Category Archives: Biblical Inerrancy

Church-22: The Fallacy, Irrelevancy, and Tyranny of Biblical Authority and Divine Inspiration of Scripture

Recently I received the following question from a reader (see quote below).  I spent a few days mulling it over before I responded, and when I did, my comment, as usual, became so long and involved that when finished it resembled more an article than a comment . So, I decided the rational thing to do was to post it as such.

Indulge me a few words as an introduction first.

Heretofore, I have not yet dealt (not sufficiently, in my mind) with the question of how I, personally, integrate the Bible into my philosophy and ideas–a notion about as scandalous as it gets to Christians…for who am I to apply Biblical ideas to my beliefs, and not the other way around?

Anyway…

As a believer (I am no longer comfortable calling myself “Christian”, due to the Protestant and Catholic doctrinal assumptions this label necessarily implies nowadays), it is  important to be able to coherently explain how I appropriate the Scriptures, for they do possess much value, I believe…though I reject the idea that they exist in the form of some magical talisman or divine oracle–which is precisely how American, institutionalized Christianity interprets them.  This is a mistake, and has led to much abuse and misuse of the ideas of the Torah and the New Testament.  Ideas which in their purest, un-mystified form seem to affirm human life, and yet must subjugate it, I submit, when they are claimed to exist in a vacuum of “divine inerrancy”.

The Scriptures, in today’s Christian “orthodoxy”, have become the new Temple…, or, more specifically, the new “most holy place”.  A place where only God’s divinely appointed priests may enter; and a place where the untouchables of the laity and the rest of the world’s blind masses must inevitably find death and destruction should they gander a look around inside.  Oh sure, today’s priesthood of Reformed Elders (among other false teachers…like, say, the priestly lessers who advocate that most egregious of mystic false offices, the Papacy) pay lip service to “quiet times” and the importance of daily Bible reading.  But make no mistake:  by no means are they suggesting that you in any way have the divine and existential capacity or mandate to actually understand them apart from their–the ecclesiatsy’s–perpetual authoritative tutelage.  You are permitted to gaze lovingly and ignorantly from the outer courtyards of “truth”…you may examine the words as you would the walls of a fortress from the outskirts of town.  But to attempt to wander inside and examine the wells, the towers, or the bedchambers for yourself…to seek to apprehend the blueprint of the structure in the hopes that you may one day build your own…well, tsk tsk, sinner.  You are not an architect.  You are a brick.  Real understanding is the sole territory of the priesthood…the right only of those whom God has given His divine enlightenment, wholly apart from the graceless, bumptious, and pedestrian reason of fallen humanity.

Do you not yet understand, you poor, poor Protestant plebe; you Catholic spiritual leper?  Do you not realize that what is wholly inerrant cannot possibly be reconciled to that which is wholly depraved.  And that which is wholly depraved…is you.

And me.

So what do I think of the scriptures?  What do I think of a book that has had more revisions than the Ford Mustang and yet is continually and paradoxically adored as perfection in a vacuum?  Well, like anything else its usefulness goes only as far as reason takes it.  If its truths are beyond the context of human existence, as apprehended and organized via rational consistency, then they are irrelevant.  However, if its truths speak to the utter right of man to form his own moral standard, by his nature, and thus the perfect morality and necessity of his existence and essence, then the truths of the Bible are perhaps the most powerful to have ever graced the face of the earth.

The scriptures, as with all ideas, are bound to a standard of, as I mentioned, reason–that is, conceptual consistency rooted in the identity of the individual human Self.  Beyond that, they are meaningless.  In other words, the Bible, as is so often falsely claimed, is not itself axiomatically irreducible.  It is not, itself, the premise.  So, what is the premise?

The premise is…you.

And me.

Please, read on.

*

“Well, for me your key lines were: “examine [the faith] metaphysically, using Reason as my guide. My assumption is that faith must coincide with what is both logically and metaphysically consistent. I reject contradictions as being outside of reason[.]”

I’m the same as you in that regard — yet I also strongly affirm the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible. Therefore, while I’m committed to logical coherence, at the same time I draw no theological conclusions based on metaphysics alone. God’s word /must/ inform me.

So where in your line of reasoning about the faith do you “allow” (so to speak) Scripture to have a say in the conversation?

Andy”

Hmmm…I’ve been trying to decide how formulate a response to you. There is a lot going on in your comment…maybe even more than you realize. So, I guess I will just figuratively point at some spot on the chart in my mind and go from there.

Okay, first, I reject the idea of “authority” as a means to teach; to educate. Authority equals force, and so to claim authority is to ultimately claim the right to coerce by violence or threats of violence my beliefs and behavior. To claim the right to violence over an individual is in essence to claim ownership of that individual; in which case that individual cannot really be expected to learn, because the implication is that he has no right to the ownership of his body or mind. Which renders his existence as a volitional individual irrelevant. In other words, there is no need to appeal to authority to teach, because teaching becomes superfluous. Why instruct when you can simply force?

Next, I submit that when people appeal to biblical “authority” they are really appealing to the right of a select group of men to interpret reality for the masses according to a specific doctrine, which may or may not have anything to do with what’s actually in the Bible. For example, the words “the fall of man” and “total depravity” appear nowhere in Scripture, nor can one even reasonably argue that the bible speaks to these ideas despite its lack of direct mention. Nevertheless, man’s “fallen nature” and “pervasive” depravity form the whole of Christian metaphysics.

In general, I consider the concept of “authority” like I do the concepts of “perfection” and “inerrancy”. Since these are ultimately contextual concepts, their meaning is always contradicted. For example, the Bible is inerrant, we are told, however, I cannot use my Bible to pound nails; thus, its inerrancy is contextual. Out of context, it is in fact, wholly errant, contradicting the appeal to its inerrancy by definition. The same holds true for “perfection” and “authority”. The perfect car is not the perfect candy cane; and the authority of the police is not the same as the authority of a child’s parents.

In some cases, the concept of authority is equated to “expertise”. This is a fine application of authority, however, we must remember that in all areas of knowledge, authority is and must be subordinated to reason. If one’s doctor, who is an authority in the field of cardiology, tells you that you must swallow motor oil to lubricate your heart, you will naturally reject such advice on the grounds that it is absurd. In short, being an authority in a given subject does not give one license to deny reason. One cannot appeal to his expertise as grounds to completely spurn human identity. A human being, as we all agree and understand, cannot digest motor oil. It is contrary to his identity as a human being. Therefore, such advice, regardless of the source, must be false.

In the same way, when it comes to matters of Scripture, the idea of “divine inspiration” and “authority” must be subordinated to reason, which makes them functionally irrelevant with respect to Scripture. Even if God Himself declares something that contradicts man’s identity, and therefore his ability to ascertain reality, man is morally and epistemologically obligated to reject the declaration. Of course I’m betting that God would not declare something as truth if it destroys man’s identity. A declaration which hinders man’s ability to interpret reality must also hinder his ability to define God as God in the first place. Which makes the declaration moot.

Thus, when I read Scripture, I never actually consider ideas such as “divine inspiration”, “authority”, or “inerrancy” at all, because they have no practical application. They are ultimately irrelevant to anything the Bible says; and if we attempt to say they are, then the Bible becomes meaningless because “authority”, “inerrancy”, and “divine inspiration” denies the existential context of individual. For example, if am told that the Bible declares something that cannot possibly be true from the frame of reference of my identity as an individual, the only way I can accept it is if I do so by forced coercion. I cannot really voluntary accept it because I have no context whereby my volition is relevant. The declaration denies me as adequate to grasp and thus act upon such “truth”, because any such actions must be from my mere human context, which, again, is insufficient and irrelevant with respect to “God’s truth”. God’s “truth” trumps human truth, you see. But since my frame of reference is always human, I must be FORCED to accept God’s truth. I cannot verify it as truth because it is outside my context, so I can only act under compulsion. I cannot volitionally choose to accept it as true…for, again, I have no frame of reference.

Take for example the idea of human “total depravity” as a function of man’s very ontological nature. This doctrine cannot possibly be true because A.) it does not specify, by definition, where one’s depravity ends and where it begins. And B.) If man is totally depraved he is epistemologically insufficient to understand the truth of the bible in the first place. He “learns” by the forced coercion of a divinely enlightened priesthood established to compel the blind masses into “obedience”. Man’s pervasive depravity makes him entirely irrelevant to God’s goodness and truth, which makes the Scriptures meaningless to him.

This phenomenon is what I refer to as “Church-22”, and it is a direct consequence of the doctrine of Total Depravity:

The only way to be saved is to realize you cannot by nature be saved, because what is wholly evil cannot be reconciled to what is wholly good. And that the only way to choose to be saved is to recognize that you cannot choose to be saved…and that, again, is due to your sinful nature. You are told God has to choose you, for you, because you are insufficient to make your own choices for good. Which means that you are saved in spite of you, making you entirely superfluous to the salvation process. You cannot experience it, because it can only occur by the entire existential rejection of you, since you are entirely depraved.

This is rank fallacy on its face.

