Assuming the truthfulness of Scripture

Some parts are too hot, some too cold, but loving your's just right.

In the last couple years I have read many articles, books, and blog posts that speak about Scripture as not only not inerrant/infallible, but in some sense not even truthful or trustworthy. These are not from your usual skeptic, but rather from people who claim to be Christians. For many of us it was one thing to have an atheist criticize Scripture, but a sibling in Christ? Now that is difficult.

I have no intention of trying to go into combat with such folk. Even if I was right, they are so excited about their view points and their outlined arguments that it would be a waste of time. What I want to say here is simple: If Scripture is not trustworthy where it bothers you then why assume it is trustworthy where it does not?

If YHWH God seems angry and vindictive, they assume that Scripture is wrong. If there are passages that use language that makes us feel a bit of uneasy in our modern, scientific world-view, they assume Scripture is wrong. If there are passages that present eschatological statements that seem confusing and/or cryptic, they assume Scripture is wrong. If we read passages where Jesus is seen as cosmic judge, they assume Scripture is wrong.

If Jesus says love your neighbor, Scripture is obviously right then. If it condemns those who do not take care of the orphan and the widow, then the ethics of Scripture make sense as do threats of judgment. If it says God is love, well, we like that so it must be right.

I am not going to deny that some parts of Scripture bother my modern sensibilities. Do I feel tension as I wrestle with God destroying Sodom and Gommorah in the Book of Genesis, or commanding what may seem to be genocide in the Book of Joshua, or language that is very confusing about the Parousia in the Gospel of Matthew or the Apostle Paul’s language about women or slaves in some of his epistles? Yes, I do.

But one thing I cannot justify that I see many of my peers doing in academia is a picking and a choosing of what part of the canon says what they think it should say about God and what parts they discard. I know the accusation that comes in a response: I do the same thing when I seek to interpret Scripture in a way that allows me to go to bed at night assuming its truthfulness. Maybe, but here is the difference.

I start from the presupposition that the Triune God speaks; that this God is sovereign; that this God will reveal Himself to whom He will reveal Himself; and that while He allowed His story to be told in human voices He secured the forming and canonization of Scripture in such a way that as a holistic, founding document for His people we can assume that (1) we are not being mislead by Scripture and (2) that it is OK to come to passages of Scripture that confront us while maintaining the assumption that God has not led us astray and that it is OK to suspend judgment on a text while waiting for more information.

So was there a literal Adam and Eve? Scripture seems to say so. Did Adam live multiple centuries? Scripture seems to say so. Did Noah build an ark, put animals on it, and survive a seemingly global flood? Scripture seems to say so. Did Jesus resurrect from the dead and ascend into heaven? Scripture seems to say so. Of course, we must be careful to avoid reading Scripture as saying what we think it says as we also must be careful disregarding Scripture where it seems hard to swallow.

So yes, these passages are easily explained with the simple statement “Scripture is wrong.” Fine, but I don’t see any justification for someone going from this premise toward a “Christianity” that they reconstruct out of pieces that they really like. If it helps you maintain faith in Christ, so be it. But overall you’re as willing as I am to blindly trust that God has preserved his truth in Scripture, you just pick and choose which parts.

75 thoughts on “Assuming the truthfulness of Scripture

  1. Bravo, Brian! Well said.

    As you say, “If Scripture is not trustworthy where it bothers you then why assume it is trustworthy where it does not?” To put it another way, why bother even reading Scripture if that’s the way you feel? Since you’re only going to accept it when it agrees with you and reject it when it doesn’t, then reading it is never going to change you.

  2. “But overall you’re as willing as I am to blindly trust that God has preserved his truth in Scripture, you just pick and choose which parts. ”

    BURN!! That’s what I’m talking about ;-)

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  4. @Mike: It is my presupposition that “hard passages” are worth engaging as much as those passages that bring us comfort. We can never be challenged to do a true “theology” if we only hear the parts of the canon that we have pre-approved. In some sense that makes it merely an “anthropology”!

    @Matthew: Ha! I wasn’t trying to be too forceful. :)

    @Jason: Thanks!

  5. Brian,

    I think you’re being unfair here.

    First, you don’t name any actual persons you believe are doing this so I can’t really gauge whether or not your characterization of their perspective is fair or not.

    Second, you state that these people ‘claim to be Christians’ strongly implying that they are acting in bad faith, something which you cannot possibly know.

    Third, you claim that they are unable to dialogue due to their emotional investment in their ideas. I don’t know who these people are so I can’t judge whether or not this is true. I also don’t know how you could know this about them or how you would have access to their interior life and emotional state.

    Why would someone of a differing view want to engage your questions after you have accused them of acting in bad faith and of being so unreasonable as to not be worth your time? Accusations based on the writings of persons who you do not name.

  6. @Dan: Thank you for your input.

    For one, I think it would be unfair to name names. In the blogosphere this is dangerous to do, because unlike published books, we bloggers toss out ideas and perspectives for public feedback at a much quicker rate. We may change our mind over time.

    I have done this and then had others dedicate whole post to what I said. Usually I am just thinking aloud and I change my mind. It is more the “approach” that concerns me than any particular person. So don’t worry about the people. If I would have named names that would have been a characterization.

    Second, I think you read more into what I said about “claiming to be Christians”. I didn’t denounce their Christianity. I needed some way to juxtapose these types with those who are not Christians that attack the truthfulness of Scripture. Maybe there is a better way to say, but I think my main point is clear enough, especially since my last paragraph emphasizes that I am more concerned that they maintain faith in Christ than I am that they agree with my on the nature of Scripture (i.e. Faith in Christ is a salvific matter; one’s bibliology is not).

    As regards the third point, this has been my experience. I have been run over on other blogs by people really, really invested in showing that Scripture is merely human and that the Christian faith must move forward knowing that we don’t really have a God-breathed book. To say “Person A”, “Person B”, “Person C”, I am calling you out. Come to my blog to debate! That would be inviting excessive bicker.

    It is not hard to find blogs that take this position so I don’t think it would be hard for you to find them if you want to read from a first hand writer.

    So to answer your last paragraph: I am not inviting any particular person to come here to debate. To name names is to assume (1) they still maintain that view and (2) the person is more concerning than the issue. They have their own blogs and their own readership. They aren’t craving a stage on my blog.

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  9. @Luke: Thanks!

    @T.C.: I agree. One point of interest as I have thought about the Book of Isaiah is that so many Christians have affirmed the scholarly criticisms that the prophet could not possibly have foreseen Assyria’s fall, Babylon’s fall, and especially the rise of someone named “Cyrus”. Deutro and even Trito Isaiah are common assumption for many Christians.

