I am in the mood to do another post today and this commentary will look at two different articles posted by 2 different bloggers. First up is Peter Enns.
So, the 15 minute presentation I gave at ETS is my attempt to go a bit more into my view on inerrancy from a slightly different angle to address some general issues that remained for me after the volume had been completed.
To be fair, I understand the limitations 15 minutes provides plus realize that his presentation is probably a snippet of what he believes. Yet one can also say a lot in 15 minutes.
1. Inerrancy prescribes the Bible–and God–too narrowly
Yet the Bible provides a very narrow description of both God and the Bible itself
Titus 1:2in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
It isn’t humans who define God and the Bible narrowly. Enns errs here in thinking that the doctrine of inerrancy is human authored. God makes it loud and clear that he and his word are inerrant.
As I see it, inerrancy prescribes the boundaries of biblical interpretation in ways that creates conflict both inner-canonically and with respect to extra-biblical information. This is why “holding on to inerrancy” (as it is often put) seems to be such a high-maintenance activity, requiring vigilant and constant tending.
No, inerrancy sets the ground rules so that believers know when they stray from the truth. Just because 2 different accounts on the same story may seem like they contradict, they do not. All it means is that the bible reader must be patient and wait for the answer when none is forthcoming immediately.
One is not to assume nor interpret but look to the Holy Spirit who guides all who want it, to the truth. leaping to conclusions and interpreting means one is not providing others with God’s truth but their own ideas and that is not what Jesus taught anyone to do.
2. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy prescribes an unworkable model of Scripture
To tell you the truth I do not really care about the ‘chicago statement on biblical inerrancy.’ Maybe it is needed for some but I prefer listening to God’s word about God and feel we do not need a human authored statement to make the point.
First, it implies that those who critique inerrancy stand in opposition to God himself.
Well yes you are. If you say that God lied or allowed his authors to invent stories or doctrine then you are attacking God and his character. You are also undermining every teaching in the Bible including salvation. You are also saying God didn’t inspire the Bible contradicting clear biblical teaching.
Inerrancy isn’t the problem here. the problem lies with those who reject inerrancy because it means they have to give up their false doctrines if they want to see heaven.
3. Israel believed in many gods
Yes and no. There is only 1 God, just as there is today BUT that doesn’t mean that God’s people do not sin and turn to false gods. We know the people of Israel did so as the Bible tells us about those times. It also tells about the punishment for such sin.
Just because Israel believed in different gods does it mean the bible is errant. The logic is astoundedly bad for someone claiming to be a scholar. It is like saying baseball didn’t exist because Americans followed different sports. The choice made by people has no bearing on God, his word or inerrancy.
Or consider Deuteronomy 32:8, where the high god Elyon—known to us also from Ugaritic religion—apportions the nations to the lesser gods, one of whom is Yahweh, whose “portion was his people, Jacob his allotted share”—and so Kemosh gets Moab, Baal gets the Canaanites, and so forth.
If you look that passage up and read in context with the rest of the chapter you will see that Enns does not understand scripture. That passage does not say what Enns is saying and Enns is reading into the passage what he wants it to say, not taking out what it actually does say.
Ugarit writings have no bearing upon biblical writings nor do they get to say there are more Gods than the Trinity. They are secular writings and will reflect the secular beliefs of the Ugaritic people not the truth about life and God.
There is only one Most High God and that is God of the Bible not some secular invention. Why Enns would import secular writings when there is no biblical instruction to do so is a grave error on his part.
4. Inerrancy doesn’t describe what the Bible does
Actually it does. Inerrancy sets the boundary so that all believers can see when false teachers are entering into their midst. The Bible sets boundaries for the believers so that they know what is the right path to walk. Inerrancy is part of those boundaries. Without it all the teaching of the Bible is suspect and vulnerable to change simply because one person doesn’t like what he or she reads.
Inerrancy also motivates us to wait for the Holy Spirit to help us get to the truth. We do not get to cherry pick what is true or false, we learn what is true and false. Enns wants to cherry pick instead of humbling himself and learning. Without that boundary, anarchy reigns and anything goes.
