"Letter to a Christian Teacher on Biblical Inerrancy" by Bei Kuan-tu
Dear Friend in Christ,
Often I think that our inescapable cultural baggage, meaning our fragile egos and the influence of all who've crossed our way, "make being certain a necessity." Clearly, this is a reality that can never be — thus an exclusive product of our own heads!
What I have questioned for decades is that the scriptures, beautiful and inspiring as they may be, are simply the product of a theologically divided church (367AD), and a power hungry Emperor Constantine (which Luther and those who followed him viewed with anathema) who sought to bring political stability and power to the western Roman world.
As I've come to understand the gift of scriptures, they are the "finger that points to the moon." That simple idea has become quite liberating for me. Of course, the problem is (at least in the Protestant world) men choose to "suck the finger" rather than adore and embrace what it points to! As a consequence, the Bible has become the infallible A thru Z textbook for Truth. Sadly, this has given rise to innumerable emotional and psychological problems for believers.
It's near impossible to deny the history and politics behind the scriptures. This should be a warning that scripture is not absolute in any way, shape or form. Whenever I've witnessed teachers using scriptures beyond simple instruction or contemplation of faith and pushing holy writ as a "key to everything," inevitably students end up trapped in their own conceptual thoughts and bias'. From there a sense of alienation, incompleteness and self-righteousness grows. As Laurence Bolt observes:
"…Struggle (alienation) brings resentment, ingratitude, and withholding, which rob “us of joy” and keep the energy from flowing freely in our lives. This leads us away from the path of our spiritual destinies. Instead of following our own paths, we crave the approval and attention of others. This craving for approval, in turn, produces competitive hostility and envy. Envy, in turn, provokes greed, which agitates our minds and sends us on the mad chase that today we call the "rat race." In the process, we lose the ability to appreciate the simple enjoyments that come with life in the spirit (BECAUSE WE ARE IN OUR MINDS!). Ultimately, this leads to a sense of chaos and confusion that obfuscates our innate intelligence and robs us of our capacity to appreciate the beauty in life" (NOW WE JUDGE EVERYTHING!)."
No room for the Spirit there! This is a large segment of Biblical Protestant Christianity — no longer walking by faith, but blindly embracing dogmatism that justifies all sort of religious nonsense'.
What is even more stunning is Biblically trained fundamentalists teachers carry with them (secretly) an underlying distrust of the very God they preach. How could they not? Their fear based theologies subtly and sometimes overtly permeate their own hearts and thus those who follow them. This travesty is simply "off the charts!" It's everywhere, particularly in the Christian fundamentalist world. Makes me sick! And if anyone in the remotest sense questions biblical inerrancy they are immediately cast aside as a heretic. For where one set of biblically based doctrines go, so too do their opposites. One can make a pretty good biblical case for "conditional salvation" or "universal salvation" or "Jesus is God" or "Jesus is God/man" or "Jesus was a man who infused by some sort of "cosmic consciousness", etc, etc." I'm sure you get my drift.
"The wind blows where it desires, and thou hearest the sound of it, but canst not tell from where it comes or where it goes; so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
What Christians end up with is a biblical message of grace inner-woven with a fear based theology, legislated by a sometimes angry, bi-polar, anthropomorphic god (male, about 6'6", ripped — a bit of Zeus-like character) — who stands ready to annihilate, yet on the turn of a dime can forgive unconditionally.
Sad to say that annihilation wins out far too often! No wonder Mariology (adoration of Mary)came into being!
You appear to be scholarly in your biblical efforts. I'd encourage you to be the same as a historian with those early church centuries. Consider your sources (not just evangelical, but consider other schools of scholarly research). Objectivity is paramount. Open mindedness is not a threat to your salvation. It takes you ever deeper into the mystery one's faith.
This whole divine walk is clothed in mystery, it is intuitive, beyond the conceptual mind and rooted deeply in the heart. We can speculate on all sorts of Biblical concepts, but there is "that which is beyond dissection and definition." Either the scriptures are inerrant, written by the hand of God, or they are a product of inspired hearts woven with/into the politics and worldliness of the time. And if the later is true how does that change your walk?
Lastly, it is clear to me that the vast majority of Christians are not free. This whole religious show can be so disingenuous! In fact, the fruit of this disingenuousness is emotional mayhem on the part of the believer. And why is this scenario so common today? Because scripture has become an end in itself, rather than a liberating pointer to the mystery we call faith.