Why You Should Run from “Bible Believing Churches”

Why You Should Run from “Bible Believing Churches” October 6, 2015
Copyright: michaklootwijk / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: michaklootwijk / 123RF Stock Photo

Since my family recently moved to the Portland area, we’ve been looking for churches to attend. Besides visiting a church, the best way to gain a feel for a church is to visit their website. Specifically, their About Us page.

Since examining church websites, I’ve noticed some pretty strange beliefs out there. Many churches have a list of beliefs that are important to them. What is the first belief on many church websites? The Bible.

One church begins its list of beliefs like this:

  1. The Authority of Scripture
  2. The Nature of God
  3. Jesus, God’s Son
  4. The Holy Spirit
  5. Salvation
  6. Nature of Man (Sorry, women. You apparently don’t have nature … but if you read the description, you might decide that’s a good thing.)
  7. The Role of the Church

Now, those are all important aspects of Christianity, and I don’t mean to pick on fellow Christians, but the order tells us what’s wrong with American Christianity.

We have elevated the Bible above God. It’s time we stop that form of idolatry. Bibliolatry has no place in Christianity. But, unfortunately, the Bible has become another god, above the Trinity, above Jesus, above the Holy Spirit.

I appreciate the passion that many “Bible believing” churches have. That passion is a good thing, but it’s misdirected. Christians shouldn’t “believe” in the Bible. We are not Biblians. We are Christians.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Bible. It’s an important book. But it’s not a member of the Trinity. It deserves to be respected, but it shouldn’t be elevated above God.

“Bible believing churches” tend to think that “the Bible is the very Word of God – supernaturally inspired in every word and absolutely free from error in the original documents. God’s word is the final authority in all that it says. Therefore, it must be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.”

But the Bible doesn’t work that way. It contains within itself many disagreements about the nature of God and how events unfolded. For example, did Noah take two of every animal onboard his ship, as Genesis 6 claims, or did he take seven of every animal, as Genesis 7 claims? Does God require sacrifice, as Leviticus suggests, or does God require mercy and not sacrifice, as the prophet Hosea claims? Does God punish children for their parents’ mistakes, as Exodus claims, or is each generation responsible for itself, as the prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah state? Did Jesus overturn the tables in the Temple at the end of his ministry, as the synoptic Gospels claim, or did he do it at the beginning of his ministry, as the Gospel of John claims?

Those who believe in the Bible’s inerrancy will do all kinds of interpretive gymnastics to put the round peg of the Bible into the square hole of inerrancy, but it just doesn’t fit. That’s because it’s not meant to fit.

The Bible is a document written by human beings who tried to recognize what God was doing in their lives. But it’s not inerrant. Interestingly, if the Bible were inerrant you would think it would tell us. It simply doesn’t use those terms. The Bible never says, “Hi! I’m the Bible. I’m the inerrant Word of God. Believe in me!”

There are disagreements that run throughout the Bible. Those disagreements are one of the things that I love about the Bible! The Bible models for us how to wrestle with God and ask questions about faith.

The Bible contains human testimony about how God works in the world, but it is not God’s inerrant Word. The Bible points beyond itself to God, and in the New Testament, to the God revealed in Jesus. The Bible even claims that Jesus is the Word of God, not the Bible itself.

Jesus warned people about elevating the Bible above himself. “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

Jesus claimed that the scriptures are limited. You cannot have eternal life by believing in the Bible. In fact, when we elevate the Bible above God, it blocks us from our only access to eternal life.

The Bible is important, but we are not Biblians. We are Christians, called to come to Jesus.

That’s why you should run from “Bible believing churches.” Churches aren’t meant to believe in the Bible. They are meant to believe in the God revealed through Jesus.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Falken

    It is a rather large amount of honesty. There’s also the fact if the Bible were inerrant, the books within wouldn’t have had to be voted on or selected.

  • Jacky Lozada

    Im sorry but I had to stop at Gen. 6 and Gen 7. I just read it and you are the one that is wrong. It reads

    Gen 6:19-20 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.20 Of the birds after their kind, and of the cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.

    And in Gen 6 talks about UNCLEAN animals Gen 7 talks about CLEAN animals

    Gen 7:2 2 Of every CLEAN beast thou shalt take to thee seven and seven, the male and his female; and of the beasts that are NOT CLEAN two, the male and his female:

    God’s Word DOES NOT contradicts itself but we on the other hand misinterpret misread misunderstand because we do not have wisdom.

    Prov. 2:6 6 For Jehovah giveth wisdom; Out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding:

    Jesus IS the WORD..

    John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    John 1:14 14 And the Word became flesh….

    Some people do not understand because they do not have faith.
    Matthew 13:13 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables; because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

    John 5:46-47 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

    John 5:38-40 38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he sent, him ye believe not.39 Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me; 40 and ye will not come to me, that ye may have life.

    Luke 24:25 25 And he said unto them, O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in ALL that the prophets have spoken!

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    • Jacky, We agree that Jesus IS the WORD. Jesus. Put your faith in Jesus, not a book! And you are right that the book can be misinterpreted in many ways – one way is to claim that God endorses violence/murder/killing/war, which the God revealed in Jesus never does! In fact, Jesus calls us to love our enemies as we love ourselves. We worship Christ, not the Bible. God is like Christ, but not everything in the Bible is Christlike. The Bible points beyond itself to God in Christ, who is the Word of God.

    • yellowdoggie

      Here are those gymnastics the author was talking about.

    • Occupy Christianity

      Hi Jacky. Yes, Jesus is the word…that much is not in dispute. But the Noah/Ark story is one of those problematic points where the Bible (only if it is taken literally) does not make sense. Have you done the math on the idea of having two of each animal?

      But even more importantly, you bring up 2 Timothy 3 as proof that the Bible is inerrant. But what “scripture” is the passage referring to, since the 66 books of the Bible were not decided upon for centuries after Paul wrote? Were the early church councils, which eventually chose the books, inerrant? If so, where do you get that belief from?

      • Brilliant! Thank you for this comment.

      • swbarnes2

        If you say that Genesis is not literally true, then you are saying that the Bible is not an accurate record of God’s actions. If you disavow the moral teaching that it’s okay for powerful people to kill every child on the planet if they wish, (and this is hardly the only time in the Bible that the death of children is presented as the will of God, and an acceptable way to punish some third party) then you are saying that the Bible is not an accurate description of God’s personality. If the Bible is wildly inaccurate about the nature of God, isn’t that kind of a problem for the usefulness of the Bible?

        • Wiffle

          “If you say that Genesis is not literally true, then you are saying that the Bible is not an accurate record of God’s actions.”

          That’s a false equivalence.

          Ulimately, to take Genesis as literally is far more problematic than taking it metaphorically. Unfortunately, the quotes here actually highlight the inconsistency of Genesis, not remove the doubt of them.

          And what’s really weird to me is that when I go looking for description of God, I find Him in the book of Job, of which no demands literal belief.

          Believing in God is a big enough leap of faith for me. If you need to insist that Genesis must be absolutely true to keep yours, I’m okay with it. But I’ve read enough of the Bible to look for the truth in other ways than literal narrative.

          • swbarnes2

            Job? Where God watches all the women and children be murdered to win an argument, but it’s okay in the end, because Job gets new women and children? That’s the description you like?

          • Wiffle

            No. Read it again, except this time pay attention to Job’s attitudes towards his religion and God, that of his friends, the person that did understand God, and God’s ultimate response.

            You’re taking the story literally, which is not the point.

          • swbarnes2

            So why are there so many stories of God killing innocent women and children over and over and over again to teach third parties lessons if it’s not meant to be, if not literally true, a psychologically accurate portrayal? Do you think the person who wrote it believed that God would NEVER kill women and children like that? The people who wrote Exodus, and Genesis, and Numbers?

          • Wiffle

            Well, to turn your question around, why is it okay that men die? If the bloodshed in those books bothers you so much what’s up with thinking that there aren’t innocent men?

            And I assume here that you’ve watched a whole lot of movies with lots of bloodshed that you know not to be true. I think there’s some precedent for being careful of what we think is literal or not in the Bible.

          • sg

            They aren’t innocent.

            That is the point.

          • Julie

            Children are innocent. As innocent as Adam in the garden before he sinned.

          • sg

            No, children are not innocent.

            http://biblehub.com/psalms/51-5.htm

          • Julie

            David wrote that about himself. Children are innocent.

          • sg

            All deserve death.

            God is gracious and merciful and gives us good gifts which we have not earned.

            Pain, suffering and death are what we all deserve.

            I agree that God is loving and kind and spares us much grief and misery, but it is the enemy that afflicts us.

        • Occupy Christianity

          Hello. Thanks for your comment. It doesn’t address what I said, but I’ll be happy to reply anyway. Like many Evangelicals, you’re presupposing that the Bible is useful only if every word of it is literally true. I’m not going to debate your view of the role of the Bible in your faith…that’s none of my business.

          My perspective is that I wouldn’t make the claim that it is only useful if it is the direct, literal words of God. There are many books in this world that were written by people, and are flawed in one way or another, but still extremely important. The Bible is even more so. It doesn’t have to be completely literally true in order to have a paramount place in my thought and life. God can still use it every day to make me more like Him.

          I don’t say this to convince you to think my way, but just to show that there are other ways of looking at the Bible that still take it very seriously and see it as central to the Christian life. Take care.

    • Leen

      The scriptures Timothy is referring to was the Torah. The Bible as we know it didn’t exist for hundreds of years. and Timothy never said their will be a new book. Jesus never said “When I’m gone wait for a new book to come out”. Timothy is talking about the Torah.

  • Jon Xavier

    I am not an innerantist, but your proof against it is largely superficial. For example, progressive revelation explains all of your criticisms around supposed contradictory changes over time and is basic to much Christian theology. I would also say that someone should run from a liberal church. Why? Well, that’s what most people have already been doing for decades. Because whenever a so-called church invents its own theology in a “what I feel makes it real” fashion, as is typical for liberal and certain ethnic/cultural churches, you end up believing in nothing truly significant spiritually at all.

    • I’m fine with progressive revelation, Jon. As long as people remember that the crucified and resurrected Jesus, who has no anger or desire for revenge but responds to violence with forgiveness, is our ultimate authority on God. That’s what God is like! The problem is that many Christians don’t view God that way, but rather elevate certain scriptures that attribute violence to God above our crucified and resurrected Lord and Savior.

      • Tim Clark

        no anger? – obviously he had a smile on his face when he used the phrase “Brood of vipers” – obviously he turned the tables and used a whip in a non violent way!

        You seem to think anger is sinful … yet it is in some cases a righteous response.

        • Anger is fine Tim, as long as you work through it. The problem with anger is that everyone thinks their anger is a righteous response. The point is managing our anger before it’s too late and we act out of revenge/vengeful anger.

          • Sophie B

            Some anger is indeed righteous. Without it we have no principles worthy of respect.

          • Wiffle

            Anger is energy. While it clearly must be tempered, if we never got upset it would be impossible to act.

          • Sophie B

            Very good point. I shall remember that.

