2 May 2002


Submitted by theshovel
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But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. Galatians 2:4-5

What if "false brethren" also managed to infiltrate the counsels that produced some of our most sacred doctrines? Before you balk consider the goal/motivation: IN ORDER TO BRING US INTO BONDAGE. Granted, you may suppose I go way overboard, so don't worry about what I think. What do YOU think? How do YOU explain all the bondage found within the Christian marketplace? And why has it become so common among the grace crowd to divide the gospel into two parts so it can be said that most believe the first part but not the second? Isn't that just another way to soft-pedal the oh-so-obvious reality that somebody has accomplished their goal?

If you want to know why I'm tackling this issue I do it so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. Maybe that sounds a little too over dramatic, but if by addressing the mainstream teaching of Bibliology I appear to be questioning the written testimony - even though I testify to the same Christ it does - then maybe this is long overdue. Truthfully, I don't care what anybody claims about the Bible if their testimony is something other than the miraculous work of Christ.

Please realize, I'm not trying to belittle those who hold to the doctrine of Bibliology, but to challenge an assumption. For I assumed along with everybody else. But I do not regret any of this, for it has all played a part into why I am so doggoned stuck on the reality of Christ and him crucified! I have only been given more reason to know why I had so much difficulty with the PRETENSE of godliness I was expected to agree with. What I have come to see has caused my heart to know that it has been the same miraculous witness of God's Spirit with me ever since the day I first believed ... and I don't care that I don't even know when that was!

As promised in the last Shoveletter, I will address the actual doctrine of Bibliology and relate what I see it both stating and NOT stating. I will also tell you what I think it is SUGGESTING ... and how that fits in which the sad state of affairs in the Christian church. Here's the doctrine as found in most theological statements:

I. Bibliology. (The Doctrine of the Bible)
A. Canonicity. We believe the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament compose the complete written revelation of God to man.
B. Inspiration. We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible.
1. By plenary, we mean that literally every word of Scripture was God-breathed.
2. By verbal, we mean that the original autographs contained exactly the words which God decreed to constitute His Word, the Holy Scriptures, and that God used men, moved by the Holy Spirit, to write down His Word.
C. Inerrancy. We believe that the Bible is inerrant. By this we mean that the original autographs were completely free from any error, contradiction, or human corruption.
D. Infallibility. We believe that the Bible is infallible. By this we mean that the Bible is our supreme authority in every aspect of life, and can be trusted completely.

Now, on the surface, the above doctrine may appear to validate that the Bible you hold in your hand is the very same inerrant and infallible supreme authority ... but does it actually say that? Hnnnh? Look again. Do you hold the original autographs? No, no, don't cut yourself short with the usual rhetoric for I'm well-aware of the Rules of Biblical Interpretation that are supposed to help us divine the true meaning. If so, why are we more and more divided as interpretations increase?

You see, if no one living today has even SEEN the original autographs then this doctrine makes it clear that it speaks of some OTHER long-lost documents. Granted, we may have very good translations available to us today, but my point is that the doctrine itself doesn't actually address our translations at all. Don't take my word for it, read the statements ... and don't assume those little catch phrases haven't been very carefully placed.

Let me interject some of the thoughts I'm building toward, for I don't want you to get caught up with technicalities, but with life and freedom. I want you to realize the possibility that God's written testimony of Christ has been perverted into a life-sucking monster! As unpopular as this may seem I suggest that something else is being addressed by the doctrine OTHER THAN the accuracy of the Bible. I suspect that its underlying objective is responsible for the theological battleground we call Christianity today. After all, why wouldn't we equate a strong stand on Biblical interpretation to be faith in God when our basic teachings dictate it to be so?

Oh sure, we KNOW that cults erroneously regard their false teachings to substantiate true faith - and maybe even we ourselves were freed from former false teachings that seemed so true at one time - but upon what do we base our current confidence? If you say it's because of what the Bible REALLY teaches then what validates your claims above those of the cultist since he professes the same? ANYBODY can take a stand upon doctrines and teachings. And even though professions of faith might be sprinkled generously throughout statements of faith faith itself doesn't even have to enter the equation!

