27 Jul 2002

The 100% Argument

Submitted by theshovel
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I suspect many have wondered where I might be going with this series, though I assume most will keep their doubts to themselves. This week's issue is based upon a response I made to one such query. And please know that I encourage you to express your concerns regarding what I write, okay?

You SEEM to imply by what you're saying that the scriptures are not 100%, or they contain errors. Yet, you never get around to actually saying that. Anonymous

The reason I don't get around to saying it is simply that it's not my argument. No, no, this is not an attempt to avoid the question but to ascertain it's source. You see, though I have been dealing with this issue, I am not the one who is actually asking the question, nor am I building a case so that I can finally reveal a hidden purpose. The fear that the only scriptures we have ever known might not be 100% accurate is part of the reason the doctrine of Bibliology exists in the first place. Think not?

Why do we want 100% accuracy? Because we want certainty. We want the ability to claim that we KNOW what we believe because "It is written". We want to be able to speak with authority based upon undeniable statements that can be produced as hard evidence in hopes that it will validate the miracle that eludes all our proofs. We want to grasp the certainty of God by the certainty of man.

Of course, this troubles us at the same time because there's always somebody with a different - and possibly valid - certainty based upon the exact same undeniable written statements. We don't usually agree with this except in hindsight - when and if we change doctrinal viewpoints, that is - and then we're left to deal with the doubts that what we once considered authoritative may never have been.

And so we claim to know the truth based upon the infallibility of the scriptures while attempting to suppress those nagging doubts that suggest we really can't know for sure that we really know it simply because we thought we knew it many times before only to end up disproving our own knowing by changing to a viewpoint that denied our previous one. Whew!!

So we stand upon the same premise that once validated the former certainties we now judge as error. Somehow, I don't think I'm the one who is implying that the scriptures are not 100%, for a percentage figure demands a legal formula. I leave that to those who argue law, those who strive for 100% doctrinal correctness.

I have merely come to realize that we have everything we need for life and godliness because we are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, and not because we have a copy of the Bible. You may suspect this to be a denial of the written word, but it is instead the very testimony made by the written words in it. And this grinds against the major objection of the world's wisdom to which the religious mind has conformed itself to. For it believes that the mind of man can comprehend the mind of God as long as it has the right textbook!

So, we have reasoned that if the Bible is infallible and everything else is fallible, then a correct understanding of the words of the Bible demands the correct understanding of God. We have also reasoned that God has a purpose for us, so we dig into the word beseeching Him to reveal what it is He wants us to do. And when we discover what we believe God wants us to do we have only reinforced the same performance-based standards we learned in this world.

If your point is that men elevate the written word to a status that only the living word should have, I am with you on that. Anonymous

Now, I might agree with the basic wording of the statement, but it actually overlooks my point. MY point is to proclaim Christ, the one who died to sin and was raised to newness of life - the one in whom we have been removed from death and made alive! My desire is to shake the doctrine by which we keep trying to hide our doubts and fears and in which we have learned to trust in the wisdom of men.

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5


These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: July 27, 2002 by McDave

Jim, this is eggcellent.though you might be needing to make some omelets with all those eggs of conventional wisdom you are breaking. the living word

Posted: July 27, 2002 by Debbie Kline

Great truths. There are many versions of the Bible and not all of them are good. The Watchtower Society has the New World Translation but in it John 1:1 says "....and the word was god" Their adgenda is to say Jesus Christ is a little god, because they don't believe the trinity doctrine.
I like your comment that you made "I have merely come to realize that we have everything we need for life and godliness because we are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, and not because we have a copy of the Bible."
The words of Paul are so important "...so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God." - 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Posted: July 27, 2002 by Rick

Happy Birthday, Jim!

And keep it coming. I love the fact that you even dared to ask the question: Why do we need 100% accuracy? It is interesting that those who insist on inerrancy " and mind you I'm quite will acquainted with the Southern Baptist Convention's controversies " never really define WHY they need inerrancy. It's also interesting to note as you pointed out earlier that inerrancy basically means a faithful reproduction of the original autographs, not the inerrancy of the autographs themselves. In other words 2/3 to ¾ of the book of Job is nothing but useless advice. But it's accurately copied useless advice. Does inerrancy somehow convert this to good advice? Hardly. And we could cite numerous similar passages.

