Ok, so enough of semi-controversial YouTube videos. Time to get that flame inducing garbage off the top of the stack and get back to my bread-and-butter, boring reflections on biblical interpretation. So let’s turn to the non-controversial subject of inerrancy.
There are numerous ways of viewing the Scriptures that seem to get things a little out of whack. Some views are too high and make claims about the book that it doesn’t claim for itself. Others are of the opinion that it is a book no more inspired than any other great great literary work. And still others who wouldn’t even give it that much credit.
As you might guess, true to my father’s Buddhist roots, I hold something of a Middle Way. I trust the Scriptures and hold what I think many would call a high view of Scripture. I read it, study it, memorize it, attempt to live it, teach it, and so for some it might appear that I border on bibliolatry.
I do consider myself to be an inerrantist, but I’m pretty sure my definition of inerrancy would be so unrecognizable to those who are proper biblical inerrantists that I would be excluded from the club. So as with most things religious (I’m going to start using this word to describe myself more, heh), I guess it all depends on who is doing the defining. My belief in God’s inspiration of the Word is going to be too high for some, but it is probably deemed too low for others.
Almost time to cue N.T. …
Over the years, I’ve grown less concerned with the actual mechanics of inspiration, and more concerned with the role the Scriptures are meant to have in the life of the church and world. Wright’s book on the Bible, Scripture and the Authority of God, helps to clarify a host of issues surrounding our understanding of the text. And in typical Wright-ian fashion, he puts forth something that is somehow ontologically lower, but effectually higher than your typical Bible believer. You get a little of that here…
The apostolic writings, like the ‘word’ which they now wrote down, were not simply about the coming of God’s Kingdom into all the world; they were, and were designed to be, part of the means whereby that happened, and whereby those through whom it happened could themselves be transformed into Christ’s likeness.
This way of understanding Scripture gives full weight to the importance of proclaiming the Word. Without getting mired in sticky debates about whether it is “true” or not, one can still hold to the legitimate belief that Scripture is one of the primary means by which God reveals himself to the world in a powerful way.
As the following quote suggests, recognizing that the proclamation of the Bible (or even simply reading it aloud) as a powerful means of calling God’s purposes into being is about as high a view of Scripture as one can hold…
The creator God, though utterly transcendent over and different from the world he has made, remains present and active within that world, and one of the many ways in which this is so is through his living and active word. This reflects God’s own nature on the one hand; it is a natural and normal thing for this God to speak, not some anthropomorphic projection onto a blank deistic screen! On the other hand, it reflects the fact that, within God’s world, one of the most powerful things human beings, God’s image-bearers can do is to speak. Words change things – through promises, commands, apologies, warnings, declarations of love or of implacable opposition to evil. The notion of ‘speech-acts,’ which we referred to already, is fairly new in philosophy. It would not have surprised the ancient Israelite prophets.
Words change things. How much more so when they are the very words of God?