I’ve been playing around with a new view on Biblical inerrancy this past month. Though the view was inspired by Powers Trilogy by Walter Wink (see my list of Best Christian Books), the view itself comes out of my own twisted mind.
I am writing this post for two reasons. I want your input on the theory, and I also want to know if anybody has run across anything similar in any book that is out there. If so, I would like to read it.
Here is the view:
The Bible is Inspired by God
Nothing strange or unorthodox here.
I believe that God did lead and human authors to write the words of Scripture, though not in a way that would override their unique thought pattern, vocabulary, or idiom.
The Bible is Inerrant
Nothing strange or unorthodox here, either.
The Bible is historically accurate.
Everything the Bible Says is Not Necessarily True
Here is where the view gets a little strange.
A person who would hold this view believes that while God guided and inspired the human authors to accurately record the events of history, these events do not accurately represent the mind or will of God, but rather what the humans at that time thought was the mind and will of God.
To better explain this, let’s use a modern example. It was in the news a while back that a mother drowned her children the bathtub because God told her to do so. Let’s say God was inspiring a person to write a historically accurate record of this event. They might write that the woman heard God say that she should drown her children in the bathtub.
God did not actually tell her to do this, but it is nevertheless historically accurate to record that she believed God did tell her this. An inspired and inerrant account of this event would include the idea that God told her to kill her children, even though in reality, God did not.
Let’s take a less troubling modern occurrence. Imagine a pastor stands up in front of your church this Sunday, and announces that God told him that everybody needs to read the Bible more and get rid of sin in their lives. Now, if God inspired a blogger to accurately record this event, they would report that the pastor stood up in church on Sunday and announced that God told him to tell everyone else that they should read their Bibles and get rid of sin in their lives.
Right? That would be an inspired and inerrant account of the event.
But is it true? Did God really tell the pastor this? Maybe. But maybe not. How can we know? The truth is, we really can’t. Not for sure.
So when we come to the Bible, can it be inspired and inerrant, but not fully true?
When we read an account of God “telling” a person that he should lead a group of Israelites to kill all the men, women, children, and animals of a particular town, could it be that this is an inspired and inerrant record of what the people thought God was saying, but He really wasn’t saying this at all?
The Benefits of this View
This view has some benefits. We would no longer have to struggle with the wholesale slaughter of entire villages and town at the command of God in the Old Testament. We would no longer have to try to reconcile the character of Jesus with some of the events that happen in the name of God in the Old Testament.
Some might use this view to explain away seven-day creationism, and maybe even some of the miraculous events of the Old Testament (though that would be harder, since in this view, Scripture is still an inerrant record of what was said and done in human history).
The Slippery Slope
I am not saying this is my view. It is just a view I “invented” this past month, and do not recall ever reading it anywhere in all my studies. I understand that it introduces a very slippery slope of not being able to know for sure if what we are reading in Scripture is an accurate representation of God, or just an accurate account of what some misguided humans thought. Once you begin down this road, our own desire for how we want God to act becomes the arbiter for determining which parts truly represent God, and which parts do not.
So I am not saying this is my view… even though I did think it up (which is kind of ironic, when you think about it). I am only writing about it because I want your thoughts about the view (pro and con), and to see if anyone has run across this view anywhere else.
So, fire away!
Mandy Daames on Facebook says
I am inclined to agree with biblical errancy.
Jeremy Myers says
There are definitely passages in the Bible that would be easier to understand if they are simply wrong.
I would just have trouble knowing where to stop. How do we decide what is in error and what isn’t?
Mandy and Jeremy – I started writing a response to your comments, but my comment got too long, so I wrote a post on Jermey’s Graceground blog at
If the heresy hunters are on patrol today, I suspect they’ll have a field day with the post!
Jeremy Myers says
I don’t know, Sam. I wasn’t too shocked or outraged by what you wrote. I found it refreshing. But then, I guess I’m not really a heresy hunter anymore….
I’m convinced that there is nothing in scripture that we need to water down or consider to be inaccurate in order to better understand the nature of God in both the old and new testament. I’m also confident that God is capable of preserving and passing down an entirely accurate (both historically and contextually) account of what He has said and done in order to bring about His purpose in creation. I admit that this new view is appealing but I must reject it as an attempt to suppress the truth in order to express the truth to those who suppress the truth. In the process we lose the truth and like you said, become lord of the scriptures deciding what does and does not line up wwith our understanding of God. We would do better to let our understanding be shaped by what is written.
Jeremy Myers says
I like what you said about suppressing the truth to express truth to those who suppress the truth. Catchy!
