I currently have many friends who are at roughly the same place in their biblical thinking. They have been challenging several teachings that are, as I see it, basic to Christianity. It is hard, however, to know how to reach out and begin dialogue with them because in many senses we have different worldviews.
I believe that we must begin any discussion with the scriptures. They are axiomatic. We do not reach the conclusion of the truth of Christianity based on a long series of arguments. We must start with the truth of the scriptures and then begin to think from that point.
For several reasons this has become my conviction. I cant go deep right now, so here is a flyover.
1. God repeatedly says in His word that all wisdom and knowledge begin with the fear of the Lord.
2. All other attempts to ground our thought (existentialism, empiricism, rationalism) have been shown clearly to be bankrupt.
3. Internal consistency now becomes crucial in analyzing worldviews and only the Christian worldview, founded on the scriptures, passes that test.
These buddies of mine, while strongly asserting their Christianity, in my opinion have moved to other foundations which don’t allow for the strong assertion of Christian truth. Instead these other foundations basically hamstring any attempt to defend the faith.
Inerrancy is the belief that in the original manuscripts God so moved as to give us a text that was free from human errors. Not in the sense that they could not have misspelled a word, or that they could not have written their letters in a misshapen way. But that the content that they wrote under the inspiration of God’s Spirit was faithful to what God wanted them to write and wholly true.
And upon this point those of us who believe in inerrancy are often charged with a problem. It is said that the only way for God to accomplish this is by dictation, as if God pushed the little button on the back of our heads that turns us into robots and we just wrote out the bible for him as he pulled our strings. They say that dictation doesn’t account for all the humanness we see in the bible, with each author revealing their own style etc.
The problem with dictation, from my point of view, is not that it is too controlling, but that it is not controlling enough. From the doctrine of divine sovereignty we can see that God so controls all things in this world that He can adequately shape the heart and nature of a man so that that man will write exactly what God wants him to (yet in his own verbage). God is in control and man is using his own language.
My friends, coming from different, and i would say non christian, presuppositions, have several issues with inerrancy.
1. That they cant find a legitimate argument for inerrancy.
2. They believe there are textual problems in the original text that are unresolvable.
I cant deal with 2 right now but I will address 1.
There is no legitimate argument for inerrancy. True. If by that argument you mean that from the basis of non Christian axioms that there is no way to legitimately argue to an error free text then you are absolutely right.
The problem is that the truth of the Christian scriptures and the existence of the Triune God is not something you can reach at the end of a long syllogism that is rooted in non Christian premises. Classical Christian apologetics has tried to do this and has failed terribly. These truths are axiomatic to true Christianity. They aren’t the end conclusion. They are the beginning presupposition.
These buddies of mine, upon denying inerrancy and moving to errancy, (the belief that there were errors, to a more or less extent, in the original manuscripts) have found themselves in the same morass as all the liberals that they would so firmly decry. What do I mean?
Once inerrancy falls, and we no longer believe that God preserved His text, the question now becomes, what is a human addition and what is genuinely resulting from God’s Holy Spirit? In the original text, what was genuinely from God? How do we know John 3:16 was God breathed?
We can talk all day about the trustworthiness of God and His intent to preserve His Word etc.Yet all that is is irrelevant to this point. Once we deny that God acted in such a way as to preserve a text without error, the debate shifts to one about the trustworthiness of people, in this case, the people who God inspired. Not sure about you, but I for one don’t trust people to do anything perfectly.
So, what is our basis that John 3:16 is actually God breathed and not a human addition? Pretty much diddlely-squat. We have no mechanism to determine the origin of the words, whether ultimately divine or purely human and thus we have no arguments that can differentiate between the two. All we have is a text.
The liberals of our day have followed the path of logic my brothers are following, realized there is no real solid standard, and have invented their own standards. The ethic of love. The hermuenutic of the person of Christ, etc. Even so, these standards are subjective and not derived from scripture. If they have indeed lost the confidence to say that scripture is preserved inerrant in the autographs, then the very hermenuetic they have offered could be the result of those danged human verses in the bible. The liberals have arbitrarily invented hermenuetics that seem cool to themselves and are now holding everyone hostage to their personal “super cool” dreams. That is what they are. Dreams! They have entered the dream world and their Christian ethic has lost its connection with reality.
Yet my friends still say that they believe that the original autographs were mostly divine, perhaps 99.5% divine. That’s a lot to work with there! We can build a Christian worldview with a large degree of certainty.
If I were to say that I actually think that the scriptures were 58.3% divine and that all the verses about Jesus were human additions, upon what basis would you argue for the divinity of those verses? There could be no basis.
But they are Christians. They still follow His Word. Some of them are very vocal in their denunciations of liberal Christianity along with all the perversions of the secular culture we live in. I praise God for this but wonder why? They obviously have faith in His Word. They believe that John 3:16 is God breathed and inspired. Why? The only conclusion I can reach is just that they have assumed it to be so. They have assumed the divine origin of most of the Bible, yet disagree with me for the assumption of inerrancy. We are both making assumptions here brothers, let’s get that much straight. The question now is, whose worldview can sustain those assumptions and whose cannot?
I would really appreciate some feedback on this post friends. I recognize my youth and the fact that with these words I am challenging the beliefs of some of those who have served and taught me, and walked with me in my own struggles. I love you guys.