So, while I do read the Bible–and have many times–with great interest and find it to be of immense value to the objective of instructing humanity on the absolute morality of individual life, among other things, I apply it to bulwark and underscore my philosophical premises (i.e. my metaphysics, wherein the human individual is the moral and epistemological standard). I do not look at it as a means to subvert my premises simply because some self-appointed pontiff (God proxy, also known as the “senior pastor”, or whomever else claims a superior spiritual caste) tells me that it has some kind of spurious “authority” over them, and myself.

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An Infallible Interpretation Must Always PRECEDE an Infallible Bible

Since I no longer actually hear any of the sermons in person at the church I attended until recently, I usually listen to them online after the fact.  Though I cannot in good conscience sit my bottom down in the pew and subject myself to the nonsense from the pulpit attempting to pass as truth, I still believe that there is a wealth of inspiration and information for a blog such as this one to be found in the teachings of the new and wholly Reformed pastor.  And as this church is rapidly (and I mean rapidly) free-falling into the confused and blank-minded hell of full-on neo-Calvinist doctrine, watching the evolution of destructive thought via the onslaught of the pastor’s contradictory propaganda is intriguing to say the least, not to mention educational.

Last week found Pastor X imploring the congregation to approach the Bible as Bereans, which are described as follows in the book of Acts:

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

This is an old saw of the neo-Calvinst bent, and I heard the same urging from the despotic elders over at Sovereign Grace Ministries.  This pastor doesn’t mean what you think he means.  Meaning, his imploring you to study the Bible as the Bereans did by no means gives you permission to actually interpret the Bible for yourself.  Of course, if you apply reason to the scripture verse, we should invariably believe that this is exactly what it means…that from the scriptures, all teachings can be vetted for truth, implying that those who happen to be literate are, by virtue of that literacy, in a position to discern a liar from an honest man.  The implication being that there is in fact a legitimate standard of truth that all men can know and that those men who can read and reason can also judge the scriptures by that standard (which means the Bible is not, itself, the standard…gasp!  cry heretic!).  As opposed to the scriptures judging themselves, which makes the Bible an exercise in circular logic, wholly irrelevant to man’s life, which is, in fact, the precise the argument of the biblical infallibility crowd.

As usual, I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

Anyway, as soon as Pastor X began to implore the congregation to go to the “Word” to verify and hold accountable the teachings of the elders, using himself (in a sickening spectacle of faux humility) as an example, in order to verify that they were not being led astray by wolves in sheep’s clothing with their clanking and clattering traps of false doctrine…yes, as soon as he uttered these words I knew what was coming next.  As I said, I have been down this road before.  Now, I don’t believe in the future, so I don’t believe that it can be seen, but if I did…well, let’s just say that I saw his next thought and could have probably spoken it verbatim.

“This doesn’t mean you don’t trust your pastors and elders.”

Or, something to that effect.  And even worse, he openly admitted that his subsequent ideas with respect to “being Berean” were in direct contradiction to his previous statements about the congregation searching the scriptures for themselves.

His point was this:  Just because the Bible says that you are to search the scriptures to see if what we, the leadership, say is true, doesn’t mean that you are free to come to a different interpretive conclusion than we do.

And therein lies the problem and the hypocrisy.  You can go to the scriptures all day long and search out the “truth” for yourself.  But you must only approach it via the particular Reformed lens of “sound doctrine”, and only interpret it with the goal of reinforcing their Reformed/Calvinist assumptions.  Which implies that you must hold these assumptions before you begin to read the Bible in the first place.

And this, among other reasons, is why I categorically deny the doctrine of Biblical Inerracy.  It is nothing more than a hedge against the criticism of specific interpretive assumptions which are held to be a prerequisite for the Bible’s infallible truth; an excuse to push a specific theology as merely “teaching what the bible plainly says”, thus making any rejection of the doctrinal syllabus a direct rejection of the Bible, which, as it is “God’s Word” (it’s not, but that claim is yet another vehicle for their manipulation), is a full-on rejection of God, Himself.

Again, notice what Pastor X is saying:  The only way to read the Bible is to read it through a lens of interpretive truth that is first provided by the authority of the ecclesiastical eldership.  This, of course, ultimately makes the Bible as the source of truth irrelevant.  The source of truth is really whatever the pastor says the Bible means…the Reformed protestant philosophical paradigm through which all of reality, including the Bible and its message, is interpreted.  This is why they can stand up there with a straight face and nary a blush of shame and explain how it is perfectly within your right to judge them by the scriptures and then in the very next breath declare that they are the authority in God’s stead whose doctrines and ideas and interpretations and opinions and demands and orders are never to be questioned but only categorically trusted by you and the rest of the dog-faced slobbering masses in the pews. They know that the seed of WHAT you see in the scripture is present and granted to you ALREADY as a direct function of their ideas.

The “infallible” bible becomes secondary in the process.  Which is thus to say that the Bible isn’t infallible at all.  The neo-Calvinist interpretive lens, which is the very reason that the Bible says what it says in the first place, is what is actually infallible.

Let me say that again.  The only reason the Bible says what it says and is thus “infallible” is because their Reformed protestant doctrine already directly informs it.  This means that Biblical infallibility is at its root a lie.  What they call “biblical infallibility” is really doctrinal infallibility.  The Bible says what the doctrine declares.  Of course they will try to equivocate on this truth by arguing that they are, in fact, teaching and believe the opposite.  But that is more of their inherent deception.

The way you know this is deception is because, again, you are never allowed disagree with the leadership.  If the Bible itself was really the source of the truth of the doctrine then they could not stand up there and encourage the laity to “search the scriptures like Bereans, and hold us accountable for what we teach” and then declare the exact opposite of that thought; namely that you can NEVER hold them accountable for wrong teaching because THEY, not you, are the one’s to whom God has divinely chosen to reveal His “mysterious” truth, in order that they may lead (force, compel, threaten, intimidate, torment, abuse) you in His righteous ways.  Yes, they could never encourage you to search the scriptures as though the scriptures were the source of truth and yet still remain consistent with their theology which declares all men utterly insufficient for grasping truth because of their rank metaphysical failure.

What I mean is that the reason you can NEVER disagree with them and come to a different conclusion about what the Bible means and teaches is because, according to the Reformed/neo-Calvinist construct, truth is not learned, it is “revealed/bestowed” upon those “called by God to lead” as a matter of, not reason, but pure revelation.  This means that man’s own epistemology (his ability to know what he knows) is wholly insufficient for apprehending truth, stemming from his essential metaphysical total depravity/categorical corruption/sin nature.

This, again, makes the Bible itself totally superfluous as a function of how YOU, the unwashed, ignorant and feral-minded acquire truth.  Oh sure, they may claim that the Bible is the source of all truth, but as this truth is never available to you, because you aren’t “called to stand in the stead of God” (direct quote from SGM pastors), how the fuck could you know?  You can’t know that the Bible is the source of truth because you aren’t innately capable of knowing what it means.  They provide you with the systematic reformed interpretive construct, and then you simply plug in what you read in the bible, whether you think it fits or not.  And viola! Biblical infallibility!

Which makes daily Bible reading nothing more than a private, self-administered propaganda session, courtesy of your “local church”.  Every time you read the Bible, you are fostering the pastor’s right to own you, your mind, your property and your labor.  You learn nothing from the Bible except what the Pastor has already told you you must accept.  Thus, reading the Bible merely reinforces his authority. True biblical meditation then is replaced with self-imposed and self-perpetuating Reformed psychological manipulation; manipulation of your mind to bring you to a that blissful and empty theological climax, good for nothing except the pleasure of divorcing yourself from yourself in service to that deterministic theology which denies your very existence at its root, and thus, denies your culpability in anything at all.

This is hardly a rejection of sin, no matter what the Reformed/neo-Calvinists teach. On the contrary, sin is utterly embraced by those who would say that it is impossible for mere humans to know truth, so what you do and why you do it is always a function of someone else’s authority to stand before God on your behalf (give an account for you..which is a false interpretation of Paul’s statement to that effect, but what the fuck else is new?) and their ability to stand before you on God’s behalf.  And truly, punting your life into the great cosmic abyss is certainly harder than living it.

Incidentally, this is exactly why the self-appointed president and titular head of the Brent Detwiler Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastoral Pariah Club, which is of course Brent Detwiler, is losing his house and his life in general seems to be crashing down around him in a depressing, fiery wreckage. He basks in the glory of being the “suffering saint” because he thinks its “God’s will”.  Because, as John Immel pointed out on a recent comment on his blog, thinking its God’s will is a lot more gratifying than getting a job where he might have to ask people if they want their milk in a bag, or if they want to supersize their order for a dollar more.  And it sure sounds better, too, doesn’t it?  Much more prestigous and fitting for the “man of God” to cry “Oh, poor suffering and holy me!” than to utter “Welcome to Lowes, thanks for shopping with us today”.  But the reality is that to anyone with a rational brain cell, Brent looks ridiculous.  Whiny, and complaining about his situation to every willing ear without ever conceding that it is his very own beliefs…his infinite hypocrisy in having the nerve to contradict his own theology and question his spiritual “authority”, CJ Mahaney; a practice that Brent himself, from what I understand, NEVER tolerated.

But when truth is revealed, not learned, what the fuck can you tell someone like him?  You can’t possibly know.  HE, as a pastor, has been given the divine gnosis, not you.  So, no matter how silly Brent looks to the rest of us, nor how hopeless his situation, our eyes perpetually deceive us, because the doctrine says so.

