September 5, 2006

That Question

"What do you believe about the Bible?"

Anyone involved in ministry or who takes their biblical faith seriously is more than likely to hear this question. What I don't understand are those who say they take the Bible to be completely inerrant and infallible, and only believe in the Bible. What use do these words (ie, inerrant) actually serve in Christian circles? I think more than likely these are political terms, not faith or even biblical terms.

What terms would I prescribe to the Bible? Let it speak for itself...

2 Timothy 3:16-17:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
So many of the questions we try to apply to the Bible when we use words like inerrancy seem to force the literature to speak outside of it's own agenda and purpose. The concern of the Bible is how God relates to creation, and how creation relates to itself:

Jesus said,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
So, can someone have biblical faith and not believe in inerrancy or infallibility of scriptures?


rbanks said...

With out a doubt. but then at what point are we able to pick out the parts that are not infallible.

JoeBum said...

i don't believe it's about the parts of the bible that are infallible, but rather what is the purpose of the scripture?

I believe the scripture is infallible in how to relate to God and how to relate to other's, but i am willing to say our interpretations are fallible.

the bible does have to be a historical fact book, like what we have in mind when we read history books, but rather a theological history with motives, agendas, purposes, and worldviews of its own.

rbanks said...

So then we are back to only the biblical historians have the ability to interpret the bible. I mean how is the lay person supposed to know the cultural diamanics between a rabbi and their student or the rich and the poor.

JoeBum said...

the lay person should still be expected to learn and study the scripture. maybe not to the full extent as a scholar, but we cannot allow laissez fair interpretation just because of ignorance.

Most people interpret the Bible, as they've been taught in Sunday School and Bible Study. It's not the individual, but the community that interprets the scripture. Even those who think they are lone ranger interpreters are bringing some kind of theology they picked up along the way to it.

Also, we shouldn't expect people to read the Bible like a scholar, but rahter it should and can be read devotionally with aid of the Holy Spirit.

So, I guess we need to study, we need community, and we need the Holy Spirit.

JoeBum said...

Something that just came to mind...

inerrancy and infallibility arose from movements to place one single, absolute meaning on the text.
this is a pretty modern notion, i mean inerrant scripture didn't arise until the westminster confession in the 17th (?) century.

My point is, is that in Jesus day and our own we can allow for communities to find to the meaning of the text. I know this sounds scary, but it is also spiritual and contains faith.

rbanks said...

so then way have quiet times of reading your bible alone become the way to learn about God. I don't mean to down play the Holy Spirit but if those who are teaching in churches are isolating themselves when they study they are not interpreting in community.

I know that you didn't come up with queit times and isolated studying.

Sometimes i feel like i should just walk the 50 feet to your apartment and actually talk to you in person. But then no one else could join in.

JoeBum said...

"isolating themselves when they study they are not interpreting in community."

so you disagree with the paradigm of pastors studying alone to prepare for sunday to preach, as i understand what you are saying.

i disagree, though, that they are not studying in community. the idea of study in community can take on many forms, and just b/c a pastor is not sitting down with people (which some churches do that) does not mean he is working alone.

A responsinle pastor has to know his cultural context, people, theology, history, and scripture.

the pastor is supposed to know the needs of the community by spending time with them.

he is also supposed to be connected to community through studying church history and the works of scholars involved in studying the scripture.

the church community cannot be expected to dive nearly as deeply into study as the pastor or chosen community teacher, or whatever else you want to call it.

i think, maybe, you are taking your experience of quiet times and displacing them over pastors and their study times, which is not reasonable or equivocal.

come over any time, not real sure any one else is involved:(