And yet faith somehow finds us even though the "every word of Scripture" sometimes only produces doubt. Maybe we HAVE experienced faith by reading the Bible or sitting under its preaching - I hope you realize that I am not denying that reality - but we need to know why this is true! For as it testifies to Christ our confidence is drawn to HIM - not to the Book.

When we insist that confidence must be found in the Bible we force confidence to be measured by how well we know it. And since WE don't have the original autographs we have been constrained to trust those who are qualified to interpret. And since THEY don't have the originals either we have to trust that they are qualified to make the correct choice as to which Hebrew and Greek copies are the best and ALSO which set of Hebrew and Greek translation rules are going to give them the most accurate rendering so that they in turn can tell us what God expects of us. Or more than likely we are trusting that they choose the most accurate theologians to study by. And then it comes back upon us to decide which one of these professionals we think is best qualified so that we can have confidence in GOD. Something ain't quite right about that, is it?

Do you realize what the doctrine denies the most? That Christ Himself is your ONLY authority and His Spirit your ONLY teacher. But I will continue on in the next Shoveletter ...

New Testament: 


theshovel's picture

These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Angie


Do I get to be the first to post on this one?!

That's one heavy topic you are on there. Better watch out for bricks flying through your windows!

I just had to give a little comment because I've been in the middle of a conversation on the exact same topic today and had much the same viewpoint as you. I was just wondering, How do you do that? Are you a mind-reader? I need to go back and read it again!


Yes, Angie dear, you are the very first one to reply to the online posting!!! Thank you. It turns out that I sent out a bogus link for the response page so that most were still left to simply hit the "Reply" button. But you made it! Jim

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Alan

Where do we go to find our answers? The Bible of course. To the Old Covenant (Torah), the New Covenant, or the "Newer Covenant" as some call it. Unfortunately, this sounds a whole lot easier than it is; just go to the Bible and all the answers to our debates and question will be answered"¦right? Do we really want to "go there" " again?

The enemy has accomplished his goal: To get people who do not belong to him to gather around a document and think they are drawing their life, strength and blessings from it; rather than from the Author Himself. This "Biblical idolatry" has fostered wars, dissentions, factions, denominations, and distractions for centuries. It has caused millions of people all over the world to huddle in buildings and homes, erroneously called "Churches" and shut out anyone who didn't hold to their doctrines and creeds (derived from the Bible, of course).

It's tempting to do because it appears safe and definitive on the surface - to have it "in black and white" - but the cruel irony is that John Doe uses the same verses to prove his point that Jane Doe uses to make her point. The problem is, they've come to opposite conclusions; both seemingly using sound principles for Biblical interpretation, both are in canonical context, both are hoeing in the Hebrew and grappling in the Greek, both are holding to history and claim to be standing in the Spirit.

What we have now is a good old fashioned stale mate. No one is budging. Why should they? They're right, by golly, and it would be an act of blasphemy before God to not hold up His real Standard and Truth. So they sit and grumble and hate and backbite. Love left the scene on the first train out - way back when " most don't remember when. The ones who do hold to any form of love or even civility in the matter are haughty and arrogant at best " not really militant, just boasting in their "rightness"- nonchalantly wondering when their wayward brethren will see the light and come around to their "correct" point of view.

Every time I go to the Bible to prove my point, to feel better about my point, or to find peace in my soul on an issue I think I've figured out, I come out feeling worse; full of doubts, fears, contradictions and confusion. However, every time I just rest in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit within me, I'm comforted and confident; not in a "Positional Truth", but in who I am in Christ and who He is in me. And believe me, that's all I need. Like Paul, all I'm sure of is Christ and Him crucified, raised up on the third day, ascended into Heaven, sending His Spirit to live in me and THROUGH me, that I have been crucified with Christ (AKA " I'm already dead) and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.


Posted: May 3, 2002 by Sherri

""¦ realize the possibility that God's written testimony of Christ has been perverted into a life-sucking monster!"

