Sunday, March 14, 2010

Biblical Inerrancy: From the Bible, or the Enlightenment?

Aaron Rathburn has an interesting post (dated March 14, 2009) on biblical inerrancy and it's connection to the Enlightenment. Here's a quote from that post:
What if a supremely powerful God wanted to reveal himself with a text? Can we give him the freedom to do it how he wants, and not have to bend to our expectations? I mean, he’s the god, not us—right?

If you are expecting the Bible to be a a propositional-style manual of ethics, then it is wildly and completely errant. But similarly, if you are expecting a science textbook, it is wildly errant. If you are expecting it to be a 21st-century history book, it is wildly errant. But is God capable of using human mistakes for his divine purposes? I would say absolutely.

The Bible is perfect, but it is perfect for God’s will and purposes, according to his standards and expectations—not our preconceived notions of how it “should” be. I can’t help but hear the echo of Paul—who are you, oh man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “why have you made our Bible like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay? (Rom 9)

The Bible is not the 4th-member of the Trinity, and the Bible didn’t climb up on the cross and die for our sins. But it is his text that he has used to reveal himself to us—and we should take it very, very seriously, as the fully inspired, fully divine, authoritative and infallible word of God.


I agree with Aaron that the scriptures are very important but only as they point to Christ. However, I'm more partial to ScottL's comment on Aaron's post:
Unfortunately, I feel that, due to the influence of the Enlightenment, scholars and most Christians alike have now tried to push onto the Bible a 20th/21st century idea of accuracy and inerrancy. ‘Inerrancy’ seems to be a word that has only come about in the last 100+ years.

Therefore, coming to the Gospels, we see contradictory passages where there were either one (Matt 28:2) or two (John 20:12) angels at the tomb of Jesus’ resurrection. Some (more liberal) see this and claim the Bible as ‘inaccurate’. Some (more conservative) see this and therefore think of all sorts of explanations so the Scripture can maintain its status of inerrancy. But I can’t see this being a problem in the days that the Scripture was being recorded. But for us westerners who love our empirically based ‘inerrant’ evidence, it becomes a problem.

The Scripture was first and foremost recorded as the story of God’s redemptive acts, summed up in Jesus Christ. To that, I believe it is completely faithful and that God has communicated faithfully through these human authors, though there might be a handful of places which seem contradictory from the perspective of our day and age, but were of no consequence in the day when the Scripture was being recorded.

I’m glad the Scripture authors weren’t dictated to as their eyes rolled back in their sockets and they foamed at their mouths. I am so glad God delights in the personality, historical and cultural context of those to whom and through whom He communicates.


Both are excellent quotes all the same.

1 comment:

prodigalthought said...

I just saw this article and the quote of my comment. Thanks.