Take your pick.
Frankly, it’s all the same to me.
I understand that there are those who love to parse meanings and use technicalities in order to obscure the real issue. The neo-Reformed movement fancies themselves experts at this; and historically they are. Today, however, without the force of the civil sword in their hands its not as easy, and after a few volleys with a Calvinist in a debate of ideas it soon becomes apparent that it is VERY difficult for them to both say and NOT say at the same time. Which is too bad, because it really is upon this presumption that their “sound doctrine” depends.
But I digress.
The real problem is that these words–infallible/inerrant–are used at all, regardless of which, to describe the cannon of Scripture that has been organized over many thousands of years into what we know today as the Protestant’s handbook: our version of the Holy Bible (and the Catholics, of course, have theirs; and before that, it was infallibly in Latin; and before that, infallibly Aramaic, infallibly Greek, infallibly Hebrew…take your pick. Will the real infallible bible please stand up? I mean, what is infallible exactly, and how can there be another “version” of infallible? How can there be an improvement on “WHOLLY useful and true”? Does this not seem logically contradictory right off the bat? But never mind you, sinner, about what you THINK is contradictory. For those who make their treasures and fortunes off of “revealing” such “truths” are in positions of the divine; straddling the boundary between human and deity. An apparition is all you can comprehend when you seek to comprehend spiritual things. You will be told; and then you will be compelled. Welcome to the neo-Reformed movement.)
But I digress.
I use these terms interchangeably because the doctrine behind them regards them as functionally the same. The Bible is, in and of itself, utterly perfect. That is the root assumption. I don’t care what they tell you it “really” means. I don’t care what source they cite. By now we should all understand that what a Calvinist says and what they mean/really-want-to-say are almost never consistent. So, again, what biblical infallibility means is that the bible needs no help from anything outside of itself; it is as God. And what I mean by that is that it is its own definition, like God; it is its own proof of truth. What is the bible? The bible is that which is considered the bible (of itself). Why can we trust the bible? Because it is the bible.
Oh. Okay. Well, who the heck needs God then?
I do not particularly care how Calvinists like to cull you with a myriad of heady-sounding technicalities, or appeals to mere “humble” and “innocent” meanings.
Them: “Why, all infallible means is that we think the Bible is a helpful thing.”
Me: “Then how is the bible different than a cook book?”
Them: “Because it’s the bible.”
Behind all the equivocating is a false doctrine; a deception, and a hermeneutic tool used to separate the bible from other books, in order that it may be transformed into a hammer of the gnostic overlords.
But the problem is that the bible is just a book, and it is so obviously just a book that even a child will rightly define it thus. Sooooo…the only way (and a creative way; reminiscent of the old mystic, shamanistic religions) to make it not just a book is to ascribe to it some kind of trait particular to a consciousness. And since the Holy Spirit, it is declared, is its author, then that trait is, essentially, perfection. The bible is infallible because it cannot do anything wrong…in and of itself lay the perfection of God. Within its covers one finds utter completeness of TRUTH. Because it is not just a book, it is the essence of God Himself. Which, er…is God Himself.
In other words, the Bible is God in book form. THAT is the only way the bible can be MORE than just a book. Yes it is. And the problem with that should be totally obvious by now, because I just wrote it: this makes the Bible GOD. And if the Bible is God, then it is to be worshiped. It is to be served. Anything in it about man is really God; all of it is the same thing; for there can be no interpretation, understanding, application beyond itself. It is wholly USELESS to man, because it all is God, and means God, and there is nothing thus beyond it. All meanings and interpretations point to a conclusion that is of no use to man’s context because, by definition, God is outside of Creation’s context. If the bible is God, then there is NOTHING of man in it.
You cannot understand an infallible bible. You can’t even begin to know it.
So who can? Can you guess? Is the whole point becoming clear? Do you understand just who now stands to gain, and gain immeasurably from such a doctrine? Think! Think! You’ve seen them, up there, behind the plexiglass. Tie-less, khakis, sipping water, joking about sports, feigning humility and proof-texting. Many of them rolling in a treasure and luxury that you could scarcely imagine; all the while telling you to “give until it hurts”.