I just see so many of the abuses and atrocities that have been perpetuated by the church as a result of following the God we read about in the Bible. We either have to say the Bible is wrong or their interpretation is wrong. Clearly, I go with option number two, but many of these scholars are expert exegetes. So the struggle continues…
touche, my man. It will continue as long as those without the Spirit of Christ speak as though they speak the oracles of God maybe what we need is not a different view if Biblical inerrancy but better discernment of man’s errancy.
Jeremy Myers says
Oooh! I like that. More discerning of man’s errancy. Exactly right!
B Crump says
I like it. Inspired by the Holy Spirit to think outage the box. I think our worship of scripture can manifest itself as idolatry. With or without these writings my experience and understanding of God do not change. I get a good chuckle when folks get all red faced and flustered when someone brings something like this to the table. Some fear the very mention of a bible tainted by human inaccuracies.
I always question what’s really going in when you bring up a very thoughtful and well-reasoned question concerning status quo and people start running out of the room like they’ve just discovered a gas leak and the place is about to blow. To me, that us usually the sign that I’m on to something interesting that the enemy if my God would rather keep hidden.
Sorry to go mystical (not my style), but I like where you’re going with this “view”. Tell me more…
Jeremy Myers says
There is definitely Bible idolatry in many segments of Christianity. I think I was once a Bible idolater. Maybe I still am, but I’m working on it.
Regarding the view, I don’t know any more! It is just something I want to think about more. So we’ll see where it goes.
I look at the whole Bible as a book that was written FOR us and not TO us.
Oh boy, do I get heat for that one sometimes… 🙂
Jeremy Myers says
I really like that distinction. Really. I bet you get heat for it, but it would really help do away with a lot of the Bible wars.
David Nilsen says
I’m okayish with this, though not convinced about the historical accuracy of all parts of the Bible. I’m still doing a lot on thinking on this. Interesting thoughts.
Jeremy Myers says
“Historical accuracy” is a slippery term anyway. Take the events of creation or the story of Jonah or Job for example. Did they “really” happen as recorded, OR are they true and historically accurate “tales” or “myths” from that era? If God was inspiring me to write Scripture, and I included a story from Aesop’s Fables, the story is still true, even though the actual events are not.
Anyway, that might not be what you were referring to, but it is helpful to consider.
Having said this, I do think that the stories of Jonah and Job did happen….
I don’t. ;P
Actually, Jonah seems more credible to me as a real event than Job does. Virtually everything about the Book of Job screams to me, “This is a play, not a real event!” The wager God makes with Satan; the incredibly improbable events of the “big day”; the exactly recorded, very poetic manner of speaking by all of the participants; the climax where God shows up; the epilogue, with double the number of kids (how long did he and his wife live, anyway? The kids were adults at the beginning, and now there are possibly 20 pregnancies at the end?)….
Your move, Jeremy. 😉
John Hubbard says
Job appears to be one of the oldest books in the Bible. I assume that it was written before the Flood. If so, the life spans before the flood were much longer, making it possible to be a true story.
B Crump says
When do these letters Paul writes become “word of God” perfect and full of truth? At the time of canonization? Before that point are they Spirit inspired blog posts? Did Paul walk closer to god than the rest if us? Did God dictate the epistles to Paul? Just sayin…
Jeremy Myers says
I read recently that the reason the church canonized certain letters and books is because certain leaders were losing power, control, and authority. Sounds about right.
But if they hadn’t done it, would we consider books like “The Gospel of Thomas” accurate today?
I could totally see someone running away from God when God told that person to warn their enemies and I could see God saving that person’s life by any means necessary. Even if that means is being swallowed whole by a whale. God does a lot of interesting things. Shutting the mouths of lions for Daniel’s sake, helping 3 guys with hard to pronounce names stay alive in a furnace, the immaculate conception, raising the dead, etc.
B Crump says
Little more fuel…
Jeremy Myers says
Wow. What a title. I’m heading over the read that post.
Matthew Aznoe on Facebook says
I think it is good to explore ideas (even if but briefly) that challenge the status quo just to check ourselves and make sure that we are truly in line with what God has told us. I am definitely more inclined to trust in the scripture than myself.
Jeremy Myers says
Yes, we must trust Scripture. The trick is in knowing what Scripture says…
ivy brooks says
Yes, I do believe that there are things recorded in scripture that are not true. …perhaps the “proclaimer” believed it to be, but the Bible is only recording what the proclaimer said. For instance in John 7:52 when the Pharisees said, “Search and see: no prophet has ever arisen from Galilee.”
The Bible is recording their statement. Maybe they really didn’t believe this, but said it anyway, in order to discredit Jesus with the people.
