Theology for the Masses

November 16, 2006

Further Questions on Biblical Authority

Filed under: Apologetics,Doctrine — Henry Imler @ 12:11 am

This post is a continuation of a honest conversation that Brad and I are having on first things in Christianity.

Previous posts:

Brad, I like your theoretical framework. I hold to almost all of it as well.

A foundational question that I would ask you is if the very words on the Bible were dictated 100% and transcribed 100% correctly and preserved 100% correctly. Is it possible that there is any error in transcription, translation, or preservation? I am not saying that there is, but say, does the end of Mark belong in the bible or not? The earliest manuscripts don’t have it, so it seems like it was added on at some point.

The highest authority for me is not the Bible, it is God. He is above a earthly book. An infinite God cannot be encapsulated by anything, even a book that the infinite God writes. All things that emanate from God have equal authority. The Bible writes on God and His relationship with creation. Logic is God telling us how to order our ideas, math tells us how to count. The Bible is not God’s treatise on cosmology. Instead it was God communicating with individuals that had no concept of the Big Bang theory or nuclear thermodynamics. As such, it’s authority was not meant to cover those areas. In spiritual matters, it is absolutely authoritative.

I am cautious about including the following in my list of Biblical apologies: “It will be more persuasive because in the actual experience of life, all of these other candidates for ultimate authority be seen as inconsistent or to have shortcomings that disqualify them.” This is a very tricky statement. What do we base the claim on? A survey of all religious people, asking them what system works best? I would guess that one would get a variety of answers on that survey. I think that in each formulation of Christianity I can point out problems that are not readily solved. This by no means rejects the authority of the Bible, nor lifts up another text or religion over Christianity. It only questions the usefulness of this apologetic tactic, especially when in conversation with a person from another religion.

Another thing, if the Bible is considered to have the words of God, is that all it contains? Was it possible to have any additions by the Biblical writers of their opinions to the matter? I am not saying that I do hold to this, but simply asking the question. Should I never cover my head when I pray? So, no hats when I pray? Is it possible that some of the Biblical writers injected their personal opinion in the texts or perhaps were writing on culturally specific mandates?

Lastly, when Timothy talks about all scripture being God-breathed, doesn’t the context talk about the Hebrew Bible only? That is the context. Taking it to mean anything else is taking it out of context.How can one take what the writer of Timothy is saying about the Hebrew Bible and throw it on the the texts that a church council decided were the correct texts almost 200-300 years later? I mean, if one is a honest and actual literalist, must not one reject that the writer of Timothy is talking about the canon that will be formed later?

How does one come to trust the canonical process. They were not apostles, there is no guarantee that their choices were inspired. Now, I am not advocating a rejection or inclusion of any specific text, but I am asking very important questions. The Bible was not written the way Koran says it [the Koran] was. God did not dictate it to one person who had it immediately written down.

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