Those who gain from “sound doctrine” generally gain what they crave the most: money. But that’s another story. We shall examine the equivocations and excuses behind the vast earthly riches of the neo-Cal movement later. For, now, let’s continue to put into the grave the false doctrine of biblical inerrancy/infallibility.
Regardless of which definition we choose to use, or where we pull it from—Wikipedia, Oxford, Webster’s, our ecclesiastical oligarchs in the stead, our devoted Calvinist friends—what we are really doing, I say again, when we declare the bible infallible is ascribing a living consciousness to it. That is, the very consciousness and power and will of God’s Spirit BECOMES the written code, making the bible itself equal with God. The Holy Spirit as a Spirit becomes a divine middle man, serving no real purpose at all, being the “author” of Himself, which is metaphysically impossible and redundant, because there then can be no interpretation of the bible other than what it says, because if the bible is the written Word (capital W), then the bible is God, and there is no interpretation of God besides God. The Holy Spirit didn’t write the bible, He became the bible. Asking Him to become a tool for the profane (man) to then “apply” is utter blasphemy. All of this, and more, you get in the mix of biblical infallibility.
In this sense, we should make clear–if we decide that we will continue to defend the idea of biblical infallibility regardless of the impossible and contradictory premises–that an appeal to biblical infallibility, and demanding an acceptance of it by our church members, is truly blasphemy at its root. For if indeed the perfect essence of the Spirit of God is in the bible itself, then there is no need for the Holy Spirit at all, for the bible IS Him.
To be frank, and putting away all “whimsy” (don’t you love the neo-Cal lexicon; it is the most upbeat of all tyrannical propaganda) there is only one inevitable, practical, and logical reason to implement the concept of biblical infallibility: the subjugation and destruction of man in service to the power and wealth of gnostic overlords. For if the conviction and guidance of the Holy Spirit (what is necessary for the truths of the bible to be revealed as consistently true and efficacious in their application to man’s contexts) is removed by making it redundant and unnecessary via the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, then that leaves only one ultimate arbiter of TRUTH when people are disagreeing amongst themselves as to the interpretive definitions and root meanings, which, in light of infallibility can only be defined thus: they are what they are. The only thing left to do when two people disagree, in other words, about what the bible really says, is not to look at outcomes or appeal to the guidance of the Spirit, but to defer all understanding and interpretations to the gnostic ecclesiastical authorities. Man cannot understand God, and the Spirit cannot reinterpret Himself, and so only one thing remains: a “gifted” man, standing in the stead, will interpret for you. He, as shaman, will proclaim the will of the gods in every situation. Put your bible away, for he will tell you (and, you will even see this theme today in mainstream neo-Cal churches and movements: apply sermons more, read the bible less), and he will explain what it says, depending on the day, time, person, and event. What you see as capricious revelation, is merely the “authority” bestowed upon gnostic powers to tell you how to live, what to think, and what to do, since the bible, by definition, cannot. You see, God tried to reveal to you…but the best he could do was recreate Himself on paper; and unfortunately you are too depraved to see Him. In such a case, only the divines can interpret God’s will. Only divines, by a mysterious power from on high, can read God’s thoughts from the incarnate pages and turn them into applicable and practical meaning for each and every person.
And so which makes more sense: Worship God? Or worship the man who can actually and pragmatically BE God to you? Worship the One who cannot know you, and you cannot know Him? Or worship the one who can meet all your earthly needs by telling you just what is best for you in this life, and the next, without needing to consult God, because he himself is, according to his calling as divine interpreter, equally infallible…and yet, wholly one with whom you can relate, because he likewise is merely a poor, depraved sinner, saved by grace? (You see? There it is again. The IS/IS NOT dichotomy of Calvinist theology; impossible contradiction rearing its head again.)
The answer to that is still up in the air. Of course the neo-Reformed/Calvinist pastors will declare this to be utter nonsense. They’ll spurt and sputter their (feigned) astonishment at such a heinous and ridiculous accusation. Why, it’s mere sensationalism…a taking out of context; a building and burning of a straw man of my own angry, bitter, and excommunicated device. Of course, worship only God, they will say.
Ah yes, but the truth and meaning behind their words lay in this question: Who is God? Is it the one on whom your depraved prayers are wasted? Or the one who is able to affirm or deny your every thought and action in this life which will lead you to the next? In the IS/IS NOT dichotomy of Calvinist theology, the real truth is that there is NO difference between themselves and God. So when they declare “Worship God!”, you must understand that this is functionally the exact same thing as submitting yourself to everything they are and declare.