Are you sobered-up yet?  Are you off of your neo-Reformed high?  Have you come down from the cloud says all Christianity is merely psychological hedonism; a forfeiture of SELF in service to the conceptual abstraction of “pure joy” (there is no such thing)?

But even if the pastors claim that they get their truth from their “infallible” Bibles; and even if you think you can accept this because how in the hell would you, the one to whom the Bible’s truths haven’t been divinely revealed, know?  Yes, they can claim it is their source of truth all day long, but the fact is that when you parse the logic out to its logical conclusion, the only reason they can claim they know the Bible is true is because God has specially revealed to them FIRST what it means.  The Bible cannot be true first, and its infallible meaning pulled from it; no, for that suggests that truth is learned.  But in the Reformed construct, it is not, it is revealed… ALL truth is a direct revelation from God, not the Bible (unless you think the Bible is God, which they do when you examine all of the facets of “Biblical Inerrancy”, which simply reinforces my entire argument that no truth is learned, but revealed).  The Bible’s meaning is revealed first, then come the words of the Bible, which can be “properly” understood.  Truth doesn’t come from the Bible, truth is a byproduct of having been given the “grace to perceive” (another direct quote) what the Bible MUST mean already.  Which means that the Bible is as much on the hook for agreeing with their interpretive assumptions as you or I.

Ouch.  So much for holding the Bible up as the paragon of truth.

And this is why, for all of the Biblical Infallibility being applied in the churches today, modern Christianity is doing a flawless job of continuing the despotic and abusive traditions of “orthodox” Christianity.

The only way to save “sound doctrine” is to reject it.  The only way to declare the Bible is true is to declare that it is NOT infallible.  For infallibility and truth are mutually exclusive within the context of human life.

 

The Philosophy of Reason: Response to Commenter Glenn (two)

Glenn wrote:

“Argo,

My second set of questions deals with this quote:

***** Begin Quote *****
If I were to take my bible to a construction site, and no other tools, and attempt to build an ice skating rink with nothing but my bible, how would that work out?

It wouldn’t. Why? Because in that context, the bible is ERRANT. It is wanting. It offers no help. It cannot be used to hammer nails, or to install drywall, or to lay ice. So, how, pray tell, can the bible be both inerrant and errant at the same time?

The answer is: it cannot.
***** End Quote *****

I assume that you are using the term context in its technical philosophical meaning (I had to look it up):

“Context is the idea that a statement or thought has meaning in relationship to its setting or background.”

Okay, given that definition these paragraphs don’t sound that profound. Let’s take Jesus’ statement that “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” Using your definition of inerrancy, that statement is not inerrant since I can’t hammer a nail or install drywall with it. Fair enough. What matters to me is if you believe that statement is reliably true. Can anyone other than the people that heard Jesus say that take it to be true? Is it true for me, you, the man down the street, all people at different times and places? Can you even take it for a given that Jesus said that?

If all the statements in the Bible are not true individually and collectively then where does that leave us? Do we use our reason, however defined, to determine what is individually true for us?

Glenn”

*

Glenn,

Again, great question.  Thank you.

“Let’s take Jesus’ statement that “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” Using your definition of inerrancy, that statement is not inerrant since I can’t hammer a nail or install drywall with it. Fair enough. What matters to me is if you believe that statement is reliably true.”

Something being “reliably” true is not the same thing as claiming that it is inerrant.  A cookbook is “reliably true”.  The DMV website is “reliably true”.  So why do we not claim inerrancy for these sources like we do the Bible?

Well, my answer to this and the question overall is in three parts:

The first is simple:  in Christianity, mysticism/cultism has replaced reason as a means for interpreting reality.  The phrase “biblical inerrancy” is thus used as a bulwark for absolute ecclesiastical authority (and for the “authority” of any other “lesser” tyrant on the street who wants to claim the right to use violence (force/threats/punishment/terrorism) rather than reason to force other human beings into his subjective reality).  It is used as a means of implying that the Bible ITSELF is the primary consciousness to which all humanity must sacrifice itself…and/or be sacrificed.  Of course the Bible cannot interpret itself, so the mystics must conveniently claim “divine gnosis”; the special, direct-express revelation concerning what it “really” means.  The appeal to inerrancy then is nothing more than an appeal to the idea that Pastors and Priests OWN their laity.  Biblical inerrancy is “proof” of their divine mandate to rob and murder in service to their own power (worldly lusts).

Next, there is no reason to claim “biblical inerrancy” if reason and rational argument can show the Bible to be demonstrably true.  This of course requires a standard of TRUTH outside the Bible, however.  And since Christians are philosophically Platonist almost to a man, with every doctrine rooted in the simple idea that all actual reality (read “morality” and “truth”) is completely exclusive to man’s existence due to his “fallen nature”, they cannot possibly conceive of any such standard.  God alone is “absolute TRUTH”, which means, ipso facto, that whatever is perceived and confessed to be a direct, non-contextual function of God MUST be as inerrant as God is.   As John Immel would then say, “Alakazam, poof!”, the Bible is inerrant as well.  Which is just another way of saying that the Bible, like God, defies ALL external contexts as proper venues for vetting its TRUTH.  And since the only relevant context is man’s life, man becomes utterly subservient to whatever the Bible says.  But the problem which logically follows is:  who is in the position to know what the Bible really says, since we have already conceded that its inerrancy precludes it from being interpreted according to any standard other than itself?

See point one.

Once again, “inerrancy” becomes nothing more than a cudgel used in service to the absolute power of the mystic despots who claim unopposed and absolute power over the barbarian masses.

Further, the obvious (well…it should be obvious) problem with the notion that absolute TRUTH is outside of man’s existence is that as soon as man is introduced as a character within the cosmic play of divine whimsy, absolute TRUTH is no longer absolute, by definition.  An absolute truth must demand the destruction of anything NOT itself in order that it may continue to be absolutely true.  In other words, if absolute truth must be contextualized (to man), then it can no longer claim to be absolute.  Which means that man must, somehow, integrate himself into what is already perfectly absolute without him.

This is naturally impossible.  The ethical and epistemological conclusion thus must be:  man’s death = man’s greatest moral good, since an absolute truth can only really be absolute when man is completely out of the picture.

Finally,

“Inerrancy” itself, like every other conceptual abstraction man uses to organize his environment, and to express the relative relationship between himself and other objects/people, is an utterly meaningless idea when taken out of the context of MAN’S life.  The logical contradiction is that the concept of inerrancy defies this necessary contextual relationship.  Inerrancy thus is an absolute concept without context.  Understanding that inerrancy means “incapable of error”, you will notice that within this definition there is no context implied, ever.  Contextualizing inerrancy results in logical gibberish…because as soon as you contextualize what is “without error” you are contradicting the very definition.  You are claiming that “inerrancy” has inherent ERRANCY within its conceptual definition because inerrancy must be contextualized (to the Bible, for instance).  This means that out of its purely abstract “self”, inerrancy becomes wholly errant;  so again errancy is implied within the general definition.  Which makes “inerrancy” in any and all contexts patently false; irrelevant; useless.  This rationale is the presumption behind my “you can’t build a house with the Bible” example.  The notion of inerrancy is in and of itself patently absurd.  There is no context where it has any efficacy or reason.  It can only have one purpose:  to promote the destruction of the many in service to the power of the few.

Inerrancy is a wholly irrelevant concept all together.  There is no such thing in the context of man’s life…and if there is no such thing in the context of man’s life then there is no such thing, period. Because outside of man’s life no concept has any meaning whatsoever, and thus can never be defined as “inerrant” by definition.  Everything must conform to a standard of TRUTH (individual LIFE), and as soon as this becomes the philosophical foundation then nothing NON-CONTEXTUAL to the standard can be claimed to be “inerrant” because its “inerrancy” can never be verified, first; and even if it could, it would be completely irrelevant to man since inerrancy is only inerrancy as an absolute OUTSIDE of man. The very concept of “inerrancy” has no efficacious purpose to either man or God.  It is purely a tool of the tyrant; a means to coddle the barbaric, despotic, violent, and disdainful inclinations of the devotee to Augustinian/Lutheran/Calvinist theological madness.

If you say the Bible is inerrant, then you are on the hook for explaining WHY it is inerrant.  Any denial of the necessary explanation makes one a rank liar and an advocate of evil, because this can only mean one thing:  you concede that there is no “why” necessary, because man is wholly besides the point.

But if one must declare why the Bible is inerrant then its inerrancy must be qualified…it must be measured against a standard in order that its inerrancy can be validated.  But as soon as that is conceded then it is proved that the Bible then is not inerrant, again because inerrancy can only be inerrancy when it is absolute, and NOTHING absolute can be qualified/contextualized.  So…if anything is truly inerrant–that is, incapable of error in and of itself with absolutely no context required because it, itself IS the context–it is individual human LIFE.  There is no other rational standard anywhere in the universe.

So, the question I have for you Glenn, since you asked me so many, is:

What is the standard of TRUTH you proclaim?