I have to say Shovel-babe, this is by far my favorite of your expressions in this Shoveletter! You really have to put emphasis on the LIFE SUCKING MONSTER part when you say it! I can hear Tom Hanks saying it like he did about the fluorescent bulbs at his job on Joe vs. the Volcano! ; ) So expressive!! : ) Oh, and also the older lady who was trying to sell him and Shelley Long her dilapidating house on the Money Pit when she described the "blood sucking lawyers"! : )

And you are forever sooo good with the questions!! Excellent thought provoking questions!! For instance:

"Rules of Biblical Interpretation that are supposed to help us "divine" the true meaning. If so, why are we more and more divided as interpretations increase?"

"How do YOU explain all the bondage found within the Christian marketplace? And why has it become so common among the "grace crowd" to divide the gospel into two parts so it can be said that most believe the "first part" but not the "second"?"

Then, I love your thoughtful conclusions!!

"Do you realize what the doctrine denies the most? That Christ Himself is your ONLY authority and His Spirit your ONLY teacher."

""¦ even though professions of "faith" might be sprinkled generously throughout "statements of faith" faith itself doesn't even have to enter the equation!"

""¦ as it testifies to Christ our confidence is drawn to HIM - not to the Book."

I think the Spirit within us can testify with you about desiring to ""¦know nothing but Christ and Him crucified "¦" as far as any understanding of true Christianity, and caring whether or not their (those who make claims as ‘experts' on ‘christianity', the Bible, or whatever pertains to GOD) ""¦ testimony is anything other than the miraculous work of Christ."

EXCELLENT!! Thank you!! : ) Looking forward to MORE!!

Posted: May 3, 2002 by David


You are sure nuff preaching it NOW! Man!

I said it before, but it bears repeating: THIS IS MONUMENTAL, Jim. I should think that everything that has ever disturbed anybody about our expressions of "faith" and our practice of "Christianity" can be traced to this one single significant point. If we can wrap our minds around it... if we can learn to shrug off the fear ingrained in us from years of Biblical bullying... if we can stand up in the new man that God has erected upon the ashes of the old condemned tenement that we persist upon trying to reinhabit... WHAT MIGHT WE BECOME??

What we ARE.

Halleluia! --

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Ryan


I must say I enjoyed a different perspective on the "true" authority in our lives, that being Christ and not the Bible. However I am a bit curious as to what you suppose our perspective of the Bible should be in our lives? What role does it then play? I do think that the Bible HAS to play some role in our faith. If the Bible isn't somewhat of an authority on the person of Christ, how then do we claim to "know" the true person of Christ? The Mormons claim they know the "true" Christ. But the person of Christ I believe in is very different from the person of Christ they believe in. What then validates true "faith" in the true "Christ"? Realize I am in no way objecting to your position on what the true authority should be in our lives; rather I am trying to understand how you suppose we view and apply the Bible.

In Him,


Hello Ryan! Thanks for your comments and questions. I will deal with many of them in direct response, but know that I have every intention on dealing with them as this Shadow series progresses. Jim


I just finished responding to your latest shovel letter and realize so much more clearly what you were getting at. After posting I started browsing your site and landed at a q&a section titled "What about the sheep and the goats?". I must tell you that what was said in that article has just liberated me from some major bondage that I have been experiencing for that last year!

It goes back to those parables that were being discussed, particularly the one about the talents. You see I heard a sermon on this passage a while back and ever since has cause much fear in my life and many doubts on my eternal security. You see the way this passage was interpreted to me was that the talents were our works that justifies our faith (like James 2) and by them we will be paid back according to what we have done. And since then I have been in constant question of whether my faith is real. I know Grace and know that works has nothing to do with salvation, and even still my faith in my "faith" has been in question by an incorrect translation of scripture. It seems so simple now that I look back on those passages. Those passages don't contradict Grace but reaffirms it! Christ is the talent and the oil and has nothing to do with me!