5. An “Incarnational Model” is more helpful
Why? Does that method allow for one to ignore the difficult passages of scripture? Or be more inclusive in the church where sin can enter and corrupt what God wants holy? Attacking inerrancy means one does not want to follow God but their own way.
I don’t think inerrancy is the right category for wrapping my arms around Scripture’s complex dynamic.
Of course he doesn’t. If he did then he would have to give up his false doctrines and learn the truth. He would have to let go of his false Adam and admit he was wrong. Why is it so hard for scholars to admit they are wrong and God is right? That is a question the scholar has to ask and answer themselves.
If you take away inerrancy then you take away belief in God. If one doubts God’s word then they are not believers but doubters. Doubt leads to destruction not salvation.
The American Christian landscape in our current context seems to have a steady stream of people who feel like outsiders– out of place everywhere, at home nowhere. While many of the changes we’re seeing in American Christianity will be net positives in the end, the process of reforming and has left many exhausted, and on the margins of faith.
If the author of that article thinks there are Christian outsiders then he needs to ask why that is so. He needs to ask if those supposed outsiders beliefs play a role in their exclusion from the Church. But to do so he would need to come to an understanding of what is the ultimate and only standard for belief to be included in Christ’s Church.
That is if he rejects the biblical standard provided by God and found in the Bible. If there are such a thing as Christian outsiders then it is because they do not believe God or his word and seek to import false teaching into the Church. Then one would have to doubt the claims of those outsiders when they label themselves as Christian.
Obviously I am not talking about new converts who need to learn God’s ways and replace their sinful ideologies with the truth of the Bible. They are not outsiders but immature believers who have a lot to learn.
Outsiders are usually those who have rejected some or all of the passages of the Bible and seek to replace them with secular or false ideas. Of course they would be on the outside because they do not believe and God has told us that fellowship between righteous and unrighteous is impossible.
But let’s look at his supposed lessons.
1. I’ve learned to get my identity from Jesus– not the tribe.
He is misguided here as every believers identity comes from their decision to repent of their sins and follow Christ. We are called Christians for a reason–we strive to be like Christ.
Since leaving fundamentalism/conservative evangelicalism, I’ve had to set out on a journey where I no longer had those labels to give my life the shape it once had. In those times, I’ve come to learn that my identity as a Jesus follower must come only from Jesus.
Labels are dangerous because they refuse to allow people to grow and change. To be labeled as a follower of Jesus one has to actually follow Jesus not some altered version of him. Jesus didn’t encourage or support sin and called people to repent from them. the author of that article supports sin and calls for its inclusion in the church.
Jesus didn’t pursue his own agenda but the will of his father. The author of that article pursues his own agenda time and again. It is easy to claim one is a follower of Jesus but does that person’s fruits support the claim? In this case no they do not.
2. I’ve learned that the key to happiness is contentment.
We must ask the question–Content with what? here in Korea I have written about how unhappy other ESL teachers are because they are not content with what they receive with their contracts and that lack of contentment leads to many problems with their sojourn in this country. His explanation falls short
The experience of being a Christian outsider has been similar to a life chapter when I was in poverty and didn’t know where the next paycheck was coming from– it has forced me to learn to be content.
Finances are not the only item one needs to be content with. What about the teachings of the Bible he disagrees with? Why isn’t he content with God’s word as it is written? if he was content and happy he would not be looking to change God’s word and include unrepentant sinners in the Church.
Nor would he hide out in a congregation where he does not understand everything that is being said. (he has written on this before). he is giving a partial idea of contentment not the real thing. Finances is not the only area one needs to be content in order to be happy. One needs to be content with their employment, their spouses, their children, their homes and much more in order to be actually happy.
3. I’ve learned who my friends are.
We all go through this especially when times get rough. But his explanation tells me that he wants people to defy God in order to be his friend.
It seems that there are still so many people that are so stuck on issue #1– getting their identity and meaning from tribe and labels– that they simply don’t know how to relate to someone who no longer in good conscience can hold to them
What he doesn’t get is that it isn’t the labels that turn people away from certain friendships. It is the lack of belief or the alternative beliefs that ruin friendships. he attacks the labels for his being put into the outsider category but he really should be honestly looking at what he believes first.
