Talking Back to the Bible

Talking Back to the Bible August 24, 2015

For the inerrantist, it is all supposedly about getting “back to the Bible,” and there have been numerous fundamentalist pamphlets, books, and sermons with that title.

Once we escape the grip of inerrantism, we can instead talk back to the Bible.

As I wrote in response to a Facebook comment on a recent post, instead of feeling that we are merely passive listeners to a communication from God, with our only responsiblity being to understand God correctly, we become active participants in a conversation, and can give Biblical authors push-back, once we recognize that, for all their historical importance in connecting us with the past, their views are no more infallible than our own.

Inerrrancy is not a victimless crime


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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    One of the great ironies here (other than the fact that inerrancy is an assumption that comes from -outside the Bible-) is that, like Clark says, it keeps people from actually understanding the Bible which, from an inerrantist view, is your one job.

    Genesis 1 is a great example. Inerrancy demands that we exhaust our exegetical energies in using Genesis 1 to refute a view of origins that came literally millennia after its authorship, and in all this din, no one bothers to actually inquire as to what meaning Genesis 1 could possibly have apart from that issue.

    How many sermons on Genesis 1 have centered around evolution? How many Easter sermons have been about the likelihood of the Resurrection? How many sermons about Noah have been about whether the Flood was local or global?

    The implicit agenda of inerrancy swallows up anything and everything God may have intended to say.

  • Bill Barber

    Either it is the inerrant word of god or it is not. if it is not, then what is the point?

    • Phil Ledgerwood

      Well, it’s definitely not inerrant. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true or from God. If your standard of usefulness is that every statement in a writing has to be accurate in every way possible, then every written work is useless.

      • louismoreaugottschalk

        that’s exactly right you have his number IMO!

    • I might as well ask what the point is of reading your comment in my blog, since your comment is not the inerrant word of God – and if it is not, then what is the point?

    • louismoreaugottschalk

      I guess the point you’re trying to make bill Barber
      is that you are stuck with your black and white thinking and your victimhood.
      cherish those resentments as long as you wish!

  • Ian Palmer

    We must be careful we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. A new-age friend told me she loves the stories of Jesus, but that she chooses whats right and whats wrong about what Jesus said. Isn’t she putting herself above Jesus? Secondly, for all the folks who have maintained that Sodom and Gomorrha was a fairy story: the city of Sodom has been discovered, the gate of the city where Lot sat has been unearthed, and the site is visible from where Abraham stood and watched the blast. Its in the book called Discovering the City of Sodom by Dr Steven Collins. This event was about 1600 BC and very early in the Bible (Genesis chapter 19). Apart from everything else, it makes it harder to argue that the Bible is just a bunch of fairy tales. The discovery is outlined in my website Just do a search on Sodom.

    • Don Roberts

      We know for a fact that Pres. Lincoln lived. We also know General Grant, Tecumseh Sherman, and other civil war leaders lived. We know Atlanta, the Shenandoah Valley, Washington, DC, and Baltimore are all real cities. But, does that make Gore Vidal’s “Lincoln” a true story? No, it is not a true story but historical fiction.

      In order to understand the Bible we must see through the eyes of a Jewish believer. The ancients were known for taking kernels of truth and making grand exaggerated stories from it. These stories don’t lesson the truth, but makes it possible for people understand through the story, like Aesop’s Fables or Grimm’s Fair Tales. To say they found the city of Sodom doesn’t make the story of Sodom and Gomorrah true, but it does give us an insight as to what the ancients thought when faced with their destruction. By the way, that area is also famous for having sulfur deposits that burn which would explain why burning rocks were falling from heaven. We also know, geologically, that there was volcanic activity during that time period in that region.

      One more thing to remember is that within the Jewish believe is the idea that one can wrestle with the Scriptures and with God. To question, to think through, to attempt to understand is part of the tradition. To accept the Bible as the inerrant “word of God” is to not question, to not explore, to not find the true pearl of wisdom. And quite frankly it’s idolatrous as there is only one Word of God, Jesus.

      • Ian Palmer

        Thanks for taking the time for a thoughtful reply, Don. Just a couple extra points. I agree the discovery of Sodom doesn’t prove there were two angels who showed up to warn of the impending destruction. But the evidence the archeologist found supports (1) Strabo, a first-century Greek explorer, documented a Mycenaean homosexual abduction which he called pederasty. The pillars in the Gatehouse are Mycenean. (2) Collins thinks the source of destruction was a comet, similar to the fireball called Tunguska that hit Siberia in the early 1900s and flattened like matchsticks enormous pine trees for miles around. The radius of destruction around Sodom was about 12 miles. No crater was found in either case. When viewing all the evidence found at the archeological site, I found it easier to accept the truth of the two angels……rather than arguing that the story was embellished. And by extrapolation, I for one could never say all the stories are embellished, and that they compare with Aesop’s fables. For me, the discovery of Sodom disproves that position.

        • Can you please provide bibliographical information about mainstream archaeological work related to ancient Sodom, which supports your claims? There are a lot of claims about things that archaeological and other studies supposedly demonstrate – e.g. the urban legend about NASA finding a “missing day.” Thanks.