Monday, October 21, 2013

The Bible: Inspired and Authoritative

The Bible!  Inspired Word of God, or outdated collection of myths and moral instruction?  The beliefs people have concerning this collection of writings vary widely, from near worship to disdain.  From reliable guide for life, to the root of all evil in our society.  God's special revelation of himself to us or a means to manipulate the masses.

It is challenging to 'prove' the Bible, and I will not be attempting that here.  Rather I will expressing what I believe to be true about it.  You may take exception to one of more of the positions that I take, but it is what I have come to believe over the years.  Coming to this place has been a long and challenging journey; and one that may not yet be complete.  But it has been rewarding and has helped to shape much of the rest of my faith.

Inspired

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV
I believe that the Bible is divinely inspired.  But being inspired means different things to different people.  Some argue that the specific words in the original texts are inspired, and others say the general ideas contained in the Bible were inspired.

I lean toward the later camp.  It seems to me that if the words themselves are given by God to the human authors, then they should all sound alike.  And there would only be a single gospel account.  But that is clearly not the case.  Paul and John have distinctly different styles and ways of saying things.

I do believe that God is moving in the human authors in some way, inspiring them, but not telling them specifically what to write.  The words are theirs, as are the way they put them together to express their thoughts.

Inspiration tells me that I can depend on the scriptures in matters of faith; that God would not allow the addition of something that lead me astray from what he wants me to be as a follower of Christ.  Inspiration also means that the scriptures contain all that we need concerning matters of faith.  I might want more, but no more is needed to be a faithful follower of Christ.

Authoritative

I accept that in matters of my faith, the New Testament is authoritative.  God reveals his will to me most often in these writings and it is important to me to be obedient to that direction.  I do not, however, consider the Old Testament to be authoritative for me.  It is the scriptures of the old covenant, a covenant of law, which I am not under.  Instead I am under the new covenant, a covenant of grace, and the New Testament contains the writings of this covenant.

I also do not consider the Bible to be authoritative in matters outside of teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. Does the history it contains match up to modern standards?  Often times not.  Does it provide a view of the workings of creation that is scientifically accurate?  Often times not.  But that does not take away from its immense value in helping me to know and follow my Creator and Lord.

Not Inerrant

Those who would claim the Bible is inerrant, hold that the original documents are without any error, in any form.  I do not believe that to be true.  Rather I believe that in matters of faith only are the scriptures free of any error.  I do not hold them to be historically accurate by modern standards.  I also believe that they reflect the understanding of the creation that was present at the time they were written.

Not trying to hold the scriptures to the standards of history that we demand today, or having to go through the mental gymnastics necessary to explain away a mountain tall enough to see the kingdoms on the other side of a globe, free me to focus instead on what the Bible is inspired for; helping me to be a mature believer.

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