    Well, if we cannot see Scripture being accurate here on what grounds do we affirm its vision of the new heaven and new earth, YHWH’s return to Zion, and so forth? But if God is God then it is altogether possible that Isaiah did foresee not only Cyrus but even God’s eschatological victory.

    But this is a theological assumption, plain and simple.

  10. Brian,

    Thanks for your clarification on this. I hadn’t really considered the nature of the format and understand and appreciate you’re reluctance to open up a wider debate.

    “What I want to say here is simple: If Scripture is not trustworthy where it bothers you then why assume it is trustworthy where it does not?”

    I think in order to answer this question we have to look at how one views revelation. Does God speak to use through scripture alone? Does he speak through out experience, does he speak to us through conscience, does he speak to us through prayer? What happens when the word God speaks to us through experience runs counter to our reading of scripture?

    I think there are a couple of possibilities:

    1) Our experience could be untrustworthy and scripture could be trustworthy.
    2) Our experience could be trustworthy but our reading of it incorrect and scripture could be trustworthy
    3) Our experience could be trustworthy and our reading of scripture incorrect.
    4) Our experience could be trustworthy and scripture could be untrustworthy.

    I’ve come to all four conclusions regarding different experiences and situations.

    A good example of a conclusion where I believe our experience is trustworthy and scripture untrustworthy would be Lev. 15:19-30. I don’t believe menstruating women are, or have even been, unclean in the eyes of God. That their menstruation requires a special offer of atonement.

  11. @Dan: In a canonical context it doesn’t appear that God thinks that menstruating women are inherently unclean in His eyes either. What we do have is God interacting with Israel in an ancient context and at times the reason for various Laws is confusing. There may be many aspects of God’s Law that we will never understand.

    Of course, through the canonical lens (and the idea of progressive revelation) we know that the Law was temporal for the purpose of revealing sin and guiding the nation of Israel until Messiah. How each Law functioned in that regard is sometimes beyond us, but I don’t equate that with being untrustworthy.

  12. @Brian,

    Really good! I actually think this gets back to a distinction you’ve highlighted before. We can approach Scripture ministerially or magesterially; i.e. we can be “under” Scripture or “over” Scripture — in principle and attitudinally.

    To use modern canons of ethical sensibilities on Scripture is simply to think magesterially about the Text. This is not “critical” as some want to portray it. Further, I think we need to look at how Jesus Himself thinks of the OT; he often uses passages and says that “God says” w/o qualifying it by “Scripture says” — so they are one in the same. Jesus believed in Mosaic authorship (or at least He didn’t see fit to correct the “Tradition” of calling the first five books the Law of Moses or Book of Moses). I totally reject the deutero-Isaiah distinction (and as I recall so does the Gospel of John and Jesus); again, this is a result of modern sensibility, and an inability to accept Prophetic (foretelling) utterance as a reality for Scripture (when in fact this serves as one of the principles for “canonicity”).

    I know exactly the kinds of folks you’re referring to on this — this is no caricature — I could name numerous people (people I know and even respect at levels) who view Scripture the way your speaking about in this post (they’re all over, and plenty of them are my “Barthian” friends).

    Anyway, I’ve always held that simply quirky anecdotal idea that is often communicated from “Evangelical” pulpits that: “if you can accept the first verse of the Bible, then everything else is no problem” (i.e. in regards to the miraculous etc.). I say, Brian, stand firm on this!

    Oh and there is a good book on this, that does an exhaustive study on how Jesus thought of Scripture; it’s called: Christ & The Bible by John W. Wenham (it’s older, but good still).

  13. Brian,

    The text is pretty clear here. The Lord tells Moses that menstruating women are unclean. Why would he do so and why would he proscribe rites for their purification if they were not, in his eyes, unclean? And if the law’s function is to reveal sin, doesn’t this law reveal menstruation to be a sin?

    Does the life, death, and resurrection of the Christ redeem us from the judgment of the law, from sin and death? Yes. I just do not believe menstruation to be one of the sins. I’m not sure how one could hold to a position like yours regarding the trustworthiness of scripture without believing the opposite. I’d be interested in an alternative reading.

  14. Dan H.,

    I don’t understand, on your logic, why you’re stopping with menstruating women? Like Romans says, Christ is the “end” or “telos” of the Law. There was all kinds of “code” embedded in the Mosaic Covenant, there was paradigmatic and casuistic Law (the one you’re referring to being the latter); and it is all in the context of a true Theocracy and God’s sanctification of His people from the Nations — pointing away from themselves to Yahweh. This is why some sort of discontinuity between Israel and the Church is called for. I can see your problem if you’re thinking through theonomist or reconstructionist lenses, but not if you’re thinking through how Jesus fulfills and thus “ends” the Law (with disjunctive force).

  15. I think T.C. nailed it. The way we approach scripture is only a surface issue, a symptom of the way we view God.

    I think a real angst and honesty is appropriate, as seen in the Psalms and in Job, when dealing with both scripture and with life in a broken world, instead of a dismissive attitude towards that which doesn’t coincide with your Imaginary Jesus, and what you decide he would say or do.

  16. @Bobby: It does seem funny to me that modern scholarship (even some forms of evangelical scholarship) “understand” the truthfulness of Scripture better than Jesus and/or Paul. Evangelical theologians must show more caution when making statements about Jesus being culturally conditioned or Paul only speaking of Adam because he didn’t know better. This removes God from the speaking process and it makes us to sole determiner of what part of the canon is truthful.

    @Dan: Along with Bobby I find your question somewhat confusing. The Law says we shouldn’t mix two materials in our clothing and we shouldn’t work on the Sabbath. To disobey under the Law would be sin because it was not “of faith” (as Paul would say) and not obedient to God’s sovereign commands for the nation of Israel at that place in history.

    Does this require that what is commanded under the Law be part of the moral nature of God and therefore a sin for all times and all places? No. Sexual immorality is wrong under the Law, but it is also reiterated by Christ and his apostles as part of the moral ethic of the Kingdom. The Sabbath is not. Neither are rules about menstruation.

    @Luke: Agreed, and even in Job and lamenting Psalms God is speaking about our condition and our response to him in nuanced, yet truthful ways.