A Prescription for Reason: Complete cure of the affliction of “biblical inerrancy” in a single dose

Unfortunately, there are still many out there–even among those who agree that the tyranny of Calvinism creeps on the horizon like armies of Mordor, seeking to replace truth and light with a love of death and the bloodletting of moral relativism and lawlessness (antinomian-ism)–yes, still among these there are many out there who won’t concede that reason alone should be the death of Platonist insanity; of paradoxical notions of “truth”; of irreconcilable metaphysical matters; of spiritually nebulous matters.

And as this blog trudges on, I realize that the majority of my time is spent defending my ideas to my philosophical compadres, ironically, who understandably believe on some level that you can only fight fire with fire…that the mysticism of Baal can only be destroyed with a “Christian” mysticism (of sorts) of their own.

I don’t fault them for this.  It is perfectly understandable.  After all, we are speaking of spiritual things–of METAphysical things.  And it has been common knowledge since the Pythagoreans laid down the twin tablets of philosophy and mathematics, that existential truth must of course be beyond a reasonable explanation of events and ideas that the senses observe and vet.

And one paradox deserves another.  An eye-for-eye and a tooth-for-tooth; an anthropomorphic abstraction for an anthropomorphic abstraction.

This has always been the way, after all, among good Christian philosophers.  Our God is a mystery…o man, who can know His ways?  Truly, Argo, you are a fool to think you can ever get to the bottom of truth using nothing but ideas which do not wind up in the painted corner of paradox.

Well, truth be told…I abandoned spiritual-ism almost immediately after realizing that the problem with Sovereign Grace Ministries was not the dudes running the metaphysical fun-house, but the doctrine.  I realized that the destruction of humanity in favor of ideas which at their root are contradictory (whether you want to call this contradiction “paradox” or not, it still means one thing:  [shrug] Who can say?) is the real source of the violence.  I realized that it didn’t matter how altruistic it all sounded, or if a nice guy like Wade Burelson was preaching the insanity or if a duplicitous shaman like CJ Mahaney was doing it, it all boiled down to the exact same presumption:

Man cannot know truth.

And therefore:

Man cannot define “self”.

And therefore:

Man cannot OWN self.

And therefore:

Someone else must define and own him FOR him.

If man cannot reconcile the very root of HOW and WHY he is here, then quite simply, man is not man.  For man can know NO truth because the reference point–the singularity/the point locale–for all knowledge is a giant black hole where reason and consistency of ideas is smashed into a dark oblivion where only “God” resides.

And from then on, it is only a matter of who is willing to be the bigger asshole.  Who is wiling to take the idea of “man is not really man” to the logical conclusion.  Who is willing to do the most violence to compel human beings to “truth”, to the real paradox?  Who is willing to send the greatest number of children through the fires of Moloch in service to worshiping the real Primary Consciousness.

It took me almost no time at all between being in Sovereign Grace Ministries and leaving to understand that all appeals to paradoxical versions of truth was mysticism, period.  That there is only one kind of TRUTH:  Reasonable.  Truth which resides in a place that man is fully capable of grasping and reconciling based on what he observes with his senses.  Beyond that, there is no truth.  There is not even “faith”, because faith based on ideas that cannot be known as true is not faith, it is madness.  I submit that NO person in the Bible ever believed God on paradoxical “faith”.  The “doctrine of paradox” like the “doctrine of the Trinity”, the “doctrine of Original Sin”, the “doctrine of Church Discipline”, the “doctrine of Complimentariansm”, does not exist in the Bible.  There is no rational reason to decide that faith must equal paradox.  God never demands faith based on contradictory ideas.  And God, Himself never declares that the key to understanding the “mystery of God” is to declare that you cannot understand.  No…what does God ask?  That we continue to seek, to knock, and to look for WISDOM.

So I ask you, would God offer us the well of wisdom if he knew that at the bottom was the spiritual poison of “paradox”?  Would God promise the good gift of wisdom to His children if He understood that beyond the frilly wrapper and bow was emptiness?  Was a “truth” that at best could only slip through man’s fingers?

Paradox.

The word doesn’t exist in scripture.  But like good little Platonists we continue to return to the well of wisdom which is perpetually dry.  So we simply imagine the water and call it truth.

People, this is insane.

Come…says the man of God.  Let us REASON together.

So, we are going to do that now.  We are going to dismantle the false and irrelevant idea of “biblical inerrancy”, not by some vast appeal to this book of the Bible or that, or this verse, or our mysticism as being more “rational” than their mysticism. We are not going to appeal to the Greek, or the Hebrew, or the Early Church writings, or the Heidelberg Catechism; nor are we going to point to historical applications of tyranny and violence and death as proof that false ideas meant to solidify the power of a Kantian authority, like biblical inerrancy, prove that these ideas are decidedly NOT in keeping with Christ’s command to love.  We won’t use our personal experience with a reformed/Calvinist despot  who cared  more for his ability to compel and control and take, take, take for the sake of “sound doctrine” than for actually saving souls.  If you want that, there are about fifty blog sites I can give you a road map to that specialize in that brand of resistance.

I don’t and won’t take this tactic on this blog.  This blog uses a different tool:  reason.  Logic.  We destroy destructive ideas by showing that at the  heart of them ALL is contradiction, by one label or another.  That at the singularity of them all is the fact that they cannot, nor ever will be found to actually appeal to LOGIC as the source of their truth. That what they only ever do at the end of the day is appeal to the idea of “man cannot understand” as the root of understanding.

The Achilles heal of all destructive and evil doctrines is NOT the Bible, as so many “biblicists” are fond of saying ( hey…I have a great idea:  let’s fight one subjective interpretation of the scriptures with another subjective interpretation of the scriptures…and it never occurs to them that they concede the whole damn argument before they even wake up in the morning; it is maddening).  No, it is logic and reason.

All ideas are found having or wanting for truth based on reason alone, even “Christian” ones.

So let’s take a minute to look at “inerrancy”; that king gremlin of all nonsensical “Christian” platitudes.  That secret weapon of despotism:  the idea that if WE are those “gifted” to know truth, and WE can say the bible is indeed “inerrant”, then our power is by definition unlimited.  WE have the keys to hermetical TRUTH, which is beyond you, mere manWe (or I) get to define it; and once defined, it must be followed, and we have a mandate to FORCE you to follow it by any means necessary.  Why?  Because the Bible says it (what we/I decide “it” is), and so it is inerrant.  Fall on your knees, lay person.  Fall on your needs or eat the fire of the Righteous Burning Stake of Purification.

Oh…yes, Is it any WONDER why so many Protestants have spent so many years hammering the idea of “inerrancy”?  Think of the power!  There is none greater than that of he who gets not only to define TRUTH but to declare it unassailable by any means in the universe.

You can go take a moment to go throw up.  I’ll wait.

Hummm….deee……hummm…..(smoke break)…..hummm deee….(oh look, another web site about abuse in the church; and what’s this…oh, yes, the doctrine is still just fine)….hummmm…deee…oh my, is Oprah gaining?

Are you back?  Good.  Hope you feel better.

I’ve got something for your sickness.  A dose of reason.  Take this, and you are cured for life.  It’s easy.  One little spoonful, as sweet as honey.  Drink it in and know the freedom of reason.  Because the freedom of reason is the ability to LOVE.  It is the antidote for hate and death and and bloodshed and tyranny.  Here’s a bottle.  Use as needed.  Use liberally.

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Those of you who read here regularly I think will have heard this argument against biblical inerrancy before, but nonetheless it bears repeating.

“Inerrancy” as you will notice, or “infallibility” is NEVER qualified when it is presented as the bedrock for scriptural integrity.  There is a good reason for this.  Do you know what it is?  It’s not hard to spot if you just think about it.

Right.  You have it.

“Inerrancy/infallibility” is an absolute.  It is infinite in its implication.  It can have no qualification because a qualification imposes a limitation upon inerrancy.  And limited inerrancy by definition is not inerrant.  

Once limited, inerrancy becomes a contradiction in terms.  Inerrancy cannot be contextualized without destroying the very concept itself.  As soon as you say inerrancy is only inerrant within a certain limited frame of reference, inerrancy stops being a rational concept all together.  It is, then, by definition, no longer inerrant.  Because inerrancy cannot be BOTH inerrant and errant at the SAME time.  It cannot be logically said to ONLY apply here, but not here.  For this makes inerrancy a dimensional construct; and this implies limitations.  If inerrancy is bound at the corners by its own existential limitations, then it is not by definition inerrant.  It is wholly errant IN ANY OUTSIDE-OF-ITSELF CONTEXT.  Out of the context of itself, it cannot possibly be inerrant. 

But since we have (and MUST) as human beings, in order to practically apply a concept, anthropomorphized the inerrancy idea (like we do with any abstraction…and this is the foundation of why it is so hard for people to separate what is abstract from what is actual, and why so many people disagree with me, LOL), it can be observed in only context.  But the problem is that in context, it cannot be inerrant.  And more than that, it can ONLY be errant.  An idea which is given life as a “thing”, can only be revealed in context…but since in order for it to be wholly what it proclaims to be, it must be INFINITE…and thus, in context, it cannot be integrally itself (what it takes for it to be infinite), and so it cannot possibly be true in context, because in a context, again, it is not, by definition, infinite.  It is bound by the limitations of the context. Therefore, in context, which again is where it must be revealed for man to observe it, it cannot be itself.  And if it cannot be itself, then man can never say that it actually is the infinite concept he declares it is. 

