Inerrancy, Nature and Scripture

While flipping through the radio stations the other day I came across a message by R. C. Sproul. He was speaking about philosophy, science and scripture and told an interesting story. In his seminary classes, whenever he asks who thinks the bible is inerrant every hand goes up. However when he asks if nature, as another revelation of God, is inerrant, there is a lot more hesitation. He raised an interesting question: why are some Christians so suspicious of nature as a means of God’s revealing Himself?

“Well because nature is fallen, dummy.”

“But even in it’s fallen nature, does it tell us something incorrect about God? Does nature lie?” Continue reading

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Thoughts on calling, obedience and “Radical” by David Platt

I’ve been reading Radical by David Platt with some guys in my church small group. I’m about half way through it, and while there are good points to be made I have some major issues with others. Not to go too far into it, but I think he has a gift for overstatement.

Anyway, one point he makes is that all Christians are called to global evangelism. He equates calling with command in this case:

We take Jesus’ command in Matthew 28 to make disciples of all nations, and we say , “That means other people.” But we look at  Jesus’ command in Matthew in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” and we say, “Now that means me.” (p73)

It is true that we often pick-and-choose what we find most appealing in Jesus’ teaching and apply what we like the most to us while putting aside what we don’t. However this argument made me think about the notion of “calling” in general. Continue reading

Romans 1:18-20; What about the unreached and unreachable?

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking about the idea of salvation, namely who is saved, who isn’t, and why. Having been raised Calvinist I’m now questioning some points of it more directly than I have in the past, the state of the “unreached heathen” or “reprobate” being one of them. Traditionally Calvinism and many other branches of orthodox Christianity would say that those that never hear are lost based on the passage here in Romans. The teaching is that all of humanity knows something of God which can be inferred from the world around them. However this truth has been suppressed by the idolatry of others, leading all mankind to be in a state of sin. The implication is that all of humanity has been given knowledge of God but that humanity has rejected God from the beginning. Therefore, the species is under righteous judgment. Continue reading

Matthew 19:16; I am the Rich Young Ruler

 

“Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” Matt 19:16 NRSV

So begins the story of the “rich young ruler” in Matthew.

There’s a lot said negatively about this man, some founded and some unfounded. But let’s start by giving him the benefit of the doubt. He comes to Jesus, recognizing Him as a Rabbi with authority, to ask about how to attain eternal life. It seems as if at first that he is appealing to do something over and above what is necessary regarding the law, as he is asking about a “good deed” and not a general “what do I do”. No doubt that Jesus had many ask him this as it would be a question pressing to many Jews. No doubt the Pharisees and Sadducees had their own teachings on this and I would imagine people going from Rabbi to Rabbi (like the way people church-hop today) to gather opinions and find one that they find best fitting and proper, or most convenient for them. Continue reading

Thinking about discrepancies in Scripture

I highly recommend Relevant Magazine, both online and in print. This article is a bit shallow but raises interesting questions important for anyone studying the Bible. How you answer the question of “is the Bible inerrant?” – which leads to the question “well what do we mean by inerrant?” – will completely shape how you read and interpret Scripture.

While in seminary this was a challenge to me. I had never even heard of the idea that there were discrepancies in the Bible, and honestly believed that there simply couldn’t be. However when confronted with the idea that Jericho may have not had the enormous walls attributed to it, or that there were differences in some other historical accounts, I was a bit flummoxed. And if you haven’t thought about it, read the Gospels and consider what day Jesus was crucified on. Anyway, this article makes a good point regarding what we can and should mean by “inerrant”.

I think the sad thing that is brought out in this article is how, in many Christian circles, asking these kinds of questions is not permitted. Questioning details is tantamount to questioning Scripture. The argument goes that if Scripture isn’t fundamentally and literally perfect in every detail then there’s no reason to believe any of it (which is a huge jump). If we can’t have a Christian culture where asking questions about a fundamental resource for our faith is OK, then our faith is built on a shaky foundation.

article after the jump >>

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Keep your friends close, and your “-ism”s closer

yes, that's Geneva in the background

I’m trying to work on a new post on Calvinism and having a bit of a hard time, so I thought I’d take a break.

I grew up Calvinist but only because that was the only pool I could swim in at the time. During and after seminary I questioned things more but still held on to a lot of it. Now I’m investigating the other side of the fence – that would be the more Arminian traditions including the Anabaptists – and even the contemplative Catholics like Thomas Merton. All of this has been great, and disturbing at the same time. Continue reading

What do we mean by inerrant?

I highly recommend Relevant Magazine, both online and in print. This article is a bit shallow but raises interesting questions important for anyone studying the Bible. How you answer the question of “is the Bible inerrant?” – which leads to the question “well what do we mean by inerrant?” – will completely shape how you read and interpret Scripture.

article after the jump >> Continue reading

Joshua 4: Message for a facility memorial service

I thought I’d pass this recent message from a memorial service our hospice hosted at a personal care facility. They had started a rock garden and we donated a tree to serve as a memorial marker.

…Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:4b-7

This scene marks a pivotal point in the history of Israel. This nation of former slaves has survived forty years in the wilderness, scraping by only at times by means of miraculous intervention, to arrive at the land promised to them several generations before. Nobody who heard that promise is alive to see it fulfilled. Even Moses, who lead the bedraggled group for those 40 years and who was for all that time their closest connection to God, died before this scene. This nation of nomads has finally arrived at the end of their journey from slavery to freedom.

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1 Corinthians 13:1-7, for a funeral

 

1 Cor 13:1-7 If I speak in the tonguesof men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

These words are often heard at weddings, not at funerals. But they are just as appropriate. In marriage we see the romantic side of love, the love of one for another. But in reflecting back over an entire life we can see how that love flowed out to others, to see the hard work that it did in tough times, and to see that love is not merely something that is felt but something that one does.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, he was writing to a church divided. There were rival groups fighting for attention and power while more serious issues were being ignored. They were boasting about their wisdom and knowledge, but Paul was pointing out that their wisdom was futile. The church was “majoring in the minors” to borrow a phrase. Paul responds to a number of their questions about the order of the service and so on, points out where he sees them in error. And then it’s at this point that he points them to the “why” behind the “what to do”. Continue reading