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Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Ryan Sharp

Hear, hear... or here, here.

Sounds like you can affirm most of it, perhaps it's a segue into asking what the word infallible means to them? Hmm?

Chris A.

Good words, Michael.

Joe Missionary

My wife sent me the link to this post. Excellent, thought-provoking words. But even more importantly, I've found a new blog who links to almost NO ONE that is in my current circle of blogs. :^)

Lewis Greer

Well said, Michael. I may have told you along the way about my dealing with this issue 20+ year ago when I was taking some courses at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. A couple of my professors were leaders in the "inerrancy" movement and had written books about it. What bothered me was not their particular belief (that the scriptures in the original manuscripts were without error of any kind), but that they were willing -- in some instances -- to make this question of faith a test of fellowship.

I wrote a paper about that in which I said I felt like someone who had moved to the hills of Kentucky to enjoy the serenity and discovered that my neighbors were the Hattfields and McCoys.

Faith is the key, of course, and my faith is that God has given, guided, and preserved his word to us in written form. No one should believe in God because they believe in the Bible -- that is backwards -- but getting to know God helps us know that this is indeed his word. Some words in the Bibles we have today may be missing from the original, some meanings may well have been skewed by translators or copyists, and our own understanding certainly may be lacking. The same thing plays out in our own lives when parents talk to their children and when spiritual shepherds talk to the members of their flock. God is the perfect communicator, of course, but we have miles to go.


Way cool.

Dave Maddalena

I remember from my days at Fuller, where this debate raged in its (gory) glory days, that the question turned on the choice of words. "Inerrant" was the word that lost--at Fuller--because it represented the unsupportable position (that there were no errors in the 'original' manuscripts, which no living human has seen for millenia) out of some fear that Scripture _had_ to be without error. The word that won (at Fuller) was "infallible", which I came to appreciate: it meant that the written word of God would not fail in its purpose. The Bible is written not for the purpose of teaching math, geology, cosmology, meteorology, or astrology. If used for these purposes, the Bible will fail (the famous example is the circular 'bath' in I Kings 7, the dimensions of which result in an incorrect value for pi as 3 instead of 3.14 ...). But the purpose of the written word is as a witness to the dealings between God and people. "Infallible" means this record, when taken on its own terms--and in its entirety--will not fail in its purpose, which is to be a guide for faith and practice. Could it ever fail? If used casually or callously, or with no regard for the scriptural warning not to add or subtract from it, sure! We all know that you can cause serious devestation by following parts of scripture, by picking and choosing the stories that fuel your particular fire ... by liking the judgement of God more than the mercy of God, or by liking the mercy of God more than the judgement of God and quoting only your favorite verses. Scripture is about liking God more than any other thing and if one is fully submitted to the author in this way, then, in my experience, scripture is more than merely a standard guide, it is a guide that doesn't fail, though I may fail in living it.

Michael Toy

Thanks Dave, I think I would have voted for "infallible" in that way also.

I might disagree with the last sentence though.

I don't think we can fail to "live" the scriptures because they are a story of the transcendent power of God.

Even when we make mistakes, we choose to act poorly, we do not fail, we are living in the same story that is in the scriptures.

In fact that is the power of the scriptures. They are a painful reminder of how wrongheaded and stupid humans can be when confronted with divine blessing. And they remind us that God's passion for His creation is an irresistable force and an immovable object. Our stupidity is no bar to the ultimate purposes of God. It doesn't distance or seperate us from redepmtive purpose -- nothing can do that, God is working everywhere.

Dave Maddalena

Of Course! That's beautiful. We are all "living the Scriptures" perfectly, whether far or near, slipping or soaring. Foolishness, failure, all happens under God's watching. We can always find an example of our own particular weakness / glory in the scriptures

But can I not fail? If scripture is a "guide to faith and practice" I can fail to follow the guide, fail to live the standard, can't I? Stupidity (or biblical foolishness) may not bar God's ultimate purpose, his redemptive purpose in the world, but might it not cause me to miss his redemptive purpose for me?

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