  17. @Brian,

    I totally agree with you! And I am encouraged by your perspective; it’s something that I have been committed to for a long time — in spite of the “scholarship.” One of the reasons biblical studies turned me off, was the idea that I had to wade through all of this “higher critical” stuff just to study and enjoy the Bible (“critically”); this is one of the reasons I’ve gone more of the “theology” route. But, at the same time, I don’t think either are should be mutually exclusive from each other; they need each other as disciplines.

  18. Bobby and Brian,

    I appreciate the clarification (One of the things I really like about this blog is learning more of the Protestant perspective!). The firm distinction between paradigmatic and casuistic Law is something that is unique to Protestantism. Historically the church has a more nuanced reading. Even today among the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox women are advised to refrain from taking communion while menstruating in accordance with the Levitical Laws.

    But I’d like to get back to the original question of revelation. What do we do when what God has revealed to us in his creation (Think evolution and polygenesis), in our conscience (Think many Christians views on slavery, homosexuality, and the role of women), in the tradition of the church, and though our own reason (The questions raised by historical-critical scholarship), contradicts what he has revealed to us in scripture?

  19. @ Brian

    Exactly. Those examples of wrestling with God about General Revelation, as in life experiences, or the condition of the world, should influence the way we wrestle with God about Special Revelation, as in what he has revealed about himself through his Word.

    If we believe that God reveals himself in both ways, we shouldn’t give more credit to one just because we are forced to by way of experience.

  20. Dan H.,

    Are you Eastern Orthodox?

    As far as your question; personally, I reject neo-Darwinian evolution as a viable option. In the end, though, I give deference to the canonical Text vs. the various and disparate readings that have popped up all throughout Church history. And I also think we need to be “critical” about the premises and suppositions upon which “higher critical” methodology is based (like enlightenment rationalism). When you take the time to study some of their methodology (like double attestation etc.) it quickly becomes clear how ad hoc and even circular their conclusions about the Text are.

    I think the points you highlight on homosexuality, slavery etc are all important points to be dealt with; but again, for me, deference goes to the canonical Text, even “over” the Tradition (which is where the Protestant sola scriptura comes in even over against prima scriptura and Verbum Dei).

    I am rather “conservative,” as is probably obvious by now. Clearly predisposition plays a role in how we approach things (epistemology etc.). But I think as a rule, for Protestants, our approach is one, again, that approaches scripture ministerially (or “under” it as if we’re “under” God’s Word itself ;-) ).

  21. Bobby,

    I have many Orthodox friends but alas, I’m merely a bad Catholic ;)

    There certainly are very disparate readings throughout the history of the Church and both Catholics and Orthodox have a tendency to minimize the diversity there. I’m very sympathetic to higher criticism but find that often times critics themselves can become too speculative.

    Your theology of revelation is heavily rooted in historic Protestantism and I appreciate the perspective (It certainly makes for great exigetes!). I’m a little more eclectic myself (A card carrying Rahnerian on this point!).

    I’d guess that Brian would fall somewhere between us but I’m not sure if that position can hold. In the end I think you have to be centered on either the scriptures or make a more anthropological turn. To T.R.C.’s earlier point I think a lot of this is tied up in just how transcendent or imminent one views God himself as being.

  22. @Dan: When we are confronted with these apparent contradictions between Scripture and the world around us we need to realize there is not a uniform answer (in my opinion) to what this means. I think there are many times when human “reason” and “conscience” is misguided and when data is skewed due to humanity’s anti-god religious motives. At other times we may have been reading Scripture wrongly. We may have been saying Scripture says this or that when it does not say any such thing. We may read it unilaterally which leads us to misunderstand how God speaks through various “genres”.

    So let us take evolution. It may be that there is some truth to it but that people with particular agendas are apt to interpret certain data to say something that leaves no room for God (I am not opposed to ID and other approaches; neither do I write much on this subject due to my lack of qualification). It may be that it is true and that we need to reconsider how God is speaking through passages (e.g. Peter Enn’s work with Biologos, which I don’t find convincing, but it is an example of someone trying to reconcile Scripture’s truthfulness with the modern scientific claims). Or it may be that we need to hold firm to our interpretation of Scripture while maintaining a skeptical position toward the world’s wisdom (the approach Bobby has taken above).

    The implication of these various approaches lead to intense debate amongst Christians, but the alternative, to suggest Scripture is flat our incorrect, well, where does that leave us? It leaves us with a religion that has a deistic god. It gives no way to test truthfulness and falsehood except our own relativistic speculation at our stage in history. If we deny God speaks through Scripture I see no reason to assume God did anything in this world that we can believe with any sense of confidence (even the Christ of the church is the one whom Scripture witnesses toward…not what the hundreds of historians have reconstructed).

    I can handle someone saying Genesis 1-11 is poetic; Job is a drama; Jonah is a parable, yet God spoke through these means. I don’t agree, but at least we can begin theological dialog there. But to say Genesis 1-11 is false, Job is false, Jonah is false, and so forth and so on, leaves us with no place to begin discussing Christian doctrine.

  23. @Dan and @Bobby: I don’t know if I fall in the middle between the two of you. I’d say I am closer to Bobby as far as our understanding of Scripture goes. I don’t think Bobby has any trouble with the acknowledgment that we may have misinterpreted certain passages in the past or in the present and that we need to not equate our hearing of the text with the text itself. That said, we both see Christ as God’s definitive Word and the Scriptures as the inerrant/infallible testimony to Christ.

  24. Amen, to your most recent comment, Brian!

    When I said I was “conservative,” I only meant that in a relative sense (relative, “apparently” to Dan’s approach). I have a feeling, Brian, that you and I are very very close on bibliology and even bib interpretation. The more I ingest Vanhoozer’s “Drama” the more I feel that I’ve found a brother who I deeply resonate with. He follows Barth’s “theory of Revelation” (like on Witness per Scripture), but parses it; and self-consciously works constructively with Barth in a way that gives more “Evangelical” place for Scripture that I find very laudable!

    But yes, per the “wisdom of the world,” I will follow what has been called the “analogy of faith” (by Barth vs. Luther’s original usage) any time! That is that I believe in “Christian exegesis.” That is not to say that I don’t think non-Christian bib scholars can’t have some insight (per the rules of grammar, Literary analysis etc) into the Text; but that the premises they start from will never lead them to the One that alone gives the “living water.”

    Wait a minute, Brian . . . did you just say inerrant? ;-) Oh yeah, you are a student member of the ETS; I almost forgot ;-) :-) .

  25. @Dan H.,

    And thanks for clarifying your ecclesial affiliation; it’s all starting to make sense now ;-) .