          • Wiffle

            Thanks. 🙂

            It’s why I think sometimes the “we can only smile at each other” cultures rot away and become ineffective. If two people get really angry at each other, but come together after a compromise or simply let go, they’re better friends. If they get to the point of being unable to express anger (or anything negative) or afraid it express, the relationship gets stuck, unable to go to anything deeper.

            All of that assumes everything doesn’t spiral out of control and/or you’re dealing with relative sane people. ;p

          • Javelina Harker

            I know I’m really friends with someone when we can have a fight and then go out for a beer afterward. 🙂

      • Sophie B

        There are those so proud of their non violence that they become like the Pharisee, thanking God that they aren’t like those others who supposedly believe in violence although those others have often done far more to save mankind than the so called peace nuts. Also the peace nuts often believe in inflicting devastating violence upon the unborn.

    • xnlover

      Jon, your characterization of “liberal” churches as being made up of persons who adopt a “what I feel makes it real” theology is not consistent with my experience. Instead, it has been the more conservative fundamentalists who rely on “feeling God” to persuade them that they are following the “true faith;” e.g., those who claim that one must have spoken in tongues as proof that one has experienced the “second blessing” and is “truly saved” or those who adhere to the teachings of a charismatic pastor who plays upon their innate sense of guilt and shame to make them think they can find salvation only under his tutelage. Instead, the “liberals” I’ve encountered want a faith that makes sense, and yet they can also deal with the fact that some things will remain a mystery beyond our human understanding. I’ve also encountered “Bible-believing Christians” who still believe, for example, that Black people are under the curse of Ham and irredeemable, regardless of any exegetical work one might do to persuade them otherwise. Check out the work of social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, especially “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.” According to his work, we’re all guilty of feel-good religion to one degree or another. (Even the Apostle Paul admits in 1 Cor. 13 that our knowledge is only partial. If so, what we use to fill in the rest of the picture that our knowledge of God’s truth doesn’t fill has to come from somewhere, and our feelings about things are a resource that is ever at the ready to accommodate to our need in that regard.)

      • Sophie B

        Fundamentalists are different from those who believe in speaking in tongues. If you want to criticize churches, please educate yourself first.

        • xnlover

          You’ll note I used the term “e.g.,” which means, “for example.” Your defensiveness regarding the essence of my response causes you to pick at a nit while swallowing a camel.

          • Sophie B

            How do you know what beliefs I swallow?

      • Julie

        xnlover, great post!

  • Hermetically Sealed

    The mistake becomes immediately apparent when the phrase ‘Word of God’ is used synonymously with scripture. Scripture is NOT the Word of God — rather Christ is, as clearly stated in the first chapter of John. Early Christians understood this. For example, in Book IV of his Confessions, Augustine speaks of the Word of God clearly speaking of Christ, not any written text. Early Christians would have been baffled by the modern Christian conflation of the Logos with any written text.

    • sg

      “Augustine speaks of the Word of God clearly speaking of Christ, not any written text”

      But, the written text is our only access to Christ.

      • Hermetically Sealed

        Perhaps if you think the historically novel idea of sola scriptura has validity over the centuries prior, where scripture plus the interpretation via the tradition in which faith was handed down, you might have a point. However, for some Christians, the sacraments give ‘access to Christ’ — and even more importantly, unconditional love offers ‘access to Christ’ in a way that no book can.

        Scripture may have a great deal of importance for Christians, but sola scriptura reduces faith to mere ideological assent. What is worse, sola scriptura inevitably ‘flattens’ Christian spirituality, removing it from the ontological (i.e. spiritual) dimension, placing faith instead into a quasi-positivist framework. Bonhoeffer understood the problem here, making God a mere ‘stop-gap’ for seemingly unresolvable issues.

        Theologians from Origen to Bonhoeffer have warned about this trap for centuries, but I’m afraid too many Christians have unknowingly bought into the same two-dimensional positivism of atheists like Dawkins, Hitchens, et al — only with the opposite conclusions as they, where faith is nothing but ideological certitude.

        Put another way: If Christianity really is just the opposite of what Dawkins and Hitchens say, then Christianity as such really is lost.

        • sg

          I hope this doesn’t sound rude. I don’t mean it that way. I just don’t know what you are saying.

  • Jeffrey King

    I’ve long noticed this too. The Bible is often placed before God in the list of doctrinal stances. There is a strongly implied message that the Bible (a manuscript) has higher authority than the One who is said to have inspired it. Implications are far-reaching and become problematic.

    • axelbeingcivil

      There’s a wonderful story in the Jewish tradition, in that regard, in which a collection of Rabbis successfully rules-lawyer God.

      http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/352329/jewish/The-Walls-of-the-Study-Hall.htm

    • Robert Conner

      “The Bible is often placed before God”?? Where does the Judeo-Christian teaching about God come from except the Bible?

      https://www.scribd.com/doc/269575794/Christianity-s-Critics-The-Romans-Meet-Jesus-by-Robert-Conner

      • FA Miniter

        Actually, there is a substantial body of Jewish and Christian teaching outside the Bible. The Talmud, for instance. Or, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, and the teachings of the early fathers of the Church, or St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae.

        • sg

          I like Aquinas as much as the next guy, but if he contradicts St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, I am going with St. Paul over Aquinas. I think Aquinas is helpful but not inspired.

          • Stuart Blessman

            Or if Peter contradicts Paul, or Paul contradicts Peter?

        • Robert Conner

          Outside the Bible, but basically commentary on the Bible. So what’s your point?

          • FA Miniter

            Re-read your own comment to which I responded. I was providing sources of Jewish and Christian teaching outside of the Bible, not just commentary on the Bible. Take the Magisterium. That encompasses not just sacred scripture, but also sacred tradition and the teaching authority of the Church. See Encyclical Dei Verbum, 1965. And Aquinas used reason as an approach to God, not relying solely on scripture. The Talmud and Jewish oral tradition go far beyond the Jewish Bible. Moses Maimonides was not just a commentator on the Jewish Bible, he was a structurer of thought, and framed Jewish thinking for centuries to come, as was Philo of Alexandria, the 1st century Jewish philosopher without whose Hellenistic philosophy the Gospel of John could never have been written.

            The Bible itself has always been a poor means of approaching the divine. May I suggest you read Robert Wright’s book “The Evolution of God” to see how the human concept of the divine has changed over the millennia.

          • Robert Conner

            There is no magisterium outside to the authority of the founding documents in the Judeo-Christian or Islamic traditions. And neither Christianity nor Judaism claim to depend on evolution of thought but on revelation. If there were no New Testament, there would be no church, no magisterium, etc, etc. Without a covenant with “chosen people” it’s hard to see how there would be a Judaism or Christianity, both of which make the claim to be God’s elect.

            I would certainly agree that the Bible is a poor means of approaching the divine (whatever one construes that to mean). However, surfing Christian blogs for an hour or so quickly reveals that most (maybe all) Christian belief is a matter of pick and choose, in some cases nearly solipsistic. The Roman critics understood quite clearly that there were few constraints on Christian belief and that it came very close indeed to having no core substance. The later books of the NT convey a clear sense of doctrinal chaos.

            https://www.scribd.com/doc/269575794/Christianity-s-Critics-The-Romans-Meet-Jesus-by-Robert-Conner

            Returning to the point, Marcion would have claimed to be a “Bible believing” Christian. He just didn’t include the Old Testament and much of the New in his definition of the Bible.

            The notion that one can know more about the Christian God than what’s in the Bible is bizarrely circular. If the Christian God is not as described in the Bible, then how could one know it’s “God” or “Christian”? What it comes down to is that a group like the Mormons are Christian because they say so, not because it can be demonstrated that anything like Mormonism existed during the first 19 centuries of Christianity.

            I’m not a Christian and don’t give a flip about the truth claims of Mormonism or any other sect of Christianity. I’m simply pointing out that if Christianity is whatever a believer wants it to be, then it’s not “revealed once for all time to the saints” (Jude 1:3) as claimed. Although the theology of the NT was very clearly evolving in response to pressures, orthodox Christians didn’t and still don’t see it that way.

          • FA Miniter

            The core beliefs of Christianity have been set out in various creeds over the centuries. True, the creeds do not always agree, and the simple phrase “filioque” resulted in the split of the Eastern Orthodox from the Roman church. But no scholar has ever claimed that there is no more to be divined about the divine than is set down in those creeds, or in the New Testament. Aquinas strove mightily to add to the image by use of reason.

            There are more than 10,000 “Christian” sects in the USA alone. When Luther proclaimed that everyone should interpret the Bible for him/her self, that shattered the unity established by the Catholic Church that the sole allowable interpretation must come from the Church itself. Or, to use a metaphor from Jewish mysticism, the vessels shattered.

            But the magisterium is in part outside the Bible as I mentioned in my last post. It exists as a structure of the Catholic Church. Look it up.

          • Stuart Blessman

            Who decided what is the New Testament?

          • Robert Conner

            Excellent question. People who were the winners of a complex theological horse race but who are currently dead. The four canonical gospels are widely agreed to be the only quasi historical accounts of Jesus’ career from which we might hope to retrieve anything factual–it is just as widely agreed that the non-canonical stuff is largely gibberish historically speaking. So if other historical sources have been tossed out and lost, and the foundational texts are to be considered crucial for defining what Christianity is, then as I see it Christianity has painted itself into a corner unless the believer says that what the NT says doesn’t matter and makes up his own Jesus from scratch. But is a customized Jesus still Christianity? If so, isn’t Christianity just what anyone chooses to believe? Is building model planes Christianity because someone says it is?

          • sg

            “However, surfing Christian blogs for an hour or so quickly reveals that
            most (maybe all) Christian belief is a matter of pick and choose, in
            some cases nearly solipsistic.”

            Most Christians are Roman Catholic or Orthodox. You are probably referring to protestant blogs which are all over the place.

          • Robert Conner

            You can’t seriously believe that Catholicism is monolithic. Catholics and Orthodox are hierarchical and have centuries of experience at suppressing dissent. Catholics in particular have long ago learned to keep up appearances and keep their opinions to themselves.

          • sg

            I see a disconnect between, publicly displaying opinions on blogs and keeping their opinions to themselves

  • SeriousQ

    The Bible indeed should not be idolized, but it is the only writings in their entirety that through the Holy Spirit allows believers to grasp who God is, and prophetically through the Old Testament reveals Jesus.

    • Yes, I agree. The Bible is important. It points beyond itself to God/Jesus. Thank you for the comment.

  • Stephen

    Good review, and known by many. I was always surprised when I moved to a smaller NW community of 110,000 people and could not believe the amount of “churches” here…from the yellow pages, 177 churches….from Bible churches to Sabbath Churches, from Free Spirit to Fire and brimstone….one tending to their own flocks and one tending to the community…strange how church has become a business for many. Great article…if we could only simplify…but they create their own tower of babels. Thus my fellowship is not owned, church is not bought, but given hopefully each day with love.

  • It’s been theologically established the Bible isn’t essential to Christian belief. No joke:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/cosmostheinlost/2015/10/09/no-bible-fine-no-liturgy-no-christianity/

  • This is one of the more silly and self-contradictory blogs I’ve ever read on Patheos.
    I’d really be interested to know where the author picks up his authoritative understanding of God, if not from the Bible. And if the Bible is just a bunch of writings by a bunch of guys, why should we believe ANY of it? And why read it at all – especially in light of the fact that other writers, like Hemingway, are better writers.

