For I Tell the Bible So

Pete Enns made some great points worthy of consideration and contemplation. While I agree with much of what he states, I can’t help but think he is at least being slightly arcane when defining “trust.”

No doubt it could depend on how “trust” is used in relation to the sacred texts (e.g. transmission, historicity, etc.) but it seems that I would have a difficult time taking seriously what the Bible has to say about God, thereby establishing a trust in him, without first having at least a basic epistemological “trust” in the source that informs as to “who he is” and tells his story.

With that said, the perspective embraced by some today, or perhaps more flagrantly described as the dogma which binds many today - that of inerrancy - is purported as having the highest degree of honor or regard for the Bible. This however, is not the case. Treating the Bible other than it actually is makes it something it is not, nor was ever intended to be, which inevitably ends in erroneous distortions. This has driven some interpreters to preposterous theories and disastrous conclusions in attempt to maintain their worldview. As an extreme example, would it shock you to know there is a group zealously attempting to defending a "flat earth" because their biblical paradigm dictates it? When all reason, logic, science, facts and evidence point in another direction, shouldn't an intelligent human being reconsider their premise?

Creating a idiosyncratic perspective of the Bible, with hermeneutical autonomy — twisting and distorting to suite a desired paradigm — has allowed cliques of theologically driven hegemonic bulldogs to masquerade as defenders of the pure faith against an affront by “liberals” whose perceived objective is to undermine the authority of the sacred text. While I don't disregard such assaults existing, it must be understood that those who deny the doctrine of strict inerrancy (as usually observed in fundamentalist camps) are not guilty on these grounds.

James McGrath, I believe, captured it well,

"Sometimes Biblical scholars are accused of attacking the Bible, or of attacking “believers,” or both. But the truth is that most Biblical scholars love the Bible, and are defending it from the distortions, misrepresentations, and lies that are committed by people who praise the Bible, but either don’t know or ignore what it actually says."

Here are some excerpts from Enns:

"Maybe the Bible isn’t something that should be the object of our trust. Maybe — as the Bible repeatedly says — the object of our trust is God.God and the Bible aren’t the same thing. Calling the Bible 'God’s word' doesn’t not elevate it to an object worthy of trust.

I agree with those who say that the Bible bears witness to what God has done. And saying so is a confession of faith. Specifically, for Christians, the Bible bears witness ultimately to what God has done in Christ.

The Bible doesn’t say, 'Look at me and trust me!' It says, 'Look through me so you can learn what it means to trust God.' The Bible, if we are paying attention, behaves in such a way that it decenters itself and drives us to center our trust in the living God, whose actions are neither restricted nor fully described in these ancient and diverse writings that bear witness to God’s actions.

The Bible is, however, worthy of serious reflection precisely because of its diverse and ancient ways. That is why the interpretation of the Bible and Christian theology are hard work and not simply a matter of leafing through the Bible or expecting things to line up a handy index of topics we can point to to get the right answers.

We just need to accept the Bible for what it is, not for what we would like it to be. The Bible bears the marks of messiness. Christian theology, if it wishes to be compelling and speak into people’s lives, needs to incorporate that fact, not shy away from it."

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