Sunday, June 15, 2008

If the Bible's inerrant, than so am I.

An interesting trend keeps popping up in some of the blogs I visit. I think I notice it more among conservative/fundamentalist Christians than liberal Christians, but given that I have the liberal outlook, I could be blind to it.

I find that for those who hold that truth is more multi-faceted, or that God can be experienced in more than one religion, or even that more than one religion can be true, there's more of a dialogue. If people differ, they are willing to explore why the other person believes as they do, or follows the path that they do. Disagreement doesn't automatically mean that the person disagrees with God.

In a more fundamentalist mindset, it's not the case. If I say that I don't believe the fundamentalist's position, I'm not ask why, my position is not explored. Rather, I'm flat-out told I'm wrong, and why. Not only am I wrong, I'm apparently also disagreeing with God, or have a problem with God.

That's the frightening aspect about it. There seems to be no hint of self-examination on the fundamentalist viewpoint, no willingness to step in the shoes of another. Instead, there's almost an elevation of the fundamentalist mindset, putting it on equal standing with the viewpoint of God.

How can common ground be reached with that perspective? Or compromise, or the middle road? I'm not on God's side, so I'm automatically in the lost/unsaved/hellbound/second status role.

Simply because the Bible might be inerrant does not mean that one's interpretation is at the same level of inerrancy. Yet how often do any of see that awareness? Rather, it comes across more that the person's method of understanding the Bible is also inerrant.

Perhaps this is because fundamentalism does seem to be simplistic, in many ways. It's tied to the idea of the Four Spiritual Laws, or there's this certain set of beliefs one must have to be saved. There's no hint of the depth or complexity found in the Bible in that mindset. Which, granted, if it's thought that every single book in the Bible carries the same core message, than it's easier to be simplistic than complex. If you feel that the message of the Bible is simple and inerrant, then there'd be very little you could do to misunderstand it once you do properly understand the inerrant message.

14 comments:

Andrew said...

It is difficult. To many, it is not simply that I believe differently about inerrancy, it is that my belief puts me on the other side. I am to be reached out to, or ignored, but I am no longer valid or trustworthy.

This despite the fact that I reference scripture much more often to support my beliefs than those who are most ardent about inerrancy. Funny that.

shelly said...

Rather, I'm flat-out told I'm wrong, and why. Not only am I wrong, I'm apparently also disagreeing with God, or have a problem with God.

There's a word for that sort of thing: bigotry.

I can identify a little bit. My late grandfather (dad's side) pastored a fundamentalist church. He didn't agree with the fact my mother would often give sermons at church meetings or any of that, because of a passage of scripture that says women must "keep silent in the church" (I think it's in 1 Corinthians somewhere). Never mind that, throughout the NT, there were women who traveled and ministered in various places; and that there are women of prominence who did all sorts of awesome things throughout the entire Bible (Miriam (Moses' sister); Rahab; Deborah; Ruth and Naomi; Queen Esther; all the Marys in the NT (Jesus' mother, Mary Magdalene, and Martha's sister); Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist); etc.).

I do think fundies are afraid to dig into the scriptures thoroughly, because they're afraid of what they might find...and what they may find, in some instances, may be something that will totally blow their dogma out of the water and give them such freedom that they won't know what to do with it.

Anders said...

Hello! I found your website. My name is Anders Branderud and I am from Sweden.

You write: “Perhaps this is because fundamentalism does seem to be simplistic, in many ways. It's tied to the idea of the Four Spiritual Laws, or there's this certain set of beliefs one must have to be saved. There's no hint of the depth or complexity found in the Bible in that mindset. Which, granted, if it's thought that every single book in the Bible carries the same core message, than it's easier to be simplistic than comple”

My comment:
So what is the Bible? Are the NT Bible? Who decides that? Are the Jews wrong who says that NT is not the Bible?
How was the historical “Jesus”?

