Inerrancy, Authority, the Holy Spirit and me. Part 1
What I say about the Bible says a lot about me.
In our post-modern, so-cool-its-uncool land of hipsters, yuppies, occupiers and the like, one topic is sure to set ablaze one big ruckus of conversation: the inerrancy of scripture. For most old-fashioned, “conservative,” reformation-leaning Christians, the issue seems simple. They believe the Bible is perfectly true in all that it teaches and asserts. The Bible says things. Lots of things. And they’re all true.
All of them.
Saying this should seem normal, admirable even. But I think if I were to gather a gaggle of “cool Christians” together, Christians near my own age and tax bracket and neighborhood, if I were to tell these Christians that I believe the Bible is perfectly true in all that it teaches and asserts, I can think of a lot of words that would get thrown my way.
Words like “fundamentalist.”
Words like “arrogant,” “conservative,” and “intolerant” seem also likely.
The fact is, it is simply not cool or popular to believe that the Bible is really all that trustworthy. And I see their point.
I mean, after all, the Bible was originally printed on paper. Paper! It was written down by people who never even saw the Internet. Never saw the Internet. The guys who wrote down the Bible used really long words and sentences. And if there’s one thing modern society can teach us, it’s that if you can’t say it in 140 characters or less, it’s not worth saying. Now, as much as I’d like to wax poetic and lament the current state of the American intellect, especially in the 18-34 demographic, that’s a sad topic for another, sadder article.
What I think, is that my view of the Bible relates directly to my view of authority and the Holy Spirit. I don’t think that a view of the Bible as irrelevant, outdated, untrustworthy or diluted makes a person seem smart. Or intellectual. Or enlightened. Or progressive. I think it displays one of the fundamental problems with everything in the world.
You see, it’s one thing to argue that one translation is closer to an original text than another. But engage in “post-modern” strivings to converse away the Bible and relegate it to a set of morality tales for angry old white men is really a smoke-and-mirrors routine to mask our calloused, selfish, spoiled, rebellious hearts.
The fact is, we can’t accept the Bible as perfectly true in all that it teaches and asserts because we can’t accept that there exists authority over our lives. After all, if the Bible is perfectly true in all that it teaches and asserts, then that would mean that the Bible has the divine right to dictate what is right to believe about God. How I worship. What I pray for. Who Jesus is. What Jesus said. How I spend my money. Who I have sex with. Whether or not I can divorce my wife. If it’s okay for me to simply live with my girlfriend and never marry her. How I raise my kids. How I respond to anger. What I do to my friends, family, neighbors. Who gets to come over to my house for dinner. How I apply myself to my job. The meaning of happiness. The root of joy.
If the Bible is perfectly true in all that it teaches and asserts, then that means that whoever wrote it is smarter than me. And that simply cannot be. Because, after all, I have the internet. I’ve read some books about some stuff. I had a college professor who taught me some really great quotes about life and philosophy.
So I can’t possibly believe that the Bible is perfectly true in all that it teaches and asserts. Because if I do, then I might have to do what it says.
And worse than that, I’ll have to admit that there is a God and he’s not me. That there is a sovereignly reigning king who rules the universe with absolute power and authority. And that he’s good, but doesn’t do the things I think he should all the time.
The problem with viewing scripture as authoritative is that it refuses to obey me, and demands that I obey Jesus. So it’s more appealing to culture, to hipsters, to “post-modern” twenty-somethings to just say, “the Bible shouldn’t be taken literally.” Or, “the Bible was really written for a different time.” So I’ll whittle and piss away time asking questions that please my ears but ravage my soul. I’ll devote my time to “spirituality” and other ambiguous, safe, undemanding ideals.
Because if the Bible is perfectly true in all that it teaches and asserts, then God is far more perfect, sovereign, powerful, just, holy, good, loving and kind than I can realize. And that means I’m vastly more sinful, arrogant, rebellious, and ungrateful than I can express. Which means that Jesus is infinitely more worthy of worship than I can possibly give.
So it’s just way easier to believe that the Bible isn’t perfectly true in all that it teaches and asserts.
Otherwise, I might have to admit things about myself that I simply don’t want to. I can’t be entitled if the Bible is true. I can’t be selfish. I can’t place God into whatever shiny new box my culture has to offer. I can’t deviate from traditional Christian doctrine whenever it’s more convenient for me. I can’t pick and choose the parts of the Bible that make me feel warm and fuzzy and discard the rest.
I can’t do whatever it is I want to do to God the Father, Son, and Spirit if the Bible is perfectly true in all that it teaches and asserts about Him.
So let’s just keep pretending it’s not.