I’ve gotten in trouble for my views on the Bible before.
It turns out that it’s no longer very popular to think of the Bible as a book fully and perfectly inspired by God, unlike any other book, no matter how awesome any other book may be. It’s not very popular to use words like inerrant or authoritative when you’re talking about the Bible. (Maybe it’s not so popular to use those words ever, because we don’t believe in the concepts themselves anymore–especially the first one.)
I guess I can see why, too. First of all, there are plenty of people who describe the Bible using those words who are scary jerks. I would like to think I’m not one of those people, but maybe I have been, or maybe I still am some of the time and don’t know it. If scary jerkitude is the automatic and inevitable result of believing the Bible is inerrant, authoritative, and uniquely divinely inspired, then those beliefs themselves must be wrong, right?
But also, while the Bible contains many passages of strength and comfort, it’s a pretty good bet that every person on the planet (including the person writing this) is into something that the Bible says we shouldn’t be into. I don’t know too many of us who like to be told what to do–or what not to do. The Bible communicates some pretty uncomfortable standards and “preferences” no matter what perspective you’re coming from. It would be much more convenient and easier if I could say that the Bible is a book like any other, maybe a notable example of world literature, maybe with some interesting characters and some glimmers of great wisdom, but also largely outdated and humanly flawed as all books are.
It would be, but here’s the thing. I just don’t believe it. It might seem like more of a stretch to assert what I do assert–that the Bible is a book God intentionally inspired a whole bunch of people a long time ago to write, over the course of centuries and even millennia, and that it still has a bearing on my life, and all life, now. But I do believe that. As time goes on, I believe it more strongly than I ever did, in fact.
I think and I hope, though, that the more deeply I am coming to see this as truth, the more gentle and gracious I am becoming as God’s Holy Spirit uses His Word to transform who I am from the inside out. I know others who hold this belief in the unique truth of the Bible, whose lives are also being transformed into a beautiful expression of who they were really meant to be all along. So maybe scary jerkitude is not necessarily the automatic and inevitable result of believing the Bible is inerrant, authoritative, and uniquely divinely inspired. To be sure, we might still not prefer everything that is communicated in that book’s pages. But maybe the true implication of those ideas (inerrancy, authority, and inspiration) is something entirely different–love- and life-giving. Maybe we’ve been using the words wrong. Or the Word wrong.
I think we should talk about this some more. What do you think?
7 thoughts on “Yes, That’s the Book for Me”
I love what you wrote here Jenn. Well except for your use of the word two. (Salts)
Yeah, what the heck was that??? 😂 I have been working too (not two, or to) hard on CPE homework today to go back in and edit…
The authority thing is interesting. One of the things that the stories within the bible communicate to me is the idea that God wields his authority in a surprising, bottom up, counter cultural way. Yet often (not from you) when people are calling scripture authoritative they use that word as if they never opened the bible to find a deep and true meaning of the word in the first place.
Agreed. Very well put. And/Or they use “authoritative” to mean “authoritarian,” which it doesn’t.
Though it is not explicitly about the authority of scripture, this seems relevant https://thinkchristian.reframemedia.com/authority-and-vulnerability-in-the-interrupted-professor-video?utm_campaign=TC_RSS_Campaign&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=45696041&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_CVlz-1HoQOdDd8hAKf7ogArYlnaqijWZ7LrL7u8N70k9jg1wqDAJKBTZwUxfEzaIVGB5XQB8evdu8BCKFckPbf9sj-w&_hsmi=45696041
Definitely! What a great article. I love that–and the unpacking of the specific dynamic is really well done. Thanks for sharing that, Jeff.