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Think Bible

Think Bible

So I am thinking about the Bible, I love the Bible, it is an amazing text that reveals to us who our God is and what His heart and intentions are for us. It reveals Christ to us and the plan of God to save us from the consequences we rightly deserve for our sin. The Bible is deep, multilayered complex, historical, honest, and fascinating. In terms of the Bibles reliability on matters of History it has been proven impeccable time and time again through archaeology and extra biblical historical documentation. Natural theology, which is utilizing reason alone to understand God and His relation to us and the universe, demonstrates the God that created the universe is most likely the God of the Bible. 

Christians of all stripes have differing views of the Bible, its purpose, origin, and inspiration. We all have questions, we have all encountered difficulties, and we have even experienced doubts. All of this is healthy and good, for the difficulties, questions and doubts should lead us to seek understanding and in so doing we will have a greater appreciation for the text. My own understanding of the text has dramatically changed since I first came to Christ. My appreciation for the text has only grown in the process. I am contemplating and wrestling with the evangelical idea of inerrancy, the concept of inspiration, and the reality of how ancient people understood historiography. Ancient peoples did not view history as we do. They used very different devices to portray history then we do today. Authors were allowed liberties on matters of chronology, they could abbreviate or elaborate on events as they saw fit given the purpose they had in mind for the overall narrative. 

Often we want the Bible to be a perfect detailed snapshot of history, events, discourses and so on, and the ancients annoyingly weren't concerned about such matters. To the ancient Historian capturing the gist of an event, the major emphasis of events, was more important than tediously cataloging every nuanced detail. In terms of discourse the aim was to preserve them with high accuracy, but chronology was not necessarily important. Thus in the New Testament we have a series of sayings of Jesus that were not necessarily stated in the exact order recorded. Indeed we can trust the gospel's record of the sayings of Jesus, but we cannot guarantee they were spoken in the order they appear in our text. Further it was not considered inaccurate, or wrong to shorten things, or add things for clarity. The ancient historian was within his right to do such things. 

The OT is even more crazy. We find within the OT mythical beasts, possible legends, cosmogony, poetry, songs, wisdom literature, prophecy, and apocalyptic texts. All of this literature including myth and legend were acceptable forms of communicating truth. Indeed I would agree with them here. Because we find truth is not limited to historical facts, truth can be found in moral truths, philosophical truths, theological truths, and so on. Think about it like this you can watch a fictional film about a drug addict, who ruins his life, gives up hope, then finds restoration in the relentless care of a family member. The addict, finds hope healing and eventually freedom. This story is completely fictional, yet it conveys truth as it pertains to the realm of the destructiveness and brutality of addiction. This the film, while fiction (akin to myth/legend), communicates a truth because the themes correspond to reality. This is much like the mythical and legendary aspects of the Bible.

The Bible must be understood in this light because it is not merely the word of God, rather it is the words of men as well. The Bible is a beautiful collection of literature that was written by a specific people, at a specific time, with specific purposes and motives in mind. Yet in this, through the cultural, social, historical, and literary contexts, we see clear evidence of a divine motion flowing through the text. We therefore recognize the Bible as a marvelous text that captures God partnering with men to progressively reveal His redemptive plan, pointing towards the coming of Christ. God partners with broken fallible agents and produces something splendid. I would argue the Bible is not perfect by any means, though it is honest, and inspired. Indeed the Bible contains human errors (not as many as you would expect though for being written over a 1500 year period by 40 different authors which is rather quite remarkable), but it does contain minor errors, inconsistencies, contradiction (I have only found one real contradiction in the whole text thus far), theological errors, and scientific errors. 

Now what does all of this mean for Inspiration and inerrancy. Well the most obvious conclusion is any claim to inerrancy is mere fantasy. But does inspiration require inerrancy. My God of course not! How does one reason that because God "inspired" the text therefore it must not have errors? This is not reasonable, it is a jump in logic. For sure the text is inspired and demonstrates this many times over in various ways, but inspiration does not necessitate inerrancy. Inspiration simply means "God is in this," He was a part of the process. His input is more obvious in some areas such as prophecy, and more obscure in others. Indeed the mechanism of inspiration will always be a mystery, but one thing is certain: He is definitely in the text and in the composition of it in some mysterious way. How do we know this? The most blatant evidence is found in the prophetic emphasis on the coming of Christ. This is the main objective of God throughout the Bible. The OT points forward in anticipation of Christ, while the NT points backward in celebration of Him. 

I want to close by saying understanding these finer details of the Bible is essential in truly understanding the beauty and wonder of it all. God partners with broken fallible men and together they produce a record of God's divine plan of redemption. It is similar to our own lives. God indwells us, inspires us, speaks to us, all the while we are a walking mess of confusion, error, victory, glory, and everything else in-between. I therefore see the Bible as a physical representation of God's love for uniting with us, and producing something splendid in through our lives.



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