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 ...