Tuesday, February 17, 2009

God's Word is Trustworthy (5)

A few years ago Al Mohler wrote an article reflecting on John Killinger's book "Ten Things I Learned Wrong from a Conservative Church." I read Killengers book when it was released. It is a powerful illustration of what happens when the Scriptures are abandoned as God's trustworthy and truthful Word. It is an article that fits well in my current series of posts on the reliability of the Bible.

Mohler writes:
Basic to Killinger's theological transition is his rejection of the Bible as the literal, inerrant Word of God. Having been taught as a young Southern Baptist that the Bible is, word for word, the very Word of God, Killinger moved on to see the Bible as a mere record of theological reflections, limited and corrupted as they are, of ancient people. Those who believe that the Bible is actually God's Word are, by implication, just simplistic fools yet unenlightened by modern scholarship...

Conservative Christians, we are now told, are also hung up on sex. This leads to our repressive understanding of human sexuality and explains, of course, why we believe homosexuality to be sinful. Jesus, Killinger claims, "almost never said anything condemning sexuality." Freed from a commitment to the comprehensive truthfulness of the biblical text, he can just ignore whatever passages declare all sexual expression outside of marriage to be sin...

In the confrontation between the Bible and science, science wins. We should not be concerned about this, Killinger assures, because, "God doesn't need an inerrant Bible to be God. True believers shouldn't need it either." At this point, Killinger commends the example of Benjamin Franklin, who said that he read the Bible as he ate fish, throwing aside the parts that would stick in his throat...

In his first chapter, Killinger recounts a lunch conversation with Jerry Falwell, Pastor of Lynchburg's Thomas Road Baptist Church. One can only imagine the fireworks which must have resulted from the encounter between Falwell and Killinger during the years they served prominent pulpits in the same city. During their lunch conversation, Falwell warned of the slippery slope toward doctrinal compromise that follows the denial of biblical authority. At the end of Ten Things I Learned Wrong From a Conservative Church, Killinger acknowledges that Jerry Falwell was right. "Once we were able to say out loud that the Bible is not the inerrant word of God--that its inspiration is not really different from that of the Bhagavad-Gita or Thoreau's Walden or Maya Angelou's poems--then a great number of conservative and fundamentalist idols begin to topple." Furthermore, Killinger recounts that without an affirmation of the inerrancy of Scripture, it is "a simple step to denying that Jesus is the only way to God, or that he really had to die for our sins."

Read the entire post HERE.

17 comments:

toothdoc said...

Where did the illuminati go? I thought they wanted quotes from biblical scholars on inerrancy? As one of the ignorant "bible believing" lemmings I need guidance away from the cliffs of faith.

Todd Pruitt said...

Ric,

Do you mean to tell me that you actually believe that God is able to inspire men in such a way that they are able to write what he would have them write? That sounds like you are suggesting that God actually "carried them along" as they wrote. Don't you know that idea is a hopelessly modern and platonic epistomology? We postmoderns are much too wise to fall for that. Fortunately, unlike you and your fellow "fundies" I have too high a regard for the Bible to actually believe that it is true.

toothdoc said...

I try to take your blog to heart and so I have been desperately trying for the past couple of weeks to be nice (probably why I have not posted here in a while). However, when I continually see scripture attacked from within the church I get (to quote my grandmother) "mad enough to spit." The carnal me would love for the bible to be mistaken. I would love for these ill-educated fishermen to have made mistakes. However, in my albeit uneducated theology, if you take away any portion of the bible - you take away God altogether. If he couldn't even communicate clearly to the apostles, how on earth am I supposed to trust what I "feel" he is saying to me. I don't follow Machen or Piper or Devers or Pruitt or Spurgeon or Luther - I follow Christ and Him crucified. If anyone can prove to me that the scriptures are flawed, they better do it with words from people who are not flawed and, best I can tell, there was only 1 of those and it is His words whom we are impuning.

Harley A. said...

If the alleged errors in scripture don’t hurt the gospel message or the witness of scripture (as some of the higher critics would say), then why would my “error” in teaching inerrancy be troublesome? It would seem to me to be a pretty minor error on my part considering the insignificant nature of the “errors” these guys are worked up about.

But, if, on the other hand, the Bible is error free as one would expect the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists to be capable of pulling off - and I accuse it of containing errors – that to me seems to be a bit more of a problem. I’d have to be sure beyond any reasonable doubt that there weren’t other explanations I was missing – especially if my epistemology were so shaky…

Belle Geary said...

It is more than a little alarming that so many from within the Church of Christ are so easily swayed from Biblical teaching. I do not mind, and in fact enjoy healthy debate; however there seems to be a real movement towards compromising on the Word of God. People seem more interested in having their ears tickled than in hearing the truth.

Todd Pruitt said...

I have been reading a lot of the writings lately of those who claim the Bible has many errors. One of the things they do not do well, in my opinion, is interact with the large number of world-class evangelical scholars who hold to the truthfulness of God's Word. In fact in many cases scholars like Carson, Moo, Bock, Blomberg and others are criticized and dismissed.