Confused?  Yeah…I never said it was easy.

Inerrancy, like time and space, can only make sense as an absolute truth if it is seen as an infinite abstraction (note:  “infinite abstraction” is redundant; for all abstractions are infinite by definition)…utterly removed from the context of the physical reality of those things where it is applied.  But, apart from those things–apart from context–it can have no relevant meaning at all.  In other words, the idea of inerrancy must be completely removed from the context of any THING else in order for it to be, in fact, inerrancy. Once contextualized, it is limited, but inerrancy cannot by definition be limited.  Because what is limited inerrancy?  The very concept has no meaning.  Limited inerrancy?  It is a complete contradiction in terms. 

So, if you say the BIBLE is inerrant, you have contextualized “inerrancy”.  You have limited an infinite abstract concept to a THING, and therefore, you have qualified what inerrancy means,and thus destroyed the concept utterly.  “Impossible to err” cannot actually be qualified because what you are saying via the qualification is that in this context it cannot err, but in another it CAN err.  And an inerrancy which can be said to be capable of erring is not, by definition, inerrancy. 

But some will say…Argo, this is confusing.  It is real simple.  Inerrancy is not inerrant, the bible is inerrant.

No, no, no! If I were to take my bible to a construction site, and no other tools, and attempt to build an ice skating rink with nothing but my bible, how would that work out?

It wouldn’t.  Why?  Because in that context, the bible is ERRANT.  It is wanting.  It offers no help. It cannot be used to hammer nails, or to install drywall, or to lay ice.  So, how, pray tell, can the bible be both inerrant and errant at the same time? 

The answer is:  it cannot.

It can only be “inerrant” in a certain context.  But…that won’t work, because as soon as you qualify “inerrancy” it is no longer inerrant by definition.  You have “limited inerrancy”.

And what is “limited inerrancy”?  It is nothing more than “errancy”.  An inerrant bible is fully capable of erring in a certain context.  Therefore, it cannot possibly be inerrant.

The reality is that the bible’s truth can only be revealed contextually.  Take it out of context, and it is no longer “true”.  This is why IT cannot be ITSELF inerrant, but the bible’s efficacious application can only be observed IN CONTEXT. 

What context?

MAN’S context.

MAN is the plumb line for how errant or inerrant the bible is.  The bible cannot possibly be its OWN plumb line, because, as I said, in a certain context, such as at the construction site, it will FAIL in its efficacy.  

That is those who claim “biblical inerrancy” never qualify that statement.  Because they cannot.  It is why the bible , to them, is “inerrant”, period.  Now some will say, “inerrant in the original writings”, but that scarcely matters.  That is not really a qualification of inerrancy, it is a lame attempt to add an air of rationality to what is a wholly ridiculous idea, nothing more.

The truth is that only man can be the plumb line for what is true.  Not even God can be “inerrant” because how God is applied in man’s context will reveal to man how “inerrant” He is.  God can only be revealed as true if man can observe this truth as being, actually, efficacious to the only thing which can have real, objective value:  man’s SELF.

This is exactly why “inerrancy” never appears in scripture.  It is a totally irrelevant concept, indefatigably meaningless.  Glittering in its ridiculousness.  The reason I decry ANY “truth” which man cannot reconcile is because anything that is TRUE outside of MAN’S context cannot really be true because there is no way to observe its truth.  And if we cannot observe it is true, then there is no way to acknowledge if it is true or not.  And further and again, truth must be measured against what is the only thing of objective value, which is :  man.  Man’s physical SELF is the root of truth.  Any idea which does not reconcile to the context of man’s life, then, cannot possibly be true.

The bible’s truth is revealed in MAN.  It does not get to be inerrant apart from this context.  And because the bible must be contextualized in order to be true, it cannot possibly be inerrant.

An Infallible Bible Destroys Everything it Touches

“Infallibility”, like so many concepts we use to describe and organize our world, is undeniably absolute.  There can be no pragmatic, real-world application of such an idea.  Every real world application of the concept of infallibility will always result in an obvious, empirical limitation of the idea.  Therefore, infallibility either remains a function of the theoretical, and thus can only be applied, somewhat…hmm, allegorically/symbolically/metaphorically in the tangible world we occupy; or, it becomes a contradiction in terms.  For there is no such rational thing as limited or contextual infallibility. 

Put simply, the definition of “infallible”is: unable to err.  This definition is cutely qualified in the dictionary, however, like I said, any attempt to qualify what cannot, by definition, be qualified makes it a logical contradiction.  If you must qualify infallible-ness, it is no longer infallible.  By definition.  If it must contextualized for it to “not err”, then the implicit logical assumption is that outside of that context, “erring” is not only possible, but inevitable.  If it is not infallible everywhere and everywhen, regardless of context, then it is not “incapable of erring”.  It is not infallible.  For infallibility cannot be both infallible and NOT infallible at the same time.

At this point, referring to anyTHING that we observe as a manifestation of our literal world and reality as infallible should seem to run contrary to reason; and so it is with some consternation that I look around and see that almost every statement of faith in every protestant church in America claims that the bible is “infallible”.  The human destruction which can and is wrought by such egregiously false claims should be apparent by now in our history as the human race at least, and yet, the dots remain unconnected.  People still seem vexed when logically impossible ideas, instead of bringing peace and order, bring chaos and human destruction, both physical and psychological.  But still more mystifying is that the biblical notion of reaping what you sow is never considered as the logical source of the fallout.  My assumption is that if you really do consider the bible infallible, then the most interpretively obvious points should be on deck at all times.  If you preach logical nonsense and substitute reason for metaphysical and doctrinal madness, you get hurt human beings. See?  Sowing and reaping.

Dear Calvinists:  It isn’t that hard.

But it is…really, because conceding that there is actually truth, and this truth is a function of MAN’S existential reality, and thus men must possess the capacity to apprehend it, flies in the face of their need for gnostic moral relativity to maintain power and the critical assumption that the reformed authority’s capricious whims are in fact objective GOOD.  Their doctrines don’t make sense only TO YOU.  IF you were THEM, they would make perfect sense.  So,you see, objective truth is meaningless.  Truth is whatever they say it is because THEY are truth. Period.  So if what they teach brings destruction to you, then obviously you are the problem.  You have reaped it because you are NOT them.

And here is how the bible is used in service to their tyranny:

As an obvious fact, if the bible is “infallible”, then it must be “contextually infallible” only, thus contradicting its own infallibility.  Case in point:  If you try replacing your hammer with your bible (no, Calvinists, they really aren’t the same thing) and then go try to build a deck, you will quickly realize just how contextual the bible’s “infallibility” is.  So, only two logical assumptions from this are to be found.

One:  The bible is really NOT infallible, because the fact that it makes an “errant’ hammer is proof that it certainly, when used as such, is significantly wanting.

Two:  The fault is not the bible’s, because it cannot err.  Ergo, the problem is the nails, or the boards you are using, or you (note:  it’s ALWAYS you at the end of the day…you are what’s wrong), or the blueprints, or the permits, or the laws of physics, etc., etc.    The fact that the bible is about as inerrant a hammer as I am a professional basketball player (or a basketball player) is beside the point.  If the bible is really infallible, then at no time can the bible be at fault for failing to meet a standard.  Any standard.   It IS the standard.  Thus, any fault must ALWAYS lay outside it.  If it cannot fly to the moon, the fault is the moon’s.  If it cannot climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, the fault is Mt. Kilimanjaro’s.  If it cannot run the forty yard dash in under five seconds, the dash is flawed, or time, space, length, distance…but never the bible.  By definition, you see, it is infallible.  It is incapable of erring.  And there is NO way that “incapable of erring” can be qualified.

But the worst is none of those examples.  The worst is this:  Who gets to decide what infallibility looks like, then, when applied in our reality?  The answer would seem to be no one, but we ex-Calvinist bobble-heads know that this is not really true, don’t we?  Because the bible is infallible, there can be NO human interpretation of it in any way that can possibly be veracious.  Why?  Because humans are, in every Christian tradition, fallible by nature.  They are fallible because they are contextual; they are limited; they are NOT the sum of their own truth.  Thus there is no way the fallible can ever accurately understand or apply what is infallible because what is infallible is wholly outside of the human context.

So, I ask again:  who gets to decide?

Why, your philosopher-kings, in your local neo-Calvinist church who are carefully and divinely standing in the stead.  Those “leaders” of yours, who are not you, and whom God has somehow, indescribably given the ability to transcend human flawed, fallible, limited existence.  That’s who.

And we wonder why there is destruction in Christendom.

Reaping and sowing, people.  Reaping and sowing.

