A Fascinating Perspective on the Bible

I found this through a link to the "Confessing Evangelical" blog, in a comment on Craig's blog (AGAIN. GEEZ.) and found it really thought-provoking and insightful. I think we too often seek answers to our questions and concerns about faith within our own traditions (in my case, reformed baptist -- not exactly a shallow pool, but limited by definition) rather than gleaning wisdom from believers in other traditions. Bo Giertz (1905-1998), whose quotes you'll read below, was a Swedish Confessional Lutheran Bishop. Let's just say his writings are not on the syllabus of most classes at Southern Seminary. I mean, a Lutheran? Those weirdos with their whole law-gospel business and their infant baptism and their sometimes uncomfortably vague definitions of Christian doctrine?

Caveat: I don't necessarily endorse every jot and tittle of the doctrine espoused in the quoted passages (nor, I would imagine, the book as a whole), but I thought it interesting.

“The Bible is exactly as God wanted it to be”

John H

Saturday 2nd June, AD 2007

My holiday reading last week included Bo Giertz’s book The Hammer of God [note: this book is a novel] (which I’ve read, and posted on, before), and I was struck by the following passage in which Pastor Bengtsson (an orthodox Lutheran) tells his more liberal colleague Pastor Torvik that what matters is not whether one has a “historical” view of the Bible (”historical” being code for “liberal”), but instead:

Everything depends on whether we have a religious view of the Bible.

When Torvik asks what this means, Bengtsson explains as follows:

That is faith in the Bible as the voice of God, so that if you read it to hear what God would say to you, you actually hear God speak. For my part, I have the simple belief that the Bible is exactly as God wanted it to be. That does not mean, perhaps, that every detail is set forth systematically for science, as in an academic treatise. But it does mean that every little detail has been given such a form that a human being who seeks salvation will be helped to find the truth.

The highlighted words express my own conviction on this issue as well. I’ve never felt comfortable with the term “inerrant”, largely because it carries connotations of the Bible conforming to a standard that we have set for it ourselves. But, equally, I find it intolerable to suggest that the Bible contains errors (even if some might see that as a necessary consequence of rejecting inerrancy).

Better to follow Pastor Bengtsson and affirm simply that “the Bible is exactly as God wanted it to be”; that it meets the standard that God has set for his written Word, regardless of how it measures up to whatever standard we might wish to apply.

There is then still plenty of work to do in understanding what that affirmation means and in resolving (or learning to live with) apparent contradictions or difficulties within the Bible. However, we are freed to carry out this work positively and from a position of confidence, rather than constantly having to do battle against the purported “errors” that, left unchecked, might undermine our faith in the “inerrancy” of Scripture.

Pastor Bengtsson also reminds us that the Bible was not written to satisfy our curiosity. Rather, “every little detail has been given such a form that a human being who seeks salvation will be helped to find the truth“. Many of our anxieties concerning apparent “errors” or “contradictions” in Scripture - for example, the differences between accounts of the same events in the four gospels - evaporate when we understand the purpose for which God provided the Scriptures.

As Pr Landgraf’s comment as quoted in my previous post reminds us, the gospels are not there to satisfy our curiosity as to what exactly Jesus said or did on any given occasion - in other words, they are not “fly on the wall” documentaries - but to provide four different perspectives on the more fundamental questions: why is Jesus considered a Saviour, and what is the “good news” concerning him? Much the same applies to the rest of the Bible.


Sorry, sorry...

It's been such a long time since I posted anything of substance. I could cite work-busyness, dad being in town this week, community group and gospel classes starting back up but it's really all an excuse.

I have been pondering the (infant vs. believer's) baptism issue for a week or so, ever since several of us (including the thoughtful and brilliant Jamie Barnes, my favorite musician of all time) debated it this past Sunday, but I don't know if I'll write anything about it NOW. NOW it'll just look like I'm trying to ride Craig's coattails, dagnabbit!

While I make up my mind, head over to Mike's blog and pray for people to be generous in their support of his ministry. Or better yet, send him some money!