Ask them, and at best, I suspect you will find the a very muddy answer. Only about as clear as a tyrant without the civil authority to kill and imprison can make it. But the sword has a wonderful way of toning down the ambient noise. Look to Calvin’s Geneva, and see just who it was men and women really worshiped and feared. And, let’s be honest, no one gets away with a travesty of theological and metaphysical doublespeak like the Heidelberg Disputation unless they are pretty sure they have the divine right to institute “church discipline”.
So, according to the doctrine of biblical infallibility, the bible is the essence of the Spirit, Himself. And so, if you are not getting it right, it is because you are, by Calvinist and neo-Reformed definition, unable to grasp the truth of the Spirit. Indeed, your pervasive depravity is to blame if you have not “been given the grace to perceive” (-C.J. Mahaney on his “sins”). But then, how is it that you can ever know if you have been given grace to perceive the infallible truth of the Spirit bible? Well, by definition, you can’t, can you? You, being wholly fallible and pervasively depraved, can never, by definition, be given or possess the grace to perceive any such thing as infallible truth, and so the only thing you can do is accept the interpretation of your neo-Reformed pastor-in-the-stead. (NOTE: By the way, “in the stead” means “instead”; that is, the pastor is God instead of God, is what they are saying; and this makes it a little less appetizing, doesn’t it?) Any deviation from this, any different conclusion that you might draw from the text is merely proof that you have, indeed, not been given grace to perceive the infallible truths of the infallible bible. And because you are depraved, you will never perceive them. For that kind of perception is the privilege of the gnostic few.
How very convenient.
Another facet of my argument in service to dismantling heady-and-humble-sounding-yet-oppressive-doctrines-of-the-neo-reformed,-and-their-hammer,- the Calvinsts, is an appeal to rank logic:
The bible is an IT. A created thing; inanimate, paper and ink, many translations, the linguistic representation of God’s revelation TO man about man and about God, through the context and perspective of its human authors. Now, for the moment, let us assume that we all agree that the scriptures as we know them are, in fact, “utterly inspired” by the Spirit; that is, let’s not take the time right now to parse the definition of “inspired” and just what is meant by that term (e.g. I submit that many Christians, when they read “inspired”, think “dictated”).
The bible is an IT, as I said. The Spirit is a HE. The bible is inanimate. The Spirit has a conscience. The bible sits. The Spirit moves. The bible declares. The Spirit thinks. Man asks. The bible states. The Spirit answers. The bible is static. The Spirit acts. Man grows.
If our definition of infallibility is the seemingly innocuous idea of the bible not being able to “lead astray”; incapable of error; utterly efficacious and useful in all it declares and counsels…then, if we are going to ascribe these attributes, which are decidedly a function of a living, self–aware conscience, then, by logical extension, we must apply them to ALL written works. For if consciousness is no longer the worker of these ideas and actions, but they are now accepted as imputed to inanimate objects, like books (for all books are books; it is impossible that a thing can be a book AND something else, at its root, at the exact same time, even if the book is the bible), then what separates the infallibility of one inanimate work of literature from another?
The answer is: nothing. For there can be nothing. If it is the WORK itself which we are declaring infallible, then there can be no delineation of “infallible” between one book or another, regardless of what kind of book it is. For the intent, the purpose, Spirit, author, heart, etc., etc., no longer has any relevance to the work, but it is merely the work itself which is utterly complete; the summary definition of itself, encompassing all that it ever was, is, or will be. THAT is the metaphysical problem when we invent redundant doctrines. We make a mockery of God AND His Creation. When we make the BOOK infallible, and not the Spirit, we make every book infallible, by definition, and the author and “inspiration” wholly irrelevant and redundant. If a book is no longer a book, then there is nothing to prevent this idea from being “logically” applied categorically. But if we argue that it is the Spirit which makes the book infallible, and his inspiration, then we concede the error of the entire doctrine. We admit that no longer is the source of infallibility the bible itself, but the Spirit; and we have therefore agreed that the doctrine of biblical infallibility is redundant, and thus, unnecessary; and inconsistent with God and the faith. Which is great, because…well, truth wins.
