Today in my moms store (Treasures Christian Store) Some people who are very dear to me walked in. Though they’re very dear to me they are not as close to me as they used to be so I’m not sure they quite understand my constant struggle to find the right words for what I’m trying to say. Our conversation ended up being about the inerrancy of scripture and they probably left thinking I was a heathen and that I didn’t believe the scripture was inerrant or authoritative. While I’m still dealing with these issues I am sure that the Bible is authoritative, I believe that it’s God breathed in at least some sense of the word and I know that it’s true. Is it inerrant? This question is one that I have trouble dealing with. I
I don’t believe there are mistakes, per say, but some things about the Bible are not literal some things are allegorical, mystic, and even poetic. Because of the different formats and literary genres we can’t just read the Bible “for what it says.” What happens all too often is people try to take a poetic passage of scripture and make it scientific or historical. A good example is Genesis chapter 1. What most people think of, when they hear anything about Genesis one is the line “God created the heavens and the Earth.” Now for brevity’s sake we won’t analyze the entirety of the passage but you’ll find that, although God creating the heavens and the earth seems like the main point to us, it wasn’t in the time it was written. It was a given that God created the heavens and the earth, that was the only accepted explanation at the time especially among the Hebrew people to whom the Torah was written. If you read Genesis 1 in its genre, you’ll come to understand it less as an explanation for how God created and more as a demonstration of the power of God and a description of the “good” creation He made. It’s poetry that repeats over and over again the swiftness of God’s creative process and the good of the creation itself. This focus has been lost in our culture as we’ve, over and over again, taken the scripture out of context and made Genesis 1 a scientific document. This passage does not tell us the world was created in six literal days; it tells us that the world was created, ultimately, “good” and with no more effort than to say a word and it was all done by a creative God. To read this verse for what it says, you may miss the point.
Usually when someone refers to the Bible as inerrant and god breathed they mean that the Bible is literally from God without the interference of the scripture writers. This just doesn’t work. The Bible was written in popular format for its time in language and writing styles exclusive to the writers themselves. The Bible was obviously written by all different people and there was obvious “interference.” This should be a good thing to us. It shows that God doesn’t confine Himself. He trusts His people to write from their heart the things that are true. The Bible is a beautiful compilation of heartfelt and true writings. But the Bible is not literal in all cases.
Before I understood that the Bible was something historically real and written from by people, not just God, I had a much smaller appreciation for it. The bible still profoundly effected my life but it was not real to me. It was a disconnected set of rules and cute stories that God sent down to guide my life. I still remember the first time the Bible really felt real. Mike Devries (check out his blog) was talking about God as a “pursuing lover” of His people. He told us about the book Song of Solomon and all I remember is that I realized that this book wasn’t just written to me. It wasn’t disconnected at all but much more connected than I ever thought it could be. Real people wrote the bible in real time periods in real places to real people and in real circumstances. Something prompted the writing of the scriptures and it wasn’t just some sign from God to the writer telling them that they should write. It was real concerns and real emotions. I finally started reading the Psalms, for example, as songs from someone’s heart that were provoked by real fears and hopes. The bible became, to me, something tangible and I never want to lose that again. Whether or not something written in scripture happened or not is not truly my main concern. I’m concerned with what brought someone to write such a thing. They must have believed that it was somehow true. John must have believed that Jesus was a healer so he wrote about it. Because he passed that down to us now we believe that Jesus is a healer. The scripture’s accuracy does not hang on whether or not it happened but whether or not it happens.