I try not to blog, preach, converse, write or make decisions while angry. But, you can’t be perfect.
This morning I made it to my computer at ten minutes before I had to be at breakfast. I moderated some IM comments and then checked my email. There, alongside the Nigerian riches I’m regularly offered and various other items slipping past my spam measures, were two letters written by eloquent and pious brethren, both telling me I was an apostate- had abandoned the faith- for not using the word “inerrancy” in regard to the Bible.
I can write twenty versions of what I believe about the Bible that would gain me the ridicule of any atheist and the spite of any Episcopal bishop, but none of those descriptions of what I believe about the Bible and none of the confessional statements I can point to as my own will make one dent of difference to the two brothers who want me to know that after reading my blog they know I’m going to hell.
There are times that some Christians make me angry enough to spit. Others are embarrassing, and some simply elicit pity. These letter writers were well on the way to clearing the table.
Seven plus hours later I returned home to find the following gem:
IMHO, the I-Monk does more harm than good with his diatribes, which are primarily directed towards historic, orthodox Reform (sic) Protestantism.
The “H” there stands for “humble.” Also, just in case you missed it, I am apparently against historic, orthodox, reformed Protestantism. I don’t disagree with some points of expression or emphasis. No, no, no. I am AGAINST that great, unified, group hug known as “historic, orthodox, reformed, Protestantism,” which I assume is on display at a Historic Orthodox Reformed Protestant Church near you. That’s the church that broke off from the Orthodox Reformed Protestant Church last week and has consigned all other Protestants to hell except their own 15 members and their baptized and communing infant children.
Let me offer that brother a few rounds of the Apostle’s Creed for his indigestion. When he finds the word inerrancy in the Apostolic credo, shoot me an email.
What makes me angry? I can say the Bible is “inspired,” but according to these people, I don’t believe the Bible is inspired if I won’t use the word “inerrant.” I can say the Bible is authoritative, but I don’t believe it’s authoritative if I don’t believe in inerrancy. Nothing I can say or confess about the Bible is true if I don’t believe in inerrancy. The whole structure rests not on Christ or revelation, but on inerrancy, as defined by a document that takes pages and pages to explain what an error is and isn’t.
And what has inerrancy done for all those individuals and churches who embrace it? I’ll let BHT fellow Bill Mackinnon call the roll.
Those who hold to inerrancy usually qualify it by saying it only applies to the originals. Great. We donâ€™t have them.
Inerrancy is supposed to help us achieve unanimity in doctrinal matters, yes? Has it?
Common doctrine of God? No. (Thereâ€™s a guy at IM taking Michael to task about inerrancy who has doubts about the Trinity)
Common doctrine of Baptism? No.
Common doctrine of Communion? No.
Common doctrine of Church organization? No.
Common doctrine of Spiritual Gifts? No.
Common doctrine of Biblical interpretation? No.
Common doctrine of Salvation? No.
Common doctrine of Creation? No.
There are all kinds of people who hold to inerrancy who vigorously disagree on the issues above. And there are people who are on both sides of the inerrancy question who hold common agreement on the doctrines listed above. There are inerrantists who donâ€™t know, read, or rely on the scriptures as much as some who donâ€™t hold to inerrancy.
Do inerrant originals guarantee inerrant transcription? No
Do inerrant originals guarantee inerrant translation? No
Do inerrant originals guarantee inerrant interpretation? No
But what really makes me angry is what I did in those seven hours I was at school.
I preached on John 1 to 350 students about what it means to be a prophet who points to Jesus. My fourth sermon this week.
I prepared a sermon on John 1, on what it means to be a disciple, to be delivered tomorrow.
I read scripture and prayed with all my classes.
I taught four Bible survey classes, including three full lectures on the book of Judges, delivered to a majority of unbelievers, including Muslims, Buddhists and atheists.
I read scripture myself in my own devotional time, and made the words of scripture my own prayer.
My wife and I read scripture together this evening.
I started preparing for the two messages from the Bible and the one Bible class I’ll teach this weekend.
All like I’ve been doing for 16 years. I’m not blowing a horn here. This is my life. In the community setting where I live and serve I can’t go ten feet without bumping into something I’m doing with a Bible.
In none of those 16 years or before has anyone- student, staff, pastor, trustee, elder, pastor, parent of student, lay person or preacher- complained that I didn’t believe the Bible sufficiently. And I talk about the Bible and what I believe about it constantly. I assure you I don’t hide behind anything or anyone. I proudly read from Wright, Capon and Peterson to whoever will listen. I’m perceived on our staff as the original curmudgeon and stick-in-the-mud for my insistence that all our chapel preachers preach from the Bible, and from text of the Bible ONLY. As campus minister, I give away the Bible in every language on our campus and answer Bible questions all week. We make our students purchase the ESV for Bible class.
I know….lots of liberals going to hell like a greased pig have similar involvement with the Bible. Teaching and reading it mean nothing. Do you believe…really, really, really, believe…..like the “inerrancy” crowd? That’s the acid test.
It takes people who read blogs to figure out that I don’t believe the Bible, am apostate, a Biblical invertebrate and “wuss,” and will be judged by God as a false minister according to James 3:1 (a verse I know very well from my ordination.) This internet is a wonderful tool, isn’t it? Incredible insight with very little actual knowledge.
Whatever I believe about the Bible, I’m out here doing something with my life and my ministry that is unthinkable and impossible without my own foundational belief that the Bible is true, inspired and the Word that delivers the Gospel of Jesus. I know God in and through his Son Jesus, but what I know of Jesus grows out of the Bible first of all. My confidence in its truth, power, authority and relevance hasn’t changed.
Ask the people I minister to and with what I believe about the Bible. Oh wait, you aren’t actually here. Sorry.
If that’s a diatribe against “historic orthodox reformed Protestants,” then I hope you enjoy it. Sorry that I actually want to be accepted as a brother in Christ who believes and loves scripture. What’s gotten into me?