  26. I’m not sure how familiar you all are with the Cultural Encounters journal from Multnomah, but I’ve just been reading from volume6, number1, and the articles from John Franke, Al Baylis, and Brad Harper are pretty interesting and speak to these issues of how we read the Bible, the Spirit’s role in that, balance between different hermeneutics, etc.

  27. Brian, after your stellar previous post, I must say, despite the many accolades scattered throughout the comments, this post disappoints. I agree with Dan that without naming names you’re inherently building a straw man that makes any further constructive dialogue almost impossible. If you hesitate to mention bloggers, why not published authors? Their works are intended to be “named” and interacted with. Do you have someone specific in mind, or just a general argument of your own making? This matters greatly because of the very straw man you create: a Christian who not only denies inerrancy but also its trustworthiness (in what sense?) and who picks and chooses the parts of the Bible to trust and which parts are wrong (in what sense?) and who doesn’t “start from the presupposition that…” (too long to quote). This is frustrating because you’re reacting to an anonymous, multi-layered, vague “approach,” which ultimately leaves me with no place to go.

    But like you say in your response to Dan, usually you’re just thinking aloud. That’s fine, but I do think the topic is very important and so deserves a more nuanced discussion, especially when offering a critique.

  28. @Tom: Again, if we name names here we will inevitably move from the subject itself to personal debates. If I am to suggest published authors then we can begin with almost any place in modern biblical studies and that list will be endless. Since I am speaking broadly (something you assert to be a “straw man”) it makes no sense to provide an overly detailed list naming author after author after author. I understand both Dan and you would prefer a concrete naming of someone in particular, but that is not what this post is aimed at discussing.

    The concern here is why trust any of it which is not something I have been able to rationalize outside of the assumption that God has been involved in the formation of the biblical canon giving it his meaning as human authors have contributed to in various voices to a canonical choir that produces a coherent song.

    If most of the post is distracting we can simplify it a bit and you can answer on your own terms: Why should I accept the portions of Scripture that talk about God as a God of love, mercy, and grace; parables like the prodigal son; and so forth and so on if I reject those passages that make him out to be wrathful, angry, a cosmic judge? On what grounds can I say God has spoken to humanity in the biblical text here but surely not there?

  29. Not that you need my “help,” Brian; but I would like to re-affirm the sentiment that you are driving at in this post. I am not sure why either Dan H. or Tom would make this assertion that you are arguing against a straw-man; when in fact you are only arguing against (or underscoring your dislike for) a concept (that Tom himself knows about — just visit his blog and see his most recent post) that many many people espouse. So your man isn’t “straw,” he’s just unstated (this is a common mode of discourse which in logic is called enthymemic).

    You never come to the conclusions that someone like Thom Stark has (and I am being presumptuous) w/o accepting certain epistemological premises down the line from the issue under discussion here. The issue isn’t the Bible, but as TCR said earlier, how God is conceived; and how one understands God’s self-Revelation.

  30. Most modern biblical scholars I read who deny inerrancy wouldn’t describe themselves like you have. They don’t even frame the conversation this way, which is why it was difficult for me to engage or even make sense of your post. It’s not about analyzing this bit of Scripture against that bit of Scripture to see which part is trustworthy—whatever that means (see below)—and then construct an image of God according to their modern sensibilities. Maybe we’re reading different folks, which is part of the reason I think it’s still important to refer to others as illustrative of what one’s talking about. The scholars I read say that God has spoken in the whole of the biblical text, and they take that very seriously without signing ETS’ doctrinal statement.

    And I’m not even sure I know what you mean by the way you use the phrase “trust Scripture” (which again makes it difficult to enter the conversation because there’s no reference point). Does the person who affirms that Adam was a historical person trust Scripture more than the person who doesn’t? Does the person who affirms a literal global flood trust Scripture more than the person who doesn’t?

  31. @Tom: I have not said that inerrancy is the only approach that can take Scripture seriously. I think that someone can affirm something like infallibility (that Scripture never, ever misleads us regarding God and his work of salvation, even if things like a literal Adam or a mistaken historical detail prevent it from being inerrant). But if we are to take someone like Stark–whom Bobby mentioned and who I see has written a book saying something that perfectly depicts my concern–who flat out sees Scripture as misrepresenting God and being full of errors (not just of the “did Luke make a mistake about Quirinius as ‘governor’ of Syria” types, but that it may actually mislead us regarding the character of God), then I am forced to wonder where is the justification for seeing the Christian God as a good, real, living God anywhere in Scripture?

    (Now I will add that I would never have mentioned Stark if Bobby had not because he is the last person I want to interact with on this subject. It was downright degrading trying to discuss this subject on James McGrath’s blog with him and I find it unfruitful because despite his intelligence, and his qualification to represent the opposing position, his goal is blood and that is not productive in my opinion.)

    Also, I will note that above in my interaction with Dan I think I was pretty plain that one doesn’t have to affirm a literal Adam, per se, or a global flood, per se. If they can give reasons for Scripture’s truthfulness that explains how God still speaks through these narratives, and how it does not misrepresent God, then the issue is not our view of Scripture, but our interpretation of various passages.

    For instance, let’s take Jonah. I believe it happened and it represents God correctly. Someone may see it as inspired parable, but not historical (the Book of Jonah does not claim or deny being historical, it just gives a narrative). We do not disagree on our approach to Scripture but rather or interpretation.

    If a third person comes and says not only is Jonah not historical, but it is flat out wrong, and simply mythology, then we are now worlds apart.

  32. I only mentioned Stark because I saw that Tom is highlighting Stark’s book over at his blog. I know of Stark (because of Halden’s blog, I think), I wouldn’t pretend to say that I know where he’s coming from (in detail) but the title to his book and sub-title are pretty clear. The only way I could conceive of someone trying to have a “mature” conversation about the Bible and asserting that it is a purely human endeavor — and still remain “Christian” in any meaningful sense — is to assume a “Barthian” view of Revelation and run with it in constructive ways that are fitted to contemporary fields of “higher critical” knowledge about the Bible and its composition etc. Which is what I would imagine Stark must do. But alas, I don’t think this is an either/or (e.g. following a Barthian “tensed” theory of Revelation and also holding to a view of Revelation that includes the written Word, which is why I like the way Vanhoozer constructs on such things).

  33. I’m only two chapters into Stark’s book, so I’m afraid I’m not able to comment on whether or not I think he “flat out sees Scripture as misrepresenting God and being full or errors.” However, I did check out the lively debate you had with him on Exploring the Matrix, and I would hope our dialogue would never deteriorate like that one did ☺ By the way, have you read his book?

