Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why Inerrancy Matters . . . or Doesn't

If you have not been so privileged to enter this dialogue, there is much discussion amongst some of my friends regarding the Bible being without error (“inerrancy”). In particular, see Goz and Brett and the comments on each site.

[For the record, both of these guys are: (1) pretty smart! (2) committed so fully to the health and life of all people that it rivals comprehension (3) good friends of mine, men for whom I would fight and die for, men whom I am unashamed to say that I love, men I have fought with against that which kills (4) both of them love God dearly. I can also write the same of Jason Fischer and perhaps some others in the mix]

I should like to propose an idea and then some questions. I am putting words into others’ mouths, which is wholly unfair. Please correct any and all of my misunderstandings.

Idea: we are NOT talking about the same thing in essence. One side of the discussion is about the importance of inerrancy. The other is about the practical ramifications of maintaining inerrancy, given the current situation of the Church in the western world. For myself, I still hold to full, 100% (“verbal, plenary”) inerrancy. My issue is that this theology has become toxic. The line between passion and belief is SUPPOSED to be blurry, I would contend. When belief is no longer married to passion, there is an extreme danger that the belief will become a reality by itself. Belief without corresponding life-expression is a worthless belief (in my opinion). This has been brought to light most recently by the post-modern philosophers of Europe (mainly in the 80’s). What I contend has happened, is that Christians have come to the following state: believing in inerrancy is essential, living the ramifications of this belief is a good idea but not necessary. Further, living the ramifications does not erode the belief nor its importance.

Issue #1, then: the doctrine has devolved into a belief that (quite accidental to the doctrine) precludes the believer from living according to the Bible.

Issue #2: post-modern critique of this doctrine. There are a multitude of theologies that claim to hold inerrancy but hold to MANY, fully different beliefs. So the question eventually gets posed, What good is Biblical inerrancy if one’s theology is NOT inerrant? I have a friend who is sincerely asking this. I appeal to those reading this to help me. Sincerely. What would you say to someone who says, “Ok, say the Bible’s 100% true. That doesn’t help me know what it says or what I am to do since my/your interpretation is up for debate.” How many times have you and I disagreed with God-loving men and women?!?

1 comment:

BAB said...

What I am fiddeling around with is that I believe the Scriptures are to be embraced and obeyed because they are Jesus' Scriptures not because they are perfect. However, I do believe their historicity is important, otherwise, we can make up God, Jesus, and Christianity in our own image. The funny thing is that holding to inerrancy is almost completely irrelevant in that regard because inerrantists make up God, Jesus, and Christianity in their own image all the time.

I think that the Scriptures need to be wrestled with together. The emergent buzzword "conversation," which will eventually start to get annoying and be changed because that is what we do, is a good description of how we need to read them. We need to be in conversation with our past and present brothers and sisters.

I think it is OK for there to be variety within the church. There was in the earliest church. Part of our task, and the purpose of the creeds, is to determine what our core convictions are (i.e. the stuff that make us Christians).