Hmm. Have you ever stopped to consider just how curious those adjectives are, describing an inanimate object? That object being, of course, the Bible. Which is a book…with pages, and ink (even in the original manuscripts, by the way), and a cover, and a whole lot of gold leaf which never lasts very long. Have you ever stopped to think about it? Or did you, like me, just nod and swallow, like a fish on a hook. Out of water, wriggling and raging, although not wholly conscious of it…fighting for life at the end of the church “authority’s” long and indifferent and rigid and hard and cold rod, forever and ever, fulfilling your role as stupid animal, compelled to eat the hook and be led around by it. And, like me, you did, and do, because the hook is sweet. Because all of that delicious, “Holy” goodness is like a box of chocolate to your spiritual ears. Deep down you know you hate it. But deep down is too deep to see clearly, and there’s nothing there but your black, blind depravity anyway, so you never trust the voices screaming at you from the pit the neo-Reformers helped you dig.
Of course the Bible is “inerrant”, and gulp, down the barb goes. In fact, the hook is so delicious that many people refuse to vomit it up, no matter how much they bleed internally. Oh…eventually they will see to an extent and will snap the line, and flee the false fishermen castigating and deploring and condemning and inventing at the podium. But they leave the hook in. The hooks all remain. Original sin. Total depravity. Predestination and election. All of the hooks continue to dig and dig and dig. And people simply refuse to cough them up. They have likened the hooks which first trapped them to the very TRUTH of what they believe. The fisherman was the problem and that guy is gone, they say. The hook…well, that’s simply God, seeking you first and choosing Himself for you, because you, ironically, are a blind worm. And so you rightly forsake the false fisherman, yet continue to eat his hook. And so it is, that even as you proclaim your “freedom” your are now just a new slave. A slave now to the master of abstraction. And that master can NEVER be forsaken. Because that master is in your own head.
Yes. Very curious adjectives to describe an inanimate object like the Bible.
And there of course is the rub. Because I understand that there are those who will immediately protest. I’m a fool, they say. I cannot see the obvious. The Bible isn’t “inanimate” they screech (like those guys who insist that the American Flag must be treated like a living thing…that’s just, er…weird to me). It is alive! Haven’t I read the Scriptures? For it is written, “living and breathing”, they remind me.
And once again, the grammatical tool of the metaphor is lost on the Christians. But I understand where they are coming from. In a strange, irrational way, it makes perfect sense. You see, if the Bible is infallible it simply cannot be metaphorical. It MUST be perpetually literal. LITERAL is as close to “infallible” as it can practically get. And so everything, again, must be taken at utter face value. If the Bible says that it is living and breathing, then it IS. LITERALLY the book is living and breathing. It is a living thing, it is not a metaphor. In other words, the Bible is GOD. And that is precisely why it is called inerrant and infallible…because there is NO difference between the Bible and God Himself. This way of interpreting scripture AS a LITERAL abstraction (which is an oxymoron) is the only way you can even approach practically applying the Bible as God and not as the inanimate object that it really is.
The problem is that this still does not solve the problem. At the end of the day, the application of even a literal Bible must still be wholly subjective. The reason is this: the Bible is for man. Man is the only reason it exists. So it does not matter how infallible you might think the Bible is, because since it must be applied contextually, the functional outcomes of its truths will always look different depending on the person. There will never be a way to objectively prove your “literal” interpretation; the “inerrancy” will be lost in a sea of individual lives, cultures, contexts, experiences, and abilities. If the Bible’s doctrines have a singular literal interpretation that is defined solely within its perfect self, it is impossible that it can be found in the context of man. The root of what is “inerrant” about the Bible is thus, totally open to subjective interpretation. And that is precisely why this idea of inerrancy always leads to spiritual abuse in some degree. Only ONE subjective opinion can be declared the “objective” and literal truth, and so what then becomes the the single greatest advantage which so deftly serves those who define what this singular interpretation is?
Violence. Threats. Excommunication. Intimidation. Fear. Murder. Death and tyranny. He who has the most force gets to decide. Period. Physical destructive force, which is decidedly NOT abstract, becomes the TRUE infallibility of Scripture. And that is the deadly little deception about this doctrine, found in almost every statement of faith in protestant Christendom.
You see, if the Bible is inerrant and infallible, then the believer has no use for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit cannot help apply, interpret, or add to what is already as perfect as HE IS. And when you create a doctrine that drives out the Spirit from the words the believer reads in the Scriptures, then you have destroyed the faith. You have separated the believer from his or her literal LIFE LINE to God, and replaced it with a pile of papers in the glittery wrapping of a subjective, MAN-MADE abstraction.
