19 Jul 2002

The Religious Demand for 100% accuracy

Submitted by theshovel
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The bubble rested dead-center. I couldn't dispute the man's precision as he held the level against one 4x4 post after another. But I hadn't questioned his painstakingly meticulous fine-tuning of each and every pole ... it's just that they weren't lining up with one another. I suppose he didn't appreciate being challenged by a kid, but I was the PHD - that's the Post-Hole Digger, for your information - and I didn't savor the prospect of digging them all over again.

When it came to connecting the uprights with 2x8 beams we had to modify those perfectly-aligned posts in order to pull the shade house together - and yes, I had to re-dig a few. Of course, he didn't subject the finished product to the same intense bubble-test - we both knew what that would reveal - and if he suspected his own standard of precision, he didn't let on for a moment. And after all his claims of accuracy, the structure ended up, as he quipped, "Close enough for government work".

If you've been following the Shadow series you already know I'm examining the historic doctrine known as Bibliology and currently addressing the matter of inerrancy. Though I used to regard this as a fundamental of the faith I now view the whole doctrine as little more than...

holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power 2 Timothy 3:5

Yes ... denied its power. For the power of godliness is Christ, and the fact of the matter is that the doctrine simply doesn't need him.

Like many of you, I have spent much time studying the Bible (probably more than most), and have been increasingly captivated by its witness to Christ. At first, I assumed this understanding to be somehow connected to my earlier indoctrination in the inerrancy of the Scriptures ... until I began to notice a troubling pattern. If anything, the more inerrancy was preached, the less Christ was; and oddly, the more I spoke of Christ's freedom the more I was shot down by those who held most fervently to every written word.

Oh, I found ways to explain the trend, for I was certain these folks merely misunderstood related aspects of grace revealed in many Biblical verses and passages. After all, I figured our bottom line stand upon the written word was the same. But after a while it became all too apparent that guided by principles of Scriptural inerrancy one more-easily tended to DISREGARD the miraculous life of Christ. I had to consider whether the accuracy-factor itself might be sucking many students of the word down into a vortex of...

always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth 2 Timothy 3:7

Have you ever wondered why we insist on 100% accuracy when, in fact, we wind up settling for less? I mean, we'll take a hard and fast stand contending for total precision only to bend it to the structure we've built - often without letting on that we had been forced to alter some unalterable props. I suspect we have tilted quite a few uprights one way or the other hoping the end result would be close enough, but when the project somehow passed inspection we managed to chalk up yet another notch on our accuracy-belt.

Now, don't underestimate the dynamics of what I'm suggesting as merely theological. You see, our inerrancy standards are well-established in everyday living, so we shouldn't be surprised when they bleed into the religious realm. I'm proposing that the accepted religious standard of Biblical inerrancy more closely reflects our own self-righteous demand for accuracy than it does God's - in spite of its allegations.

Understand, I'm not questioning God's accuracy. Hey, I'm not even disputing the relative accuracy in the world around me. I have simply come to recognize an age-old pattern whereby those who pontificate based upon claims of infallibility rarely have any other motive than hiding their own sense of fallibility while taking advantage of another's.

So, why the demand for 100% accuracy? Because the fleshly mind craves it! No, no, it's not just accuracy in view here - it must be AGREED UPON accuracy. If I've learned anything about religious agreement it is that the thing agreed upon proves less important than the consensus of opinion related to that truth. I think you've sensed it too.

You see, if we all agree that the Bible is infallible then we all also agree that those who best grasp its infallible meanings are the most infallible in understanding - and in spirituality. And do you know the most amazing thing here? We don't even need a teaching to validate this illusion because fear demands it of us. The doctrine of infallibility may have more to do with our own desire to be proven right than with actual truth.

Should you doubt this assessment, simply consider the one group God put to the test - Israel. For they HAD been measured against the unforgiving, 100% accurate standard of God. The result? Not only did they fail miserably beyond repair, they felt compelled to reinterpret the rigid nitty-gritty in fine detail in order to show themselves righteous using the very words that condemned them!

Do we really know what we're asking for when we demand a 100% accurate standard by which to measure ourselves? It is no wonder that we have combined the writings of those under the law with the testimonials of those freed from the law in order to turn it into one massive volume of conflicting commands and instructions that must be obeyed - in other words, a law book.

Forget the accuracy by which you might prove yourself wrong or right, for this is the wisdom you learned in the world, not of God, and you are even now being pressured to conform to it. But as much as you might sense an obligation to give in to this pressure, you need to know that the indebtedness has been removed in Christ ... only the bogus demand remains. If you believe what the Bible really says then you know it witnesses to the true life found only in Christ.

New Testament: 


These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: July 18, 2002 by Rick Jim, Great issue. Well worth the wait! Or should I say, worth the wait? Well! In any case you did a good job. It never ceases to amaze me that the faults of the Galatians still crop up in today’s Christians. Having begun in faith, we somehow want to continue in works. The demand for certainty is one of the “works” I believe modern fundies demand so clingingly. I believe both the Old Covenant and the New reaffirm what Luther discovered that the just shall live by faith. God didn’t call us to live by certainty but by faith. Is God more glorified that we have faith in His Son, the incarnate Word, that he is able to keep his Scriptures as He sees fit or that we are absolutely certain that He has done so and can document it through historical evidence? I have no problem demonstrating the reliability of scripture by internal, external and personal evidence but I tend to agree with you that the insistence on a belief in inerrancy as a prerequisite to Kingdom citizenship is a little much. Of course there is Rick’s Rule of Educational Materials that applies here as well: Anything worth doing is worth overdoing. At least that’s the way some folk act. No position is so finely crossed at the t’s and dotted at the i’s that one cannot make the lines straighter and the dots finer. And then brand those who cross and dot a little less perfectly as heretics. That’s the icing on the cake. Keep up the good work.

Posted: July 18, 2002 by Paul Very well done! Thank you.

Posted: July 18, 2002 by Jude “pontificate?” Me thinks your vocabulary is too high for my puny brain, harrr! Good thoughts my friend!

Posted: July 18, 2002 by Bruce I am totally offended!!! NOT! As usual…you are truly INFALLIBLE! Of course I’m talking about CHRIST…in you! For when you speak (rather when HE SPEAKS from within HIS TEMPLE)…it TRULY IS LIGHT AND LIFE…and INFALLIBLE! :)

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