I am a follower of Ribi Yehoshua – Mashiakh – who practiced Torah including Halakhah with all his heart.
He was born in Betlehem 7 B.C.E . His faher name was Yoseiph and mother’s name was Mir′ yâm. He had twelve followers. He tought in the Jewish batei-haknesset (synagogues). Thousands of Jews were interested in His Torah-teachings. The “Temple” Sadducees (non-priests who bought their priest-ship in the “Temple” from the Romans, because they were assimilated Hellenist and genealogically non-priests acting as priests in the “Temple”; they were known by most 1st-century Jews as “Wicked Priests.” decided to crucify him. So they did - together with the Romans. His followers were called Netzarim (meaning offshoots [of a olive tree]) and they continued to pray with the other Jews in the synagogues.

Christianity does not teach the teachings of Ribi Yehoshua. Ribi Yehoshuas teachings were pro-Torah.
This book is a good introduction - “How Jesus Became Christian” av Barrie Wilson, Ph.D.

If you want to learn more click at our website www.netzarim.co.il -- than click at the lick "Christians"; click at my photo to read about what made my switch religion from Christianity to Orthodox Judaism.

Anders Branderud
Follower of Ribi Yehoshua in Orthodox Judaism

OneSmallStep said...

Andrew,

**This despite the fact that I reference scripture much more often to support my beliefs than those who are most ardent about inerrancy. Funny that.**

I know exactly what you mean. I find this occuring in any highly charged topic, not just religion. I take the opposite stance, and though I can provide reasons/historical background/statistics for my belief, I'm still not trustworthy simply because I'm on the other side. The facts themselves, and the reasons, aren't examined.

Shelley,

Bigotry isn't something I had considered before, but in thinking back on my encounters ... I can see this. There's still a "second-class" treatment going on, and there are still attacks there on a person's character or motivation or the matter of the person's faith, simply because the person is "other."

**I do think fundies are afraid to dig into the scriptures thoroughly, because they're afraid of what they might find**

THis might depend. We've seen fundamentalists who clearly do know how to quote the Bible, and have clearly read the Bible. So it's not a matter of knowing it. It's a matter of the knowledge is superficial. Does it contain aspects of historical Christianity and Judaism? Is the context of the Bible understood? Or are various quotes ripped out of context to support a doctrine/belief system? It's like the chicken and the egg question: which came first, the Bible or the doctrine?

Anders,

Thanks for stopping by. I'll be sure to check out your links.

steve martin said...

Funny how God uses earthen vessels (his flawed creation)to get His messsage across, but that He somehow could not use a flawed book, another cracked vessel, in which was carried His perfect Word.

"In the begining was the Bible, and the Bible was with God and the Bible was God."

Is that how it should read?

It really reads like this (as it should)" In the begining was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

So, is the Word of God, the Bible?
No. The Word is referring to Jesus Christ. The Bible is an aspect of that Word, just as Christ centered preaching, and the sacraments of baptism and holy communion are aspects of that Word.

Bible thumpers have a very hard time understanding this.

Oh well, they are only human, and humans have to be taught these eternal truths or they won't know them.

It's all there in the Bible! (curveball?)

Nope, I mean it. The Bible, which I believe is not perfect because man was involved in the equation, still contains within it's 'not perfect' pages...the perfect message. Christ died for sinners. That's the message.

Thanks!

- Steve Martin

OneSmallStep said...

Steve,

I tend to think the message is more God loves you than Christ dying for sinners. Mostly because Christianity doesn't rise or fall based on the death portion of Jesus, it rises/falls bases on the resurrection. The message should focus more on the life aspect.

I especially think this because it's rather difficult to find a clear-cut atonement message in the Gospels themselves. It mostly comes from Paul, as he elaborates on the different ways in which the cross factors in. Jesus makes three, maybe four mentions about the cross itself and the purpose it served. The Good News was that Jesus was risen.

mysteryofiniquity said...