The Problem of Calvinism in a Nutshell (or, rather, a very small coffin); and How is the Bible like a Baseball Bat?: A couple of my key comments from Wartburg Watch

The whole of Calvinism’s despotism can be boiled down to this fact: every core assumption is designed to separate man (men and women) from himself. You are either ruled by your “sinful nature” or you are ruled by the inexorable “irresistible grace” of God. Holding all of this together is the false understanding of God’s sovereignty. Meaning God ultimately controls ALL things, which makes Him the functional author of all the good and evil you do. Which is certainly a tacit admission that God causes evil; but worse than that, and more to the actual truth of the matter, is that this leads the faith inevitably to a place of moral relativism. For two reasons. One: if God controls all things then even things that are ostensibly “evil” are God’s will. Two: if man is indeed wholly depraved, utterly wicked apart from God, then man’s morality ends with his PERSON. And this is important. IF the whole of man is evil then his “sin” is his very existence. Not only does this assumption lead to abuse for obvious reasons, but it equates fully man’s morality the same “perfection” as God’s. You end up with a disturbing gnostic dualism of sorts. God is ALL good, man is ALL evil leaves no arbiter between the two. There is no objective morality that IS the pure and perfect standard. In short, God’s good and man’s evil become mirror images of each other. This is hard to understand I know, but if we understand that man’s person (the human) is fundamentally GOOD, then the dualism is IN MAN (and this dualism is WHY we cannot help but sin; for sin is always there to give a frame of reference to any GOOD we do; it has nothing to do with “not being able to help but to DO sin, but it has to do with the fact that, outside of Christ, we are always defined by BOTH good and evil, and that was NEVER God’s intention for man) and the perfect standard of morality is God. Now, they will say they believe this, but they do not. Calvinism’s false doctrine will never suffer the idea that there is ANY good or worth in man. And this is precisely why they cannot truly love, and why the doctrine is inherently abusive.

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And by the way, once they fall back on “because it is in the Bible” you know you have won. “Because it is in the Bible” is the tautological rationale that is rooted in subjective interpretation. The Bible simply cannot be proof of its own truth. You don’t look at a baseball bat and declare it perfect. It’s perfection is only realized through practical application. Human application is the ONLY way truth can be realized. And since people are by design different, what will truth look like? It will look human.

We don’t love bibles. We love people. I don’t care how “biblical” your ideas are. If they do not result in the true freedom for people in THIS life, based on love as guided by the Spirit, they are not Christ’s ideas. And that means you cannot judge people based on “sound doctrine”. You can only judge truth by how it views human beings, and whether its application holds sacred their minds, body, and property.

Calvinism says humans are at their root depraved. There can be no truth EVER found there, then.

Biblical Inerrancy: Abstract, unqualified, and false (addendum)

“The Bible is not inerrant, but MAN applying it, guided by the Spirit,  IS.  MAN, with Christ, IS the infallible thing, NOT the Bible (this is the very ROOT of salvation and justification; why we are no longer judged by the law, because a man or woman in Christ IS infallible; he or she cannot be judged for sin, because sin no longer can mean anything for them).  Man is not totally depraved and worthless.  Man’s life is priceless; man is WORTH saving; man is worth the perfection he becomes through Christ.  Man, at his root, is GOOD.”

-Me

“Because it is in the Bible”, or “Because the Bible “says” it” cannot be verification of biblical truth. This is specious at best.  However, I submit that the rational larceny of this idea should be obvious to all people.

In other words, the Bible cannot rationally be proof of its own veracity.  Only God and God alone is TRUTH in and of Himself, without context, and without condition and without qualification.  The Bible, even supposing it were God’s very words transcribed absolutely and directly by the writers of it, it could not be declared inerrant or infallible, because the Bible is still, as a function of MAN’S environment/world/reality is NOT God (and if anyone disagrees with that, they are conceding that a created thing–God’s “words” to us, either spoken or in the form of the Bible–is God. Which is of course rank nonsense).

Incidentally, I do not accept the idea that the Bible is God’s very words transcribed exactly to man.  How we as Christians can rationalize “inspired” to mean “absolute direct translation; verbatim, to the point where we can utterly consider the Bible OUTSIDE of the context, interpretive assumptions, perspectives, and intentions of the human writers” is something that I have yet to see argued reasonably.  If we see a movie and the movie declares “inspired by the life events of Shaft”, or “based on the novel by Tom and Jerry”, does ANYONE in his right mind consider the movie to be an utter perfect and infallible representation of the book or life which inspired it?  Now, I’m not suggesting the writers of the bible took artistic license, but what I am suggesting is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to remove the perspective/interpretation/and context of the individual and singular selfaware consciousness which is relaying the story/scene/command/idea/truth/prophesy, etc., etc..  That is, the truth they are relaying can ONLY BE TRUE IF PROPERLY QUALIFIED and CONTEXTUALIZED within the holistic framework of the author.

In other words, there is no truth in the Bible which exists apart from man’s context:  first for the writer, and then for the reader.  And, as those two contexts may be substantially different, TRUTH can only be realized as a function of the individual as  he or she applies the information.  And if this is true, the only way any biblical idea can be seen as truth is in a sense always going to be SUBJECTIVE outside the individual; however, it CAN be objective, when verified are directed by the Holy Spirit WITHIN the individual.  What I am saying then, is that the only way biblical truth can ever be objectively seen (excluding those sins which involve the direct violation of other human beings; for a good summary of these, look at the Ten Commandments: they are special because they deal with outwardly observable, quantifiable and thus objective sins) is in the context of each individual person; and this may or may not be visible to outside observers, which is why we are commanded NOT to judge others.  Because HOW the Holy Spirit applies a biblical revelation to each individual may LOOK completely different from person to person.  “Do not be yoked to the world”, may mean something totally different, applicably speaking, from one person to another, according to the understanding of that person by the Holy Spirit.  So it is NOT the Bible which is infallible, but the cooperation of the human being with the Spirit of God where God’s TRUTH to man is realized.  The Bible then is wholly for man, as a guide to applying GOOD (not applying God, which is impossible for the same reason it is impossible to apply an infallible Bible) to their life.  The Bible is not inerrant, but MAN applying it in Spirit and Truth IS.  MAN, with Christ, IS the infallible thing, NOT the Bible.  This is the very ROOT of salvation and justification; why we are no longer judged by the law, because a man or woman in Christ IS infallible; he or she cannot be judged for sin, because sin no longer can mean anything for them.  MAN’S life, with Christ, then, is the only “inerrancy of Scripture” if there must be such a thing.  

As a point of pragmatism:

The Bible makes it clear to me when God is speaking: the words are either in red (thanks to the wonder of the modern printing press…or, well, not so modern, maybe) or they have “God said”, and quotes generally following that.  Any other interpretation of the Bible as God’s very words is impossible to substantiate without, of course, returning to the tautological argument which says that because it’s in the Bible, it must be God’s very words, and because it’s Gods very words, it must be in the Bible.  Again, this rational impossibility is essentially nonsense because it demands that you accept that the Bible is proof if its own “truth”.  And once more, the truth is that IF the Bible is in fact wholly inerrant unto itself, as God is, then it can NEVER be for man, but only for itself, as God is for Himself.  For all man can do is detract, by definition, from its perfection, which must always and only be completely in and of itself.  Obviously, no rational Christian would declare that the Bible is useless for man and was never intended as a tool for refining man’s behavior, faith, and philosophy.  And yet, this is precisely what they are in fact saying when they hold to the idea of biblical infallibility.

 

The Sickening Fear Which Passes for Faith…(Square Peg in a Round Holy Bible: Part 3)

The neo-Reformed…

No, it’s not even simply neo-Reformed.  It is something that is ubiquitous among Christians in general these days…just look at the common “statements of faith” (every church has to have their own “apostles” creed, I guess…or is it the Nicene creed? …you know what, I just don’t care…this creed, that creed, none of them look to the individual first, and that is the crux of the problem)…so look at the statements of faith.  Look at the mountain of verses they use to “prove” the “infallibility” of their doctrines.  Each verse, stacked upon another, from an entirely different book of the Bible, from an entirely different author, neither occupying even the same generation, necessarily, as the other, fit together grotesquely, ripped away from their respective historical and applicable contexts as an infant is ripped from his mother’s arms, and bolted and welded and tortured into place, as if THAT is the sum of reason.

Oh yes…look at the impressive exercises that pass for intellectualism in Christianity these days.  Oh yes, let’s pretend that that the more random verses we can pile on and pound and weld and force and push and shove into the gnarled and twisted sculpture of our “sound doctrine” means that eventually we can effectively obfuscate the real point so that no one can comprehend what the real point actually is.

And what is the real point?

Simple:  To use intellectual sleight of hand in order to convince people that our subjective interpretive opinions of what the bible “says” is actually the “infallible truth” of the matter.  Yes, let us pretend that we are able to mystically conjure up some divine “logic” that says  that “All your good deeds are as filthy rags” is, other than mere trite semantics, the EXACT SAME THING as “You were once children of wrath”.  So exactly the same thing, in fact, that they may be lifted, without the slightest bit of shame–nary a coy glance to the right or left–from the pages of the “inerrant” “Word”and put upon their own two legs so that they may roam too and fro from statement of faith to statement of faith, from pulpit to pulpit, “care group” to “care group”.  (A startlingly ironical title, for those of you who have actually been expelled from SGM churches for not towing the partly line…you quickly find out how little they actually care about human beings.  I haven’t heard from my “care group” leader since I was invited to get out over a year and a half ago.  Not.  Once.).  They may run around without the corners of reason to bind them together…free, free to be whatever, whoever and wherever the divinely inspired Christian leaders of your altruistic local church need them to be.  They, removed from the fetters of logic and critical analysis, reason, context, setting, or author’s perspective or intent, may play the part of mystic chameleon.  A cloak of many colors, under which the masses may be compelled to this behavior or that in the name of “objective, biblically infallible truth”.