And I wholly agree with you on those who require certainty. Unfortunately, the just shall live by FAITH, not certainty. Oh, well. I can state that I have FAITH that the Bible is inerrant. But like you ask, why do I need to state that? And that's the question I've not been taught to examine. Oh, I've heard the cliché, "If you can't trust all of it, you can't trust any of it," as a self-evident truth. But you make it a little less than self-evident.

Keep up the good work. I do believe you have confused a lot of folks who take this argument for granted and never examine WHY they argue about it. Keep up the good work.

Posted: July 27, 2002 by Joanne A

A couple of thoughts:

Yes, scripture is inspired and, possibly, inerrant in the original languages. However, the fact that there are how many translations? should make us realize that it is not the written word (those black letters on a white page) that save us. It is Jesus Christ and Him only.

And so (this thought is a corollary of the first) we proclaim, as you say, Christ!!! HE is the Living Word, and it is He that leads me - us - into all truth by His Spirit. It is the "simplicity that is in Christ Jesus" that is relevant. Doctrines can flesh out what it means to walk in Christ, but doctrines, all too often, are what separate and become (to some) more important than Christ. It may sound trite, but I "do not worship the bible, but the God of whom the bible speaks." Interesting.

According to Act 17:11, the "word" is what is spoken (from/by God, through a human vessel often) and "scriptures" are what is written. To my knowledge, in scriptures, "word" is never used for the bible. Forgive the length. Do appreciate what you write. Not sure I always agree, but that is no problem. I put it on the shelf. If it is truth, the Spirit opens my understanding; if not, it stays on the shelf.

Amen God bless and thank you,

Posted: July 27, 2002 by Mike

Hey Jim

I love your stuff brother! It is so good! Happy Birthday buddy!


Posted: July 27, 2002 by Cheri

Happy Birthday!
thanks for all your encouragement, love and grace you show with your many responses on the shovel shack and to all our emails.

hope 2052, finds you continuing to spread the awesome news of Christ.

Posted: July 27, 2002 by Bill


Happy Birthday, brother! Your birthday suit is getting wrinkled, might wanna run it through the wash!

Posted: July 27, 2002 by Nan

You hit the nail on the head with this quote because it is exactly my problem when it comes to reading scripture:

"For it believes that the mind of man can comprehend the mind of God as long as it has the right textbook!"

I just don't get the LIFE OF CHRIST when I read scriptures. It's like I look but I just don't see.

Posted: July 28, 2002 by Perry

Happy Belated Birthday Jim!

I had to respond to your latest Shoveletter (Shadows of Bilblical Proportion (7)). I agree that a lot of folks look at the bible as if they worship it. I mean come on, it's a book!!! Folks get so caught up on how do I interpet this and how do interpret that in the bible that they lose focus on the one who matters, namely Jesus. Hello! Is anyone home? I mean, this is not rocket science, the is the gospel. Good news and a simple plan:

"For God so loved the world that he sent his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." - John 3:16

How difficult is that? Forget your doctrine and focus on Jesus, the way, the truth and the life. No one goes to the father, but through him. Don't get me wrong, the bible is a great tool, to learn of the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ. But, let's not lose focus on the one who loves us and died for us.


P.S. My son's birthday is also July 27. No, he didn't turn 50. Let me just say that he is a teenager now.

Posted: July 27, 2002 by Ken Page

Happy Birthday Jim!

Thanks for preaching Christ.

I continue to be grateful to be in Him.

Ken Page from Minnesota

Posted: July 27, 2002 by Bill

This is very thoughtful and interesting stuff. The spirit of Christ is always one of freedom and grace - joy, joy, joy! So much of Christianity today is far to gloomy - probably because most of us take ourselves too seriously and Christ not seriously enough.

Posted: July 27, 2002 by Stephen

This is a reply and my response in reference to this quote: "MY point is to proclaim Christ, the one who died to sin and was raised to newness of life"

Brother Jim,

I have only read one posting of your dialogue and I hope I'm not out of order to reply. I would like to hazard a comment or two. I'll mention the second one first. It is the shorter of the two. Your quote listed above refers to Jesus "dying to sin" and being raised to a "newness of life." You may consider this to be picky but Jesus could not die to sin if it is true he had never committed sin. It is true that He was made a sin offering on the cross and the sin of the world was placed upon Him, but in reality Jesus died for sin, for our sin not "to sin."