OneSmallStep,

I think we'd all be better off if we took Gamaliel's advice, (paraphrase coming) "If it be of man then it will vanish, but if it be of God, who are we to thwart it?" Good advice. I say let God sort out the players, even if that's what God wants to do! I find that most fundies are wedded to the idea of punishment, not charity, for those who don't believe as they do. You can't argue with a heart that lusts for vengeance.

societyvs said...

This is because of Joshua ain't it - lol.

I really dug Anders perspective on here (I am hoping he is not a bot so I can see what he is all about).

The problem with the faith we have now - is based on the Reformation and streteches back into Gentilism for many centuries (back to Augustine). I think the faith has become a literalist's paradise and anyone else pointing out the obvious failure's in their interpretation is...swept aside - relegated to a lesser perspective.

The bible is chalked filled with metaphor after metaphor - so much I would say that take some of the stuff this faith takes literally actually harms the faith - not helps it. That's why many of us find ouselves on the outside looking in with fundies - because they are all about a strict literal view of things.

Then we get into the cohesiveness of the bible - everything lining up perfectly with no disagreeance. I tend to think that view is way too simplistic to explain the whole of the bible - nevermind just the NT (27 books and letters). A lot of it does line up - I agree - but also a lot of it refelcts varying perspectives - which is never acknowledged in Christianity by any fundie - but it's as obvious as have 4 different fingers and a thumb.

I am so used to being treated like second class Christian that I think I am going to start calling myself by that title. I am so sick of all the black n white bullsh*t this faith tries to sell as a 'slam dunk' - when in fact - upon further un-biased study - you just know there is more to the story than one view.

For me, the worst thing about Chrstianity is it's lack of roots. This faith began in Judaism and then was an off-shoot. The Jewish viewpoint is not studied in Christianity - and that has harmed this faith immensely. I would even say, this faith is nothing like the original Acts community and can never be so - unless we understand the Jewish community it arose from.

OneSmallStep said...

MOI,

Excellent advice, and like all such advice, much easier said than done. :-P

Society,

The encounter on your blog was more like the tip of the iceburg. It's something I've noticed in quite a few areas, even on conservative blogs that you frequent. Note -- not fundamentalists, just conservatives. They're polite and friendly when you agree with them, but if you state a differing opinion, and even back it up with support, the tone gets a lot cooler. They have the "truth" and thus the right perspective, and there seems to be very little room for learning. YOu can't dialogue that way, or even reach out to someone, because you are constantly seen through a conservative perspective, rather than who you actually are.

**A lot of it does line up - I agree - but also a lot of it refelcts varying perspectives - which is never acknowledged in Christianity by any fundie - but it's as obvious as have 4 different fingers and a thumb. **

I agree with the lining up if we're talking about themes, such as God's love and justice, or how God operates. I don't think the theme is Jesus Christ. There's no way to reach that theme unless interpreting the Bible through the NT. The Tanakh, if standing on its own, doesn't go there. Otherwise, surely some Jewish commentator would've mentioned it pre-Jesus.

I'm not saying it doesn't point to a Messiah -- I'm saying it doesn't point to the Messiah orthodox Christianity describes.

**The Jewish viewpoint is not studied in Christianity - and that has harmed this faith immensely.**

Oh, I agree. Have you noticed that when describing the Jewish viewpoints, many often only use Paul's letters? They don't ever use the actual Jewish portion of the Bible.

Anders said...

Hello,
Gamaliel endorsed Ribi Yehoshuas followers Netzarim who practiced Torah and Halakhah non-selectively.

He didn’t endorse a anti-Torah movement

Nâsi of the Beit-Din ha-Jâdol ("Gamaliel, Rabban," EJ 7:295) beginning ca. 20 C.E. (Chronology of the Tan"kh from the 'Big Bang').
Filtering, as far as possible, all Christian redactions and interpretations and translating directly from the earliest extant source documents to reconstruct Hebrew Ma•avâr 5.34-40:
"And a certain man of the rabbinic-Pәrushim in the Beit-Din ha-Jâdol named Jamliyeil, a teacher of Torâh esteemed by all of the kinsmen, rose up and ordered that the [Nәtzârim] Shәlikhim be excused from [the proceedings] for a short time.