    Actually, maybe we should elevate all writings to the level of the Bible. The Koran, the Book of Mormon, you name it. After all, they’re obviously just a bunch of stuff written by people.

    • Widge Widge

      Pray to God he speaks through the holy spirit

    • R. G.

      I’m curious, do you believe that the Bible is required for a person to become a Christian?

      • How would you know who/what Jesus is, without the Bible?

      • Heidi

        No the bible is not required for a person to become a Christian. The Holy Spirit is required, and he can act with or without the bible. To grow in Christ, the bible is a very good resource, but it is NOT inerrant, it is NOT infallible. And the article is right: the bible should not be at the top of the list. The bible points to God…it is NOT God.

    • volvo (=

    • Are you suggesting that God cannot reveal himself through any source other than the bible? That seems like you’re putting God in a very small box.

      • What truth have you learned about Jesus, outside of the Bible?

        • What does the bible have to say about the Holy Spirit?

          • Answer my question first.

          • I did.

          • No, you absolutely did not. Stop trying to be cute and answer my question.

            Actually, never mind. You’re just being dumb here.

          • Well that seems…uncharitable and perhaps even hostile. Your question attempts to divorce Jesus from the trinity. My presumption that you believe in a triune God may be mistaken; but if not, post-Ascension Jesus is revealed through the Holy Spirit. The bible only tells the very beginning of that story.

          • “Your question attempts to divorce Jesus from the trinity [sic].” No, it doesn’t.

            Now, stop dancing this cutesy little dance of obfuscation. You’ve refused to answer the simple question 3 times now. So I’ll ask it again. What truth have you learned about Jesus, outside of the Bible?

          • I’ve answered your loaded question directly. You’re either unable or unwilling to process that answer which renders this exchange fruitless (and that’s not to mention your lack of civility – great Christian witness…).
            Peace and blessings VD.

          • You just refused to answer a direct question for the 4th time. It is not a loaded question. It is straightforward.

            4 times now I’ve asked you what truth you find out about Jesus, outside the Bible. 4 times you have resolutely refused to answer the simple question. It seems pretty obvious why you don’t want to answer.

            I guess if that’s the game you want to play, it’s just as well that you run off and play somewhere else. Kind of pathetic, but it is what it is.

          • Julie

            To say truth cannot be found outside the Bible is to say that Adam & Eve found no truth, Abel found no truth, Enoch found no truth, Noah found no truth, Job found no truth, Abram found no truth, Isaac found no truth, Jacob found no truth, Joseph found no truth, and on and on.

          • Did I say that truth cannot be found outside the Bible?

            Good grief, what is wrong with you people? Do you ever read first, think second, and write third? Or do you just spew defensive knee-jerk reactions to things you make up?

          • Julie

            Did I say that truth cannot be found outside the Bible?

            Uh, yeah, you did.

            You: “How would you know who/what Jesus is, without the Bible?”

            You: “What truth have you learned about Jesus, outside of the Bible?”

            Ford1968 answered your question when he said the Holy Spirit reveals truth with or without the Bible and you said he was being dumb. Why argue with him (& even be hostile) if you already believe that truth can be found outside the Bible? Jesus is God. To say Jesus cannot be known outside the Bible is to say that Adam & Eve learned nothing of God, Abel learned nothing of God, Enoch learned nothing of God, Noah learned nothing of God, Job learned nothing of God, Abram learned nothing of God, Isaac learned nothing of God, Jacob learned nothing of God, Joseph learned nothing of God, and on and on.

            Good grief, what is wrong with you people?
            Do you ever read first, think second, and write third?

            So all us people are doing something wrong here and you are the one doing something right in this dialogue? Hmm…

            Or do you just spew defensive knee-jerk reactions to things you make up?

            My reply to you above is not defensive; it simply answers
            your question.

            You need to reflect on your own reactions.

          • I asked a question that Ford refused to answer 4 times. Now you’ve not only refused to answer it, but you’ve lied about what I have said/asked.

            “What truth have you learned about Jesus, outside of the Bible?” is a VERY specific question. And it says NOTHING of the sort of things you claim it says/asks.

            Your comment, “To say truth cannot be found outside the Bible is to say that Adam & Eve found no truth…” is an insane and inane response to the question I asked.

            Why is it that both you and Ford absolutely REFUSE to answer a simple question, but rather make asinine assumptions about what I’ve asked? Why make up lies about what I’ve said/asked?

            I’ll ask the question again. Perhaps you can come up with a list of things: “WHAT TRUTH HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT JESUS OUTSIDE OF THE BIBLE?”

            What is so difficult to understand about that question?

          • Julie

            I asked a question that Ford refused to answer 4 times.

            Untrue. He said the Holy Spirit reveals truth.

            Now you’ve not only refused to answer it,

            Refused? How can I refuse to answer something you never asked me? You never asked me a question other than some insulting question about what is wrong with us people who “spew defensive reactions.”

            but you’ve lied about what I have said/asked.

            That’s not possible because I simply copied and pasted what you said/asked. I’ll do it again here:

            You: “How would you know who/what Jesus is, without the Bible?”

            Answer: Through the Holy Spirit

            You: “What truth have you learned about Jesus, outside
            of the Bible?”

            Answer: Jesus, who IS the truth (c.f. John 8:32, 36)

            “WHAT TRUTH HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT JESUS OUTSIDE OF THE BIBLE?”

            Love. Through the Holy Spirit.

            When you wrote “how would you know who/what Jesus is, without the Bible” you are implying that Jesus/God can’t be known without the Bible. We answered that God/Jesus can be known without the Bible through the Spirit of God. I gave you biblical examples to prove it.

          • That’s one bizarre anti-contextualization of John 8.

            The Holy Spirit reaffirms Scriptural truth. He does not create His own truth.

            We know what we know about Jesus because of Scripture. We know heresy as heresy because of Scripture.

          • Julie

            God makes himself known in ways other than the Bible. That which is known about God is evident in them as well as understood through what has been made (Romans 1:19-20).

          • sg

            Wait, how do we even know there is a Holy Spirit or that He reveals truth?

            Is that idea not from the Bible?

            In fact, isn’t it a biblical doctrine?

            But the authors say that means people will fight over it, yada yada. So we shouldn’t believe it.

            They are irrational.

          • sg

            How do we know that the Holy Spirit reveals truth?

            Where did you get that idea?

          • Julie

            The idea of the Spirit revealing truth comes from John 16:13.

          • sg

            But John 16:13 is in the Bible. So if you are relying on the Bible for your information about the Holy Spirit, aren’t you idolizing the Bible? If you use John16:13 as your proof text, why can’t I use 2 Timothy 3:16-17?

          • Julie

            Of course you can use it. I’m not in disagreement that Scripture is useful for training up a person for every good work.

          • sg

            Okay, well what if two people each claim that the Holy Spirit told them something that does not conform to each others claims?

            So, John claims that the Holy Spirit tells him to baptize infants but Julie says the Holy Spirit told her that we should not baptize infants. How do we settle these conflicting claims?
            My reaction is just that both of them are wrong that the Holy Spirit only speaks through the scripture not directly to any person anymore.

            I think people get an Idea into their heads and don’t want to say that it is their own idea, so they claim the Holy Spirit put it there. I think that is blasphemous.

          • Julie

            I agree. And so I like to remember “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”

          • sg

            I do not agree with that statement.

            It impugns the Scripture as being unclear and indiscernible. However, if we accept that it is our sinfulness that causes misunderstanding, then we can believe that because God calls people by His Word, therefore there can be members of the true Church in any congregation even if there are some errors in the teaching there.

            C.F.W. Walther explains this more clearly in his book:

            https://www.cph.org/p-2930-the-true-visible-church-and-the-form-of-a-christian-congregation.aspx

          • Julie

            Well, you have the liberty to disagree with the wisdom of this advice by St. Augustine. For me, the advice rings true and it has brought much peace to those who follow it. Wisdom is proved right by all her children. 🙂

          • sg

            Apparently St. Augustine did not say that.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_necessariis_unitas,_in_dubiis_libertas,_in_omnibus_caritas

            It is not that it is a bad sentiment wrt to living life in a religiously plural society that has atheists, muslims, buddhists, etc. Sure, we should be united on things like stopping at red lights and other civic matters, and we should be charitable and let people be free. However, it does not make sense in a discussion of what a text says. It is not a valid hermeneutic.

          • Julie

            Apparently St. Augustine did not say that.

            Case in point! Strain a gnat and all that. 😉

            However, it does not make sense in a discussion of what a text says.

            Sure it does. Not all text is essential to salvation. Most text is not.

          • sg

            I don’t follow what your point is.

            Before you can analyze the text, you have to know what it says. Then you can decide what it is saying about salvation. But first you have to know what it says. You can’t pull a line or two out and still make sense of it.

          • Julie

            What I’m saying is that if one insists Scripture says a particular thing when I see that Scripture says something else, even if a person says the Holy Spirit told him so, I don’t sweat it if it’s a non-essential.

          • sg

            You misunderstand when you don’t read the whole thing. One verse isolated from the context may seem to be saying something because you are not reading the whole thing. Likewise, If you read some parable, but not the introductory context nor the following explanations, then you cannot get the full meaning.

            The Scripture is clear. We can understand it. So, no, we cannot say that all interpretations are valid.

          • Julie

            I didn’t say all interpretations are valid. I said when two cannot come to an agreement over a non-essential, I don’t sweat it. That’s where the “in non-essentials liberty” comes in.

  • Danny

    Trying to sort out the real, from the made up, in a pile of mythology never gets old I guess.

  • Jesus is Lord

    Go Back to the Source
    II Peter 1:16-21
    16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”[b] 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
    19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

    I took the time to write this lengthy because it seems we are brothers in Christ and Jesus call for his disciples to be one. Be united, and I was shocked by the extremely divisive title you chose and of course the following content.
    II Peter 2:1 talks about those who “introduce destructive heresies”
    Be Careful Brother. These self proclaimed bible believing churches, are not committing idolatry as you claim… the are simply stating that if we are going to Preach the Gospel, we are letting you know up front that you can expect it to come from the most reliable accounts of Jesus that we have today. They are letting the visitor know that everything will proceed from the Bible, NOT the pastors vain imaginations or good ideas on moral or prosperous living, or the Tibetan book of the Dead or the Koran or the Book of Mormon.

    The early “Christians” never called themselves that. Neither do Paul or the apostles refer to Christians.
    Jacob Wrestled with God and look at what a mess his family was. Daniel was Faithfull and God honored and protected him.

    You also quoted erroneously from Hoses in that you took it out of Context as he was calling the people back to mercy, faithfulness, holiness, obedience, love, and away from the token religious sacrifices they had been offering(ring any bells.. “you honor me with you lips but your hearts are far from me”). I could expose your other erroneous quotations and it would not be Gymnastics, it would be Exegesis! Our problems are not “Bible Believing churches” its Churches who have so little left of anything remotely resembling the Gospel preach by Jesus and his Apostles.

  • Robert Rhea

    The worst thing that was ever done to the bible was the numbering of passages. The bible is so tortured to try and wring meaning from every last participle that people miss the meaning of the chapter or book as a whole.

