Hearty Heresy


The One Question Christians Should Ask Themselves
August 8, 2007, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Faith, God, Heresy, Jesus, Religion, Theology

I started to look around the web after my last post, looking for some back up to my claim that everything Brand Xians believe about God, Jesus, and the whole shooting match depends solely on the Bible. Once they’ve accepted the Bible as the inerrant Word of God (or at least the Inspired Word of God), then they pretty much have to believe whatever the Bible says. At any rate, I found an article at Christian Ministries International that pretty much supports what I’m saying–only from a Brand Xian perspective. Here’s the question: “What is so special, so unique about the Bible that Christians believe it is literally the inspired word of God?”

Now you may remember that my previous post was about the really, really simple arguments that even the most intellectual Christians sometimes use to support their version of the truth (specifically C. S. Lewis saying we must choose between believing Jesus was the Son of God or believing that he was a poached egg). I noted that this line of reasoning depends on believing that everything the Bible says about Jesus (and most anything else, for that matter) are indisputable facts. So if Brand Xians want folks to buy the bit (that Jesus was the Son of God) they need to buy the premise (that the Bible is the Inspired Word of God). So here’s what I think is a pretty darn silly reason for believing that:

[The Bible is] 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1500 years, in 3 different languages, on 3 different continents. What’s more, this collection of books shares a common storyline–the creation, fall, and redemption of God’s people; a common theme–God’s universal love for all of humanity; and a common message–salvation is available to all who repent of their sins and commit to following God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. In addition to sharing these commonalities, these 66 books contain no historical errors or contradictions. God’s word truly is an amazing collection of writings!

Jason Carlson and Ron Carlson, the authors, then go on to challenge the reader to “to go to any library in the world…and find 66 books which match the characteristics of the 66 books in the Bible. You must choose 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1500 years, in 3 different languages, written on 3 different continents. However, they must share a common storyline, a common theme, and a common message, with no historical errors or contradictions.”

You got me on that one, guys! Gosh, I probably can’t do that, so…the BIBLE MUST BE THE WORD OF GOD!!!! Or, perhaps it’s not so clear cut. Ask a practicing Jew if they think the Christian Bible shares a common story line, theme, and message. They’d probably agree with Nietzsche and say that New Testament really didn’t improve on the Old Testament at all. And as far as there being no historical errors or contradictions in the Bible, well I just don’t know where to begin. Of the bat, I’d just note that the timeline in the Gospel of John is radically different from the timeline in the synoptic Gospels. And that there are TWO creation stories in Genesis. And two distinct genealogies for Jesus in Matthew and Luke.

But of course, Brand Xians will try to explain all of this away, which only proves that this 66 books, 40 authors, u.s.w. argument really isn’t as straightforward as the authors claim it is. Ultimately, accepting the Bible as true is nothing other than an act of faith, the exact same sort of act of faith Muslims make when they accept the Qur’an or Jews make when they accept the Torah. As I’ve said before, I’d be more inclined to believe a single scripture written by a single person (Mohammed or Joseph Smith, for example) as the inspired word of God before I’d accept the mish mash that is the Holy Bible. And I’m not going to do that any time soon.

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14 Comments so far
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i think you raise many good pts. i think there are many things that are true, and some that may or may not be. but without addressing one of the foundational assumptions that you make, i think it is hard to truly discuss the other issues. i think that your definition of “faith” is very postmodern, but not necessarily in line with what the Bible means by faith. the hebrew language is built upon verb roots. thus, each noun (or almost every one) has a verb root. so when you say “faith” in hebrew, it implies “faithful”. thus, a very jewish writer, james says that he is justified by faith, not just believing, but by what he does as well.

so when you say that believing in the Bible takes faith, you refer to blind faith (ie believing with no action or support). i think faith means much more than that. if a person is truly having faith, it is supported by evidence and it leads to action. without this, you are right, faith would be down right stupid.

now, i am not saying the Brand Xian faith is right, nor even the “true” Xian faith is right. what i am saying is that in order to dialogue about faith, we must recognize faith is more than stupid belief.

what do you think?

peter

Comment by PB and J

It’s sort of interesting that most Christians take the ‘inerrancy’ of the Bible at face value, without ever questioning it.

Sometimes I think it’s better to NOT be a Christian, and just follow Jesus.

Comment by Grace

I’ve ranted on about this very thing in the past. The fact is that “the religion of Christianity is derived from the Bible” or in your words the “whole shooting match depends solely on the Bible.” The Christians then end up basing absolutely everything on this one book! Having walked away fron christianity after over 20 years, it seems so obvious looking back, but for those still in it they just can’t can’t can’t see that its just a book, just a part of the totla record of Gods progressive revelation to mankind.
HH – Time to move on bud! Stop flogging this dead horse and move on – there’s a lot more truth out there to enjoy!
Jon

Comment by Jon

@PB and J–I agree that faith should be more than stupid belief. In fact, I just read somewhere that faith is trusting that the way we understand the world internally bears at least some resemblence to reality. Thing with Brand Xians is that they include “faith” in the Bible as part of their worldview: and THAT, I believe, leads to problems. Thanks for the view of James re: faith/experience/action. That sounds more like a faith I can live with.

@Grace–Yes, I keep running across folks who seem to think that you can’t have anything to do with Jesus unless you accept the entire Bible (including the obnoxious story Brand Xians have overlaid on it). I disagree with them and agree with you: It’s better to NOT be a Christian, and just follow Jesus. (I hope that what’s I’m doing.)