Going back to your last letter, it is amazing how people use scripture to backup things that they hold to be true and then try to enforce upon the rest of us. In my honest opinion the sermon, as many are, was an attempt to use the audience as a puppet for some "religious" fantasy that the speaker was trying to fulfill. Another reason why Christ is the ONLY Authority in our lives and the ONLY means by which men are saved.

The truth does set us free!

Thank you.


Posted: May 3, 2002 by Judy

Jim!!! I was getting interested in this topic, in what you were saying, and then you pulled the same thing the black and white TV shows of long ago did!! pout
To be continued .....

LOL Have a beautiful week in the Lord.

Yes, aren't I a stinker?!! :) Jim

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Michael Daniel

Hey Brother Jim,

Well don't hold back, just say what you think for a change! I mean, I am so glad that you have finally emerged from that shell in which you have been encased for so very long. I feel I must point out, however, that you are in grave danger of being stoned, flogged, chained, and imprisoned. There is also a great possibility that you will lose all your friends and family as well, unless they are as nuts as you are. You know what? That's okay. It happened to the best of them. Peter, Paul, Silas, Stephen, Aquilla...shall I go on? You know if memory serves me, it even happened to Jesus. JESUS! Did I say Jesus? Well, brother of mine, shall we take a stroll back a few centuries and see just what Jesus had to say about teachers, fathers, and leaders? This just happens to come from that book you keep mentioning, which incidentally didn't even exist at the time Christ sent out His chosen.

Matthew, chapter 23, verses 8 through 12 nasb:

"But DO NOT be called Rabbi for One is your Teacher and you are all brothers. And DO NOT call ANYONE on earth your father, for One is your Father, He Who is in heaven. And DO NOT be called leaders for One is your Leader, that is Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted."

Did Jesus Himself really say these words? Did He truly advert his chosen to rely and trust in Him and Him ALONE? The Holy Spirit within me causes me to absolutely KNOW He did!

I love the Bible. It is, to me, the greatest book ever written. Therein lies the rub. IT'S A BOOK! IT IS NOT THE WORD OF GOD! IT IS NOT THE TRUTH, and there is NOTHING HOLY ABOUT IT! Okay, bring on the stones, the whips, and the cross. Will you indulge me for a moment?

There is NOTHING holy about the Bible. It is paper and ink and stitching and leather. It is man made. It is about The One Who IS Holy!

It is not the truth, it is the truth about "THE TRUTH"! JESUS!

And it is most certainly not the Word of God. It is the written word. THE WORD OF GOD LIVES and lives within ALL His chosen because HE LIVES WITHIN ALL HIS CHOSEN! Thank and praise God, we need NOTHING but The Holy Spirit within us to teach us and guide us and instruct us in ALL HIS WAYS!!! After all, can The Father, Son and Holy Spirit be separated? Are the Three not THE ONE? Is Jesus merely in our life or is He in all actuallity OUR VERY LIFE? Yes and amen...Christ IS OUR LIFE, and NOTHING can seperate us from Him...EVER!!!

Not Jesus and the Bible. Not Jesus and the building. Not Jesus and the Pastor. Not Jesus and prayer. Not Jesus and memorizing scripture. Not Jesus and me. Not Jesus and you...JUST JESUS!!!

Our ALL is Christ in us, The Hope of Glory. In Him we live and move and have our being. We are inside Him inside us! ONE! ONE! ONE! One Way, One Truth, One Life...JUST JESUS!!!

Religion has pointed us to externals for centuries, and whether anyone likes it or not, the Bible, the building, the Pastor, outward prayer, outward praise and worship, me and you and EVERYTHING ELSE on this earth is an external. All external expression feeds the soul and that is where the fickle, deceiving, feelings and emotions brew the storms of doubt, worry, guilt, fear, and hate. We get all pumped up in the "church building", then walk out the door and run into the brick wall of the world. The "what church" will never fulfill anything or anyone. The "WHO CHURCH" has already been fulfilled IN CHRIST JESUS!!! Are WE not "THE CHURCH"?