    I agree completely with Adam. The bible is elevated too often among American churches beating God or man. The Bible does need to be at the bottom of that list or not even a part of it.

  • Widge Widge

    Excellent article spot on in every way. Big amen

  • Jerry Lynch

    The Holy Spirit teaches us ALL things. Next question. Ah, but that idea is considered too scary a concept for most; the chances for abuse are great. Yet without such a reliance, the chances of being truly hidden in Christ are close to zero.

    Total reliance on grace? What are you some crazed mystic? This is the mainstream thought on that subject.

    The Bible-believing Christian looks closely and studies diligently; the Christ-believing Christian looks deeply and allows for discovery.

  • alwayspuzzled

    If Genesis 3 is true, the first couple (prompted by the talking snake) trashed God’s original plan for humanity. Under these circumstances, it is spiritually reckless to think that the first couples’ descendants (prompted by the talking snake) have not trashed God’s bible.

  • paganmegan

    Invariably, doctrinal claims the Bible is inerrant tend to be promoted in the same churches that claim there’s only one way to interpret the Bible: their way. It’s not so much that they’re elevating the Bible above God, but they’re elevating the clergy above the laity, who, after all, have not been trained in the “proper” way to interpret Scripture. In effect, there seems to be an effort to create a Protestant Papacy.

    The Protestant Reformers translated the Bible from Latin into the vernacular with the explicit intent of countering this sort of arrogance on the part of the clergy.

    • Maine_Skeptic

      “…It’s not so much that they’re elevating the Bible above God, but they’re elevating the clergy above the laity, who, after all, have not been trained in the “proper” way to interpret Scripture…”

      The effect of this religious dysfunction may be that pastors remain unchallenged, but the causes are more complex than you may realize. The mainstream denominational seminaries actually teach students about the self-contradictions in the Bible, so ministers who return to their churches and teach that the Bible is inerrant are withholding information from their congregations. Further, the non-denominational churches are often led by men with no serious training in how the Bible was developed. These guys are free to add even more distortions to their congregations’ understanding of the Bible.

      The author of the article is right that any church that has Biblical inerrancy at the center of their dogma is going to be incapable of facing reality, which inevitably reveal the Bible to be untrue in many aspects.

    • John

      I would have no problem challenging anyone including the pastor if they taught something contrary to the bible. A person should choose a church based on their own understanding of scripture. We are each accountable to God for our own seeking of the truth.

      • sg

        No one seeks after God.

        Romans 3:9-20

        9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,
        10 as it is written:“None is righteous, no, not one;

        11 no one understands;
        no one seeks for God.

        12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
        no one does good,
        not even one.”

        13“Their throat is an open grave;
        they use their tongues to deceive.”
        “The venom of asps is under their lips.”

        14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

        15“Their feet are swift to shed blood;

        16 in their paths are ruin and misery,

        17 and the way of peace they have not known.”

        18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

        19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.
        20For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

        • Julie

          “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

          • sg

            Exactly.

            The point of this is that no one can actually do that.

            No one seeks God with all his heart.

            No one is good. Not one.

            Only a person who is deluded could possibly think he had actually sought God with all his heart.

          • Julie

            And the bit about delusion is found where in Scripture?

            God promises that He will be found when one seeks Him with all of one’s heart. God does not promise things that He does not supply. So I trust God.

            “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17: 26-27).

          • sg

            Okay, this is Paul talking to the philosophers on Mars Hill. That right there is the tip off that people didn’t seek God but made for themselves idols. The context makes the point that they didn’t seek God, but self gratification etc.

            Anyway, Bible verses like this that are part of a whole account don’t work so well when seen in isolation. You have to read the whole chapter or letter to see what the author was talking about. Out of context they can seem to refer to things that don’t fit the point of the whole account.

          • Julie

            Again, in Jeremiah God promises that one will find him when one seeks him with all of one’s heart. I trust this promise of God Almighty. Acts 17 harmonizes with Jeremiah.

            I believe that Paul is telling the truth in Acts 17:26-27 that God made all the nations of the earth in such a way that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him.

            Paul saw that they recognized there was an “unknown” God in whom they should put their faith and then gave them further information about the God they had been seeking out.

            Of course, you are at liberty to not trust Paul’s words as given.

          • sg

            …seeks him with all his heart…

            The honest person admits he doesn’t seek with all his heart. That is the point.

            The pagans with the unknown god didn’t find him. The space was empty. And they weren’t interested in the God that Paul preached.

            So, God’s promise is fine, but the condition that one do it with all his heart makes it unattainable.

            All are sinners. Repentance leads to heaven, not intellect or works.

          • Julie

            God does not ask people to do things it’s impossible for them to do and then hold them accountable for not doing it. The Lord can be sought after and found (Isaiah 55:6).

          • sg

            “God does not ask people to do things it’s impossible for them to do and then hold them accountable for not doing it.”

            Yes, He does. And we all fail. All have sinned and fallen short. No one has perfectly kept the law. Sin=death. We all die, including babies, which is the evidence of sin. We are sinful from conception.

            “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
            1 Cor. 15:22
            http://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/15.htm

          • Julie

            God informed man from the beginning that sin led to death. God also always provided a way to reconciliation, which is evidence that God never expected man to never sin. And the cross is permanent reconciliation. God took responsibility through the cross. In the end, God holds himself accountable and restores all things. God does not ask man to do the impossible and then hold him accountable for not doing it.

          • sg

            I agree that salvation is entirely the work of God and perdition the work of man. However, the Law is impossible to keep, certainly as Jesus defined it.

          • Julie

            The Law is impossible to keep without flaw. God never expected man to keep the Law perfectly and that is why he always provided a way of reconciliation. If God had expected that the Israelite could keep the Law without flaw, he would not have provided a way for the Israelite to make things right with him when he fell short of the law. God does not ask man to do the impossible and then hold him accountable for not doing it.

            Edit to add from previous comment: Adam needed the Tree of Life because he was mortal. Babies, too, are mortal and that’s why they die, not because they are sinful from conception.

          • sg

            Our death is due to sin we inherit from Adam. Babies are sinful from conception. I haven’t heard this notion of the Tree of Life.

          • Julie

            The first thing to recognize is that Adam was mortal. If he wasn’t, why was the Tree of Life necessary for him to continue living forever?

          • sg

            I don’t know, that is why I am asking. I looked it up but didn’t find it explained in either the Genesis account or the Revelation account.

          • Julie

            In Genesis 3:22-24 it is written that eating from the Tree of Life would have led to Adam living forever. Since the Tree of Life was necessary for Adam to live forever, we can reasonably conclude he was mortal.

  • Jonathan Dennis

    There is a reason that scripture is usually put in front of the other doctrines in a list of church beliefs. It’s because your belief about what the bible is at its core and what it teaches basically determines everything else. If you don’t believe in authoritative scripture, you’re no longer worshiping the God as revealed in the bible, but rather the God that you want to believe in, whoever that may be.

    • “If you don’t believe in authoritative scripture, you’re no longer worshiping the God as revealed in the bible…”

      You just called the faith of every Catholic and Orthodox Christian illegitimate.

      • Jonathan Dennis

        Not remotely, but I do see what you’re trying to say. However, while I can’t speak for Eastern Orthodoxy (which I assume is what you meant by Orthodox) for sure, as I haven’t interacted with them nearly as much, at least for Catholicism, scripture is still the ultimate authority, tradition such as Papal Bulls and official church positions are the authority for interpreting scripture, but scripture itself is still theoretically the basis for that authority.

        • These religions believe in apostolic succession; they don’t see scripture as the authority but rather the church assumes that role. They recognize the self contradiction of scripture and the myriad interpretations that flow from it. It’s church teaching that’s authoritative; they reject sola scriptura (which is not to say they reject the bible).

  • Yes!

  • jaydeezy

    All these comments, along with this article, further affirm my journey as an atheist. Clearly you Christians just absolutely do not have your stuff together.

    • Maine_Skeptic

      We atheists don’t have our stuff together all that well, either, jaydeezy. Human is human.

  • Phil Griffin

    Putting authority of scripture first on a list is not necessarily a scenario as you describe. It means the Bible has authority in revealing God’s character and purpose to us. Without scripture, how would many even know about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit? Certainly God is more important than the Bible. But you have to start somewhere and I don’t see the “list” as what’s wrong with Christianity as you state. (Probably there are nonAmericans that give this priority–so not just American Christianity).

  • Fulgentian

    Lots wrong with this article. You know you’re on dodgy ground when you read “I love the Bible”. It’s the kind of thing you say about an embarrassing relative. “Aw, bless him. I love Uncle Jim” (read between the lines – despite his annoying eccentricities).

    I think Mr Ericksen cannot have engaged with cutting-edge scholarship on the subject as there are good answers to all the so-called inconsistencies mentioned above.

    I think the main issue is this – if you do not get your authority from the Bible, where do you get it from? On what evidence can Mr Ericksen say “The Bible points beyond itself to God”? Church tradition? The nice feeling you get inside when you read Psalm 23? Why should we believe anything the Bible says at all?

    • Nathan Aldana

      The problem there is,,where does the bible derive authority from then?

      Thats one of the major stumbling blocks with the document for atheists like myself, because if the bible derives its authority from the existence of god, then that authority is meaningless to anyone of any other religion or non-religious bent .

      it’d be like me trying to justify to you the existence of the flying sphaghetti monster by pointing to a hymn to the flying sphaghetti monster.

      • sg

        If you don’t believe, then the Bible is a historical document that helps you make sense of the past. If you know that these are the ideas people were exposed to in certain eras, it helps you understand their culture, their beliefs, motivations etc. It also informs your understanding of the development of ideas and human societies.

  • John Yukers

    Wow! The comments here are as enlightening as the article. Seriously, thank you all.

  • The Tigard Christian Church mentioned above to be fair, does not mention “innerancy” in its doctrinal statement, but declares the Bible “the fully reliable and authoritative account of God’s activity in human history and of his perfect will for humankind. The Bible is our supreme guide for what we believe and how we live.” It sounds more like “infallibility” than innerancy. What is more disturbing, however, is further down the list where the doctrinal beliefs drone on about sexual matters, homosexuality, Biblical marriage, etc. It’s strange how sexually fixated Evangelicals have historically been! But you are right that too many Bible-believing churches cram the Bible into box it doesn’t fit easily into.
    The question for both Evangelicals and Progressives alike is, in what way is the Bible authoritative for us today, how do we determine what is merely ancient cultural norms and what is doctrinally binding. Evangelicals accuse Progressives as being subjective in their choice of theological beliefs from Scripture, but arbitrarily pick and choose from Scripture themselves.
    The easy button for Evangelicalism is to simply declare all Scripture without error, whether the texts support that or not. On the other extreme we have the Neo Orthodox/Progressive view that Scripture “contains” the Word of God, or “becomes” the word of God as we interact with it, or, as stated here, is not the Word of God, Christ is. Personally I find neither extreme very compelling. It is not a “magical” book that God miraculously kept free of the writers human fallibilities nor is it so humanly flawed that it’s almost a miracle when we can squeeze something useful out of it.
    One can either look at the Bible as “God breathed” and then figure out what that means in the light textual/literary criticism or simply reject inspiration and make the Bible out to be merely man’s bearing witness to their spiritual experiences and writing it down. I’m going to stick with it being God breathed, containing everything God intended for it to contain both good and bad. It is sufficient and a curious blend of human frailty and God’s revelation of Himself.

