrote this letter (2 Timothy 1:1-2); God inspired it. Let’s let the biblical text speak for itself instead of reading the doctrine of the 17th-19th centuries into it.

Re: Literal this that and the other

If I want to listen to someone who is hard-preaching, I would rather just read Stanley Hauerwas. Sure, he’s not a neo-Calvinist or a complete literalist but he also doesn’t have a masculinist agenda that is one of the main reasons why I refuse to listen to him (men and women are equals but men should be masculine and lead while women should be feminine and submissive, the whole I’m a male lesbian, I can only worship a Jesus portrayed in Revelations as one with a sword and out for blood).

People just always seem to be enamored with Driscoll for reasons I cannot comprehend. I guess I just cannot accept literalism either. The authors behind the Bible were often the intellectuals of their day and a literalistic reading of scripture fails to recognize the brilliance and ingenuity of the Scripture.

I think what I have realized is that fragmentation has always existed in some form or another in any religion. Christianity is no different. Early on there was diversity and I think there is something lively to that notion. I think there is a way to be ecumenical without an emergent becoming a neo-Calvinist, or a Protestant becoming a Roman Catholic.

Re: Literal this that and the other

One of the principal arguments for the deity of Christ is that what is said about YHWH is also said about Christ. Using similar logic, this leads to the following doctrine of the Quaternity:

I believe in God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit and God the Holy Scriptures.

Re: Literal this that and the other

First, I don’t think Driscoll has ever advocated taking all of scripture literally. Maybe I’m not understanding your point, but on more than one occasion I’ve heard sermons where he has pointed out the poetry and metaphors of the bible. Second, what is the crime in having dead mentors? Finally, as to your “bigger question”
“But the bigger question must be this: How are we going to break down the wall that divides the hard-preaching, literalistic, reconstructed neo-Calvinists from the soft-pedalling, sceptical, deconstructed emergents?”
I think the answer is for both sides to come to the table (not a literal table!) and recognize that: a) both have valid arguments and contributions, b) both have a common goal of loving and serving Jesus Christ, and c) neither are 100% correct or incorrect as we all see in a mirror dimly.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Josh:

You wrote:

I’d rather that we learn from one another than “agree to disagree”—which is why I invited you to offer a biblical and historical argument for the inerrancy of Scripture.”

The Biblical and historical arguments for inerrancy have already been presented on this site by others and you have discounted them. I cannot offer more evidence.

I do have a question however, I believe you have stated that the Bible is “inspired” by God. Can you define what inspiration means? Please address the inerrancy issue in your reply as I have trouble with the concept that a perfect God can “inspire” imperfection. By the way, I don’t have trouble with the idea that each author wrote from his perspective and style.

On the idea of, “bibliolatry”…I can assure you that I don’t worship the Bible.

In reading Colin Greene’s quote, it amazes me how a concept can be twisted and demonized. I never suggested that one must believe that the Bible is inerrant before “full salvation can be enjoyed” and I have never heard that espoused before. In fact, I am confident that one can be saved with very poor theology indeed as theology doesn’t save…Christ does. The quote goes on to slam the entire idea as absurd and refers to the “apparent miracle of divine dictation”. It would of course be a miracle but God is fully capable.

I agree that the best way to help people see the value of Scripture is to encourage them to indwell its story. But that belief is only true if the Scripture is meaningful and if it accurately reveals God and His work.

I will look for the book you mentioned.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Bobby: As I posted previously in this thread, the Greek word that is commonly translated “inspired by God” might be more woodenly rendered “God-spirited” or “God-breathed.” From these terms, I get the idea that God initiated the writing of Scripture—moved human authors to write the books they did. This understanding does not necessarily mean that God superintended every word in the Bible; nor does it speculate about the preservation from error of these words, from their origin until now, with countless transcriptions and translations in-between. For the Bible as we know it to be error-free, these things must have happened; and claiming that they have indeed happened seems to me to be intellectually untenable. Appeals to the inerrancy of the original autographs are largely pointless and speculative, since we have none of these writings in our possession. And even if we did, the claim that they were without error would deny the humanness of their writers (people like Paul)—humans, after all, are imperfect and make errors (Romans 3:23). A perfect God inspired imperfect people; any imperfections in the biblical texts are human errors. Like the Word incarnate (Jesus Christ), the word written is both divine (inspired by God) and human (written by people). The doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture points to the uniqueness and authority of the Bible (which together are enough to make it worthwhile reading), but not necessarily inerrancy.

Re: Literal this that and the other

Posts like this one calls into question the meaning of inerrancy. On this issue as well as others a look to meaning might be called for and not just literalness.

Re: Literal this that and the other

shiert:

I suppose different people use the word “inerrancy” different ways. In this thread, it has been used as a synonym for perfection. I believe it has also been pointed out that literalism (sometimes called biblicism) really has more to do with the interpretation of Scripture than with the inerrancy of Scripture. However, these two things do seem to go hand in hand for many people.

In their book ENCOUNTERING GOD, Andrew Purves and Charles Partee write, “Inerrancy means that the biblical text contains the direct and perfect word of God” (p. 127).

Re: Literal this that and the other

Does inerrancy really mean free from error in a literal sense?

Re: Literal this that and the other

Faux-Russell Crow…

I live three miles south of Mars Hill church and can tell you their black- shirted “security” and their dour appearance has left a sour taste in the collective mouth of Ballard’s adults. And that appearance has proved true from all I hear from those who’ve attended, or were dragged there by their young adult children. However, I remember young Mark just out of school and starting his new church in Laurelhurst, back in 1997 or so. I had the odd luck of living down the street there too. I attended about three times; it was enough. I could see Mark was full of himself and perceived he didn’t possess the gravitas to back his evident hubris - and I surmised he felt that this was evident around us older men. I wasn’t surprised to see his rise in the hip neo-evangelical community of Seattle. I think Mark has never fully felt authentic, since he’s never really lived outside that cloistered evangelical bubble. That explains his wanna-be tough guy attitude. My recommendation for young Mr. Driscoll is to take a few years off and leave that bubble and take some job in the real world, outside his professional Christian one. Then he may have develop some actual battle scars and first hand knowledge of how things really are outside the comfy evangelical terrarium that he bristles against. A few years of non-celebrity status in B-List American circles may shuck some of those personal shortcomings that proscribe his fundamentalism - and this “faux-Russell Crow” may actually grow some wings. But this is just the opinion of a tempermental Irishman who has a hansome record of his own personal failures…so I may be too harsh here. I’ll let the reader be the judge.

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