Have so many people at any other time fallen for so great an OBVIOUS trick as that of “biblical inerrancy”?  I wrack and wrack my brain, but I find no other example.

I submit that virtually ALL of neo-Reformed despotism can be tied to this most impressive of mystic talents:  to take a flagrant and rank twisting of metaphysical reason and dictate that many accept it without as much as a blink of protest.  To dupe so many into slavishly agreeing to become that which is abstract; that which is merely a figment of man’s conscious and creative brain.  To convince the masses of actual flesh and blood, numbering in the millions upon millions, that THAT figment, that wisp of man’s fantastical ability to quantify his surroundings, must accept that it is to that UNREAL idea they must conform.  To almost hypnotically dictate so many people accept that the only path to TRUTH and righteousness is one that is utterly impossible for them to travel.

But it’s not hypnotism.  It’s fear.  Plain and simple.  To disagree with your divinely appointed “authority”  is to disagree with God.  The logical conclusion of this farce is that, to you, these men ARE God.  That is the functional truth they have successfully convinced you of.  And, as an aside, once you declare that the words of Paul, or Peter, or Moses, or the writer of Hebrews are, in fact, God’s very words–which is precisely the core premise of the argument of biblical infallibility–it is only a very short hop, skip and jump to the idea that the words of your Pastor are also God’s very words (Sovereign Grace Ministries has already taught this very thing).  Let me ask:  Where is the objective plumb line?  Who gets to decide which man is speaking or writing God’s very words and who isn’t?  Do you know how the “canon” of scripture became the canon?  And, if so, what in this criteria indicates that only God’s very words are to be included; and then, again, what becomes the objective plumb line for THAT?  I would love  be convinced that there can be one, but other than “only the words written that are in quotes and preceded by “God said” “, I’m not sure how you get from God, to Jesus, to Paul BECOMING Jesus/God, effectively in the Bible context, so that his words ARE God’s words.  I think this is a gnostic premise that even Paul and the other apostles would recoil at.

At any rate, this idea of religious leaders functioning as “God in the stead” is a threat and deception that has shown itself to be an almost foolproof way to assure mass compliance for thousands of years.  Substitute whatever religion you like, they have all seen their fair share of this simple formula.  And obviously Christianity is no different.  Agree with the “authority which speaks for God” or go to hell.

The moral of this story is: Never underestimate the power of mystic despots to instill fear.  You see, I have come to the conclusion that people do not debate me on biblical inerrancy and other “orthodox” doctrines because they have a better argument.  They do not debate me because they are terrified that they may have to concede me the point.  And this, subconsciously or consciously, means hell for them.  Or at the very least, God’s punishment.  And this is a fear that is as much a part of them as their own eyes.  They would no sooner agree with my argument, no matter how rational or consistent, than they would sear their eyelids shut with a glue gun.  That, dear reader, is fear.  Fear, I submit, is the ONLY emotion capable of cajoling so many otherwise rational people to shutting their ears and eyes to a world full of human destruction implemented at the hands and in the name of their very own religious assumptions

People don’t want to think not because they cannot, but because they believe that God hates thinking…because to think means that conclusions can be reached that might be mutually exclusive to what they already believe by “faith”.  Thinking can only get in the way of their salvation, which God is already reluctant to give.  Oh, sure, they have no problem crying out against rank and obvious injustice, hypocritical ideas used in service to human abuse.  But turn these doctrines against them–that is, the doctrines by which they judge these rank abusers–and see how quickly the run from you.  Shine the light, and they cover their eyes.  In the end, they are no better than the abusers.  But twisting tried and true doctrinal abominations to serve their own subjective sense of judgement…this is FEAR, not faith.

Try to show them their own hypocrisy, and some will stop responding to your comments on their blogs.  Some will leave a baiting and heavily opinionated post on your blog, which, in any rational world demands an opportunity to respond, and end it with “I do not wish to debate this any further”.  Still others will declare that “this topic is unimportant to me”; or “my paradox (contradictory doctrine) leads to truth, but theirs clearly does not“.

Sigh.

So much fear.  So much abuse.  The two sides of the same coin.  And so what have we left?

One or two voices, maybe three or four at the most, crying out from the blank, dimensionless world of the internet?  One, maybe two courageous thinkers speaking to a handful of folks in a tiny church upstate somewhere while gnostic overlords sell their destructive wares and pitch their heresy to arenas full of thousands of young/restless/reformed sycophants because the speakers are “orthodox” (i.e. Categorically affirm the gospel book of the Westminster Confessions, which is no more than a brilliant example of a reformed propaganda piece…you think they mean CATHOLIC “orthodoxy”?  Don’t make me laugh.).  Because they quote a bunch of dead white Europeans in stove pipe hats or leggings, and this passes for theological brilliance?

To what end?

A black hole of Christian zombie minds.  An empty well that reaches to the depths of the earth.  Truly it is discouraging.  And as you can tell, I am discouraged tonight.

People see human beings being abused and destroyed.  But they think that change means they can no longer be Christians.  And this is what they sleep with every night.  How can they continue to believe if THIS is what passes for TRUTH in their religion?  Can it be merely fear?  Is that the root of their faith; is THAT what they equate their own election to?  Their pure, white, cold-yet-burning fear?

Total depravity is a wicked, evil lie.  We should all say it.  But we won’t.  We  KNOW that when a human being is reduced to a pithy abstraction, then ANY horror can be perpetrated on them to a given “divine” end.  But still, we won’t say it.

The idea of biblical inerrancy is a wicked lie.  Say it.

But we won’t.  Because we think that somehow, if someone else just “taught it right”, it would be proven true.  And somehow, poof! the logically impossible would become utterly and empirically possible.  Poof!  Something which can never be true in this world or the next magically becomes true.

But you we won”t say it because, after all…

“All things are possible with God.”

Sigh.

Election, Inerrancy, and Losing Salvation: A short post on the false Christian ideas which depend on the premise that man actually isn’t himself at all

Christians just love to invent pneumatic ideas out of thin, contradictory air in order to support their own subjective interpretive premises.  This, of course, is designed to give them the illusion of objectivity.  Which these ideas are not and never can be, because in order for something to be objective it needs to conform to observable quantification; and, absent that, it at the very least needs to be logically and rationally consistent.  But, these days, “sound” doctrine all too often finds the root of itself in vehemently proclaiming that TRUTH is found in ideas that are at categorical odds with man’s universe and, indeed, his ability to even exist at all.  And behind this, I submit is:  fear.  There is great fear in suggesting that even God Himself must conform to man’s understanding of what is possible and what is not.  This somehow gets interpreted as “claiming to understand God”; or ever worse, “claiming to dictate to God the terms of His relationship with Creation”.  This, of course, is rank nonsense and speaks to that most popular of all Christian traditions:  passive thinking.

All I am suggesting is that, since all of man’s relationship with God MUST occur within the context of MAN, because, by definition, man can never understand nor form a frame of reference to God’s context, because His context is HIMSELF, that all of how God interacts with man and all of what is truth and what is relevant between God and man must indeed be thoroughly and objectively attainable to the human mind.  And the way we can then objectively declare truth then is found in consistency of reason.  ANYTHING that is antithetical to man’s existence, or what is contradictory to God’s ability to have created a consciousness that is NOT GOD, demands that it must be thoroughly rationalized according to MAN’S objective reason before being accepted.  This is why I currently deny, vociferously, the popular understanding of election and biblical inerrancy…and, every point of Calvin’s despicable TULIP, among others.  Any doctrine which declares man wholly irrelevant to the relationship in deference to God’s sovereignty denies the essential logical truth that enables man to exist:  IF man is NOT fully the function of His will, then He is at the mercy of something else NOT man.  If this something else is God, God then becomes the Creator of sin; or, evil is a lie because there can be no moral distinctions if everything IS GOD.  If this is some other force, such as “sin nature” or “God’s election”, or “justification”, or “positional righteousness”, then man cannot be judged morally culpable for anything, because there can be no rational boundary between  man that is man and man that is some other FORCE.  Any time man is operating under the control of something outside of himself, he can never be held accountable for his actions, period.  Either man is ALL free will, or he is all OTHER FORCE.  It is a zero sum equation.  Man is either himself or he is not, and there is only one context:  existence.  There isn’t a “justification” context and a “sanctification” context whereby God views man practically and functionally different.  Both are aspects of a free relationship predicated upon the idea that each participant freely consign themselves to it as a singular function of their very ability to THINK.  Man cannot be divided up into areas where he IS, while occupying the same a place he is NOT at the same moment.  Just as God is ONE, so is man merely one; there is man, period.  Man is what he viscerally is.  Anything that denies this claims abstraction as physical reality.  And this idea of a separate man being in the “justification” realm and another being in the “sanctification” realm makes man a mutually exclusive schizophrenic.  And this is where the Calvinists, for all of their false and abysmal ideas, are at least consistent.  They understand that man cannot be outside himself in justification, and inside himself in sanctification.  Even they see this as the rational nonsense that it is. They thus simply yank man out of the equation altogether, and this is why they are so damn abusive.  You can’t abuse people because people aren‘t real.

