Two Views Of The Bible

Indeed.

Here are two views of scripture, one past, one present.

In the introduction to his commentary on the Bible, Matthew Henry, writing in the early 18th century, lists six points about scripture:

  • Religion is the one thing useful.
  • Divine revelation is necessary to true religion.
  • Divine revelation is not now to be found nor expected any where but in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament.
  • Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were purposely designed for our learning.
  • The holy scriptures were not only designed for our learning, but are the settled standing rule of our faith and practice.
  • It is the duty of all Christians diligently to search the scriptures, and it is the office of ministers to guide and assist them therein.

In the 21st century, Arthur G Broadhurst writes on his blog, The Christian Humanist:

There  is no serious doubt among contemporary historians regardless of their religious faith that Jesus was a real person who lived in Palestine in the First Century. We know that he was an itinerant teacher who traveled and taught throughout Palestine and who gathered disciples around him through the force of his  personality and the compelling nature of his message. He was viewed by  the Romans who occupied Palestine in those days as a religious radical and a disturber of the peace. He was arrested by Temple police and was finally executed by the Romans in the fashion of his day by public crucifixion. We do not know much more than this with any degree of certainty … There  is much disagreement among historians about how much of the New  Testament record can be relied upon as history in the ordinary sense in  which we understand history …

That about sums ups where the church has been and where the church is today.

Of course there is one more view of the church and the Bible:

I want to rock and roll all night and party every day!

The Bible As Revered And Unreliable

A Bible for the modern age

In the controversy over Creation and Evolution, there is an idea common to those who believe that Christians can accept Evolution without compromises to core beliefs and their faith. It is an argument held by both theological conservatives and liberals. Essentially, this stance declares that God’s revelation in scripture is perfect and that God’s revelation in nature is perfect, but that human interpretation is infinitely flawed. This leads to a place where any claims of certainty are rejected and uncertainty is the accepted standard for exploration.

The problem I see in this is that such a position collapses in on itself.

Those who take such a stance seem quite certain that there is a God and that he has deliberately revealed himself in scripture and nature. Those certainties are quietly assumed but never questioned. However, if intellectual honesty is an important goal, then it seems rational to also hold to a position of uncertainty in terms of the existence of God and his revelation. However, if the Christian holds to a position of uncertainty in terms of God’s existence, they are essentially an Agnostic and not a Christian.

Having total uncertainty in terms of scripture renders scripture impractical for the Christian. The words written in the cover of the Holy Bible are of no use if the reader cannot understand them. This barrier includes learned scholars and ministers, so there can be no authorities to rise and declare with certainty what is in scripture. This is compounded by an endless stream of English translations, all carrying their own dialect, and the mass-production of biblical scholars each year at seminaries, saturating the church with teachers, all competing for employment. Here is a book supposedly divine, but beyond comprehension.

Christians are left to find other, clearer sources of information for their lives. Since there are no authorities to settle debates and the scriptures cannot be grasped by human comprehension, each Christian is left to develop his own religion as he sees fit.

It is not unlike purchasing a complex piece of technology and then attempting to read a manual written in a foreign language. Ultimately, the user will not rely on the manual for answers, but will simply experiment with the technology and learn through trial and error.

If the governing principles of life cannot be derived from scripture, being hidden by flawed human interpretation, then the Christian is left to simply experiment with his life and learn through trial and error. In an effort to minimize error and maximize success the Christian turns toward the Evolutionary sciences, leaving scripture behind as something revered but unreliable.