Scot McKnight: “Misreading the Bible because we are Western”
Ah-ha moments in Bible reading come to all of us, and perhaps you can remember one and tells us about it, but I can remember a few: when I realized the Bible’s writers and characters were ancient Jews and not modern American (Baptists), that they spoke Hebrew and Aramaic and Greek and Latin, that contemporary Jewish texts shed light constantly all over the Bible, that Paul’s letters were written before the Gospels, that the Gospels grew over time, that Isaiah was not written by the same author all at once … and then there was the colossal realization that Western senses of self, freedom, and individualism just don’t compute with ancient Jewish, Greek or Roman perceptions. That our theological issues are not theirs. That those folks cared lots about purity — and purity doesn’t mean to us what it meant then. That capitalism was unknown to the Bible. That young adults didn’t fall in love, date, and then choose the one they wanted to marry. That marriage itself didn’t mean to them quite what it means to us. I could go on…
Westerners see things in the Bible not there and we miss things that are there.
Richard Beck: “From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart”
In Chris [Haws’] case he was working through the “nondenominationalism” of Willow Creek. What Chris came to realize was that Willow did have a creed and a tradition, that there were regulating traditions and beliefs. I came to realize the same about my own tradition. We claimed that our only guide to faith and practice was “the bible.” But the more you poked around and questioned things the more you realized that “the bible” was simply a cipher for “the way we interpret the bible.” In short, there is no such thing as “nondenominationalism.” Nondenominationalism is an impossibility. You always have a bias, a stance, a hermeneutic, a regulating tradition, a stated or unstated creed. There is no “view from nowhere.”
“Inerrancy,” regardless of how the term is defined, does not capture the Bible’s character complex dynamics. Inerrancy sells the Bible — and God — short.
Inerrancy is a high-maintenance doctrine. It takes much energy to “hold on to” and produces much cognitive dissonance. … Over the last twenty years or so, I have crossed paths with more than a few biblical scholars with evangelical roots, even teaching in inerrantist schools, who nervously tread delicate paths re-defining, nuancing, and adjusting their definition of inerrancy to accommodate the complicating factors that greet us at every turn in the historical study of Scripture.
For many other evangelicals (scholars of other disciplines, pastors, and laypeople), inerrancy is likewise no longer a paradigm of explanatory power, but a fragile theory in need of constant care and tending to survive.
Job is not a sinner in the hands of an angry God. In the book of Job we see no hint of Job as a sinner in the hands of an angry God. He is not portrayed as intrinsically guilty through the sin of Adam. The message of the book is not that Job, and the rest of us, should rejoice in God’s mercy, marveling that he/we occasionally get blessings instead of the destruction, punishment, and devastation we all deserve from the depravity of our very being.
Job is portrayed at the beginning of the book, and from the very mouth of God, as righteous.