At any rate, the statement is recorded, but it is not true. Jonah and Hosea were both from Galilee. (interesting connection…Jesus told them he would only give them the sign of Jonah – see http://www.GiantsOfGath.com ). An untrue statement was accurately recorded. There is much of this…i.e. Satan in the garden with Eve, the philosophy and advise of Job’s friends, etc.
I realize however, that you are focused specifically on what is recorded that God said. (I think this is what you are getting at.) Since, through men, God is proclaiming that this is His communication to us, I am with Bobby…
“ I’m also confident that God is capable of preserving and passing down an entirely accurate (both historically and contextually) account of what He has said and done in order to bring about His purpose…”
I am confident that what God preserved IS what God said and that it is not what someone thought God said.
Let’s look at the “issue” that you specifically brought up in this blog: The command for the Israelites to kill all of a particular town and reconciling the character of Jesus with events that happened in the name of God in the Old Testament.
*Why did God send the judgment of the Flood in the days of Noah? Far more than simply a historical issue, the unique events leading to the Flood are a prerequisite to understanding the prophetic implications of our Lord’s predictions regarding His Second Coming.1 (italics are mine)
The strange events recorded in Genesis 6 were understood by the ancient rabbinical sources, as well as the Septuagint translators, as referring to fallen angels procreating weird hybrid offspring with human women-known as the “Nephilim.” So it was also understood by the early church fathers. These bizarre events are also echoed in the legends and myths of every ancient culture upon the earth: the ancient Greeks, the Egyptians, the Hindus, the South Sea Islanders, the American Indians, and virtually all the others.
The Nephilim were the strange hybrids of Genesis 6, apparently the principal reason for the judgment of the Flood of Noahs time. However, Genesis 6:4 also includes the haunting phrase, “…and also after that….” Apparently these strange events were not confined to the period before the Flood. (my insertion: these beings needed to disrupt human DNA in order to prevent the fulfillment of God’s promise in the garden to “put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Gen 3:15 If there were no longer any “pure” human DNA there could be no ‘seed’ of the woman brought forth to bruise Satan)
We find that there seems to be some recurrence of those bizarre things which resulted in unusual “giants” appearing in subsequent periods later in the Old Testament narrative, specifically the giant-races of Canaan.
There were a number of tribes such as the Rephaim,3 the Emim, 4 the Horim,5 and Zamsummim6 that were giants.7
The kingdom of Og, the King of Bashan, was the “land of the giants.”8 Later, we also find Arba,9 Anak, and his seven sons (the “Anakim”10) also as giants, along with the famed Goliath11 and his four brothers. 12
When God had revealed to Abraham that the land of Canaan was to be given to him, Satan then had over 400 years to plant his “mine field” of Nephilim in his attempt to thwart the plan of God.13
When Moses sent his twelve spies to reconnoiter the Land of Canaan, they came back with the report of giants in the land. 14 (The very Hebrew term used was Nephilim.) Their fear of those terrifying creatures resulted in their being relegated to wandering in the wilderness for 38 years. When Joshua and the nation Israel later entered the land of Canaan, they were instructed to wipe out every man, woman and child of CERTAIN tribes.15 That strikes us as disturbingly severe. It would seem that in the Land of Canaan, there once again was a “gene pool problem.”
These Rephaim, Nephilim, and others seem to have been established as an advance guard to obstruct Israels possession of the Promised Land. Was this also a stratagem of Satan?
Jesus warned us,
But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. – Matthew 24:37
This is one of the reasons why some conjecture that the UFO phenomena may be a contemporary manifestation of a recurrence of these same hybrids.16
Since we are having to try “to reconcile the character of Jesus with some of the events that happen in the name of God in the Old Testament” let’s continue considering these events in light of the prophecies of Jesus and a couple of New Testament writers.
Perhaps the most direct prophetic reference involving these things was the peculiar warning of our Lord Jesus Himself:
And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
What does that mean? He also warned:
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
Luke 21:25,26 (emphasis added)
(The late Walter Martin loved to include a “flying saucer” gesture with his hand when quoting this verse!)
Is it possible that the UFOs – and their occupants – are part of an end-time scenario?
The Miry Clay of Daniel 2
The famous dream of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel Chapter 2 appears to lay out all of Gentile history until God ultimately intervenes and sets up His own kingdom.
The various metals which make up the image in the dream are well known to serious students of prophecy.9> Even our common expression, “the idol has feet of clay,” comes to us from this classic passage.