People, we must see this, and must not be afraid to concede that even the most well-meaning doctrines, if they are not rooted in REASON, are doomed to become the tools of mystic destroyers.
So, back to my first point…hyper and irrational literal interpretation is the only apparent plumb line, then, for interpreting the Bible. And almost to a man/woman those who espouse “inerrancy/infallibility” declare that the Bible “has only one TRUE meaning” and that it “says what it says”, we just need to figure it out and “apply it right”. Thus, the Bible has the same almost invincible philosophical defense against indictment as the Calvinist despots have. If there is abuse and destructive fallout from its “inerrant” singular meaning, then, well…it’s man’s fault. Obviously they just didn’t “do it right”. Obviously it was their pride, stupidity, sin, lack of faith, and on and on that is to blame. It could not be the Bible. No, the Bible is inerrant you see. If the human suffers, then it MUST be the human’s fault.
Where have we heard this before? Anyone keeping up with the chain-gang of spiritual abuse news pouring out of Sovereign Grace Ministries (has there ever be a more hyper-Calvinist name for a church?) would understand this devious argument very well. Oh yes…the “leaders” did nothing wrong of course. Why, how dare you accuse your divinely-appointed church authorities of wrong-doing; of sin and abuse. Who are YOU to judge your spiritual superiors, you totally depraved idiot! Monster! Steeped in sin from birth! Obviously, the problem must be you, the sheep. For the sheep are obviously too depraved to discern anything.
So…, well, [shrug] if what they teach leads to the protection for serial child sex predators in the church, well, obviously the sheep just didn’t understand. They were too stupid, stubborn, sinful, prideful, shameful, haughty, rebellious. The leaders are God in the stead. They are, well…inerrant.
You see how easy it is to loathe and destroy flesh and blood when you hold it up to a perfect, absolute ABSTRACTION. Like the infallibility of Scripture; like the pastors standing in the stead, and church “authority”. Or ANY authority. And this is why putting abstractions before objects is so backwards to reality. It is a nightmare fantasyland where imperfect people are cajoled and punished in the name of fictitious perfect absolutes. From spiritual tyrants to atheist egg heads, all humanity falls short of the inerrant abstractions that are the real masters, the REAL truths that we all must serve; which push us, control us, determine us.
All of humanity exists solely to be perpetually in service to an IDEA. A figment of man’s ability to abstract; to organize cognitively his environment. Yes, they are slaves to the metaphor, the simile, the grammatical tool, the figurative example, the mathematical equation.
Now, of course, we are all conditioned early on to never mind that, like so many other “truths’ and “sound doctrines”, the Bible never describes itself as infallible or inerrant. But, whatev….for people who should be terrified to add to the Bible, Christians do it incessantly. Just recently I had a conversation with a person (I admire, actually) who was using the Trinity as proof of God’s mystery; proof that logic and reason could not be used as a THE solid premise for faith. Now, of course, the doctrine of the Trinity is nowhere to be found in the cannon of scripture except via some seriously forensic speculation. But again, it is like the old saying goes: repeat something long enough, and people begin to believe it, whether it is true or not. There is no Biblical way to prove the Trinity, and yet…it is absolute.
Inerrant. Infallible. Nowhere to be found in Scripture. And the same goes for “original sin” (nowhere in the Bible), or “expository preaching” (nowhere in the Bible), “total depravity” (nowhere in the Bible), or “Biblical Manhood/Womanhood” (nowhere), “Biblical roles” (nowhere), gospel-centered (nowhere), “God’s prophet John Piper” (NOWHERE).
Now, for the record, I DO deny the Trinity, in case that last part had you wondering (I’m already a heretic, in admitting my Pelagian concessions, so what’s the difference at this point)…BUT, let me qualify that. I DO believe that God has at least three perfect attributes that are ALL God, 100%, in and of themselves. But I also believe God has more attributes than just three, and they are ALL equally God. Like God’s “work”, God’s “will”, God’s “knowledge”, God’s “love” (God IS love…love has GOT to be part of the “Trinity”), God’s power and His Peace. Each and every functional attribute where human beings find themselves engaging God as a function of OUR existential context are, actually and rationally, ALL God Himself. There can be NO abstract part of God. ALL of God is utterly and literally part of the real, and tangible, visceral, perfect and categorically existing I AM. Thus, any aspect of God MUST be ALL God. You cannot have a “part” of an I AM. You cannot have something partly perfect; partly God. It is a metaphysical impossibility.
More later. Oh…believe me, I’m nowhere near done destroying the false idea of Biblical inerrancy.