And thus, there can be no appeal to biblical infallibility, then, that is not ultimately an appeal to idolatry at its root. All infallibility is, is idolatry, because it infuses PERFECT consciousness and self-awareness, and the requisite implied characteristics —omnipotence, omniscience, omnipotence—to what is ultimately an inanimate work of man’s hands. For it is man, not God, who is the literal author of the bible. This is a fact that is not in dispute (the dispute I have is typical of my concerns for all of reformed thinking: the constant requirement that believers accept, yet again, that a thing IS and IS NOT, simultaneously; for example, man is, but is not the true author of the bible; the Holy Spirit is, but is not, the true author of the bible; man is both, the Spirit is both, and yet neither…and, again, metaphysical impossibility defines “sound doctrine” to the detriment of human beings everywhere). If not for MAN, the bible would literally not exist nor have any meaning or truth whatsoever, because it would have no context…and this is what I mean by a work of man’s hands. So, if you do not believe this imputing of conscious omnipotence and divine perfection to a work of man’s hands is idolatry—ascribing divine consciousness to a created inanimate thing—then I suggest (facetiously) you re-read the Old Testament, in particular, and allow the men who knew God well before you did to explain just what He felt about such things.
Beware of sweet-sounding false doctrine; that which the itching ears of the Calvinists and the power-hungry and the cognitively and spiritually lazy crave, which speaks to exploitation and lording. Beware the holy facade of biblical infallibility, for it is the first doorway, behind which lies the foyer leading into the broader deception.
Only God is God. There is nothing else which is an utter and complete IS apart from Him. Anything else strips Him of his rightful place. The doctrine of biblical infallibility makes the scriptures a talisman of elder-worship.
9 thoughts on “The Trinity plus One: More on the deceptive and false idea of biblical infallibility”
Years back when I was studying history I came to something close to the same conclusion. For one thing, how was the Bible used during the Dark Ages? For a good portion of Christendom, the average person was illiterate and depended on some appointed leader to tell them what it said while they were being forced to attend church. Then reading more AD history one finds that most of the Catholic church priests did not read or study the bible. What difference would it make since they had higher ups who told them what it meant. Even up to the Puritans, who would dare disagree with their interpretations or translation? Well, some did and paid a high price.
Then we have the problem of translators? Where they inspired, too? Which ones? Geneva, King James? ESV? NT WRight’s NT translation? (hee hee)
Also, I have been more than a bit shocked to hear even pastors refer to the word “Word” used in scripture to describe the bible. It means “Jesus Christ”.
So what is a good way to view the Bible? I think on this a lot.
That is a good question; and one which I still struggle with. What I do know is what I write…what I’m still unsure about I work out here in my living room. LOL
What I do know is that Christians seem tempted-beyond their ability to resist-the need to believe that physical and metaphysical truth does not apply to their faith; which is ironic because it was exactly this kind of silly thinking that God, in revealing Himself and the Law to the Jews, was attempting to dismantle. Everywhere you turn you find Christians applying some old, pagan, ritualistic, mythical and mystic ideas to the faith, which, honestly is MUCH more straightforward than anyone would like to believe. Whether it’s “biblical infallibility”, the gnosticism and and lie of church “authority” (I’m in the middle of a LOOOOOONG post on the smothering lie of “authority” and “church discipline”), the belief that God sustaining Creation is God’s “direct control” (another metaphysical impossibility)…that is, rank fatalistic determinism…yes, wherever you look you find another Christian proclaiming that your eyes deceive you and you are not yourself.
I’m almost finished with a post on this little gem of neo-Reformed “wisdom”: “The same God who brought the storm also rebuked it”
Uh-huh. Didn’t Jesus say “A house divided…”…you know what? Never mind. Sure. Why the heck not. I mean, if it is ALL God, then sooner or later, in order to keep up the facade of “morality”, the good and evil dichotomy, I suppose God is going to have to rebuke Himself, right? I mean, if it never happened then we’d never know when something was to be resisted in faith or accepted in faith and then that would leave us in total confusion and we’d have to appoint some wise person to stand in the stead…a conduit between our insane, confused, lost and blind eyes in order that we might know Go….
Er. Oh. Wait a minute. I see….I think I’ve found the crux of “sound doctrine”.