When will we turn inward to just Jesus? And as a very little child simply trust Him, believe Him, have faith in Him, and love Him? If anyone can answer that question please let me know. For I, just as Paul, still do the things I don't want to do and don't do the things I want to do. Thank God NOTHING depends on what We do or don't do. We simply depend on Jesus. Yes...Just Jesus.

I love you Bro!

In the Grace of Jesus,

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Bill


I don't wish to oversimplify, but it sounds very much to me that you are standing on the scripture that reads "the letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life". I agree wholeheartedly! I often wonder what it will take to end this twilight zone we have come to call the church and return to the idea of individual believers in Christ having fellowship. Anyway, I agree.
Regards, Bill

Yes, my brother Bill, what an excellent statement - "the letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life"! How easily we convert that into, "the letter killeth but the Spirit - only by way of the letter - giveth life". And you have so descriptively expressed this thing that has established itself in the hearts and minds of people all across the world: Twilight Zone. I will remember that one! :) Thanks, Jim

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Natalie

Well, you certainly enjoy keeping me in suspense. Really intriquing my dear friend. love,

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Bruce

"Do you realize what the doctrine denies the most? That Christ Himself is your ONLY authority and His Spirit your ONLY teacher."

And that the only purpose for any "book" is to bear witness to the TRUTH/CHRIST that has been laying dormant, hidden, and covered up underneath the earth of our flesh! It's purpose is to REVEAL, EXPOSE, HIS LIFE. It is to speak "let there be light"...and to command HIS LIGHT to shine forth from out of our darkness.

And to show us that HE was there all the time...and what is true in us is true in every Joe walking around on the earth. He is IN THEM also but they just don't acknowledge Him. For He is the LIGHT that lights EVERY MAN that comes into the world. And the light shines in the darkness...but the darkness comprehends it NOT.

So our job in "witnessing" is not to condemn someone and bring their "sin" to focus. But on the contrary...it is to confirm the "CHRIST" in them! True...all must first recognize their separation and alienation from their former estate ...but then we must move on to realize the deeper truth...that Christ lay crucified, dead, and buried within us...and that the LIFE OF HIS SON must be formed IN US!

Oh...gotta go to work!


Posted: May 3, 2002 by James

I think you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. So we don't have the original autographs. Why would we need them? Jesus spoke to his disciples...true. They wrote down what they heard. Well the same argument could be made. The words in the Gospel are not the actual words of Christ...they come from a secondary source...the disciples...and therefore aren't authoratative. If you take all the versions and textual "errors" away from the Bible. You would still have a mass of writing that would be identical to the autographs (assumption mine). You also have the problem that at the time of Christ, both Jesus and His disciples used the OT, and none of them had the original autographs either...but held them us as authoratative. If Christ could say that not jot or tittle would disappear from the law while holding a copy of the OT that was not an original autograph, then it is just as valid today. The problems in the Christian marketplace today do not stem from NOT having the original autographs NOR do they stem from bad interpretation of a copied autograph. We are the way we are because we sin, and because our perceptions of life are all varied. We all have different beliefs, etc, etc. Even in the Book of Revelation when the original autographs were around you have 7 churches already vastly different in their practical theology. I am afraid if you take the Bible and treat it as a Christian "Monster" you lose all authority to battle those who would deny the truth. There must be a standard by which one can judge (diakrinos) matters of faith. To leave it up to the "Spirit" is much too mystical a practice to be cohesive. I am afraid "Bibleology" is not so much a danger as it is God's way of preserving truth in the face of mysticism gone mad with not standard by which to judge itself. Think carefully about what you wrote. Cause it slides down to all interpretations are invalid except for your personal interactions with God. Which opens up the door for more abuse than you realize. --


James, Thank you for writing and expressing your concerns. I have to wonder, though, if you are responding to what I have written or to your own version of what I've written. I say this because your objections sound more like erecting the proverbial scarecrow that is then torn down to prove your case. It is fear that suggests you need a book to use as your authority against "those who would deny the truth" for you doubt the power of God that works within you. Is the "Spirit" that mystical to you? Jim Minker

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Neil

Right on, Bro, right on.

