I am going to end the series on Inspiration (for now), and move on to the issues of canonicity, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture. If that sounds boring, don’t worry, I’ll spice it up for you.
I want to thank you for all the great comments and feedback you provided on inspiration. If you missed the comments of others, here are some of the best. They were so good, I wonder if they are “inspired”? Just kidding!
Throughout the entire series, Dylan Dodson, from Looking for Purpose, asked great questions. At one point, he stated that he is writing from a position of practical concern, which is where all questions of theology should come from:
Lastly, inspiration of scripture hits very close to home for me. I am currently a college student getting a degree in philosophy and religion, and am in a department full of atheists and agnostics (professors included). I have seen all of the “secular” beliefs of how the bible came to be written and canonized, and can attest to the dangers and how simply un-authoritative the bible becomes if it is in fact not inspired by God. I know that if I did not bible that the bible was both infallible and inerrant, I would not believe in it.
You are so unraveling this big ball of yarn, Jeremy! When I was a new Christian at 18, I was explaining to another 18y co-worker why the Bible was the word of God. “It says so right here, that the bible is inspired.” A look of incredulity came across his face. “You mean to tell me that you believe this book is the word of God because it says so?” He then grabbed a comic book he had stashed behind the counter and mocked me, “This comic book says it’s the word of God too, and I believe it.” I was left speechless and stupified, having surrendered my young, strong mind to the paralyzing forces of beliefism (which is a different phenomena than faith). That conversation was nearly 30 years ago, but it has never left me. Your series on the scriptures is rattling some old bones for me that I have chosen not to pick at over the years. I’ve been afraid, I guess, that if I pick at it too much I’ll be left with nothing but a dusty old book of history and mortally devised collection of writings.
As you might expect from me, I was incredibly skeptical about this series of posts and was loading up my guns to come here a blazin’. I stuck with you, trying to give you the benefit of the doubt knowing that often times you word things in such a way to illicit a reaction, so I decided to watch and listen. I’m glad I did. I love your translation and I’m gonna subscribe to these comments to see if any greek scholars out there have anything profitable to add or subtract.
The fact that I thought I had guns to load in the first place seems silly now. Good job, bro
Anthony, from Ant Writes, pointed out that this this topic seems to be a growing trend in the blogosphere. I was not aware of that, but some other alert readers sent me a few links: Internet Monk on Scripture and Progressive Involvement on Literalism.
I totally enjoyed following along in that discussion. Thank you all. It reminds me a little of my recent blog post “of Talkers and Doers.” As for the question, “Does Jesus Condemn Bible Study?” I would have to say both “No” and “Yes.” No, I don’t believe that He does if our motive for doing so is to lead us closer to the Father. But “Yes” He does if our Bible STUDY doesn’t also directly lead us to Bible DOING. If there is no “doing” that comes out of the “study,” then the acquired knowledge will only puff us up, and we all know what the Bible says about pride.
You echo many of the same concerns that I have had in regard to the use of scripture — especially in relation to Hebrew and Greek. I find it interesting how many times simple lay people, taking hold of a promise in their translation without regard to the original language or even, sometimes, the context of the passage have been blessed tremendously by God for their faith.
I think we make the Bible much harder to access than we should. Our English translations are far superior (more accurate to the original) to nearly any other language in the world, and yet people overseas do not seem to have a problem living by faith… but we do! It would seem the problem is not a lack of knowledge of the contents of the Bible but a lack of belief in those words or, more accurately, a belief in the Person that they describe and profess.
You know how I feel about having all the theological answers and not getting out and making an impact on our world. I am convinced that as imortant as the argument of inspiration and inerrancy is, that it pales in comparison to showing love to those around us (1 Cor 13). I really think that this is why Christianity has been marginalized by society as a whole, because our correctness of theology has not had a measurable impact on society.
Johnny, from Eljachin.org, wrote the following:
But what about “average Joe?” the guy who isn’t going to be able or even wants to go through all of that research? I think for them (and really for nerds like us) that the Bible rings true, the “Sheep know His voice”. When third world countries that are Muslim get small exposer to the gospel, their “average Ameds” love the Bible. It is readily received in communist countries, Muslim countries, and even in America to the poor and uneducated to the dismay of the ruling class. This is sort of a reverse anecdotal proof os scripture: the people who need it want it and understand it better than the clergy. If the clergy understood the scriptures, they wouldn’t be clergy, and would minister to the poor!
The Bible has its origin in God, and that God used normal human thought processes to communicate His message. It is one of many methods by which God makes Himself known to us. The Bible is true, but also reports the perspectives of those who composed it. Those perspectives probably differ somewhat from modern perspectives. Many of the modern concepts we use to try to understand and explain the Bible are inadequate for the task.