    • Obscurely

      Your view of the Bible sounds a lot like the Incarnation itself — “fully God and fully human” …

      • Not quite, as the writers were not “sinless”, nor am I saying Scripture is fully Divine in the sense Evangelicals tend to describe it. It’s inspiration lies in God’s intention for Himself to be revealed through the authors’ writings and that we recognize that fact and see it as authoritative. It is more the overall intention and purpose of Scripture that is inspired rather than word for word as though God was actually speaking. This is the mistake innerancy makes, I believe, making inspiration a word for word thing. We run into problems, as the above article shows. I think a good argument against innerancy is the apostle Paul himself in his rejection of Levitical/Mosaic law. How can someone going to such great lengths to establish his authority as an apostle turn around and turn the Old Testament Laws on their head if he believed in inerrancy? But of course, as this article shows, determining what is doctrinally sound and what is not is not always an easy task. That is because there is a great deal of humanity in Scripture, hence so many doctrinal differences. It’s interesting that even when sharing a common belief in inerrancy, Evangelicals still disagree amongst themselves.

        • Obscurely

          You are preaching to the choir, brother! … I agree that the divine inspiration of Scripture is clouded by our subjective humanity — as is our interpretation and understanding of it …

  • Dagnabbit_42

    I think you’re addressing a symptom as if it were a cause.

    These churches are placing the Bible epistemologically first. This is a bit like saying, “A guy I worked with asked me to help him move some furniture, and that was how I met my wife, who was his next-door neighbor.” Nobody is saying that the guy you worked with is higher in importance than the wife; but you came to know her through him. You can’t love someone that you do not first know, and that knowledge has to start somehow.

    Now, the Churches you criticize are not literally Bibliolators. They’re trying to establish a principle by which one may first come to know Jesus.

    And, I think, they’re also trying to establish a principle by which one can avoid errors about Jesus. For of course one risk is always “making God in our own image”; i.e. inventing an imaginary Jesus only distantly related to the actual Person, and worshiping THAT.

    So by establishing the Bible as their source for coming to know Who Jesus Is, they are trying to provide a data-set to which they can have recourse, if someone comes ’round selling a false Jesus as the real thing. By comparison to the data-set, they hope to sort out the counterfeits from the authentic Christ.

    And I think that’s a reasonable goal, even if the difficulties of interpreting the data-set in some of its ambiguities make it difficult to achieve. To the degree that the existing data-set prevents large numbers of Christians from thinking that, say, Jesus is pleased by the antics of Westboro Baptist Church, we can be thankful that these folks put the Bible epistemologically first.

    • Obscurely

      But can’t the Bible be the divinely inspired and rightly revered source of revelation and yet not also be deemed “inerrant”?

      • archibald2

        Which parts are in error? When men start picking at the “seeming contradictions”, we start crafting a bible customized to our liking. When we go, Look! It says thou shalt not kill, but God blesses the killing of the Canaanites. Which is correct? Man picks and chooses to suit his motives from the scripture. There are no contradictions, just a need for further study to learn more about the true nature of the God I love. We cannot fathom the thoughts of God, but we can get to know Him better and better and develop a better understanding, Just as we do with our spouses. We will never understand them completely, but we will develop a more intimate knowledge of how they think.
        The more time we spend listening to what they are saying, the better we get to know them. It is one thing to say we know our spouse and live a thousand miles away and never converse with them. But, it is another to walk daily and listen intently to what they have to say.
        I used to think like the author, but as I read more and more, I realized that I was building my own god who agreed with me whenever I wanted him to. I had built my own idol and it didn’t resemble the God that was revealed to me in scripture. I had made a sycophant, not God the father who disciplines and guides and loves and brings true peace.

        • Obscurely

          I agree there is always the danger of our using the Bible to build a ‘designer God’ who suits our lifestyle, temperament, education, social class, etc … but we also have to balance that danger against the risk of rejecting or impugning our (God-given!) reason as ‘our faith seeks understanding’ …

        • Robert Conner

          The Roman critics of the Jesus cult had this figured out centuries ago.

          https://www.scribd.com/doc/269575794/Christianity-s-Critics-The-Romans-Meet-Jesus-by-Robert-Conner

        • Cassie Devereaux

          Dagnabbit and Archibald, I don’t agree 100% with everything either of you are saying, but you’re showing a remarkable amount of restraint, goodwill, and mutual respect in how you’re engaging in this discussion. As long as we can discuss differences in this spirit of grace that you’re modelling, I think we can do the Kingdom work we need to be doing in our world. Bless you both.

      • One Truth

        If the bible is divinely inspired by God, and if it is Gods Word spoken to men, by the power of the Holy Spirit of God, and if it is given to us by God for teaching, reproof, correction and training up in righteousness ( 2 Timothy 3-16 ), and all of this has been given to us from God, because of His great love for us…..Why would anyone who might say that they love God, suggest that His Holy Word is errant?

        Why would you or anyone else claim…. “But can’t the Bible be the divinely inspired and rightly revered source of revelation and yet not also be deemed “inerrant”?”

        Why would you hope that just maybe, Gods Word might not be inerrant?

        Why would Christ go through a living hell of punishment on that Friday, ending that day by hanging on a cross for hours in agony, for the sins of the whole world, and then give us an errant bible to know Him by, in order that we might come to know Him as our personal savior for eternal salvation???

        2 Timothy 6:3-5……If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands Nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil, suspicions and constant friction between of depraved mind and deprived of the Truth…..

        ALL of those heretics who have started blogs here, in whom I have addressed in regard to their molestation of Gods Word, stand guilty of this offense toward God Almighty and will pay, unless they turn and repent. This is not a joke, This is Gods Holy Inerrant Word, given to the world whom He loves, for the purpose of leading sinners in a fallen world to salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord……

    • cynthiaz

      Excellent reply…

    • Robert Conner
  • Obscurely

    As a liberal pastor, I take exception to the idea in this post that the Bible is merely an “important book” … the post closes with the statement that Christians “are meant to believe in the God revealed through Jesus” — but that’s exactly what the Bible is for, and that’s why so many faith statements begin with the primacy (if not inerrancy) of the Bible … in that wonderful sense ALL Christians are ‘bible-believing’!

    • The term “bible-believing” is so irksome. Those who self describe that way cast aspersions about the faith of those who don’t share their rigid, narrow interpretation. You’re right. I’m a bible-believing Christian too. I believe the bible is a story of the relationship of God to humankind ending with reconciliation through Christ. There is much to learn from the bible about the nature of God, the nature of man, redemption, and discipleship.

      With that said, the authority of scripture is a dangerous concept that has been used to pretend that we can understand absolute Truth. We can’t. The bible isn’t that kind of revelation (and was never intended to be so). Are we saved by grace though faith, or will we be divided into the sheep and the goats based on our works? Is slavery morally problematic or is it permissible? And what does the bible have to say about the problem of evil?

      Working through such biblical contradictions – especially in the context of community – can help us draw closer to God. But the fact of these contradictions refutes any claim of scriptural authority. Instead of the primacy of scripture, I would argue for the primacy of discipleship with the bible being the most important tool in that journey.

      • Obscurely

        I would modify your view of the Bible as “important [but dispensable?] tool” to sovereign “guide,” but hey that’s just me and twenty centuries of Christian tradition LOL

      • Obscurely

        You have done truly YEOMAN work in expounding the original GENIUS of my point ;p

      • Obscurely

        It disburbs me that you’re taking such a sterile and forensic view of our relationship with the Good Book … not only are we PEOPLE (vs students) of the Word of God, we ARE that Word written in our own frail flesh, and spoken to our own ears …

        • I’m all about the mysticism, but I think you’re a little overboard even for me.

          • Obscurely

            It’s pretty standard incarnational theology, bro — with an Anglican inflection? … metaphors are useful here too — as Martin Luther said, Christians are to live as “a race of Christs,” while Dr. King said the church is to be a “colony of Heaven” on earth …

          • Incarnational theology refers to Logos not the bible…just sayin.

          • Obscurely

            My point was incarnational theology has everything to do with the Bible, if we understand that Holy Scripture is intended to form ‘a race of Christs’ on earth (as Martin Luther put it) …

          • sg

            Our church is steadfastly anti mystical in the sense that we believe no one now has unmediated access to the divine. So, those songs about feeling or touching God and so on are right out. God is not speaking to you, etc.

          • That’s interesting. Have you never had an encounter with God? I’m curious, what type of church do you go to – is it affiliated with a denomination?

          • sg

            No, I have never had any experience that I perceived as an encounter with God.

            To me an encounter with God is baptism. However, that is the work of God and a person may feel relieved that he is able to trust that God forgives his sin, but that is a sort of understanding that older people might have. Infants would not. Another encounter with God is promise of forgiveness of sins through communion. But that is a belief in the words Jesus said. There is no perception of God in the sense that I think you mean when you say encounter.

            I am a member in a congregation of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

      • Ford, I think what has happened here is that we have allowed Conservative Christianity to define “authority” and “inspiration” for us. It is the narrow, dogmatic, legalistic definition that Evangelicalism have used of these concepts that we are riled up about. In practice we all rely on Scripture as some sort of authority in our Christian walk and discipleship, and most I’ve run into on this sight also recognize God’s touch in some fashion or another on the author’s lives, that’s inspiration. We rely on the Bible’s witness to guide us, overseen by the witness of the Holy Spirit at work in us as to how to live our lives. That’s it’s authority. God could have given us a book dropped from the sky that was perfect in every way, but he chose to use fallible human vessels, because that’s the way He operates.

  • CS

    You guys haven’t realized you’re Catholics yet?

    • sg

      SBC – Slowly Becoming (Roman) Catholic

      I mean, it is so true.

      Right now each believes he can speak ex cathedra wrt God’s true intentions.

  • Kevlaur

    I stopped reading when I read “did Moses take” this or that number of animals on the ark; a supposed contradiction. Even someone casually serious about the Bible would know the answer to this. Perhaps the issue is with Christians who don’t read and study the Bible.
    Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

    • sg

      I thought the story was Noah’s ark.

      • Kevlaur

        Right you are; same conclusion. Noah took some animals for sacrificing. If he doesn’t know this then I wonder what he has elevated above Biblical study.

      • Kevlaur

        Yes, my mistake. Noah took certain animals for the purpose of sacrificing. I’m surprised he didn’t mentioned the dove or raven. If he doesn’t know this, I wonder what the author has elevated above Bible study.

  • cken

    The Bible has become the “idol” of Christianity. Every Christian has one but 90% never read it. Which makes it very difficult to believe in God revealed in Jesus. In large part this is the fault of church leaders and pastors for never explaining in common language how the lessons and stories in the Bible are relevant to modern everyday life.

  • God gave us the Bible for a reason–people like you hate it because it holds doctrines that step on the your toes of your worldview.
    Attacking Scripture in a passive-aggressive tone helps you convince yourself you can reject in it what you feel. I hear the serpent rustling in those leaves when I see what you posted.