Remember some of these from past communiques?

"God said it, I believe it, that settles it" Bumper sticker theology. >From whence such a statement? "Why, it's right there in the Bible, man. God said it." But is that book you are holding what he said? What is God-breathed--spirit--cannot be understood by flesh. How "spiritual" were those interpreters of your particular version? How would you know? What qualifies them? That they know Hebrew and Greek? Those who condemned Jesus to death knew Hebrew quite well, I do believe. And do you today see in Greece an entire population of believers? They speak Greek.

Seen on the license plate holder of a fiery-red, late-model sports car: "I know the future. God wins" How do we know that? Where does one find such information? In the Bible? According to my interpretation (which is just as good as yours...if we have the same Holy Spirit) the Bible tells me that God has already won. More a matter of knowing when the defeat took place and who--or what--was defeated, wouldn't you think?

Being overwrought with Bibliology can cause some so-called "great leaders" to be led down the path of believing anything, even silly "Bible codes". How accurate can these be since the numbering is based upon the Hebrew texts from the sixth century or so..."modern" Hebrew renderings quite different than the original. The Bible coders do not have the original. Did those "original signature authors" also know how and in what way their words would be changed centuries later? Were the speakers of King James English able to anticipate in what manner their version of the Bible would be translated into modern English? Same thing.

And what of the Old Testament scriptures Paul quoted to make his points? You hear no one today quoting those scriptures. Sometimes it is difficult to understand what he saw in a particular scripture to make his point. Even Peter said that about Paul. Even so, a few he used are not even in the so-called "canon" of today. If it was good enough for him why isn't it good enough for us? Might it be that Paul knew the real purpose of scripture?

One truth about truth: it is truth where ever you go and under whatever circumstances. The name it and claim it (or blab it and grab it) crowd wants to tell us the Bible teaches prosperity. What about those believers linving in the most downtrodden of third-world countries? Shouldn't they be owning Lexuses and living in mansions amidst the mud huts and donkeys of their unbelieving neighbors? There is a truth which works for them as much as it does for the yuppie. And everytime.

Well, of course one could go on and on with examples of people who say they believe every word of the Bible them proceed to prove by the testimony of their lives that they don't believe a word of it. And I ain't talkin' about the way they act. That's because when it comes to "testimonies" the only testimony which is true is that which testifies to the truth of Christ. Any other, including any stack of Bibles one might swear on, is not a true testimony. As possessors of the Holy Spirit we have the power--and the duty--to kick any angel in his feathered butt who brings a false testimony...even if he says it came from the throne of God. For even God himself in these latter days testifies of his son in whose hands he has placed all things.

Now I'll push my soapbox back under the desk.

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Joyce


I think I am pretty much in agreement or of the understanding of what Ryan posted earlier. I sense so much life in what you are saying, but my mind can't grasp all of it, even though I have probably read the last two shoveletters about 4-5 times each. Maybe you haven't responded yet to it because it will be more understood in the next shoveletter, which is Ok. There's even been times in this "Shadow" series where I have really felt in a state of confusion and intensely seeking understanding when God Himself actually told me things about it. :)


Hello Joyce! I am actually at this very moment responding to the questions you had emailed me. I also have some follow-up emails that Ryan sent me shortly after posting what he did wherein he was expressing his excitement in his freedom from bondage by having read something else - seemingly unrelated - on the site. The confusion is to be expected as my suggestions are linked to MANY religious assumptions we have made which have not been questioned openly till now. I question the systems and logic of man and not the truth and life of God!! It is the same as when we first questioned the reality of Santa Claus we may have rejected it because it seemed to question the reality of the Giver of gifts to man. On top of whatever I post in relation to your questions you are correct in assuming that I am also dealing with all of this in the upcoming Shoveletters. As a matter of fact, I don't really know how long I will be extending this series, for it may go on for months to come. Jim

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Joyce

I don't know if I have ever read the exact rules for Bibliology that were in the Shoveletter, but feel I have been taught all of those things at different times in my life in a very emphatic way. Since there are many other things that I have had to change my mind on of things that I have been taught, I am trying to figure out things about this topic as well.

