Ok, after Keith’s questions he wants to understand why I can’t see the bible as inerrant, I my as well post this for everyone to read since lots of people seem to be interested in this post.
There are a number of reasons.
1. I’m not exactly sure what we are calling inerrant. Is it the original manuscripts (which don’t exist to us)? Is it the English KJV bible? Can we point directly to a certain manuscript? Well, no because the way the bible came together is by using thousands of manuscripts and majority wins. When we say inerrant we like to point to our KJV or NASB and hold it up and say this is the WORD OF GOD. Unfortunately that specific text has been through so much translation, taken from its original language and the way we understand that is far from the way it was intended (which is why its so great to take Greek and Hebrew classes). If I was to hold to any inerrant view I think it would be a useless Endeavour because I would hold that the original manuscripts were inerrant which we don’t have.
2. An example. When Matthew quotes Isaiah about Jesus being born from a virgin he is actually quoting the Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT). The original word in Hebrew doesn’t necessarily mean virgin but means ‘getting pregnant after having sex for the first time’ (or something like that). We only know this now because we can see the Septuagint and the Hebrew Scriptures and we can see Matthew’s error. As far as I’m concerned Matthew made an error because the Septuagint made an error and that’s what he quoted. Oops.
3. For the last 3 months I’ve been doing an intense study on war and sex in the Hebrew bible. I’m having an extremely hard time reconciling the God of the OT scriptures with Christ of the NT ones. I’m having a hard time understanding how a nation that is told to be a blessing to other nations is then commanded to slaughter them, women and children and all. I’m not saying just because I have difficulties it makes it untrue, but I hope you can at least better see where I’m coming from.
4. I don’t understand how we can accept books that we don’t even know the author as the inerrant Word of God, more specifically NT texts rather than OT ones.
5. This isn’t a reason why I don’t think it’s inerrant, but it is a reason why I will challenge people in it. Inerrancy seems to breed arrogance. It gives people a sense of power and pride that results in misunderstandings and bad hermeneutics. I’m sick of people using the Bible to support their own theologies and rules and regulations. It’s been used to justify war and cruel slavery. That’s not a reason to disregard inerrancy but I think it’s a good one to challenge people on their view on exactly what inerrancy is.
6. I don’t understand the need to believe in inerrancy. Just because one can say that there ‘are no errors’ and can attempt to justify errors that show up doesn’t make it anymore inerrant than me saying that the bible has errors and me repeatedly showing examples makes it errant. I don’t think that inerrancy is fundamental nor as important as we think it is. Anyone who thinks it’s all that important I doubt they understand any other view because they are probably already labeled the person a heretic. Why is it so important to believe inerrancy? Does it make my faith weaker to not believe in it? No, I think it makes it stronger (whatever strong and weak may mean, probably a different post.
7. The bible is full of unexplainable tensions (like war, murders, opposite stories (creation, the flood), seeing God after being said you can’t see him and live, number differences, story differences, contradicting genealogies etc.) someone who believes in inerrancy HAS to reconcile every single one. To be honest most reconciliations are long shots in the dark but they don’t care because if it’s possible they believe it because the bible is inerrant. Inerrancy becomes the foundation of reconciling errors. When if you don’t believe in inerrancy you just accept the bible as it is. You accept the tensions in the text. It’s ok. What does someone who believes in inerrancy do with tension; they explain it. When maybe the point of it is to be an error. Maybe God wanted errors because constantly trying to understand these tensions helps us know more about ourselves and our creator. Only maybe.
I stayed away from examples for the most part, because that is just not my point whatsoever. We can’t solve this by going through example after example and you justifying each one. I will continue to find more tension and you would continue to study and research to come up with some kind of answer. I will nod and say oh that was a good explanation and it probably just won’t resonate with me. But it will with you, and that’s ok because you believe in inerrancy, and I don’t. Even Davis (genious philosophy prof at Tyndale) in philosophy based every single argument on contradictions in the bible based on the argument that.
1. the bible is inerrant and without error
2. it seems we have run into an error
3. there HAS to be an answer or explanation because the bible is inerrant
I can’t do it like that. It doesn’t make sense for me or my faith to accept inerrancy. Does this mean I disregard the bible as useless or redundant? Nope. Does this mean that the bible is not a good tool anymore to understand who Christ is? Nope. I love the bible and I think it is full of truth and it helps reveal Christ and God’s redemptive story. Without it we’d have some serious problems understanding our history. We wouldn’t. I will continue to teach from it and study it. I will continue to encourage people to read it and memorize it and better understand it. I just can’t come to the conclusion that is inerrant.