September 15, 2006, here on slacktivist: Human readers
Hence the evangelical obsession with declarations of the “inerrancy” or “infallibility” of the text. I am in no position to say whether or not such declarations are true. None of us is. As errant, fallible humans we cannot judge whether or not a text is inerrant and infallible. But even if we take it on faith that the text is all that they say it is, we’re still no better off because we cannot supply this perfect text with perfect readers, or with a reading that is “inerrant” or “infallible.”
It may be that the text is as they say, inerrant and infallible. But this means little more than Archimedes’ claim about the lever. “Give me a place to stand and lever long enough and I will move the world,” Archimedes said. And he was right — except that he didn’t have a lever long enough, and that there was no place to stand, and that even if there were no human could survive to stand there.
The evangelical claims of inerrancy and infallibility, likewise, offer no place for humans to stand, no place from which human readers could approach or understand their inhuman text.
What we claim about the text cannot trump what we know about ourselves. We are finite, fallible and fallen. (And far too full of preconception and misconception to ever claim our reading of scripture is sola scriptura.) Certainty is a divine prerogative, not a human one.