In this episode BT and Dangerous discuss how they use the Bible, what it means to them and, more importantly how the Holy Spirit uses it. With that in mind they ponder when, if and how we open up the Bible to new converts. Are there black and white answers in the Good Book or is it a tool of the Holy Spirit that means different things to different people?
In this episode, Cirque du Sola Scriptura, the gents look at whether the Bible is reliable. Paul tells Timothy that all scripture is ‘God-breathed’ and that’s often used to prove Biblical inerrancy (ack of errors), but can we really use the Bible to argue the Bible’s reliability? Can we show Biblical reliability in other ways? Even without inerrancy? And what can the late, great cricketer Donald Bradman teach us (And can we teach all Bible studies through analogies with his life?)
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Produced by Debs McBeany
This episode is a re-recording of a light-hearted talk Dangerous gave. It’s about why the Bible can’t be made up and the reason it’s here is that it deals with Biblical dating. We’re talking about what’s and wherefores of the Bible in this month’s episode so it seemed a good idea to get the facts about Biblical dating out the way so we don’t have to slog through them in the episode. We hope you enjoy it and hopefully it helps in your quest.
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I think your 3 points are really the formation of, in terms of a backbone, the episode.
I’m not sure how we tackle point 1 without tackling society’s philosophy. A greater issue as postmodernism/subjectivism is not a philosophy that is overt. Our generation(s?) and younger would not admit (or ever think about) that they hold to a philosophy of any kind. Ergo, it’s tough to get them to change it. The other issue there is that people don’t like being told what to do, or, more so, what to do and how to do it.
I think that’s it! Not reliability, but relevance. As we talk through what the Bible is we need to show that it’s still relevant. A subjective generation will still take on things they feel are relevant to them.
Point 3 is very interesting, isn’t it. As with point 1 it’s hard to get Christians to understand this because they don’t see it. If you told them they worshiped the Bible, they would simply disagree and say they use the Bible to worship God. This is something I hope to discuss on this month’s Stuff Podcast (also on the Bible!).
Point 2 is linked into the question of how we read the Bible. Can we really take it all as words from God or does it make more sense as a handbook? As you say it’s complex and sometimes baffling. Again this is more the realms of the Stuff podcast, but it is good to have in our minds. I think for us the question is of purpose. What do we (or perhaps should we) use the Bible for?
If someone is listening to the podcast to grasp the fundamentals of the faith, then what part does the Bible play? How can it help us in our faith and in our life? Is it still relevant or outdated?
It vexes me because to question inerrancy is basically to question Christianity in it’s present form. To reshape theology as we know it. That’s a big call. Are we up to it? Should we be doing it?
Just a note on whether we question parts of the Bible that do not gel with God’s character. I think this is dangerous as it relies on our understanding of God’s character which is very limited. We must remember that we have no place to cry unjust or unfair; God can do what He likes with His creations in the same way we can build and destroy anything we want when we play with Lego. It is not for the bricks to decide.
Given our remit (to tackle the fundamentals of Christianity afresh, for the benefit of outsiders to the faith) this is one of the most vital discussions we need to have. I say this because ‘The Bible,’ itself often constitutes a stumbling block to would-be Christians. I have had at least three discussions with unbelieving friends over the years, in which they have effectively told me: “I would be a Christian if it wasn’t for the Bible.” Why is this? I would suggest three underlying reasons:
1.) In our Post-truth culture, people are extremely wary of absolutists and especially absolutists who hold to ancient Scriptures. I think the fear many people have is that Christians, Muslims or others hold to outdated teachings in an unthinking way, holding their emotions and intellects at arm’s length. In response, our reading of the Bible needs to engage emotions and intellect.
2.) Let’s be honest, the Bible is complex and at face value, its moral lessons are baffling. Examples include the perplexing Levitical code and the Apostle Paul’s apparent disdain for women. I say ‘at face value,’ because I think one of the lessons we need to learn is that it’s OK to read the Bible carefully and intelligently, rather than from a confrontational, simplistic, “this I know ‘cos the Bible tells me so,” stance. But nevertheless, I think people are interested in God, but sometimes put off by the Bible.
3.) Some Christians give the (misguiding) impression that the Bible ITSELF is God, rather than Jesus. You can’t put the cart before the horse: I only grew to love the Bible after my Christian conversion. Beforehand, I remember telling my Dad, “the Bible is dead to me,” because it was. You can only love God’s word when you first love God. So I think unbelievers are frankly baffled by Christians’ devotion for the good book. We need to push Jesus first, Bible second.
With all this in mind and turning to your two questions, I think we need to be upfront with believers that although the Bible is ‘reliable,’ and ‘trustworthy,’ it is also troublesome and you can still be a Christian while living and walking with uncertainty about the Scriptures. If you give people an ultimatum – it’s either completely perfect, easy and infallible or it’s not – you’ll likely put people off. In other words, as you have said, ‘the Bible is true, separate from inerrancy.’
