Control came up a lot in Sunday School yesterday. What was the theme? We like to be in control. Understandably, no one wants her car to careen off the highway and spin into a field or ditch. No one wants to sign off his decision...
Control came up a lot in Sunday School yesterday.
What was the theme? We like to be in control.
Understandably, no one wants her car to careen off the highway and spin into a field or ditch. No one wants to sign off his decision making to another for major life choices. We like control.
Even when it comes to Scripture, we like control.
Control can mean keeping Scripture at arms’ length, never cracking the cover. Or control can mean memorizing a lot of verses so as to immediately squash your conversation partner in a theological debate.
Or, control can mean putting claims on Scripture that Scripture doesn’t make of itself. You (may) know the ones: infallible, inerrant.
Those claiming the infallability of Scripture most often mean that while it may contain errors it is doesn’t fail in achieving its goal (however they define that goal).
While inerrancy supporters claim an even stiffer line that Scripture contains no errors, about anything. Everything in Scripture is absolutely and definitively without error, even the years in those pesky chronologies. (It should be noted there is a wide gap in the way inerrantists define their own position).
For most of my life, I didn’t know what I thought about those terms, for most of my life I didn’t know those terms.
But once I cut some theological teeth, I scoffed at the idea of infallibility or inerrancy.
Maybe it’s because I come from a denomination that says only this of Scripture: “Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement for infallibility or inerrancy.
But last week I received an email, wondering if the Apprentice Institute affirms the inerrancy of Scripture.
And in my search to respond, I changed my mind, sort of.
See this Karl Barth guy popped in my head.
Barth has this idea that the Bible is not the Word of God (capital “W”), instead it’s the word of God that points to the Word of God (that is Jesus–“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” –John 1.1).
The Bible isn’t revelation, the Bible is witness to revelation.
Think about it, when you read the Gospels, or Paul’s letters, or the Old Testament, all the authors are telling you about someone or something else: God.
They’re not the revelation, they’re not the big show, they’re pointing you toward that revelation, toward the God revealed in Jesus Christ.
But my question is: if the Bible as witness points us to Jesus Christ without fail, then is the Bible infallible because it points us to the One who alone is inerrant? I’m playing fast and loose with that term, so forgive me.
The problem (we have) with Barth’s position is that we like control.
Inerrancy and infallibility are ways to put parameters on the Bible, to be able to cooly and calmly defend the authority of Scripture with unbreakable locks.
But what if the Bible doesn’t need all that? What if the goal of the Bible isn’t the Bible itself? What if the goal of the Bible is teaching you what it means to be part of this community called the body of Christ (the church)? And the way the Bible does this is to point away from itself to the One who calls you to be part of his body?
But thinking this way may mean we’re not as in control as we’d like to be.
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