Then he addressed the Beit-Din ha-Jâdol saying,
'Men, Bәnei-Yisrâ•eil, take heed to yourselves what you intend to impose upon these men; for in earlier days [Hellenist Greek] Theudas rose up claiming to be the Mâshiakh and had a following of about 400 men. He was taken up, and as many as were persuaded by him dispersed and came to nothing. After him, in the days of the census, Yәhudâh of the Gâlil rose up and incited the am to stray and follow him. But he was finally brought to an end and as many as were persuaded by him dispersed. And now I tell you, Turn aside from these men, tolerate them, because if this counsel or this work is of men it will cease. But if it be of Ëlohim, then you will not be able to make them cease and, in that case, you would also be found to be fighters against Ëlohim…'

"So the Pәrushim-dominated Beit-Din ha-Jâdol was persuaded by him but, having recalled the Shәlikhim, the Hellenist pseudo-Tzәdoqim whipped them and conveyed instructions to them that they should not speak in the name of Ribi Yәhoshua, and released them."

Until ca. 20 C.E., the Beit-Din ha-Jâdol had been predominated by the Hellenist pseudo-Tzәdoqim. It wasn't Pәrushim (predecessors of today's Orthodox rabbis) who defied the explicit instruction of their first, and very own, Pәrushim Nâsi, Jamliyeil, and the Beit-Din ha-Jâdol to whip the Nәtzârim or order them to cease. (quote: netzarim.co.il)

Anders Branderud
Follower of Ribi Yehoshua - Mashiakh (some translate it Mashiakh) - in Orthodox Judaism
If you want to learn more about my life and religion; then click at our website www.netzarim.co.il -- than click at the link "Christians" – then click at my photo.

Luke said...

i find that those who believe the bible to be inerrant are also those who believe in the bible... that means they BELIEVE it with out READING it. any nut can read literally and see how kings and chronicals conflict. Deuteronomy says that that cause of all our suffer is because we sin. we sin because we aren't faithful and not worshipping in a centralized location whereas Job says there IS no reason why we suffer. in the NT the synoptics say jesus died on Friday and in John it says Thursday. which is it?!

if those aren't conflicts i don't know what is.

these conflicts held in context (socio-historical) show how a certain group interacts with God at a given moment in it's history. i really love the bible, but inerrant it is not!

good job tackle'n a tough subject.


rawk!

Mystical Seeker said...

I'm currently reading a book called "Rethinking Christianity" by someone who is more or less on the orthodox side of things (he is a Trinitarian, for example), but he is quite liberal in his approach to the Bible, and he has a lot of insightful things to say about biblical literalism. You might find the book of interest.

OneSmallStep said...

Luke,

** find that those who believe the bible to be inerrant are also those who believe in the bible... that means they BELIEVE it with out READING it.**

This can be taken one step further. They believe in a translated Bible, because of the reliance on the English translations. There seems to be very little awareness of the original meaning of the words, or the context of each book itself.

Under no other circumstance would we read a "historical" text and take that text at face value, if it's 2,000 to 6,000 years old. We'd need commentaries, we'd need to use historians familiar with that era. Yet the Bible is as clear now as it was that long ago? If that was the case, then the same beliefs fundamentalists hold now should mirror those held by the early church.

Mystical,

I'll add it to my reading list.

SellingMyself said...

I have also noticed that many ex-fundy or ex-Christian bloggers keep themselves anonymous. That is always a good thing on the internet anyway, but I know for me it is not because I am fearful or because I don't believe in what I believe (or don't), I just already know what the reaction will be and I would just rather state my case and enjoy reading the experiences of others without all the drama.