I recently read a comment on a forum which stated that faith in Christ is dependent on faith in the Bible. Now, this person is an irrerantist; they believe the earth is only 6000 years old, that Noah built an ark and that Jonah really did get swallowed by a whale. The fact they believe these events actually happened is not the problem, what is the problem is the equating of faith in Christ with believing the Bible is inerrant; going as far to say salvation is dependent on taking the inerrantist view. I posted the below a while ago but these comments have prompted me to re-post it. Hope you enjoy reading it.
Timothy L Price is the author The Diluted Church: Calling People to Live out of Their True Heritage. His desire is to stir thought and to re-channel the efforts of the Church into being the type of people who come alongside the people of society that are stumbling, weak, destroyed and lonely as a result of living out the culture of sin in this world. His involvements have taken him to Mexico, overseas with his family to Romania, to Gay Lesbian Pride Marches, to immigrants needing language skills and under the hoods people’s car all to meet needs and minister through lifestyle evangelism . Recently he has been commenting on the topic of biblical inerrancy on forums which is how I’ve come to know him and he has given permission for me to post a statement from him that he put on one such site.
The inerrancy folks think, that if we don’t believe in the inerrancy of scripture, we are at the same time saying it’s untrustworthy. This is an epic jump in simple logic on one hand and pejorative and unkind assumption on the other.
I hold the scriptures high, but God even higher. My relationship with God does not depend on the Book, nor is it extra-biblical: what they derisively refer to as “special revelation.” God is personal to my life, but is not my “buddy.” God shows me things; convicts, guides, warns, exhorts, confronts and comforts. God uses the scripture to do some of this, and He uses other people, my conscience and situations to speak into my life: confirmation and direction. If that is less than what the Bible directs, SHOW US!
The inerrancy folks are into “right.” What’s the “right” belief, what’s the “right” principle, and what’s the “right” answer. This is not to say I am into sloppy agape and anything meaning whatever he wants it to mean and especially something other than what it used to. You’ve seen people use a broad-brush word like “Emergents,” generalizing a certain group in a mean, disparaging way. This is the “rightness” attitude shining through in the total ugliness, which God condemns.
Another aspect of inerrancy is a lifeless apologetic. Apologetics is a way of removing philosophical obstacles to people coming into a following relationship with God. But there is also faux apologetics that justify a static belief or “the right to believe” or even to make belief justifiable; even to people who have no intention of following God (something you never can find Christ or Paul doing). “The church” is heavily invested in belonging to and appearing to be acceptable to the host culture of a non-believing world around it… And things like the constant drivel about inerrancy are evidence of this.
We have to ask a few questions here.
1. If one is walking in relationship to God themselves, why is it important that they whip up everyone around them about an abstract belief that does not make them closer to God?
2. Why do the inerrancy folks demand on proving something which cannot be proven when cultists do the EXACT same thing to try and justify their beliefs?
How inerrancy cannot be proven and why it does not matter:
We don’t have the original documents, only ones dated back to around 250A.D,which are copies of copies of copies of copies. The documents we do have available have many discrepancies, and we aren’t just talking a jot or tittle. There are entire verses and passages missing between manuscripts “in the original language” that is allegedly inerrant… There have been provable suppressions of certain texts between generations of copies; again “in the original language” that is allegedly inerrant.
Few people today can read the language in copies of the original manuscript we have. Why is it then SO important that these be merely thought of as “inerrant?” Or worse yet, why is it important to believe that the REAL originals that we don’t have are supposedly “inerrant?” And besides, IF they have to be translated into a language we can read, who’s to say that the translation is correct, unbiased and not influenced by ideas and motives foreign to God’s direct will for a text to say nothing of the entire Book?
Why it doesn’t matter if any aspect of the bible is “inerrant”
1. What God wanted to show us is inspired and states as much.
2. God is NOT dead, nor muzzled, and He gave His Holy Spirit to bring to mind and teach us all the things of Christ.
3. If God kept the early church on the straight and narrow, all with high illiteracy (they could not read), with the lack of personal copies of the manuscripts (they did not have access) and with perversion of Christ’s/Paul’s teachings even within the 1st Century, then He is able to keep, guide and bless each person in His way EVEN WITHOUT THE BIBLE!
Am I saying there is more than one way to God? ABSOLUTELY NOT! What I am saying is that God is still active in His universe. God is still sovereign and drawing people to Himself. God is still infinite and what is written in a finite book was ONLY EVER purposed to bring us unto Him. And much the same as the serpent on a pole in the Old Testament, which was to bring the people of Israel back to a focus on God, the bible has become an item of worship in what calls itself the New Testament “church.” IT is God to these inerrancy people.
What we should say about the Bible is that it is sufficient to admonish, to guide and to confirm truth that should bring us to Christ and serve as a point of reference. But without the Holy Spirit to interpret (and not theology), what God was once inspired is relegated mere words on a page. And words like these, used in the mouth of merely religious people; kills, destroys, divides and shuts down what God intended. If he could describe what “church” has become in many ways, it also has become a channel of killing people (spiritually), dividing the body of Christ, destroying God’s purposes corporately and in people’s lives; ultimately shutting down what God intended… If you can’t see this to be axiomatically true, then you’re either drinking their Kool Aid or you are blind.
Inerrancy beliefs are to me a lack of trust in God and a trust of what He might do with people. It is also an easy default to put parrot and autopilot on and mentally assent to, while we do what we want and while we have NO relationship to God. Jesus was markedly different than the religionists of the Pharisees around Him. Most of today’s church crowd, lack that contrast and are more akin to the Pharisees than they could be construed or mistaken as following Christ. Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” How much more of an indictment do we need than that one? One Chinese believer came to America in the 1950s to observe “church” in this country. His parting comment was, “it is amazing what you Christians can do without God.” Wow! What would the same fellow say of today’s what calls itself church?
The people we think of as being protected and built up by what is called church are in grave danger, not from the outside, but from within. The notion of inerrancy is just one piece of the evidence of this… Christ NEVER required that we “believe” this belief in order to walk with Him. Beware of anyone else who does. While these folks claim that the bible is perfect in the original language, many of them at many junctures depart from it to do what they call “church.” Their love for one-another or others in their beliefs in a belief is not evident. What can be seen is, “you-have-to-conform-to-our-static-beliefs-in-a-belief, (otherwise we will subject you to derision and nastiness, coming from these people) is the unspoken way they act upon to treat others. Where is their Christlikeness?
The exasperation voiced in the above is felt by many including me and it’s very hard to find somewhere to go to discuss these issues openly. Websites like Beyond The Box are places where any question can be asked, no topic is off-limits, and they just “think out loud” about life outside the bounds of institutional religion . The topic of biblical inerrancy is not going to away, there are some very difficult questions that come out of it and important issues like “Have we committed idolatry by trying to make the bible the 4th member of the Trinity?” I think a lot of work needs to be done to change how the debate is conducted first before we can start actually having it but we need to be honest about where we are. You can read more on Timothy’s views on inerrancy at http://kingdomcitizenship.org/wp/2011/05/the-problem-of-thinking-scripture-as-inerrant/.
First published 25th February 2013