How do we know that the Bible composes the complete written revelation of God to man? Does that mean they are saying that there has never then been anything else written that would reveal something of God to man? How do we know that every word is God breathed and that the originals contained the exact words which God decreed to be His word? How do we know they were free from error? Is it true that at least the originals were all these things? How do we know that? Thanks. Joyce

My response to Joyce

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Rick


I enjoy the challenge your Shoveletter presents. I wholeheartedly agree that the doctrinal statement is carefully crafted as to be a statement of faith, not a statement of certainty. After all, if we had the original autographs miraculously preserved, we would still have to assert a faith in their authenticity as well as their veracity. I believe the abuses you allude to come not from the statement of faith per se, they devolve from the abuses of such statements in general. The fault is not that we believe that the Bible is true and reliable. The fault is that we are certain that the Bible is true and reliable. If I'm not mistaken, the just shall live by faith and not by certainty. This is not to say that we cannot have confidence in what we believe for I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him until that day that he brings all things to Himself but it is a confidence rooted in faith by the Grace of God.

There are a number of controversies that follow the same pattern. The argument is not about belief, it is about the certainty of being right. I believe that my version of the Bible is reliable. Am I certain? No. Do I need to be? Well, if I am, then it is no longer of faith and that falls to sin because it is confidence in the flesh rather than confidence in the grace of God to lead me into all truth. But I am confident nonetheless because of the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit. Others, however, are certain that their version of the Bible is right and will be divisive in proving their case and destroying mine. Is this faith? Is this gracious? Is this Godly? They assert that they must earnestly contend for the faith. But they aren't contending for the FAITH. They are contending for the certainty of their human understanding.

Some state that their particular sect, flavor or denomination can trace its roots all the way back to Christ and attempt to historically prove this. What if they have their proof? Well, then they don't believe Matthew 16:18. They know it for certain so it is not faith but certainty in a fleshly pedigree. I have confidence that Christ has kept his church. Why? Because I appropriate it by grace through faith, not by certainty through historical proof.

We can go on and on. Some state that their order of worship is the most Godly and have historical/biblical proof. No faith, just certainty. Some state that their hierarchical structure is most Godly. How do they know? The writings of the Apostolic Fathers. Is this faith? Is this pleasing to God?

The patter repeats itself endlessly. Nearly any theological issue boils down to a faith vs. certainty issue. Trouble is, even if you're right and you argue the other fellow into a corner and force him to admit that his position is wrong through superior skill, has this built up his faith? Will he necessarily believe you because you are right? A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. And even if he did convert to your position, is it faith resulting from God's leadership or from superior debating skills?

Keep up your good work. Sacred cows make the best hamburgers!

BTW, I'm hitting the reply button because your embedded link won't open up the right page on your site.

God bless, rick

My friend and brother Rick! All I can say is WOW!! Well, that's really not ALL I can say, but you know what I mean ... don't you? Hey, sorry about that link mess up. It hit me the following morning (about 3:30 am) that I had not input the address into the form I made for easy posting of the Shoveletter. You're the first to indicate your trouble ... and I THANK you for that. As a matter of fact, any time you find difficulty with some function on the Shoveletter or the web site please feel free to drop me a note so that I don't keep sending people to the wrong places ... or to no places. :) Jim Minker

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Bill


I must confess, I am confused by your latest Shoveletter. I have many questions. I thought about waiting until you're finished with this train of thought so I could see exactly where you are going with this, but then I thought, knowing Jim, he could write 5 or 6 more letters and still not be finished. So I'm going to break down and try to understand what's going on now before I get too lost.

At first, I thought you were criticizing the doctrine of Bibliology, but then you didn't really say anything that disagreed with it. So then I decided that you were just criticizing the way people use the Bible. Am I on track so far?