A Little (very little) Theology Nerd Humor

I linked to this increasingly funny Pyromaniacs thread from Craig's blog (hm, do I get anything on my own or just from Craig?) and laughed until I was ashamed of my Theology Nerdiness. A few of you will take pride in not getting these (looking at you, Rochester), but Christine and a couple others might enjoy my contributions to "Book Titles for Which I'm Still Waiting" (and a few belonging to other folks that I just couldn't resist including):


Dr. StrangeTongues: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Glossolalia by John MacArthur

All Things Properly and In Order by Paul and Jan Crouch

The Christ of Scripture: The Christ of History by John Dominic Crossan

Good Morning, Disembodied Entity Who Claims To Be the Holy Spirit! by Benny Hinn

I Thank God That I Speak In Tongues More than All of You by John MacArthur

The Left Foot of Disfellowship: Why Anyone Who Isn't Like Me Is Dangerous (and Probably Unregenerate, Too) by the Southern Baptist Convention

Unwashed Savages: Talking Down to the Global South (Because We're Smarter Than They Are) by Katharine Jefferts Schori and Rowan Williams

White Man's Burden: Talking Down to the Global South, Again (Because We're More Enlightened Than They Are) by Katharine Jefferts Schori and Rowan Williams

No Other Name: Why Christianity and Islam are Fundamentally Incompatible by Rev. Ann Holmes Redding

We Really DO Worship Mary by Pope Benedict XVI

Hell? YES! by Clark Pinnock

By some other clever folks:

Go Away, Holy Spirit! by Benny Hinn

The Vow of Jephthah: How to Unlock God's Blessing with Familial Sacrifice by Bruce Wilkinson

I Dream of Denim Dresses Contemporary Essays by Homeschool Moms

Amilleniallism - The real message of Revelation by Tim Lahaye

Dead in Sin - Lectures on Depravity by Robert Schueller

Modesty, Humility, and Submission--Modeling Christ For Today's Woman by Juanita Bynum and Joyce Meyers

Scriptural Arguments for Intentionally Small Congregations
by Joel Osteen

The Centrality of the Gospel by Joel Osteen

Jonathan Edwards: an 'Okay' Theologian, I Guess, If You Like That Sort of Thing by John Piper

Systematic, Exegetical Theology by Joyce Meyers

The Feminine Divine in Ancient Mediterranean Culture by Mark Driscoll

If He Wants Them, He Can Get Them by William Carey and Hudson Taylor

101 Snappy Topical Sermons by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Suffering Well - the normal Christian life by Joel Osteen

The Church, 'Israel of God' by John Hagee

Books I Have Never Read by Al Mohler

The Warmth and Fuzziness of God - R C Sproul

6 Days, 40 Billion Years....Who Cares! by Hugh Ross and Ken Ham

OK People in the Hands of An Understanding God - Jonathan Edwards

Man of Miracles, Son of God, and Risen Lord: The Good News of Jesus Christ by Bishop John Shelby Spong


What Lasts?

I just read this on another blog. Think about it:

For a Christian, all misery is temporary. For a non-Christian, all pleasure is temporary.


May this be our rallying cry...

Only the formal principle of biblical authority — sola scriptura — can bring reformation to bureaucratic ecclesial structures swollen fat, evangelistically lethargic, and drunk on their own traditions. Only an exclusive commitment to Christ — solo Christo — can unite the Body of Christ together in common surrender to the Lordship of God’s Only Begotten Son. Only the doctrine of justification by faith alone — sola fide — can anchor diverse methods of gospel proclamation to the truth without which men will surely perish. Only God’s redeeming grace — sola gratia — can restore purpose and fruitfulness to a convention whose evangelical arrogance and triumphalism have robbed her of authentic holiness, sweet revival fervor, and blessed spiritual unity in truths commonly held by all who follow the Crucified One. Finally, only God’s glory — soli Deo gloria — is a sufficient rationale to invest one’s life in pursuit of denominational reform. All who seek the vainglorious satisfactions of ambitious men will suffer their inescapable fates in due time. The Triune God will share his glory with no other, and that includes the Southern Baptist Convention.

--Ben Cole, SBCOutpost.com