At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

So in the concluding chapter of the book on NT criticism that I'm reviewing, the author argues:

The only reason for God to inspire the Bible would be so that his people would have his actual words; but if he really wanted people to have his actual words, surely he would have miraculously preserved those words, just as he had miraculously inspired them in the first place. Given the circumstance that he didn't preserve the words, the conclusion seemed inescapable to me that he hadn't gone to the trouble of inspiring them.

The reason he thinks God didn't "preserve the words" is the fact that some passages of the NT have alternate readings in various ancient manuscripts, and we can't always determine which are original. This isn't an unreasonable argument, but ultimately it shows that theological liberalism is just the flip side of fundamentalism (and indeed in the introduction the author talks about his fundamentalist past). Both liberalism and fundamentalism are modernist and thus obsessed with certainty. Descartes, the father of modernism, thought that all beliefs had to be ultimately founded on indubitable premises to be justified. The theological equivalent is the belief that all doctrines must be founded on 100% inerrant scripture to be held de fide. I remember in high school a Church of Christ friend arguing for the literal truth of Genesis 1-3 on the grounds that if the Bible contains any error whatsoever then it is worthless. Understandably, then, a person raised in fundamentalism who discovers any doubtful sections of Scripture will be tempted to chuck it all and swing into the opposite extreme. As I said, I'm looking for a middle way--the Bible, like other sources of knowledge (sense experience, secular history, etc.), can be basically reliable even if not inerrant.

Gotta get up at 3:30 tomorrow to catch the 5:30 out of Lubbock. It's gonna be a long, long, long day.


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