Why Inerrancy? Saturday, Dec 22 2007 

Evangelical Christians tend towards a position of inerrancy. Usually, this means that the Bible is without error. For the somewhat more sophisticated Christian, this means that the original documents are without error, but mutations/scribal errors, etc. made their way into the text over the thousands of years of their existence (see the Chicago Statement). The last qualification is made because there are indeed mistakes in the Bible you hold in your hand (yes, even the 1611 AV has mistakes), and so they apparently want to preserve some semblance of absolute truth in the originals.

But why?

The way I see it, whether the originals were inerrant or not, the texts we have now are not inerrant. We still have to test the the contents of the Bible we have whether it was originally inerrant or it was not.

I think inerrancy is an unfortunate burden for Christians to shoulder. Imagine how many trees would be saved if Christianity just stopped trying to mesh the Genesis story with modern science (that whole plants before the sun thing is pretty wicked), and just admitted that it is a myth? Does that mean that Jesus all of the sudden becomes Satan? Does that mean that the entire Bible gets thrown out, because of making mistakes? Wouldn’t have to be. I’ll be honest here, my parents have been wrong about things. Does that mean that everything they say is automatically worthless/false? Of course not. All it means is that you take things with a bit of salt and do your best to objectively test things out.

The equation of Inerrancy to Christianity is an unfortunate substitution, and I pretty much guarantee that the “silly stories” of the Bible are only harmful to one’s faith if just assumed into the storage banks of memory without discretion. Hopefully this is yet another thing Christianity progresses beyond.

I’m a chicken Sunday, Nov 11 2007 

Still hiding my true convictions from everyone. Last night I went to a dinner with some people from church. A few of them I had never met before, which reminded me of the sad state the Church is it. I can’t imagine a New Testament church filled with anonymous attendants. In any case, the conversation flitted about things that I could not care less about- accounting tactics, mortgages, previous places one has lived- until it struck home. I was asked my views on the nature of hell. Evangelicals all, they were disturbed that so many of their “brethren” were turning away from the traditional doctrine to other views. I proceeded to point out that many evangelicals had embraced this doctrine, including John Stott, Clark Pinnock, Edward Fudge and many others. Even their beloved C.S. Lewis adopted a non-traditional view of hell. But who can blame them? Christians have a whale to explain in hell, and I think their attempts to explain it away or soften it are noble.

Well, obviously my answer didn’t impress them, because I am supposed to be some kind of stalwart of “Biblical Theology”, and that this kind of lenience is the root of Christian compromise.  What can I say to that? I was thinking about:

“Sorry, but this whole thing really is ridiculous. I guarantee that none of you have even scratched the surface of this topic, and jump onto what is perceived the most literal/conservative/offensive without reference to what the text actually says.”

Rather, I smiled after my brief and uninformed rebuke and said that I will have to look into it more.

Me=chicken

On proving the resurrection Wednesday, Nov 7 2007 

Johnny Depoe recently issued a challenge for philosophers (apparently motivated by a reader) to respond/evaluate the claims made here. I ain’t much of a philosopher, but that doesn’t usually stop me from making a fool out of myself. Anyhoo…Johnny-Dee says/quotes:

The reader who sent me the link to this post said, “It is, to say the least, the sort of stuff that gives bullshit a bad name…. I’d love nothing more than to see what some of your readers think of this stuff. How is it that the standards in academic theology can be so different that those in philosophy? Or in other words: what’s wrong with those people?!”

To be frank, if this man is a respected theologian, then we are in big trouble. Let’s have a peeksy at what he says.

Can we ever “prove” the resurrection of Jesus, either historically (e.g. Pannenberg, N. T. Wright) or probabilistically (e.g. Richard Swinburne) or scientifically (e.g. various nutty apologists)? In my view, such “proof” is neither possible nor desirable.

If you are a Christian, why wouldn’t proof of the resurrection be desirable? As 1 Cor. 15 demonstrates, the resurrection of Christ provides the center piece of which the entire faith hinges on-

“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

Furthermore, in what sense is proof of the resurrection not “possible”? Does he mean to say that it is impossible? That would be the natural reading of this post, but that is so outlandishly dumb that it probably does not mean that.

For resurrection is not a natural or historical possibility, but it is precisely a contradiction of the whole order of the possible. It is not one event alongside other events within world-history, but it is the end and boundary of history as such.

Some theologico-fluff. Nothing to see here…

Since the resurrection contradicts the very structures of reality, it could be called an impossible event – impossible in the strictest sense of the word!

Wrong. No impossible event “in the strictest sense of the word” will ever happen. I may be a confused agnostic, but even I know that. I would like to say that there is some more charitable reading of this section, but sadly it appears as though he intentionally modeled his words as to preserve this wacky thesis- that God does the impossible and that something like the resurrection is a logical contradiction. Let’s see why he calls it a contradiction.

It is not a “historical” event, since it punctures the linearity of history and confronts history with its own shattering “end.” In short, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is both the dissolution of the world and the startling creation (ex nihilo?) of a new cosmos. It is the end and the beginning, the last and the first.

Wait, it looks as if he is not going to explain it. Let’s flesh out what most Christians believe about the resurrection and try and come up with this strict contradiction/impossibility. From what I can see, the resurrection can be simplified into three events:

1. Christ lived (about 30 years)
2. Christ died (dying took an afternoon, death takes ???)
3. Christ lived (a month or so)

Now, what contradiction could ever be contrived from this is absolutely beyond me. It appears that, without any sort of reason to doubt it, a resurrection is perfectly possible, however unlikely.

All this means that the concept of “resurrection” can never be introduced as the most likely explanation for any historical data. To introduce the resurrection in this way is simply to forget the very meaning of “resurrection”.

Unless you have some odd definition of resurrection, then you are making a completely asserted point. If I saw Christ after I witnessed his death, a resurrection would be a perfectly acceptable explanation for the data.

The rest of the entry goes on for some length not really moving anywhere, so I hardly doubt anyone will be intimidated by his claims (whatever they are). A mish-mash of fluffy theo-speak that is near incoherent, one is much better off reading a real respected theologian rather than this troublemaker (at least he wishes he was one).