The Bible, as understood by Christians, is written, God-breathed, holy scripture that entails an Old and New Testament of God’s salvific plan to humanity, culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and beginnings of the early church. It is the most manufactured and purchased book the world has known. The Bible could also be one of the most misinterpreted and misunderstood collection of writings the world has ever known. It is this way even amongst Christians, the very people who espouse its truth and pray for God to reveal His truth in Scripture. If it is truly God’s word why do so many Christians disagree as to what is doctrine? After all, if they are all praying to God to reveal the truth of scripture to them shouldn’t all Christians agree as to what it says? What actually constitutes Christian doctrine as interpreted by the Bible? These are just some of the many questions I am hoping to tackle as I build the narrative for this topic and the subtopics which support it.
Inspired and inerrant?
Many Christians believe the Bible to be the inspired and inerrant word of God. But what does this really mean? By inspired do we actually mean God spoke directly to the writers and then directed the movements of their writing utensil across the papyri? Or do we mean the men were inspired some other way and still captured the inspiration of God’s teaching?
By inerrant do we mean the Bible is without error in all of its facets, or without error in doctrinal teaching? Is it without error in its many translations? Would it make the Bible less reliable if some historical information wasn’t 100% accurate like when dates of ruling kings are off by a few years, or lineages in different accounts aren’t homogenous? Does this somehow dispel the truth of Christ’s message or God’s overall revelatory news to the world? This hardly seems plausible. So how much scrutiny, that is, how much and what kinds of error and contradictions (if proven to have any) can the Bible sustain and yet still be considered the word of God, truthful, inspired, and inerrant? If somehow it could be proven scientifically or genetically that the Biblical Adam did not exist, does this somehow lend falsity to the resurrection story of Jesus of Nazareth? Does a historical Adam have to exist in order for the Genesis creation story to be true? Couldn’t some portions of the Genesis garden story be fictitious, and some of it true to still teach a foundational truth of the fallen nature of humanity? Haven’t we used fictional tales from an early age to teach lessons we know to be valuable and true anyway? To what end, if any, are we willing to grant the writers of the Bible some human fallibility, and perhaps literary license, in their efforts to portray the truth of God’s love to humanity? What sort of claims does the Bible make in regards to itself?
These are just some of the questions we will consider as the content is being built for this sub-topic. Thanks for your patience!
As a Bible-believing Christian you will embrace your time spent in studying the Scripture and also find yourself getting perhaps a little uncomfortable with some of God’s commands in the Old Testament and some of Jesus’ teaching in the New Testament. So are we to gloss over these sections and pretend they are not there, or relevant, or can we tackle some of these things head on and discern what the command is and why we should obey it? In some ways, if we deem some of these commands unpalatable, who are we to decide what commands are palatable and which ones are not? There are plenty of tough stories in the Bible that on the surface could call God’s goodness into question. God’s goodness, as we’ve already discussed, is paramount in understanding a large amount of what His nature entails. So what is our responsibility here and how do we face these narratives?
Please continue your patience with me as I build this sub-topic.
Heaven and Hell
Are they real or just imaginary places? Is the idea of heaven and hell a bedtime story meant to scare us into a sense of moral duty and obligation? If a place called heaven and hell (or places of separation) do not exist, what does that mean for the implications of moral duties and obligations while on Earth? Why should we be morally obliged to do anything? What is this notion of ought and ought now? If there is life after death does it make sense that we all end up in the same place? If so, why be good at all, why not be completely full of self-aggrandizement, why feel the need to fulfill any moral obligations or exhibit any altruistic behavior? Could it be that morality really has no ultimate relevancy if there is no life beyond the grave? Does this seem plausible? What does the Bible teach about heaven and hell?
More to come…