Friday, April 24, 2009

The Bible is a perfect Bible

Another little spat about inerrancy going on in the blogosphere, which I've got caught up with here (well, it was my day off - and it's relevant to my Learning Supper talk this coming Sunday night).

I just wanted to share a more positive thought: the Bible is perfect for what it is.

The reason why I dislike language of 'inerrancy' is because it brings in the idea that scientific truth is the highest standard of truth (and this is clear if you explore the origin of the fundamentalist movement in the United States - they wanted the 'most scientific' form of authority).

For me, because I see other forms of knowledge as being more important, most especially personal knowledge, it is not a problem to the overall authority of the Bible to say that it errs on matters of scientific fact (eg Jesus saying that the mustard seed is the smallest of all possible seeds).

This requires discrimination as to genre, and the avoidance of turning mythological material into scientific material (eg Genesis 1-11).

It also means that the divergent voices in the Scriptures, running all the way through the Biblical accounts, is a facet of the perfection of the Bible, not a flaw. It is perfect because it contains contradictions, because that is what God wanted it to be.

In other words, I think that the Bible is an inspired and authoritative collection of Scriptures, which perfectly accomplishes what God wants it to accomplish. I just disagree that this means that it is inerrant in the fundamentalist sense.

Obligatory Wittgenstein quote: "God has four people recount the life of his incarnate Son, in each case differently and with inconsistencies. Is this not just in order that the literal word is not taken too seriously, and that the spirit may be given its due? In other words a mediocre account is to be preferred..."

The Bible is a finger pointing at the moon. It points perfectly to the moon. The problem comes when people insist on making the finger into the moon: they search the Scriptures for eternal life, but they don't find the one in whom that eternal life rests.

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