But what is represented by the “miry clay” in this image? It seems to be strangely mixed-but not completely-with the iron in the dream. The term “miry clay” refers to clay made from dust,10 a Biblical idiom which suggests death.11 )
When Daniel interprets this for us he makes an especially provocative allusion in verse 43:
And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
As he switches to a personal pronoun, they, “shall mingle themselves with the seed of men…” This is extremely suggestive when viewed in light of the warning of our Lord in Luke 17:26, ostensibly directing us to look more closely at Genesis 6.
Just what (or who) are “mingling with the seed of men?” These would seem to refer to some beings who are not the seed of men themselves!
Could this be a hint of a return to the mischief of Genesis 6? It staggers the mind to consider the potential significance of Daniel’s passage and its implications for the future global governance.
Are these “aliens” so prolific that they constitute a political constituency?
Will there be UFO incidents as part of a carefully orchestrated program to lead us toward a political agenda? Or has it started already? Are the UFOs, and the increasingly widespread abductions, part of the preparations for this scenario?
So where do we find it difficult to reconcile the character of Jesus with God’s Old Testament command to wipe out a concentrated effort of Satan to thwart the bringing in of the promised Messiah?
The problems is that WE often do not have enough understanding.
The following two verses are ones that I enjoy striving to be obedient to:
2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Pro 25:2 [It is] the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings [is] to search out a matter.
Thanks Jeremy for keeping us thinking, studying and searching!
*nephelim materials from
Jeremy Myers says
Those comments are from Chuck Missler? I like him.
I’ve read his book on UFOs. Very…disturbing and intriguing.
Ivy, do you think the UFOs are real? From where do they come? Who or what do you think the aliens might be? Do you think there is actually an “end-time scenario””? If yes, what part do you think the aliens might play in it?
I’m asking serious questions, not just being stupid. I always found these topics intriguing.
ivy brooks says
Yes, I think UFOs and “aliens” are real.
No I don’t think that there are ET’s from other planets/solar systems. The Bible tells us about another species. They are called angels. It tells us about a third entity produced by cross-breeding of humans and fallen angels.
And, yes I think there is an actual “end-time scenario” – not exactly sure how these creatures will play it out…but you can bet it will be through a deceitful representation of themselves as either some sort of “aliens here to help” or forcing the world to take a united stand against them – contributing to a volunteer world government.
The world is being made ripe for either deception.
Read the articles that I linked in the post…and here is a bit more:
Listen to The Return of the Nephelim by Chuck Missler
For a brief bio on Chuck:
Read Jeremy Myers short story, “The Lie”
available from Amazon.com. Kindle download for $.99
Don’t worry if you don’t have a Kindle. I don’t either. Just load the free Kindle for PC software.
B Crump says
One of the weaknesses of the “blogging” format is the result of the instant answer. New ideas, concepts, or arguments pop up and we deliver an immediate response based on our current set of values, beliefs, and ideologies.
Blogging provides a “snapshot” view of everyone in that specific moment.
New ideas may not necessitate hours of study and research. Oftentimes, staring into a fire and letting these things roll around in your brain awhile is what’s needed.
My point? My point is that most of the resistance we run up against when evoking non-traditional ideas is that our audience is evaluating those ideas using real-time traditional values. Easy for me to dismiss Ivy’s correlations of scripture, speculation, and alien life forms. But shouldn’t I at least contemplate it awhile before I roll my eyes and flush it down the toilet?
I’m simply suggesting that we carefully consider creative analysis before scrolling down to the comments box to leave our two cents worth based on an instantaneous opinion of a well-contemplated idea.
Jeremy Myers says
Yes, this is the problem with blogging, you are right. It creates a constant stream of information, and we cannot dwell on any one post too long, because news posts are coming, and we can’t get left behind.
There has got to be a way to format the blog structure so that the posts have more sustainability….
By the way, one of the best places for theological reflection and discussion is around a fire. I love that you mentioned this.
Autumn Snow says
This post is actually a response to the post Sam made on gracegrounds. It is related also to this post and since I make mention of ivy’s post I will put it here as well. 🙂
I am sure we have all heard of the book, “Your God is too Small.” I am not advocating what the author taught in his book and if fact I really don’t remember much from it I read it so long ago. But the title comes to my mind as and expression when I read these words of Sam, “I tend to side with the latter opinion and tend to understand much of the Bible in similar fashion, as reports of what the writers understood to be their encounters with the Almighty, and of His dealings with them.”
To propose that the wholesale slaughter of other nations by the Israelites was a misunderstanding on their part and not indeed specific instruction from God is to bring wholesale scepticism on the reliability of Scripture as God’s reveal word to His creation. One could say the Apostles only wrote what they thought Jesus was teaching, but as common sense reveals to us humans if we are not doing good works we won’t make it into the kingdom.” Scary! Since most people believe this already even though they say it is a gift out of one side of their mouth, the other side says contrary.