  • John Laws

    The writer obviously doesn’t understand Biblical hermenutics. But even worse he rejects God’s Word, and what it clearly teaches, and thus rejects God Himself. I suggest instead of writing articles like this one, that he takes some courses, or at least read some good books, on the Bible and how to properly interpret it. The Bible is the only source of absolute truth. No, you shouldn’t elevate it over God Himself. Yes, you should attend ONLY “bible believing churches.” There are far too many churches, that like this writer reject Biblical truth. In so doing they are “christian” in name only and heretical. Those who do so “profess to be wise, but are fools.” I pray that this writer, and all those like him, will come to see the light soon. One day they will stand in front of the God whose Word they reject. They won’t be making heretical claims on that day. Don’t fall for their dangerous, and worldly view of Biblical truth. More importantly, get right with God through Jesus, before it is too late. There is one way to heaven, and eternal life, and that is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone. You must be born again. Now is the day of salvation. Tommorrow might be too late.

    • “More importantly, get right with God through Jesus, before it is too late. There is one way to heaven, and eternal life, and that is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone.”
      That’s his point, we are not saved by belief in the Bible, but faith in Christ. I admit, though, even though I am not an inerrantist, his views on Scripture are a bit disturbing. His main gripe is not so much Scripture’s authority though, but the Evangelical insistence on “innerancy”, a characteristic of certain systematic theology rather than Biblical theology.

    • It’s telling to me that you describe scripture as “God’s [big W] Word”. When capitalized, God’s Word refers to Logos, God incarnate, Jesus Christ. Scripture is sometimes referred to as God’s (small w) word.

      • Ford, I’ve re-read the post through again and it makes more sense now. I am so conditioned by the time honored use of “God’s Word” to describe Scripture, that it made it difficult for me to fairly assess what the author was saying. I am much more in agreement now. Like how Scripture doesn’t claim to be Innerant, neither does it directly claim to be the very Word of God. That is an assumption derived from the presuppositions involved with Fundamentalism. The unfortunate result of that presupposition is that every word in the original documents was “said” by God. This presents real problems. The New Oxford Annotated Bible NRSV just arrived! I am looking forward to a broader, scholarly study Bible with a Progressive bent.

        • Ps, to myself. There are numerous passages claiming God’s involvement with the Biblical text, so my statement above needs some qualification. The problem with the evangelical view is not that Scripture is the “Word of God”, but that plenary inspiration is used to support a literal reading and application of the texts. As I have shown in a number of my later posts, this hermeneutical technique can lead to dire consequences. For the record, I hold to infallibility of Scripture, but not plenary inspiration or an absolute literalist application of Scripture.

  • David Cohen

    The synoptic Gospels describe Jesus having a last supper with his
    disciples. That last supper was a Passover Sedar, the ritual meal which
    begins the week of Passover. Therefore, Jesus must have died after
    Passover began.

    John, by contrast, has no last supper/Sedar
    scene. There is a very good reason for that: John records Jesus as
    dying before Passover began. John states clearly that the Jews who had
    Jesus arrested did not want to be ritually defiled before the upcoming
    Sedar (John 18:28), making the last supper scene from the synoptic
    Gospels impossible.

    No matter what kind of mental gymnastics one
    engages in, there is no escaping the fact that this is a contradiction
    between the Gospels which cannot be logically resolved. It can,
    however, be explained. The day before Passover was the day when the
    pascal lambs were slaughtered, and it is only in John’s Gospel that
    Jesus is referred to as “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the
    world.” John moved the date of Jesus’ death in order to make a
    theological point.

    As Christians we need to be aware of these contradictions and their significance. The enemies of faith are certainly aware of them, and we do our faith no service by brushing them off (“No, there’s no contradiction…no contradiction I tell you…la, la, la, la, I can’t hear you) or by engaging in ridiculous justifications (“Which Gospel accurately records Jesus’ last words? All of them. Yeah, he was kind of chatty for a man dying of suffocation, so what?)

  • David Tiffany

    “We have elevated the Bible above God. It’s time we stop that form of idolatry. Bibliolatry has no place in Christianity. But, unfortunately, the Bible has become another god, above the Trinity, above Jesus, above the Holy Spirit.”
    Casting doubt on the Word of God, the Bible. That’s not new, you understand. And to ridicule those who understand its importance. That’s not new either.
    So you want to worship God? You want to recognize Jesus as the Messiah? What evidence would you have of the creation without the Bible? What evidence of God’s dealings with man would you have without the Bible? How would you know that Jesus is the Messiah without the Bible?
    This “Bibliolatry” stuff is stupid. I read the Bible and learn from God. I learn about God. I’m comforted by His words. To put importance on the Scriptures is not elevating the Word of God above God (that’s a ridiculous argument). Read John chapter 1 and discover that the Word of God is God.
    I suppose the only success you will have is keeping people from the truths of God’s Word. Perhaps you will cause them to forfeit the grace that could be theirs by withholding the Gospel from them.
    But you will give an account to God.

  • So this is what passes for informed discussion these days. How sad.

  • BJ

    To pretend like those who call themselves Bible-believing Christians somehow have demoted God or Jesus to second-class status is disingenuous to an absurdity. They are upholding the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. You are arguing against it. To so categorically mis-characterize such a large group of people is simply dishonest, and to do so based on the order of their beliefs on a website is quite telling. By all means argue against the infallibility of scripture and the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, but for God’s sake represent them accurately.

    • They are upholding an extremist version of the doctrine of sola scriptura that would have been utterly unrecognizanle to the reformers (which is not unlike what many believers in the reformed branch have also done to the doctrine of total depravity).

      • Or double predestination. Wow, there’s a ethical mess for you! Although BJ’s point is well taken. I think this blog post was not one of the strongest arguments I’ve seen, nor does it reflect particularly well on Progressivism.

  • Trey Caldwell

    In my view, the real problem with inerrancy is the seductive tendency to believe that if the scriptures are perfect so is one’s understanding of them.

  • cdplaya

    To believe in the authenticity and inerrancy of scripture does not equate to “believing” in the bible so as to “elevate” it above God. For it is the bible that tells us who God is, his character, and how he relates to us and how we are to respond to Him. The inconsequential “discrepancies” he pointed out (how many animals Noah took, when Jesus overturned the table) in no way impact the foundations of our faith. The author is correct to make the point that the scripture is not to be worshipped or esteemed above God, but that point is better made by exalting God, not by attempting to diminish the Bible. Is 2 Tim 3:16 true or not?

  • Sabot1965

    The Bible is not just “an important book,” it’s the revealed Word of God. My number one church to run from would be one that claims to be “progressive.”

  • CHASBAKER

    Interesting that we play all kinds of games and use the rule-book as the ultimate arbiter of any disagreement. We go to court and accept the laws of state, country or international agreement as the final authority. We even stop at red lights and proceed on green because there is a rule written that says we must.
    Then when God provides a rule-book, we reject it’s authority, disrespect it’s wisdom and proclaim ourselves to have a better grip on righteousness than the book written by men inspired by God himself.
    I would not want to live in a society without any firm rules for behavior. Neither would I want to go to a church that rejected God’s teachings in favor of their own ideas. Sounds like a sure recipe for chaos. Isn’t that where the do-it-yourself theologians are headed?

    • Thank you Chasbaker, you have highlighted the main theological error of Fundamentalist Evangelical thought…the Bible is a “rule book”. The Torah contains a rule book: Levitical and Mosaic law. Paul goes to great lengths in Galations to convince us Gentile believers that attempting to live by the rule book leads to failure and death. In Romans he repeats his negative assessment by saying the Law fails to bring righteousness. He contrasts Leviticus 18:15 with Habakkuk 2:4, the righteous will live by faith. Evangelicals are a lot like the Children of Israel wandering in the desert, longing to return to Egypt. They want laws, absolute truth, a neatly packaged list of rules so the can tell when they’ve stepped outside the boundaries, or more importantly, when someone else has screwed up! Evangelicals need to get off the fence here. Read Paul, throw off the shackles of the Law and enter the Promise land, brother!

      • CHASBAKER

        The Old Testament, which I accept as divinely inspired writing, does indeed contain the law. The New Testament proclaims loudly and clearly that God through Jesus Christ His Son empowers believers to live righteously by the Spirit of God who lives within the Christian and guides him/her through life. The “rule book” has not been erased. A “Christian” who denies that God’s rules exist negates the reason for Christ coming to Earth and making the ultimate sacrifice.

        • Chas, I would like some clarification here. First of all, no one is denying there is a rule book. What exactly do you see are your responsibility as a Christian to that “rule book”? What are the rules you are referring to? And, how does Christ’s sacrifice relate to the rule book? These are important questions and bear directly on the source of our salvation.

  • Adam Ericksen is free to have his opinion about the Bible, but he is not free to have his opinion about the Bible be the historically orthodox position because it most certainly is not. From all ages, Christians have held that God has revealed himself to us in three ways: through creation, through his word, and through Christ. And it is only through his word, i.e. the Bible, that we learn about the revelation of his person in Christ. His word is of course infinitely greater then any book, or 66 books, can contain, but it it only through this book that we learn of God’s purposes in redemptive history.

    So however one wants to look at the Bible, the historic orthodox position is that it is analogous to the nature of Christ: fully divine and fully human. And however one defines inerrant, God has perfectly communicated his will, his purposes, his story of redeeming his people, and eventually the entire universe, through the book we call the Bible.

    Adam’s view is a typically liberal view of scripture: the Bible is a human document, period. And liberals will always read any apparent contradictions to confirm this a priori commitment to fallibility. Again, they like Adam are free to do that, but they are not free to re-write the history of orthodox Christianity’s view of the Bible.

    • Mike I am not in agreement with Adam’s assessment of Scripture either, even though I fit into the category of “Post-Evangelical”. You need to read Dr. Jack Rogers and Dr. Donald McKim’s “The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible” to get a better understanding of the history of the Church’s understanding of Inspiration. The early Church Fathers recognized the human element of Scripture; the contradictions, misspellings, poor grammar, conflicting amounts, etc, and concluded God was stooping to our level to communicate, using “baby-talk” as Origen described it. ! These early church theologians saw a parallel between the incarnation and God communicating to man through weak, human authors. This early Church view is known as accommodation. Although they held the Bible to be authoritative, and the Word of God, they did not generally hold an Innerant view of Scripture. That would come later in the seventh century when Scholasticism came in vogue.
      Often, what you see here with Progressive Christians is not a rejection of the authority of Scripture, but a rejection of Evangelical definition of Authority, Absolute Truth and Inspiration. Evangelicals have gone down a path in their theology that is so legalistic I suspect Paul would label them “Judaizers”. Most Progressive Christians here have a strong belief in “saved by Grace” or by “faith.” The Bible saves no one, belief in the Absolute Truth of it saves no one. It can show us the way to Christ, but salvation still comes the old fashioned way, by an encounter with the man from Galilee.

      • Thank you for your thoughts, Kirk. Although I think we would disagree in our understanding of the place of scripture in the life of the Christian, I’m not sure we’re all that far apart. You seem to see the Evangelical absolutist tendencies as the greater of the threat as compared to what I see as the threat of the progressive/liberal tendency to humanize the Bible. For the last 150 years, liberal Christianity has shown that its liberal approach to scripture inevitably leads to rejection of fundamental doctrines of orthodox Christian faith.

