Was asked if I agreed with a statement of faith which included this statement:
We believe that the Bible is the inspired, infallible and wholly authoritative, word of God and that it is our standard guide for faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Inspired ... check.
wholly authoritative ... check
word of God ... check
standard guide for faith and practice ... check
infallible ... The bible is not a living being. It cannot be trusted, it cannot make mistakes. It is neither fallible nor infallible. I believe treating the bible as if it were the fourth aspect of God, a plurality of four rather than the trinity, is a peculiar idolatry of the present day church. Father (capital F), Son (capital S), Spirit (capital S), Bible (capital B)
When we hold a bible, we have in our hands, the work of poets, accountants, historians, archeologists, linguists ... none of these professions ever claim 100% accuracy or trustworthiness. Some early manuscripts include or don’t include some stories that others do. Is our bible “wrong”, is the other bible “wrong”. Is the faith based on the “wrong” bible somehow less than the faith based on the “right” bible?
The need for the bible to be “infallible” stems from an epistemological assumption about what it means to be trustworthy and authoritative. This assumption does not require an active and loving God to empower or give authority to texts or ideas, but requires the authority to be inherent in the text. I do not start at this assumption, therefore an error or omission in the bible doesn’t threaten the authority of the bible as a standard guide for faith and practice.
The bible is trustworthy not because of its scientific accuracy, but because it is an accurate account of the living God. Under the guidance of the Spirit, connected to a community of faith and to the traditions of the church, it provides us vision into the dreams of God and our place in them.
While I fully support the idea that we should trust the bible, and submit ourselves to scrutiny of our lives in light of scripture, I think the story about why we do that is wrong, and needs to be re-told.
So does that make my answer to “Do I agree with the statement of faith” yes or no?