Argo, this is off topic but I recommend you check something out. A free online book by a former Cavlinist who linked to it on Paul’s blog. I am at chp 2. Here is a snippet that reminded me of you in the last few sentences:
“Despite being raised essentially as a free will Baptist in a Methodist-background church, I eventually came to understand as an undergraduate student why someone would become a Calvinist. The Scriptures supporting John Calvin’s view of God seemed ironclad and inescapable. The list of passages teaching God’s total and absolute sovereignty was a long and compelling list: God worketh all things after the counsel of His will; All things work together for good to them that love God; For whom He foreknew He also did predestinate; Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, Who art thou to reply to God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?; I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will harden whom I will harden; …vessels of wrath fitted for destruction; As many as were ordained unto salvation believed; etc. I had conceded in my early 20s that Calvin must be right, for how else could God foreknow history unless he had already predetermined what events should transpire? Ironically, after a handful of years I left Calvinism after examining more carefully this same ‘reason.’ I eventually came to understand that predeterminism, at least as John Calvin and his disciples understood it, led to a theology of inconclusiveness. By taking into account all of Calvin’s statements about God’s sovereignty, and not just some of them (here and then there), I found that nothing conclusive could be said about the moral character of God, the moral and existential statuses of man, or even whether good and evil were morally separable. As I now hope to show, the reason Calvinists do not come to these same conclusions is because they embrace a theology whose fundamental component is a contradiction that cannot lead to conclusions. As this statement is a serious charge against Calvinistic theology, we must see if it can be reasonably sustained.”
Oh how true! The foundational component of Calvinism is contradiction!
I have not read it all and cannot recommend it yet but so far it is very familiar to my own journey.
Link in case you would be interested
Lydia, Yes, thank you for referring this to me. It sounds very interesting. I will give it a read and then we can compare thoughts. Thanks!
I think I will find his conclusions extremely interesting. It sounds very much like what I have drawn from examining the root conclusions of Calvinist theology. I prefer to focus on the metaphysics of Calvinism, because in them we find a serious existential contradiction. This was my first and foremost area of focus. But the moral contradictions are, really, what makes Calvinist doctrine so fundamentally perverse. Because, as he seems to also deduce, it completely eradicates the concepts of good and evil. Morality is the who, not the what, and if this is true then it is impossible that there be a truly MORAL distinction between thoughts, will, and action.
I like to focus on the metaphysics, as my personal “angel” because, in dismantling the existential ideas of Calvinism you can, in a philosophical sense, “prove” that Calvinism is false. That is, if God is God then He must be this or that, and likewise man and Creation, and so it is utterly impossible that Calvinist doctrines can be tenable. They can only be true if we concede that God cannot in fact be God. To me, this is the most fun approach. But, again, the moral failings are why Calvinism is (ironically…a little) an evil theology. And the proof is found in the outcomes which are always pushed through force and violence.
I have MUCH writing in the works. Currently I have a post dealing with moral contradiction found in this statement:”The same God who brings the storm will also rebuke it”, which is a direct quote from a pastor I recently heard.
Another I finished last night is a heady post on the metaphysics and physics of time and how the idea of “present” or “now” is the key to understanding existence, time, the universe and how God can interact directly with man as utterly all in all without being contradictory or a hypocrite. I know that sounds presumptuous, and believe me I will want input, but I really think this kind of thing will go a long way to really understanding just how we can have a relationship with God and yet still acknowledge that our reality is real, that our senses do not deceive us, and that ultimately God’s perfection is found in the freedom of man and Creation to BE…apart from God, and yet by God.
Ha ha…I meant “angle”, but I suppose angel works too, a little.
Lydia and Argo –
That is the link I emailed to you Argo! I am on Chapter 13. He does some really good work deconstructing many long-held Reformed beliefs regarding sovereignty, depravity, etc. He uses Scripture to deconstruct proof-texting and had an abundance of footnotes so you know where he gets his imformation. He comes to many of the same conclusions, Argo.
Through ch 8 of Gracely’s book. It is very good. I would go a bit further in my analysis of what God can and cannot do, since my understanding of His perfection to be much more restricting upon His will in regards to man and Creation, because perfection must include logical consistency and thus, metaphysical reason. Still, maybe the best book I’ve read on the rational horror that Calvinism is…