You’ve seen the bumper stickers or tee-shirts before I’m sure. “Gun control means using both hands.” And then there is the other extreme that basically says guns should be illegal except for maybe law enforcement and the military. I might call it the doctrine of gun control. In that light, it isn’t too different from what is happening in Christianity as it relates to the Bible and how Christians, or Christ-followers, or whatever, live their lives.
There are those in the emergent church movement who say that the doctrine of inerrancy isn’t a Biblical doctrine and should not be so forcibly held onto. The doctrine of inerrancy basically says that there are no errors of fact nor are there any contradictions in the Bible. The Bible is 100% accurate when it speaks on matters of history, science, culture, etc. While the Bible may not contain a label that says, “This book is inerrant,” the concept can be found throughout the Bible. If it is the word of God, then it must be inerrant. When you look at the writing it’s pretty apparent which books are historical and which ones are poetic. There are ways to tell when the writing is being figurative and when it is being literal. If there is any confusion about anything it usually has to do with the fact that we are 21st century Americans reading about 2,000+ year middle eastern cultures. Once you get around that, things are clearer.
Why do some object to this doctrine? Because, they say, it is one of the things that has led to Christians becoming isolationists from the rest of the world. It is part of what has led to mainstream Christianity become so ineffective and irrelevant in our society. Those who hold to an inerrant view of scripture aren’t tolerant of other cultures and make Christianity look stupid.
Their answer? Get rid of the doctrine. And don’t stop there, look at all the other whacky stuff these inbred Christians are into and get rid of that too. Bible prophecy is irrelevant. The origins of mankind and the universe, as told in the Bible, are a myth, a morality tale, not a historical narrative. Basically, instead of using the Bible as God intended, redefine it. Take away these things and redefine or recreate Christianity and God in our own image. Don’t teach people how to use the gun, take it away from them. After all, it isn’t the only source of truth in this world. All truth is God’s truth, according to Rob Bell. The Bible isn’t the only source of truth, Christianity doesn’t hold the corner on truth, God is bigger than that.
Why am I on about this? Because I love God’s word. I get fired up when people attack it or abuse it ignorantly. When you have a false presupposition and come to a conclusion that happens to fit the evidence, your conclusion is still false. It so happens that I agree with many of the objections the emergent folks, and the world for that matter, have concerning the church and Christians in our culture. But their solutions are completely wrong, and in opposition to God’s word. Their presupposition is wrong, their observations are right, but their conclusions are wrong.
The answer isn’t redefining God’s word. The answer isn’t taking it less seriously. The answer is taking His word more seriously. The answer is studying it and applying it more. The agent of change in this world is the Holy Spirit. But when you don’t believe that the Spirit is active today, you are going to ignore Him and try to find your own way to be an agent of change. When you don’t believe Jesus is really going to come back, God is going to judge the world, and Jesus is our only hope for the future, you make up a new future, you spiritualize our hope. When you don’t believe those early chapters of Genesis, the Bible becomes a collection of stories, it becomes a pile of pillows upon which people are supposed to build their lives, instead of the firm foundation that it really is.
“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” If I can’t trust the Bible then I can’t trust that Jesus love me. If I can’t trust that Jesus loves me, then what’s the point? I might as well believe in the Smurfs, and you darned well better respect my beliefs. Why? Because the Smurfs believe in truth, honesty, and sharing. So does God. Therefore, God must be in the Smurfs. Do you see where this leads? Now where did I put my white hat…
The Bible is the word of God. It tells us where we come from. It tells us that God made us for a purpose. It tells us that that purpose is to have a relationship with Him. It tells us that Adam an Eve disobeyed God which is sin, which resulted in all of their descendants (that’s us) being separated from God because we sin too. It tells us that there is no way we can fix that on our own. It tells us that God Himself had a plan to fix it because He doesn’t want us to be separated from Him. It tells us that Jesus’ death and resurrection was God’s plan to fix it, and that that is the only way it can be fixed. It tells us that He will give us His own Holy Spirit to change us, and He will use us to change the world around us. It tells us that God will tolerate the sin of the world for only so long and that He is going to judge it someday. It tells us that Jesus is the only way out of this judgment.
The Bible gives us a sense of purpose for our past and present, and it gives us hope for our future. We can have confidence in that. It is certain. It is absolute. Jesus love you, this you can know, for the Bible tells you so.