    You wrote: “If they can give reasons for Scripture’s truthfulness that explains how God still speaks through these narratives, and how it does not misrepresent God, then the issue is not our view of Scripture, but our interpretation of various passages.”

    I like the distinction you make here, but for some reason I want to push a little on the first part because of its inherent subjective nature. So, for example, I think I could argue that the genocidal narratives of Joshua are true historically and true in the sense that God speaks through them but false in some sense of the God it presents. So is this calling the narrative wrong? I don’t think so. In fact, I would want to suggest that there’s a hermeneutic that will allow a believer to enter the entire canonical conversation and yet at this point join with other voices in Scripture in critique. But I’m guessing you’d probably call that out of bounds, i.e., a different view of Scripture.

  34. @Tom: It will be interesting to hear your thoughts on his book. I don’t plan on reading it myself. I know that there is the common assumption we should be familiar with all opposing views before saying why we do not hold them, but I think there is also the other side where we should work toward a positive construction of our views so that we know from where we are coming. I know Stark is a very, very intelligent person, but as you saw on McGrath’s blog, it is hard to dialog with him. That discussion really unraveled quickly.

    Now as regards your push-back on the genocidal narratives, I am not saying I won’t hear you on the matter. I may disagree in the end, and we may see our approaches to Scripture are too distinct for any practical coherence between our views, but I am open to hearing how you approach it.

    Don’t forget, I enjoy theologians like Walter Brueggemann whom I think falls subject to my criticisms. It is not that I ignore people who don’t share my approach and my methodology and my view of the nature of Scripture. I seek to find what common ground is between us to see what I can glean, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see a glaring weakness in what appears to be a picking and a choosing of where God has spoken in the canon and where he has not.

  35. @Luke: Thanks for looking for me. I live very close to MU’s campus so maybe I will just spend some time in their library to see if I find anything.

    @Bobby: I don’t blame you for mentioning Stark. He is a great example of the type of magisterial approach to reading Scripture that I find concerning. It is just that our only encounter was ugly. McGrath even had to post something letting Stark know that his views are less likely to be accepted by people if he comes across so aggressively. I’d hate for him to Google his name, find this blog, and come here with his approach to discussing this subject. He really, really finds anyone who affirms inerrancy to be a bit of a fool and a target. While this blog sometimes fails to be a cordial place for discussion we do seek it and I don’t think he does.

  36. @Brian,

    I know. I’ve seen Stark in action before, and I’m not impressed. I’ve been around plenty of other folks in the sphere who think just like Stark on such matters — with the same gusto — which is really the only reason what you were saying really resonated and hit home with me (of course I’ve read plenty of commentators and theologians who would easily qualify for what you’re saying here as well).

    To the chagrin of folks protests, it is clearly a reality that people who have Marcionite-like disdain for the God of the OT (thus they try to domesticate Him for Modern/PoMo ears) are trying to read Him through an ethical grid that fits into a Modern Westernized “feeling.” Thus is the danger of reading “many books,” w/o some sort of a priori and ministerial commitment to the Scriptures. To me where this whole thing really bottoms out at is really in the realm of the culture wars.

  37. Oh, Cultural Encounters is in the periodical section of Multnomah’s Library; on the eastern wall of the Library ;-) .

  38. Definitely check it out. My pastor subscribes the journal and passes it off to me every now and then. These particular essays were quite interesting and spoke to many of the issues from your recent posts. They cover a lot of ground though, addressing the linguistic turn, the role of the Spirit in our interaction with the text, should theology be systematic, the plurality of Scripture, the cultural bondage of language, authorial intent, and the church as eschatological community.

    If you take the time to find it, I hope it proves worthwhile in speaking to the thoughts you’ve been sharing.

  39. Brian, I think you’re missing a third option, allowing committment to the principles of Scripture to take precedence over specific passages. That is, arguably, what Jesus did when he allowed concern for other human beings to trump the Sabbath.

    Rabbi Harold Kushner illustrates this approach well (in a Jewish framework, obviously, but in relation to Scriptures that Christians and Jews share in common) in a quote I shared once on my blog a few years ago: “We are always entitled to call the Torah to witness against itself, that is, to apply its own moral standards to some of its passages. We do it no disservice when we let it teach us the highest moral principles, standards so high that the Torah itself – the work of human hands and minds and the product of its own age – sometimes fails to live up to them. We show no disrespect in reading the Bible critically in this manner, providing we do it to separate the valid from the inaccurate, the permanent from the transient, not to refute the Bible’s claims upon us” (Harold S. Kushner, When Children ask about God, Schocken, 1989. p.134).

  40. @James: Thank you for joining our discussion. I have found you to be a polite dialog partner over the years. There is much about Kushner’s approach that I can find as attractive and useful. I think we often tell people who struggle with the more alarming portions of Scripture to read it with Christ in mind.

    I know that Jesus’ interpretation of the Sabbath is only an analogy, so I won’t spend too much time there. It does not seem to me that Jesus is saying Scripture is misleading when it commands the Sabbath, but that his peers misunderstood it. Your principle is correct that we should let the “principles of Scripture take precedent over specific passages” but that does not necessarily mean that those other passages are hiccups in God’s canonical speech.

    Also, I fear that this could be come overly selective and subjective to our modern sensibilities to the point where we walk along the canon like we do the various food bars at Hometown Buffet (well, not me, but some people eat there). It is just as possible that God really, really is very angry with sin and that God has at times (justly) dealt with humanity in a sense that we find shocking. Christ then does not show us God to say that God could never have dealt with us like this (flood, Sodom and Gommorah, using Assyria to invade Israel, et al.), but rather that God sending Christ is that much more an act of mercy and grace to those who receive Christ.

    In a sense I am cuddling closely to my Reformed friends who would start with the fact that we should be doomed, and we are justly condemned, so grace is an even brighter light in the darkness. Kushner’s approach seems to suggest that we are the moral majority over against God critiquing what he can and cannot do with his creation.

    Kushner’s approach still seems, to me, to be unable to answer why we can trust the images of God that we like in the canon and why we should discard the images we do not.

  41. The quote that James provides from the Jewish exegete sounds very close to the way Muslim exegetes interpret the Qu’ran; viz. through a methodology of abrogation. Why would we want to follow Jewish hermeneutics, and not Christian? Are we going to return to Rashi?

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding what James is trying to highlight.

  42. @Bobby: James is answering my objection to favoring one part of the canon over the other. He is suggesting that the morally superior passages override the morally inferior passages. So Jesus saying “turn the other cheek” is morally superior, therefore right in how it displays God, while the passages in the Book of Joshua that seem to command genocide (or at least total devastation) are morally inferior and therefore ought to be seen as purely a human element in light of the other passages.