I can agree with Jeremy’s original statement, “I believe that God did lead human authors to write the words of Scripture, though not in a way that would override their unique thought pattern, vocabulary, or idiom.” This is quite obvious as one reads through the different writers of Scripture. But God is the author as Scripture attests, 2 Pe 1:20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
Neither Jesus nor the Apostles questioned the authority of God’s word. Now before you acuse me of circular reasoning, (The Bible is God’s word because it says it is God’s word) let me continue with more convincing evidence. The Scriptures were written by over 40 writers from various walks of life; from kings to lowly shepherd. There are 66 different books written over thousands of years time span and they all fit together perfectly cohesively. There is no way man was able to put this together.
Now lets consider the incident some are struggling with, the wholesale slaughter of specific nations. Not only were the Israelites commanded by God through the prophets to utterly destroy them, they were rebuked by God when they did not follow through. There is much more to consider concerning these things and instead of repeating what ivy has said in a previous post, I will direct you to it for your thoughtful consideration.
Jeremy Myers says
In the view I presented above, I think a distinction could be made between recording the words and works of Jesus, and recording what someone thought God told them to do. The words and works of Jesus were generally done in public with many others who saw and heard Him. So an author could not very well make stuff up. However, the accounts of God telling a person in the Old Testament to lead the Israelites to kill another group of people cannot be verified as they were often individual appearances, dreams, visions, or “feelings” to a single person, leader, priest, or king.
Again, I don’t know that this is how this would be argued, because I don’t actually hold the view, nor do I know anyone who does. But that is my best guess of the direction the argument might take.
B Crump says
It occurs to me that when we do any sort of critical analysis of biblical writings we always approach them as if we are dealing with a science text. You would never look at Shakespeare this way. You understand that “The Taming if the Shrew” isn’t a how-to of romantic relationships. However, there are examples of valuing one’s spouse to be gleaned. “Romeo and Juliet” isn’t celebrating secret love affairs and clandestine rendezvous…that’s just the setting. What RandJ is celebrating is a live so deep that you cannot and will not exist without it…hence, it is a noble tragedy.
We tend to evaluate scripture as if it’s a cookbook. When we test an interpretation and find it lacking, we come up with a more palatable solution. I’m simply suggesting that most of us have very little experience with true literary criticism. That’s why the Word must be handles as te Living Word…able to transmogrify and MEAN several different things to several different people.
What do you think?
Bonar, obviously it does mean different things to different people. Pick a passage, then find a couple of dozen commentaries, printed or online, that discuss the passage. Usually we find a broad range of interpretations or understandings of the passage. Does that mean only one of those understandings is correct? Probably not.
Knowing the original languages, keeping the passage in its context, knowing something about the writer and what that person was attempting to communicate to their original audience and why, and who the orignal audinece was (and their cultural context and time) and how they might/probably would have understood the message would be a good starting point. Even then, sincere people often do not understand a passage to mean the same thing.
B Crump says
My point is that inerrancy is a non-starter. It’s a trapdoor which leads to the idea that it’s either all divinely inspired and accurate or it’s worthless. I don’t believe that’s true any more than I believe that my grocery store is useless because they sell strawberries even though I’m allergic to them.
Do I believe that God directly ordered the genocide of entire people’s at the hands of the Isrealites? I don’t know and I don’t think that if I did know it would mean anything at all. My opinion is entirely useless in the matter. We’re delving into philosophics here that don’t have any real-time value.
Jeremy Myers says
I think you are exactly right. I used to view the Bible as a mixed-up cookbook, and we had to find the right ingredients on various pages, put them in the right order, and figure out the directions, and if we did it just right, we might end up with a cake.
I don’t read it that way anymore. I read it more like the first three acts of a four act Shakespearean play. We are the fourth act. The first three acts help us figure out how to “act” in this fourth act, but the first three acts don’t tell us exactly what to say or how to behave. They just just show us what has happened up until now and give us an idea of where the play is headed. Since there is no script, we must improvise the ending. (This view comes from NT Wright in his book, The Last Word).
We’re tracking along the same lines. I almost quoted NT Wright on that on my response on Graceground. I like Wright!
Luke Patterson says
What if we looked at this from another angle?
What if the Old Testament saints didn’t really know God?
Does Jesus reveal this in the New Testament?
What about John the Baptist’s view on the writers of the Old Testament?
If you never really knew God to begin with, than by whose authority should you be speaking as if you do?
Are there insights to these questions that gets us to step outside our firmly held traditional beliefs about the inerrant and infallible “Word of God?”
