Tuesday, December 17, 2013


It is interesting to read the way in which those who claim to believe in plenary inerrancy deal with problematic texts. All of a sudden the straightforward reading of the text is no longer correct. One must delve into the cultural milieu of the day, or the historical context to make the passage mean something else. Anyone reading that text would get one impression, but all of a sudden the impression they get is the wrong one. Except where the original impression is 'the right one', then you just go with that. It makes me sick to my stomach, my friends, because it is disingenuous in the extreme. Why not just assume the writers said what they meant? Ah, because then there would be a contradiction. But why can their be no contradictions in scripture? Because scripture says there can't. Except where it does. But then that too is just an apparent contradiction.

Don't trust your lying eyes, we are told. In the end each person becomes their own god, with the very word of the living God on their side, whichever side they take. Those of us who love and study scripture 'deeply' but reject plenary inerrancy do not claim unqualified divine judgment to be on our side. We rather appeal to the reliability, not perfection, of our own relationship with God, centered and founded on scripture, as something that we can trust. We trust our judgments knowing ourselves to be fallible. We trust what we believe we have received from God in full knowledge that we could be wrong. The plenary inerrantist does not read the Bible literally. I read the Bible literally. And there are literally contradictions that you literally have to deal with.

I say, let the contradictions stand. Let the text speak to you as itself. Sometimes you may need to pick one arm of a dilemma over another. Sometimes you need to let the dilemma stand in a creative tension, sometimes a middle compromise position is preferable. These methods are not perfect, as you are not perfect, but if you step back and let the overall take hold, you can find God within that bigger picture.

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