    Of course, I am not sure if this answers why we should think one is morally superior and the other morally inferior as relates to God’s activities. Likewise, I don’t know how that gives us a methodology to determine how this best reflects God’s self expression. It still seems to me that picking and choosing from within the canon results in an anthropology rather than a theology.

  43. @Brian,

    So functionally, James’ method is one of abrogation; or creating a graded ethical chain that is informed by something, but who knows what that is.

    Isn’t anthropology what Scheiermacher was known for ;-) ?

    Btw, I just read your exchange with Thom Stark over at McGrath’s; you’re “under the sun” point is exactly right. The only reason someone wouldn’t take that serious, literally, is if they have an a priori commitment to some other method of interpretation that would want to read over that.

  44. @Bobby: I hope James comes back to clarify, because that is where I am lost as well. The what and the why seem allusive to me.

    As concerns that old interaction I thought it was a fairly good point being made. I didn’t do a good job arguing (he is much better than I there), but I didn’t think it demanded the digression that followed.

  45. @Brian,

    I’d like to hear more from James too.

    On the “interaction”: I actually don’t think the point being made, the way it was being made is good — denying the reality of metaphor and genre analysis. These seem to be “normal” rules of interpretation (per literary analysis in general). I have never read anyone read “under the sun” the way your interlocuters are in that thread. I don’t even see an “ontological” reality being a problem in regards to “death” in that context. Who said the author[s] of Ecclesiastes were thinking from an “under Yahweh” perspective? In fact the context says just the opposite.

    Anyway . . .

  46. Is it really any different than what Webb is saying about a multi-level ethic in scripture? Is he suggesting that we abandon the morally inferior passages as purely human, or just noting that God wasn’t necessarily trying to establish an ultimate ethic in that passage, and that the redemptive spirit behind a command in a given cultural context informs us as well as the isolated words of the text.

    I haven’t yet gotten to the part where Webb describes his methodology for deciding what is an ultimate ethic and what is morally inferior, but I’m a little bit nervous that it won’t satisfy. If that itself isn’t somehow grounded in the revealed Word, then the above criticisms would certainly apply.

  47. I’m entering this conversation late, but I hear what James is saying. I seem to recall Jesus taking a similar approach to the one which James is suggesting. In Matthew 19, the Pharisees ask Jesus why, if divorce is so wrong, does the law of Moses command us to give a certificate of divorce? Jesus answers them by stating that there is a higher principle that overrides that command. It seems to me that the certificate of divorce was a condescension, made by God, and not an ideal, designed in order to maintain some form of justice and protection for the weak. I don’t believe that this is “abrogation”, but rather, the fullest expression of God in the revelation of Jesus Christ. Its not that the interpreter has the freedom to decide what is or is not “ideal”, it is the belief that Jesus Christ has done so already, and so we must look at the rest of the scriptures in light of the revelation of the Word of God.

  48. @Luke and @Brian: If James’ point is like Webb’s then I don’t have a problem with it, but I don’t sense that. It is one thing to have a sort of hierarchy of morality within various passages (e.g. human worth over the Sabbath, which has intercanonical justification) and something altogether to have a hierarchy in inspiration (certain passages from the Law were all human in origin while others have a divine aspect.

    Let us use the divorce example. I can agree that God permitted Moses to grant certificates of divorce but that this wasn’t his ideal which we see revealed in Jesus Christ. I cannot except that the passage where Moses grants permission for divorce to be wrong and maybe even antithetical to God’s word. It is one thing to say God spoke permissibly and another to say God has not spoken there.

  49. Brian, thanks for your reply. You seem to be suggesting that “not picking and choosing” is a viable option as an alternative to picking and choosing. I would like to suggest that there is no way to read Scripture which contains diverse voices and perspectives, as the Bible does, and not pick and choose. Some call this “interpreting Scripture in light of Scripture” but generally it in fact represents “neutralizing Scripturer by means of other Scripture.” So (to give one classic example) James or Revelation or Matthew or even Paul cannot really mean it when they say that works matter, because Paul says…

    Of course, it might seem like according the, all equal weight and attention would be an alternative to picking and choosing. But in most cases we fail, and in those cases where we succeed to some extent we may end up with a theological construct which, even as it incorporates elements of different Biblical authors, does not in fact represent what any of them said.

    But that is only one of the issues. I do not, as a liberal Christian, see myself as picking some bits from the Bible that I like while discarding others that I don’t. I see myself as joining in a conversation that began with the Bible but need not end there. And often what I cling to in the Bible is not what I like, but what I find challenging, demanding that I live self-sacrificially in ways that I do not currently attain to, loving my enemies, and so on. When something is set aside by liberal Christians, it is not because it is “disliked” but because it seems to reflect a worldview that I simply cannot even through some leap of faith will myself into. I cannot accept the dome in Genesis 1, and I suspect that those who say they eschew “picking and choosing” do not either. They may, however, strenuously look for ways to avoid the plain meaning of the Hebrew text, so as to persuade themselves that they still believe everything in Scripture, or they may judge it a peripheral matter, but for other Christians the cosmology of the Bible is not peripheral but central. And so my own view is that there is no one who is not picking and choosing, if they are interacting with the Bible at all. I think the best we can do is listen to one another so as precisely to avoid setting aside things merely out of preference. But sooner or later we all do that – if not in other instances, then at the very least when we read Jesus’ words saying that no one can be his follower unless they give up all their possessions.

  50. This could get interesting, and we might have to bring in Bobby for some help with understanding Barth here. My position is very close (if not the same) as yours Brian; but I’ve been reading Barth, and I wonder what he would have to say here…


    It seems to me that, since Barth does not believe that the “words on the pages” are the Word of God, that he might say that what matters is the principle presupposition that lies behind the application of a particular text at any point in time, not the text itself (when that application is in accordance with the being of the church). Therefore, not only is the command in Moses (divorce) not an ideal, it was also always a possibility that this “condescension” could be abused for evil purposes. Therefore, we could say that the same text can be both Word of God, and not Word of God. The fact that it is not an ideal does make it “wrong”, in a sense, but that does not mean that, under the right circumstances, that it could not still be “right”. Does that make any sense at all? Or am I just wacked?! :)

  51. @James: Thank you for your clarification. While reading your comment there is much that makes me say, “Yes, agreed”. There is an underlying nuance though that makes me think we still come to this from a different angle.