My good friend Tim C. has a wonderful post on the blog site called, “This side of the Cross”. It is actually part 6 of a 10 part journey to a revelation to understanding where we traditionally think of God, why we believe the way we believe about God and deconstructing our misconceptions about God’s nature and reconciling it with the Bible. You will come across a slight review in the beginning of his other “parts” so don’t get wrapped up on those points right away. Of course if it interests you to read his posts before this one, I encourage you to do so! It may make his points easier to understand from the foundation he built from the previous posts. My hope is that this post will give you a glimpse into a more blessed way to view scripture, no matter how mad you get while reading it! So here it is:
DO YOU BELIEVE JESUS WHEN HE KEPT SAYING OVER AND OVER THAT PRIOR TO HIM, NO ONE REALLY KNEW GOD?
If so, how does it affect your view on things written about God before the arrival of Jesus? In this part we are going to look at six verses that all say basically the same thing. The frightening thing to me is much of the church seems to be ignoring a very clear message from Jesus Himself.
Before reading the following verses let’s do a mini review of what we learned in earlier parts.
• The Old Testament saints were behind a veil and saw only types and shadows of what would be completely revealed in Jesus. Because of this they were in spiritual darkness and could not clearly see the true character of God.
• The Old Testament saints were under the influence of Satan’s lie. Because of the serpents lie, mankind believed God was both good AND evil.
• The Old Testament saints were confused as to the identity of Satan. They saw him as an angel of God, the death angel or simply an attribute of Gods nature.
Okay, with the above in mind the stage has been set. God is about to arrive as a man; the truth is coming to expose a lie that had existed since the Garden of Eden. Jesus is here and will soon pull away the veil and bring light to the darkness. John the Baptist boldly heralds the arrival of Jesus with an earth shattering statement. In the face of all the great scholars of his time. In the face of the Sadducee’s and Pharisees unsurpassed knowledge of scripture the Baptist rips apart their theology in one sentence…
John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Wow! Have we overlooked the significance of this proclamation? The Greek word for “seen” in the above verse means; (to know by experience, to perceive or to be acquainted with). John the Baptist just dropped an atom bomb! He flat out told those that memorized the first five books of the Bible that they did NOT know God!
For the first seventeen verses of Chapter One the apostle John gives us a history lesson, a mini Bible as he sees it. Then he finishes with a quote from John the Baptist, “No man has seen (to know by experience, to perceive or to be acquainted with) God”. John is telling us that up until this point in history no one really knew God. Jesus His Son had arrived to declare and reveal the Father’s true nature to mankind. Have we underestimated this clearly defined truth? When John the Baptist said NO ONE knew God, did he mean it? Was John inspired by God when he said it? When John said NO ONE had a clear picture of who God was, wouldn’t that include the Old Testament writers?
If this were just one isolated verse we could possibly explain it away or symbolize it but the problem is it’s not an isolated verse, it is repeated over and over by Jesus himself.
John 5:37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
John the Baptist proclaims to the world that NO ONE knew God before Jesus and here we see Jesus confirming Johns message. NO ONE had fully and completely heard or seen God before Jesus Christ
John 17:25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
Whenever the word “name” is used in Hebrew it simply means nature or character. So when Jesus says; I will declare your name, He is saying I will declare (who you are). The fall had so blinded us, so twisted our nature it was impossible to truly know God in this state. Jesus is the light that came to help us see God for who He truly is. “The world has not known you, but I have and I will declare to them who you are!”
John 8:19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
If you know Me, you would know the Father. Or we could flip this around and say if you don’t know Jesus you don’t really know the Father. Did the Old Testament writers know Jesus as well as a born again believer? Jesus Himself said that the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than the greatest Old Testament prophet. – Selah
Mark 12:24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?
Was Jesus actually saying that they didn’t know the scriptures? Most scholars agree and Jesus knew that this group of people did know the scriptures from mans point of view. But once again He was telling them they didn’t really see, they still believed the lie and thus remained behind a veil.
John 6:46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.
Beloved, do the words of Jesus mean anything? How many verses do we need to open our eyes to the truth? What will it take before we agree with Jesus and simply say that NO ONE really knew God before Jesus showed up? Is it possible we have let the writers of the Old Testament trump what Jesus said?
John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life
Have we as New Testament believers become like the Pharisees and Sadducees? Will we remain behind a veil that Christ Himself removed? Will we give as much weight to the Old Testament writers as we do to Jesus Himself?