He should be asking himself the tough questions not blaming labels or others for his misfortune. In the last line in that quote he blames others for not relating to him when it is he who disagrees with their beliefs and calls them wrong. It looks like he doesn’t know how to relate to those he disagrees with not the other way around.
But as usual, he wants everyone to accept him and his unbelief while he rejects them and their beliefs. That thinking doesn’t make for good friendships. What he refuses to see is right and wrong and that he is on the wrong side. Instead he makes labels the scapegoat for his decisions.
4. I’ve learned to forgive– not out of desire, but necessity.
I may sound cynical here and harsh but here goes. So he follows ONE biblical teaching, that act doesn’t make his acceptance of alternatives and false teaching correct or Christian. many cultists practice one or more real biblical teaching but that is meant to ensnare some unwary person not to actually follow Christ.
With all the loss I’ve experienced has come hurt. With hurt, comes anger. With anger– unchecked for long enough– comes bitterness. With bitterness, comes death. And here’s the deal: I don’t want to die– I want to live! This means that I’ve had to embrace a life of practicing quiet forgiveness. Sometimes I forgive people multiple times a day– it’s what I have to do to keep my sanity, and what best promotes health and well-being in my life.
It doesn’t sound like he is doing it to be biblical and to be a follower of Jesus but for different reasons.
5. I’ve learned that sometimes theology becomes more important than people, and that I don’t want to ever be on the wrong side of this equation again.
Being a true follower of Jesus mean one does not construct these smokescreens in order to import their false ideas into the church. One needs to believe the right things in order to do the right things for people.
One needs to know the will of God and do it humbly with the right spirit but one cannot do that if they toss out the right beliefs in favor of false ones. How does God get the glory when his supposed followers sin in the process of helping others?
Doing good does not justify false teaching or beliefs. Nor does it make them holy and of God. The Bible already tells us that the unbeliever knows how to give good things to their families and others. Tossing out the right belief and just doing good gets one nowhere as salvation is not by works but by grace through faith less any man should boast.
The author of that post ignores passages of scriptures in order to feel good about his false doctrines and his life. He tries to worm his false teaching into the church and tries to distract people in order to succeed.
We obviously saw this with the World Vision implosion where thousands of Evangelicals abandoned their children they had committed to financially sponsoring over the issue of same sex marriage
And here is the evidence. A real follower of Jesus would not be spreading false stories about other believers. People did not abandon the children, they moved to a different organization that held the same beliefs as they do. This false story of abandonment has been championed by not only by the owner of that website but also Rachel Held Evans.
They make all sorts of false charges simply because christians did not want to support World Vision’s changes in their doctrine. They have the right to do so and cannot be held hostage just because children are involved.
I do not think either person knew the truth of the matter nor the whole story but jumped upon a statistic that fit their false thinking. But true believers do not do that, they seek the truth first then look to God on how to proceed.
I’ve seen theology trump real life people over and over again on this journey.
Yes and no. Some people make mistakes, others are misguided while others still use theology to escape situations they do not want to be a part of. Yet there are still those who use theology correctly and reject those who accept alternatives to biblical teaching because they are allowed to do so by God. Just because he doesn’t like it doesn’t mean God is wrong or the biblical instructions are in error.
His problem is that he refuses to repent of his sinful ways and decides to reject God and his ways instead of the sin and false ideology. The problem isn’t always with the true follower of Jesus but lies with those who can’t bring themselves to reject the alternatives.
This is something that escapes alternative holders. They do not realize or refuse to accept that they are the ones who are wrong and attack those who have admitted that they are wrong and God is right and made the correct decision for their lives.
They are the ones bringing the false accusations against God, his followers and labels not the true followers of Jesus. Labels are dangerous because they are tools to hurt others in the hands of those who do not believe. For true followers of Jesus we need only be content with one real label–true believer or true christian.
We believe and then we reject false teachings and false teachers. We do not include them into the church no matter how many posts they put up on the internet.