I am convinced that much of what is behind this dismissing of the Old Testament and portions of the New is motivated from theological presuppositions. They simply don't like much of what the Bible says about God. Their position that the Bible errs allows them to dismiss those portions they don't like.

That may not sound very kind but it is interesting that they tend to question the passages that reveal God as wrathful but never dismiss the passages that reveal his love. Why not the other way around?

Mike said...

Ok, I know this is probably a mistake but I have to jump in here...the statement "much of what is behind this dismissing of the Old Testament and portions of the New is motivated from theological presuppositions." Couldn't this also be said of an inerrant view of scripture?

I know our views are vastly different on this point but I think a lot of the impasse comes from both sides accusing the other of what both are guilty of...

I am not trying to make a point for my view of scripture here or to convince someone to change their minds about their view of scripture...just highlighting that most finger pointing points back as well...myself included.

Todd Pruitt said...

Mike,

You are a brave soul.

My comment comes in part from the fact that no one who beleives the Bible errs ever says that it errs in telling us that God is love. I want just one "errantist" to say, "What the Bible says about God being love is really not reliable. However, what it teaches us about his wrath is much more reliable. All that love stuff is grounded in romantic notions of God that were floating around in Greek culture."

The fact is my flesh would like to dispense with all kinds of things the Bible tells us about God. Biblical errancy is an easier choice. Take out the bits that I don't like or that don't conform to my preferences for God and leave the bits I prefer.

Todd Pruitt said...

Mike,

Incidentally, if you have not had the chance to read "The Erosion of Inerrancy" by G.K. Beale I highly recommend it. He interacts very well with the current challenges to inerrancy. Check it out when you get a chance.

Mike said...

Todd,

Since this is such an important issue (to both of us) I will read Beale's book with an open mind... the challenge I find in reading books that people refer to me to "bolster my faith" (e.g. Tim Keller's book "Reason for God") is that they usually end up doing quite the opposite. Keller's book certainly did that. When I read it, I did not expect that Keller could do what Dawkins and Hitchens never could.

Nevertheless I will read Beale's book...I'll let you know how it goes.

Harley A. said...

Mike, can you explain to me why a book like Sparks, Enns, et.al. bolsters your faith? This is just an honest question. I don't understand...

Mike said...

Harley...good question (and I hope I don't get excoriated for explaining why here) but I think that I found that I could no longer intellectually hold onto the traditional evangelical version of the faith. It created a cognitive dissonance between what I was supposed to believe and what I really thought...In all honesty, perhaps it is a compromise of having faith in God and complete and utter atheism (and some would see it as the "slippery slope" towards that)...but atheism does not make sense to me either. Of course the answer is a lot more complicated than that...but it is the best I can do given the limitations of blog comments (in deference to Todd, I don't want Todd's blog to become Mike's blog).

This may not make a lot of sense, or sound very concrete, but at this point it is all I can really explain. Enns and Sparks make sense to me.

Harley A. said...

Mike, thanks for the answer. I guess the danger that I see is that the person who says that the whole Bible is nonsense and utterly denies God really has no less a valid argument than you do. But, I realize that you’re at peace with where you are and know the arguments, so I won’t rehash…

Cheryl Sparks said...

Todd,
When you said that errantists "simply don't like much of what the Bible says about God. Their position that the Bible errs allows them to dismiss those portions they don't like," it sounds like you have found this to be true about specific people. Can I assume that you mean this to be true about those you have been discussing in this context, like Pete Enns and Kent Sparks? Because I have to say that in my discussions with many believers who hold views like theirs, I have seldom found that to be the case. I believe that in these 2 cases at least, you are mistaken. With Kent, I can assure you that his motive is not to make an "easier choice" to gratify his "flesh" and "to dispense with all kinds of things the Bible tells us about God." Be careful about ascribing motives to others. Just because you know what they say doesn't mean you know their heart.

Can you point out anything specific in the life of an errantist that illustrates his motive of dispensing with parts of scripture that they just don't like? That may be what you were trying to do in saying that you want just one of them to leave out the bits about God's love rather than the parts about his wrath. Are any of the specific errantists you've been quoting rationalizing away God's wrath so that they can sin with impunity? Because then I believe Scripture makes clear what your responsibility to them would be--humbly going directly to them, not blogging indirectly about them.

Todd Pruitt said...

Cheryl,

I have not found this to be true of Kent.

I have spoken to other however that make it clear that that they dismiss much of what the Bible says about God, what he is like, and what he does. There are some who have made this clear to me.

I refer to those experiences to make what I believe is a valid point. I am not naming individuals and therefore it is not slanderous in any way. I believe that what I have previously posted about Kent that it was clear that he was not included in that category.

Todd Pruitt said...

One more thing...

The inerrancy debate has been heating up again. It's important to all involved. I want to make sure there are very effective and, I believe, convincing voices who hold to the traditional understanding of inspiration.

One person who I don't agree with but whose motives I don't question for one second is Kent Sparks. I would challenge anyone who did question his motives and love for Christ.

Todd Pruitt said...

I meant to say, "I want to make sure that those who read this blog hear the very effective and, I believe, convincing voices who hold to the traditional understanding of inspiration."