I have largely ignored the question of biblical errancy or inerrancy in this blog. It’s one of those touchy issues about which people can get pretty rabid and is central to many theologies. However, it has been on my mind and I’ve decided to use this post to tentatively feel my way around. I wish that I had a feeling of real conviction about these kinds of matters, but I honestly do not. Actually, scratch that; I guess I do. I have a feeling of conviction that none of us have it exactly right. I’ve heard lots of arguments to defend various viewpoints – the two most common being that (1) the Bible is divinely inspired and preserved and (2) that it is a compilation of histories written by fallible men.
My inclination is to agree with both takes, but I’m perfectly happy to accept that I might be wrong. My thought process goes something like this:
~God reveals himself in different ways to different people.
~The Bible is written by people who each had unique experiences of God.
~I believe the Bible is divinely inspired, but the fact remains that many sincere and honest seekers and believers interpret it differently. There are perhaps more different ways to understand the Word of God than there are strains of Christianity. Whyever should I presume that the interpretation I was taught is absolutely correct? For me, to say that the Bible is divinely inspired in no way means that my understanding is. Perhaps we all get glimpses. If that’s true, doesn’t it follow that all should have respect for the views of others? Maybe God has revealed Himself to them in ways that He hasn’t revealed Himself to you. This general idea is well-presented in the book If God is Love. While I don’t feel there is enough objective support for every conclusion the authors make, I agree passionately with their effort to treat every person as a beloved child of God.
~ Luke 2:52 reads: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” If Jesus, who was equally God and man could stand to improve, then certainly the apostles, even with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, could as well. So when we read advice from the apostles, perhaps we should focus primarily on the spirit of their words. Apart from that, the New Testament addressed the issues of specific people who were facing a specific set of problems in a specific social and political climate. That isn’t to say teachings aren’t applicable or relevant today, I think they absolutely are, but should be considered very carefully. Although, I am aware that there are a number of verses that indicate that the teachings of the apostles were from God, so maybe I’m off-base.
~ And finally, I’m veering off topic a little here, but it seems to me sometimes that we’ve given the counsel of these men of the New Testament godlike status… or like people have a hard time separating divinely-inspired from absolutely correct. To clarify, I would think that a divinely-preserved, true account of events would include mistakes and blunders that occurred… and maybe wouldn’t always tell us when we’re looking at a bad call. To clarify further, I think many people could say that they have prayed earnestly to God for guidance and still have made mistakes.
Feel free to point out any perceived flaws in my ramblings! Thanks for reading!