But I choose to go the opposite way.  The way that is rational, philosophically provable, physically quantifiable/observable…the way that is legitimate to LIFE.  The way that says man must be categorically and completely a function of his OWN sovereign will, all the time.  At any point he is not, man is not himself, and the whole faith crashes to the ground with the smacking of abused and dead carcasses like the birds upon the Israelites in the desert.  No matter how good the intentions.  My idea is not fusing justification and sanctification.  This is observing existential reality.  My idea recognizes both concepts within the framework and context of a single, fully functional human being.  That is, the concepts are separate, but MAN, the arena of application, is not.  And that being the case, BOTH concepts are dependent on man’s free and unfettered WILL.

Man cannot be, by definition, partly in full control of his fragmented but complete will.  This is pure nonsense; but there are those who “church it up” to make it sound convincing and logical.  This is the very old mystic art of propagandizing one’s perspective. I mean, sure, it sounds great to declare: “No one can lose their salvation”, and “Anything that makes man’s salvation dependent on anything involving him is “works” salvation”, but it just isn’t true. I agree that man cannot “accidentally” lose his salvation, or “sin his way” out of his salvation.  Truly, as long as a person WANTS his or her salvation she or he has it because she or he is no longer a function of the Law.  There is no “law” they can break to lose their salvation.  But if  salvation is consciously rejected as a function of the volitional will, then salvation ceases to apply because if it did it could only apply at the EXPENSE of the person involved; or IN SPITE of them, not FOR or BECAUSE of them.  There is no way to save a person who has willfully, purposefully rejected salvation because then it can no longer be for that person.  It has to circumvent the person in order to save them.  And this is metaphysically impossible.  Because you cannot SAVE what is NOT THERE.  

Man is a conscious being, is self aware, and ALL things thus involving HIM must involve his very consciousness.  His very consciousness rests in the metaphysical necessity that is his ability to WILL; to apprehend, to abstract, to desire, to choose.  Not even election can trump that.  The nature of the relationship between man and God is always and forever under the auspices of each one’s personal WILL and CHOICE, from now unto eternity.  ANY theological premise or doctrine which denies this is logically false, and thus MUST concede contradiction as its foundational argumentative premise.

Square Peg in a Round Holy Bible: The dilemma of forcing reality into the pit of abstraction (Part 2)

It’s LIVING and BREATHING they shriek at me, either out loud or in their minds (I’ve had both kinds of responses; the first is your classic “You idiot! It’s living and breathing…see? If it goes into cardiac arrest you could give it CPR, it’s living and breathing so literally!”; and the second is more like turning a shade of green, vomiting in their mouths, and googling “need an exorcist”).

But again…there goes the metaphorical language that makes the Bible so interesting.  Wave goodby to it as it spirals down the fundamentalist black hole that is their flawed metaphysics.  Flushed away, and simmered down to a steaming pile of rigid fundamentalist dogma.  Unbending, unmoving, smashing the backs of all who would come to it; devoid of any poetic or artistic color.  A stark, cold users’ manual for human failure.

It’s ALL God, you see.  Well, of course, it would have to be, now wouldn’t it?  If the Bible is inerrant, humans are screwed before they even pull it out of the pew in front of them.  As a human, you…well, you can’t possibly amount to anything, or add anything or any worth to the Bible.  It is perfect precisely because it can have nothing to do with you.  Which…makes no sense seeings as how if it wasn’t for man the Bible wouldn’t exist, as I’ve often said.  Hard to argue that something is as perfect as God because of man.  But it is equally as hard to argue that something which would not exist without man is as perfect as God.  So…it’s a paradox.  I know.  Everything always boils down to paradox (i.e. contradiction) with the neo-Reformed “genius”.  And, frankly, I’m almost tempted to say the western church in general thinks this way, for even hard core anti-Calvinists I know still ultimately appeal to paradox when they actually engage you long enough to get pushed into that corner.  Engage them on “election” or “predestination”, or even THIS topic, Biblical inerrancy, and I’m telling you that ten times out of ten you the most they will ever concede is:  “Look, it’s just true because it’s in the Bible.  No one can possibly know how it works.  It’s just God being God, [shrug].  It’s His “mystery.  For who are we to understand the greatness of His plans, and the enigma of His mind, and blah, blah, blah”. Gee, for possibly the greatest philosophical tradition in the history of the world (Judea-Christian) to simply concede impossible contradiction as the root of their faith for the last two thousand years and still exist as a force in the world to be reckoned with?  Wow.  THAT’S why I believe in the Jewish God.  God would HAVE to be involved with such a crowd of bleary-eyed passive thinkers for them to continue to function as a religious movement; even one as fractured as it is.

Well, I suppose it is a great way to never lose a debate:

“I don’t base my beliefs on what can be true, according to any rational understanding of the world and universe around me.  I base my faith on the opposite of reason. On ideas which are shimmering paragons of mutual exclusivity.”

“Er…oh well, then.  That’s game.  You…win?”

I would submit to you that if there is anything “living and breathing” about the Bible going on that that reference is to its application to HUMAN lives, which are quite literally living and breathing.  That is, the life and breath of God is found in the bodies and the minds of those human beings who are in the process of applying His truth to their lives.  The Bible lives and breaths through them, as they walk it out in their individual lives and in their individual contexts.  The Bible on the bookshelf has no life at all.  It is like any other book:  collecting dust and turning a bad-mayonnaise shade of yellow inside and reeking of grandma’s closet. The Bible, apart from MAN is merely a lifeless THING.  But it is the application of God’s revelations by mankind that makes the metaphor “living” and “breathing” applicable.  Apart from man, it is as pointless as any other book that has no reader.  Any book that can be “perfect truth” apart from the human reality, and apart from living and breathing human beings to read it, understanding it, and integrate it is a book that cannot possibly be written.  In other words, a Bible that is inerrant is a Bible that cannot exist because it could not have been written by God, nor written by man.  Even if it was written by God for man.  It still is NOT inerrant, because man is the functional TRUTH behind the Bible, not God (remember, God’s truth does not need the Bible, man’s does).  MAN’S context is the context of the Bible, and if that is true, then it cannot possible be inerrant, because it must conform to man’s life and environment.  And a thing that IS perfection–remember, inerrant, infallible is an IS; it cannot change because change is antithetical to inerrancy–cannot possibly conform, as the primary purpose of its existence, to the context of the errant.  And again and furthermore, inerrancy is an abstraction.  A literal thing cannot be abstract

Once more, gaze upon the shackled and ugly specter of neo-Reformed “paradox”. 

Now, the other way Christians either consciously or unconsciously bulwark and propagandize their false idea of biblical infallibility is to CONSTANTLY, INCESSANTLY, NAUSEATINGLY, and INCORRECTLY referring to the Bible as God’s Word…capital “w” Word.

Well, that pretty much settles that now, huh?  If it’s God’s Word, well, then it IS God, because…what do you think the capital “w” Word refers to? You read the beginning of John’s Gospel?  Do you realize that God cannot be defined by abstract ideas like “language”, “work”, “love”, etc….that there an be NO functional separation between what God does–that is, how He moves–and His utter and complete self?  God is ALL in ALL, He is I AM, and therefore ALL He does (including saying, working, loving, hating, etc.) IS God.

So then, what can the neo-Reformed mysticism possibly mean by referring to the Bible as God’s Word?  What is the underlying and could-not-be-more-obvious point behind that little grammatical wonder?  Yeah…the Bible IS God, Himself.

And…well, okay, point taken.  Can’t get much more infallible than that, by definition.

Of course, as with so many other neo-Reformed absolute “truths”, that description is nowhere found in the normal little old fallible Bible that the rest of us on planet Earth have.  Even Moses doesn’t put a capital “w” when referring to God’s words that he heard God speak.  You know, like the actual, audible words of God that Moses heard on the Mount when he spent the more than two months directly in His presence.  Those words…only garner a small “w”.  Yeah, even God’s words, literally heard by human ears, apparently aren’t as infallible as the Bible, which is a whole lot of other dudes’ words.  Ooops…sorry, Words.

Part of me says that the apostles might have a problem with being told their letters to those ragtag bands of confused churches who have trouble finding “sound doctrine” while in the presence of  real apostles (as opposed to the fake neo-Cal ones, like the Sovereign Grace Ministries hucksters) are actually THE Holy Spirit.

Yeah…something tells me there might be a forehead smack or two upon hearing that one.

But, whatever.  As with every other reformed “truth” the means, no matter how false or destructive, always justify the ends.  And the ends are usually found just over the pile of dead bodies and lost innocence.  But then, something has to give if the real truth of “inerrancy” of scripture (read, interpretive opinion) is to be found.  Death must always be the means to the truth in this case.  The greatest proof that God is perfect, it seems, is to sacrifice the imperfect to His “truth”.  For if man actually succeeds in attaining and effectively applying “truth”, then how perfect can this truth really be?  So, since humans are NOT perfect, at the end of the day there is only ever going to be a perpetual war between them and what IS.  And of course, by definition, humans MUST lose.  And that is precisely why it is just fine with so many neo-Reformed “leaders” and followers if men and women and children are abused and destroyed in service to “sound doctrine”.  Their destruction is just more proof that they are NOT good and God is; that they are NOT inerrant and the Bible is.  Indeed, and again, to their minds, the greatest proof of God’s perfection is an endless sea of corpses.