        As I implied in my comment, innerancy can be defined in many ways, so it is not always a helpful construct. Jesus said in Luke 24 that the whole of the OT is about him, and the whole of the NT is as well. And the ONLY way we learn of this saving Christ is through the Bible. if we cannot believe that it infallibly communicates him, then our hope is in vain. Thus I am most definitely not a liberal.

        Thanks again.

        • Thanks Mike for the gracious reply. I do agree that the fundamental bedrock area of disagreement between Progressives and Evangelicals is the authority of Scripture, or more specifically, the nature of that authority. There are dangers on either extreme ends, of humanizing the Bible or deifying the Bible. On the one end, the Bible can become merely a human series of books that relay human thoughts about the authors understanding of God. It has about as much authority as reading a book by James Dobson or Tim LaHaye. On the other extreme, when Evangelicals start using scholastic terms like “Absolute Authority” the Bible becomes a “rule-book” to abide by, something Paul warns against. The Church then is simply replacing Levitical law with a new set of rules. Nowhere is this more evident than the Church’s response to the divorced fifty years ago, when you were a second class citizen and afforded few opportunities within the body. When rules get in the way of unconditionally loving others or withholding the Kingdom from them, or closing the doors of the Church to certain groups because they are “sinners” (as though we are sinners in a different way) then we have a problem. The trouble with unconditional love is that it gets messy. I try to walk a line that recognizes the authority of Scripture without being legalistic and that when we come to Christ we are all on an equal playing field.

          • Thank you! I just finished reading ‘Fundamentalism and American Culture” by George Marsden, and what you are talking about is more about fundamentalism than an orthodox view of scripture. In other words, I probably have a similar view of the Bible to many fundamentalists, but my experience of my Christian faith is completely different. So it’s not really a matter of authority, but a matter of hermeneutics and theological rigor. If you read Marsden’s book, and I highly suggest it, you will see that most of the predecessors to the evangelicalism in our day were anti-intellectual, anti-theological, negation oriented Christians (legalistic like you say). I was “born-again” into such a version of Christianity a zillion years ago, and “escaped” through Francis Schaeffer and eventually Reformed theology. My epistemology was turned completely upside down.

            There are lots of fundamentalists in modern evangelicalism, but they are not as distinct as they once were from one another, so we all get lopped together into one not very nuanced blob of believers. We’re all sinners saved by grace anyway way you look at it. But most who see themselves as liberal Christians generally have no historical context as to why the authority of scripture is such an important issue to we conservatives. Marsden covers this well, but German higher criticism in the 19th Century was a huge threat to the faith, and orthodox believers who had a high view of scripture simply had to respond to it. My alma mater, Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, was at the center of that response. Every predication they made about “liberal Christianity” came true, and one only has to look at the mainline denominations to see that.

            Well, this was a lot longer than I intended, but a little historical context might help the modern version of this ongoing conflict be a little less vitriolic. Thanks again.

          • Thanks Mike. I am finishing up another history of Evangelicalism by Matthew Avery Sutton called “American Apocalypse”. He references Marsden as well as Ernest Sandeen. Those two differed as to the underlying principal or doctrine of Fundamentalism. For Sandeen it was millenarianism, for Marsden it was as you say, a reaction to Liberal thought. I agree more with Sandeen as it was the feeling that Christ was returning soon that was the driving force for Fundamentalism’s interaction with society. Fundamentalism gained a lot of traction following WWII peaking with Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority. The Union of Fundamentalism, Catholicism and Evangelicalism during the “culture wars” of the 70’s and 80’s was a somewhat tenuous joining as Falwell was not generally liked because of his rather bigoted and legalistic views. I agree with Sutton though that Evangelicals and Fundamentalists have more in common than in disagreement. However, I find Evangelicals as a whole, much more pleasant to be around than Fundamentalists. I attend an Evangelical church now but have also attended Presbyterian churches as well, although I wouldn’t characterize myself as “Reformed”. My background is Pentecostal with a decided Progressive bent as a result of contact with it during my education at Fuller Seminary in the 80’s.
            Thanks, and God bless!

  • Nonbeliever

    I would like nothing better than to believe there is some loving God waiting to give me paradise after I die. I expect all sentient beings hate the idea that they will someday just cease to exist in every way. Of course wishing it does not make it true. This feeling is inherent in humans that have reached a level of maturity where they have realized their mortality. Like Gilgamesh, they desire and quest for immortality. Various religions have sprung up and evolved over thousands of years that promise something beyond our mortal existence. As an outsider looking in at Christianity, I have seen many discussions about errancy and inerrancy of the bible, and it seems that it is a hard case to try and say that it is inerrant. However, it is also clear to me that the second a person starts believing that the bible is errant such that you move from the idea that it is the inspired word of God that is perfect, then one loses any basis in Christian belief. I see it as simple logic, you either believe God would have given you his valid instructions or you have nothing to base your beliefs and faith on. You might say that I am throwing out the baby with the bath water and that the bible was intended to be interpreted and evolve to fit within each culture. There is some scripture that might support that position, but again, the second you say it is not truly Gods instructions and inspired word, then Christianity becomes just another meaningless philosophy. It becomes something that everyone can just customize to fit their desired interpretation and life style. Humans can rationalize even murder to be a good thing at times, so without that concept of the bible truly being Gods commands and wishes, there is no Christianity.

    • Julie

      This feeling is inherent in humans…

      Exactly. And nature tends not to produce beings who long for things nature itself does not supply. We become hungry because there is food. We grow thirsty because there is water. We have sex drives because there is sex. Inherent longings have ontological implications.

      I see it as simple logic, you either believe God would have given you his valid instructions…

      Something can be valid and still be flawed. I have learned much truth through my flawed parents.

      …or you have nothing to base your beliefs and faith on…

      There is no need for faith if you’re certain.

  • laverl09

    The Book of Mormon is another book of scripture that testifies of Jesus via his visit to America right after his resurrection. It confirms many of the teachings he gave to people in the land of Jerusalem during his 3 year ministry there. It also magnifies many of the teachings of Paul.
    Mormons are criticized for “adding” to the book as it says in Revelations 22:18. However IF this verse is referring to the entire Bible and not just to the Book of Revelations, then we need to also read verse 19 which says we are not to TAKE AWAY anything from the Book. However, there are some key verses of Paul that are “taken away” or ignored by all Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Churches that I am aware of.
    The verses of Ephesians 2:19-20 and 4:11-14 say that the Church is to be “built on a foundation of Apostles and Prophets with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone UNTIL we all come in the unity of faith to be no more tossed to and fro and carried by every wind of doctrine.”
    Also I know of none of the original Christian or Protestant churches today that observe “baptism for the dead” as taught in I Corinthians 15:29.

    Mormons believe in using ALL of the Bible–not just SOME of it.

  • John

    Without the bible as the basis of God’s revelation to us then we know nothing about anything concerning God. That is why it’s first. We use the bible to prove the other doctrinal statements. If you believe the new testament, Jesus confirmed the validity of the old right down to each jot and tittle.

    • Julie

      Without the bible as the basis of God’s revelation to us then we know nothing about anything concerning God.

      The Bible says otherwise (Romans 1:19-20).

  • Pratt

    Actually that Bible we are discussing says that the church is the source for truth, not the Bible: I Tim 3:15 “but if I am delayed, I write
    so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of
    God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the
    truth.” (NKJV)

    And for some The Bible may give them pause as they choose to ignore the fact that The New Testament was written by Catholics for Catholics and thus is simple Catholic Church doctrine. Remember, there was no church but the Catholic Church for 1000 years after the New Testament was written. And no protestant church for 1400 years.

  • killer

    the bible should reflect god’s word…but many people and religions interpret and word it to suit their benefit, that’s why your so called biblian theory would make sense.but here is the facts..the real bible is written in hebrew and was translated into greek..now research tells me that not all parts were fully translated (i’m not sure) but the books that were translated were done by the greeks to advance their knowledge…the first english version was not the king james version published in 1611 ( i have been trying to research what that is)..only what i have found exists before it is the apocrypha which eliminates some books which are not include in the kjv..but what i have stumbled upon is that vatican holds the copy of the translated greek bible..and since it had changed the day of the hebrew sabbath to sunday had also established a new form of the bibie..also research stated that there were copies of the greek version in english but was denied by its doctrine not to subscribe to it..in doing so killed people for it during the dark ages.a man who was highly referenced to that time was martin luther who was a monk under the catholic faith resisted this decision because he felt would do injustice..ever since protestant churches begin each held a different version of the bible to suit their doctrines..hence the many english versions..also the versions in other languages would fall similar to the protestant versions..what is misleading is that the bible being watered down from the original version and that is what makes it hard to believe..but despite this the bible despite some misinterpretation does hold some strong validations for living and events….to many not to believe it would make sense but would do the injustice since it has been misinterpreted and through elimination of versions by doctrine and the crimes used to its bidding..however my advice is to read the bible with an open mind as the article suggest but not on disregarding it..because in the article itself states that bible should not be above god however it is one of the main publishings which talk about him.. with versions like the gay bible and yesus its no wonder many people don’t believe in it..also take this into consideration that many scholars who were non-believers had studied it like newton and einstein.. so those who don’t believe it is up to you..however it should be studied..to be fair should use a kjv version (in my opinion)..also my disagreement in this article is the misinterpretation of the animals..like the bible stated god said two of every animal both male and femaie and later in that same chapter said of every clean beasts thou shalt take by sevens the male and his female and beasts that are not clean by two the male and his female..so interpreted it not by two but by 4 and 14 which will reiterate two of every animal…however i suggest people should read it and for them to believe is up to them..

  • wally

    ignoramus alert

  • NTC102009

    I understand the essence of the author’s message that he believes people are worshiping the bible above the worship of God. I don’t see that as an existing problem simply because of declarations made in the scriptures of the bible. King David in Psalms 138:2 “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” This is an example that was set for the modern church to follow. What we consider God’s word is recorded and is the bible and so it’s writing should be held in the highest esteem. We also have to remember what the apostle Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy regarding the authority of the God’s word as written and is now the bible in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 16.)”All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17.) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” These are basic doctrinal teachings and no Christian can logically get away from the guidance of the bible simply because they have no other written guidance to follow. I contend that the worship of God and the respect for and adherence to the inspired word we call the bible go hand in hand. Jesus even quoted “the word” to satan when he was tempted by saying in Luke 4:4 “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Where else will Christians gather their knowledge of God, Jesus and God’s word than in the bible?

    • Thanks NTC, you are right about where else will Christians turn to get their information about God. God chose to use humans to present the salvation story and for better or worse, that’s what we’ve got to work with. The Bible may have some flaws but it’s the best we’ve got. Whether one holds to innerancy or not, the Bible is a powerful force in the life of the believer. I love 2 Tim 3:16-17 as it denotes the purpose of Scripture. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere in this thread the constant danger Christians have faced through the centuries is replacing faith and grace with legalism. It was what Paul faced in the first century and is still the most alluring error that Conservative Christians are drawn to. It is far more tempting and easy to slide into than “conforming to this world” as it disguises itself as righteousness.