So to your second question. I would be open to more radical voices in the Evangelical fold who are moving towards an altogether fresh approach to the question of ‘how we read the Bible.’ For example, if the Bible attributes an action to God which really seems to jar with the character of God as revealed in Christ, could we consider that the writers of the Bible falsely attributed that action. The best example are the so-called ‘genocide,’ passages where God apparently commands the Israelites to slaughter whole nations, ‘women and children,’ included. If you want to read more, Steve Chalke’s paper on the Scriptures (‘Restoring Confidence in the Bible’) is helpful and can be found on the ‘Oasis’ website. The drawback of this idea is clearly that it is subsequently difficult to define which accounts are reliable and which are not. But whatever the case, I agree that this is, as you say,’the big one.’ One approach as we move forward might be for you and I to target these so-called ‘difficult’ passages in our discussions.
Anyway, let me know what you think, great mate. SMASHY.
Not a normal episode from the guys this week; instead we’re highlighting our new, limited run, podcast, Milk. It’s taking a look at Christianity Basics from the same eyes as the ‘Stuff’ podcast, rooting around and seeing where we might have added our own traditions into the very basics of our religion.
New episodes won’t appear on this feed, but if you’re interested you can search up ‘Milk’ or ‘unspokenchurch’ on iTunes or wherever you get podcasts from and subscribe from there. And from our blog site, of course.
In this first episode, ‘Dangerous’ Walker (from the ‘Stuff We Don’t Talk about in Church’ podcast) and Sir Tom talk about what Christianity is and what it isn’t. They try to strip away the traditions and interpretations and give an honest look that puts God front and centre. Something the Western church perhaps doesn’t do as much as it thinks…
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I completely agree with everything you said. What makes me happy discussing this stuff with you is that you come at the topic from a different perspective than my own which helps to illuminate it.
Moving away from church and into the realms of new (or as yet) Christians I think your point about loving as we have loved etc is a good point. I cannot think of a verse in the Bible that tells us why we should be saved, rather it is taken as a given. You should have a relationship with God because you should. I think the reasons you gave are the closest to a eral reason. God has given should you too should give.
So here’s my thinking on what Christianity is (this comes straight from the script I was working on):
“So let’s refine the reason for becoming a Christian that puts God front and centre: it’s the belief that there is a God who created all things including us. He gave us free will and because of Satan’s influences we’ve used that free will to do our own thing and shun a relationship with God.
Think of life like a sport’s team, let’s say soccer. Everyone has their position and they work together to win. Then you have defenders deciding they want to be strikers and get the glory and midfielders who don’t trust the defenders and move up and down. Ultimately everyone is getting what they want, but they’re no longer working together to win the prize.
So, God came to Earth in the form of a man named Jesus and it was through His death and resurrection that we are reunited with God and fitted back into His excellent plan.”
See I think the point of Christianity comes back to purpose. God wanted something done so He created us with specific skills and talents to do that job. We’re only going to find true happiness and purpose in life when we get back into the machine, when we let go of our ego and accept we are a cog in a machine then we find purpose.
I disagree (slightly) with what you said about God having a plan to change the world, I think He knows it’s broken hence the New Heaven and New Earth. I think God has a good plan for them and wants us to get as many people into the Kingdom as possible. It’s not God’s intention that anyone should miss out, but by our own choice we deny the invitation. When we become Christians we accept entry into the Kingdom and God expects us to live like we will then. After all, if we can’t do it now (or at least try) how are we going to do it then?
A last thought: Verses like Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11 talk about God having a plan for us, but nowhere else does the Bible talk about plans in terms of something on the is Earth that is a blessing. Jesus constantly talks about being a servant and that the last will be first. I think that’s God’s plan, serve now in the Shadowlands and enjoy the Kingdom when the work is finished.
In this episode, Pauline Theology, ‘Dangerous’ and Lenae dissect the verses that are used to argue that women should not hold leadership roles, or only specific ones. Basically the idea that women can’t teach men as espoused in in 1 Timothy 2, but, as ever, they drift into other exciting topics such as Biblical inerrancy and comics.
You can shout at them at the Facebook page (unspokenchurch); on Twitter (@unspoken_church) or on email (email@example.com)
Produced by Debs
In this episode, ‘Wo Men, Wo Problems’, ‘Dangerous’ is joined by Lenae (while BeaTs is on holiday) to discuss some of the groovy women in the Bible and what they can teach us. Exploring such questions as why articles on Biblical women are aimed only at women; how these women tended not to screw things up as much as the men did and how one woman got her miracle by making Jesus laugh.
Produced by Debs
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