@Jon–This does sound like something you must have ranted about in the past. Brand Xianity looks pretty shaky when you realize it all depends on accepting the Bible as God’s sole revelation to humankind. It is progressive, as you say, and that’s a good thing. As far as the dead horse goes, believe it or not, this is sort of a new revelation to me! So I had to put my few cents worth in.

Thanks for you comments!–HH

Comment by heartyheretic

hh

i think you are right that Brand Xian’s often have an unhealthy “faith” in the Bible. in fact, i will stick my neck out there and say i think some “idolize” it. ie they place it above God Himself.

with that said, where you and i differ is whether the Bible (or at least parts) are accurate. i for one dont believe the Bible is “inerrant”, nor do i believe in the original text that it was “inerrant”.

yet, i believe (not blindly but because i have read it and other commentaries from all sides of the spectrum on it) that the Bible is accurate about how is speaks of the world, God, man, etc.

i do NOT however believe that many (if not most) Brand Xian’s interpret the Bible correctly. and just so you know, i still have serious Qs with books like Joshua and Kings, etc. but as far the case for its accuracy of message and its historical accuracy (as long as contextualized with judaism and 1st century) is stronger in my opinion than the case for it not being those things.

thanks for the discussion.

peter

Comment by PB and J

Peter–
Sounds like your approach to the Bible is a lot like mine, although I’m guessing that I seriously question more of it than you. But that’s okay! I think what it all comes down to for me is why one might want to follow the teachings of Jesus. Is it because the Bible is the Word of God and you should believe what it says (or more accurately, how it’s been interpreted by orthodox Christianity)? Or do you want to follow the teachings of Jesus because the truly are good teachings, that the do provide a way to live a compassionate life, no matter how imperfect the record of his teachings (the Bible) might be. I’m clearly in the second group.–HH

Comment by heartyheretic

hh

i want to respond to the options you gave, “Is it because the Bible is the Word of God and you should believe what it says (or more accurately, how it’s been interpreted by orthodox Christianity)? Or do you want to follow the teachings of Jesus because the truly are good teachings, that the do provide a way to live a compassionate life, no matter how imperfect the record of his teachings (the Bible) might be. I’m clearly in the second group.”

you see, i think there are a third party to which i belong. i dont follow Christ because i believe the Bible alone. i also dont follow him because His teachings are good alone. in fact, it is a combination of both, i think. but more than that, it is never about the words of the Bible or the teachings He gives. it is about His person.

i follow because i believe the Message of the Bible (regardless of the minor errors which exist in Scripture) and because i believe He is the Messiah as prophecied in the OT and have revealed Immanuel, God on earth. so if i desire to obey God, then i must follow Christ.

but more to get to the pt, i think that there is plenty of evidence that Jesus’ Message is corroborated by numerous biblical and extrabiblical sources. i believe that there is sufficient evidence that Jesus did in fact say much of what he is attributed as saying. otherwise, His teachings would be pointless to follow, because they wouldnt be His, but those of the authors. then there is no reason to be a disciple of Christ, rather one of Mark or Matthew or Luke or John, etc.

peter

Comment by PB and J

Peter–
I think it’s perfectly fine to combine both an appreciation for Jesus’ teachings and an understanding of scripture as revealing some truth about God’s nature–if that’s where it takes you. And I agree that much of what is attributed to Jesus by the writers of the gospels may very well be close to his teachings. I’m not sure that this understanding calls me to be a disciple of Christ, however. I do think that Jesus revealed something of the Christ Nature to humanity (which I’ve said before). I guess I see the teachings as calling us to find that nature within ourselves (the Kingdom of God is within you and among you). Thanks for your thoughts.
–HH

Comment by heartyheretic

I guess I missed their theme in the Song of Songs. The only way to get their interpretation of that book is to read it allegorically.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

Yeah, and it’s pretty obvious that it wasn’t written to be read allegorically. Whew!

Comment by heartyheretic

HH,
“It is progressive, as you say, and that’s a good thing. As far as the dead horse goes, believe it or not, this is sort of a new revelation to me!”
I hear ya! This was one of the key “starting points” for me in my eventual break from christianity. It all sits on top of the bible. Take that away, and it all falls down. But when you have grown up with the bible, its a very big and hard step to take.

Comment by Jon

A big step, indeed. I still want to be engaged with the Bible in some way, especially regarding the teachings of Jesus. But as far as swallowing the whole thing, fuggedahboudit!

Comment by heartyheretic

hh

certainly taking the Bible out from under ones feet can be quite disillusioning. but i for one have gone thru that, and i havent lost faith in Christ. i still follow him. in fact, i would say that i never did follow him when i was growing up thinking the Bible was “inerrant”.

i feel that much more free to follow Christ now that i have actively questioned Scripture. i still believe from much questioning and searching that there is a lot of accuracy in Scripture, but certainly not perfection. and there are many things that i still struggle with today.

let me share one example, i am personally trying to determine what the Torah means in light of NT. i am undecided about whether to keep Torah or not. its hard to really know, i think. and it wouldnt bother me one bit if Jesus intended us to and Paul got a little too emphatic about not needed to be circumcized. it doesnt hurt my faith in CHRIST to lose faith in Paul.

thats how i see things.

peter

Comment by PB and J

Interesting thought about whether to keep the Torah on not, especially when one thinks of the early Christians, who were mostly Jewish and had no intention of giving up on the Torah. Now what Jesus thought about the Torah? That’s another question entirely. Sometimes it seems as if his whole ministry was about learning to be righteous without the Torah or the Temple. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Peter!

Comment by heartyheretic




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