Over and over we are told no one really knew God, no one saw Gods true nature. Jesus was here to clear that up, the express image telling us that if we have seen Him we have seen the Father. Jesus was here to tell us He didn’t do or say anything He didn’t see the Father do. The Word, God in flesh was here to say; look at Me, I’m it. I am what you have been looking for in the scriptures. I am here in bodily form to show you exactly what I am like. All things written before, all things seen before are just shadows; you did not see me clearly. Here, I AM.
You might ask, If this is all true where does it leave us with the Old Testament? We have only one that can tell us how to interpret scripture, Jesus/the truth. In the next part we will see how Jesus treated the Old Testament.
I will leave you with one final thought. If we read the Old Testament without the revelation of Jesus Christ we simply become one of those Jesus spoke about when He said no one knew Him.
Jeremy Myers says
Great points, all. I really need to learn a lot more about all this, as looking at things differently from the way I was taught is challenging, difficult, and downright scary. You make some excellent points here…. I will try to find that article Tim C.
Do you have a link to it?
Luke Patterson says
here is the link http://thissideofthecross.com/blog1/?cat=295
Here are a couple of things I heard awhile ago that can change perspectives:
Don’t let an Old Testament verse trump a New Testament Truth.
If Jesus didn’t do it, God didn’t either.
Blessings, in awe Jesus.
John Fisher says
I believe that the Bible is inerrant, but as Bobby points out Man can be quite errant in his interpretation of it. By inerrant I mean, as the word suggests, without error; such that if God were interested in directing an inerrant account of the life of Andrea Yates it simply could not say “the woman heard God say that she should drown her children in the bathtub” but would have to qualify it with “the woman believed that she heard…” Without that qualifier, it would not be inerrant, it would not be ‘untrue but historically accurate” if God did not actually say it then saying that he intervened in human history at that point would be incorrect.
That being the case, I would say that one of the ‘benefits’ you list is perhaps it’s greatest detriment: we would not longer have to struggle with passages we find troubling or have to reconcile different descriptions we find conflicting. But if God is so completely beyond our understanding and His ways beyond ours, then these ‘conflicts’ would be due to our lack of understanding His nature completely, not actual contradictions in His nature and two very different descriptions actually be two different facets of the whole gem; the two different perspectives give us a more complete understanding of the true nature while either alone might be misleading. The ‘struggle’ isn’t just an unpleasant side effect, but the kind of meat we have to chew when we’re done living off of milk if we want to grow.
The conflicts don’t even always fall into OT/NT divisions, Jesus did occasionally present some different aspects of Himself that we found hard to swallow (Mark 7:27 is the first thing that springs to mind) and Randy Alcorn’s discussion of “The Grace and Truth Paradox” is a great discussion of exactly how we as humans can struggle with a God who is far beyond us.
Of course, holding to inerrancy presents not just the difficulty of reconciling truths in the Bible but also of properly discerning what is and isn’t inerrant and how we know the difference, as B Crump points out. This means more opportunities where we might be mistaken, but we cannot forgo the truth because an alternative is easier to deal with.
Jeremy Myers says
Great points, and good summary of the discussion.
I am still struggling with the issues surrounding inerrancy. You are absolutely right that we must distinguish between the inerrancy of Scripture and our interpretation/understanding of Scripture.
I think this is a distinction which many churches/pastors/theologians miss. Every time we hear someone say “I just follow the Bible” I think we can safely assume they are missing this crucial distinction.
John Fisher says
Yeah, I know what you mean hearing those types of statements. Sometimes that person can up the condescending factor a bit and refer to their group as “Bible believing Christians” or something similar, no longer do they ‘just follow the Bible’ while you messed up by believing in an outside source, but you actually directly dis-believe the Bible.
Jeremy, you wrote: So I am not saying this is my view… even though I did think it up (which is kind of ironic, when you think about it).
LOL. You did not actually “invent” this idea or thought. I am convinced Jesus put that there for you, just as He has done for me a while back. I share and agree with your “invented” view completely. Let Jesus take it further.
Steve Herrmann says
One thing to keep in mind, is that we can use Scripture to understand Scripture. We should seek the harmony of MEANING, not our comfort or defense of our views. There is ONE God, so logically he has ONE message in His word.
Another critical thing is to realize that there IS a hierarchy of Scripture. Jesus spoke of the “greatest commandment”. When we measure other scriptures to that, we may better understand the “lesser” scriptures.
Let us also keep in mind that God is bigger than we are. So, we should expect that there are verses and aspects of theology that are beyond us. Job learned this. For us to think otherwise (that we know everything) is arrogance. Leave room for mystery. Let God be God.