That comment really speaks to the first comment I wanted to make. I wanted to speak to the believe in the reliability of the scriptures. In your response to the other commentator, I heard you saying that certainties we hold about the scriptures are sometimes proven to be wrong and when we acknowledge the error we can move on to embrace the more enlightened position. That is certainly true. I have done the same thing several time over a 25 year pastorate and seven years as a seminary professor. One's view of the veracity of scripture may not in jeopardy simply because he/she has to ditch an old belief and embrace a new one. I mean one can hold to the inerrancy of scripture while believing one thing about the rapture and then come to understand a different view of the rapture while still believing in inerrancy.

So inerrancy is a matter estimation of scripture while views which sometimes change are matters of interpretation of scriptures. Our estimation of scripture is our belief of what it is. Our interpretation of it is our belief of what it means. If it is true that "...all scripture is given by inspiration of God...." then it becomes very important what we believe about the nature of scripture. It is not so important if we are "right" about every interpretation we have.

I agree the indwelling Holy Spirit is where it's at. He is our ascension gift from God. He is our foretaste of the glorified life. But I understand how that happens only by the revelation God has given us in the Bible. If we do not hold the Bible in that kind of esteem, we may easily fall into the deception that there are other ways to God other than Jesus.
Thanks for the forum to "dump the bucket."

With every kind thought,

Hello Stephen!

Thanks for writing and dumping the bucket. :) No, I don't think you're out of order to reply, sometimes you just gotta jump in.

"For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God." Romans 6:10

Yeah, I guess I consider it a little picky. I, after all, had something else in mind "¦ unless maybe you have a problem with the way it is stated in Romans 6? Now, since your first comment is tied to the second, is it possible that you've misread where I am coming from in that as well? You might be surprised to discover that I don't really have any problem with the testimony I find in the Bible, for I really pay attention to the whole thing " and I know where the life comes from.


Posted: July 27, 2002 by John E

Hey, don't the "inerrant" Scriptures say He died "to sin" for a reason? Not because he had any sin of His Own to die to but He died "to sin" as our substitute so that we can rightfully understand that it is WE who really are dead to sin. In Him, I'm dead to my sin. I don't have to consider it nor be aware of it anymore because where it counts (with God) it is not being counted against me. It has been put "behind" His back so that He sees it no more no matter which way He turns. It has been cast as far as East is from West--& East never meets West (though North & South do). So, what you say makes sense to me Jim but I do think many are misunderstanding and the point made by Stephen has validity, doesn't it? Our "estimation" of the Scripture can be something entirely different from our "interpretation." Our estimation of it as inerrant can be separate from an errant interpretation, can't it? The problem comes in when we try to use our "estimation" or our "interpretation," either one, to validate our position and our judgment and that thing we so enjoy doing--"measuring" ourselves & others. What think ye? Well, you probably won't get this because I'm a year late and more than a dollar short but this has been great readin,' anyway!

Posted: May-14-06 by guest

Being dead to sin, what an awesome comment made by John that, "i dont have to consider it anymore because where it counts it is not being counted against me....."

I used to spend most of my time reading Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God just so i could feel more aware of my sin, that was from hanging out with those who wanted to be more pure like the puritans and to hang on to their interpretive authority of the truth. Their was fear that straying too far from John Owens and the gang led to losing the truth. I never felt more unworthy in my life to be loved.


“I don't have to consider it anymore because where it counts it is not being counted against me…..”

Wow, epic consideration even the other way around. That is even in the world where it is counted by the fleshly mind, transgression is not being counted against me myself but against my appearance with which no one will ever be satisfied.

theshovel's picture

Yes! I love it. :)


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Random Shovelquote: No differences in Christ (view all shovelquotes)

... in Him there are no differences because His Spirit has truly made us one!! True understanding comes as my measuring sticks keep getting snapped and I once again have my eyes opened to the measureless life of Christ who is MY life.   source