    I am not trying to argue for a unilateral reading of Scripture nor a reading of Scripture where it is a deposit of propositional truths that someone must reconcile like a puzzle. It is important to ask what Scripture is aiming to say. Sure, we agree that ancient Hebrew cosmology doesn’t portray reality very well, but we get lost in whether or not Scripture is inspired and truthful (I would even say inerrant) is we do not ask what the language is doing. One analogy would be Walton’s thesis that Gen. 1 is about a cosmic temple not an outline of scientific origins. Walton is not saying we are limited to “how” Scripture tells the truth (again, this is where genre, poetics, the very nature of language itself must enter the discussion) but that it is God telling the truth through Scripture.

    I assume we can agree there in some shape or form.

    Likewise, when it comes to Jesus’ command to the rich young ruler to go and sell all neither or us think this applies to us. We must ask what the narrative is trying to convey to us (here I would like to borrow Vanhoozer’s speech-act language). Is the perlocutionary act telling us to sell all? If so, then we should make like St. Francis is we think God speaks through Scripture. But I don’t think the narrative is there to tell us what to do with our money in all places and all times.

    So again, we seem to agree that Scripture is not a unilateral list of do’s and don’ts. We are asking what the voice of God is saying in given texts (or ought to be) and this doesn’t look like fundamentalism.

    Let’s go back to James and Paul. If we read the canon as a lifeless textbook it seems that we have one side saying works matter and one side saying they do not. Yet this is where the voice of canon is important. From the angle of Paul “works” do not contribute to salvation and the Pauline description of works fills this in for us and it doesn’t look anything like submitting to the Spirit and living the Kingdom which Paul does seem to see as being part of the salvific program.

    James is correct that works are necessary and he is defining this over and against a form of antinomianism (something Paul himself attacks). So if “works” has no semantic range, and the canon is not allowed to pull at us from two sides, then we may see a contradiction. We do see a tension, but not a contradiction.

    Paul’s command is to trust God and not to rely upon one’s own moral merit but to have faith in Christ. The perlocutionary act is to avoid condemnation and the effort to “will” salvation for one’s self.

    James’ command is to not fall prey to the idea that thinking one is part of the people of God authenticates it. His perlocutionary act is that we would live our faith because faith without works is dead (i.e. not faith).

    This isn’t Scripture “neutralizing” Scripture. This is canon as choir singing different parts to create harmony. As Paul noted in Romans his message can be mistaken by some to say “well, we may as well sin then right?” In canonical context God has given us the voice of James that answers that quickly (as well as Paul’s own voice). That being said, if we only have James’ voice we can fall trap to thinking true faith is essentially earning God’s favor but Paul’s voice brings harmony showing us a nuance we would not have without Paul.

    So I think we both agree that Scripture is “conversation” (though I like choir better because it signifies the need for “harmony” where conversation does not). I think we both agree that Scripture sheds light on the other parts of Scripture, redefining and clarifying it. I think we both agree that some texts supersede others due to things like progressive revelation (you may not use that terminology), e.g. the whole Book of Hebrews. Where I think we disagree is that some parts of Scripture are nullified for being wrong, or merely human, or misleading.

  52. I agree that the issue, as Brian L has communicated is an issue of approach. And if someone wants to see contradiction in Scripture, they will; if someone believes that God is a good (the best) communicator’ then they will see the “apparent” contradictions as Divinely intended (inspired), and thus the apparent disparity should be viewed as a rich treasure store for exegetical mining (not to say that God can’t communicate clearly).

    The reality is, is that James, as he has said is a Liberal; and so his approach makes sense, he’s self-consistent.

    @Brian M.,

    I won’t pretend to be a Barth expert ;-) . But he has no problem appropriating “higher critical” ideas into his bibliology; which is why he presses the point on the “miracle” of Scripture — i.e. that God is able to take the human (broken, “in error” even) words of Scripture by the Spirit and take those and use those as the Witness to Christ wherein they “become” the “Word” as we encounter the eternal Logos therein. So I think the “rightness” of the Text (for Barth) is the capacity it has to be taken by the Spirit, “become the word of God”, as it gives way and bears Witness to Jesus as we encounter Him in the Text. The thing is, Barth is unlike “Liberal” Christians like James McGrath and Thom Stark (I’m presuming on Stark) because he self-consciously is seeking to undercut the broader theological (e.g. Schleiermachean or Hermannean) project which informs Liberal presuppositions at an anthropological level.

  53. Re: James and Brian L’s and Bobby G’s responses to him:

    I would only add that we have the Scriptures bearing witness, above all, to Jesus, whose pronouncements on any other part of Scripture, as well as any principles appropriately drawn from such pronouncements, therefore provide a “controlling view” which helps us reconcile what otherwise might seem contradictory or inaccurate messages from Scripture. I do not say that this fully resolves the issue here, but Jesus our Lord does move us much farther along the road toward a common solution than we would be otherwise.

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  56. It seems apparent to me that entirety of posts here are missing the single most obvious and historical problem. Mankind has always second-guessed Gods Word. Everybody I have met reads the Bible with a preconcieved idea of what they are supposed to get or understand in the scriptures. The Bible tells you it is the Word of God. Jesus is also called the Word of God. God does not lie. To question Gods Word is calling God a liar even after he has fulfilled his promise to his chosen people and made them the nation through whom the rest of mankind can achieve the reward of eternal life in Gods Kingdom, or to put it another way, enter into Gods Sabbath day. Jesus told his disciples not to allow themselves to be called Rabbi or Raboni because we all have only one teacher, Gods Word. To claim or even think that the Creator of heaven and earth is not capable of getting his message across is amazingly presumptuous and typically human. I suggest you read Gods Word and ask him for HIS truth not Mans truth. Then and only then will it become apparent that when the Spirit of God was poured out on the body of Gods Chosen saviour Jesus of Nazareth he became the Christ and it is to The Word of God that every knee shall bend not the man Jesus. God never said he had or would abandon his chosen people but he did say if they rejected him he would reject them just as he did during the exile in Babylon. He also said a remnant would be saved and that remnant this time was the Jews that accepted Christ properly as The Word of God. Hear Oh Israel the word of Thy God.

  57. 2 TIM 3:16 All Scripture is Inspired by God

    I. All Scripture 3:16 Refers to every passage of Scripture. (3:16) Inspired; (Only here in the N.T.) literally “God-Breathed” meaning it proceeds from God. God is the
    origin and source of all scripture. (3:16)
    Case close!