  • One Truth

    “We have elevated the Bible above God. It’s time we stop that form of idolatry. Bibliolatry has no place in Christianity.”

    No, You have it backwards. Without obeying Gods commands and repenting of your sins and being Born Again by the Holy Spirit, you have no relationship with a HOLY GOD, therefore there is no Salvation. So, to live YOUR way, becomes Idolatry, in the sense that you live your life without obedience to God, so you live for yourself and to yourself. Self worship……Matthew 10:38-39 & Luke 6:46-49, Read it.

    You are not God, and your word will certainly not trump Gods word. This teaching leads people AWAY from God.

    The only religious folks who would ever make such a comment in disregarding Gods Word, do so out of a disobedient attitude toward Gods instructions and commands for their life. At this point the individuals can pretty much make up their own rules and live as they please, all the while despising Gods very words and commands.

    Where did the Word come from? What / Who is the Word? John 1:1-18

    Why we have the Gospel…..John 20:30-31

    Just one example is the flurry of posts on these blogs where many believe that God will accept the homosexual the way that they are, and so there is no reason to repent and allow God to heal them from that sin. And it IS sin…. Leviticus 18:22 / Matthew 5:17-20 / John 15:5-10.

    And please, do not reply back and tell me that I am intolerant. These are Gods words, not mine. But we know that God loves all ( hence why Christ went to the cross for our sins ), but sin is sin and we all need to accept this fact and come to Christ for healing, otherwise we call God a liar and do not love Him.

    1 John chapters 1&2…..For those who really think that they love God, Please Read Carefully.

    If we say that one sin is acceptable and some can continue to live in that sin, well…..I guess living in ANY sin against a Holy God is wide open. I mean, if man deems one acceptable, then where does it stop?

    But guess what, without reading Gods Holy Word, we would not know the difference…….

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      The all-caps plus Bible-verse zip codes approach does not make a good impression.

      • One Truth

        Neither does idiotic / atheistic chatter brought forth to lead people astray from Gods True Word.

  • Arnold F Williams

    I’m afraid that unless they reverence the Bible, they’re not reacting to it as God does. Note in Nehemiah 9:5 “Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the Lord your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” Blessing here. Praise higher. His Name exalted above. Phil. 2:9-10 “9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;” OK, you say, God’s name is above everything, worthy of being bowed to, exalted. See Psalms 138:2 “2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” What is above that name? “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63. God exalts the Bible. It’s a starting point because it is the authority to which we appeal: it criticizes us, we don’t criticize it. And the Holy Ghost interprets it to us, and we note that ” He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” John 12:48. It is not dead, but alive, and will judge. I note with amusement the attempts to dismiss the authorized version in your article and the comments. Suffice it to say that it took years to come to an understanding of why it is the best translation, and I could have saved the time had I paid attention earlier. Ah, well.

  • Robert Conner

    Actually, Christianity’s Roman critics explained what’s wrong with Christianity about 18 centuries ago. Here’s a quick synopsis to help you catch up:

    https://www.scribd.com/doc/269575794/Christianity-s-Critics-The-Romans-Meet-Jesus-by-Robert-Conner

  • Gina Murray

    This is another expression of the agenda to elevate personal opinions, feelings, and experiences above the authority of God as expressed through scripture (inspired by God). There are no substantive contradictions in the Bible, when the referenced scriptures are taken into context with the whole of biblical teaching.

    • Thank you for settling this so difinitively. It’s clear then that slavery is morally permissible and we are saved by attending to the poor. The bible says so clearly. Any interpretations to the contrary are simply a reflection of personal opinions, feelings and experiences.

  • Harry Callahan

    Genesis: There is so much debate about how Genesis aligns with known science. Did God truly create it all in 6 days?…or are the “days” symbolic of epochs?

    Those questions and many others will always be debated, but the real fact contained in Genesis is not the how, it is the WHO! Establishing God as the creator of all things is the central fact of the creation story, not the timeframe, not the sequence. If a Bible-Centered church can suss out this central element of Genesis, I will attend. If not, I will continue seeking a Church that understands the nature of the Bible, its place in Christian life, and that humanity is redeemed by Grace, not good works.

  • Richard Schuette

    This is nothing new. Vatican 2, way back in the early 1960s, warned of the rise of a cult-like Bible worship among some Protestant denominations. Archbishop Fulton Sheen referred to it already on his weekly TV program in the late 1950s as ‘Bibliolotry.’ Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, not a book. The words in the Bible may be treated as Holy Scripture to guide us. But it is a mistake to replace our worship of God with worship of man’s fallible translations and interpretations.

  • rhysllwyd

    Many Churches start off their list of beliefs with the Bible not because they idolise the Bible but rather because it’s from the Bible they form all their other beliefs. This includes the most important one as you note, that God has revealed himself to us today in Jesus. How do we know this? Beacause we read it and believe it from the Bible. The lists of important beliefs arent in order of importance per se, more in order of theological logic.

    • Paul Kersey

      “How do we know this” is based on reading and belief, yes, but foundationally we know God is revealed in Jesus based on historical records and an empty grave.

      • rhysllwyd

        But the most reliable historical record from that period are the Gospels from … the Bible. We mainly base our creed on what is today revealed to us in the Bible, but saying that doesn’t mean we idolise the Bible. The Bible is a means to an end. As Barth famously recited on his death bed “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

    • Yes and no. See my reply to Amy above. It is a common fallacy among Evangelicals that Liberal Christians (Progressives) are not Bible-believing. We read the Bible and do form our beliefs on Jesus’ life and the teachings of the apostles. We believe in the Bible, just not innerancy. Big difference. Progressives believe the inheritance of the Fundamentalist teaching on innerancy is, to borrow an Evangelical phrase, false doctrine. It is not an honest doctrine. It misrepresents the human Divine interaction of Scripture, leads to finger pointing, judging, excluding, legalism and self righteous smugness. I could probably think of a few more bad things, but you probably get the message.

    • honesttoGod

      I don’t think that our beliefs– whether we are Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, evangelical, fundamentalist, or any other variant– are simply because we read it and believe it from the Bible. Were it not for the on-going, flawed, sometimes wrong-headed, rooted in its culture and time but living in relationship with God through Christ project of the Church (all of them), then the Bible would have little meaning for us.Separated from the living community of Christ followers, the Bible would be an interesting ancient book, some of which has beautiful literature, flashes of nobility and goodness, long dry patches, and so on. It’s authority and meaning can only be accessed through the living community. And no matter how much we try to convince ourselves that we “believe the Bible” and follow the “plain/clear/explicit language of the Bible” we do not. We come to the Bible with all sorts of assumptions, beliefs, emotions, etc. about it, and we interpret it in light of those. And, of course, we interpret and judge the interpretive superstructure that we bring to the Bible with the Bible. However, we can only do the latter if we are conscious of the truth that we do, in fact, always interpret the Bible, and that access to Bible bare– unclothed in all of our beliefs and assumptions– is not possible. Trying to make the Bible the Authority by ignoring or denying that its message is always mediated by human beings is in bad faith, and tends to elevate our understanding of the Scriptures INTO the Scriptures, and worse, into the very Word of God. And that is idolatry.

  • scott montgomery

    I read with real concern your article above. Orthodox Christianity recognizes that the Bible is the ” final court of arbitration with regard to belief in faith and practice.” The practice of biblical hermeneutics allows for the interpretation for passages that should be taken literally, figuratively, and prophetically. Your statement of Bible believing churches is exactly how it should be. You either don’t understand the idea of Scriptural interpretation or deny some of the basic core theological beliefs of the historic Christian faith.

  • Amy Werkheiser

    This may be because many Systematic Theology books begin with the doctrine of Scripture first. The reason why this usually happens is because it is considered a good idea to prove the validity of scripture first because it is scripture that will inform and provide the reasoning behind the other topics discussed in theology. Where do we learn about God? The Bible. So the doctrine of scripture is discussed first to demonstrate the validity of the Bible to answer the questions we have on other topics–such as God. I’m assuming that many churches are following a systematic theology textbook to help them write out their beliefs in a simple and concise way.

    • Amy I confess, I have a fascination with Systematic Theologies. Even though I am a “Post Evangelical” I am slowly wading through Wayne Grudem’s 1300 page Systematic Theology, which is strongly Reformed Calvinistic. True to form and your point above he starts with “the doctrine of the Word of God” = Innerancy. It is important to know what our presuppositions are when going into any discussion of the inspiration of Scripture as that will “flavor” any subsequent doctrines developed. The simple fact of the matter when it comes to Christian doctrine is that, it’s not so simple! As Protestants we echo Martin Luther’s “solo Scriptura” but in actual practice rely on various forms of historical church doctrine placed on equal par with Scripture, much as Catholicism does. In the case of innerancy, a particular, highly developed interpretation of inspiration, takes precedence over Scripture itself, not only becoming a measure of who is “orthodox” in their beliefs but becomes the doctrine by which Scripture is judged (proved valid). It creates a false “house of cards” where any error found “disproves” the Bible. When errors are pointed out all sorts of dishonest objections are raised to uphold this inerrant quality. It takes too much effort to intellectually defend innerancy in my opinion.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    “Bible believing churches” tend to think that “the Bible is the very Word of God – supernaturally inspired in every word and absolutely free from error in the original documents. God’s word is the final authority in all that it says. Therefore, it must be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.”


    1) “Original Documents” as in KJV1611?
    2) How does this differ from Islamic claims about the inspiration of the Koran?

  • Thanks Adam for this insightful commentary. When I first came across it some days ago I was uneasy about your views. Having read it through a few times plus reading some othe articles (http://davidmschell.com/myth-of-biblical-christianity/ )and I now understand the Evangelical church’s use of “Bible believing” as a means to discredit other Christians and to separate itself from Progressive churches. I am reading Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology now and it follows the same format as you’ve described. The Fountain Hills Evangelical attempt to discredit the lone Progressive church in town was a sad example of how far Christians will go to misrepresent others to bolster their own dogma.

  • duke winnamucca

    Scripture should be at the top of the list. Jesus always quoted scripture. He’d start with, it is written… in Genesis, and then, John , Jesus is called the Word. I would not trust a church that didn’t put scripture first and then I would double check that churches hermeneutics. The real problem is, most people are too lazy to read the Bible. It’s ludicrous to call the Bible idolatry when God tells us he is the Word.

  • Daniel Moore

    With all due respect and love,you are so misdirected and border on heresy.I do not want to seem to be attacking you,but you obviously have a very infantile knowledge of Christ.I dont care how many degrees you may have or how many books you have read.Just by the first two questions I saw how deluded your belief system is.First of all Noah put 2 of every unclean animal and seven of every clean animal on the ark.God wants mercy OVER sacrifice.The sacrifice was sacred and a foreshadow of Christ’ sacrifice.But to sacrifice to God and be unmerciful toward your brother made the sacrifice meaningless.If anyone out there is considering buying into this watered down Christianity,dont do it,it’s utter non sense.The Bible calls the BLOOD of Jesus precious.And Im not giving a verse because you guys obviously need to read your bible.The main thing I come away with from this web site is that I dont think any of you actually read the Bible.The Blood of Christ,the shedding of that blood is what saves us.If you have come across this web site just keep moving these people dont have a clue about our Lord.God Bless you all