Explanation to a “Troublesome” Command
There is an explanation for the “killing God” to harmonize with the loving God. It involves his omniscience. It does happen that people go past the point of no return. eg: “their thoughts were evil and evil only”. At that point, if such people have what God wants to give to his followers (Israelites) – as feebly as they did, why not exterminate the refusers – they will eventually die anyway? In His omniscience he knows they won’t. Judgement day came earlier than they expected. It is not a vengefully God, but a stubborn group of people that is to blame for their “early” demise. It should be a wake up (like Acts 5j to a liberal church!
Ultimately, each man must come to his own conviction. This does not leave room for obstinance being just as koser pickle as humble conviction. The obstinate will pay for their error. Sadly, they will likely take many with them, those many who refuse to make a decision of their own, they get paralyzed by all the choices, and simply abdicate their choice to another. They allow indecision to become decision. “Choose for yourself this day…”
Cameron Simeral says
This is fascinating and so timely. I am going through a VERY rough patch in my life and coming out of a predominately Southern Baptist fundamental-leaning way of thinking. Weighed down by my own sins, the condemnation of others, and trying to see and hear God clearly through it all. While sharing with a dear friend recently, I mused that I think that westernized “Christians” (generally) are applying what we know (or think we know) about God incorrectly in our cultural and time period context.
This would lend credence to your theor–that you may or may not believe, haha! My confusion, questions, thoughts, and feelings line up almost exactly with what you are saying here, and on your site more broadly. Perhaps it could be that it is BOTH accurate that God ordered certain wars and obliteration but that we, in our current context, cannot understand it in the way He truly intended. But I also concur, we must be extremely careful with that thread.
THANK YOU! This site has been so refreshing and needed! I’m moved and comforted. I’m going to be reading and wrestling further, clawing my way to Jesus.
John Hubbard says
I would rather say I don’t understand something rather than say it is not true or reliable. The view that everyone’s beliefs are equally valuable would lead to opposing the Israelites taking over the Promise Land. God only allowed it when their sin were bad enough.
I am very troubled by the OT story of the Father pledging to sacrifice the first thing that came through the door. Which was his daughter. It appears that he did kill her. Did he consult with a prophet as to the validity of his vow applying to a person? Was this written to warn people about making vows carelessly. The New Testament says that you should not make any vows.
The new testament teaches that some teachings are hard to understand and which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
I am convinced that the Byzantine text is the preserved text of the New Testament. For the omissions of the Critical Text (over 400)-( not just different reading), the median manuscript support for the omissions is 1 out of 40 to 1 out of 50. The median Greek manuscript support for the omissions is 2-2 1/2 percent based on a review of Pickering’s apparatus in the Family 35 Greek New Testament. I will provide a copy of my summary of Pickering’s Apparatus if you email me at email@example.com
The Greek Orthodox 1904 Greek text(corrected 1912), Robinson Pierpont NT, Pickering NT, the Greek underlying the NKJV are very similar. The Critical Text by a committee in Germany is the outlier. Every time they revise the CT, they make it closer to the Byzantine text.
Sean Anderson says
Thank you sir for your work I am certain the Lord brought me to you. I too have come to contemplate the New View On Biblical Inerrancy you have described here. It is the only place I have found a plausible reconciliation of the events attributed to God in the OT. Atrocities that I can’t possibly reconcile with God’s character. Shall we call good evil and evil good? I am treated as a heretic for questioning the accounts such as those alleging God commanded babies to be ripped from their mothers wombs. This is a fantastic example because that is evil and in no context could it not be. I don’t care if the baby is evil and the mother is evil such an act is born of hate and when speaking about the Baal worshippers burning their children in the fire or whatever my Heavenly Father said that the thought of it never entered His mind. If your friend gets accused of robbery wouldn’t you say,”I know my friend Bob and he is an honest man and I don’t believe he would ever commit robbery.” Well I don’t believe my God commanded evil acts and I want to know what’s up with that. Christians say,”Read your Bible!” I start reading and it’s a slaughter that never ends. Murder,incest,dismemberment,it’s got it all. I understand not every word of what happens in the scriptures represents God’s approval but I don’t think dashing babies against the rocks is part of God’s will. I guess I have a problem with violence against babies and non combatants. That’s what’s bugging me. These apologists say,”That’s a very difficult issue there.” Then ultimately it’s,”God can do whatever He wants and everything He chooses to do is correct and how dare you question Him! Your soul is in danger boy!” So the question is can God do evil? If God does evil is it good? Not only that I’m not a theologian I can’t speak of scripture. I was just born the other day and I’m not very smart. Haven’t you guys already figured this out? Surely I am not alone when reading this really horrible stuff. It’s bad. I seek truth. Your prayer and guidance is welcome.