  58. In response to the original post, three questions:

    1. Is it sinful to doubt the infallibility of the Bible?
    2. Is it sinful to idolise the Bible?
    3. Of what did Jesus accuse the Jewish leaders of the time of his ministry?

    Thanks and God bless.

  59. Hello folks – this is a great exchange of ideas, and I encourage you to consider these questions/comments as food for thought:

    1. There seems to be a notion that A) either the Bible is true or B) there is no God. That either the God of Noah, Abraham, and David sent his one and only begotten son, Jesus, onto earth to “die for our sins” and be resurrected on the third day, or if that information is not true, then there is no God. What about the possibility that God and Jesus really do exist, but the accounts about them that we read in the Bible might not necessarily be accurate? In other words: IT IS POSSIBLE TO ESTABLISH THE EXISTENCE OF GOD AND JESUS WITHOUT THE BIBLE EVEN ENTERING INTO THE EQUATION AT ALL!

    2. The same holds true for evolution: all the Darwinists out there make it seem as if it’s either God or evolution. Has anyone stopped to think that – even if many of the theories of evolution are true, it is God who put them into place?

    3. Many of the notions set forth in the comments in this thread are based on this supposed maxim: if you don’t accept some parts of the Bible, how can you accept other parts? Very simple: even a broken clock is right twice a day. Now, I’m not suggesting that ANY part of the Bible is necessarily inaccurate. Here’s what I’m suggesting:

    A. Some parts of the Bible, if interpreted literally, are absolutely absurd. MANY parts, actually.
    B. That does not necessarily mean that the Bible is false; it may mean that we are not interpreting it correctly.
    C. If the Bible is the inerrant word of God, that’s great. But if it is not, it does not change for one second the fact that God exists, or doesn’t exist. That determination can be made without a need for the Bible at all. It’s like this: if your mother sends you a card on your birthday that says: “I love you more than anything or anybody in this world!” Do you really need that card to know that your mom loves you? Is the card really from your mom? If it is, that’s great. If it is from someone else pretending that your mom wrote it, it doesn’t change the fact that your mom exists and that she really does love you.

    Finally: the only way to truly examine God is to not be afraid of the consequences. If you WANT to believe in something, and are afraid of the alternative, you will never be able to truly open your mind and find the truth.

  60. Hi there. Thanks to Brian and other contributors for your insights. I just across this blog, and I’ve learned a lot just by reading this conversation.

    @ces: I don’t think anyone was questioning the existence of God, but simply discussing the trustworthiness and truthfulness of God’s Word. The infallibility of the Bible, I think, does make a huge difference in the behavior and beliefs of a Christian. Sure, God could exist even if the Bible was completely false. However, the Bible is the basis of innumerable other beliefs beyond just the existence of God.

    For example, one of my friends often says things like “God doesn’t care if you have premarital sex; He has genocide in Africa to worry about.” (a perspective which is clearly not Biblical). This friend doesn’t doubt the existence of God. However, she believes that the Bible is fallible, and this impacts her actions.

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  62. It seems a lot of people leave quite long responses that often try to elevate themselves, prove their own intelligence, use of superlatives etc.

    So I will do my best to keep this short. I was once a drug addict and alcoholic. God touched my heart (He truly exists) and now I am a Pastor and a student nurse. Compelling?

    By realising GOd exists on a personal level (rather than a philosophical discussion, as many here are seemingly doing) you do not need to question scripture. Why? Because you say to yourself…”there is a GOD!”
    Once you know Him personally you know He is quite powerful (made the universe for example) and certainly has the ability to ensure one little book is safe and sound. If He could not achieve such a simple thing, He would not be God now would He? So you confess yes he can create a galaxy but not a book? That thinking if anything is not logical.

    Do you know Him? If you do, you won’t be debating, you will be working (for Him)

    God Bless

  63. It seems a lot of people leave quite long responses that often try to elevate themselves, prove their own intelligence, use of superlatives etc.

    So I will do my best to keep this short. I was once a drug addict and alcoholic. God touched my heart (He truly exists) and now I am a Pastor and a student nurse. Compelling?

    By realising GOd exists on a personal level (rather than a philosophical discussion, as many here are seemingly doing) you do not need to question scripture. Why? Because you say to yourself…”there is a GOD!”
    Once you know Him personally you know He is quite powerful (made the universe for example) and certainly has the ability to ensure one little book is safe and sound. If He could not achieve such a simple thing, He would not be God now would He? So you confess yes he can create a galaxy but not a book? That thinking if anything is not logical.

    Do you know Him? If you do, you won’t be debating, you will be working (for Him)

  64. brian,
    i just happened upon this older post and am glad to see it revived. your comments are cogent and well reasoned. how ironic that some who reply merely want to incite a fight with other bloggers, and promote hostility! I think some of the academics and bloggers I read, who spiral into a trajectory of compromise, trying to harmonize Christianity with popular modernist thinking (eg the resurrection, the flood, the miracles, etc., were all an illusion, or a metaphor, or a cozy bedtime story), should take some time to interact with real new believers, with people who’ve had their lives changed radically by the saving power of the Gospel. Whether we can ‘get’ doctrine or bibliology ‘right,’ (and i think it is particularly arrogant to think we are likely to be correct, or even that that is the most important thing–there is a LOT of arrogance in this biblioblog world), the principal thing that is commended by God throughout scripture and his interaction with people, is faith. Nowhere does God say, ‘well done, you have interpreted everything correctly.’ But even the most simple people are rewarded for their faith.

  65. No, I do not think it is possible to idolize the Bible. If God actually spoke when it was written, as I am convinced He did, we need to read it carefully, do our best to come to a conclusion as to what it teaches, and do our best to do what it says. Of course there is a time to put it down and go out and love our neighbors and pray and sleep…

  66. If you believe the first verse of the bible then you can believe the rest of the book. Do not put it in a blender and mix it up but who are they talking too, Is it in the old testament -under law – or the new testament under grace. Are they talking to Jews or Gentiles. There are about 8000 manuscripts in Greek and 5000 manuscripts in Hebrews that also verify the validity of the new testament. As for me I have a personal relationship with Jesus, He answers my prayers and as a widow He takes good care of me.

  67. I find that one of the major issues in understanding Scripture is how varied the interpretation and application plays out among traditions and denominations. More and more we are finding that biblical doctrine is being redefined and melded to fit a changing society whereas biblical doctrine is meant to be the standard for society to meld to.

  68. Hebrews is an answer to your questions about the accuracy of the Bible.Hebrews 4:12
    For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
    Hebrews 4:11-13

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