If you were criticizing the doctrine of Bibliology, I think you were missing a couple of points. First, the documents that we do possess today are so close to the original autographs that there is no substantial difference. Second, the fact that there are billions and billions of different interpretations and translations does not mean that the basic message is unclear or distorted. I think that every translation contains the basic message that God loves the world so much that He sacrificed His own son to demonstrate that love and to bring us back into intimacy with Him. Agreed? Okay good, let's move on.

If you were talking about how people shouldn't use the Bible to condemn or control themselves or others then I'm not sure why you brought up all the Bibliology stuff. If we only had one translation and if we had the original autographs or if we had Jesus Christ in our midst or inside of us or even if we had a hot-line to God where He would answer all of our questions, we would still use His words to mess things up. That's what we do.

So I guess I missed your point all together. Maybe the next letter will help clear things up for me.

Love, Bill

My response to Bill

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Elaine

Dear Jim,

Let me say if you were here in person you would see the twinkle in my eye and the slight smile on my whole face. As I was reading your response Jim it was almost as if a light being turned on.

Thoughts I have and couldn't quite put into words. Hey I almost used the word articulate (can't even spell it) but that's not me. Put in to words is more on my level:<)

Now my mother would just hit the roof if she knew I was even considering these thing. And I am 55 old enough to think things through wouldn't you agree?:<)

Considering the fact that in the org. church I last attended we had quite a discussion on how the if the people who were followers of Jim Jones had of known there Bible they would never have been in his occult. When in all reality the very life of Christ in you should be the moving force that keeps you.

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Dan

Hi Jim the word of God is life to the spirit of man and accord to the bible it self it is the living word that brings life.I think of places around the world where they do not have the bible and people pray and show the love of God to people who will even kill them if they say that Jesus Christ loves them that to me is the living word of Jesus Christ in them.Love

Posted: May 3, 2002 by Joanne

PTL and thank you for what you have written.

Am going to go to the first one when I have time (computer went out, so lost some of what had), but really enjoyed this writing. Why? Because it points out, for one thing, that our confidence, our very life, does not rest on black print on white pages, but on Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yes, I read scripture and am thankful for it, for the Lord (who IS the living Word of God) drew me to Himself through it. Scripture leads us to HIM. PTL! Thank you - your writing is refreshing.


Joanne, Thanks for these encouraging words!! How I desire that many others would also realize this same living freedom and truth you speak of. For you testify truthfully to the fact that we needn't be afraid that questioning the doctrines of men nullifies anything of the written words of Moses, the prophets or the disciples. But that instead, their living purpose is made known - for many have been drawn BY the words ... but not TO the words, but TO CHRIST. :)

Posted: May 3, 2002 by John E

Wow! Lots of good stuff here. I love how this is making me think about the Life in me. I love how you kicked this all off, Jim. And I love what Rick said--he hit the nail on the head. I do have this question. Jim, I feel like I know you pretty well (as one person mentioned above) because I've been reading your "words" here. I also think I know a little about the Lord because I've been reading His Word. I don't pretend that I know all about Him because of this but I do feel that I am more familiar with Him because I have what I can believe is His Word. I don't have to trust my feelings or what I think the Lord might say here or there--I have something I can lay my hands on and wrap my heart around. It forms the basis for all I believe about Him. However, I worship Him and Him alone. Again, I think it is very difficult to separate His Word (not the interpretation thereof) from Him. If we use the Bible as something to measure each other by, then it is being used for a devilish purpose! But the Bible itself is good. Kinda like what Paul said about the Law--the law is good but it was the purpose it was being used for that was bad. It was not meant for the righteous! Perhaps once a person has learned Who Christ is & understands some of His grace, perhaps through His Spirit, He will then reveal some higher things to that person--not so they can boast but so they can grow. But it's an individual thing. I guess I'm not far enough along to trust my intuition or my feelings about what the Lord is saying to me outside of His Word--I still have to trust His Word and He says so many things to me 'THROUGH" what is written--things that aren't readily apparent at first glance. So far I've found so much to learn and grow in from His Word that I don't have time to try to find it elsewhere. I believe His Spirit speaks to me through the Bible. But I need His Word because I need to know Him more & more. Love, Peace, and Soul! Talk atcha later man!

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