Note: On the first Sunday of January, 2000, I presented to a combined adult Bible class a list of items that the church must thoughtfully address if we are to be a viable voice in the new millennium. I was asked to expand that Bible class presentation into a series of bulletin articles which were published in the church bulletin. They are reprinted here in the hope they will be helpful to even more people. These may be freely used as deemed appropriate.
| Introduction | The Bible & Truth-#1 | Bible Inspiration-#2 | Bible Interpretation-#3 | Nature of Church-#4 | Possibility of Unity-#5 | Worldliness-#6 | Christian Experience-#7 | Christian Missions-#8 | Christian Hope-#9 | Human Nature-#10 | Christian Living-#11 |
The church must understand the Bible. We must increase our Bible knowledge. A great issue continues to be biblical ignorance. In our post-modern world, we must not only know the Bible, we must ask concerning the nature of truth, the nature of Scripture, and the relationship of Scripture to human thought (see the first article in the series).
Also, the church must understand biblical inspiration. Extremes exist at either end of a polarity. Some religious dictionaries say that fundamentalists believe "every word of the Bible is literally true." At the other pole, some seem to think none of the Bible is really true. At least two things must be considered under this matter of biblical inspiration--the literalness of the Bible and the process of inspiration.
How do we accept the Bible as true while properly distinguishing literal and figurative language? Some are tempted to the ditch of over-literalism. Others are tempted to the ditch of cultural and human reinterpretation and application so that virtually all of the Bible becomes figurative. The church affirms that all the Bible affirms is true, and that even what is affirmed figuratively or poetically (rather than literally) is still true and must be interpreted as such.
The process of inspiration must also be examined. Conservatives have tended to regard inspiration as a somewhat mechanical process in which human authors are basically passive with no active role. That inspiration is verbal and plenary has been difficult for some to reconcile with any other view. Did God dictate the Bible in a way similar to the Muslim view of the Koran (dictated by Allah in Arabic through the angel Gabriel, with Muhammad's only contribution to take down the dictation)? This results in a Koran believed to be an exact reproduction of the heavenly original.
How shall we explain the dual authorship of Scripture, the words of God in the words of humans? How shall we describe the involvement of human authors or redactors, especially when their own vocabulary and personal writing styles are in view? Certainly we must see that the divine author spoke through human authors in full possession of their faculties.
Further, what must be affirmed regarding the accuracy of our current versions to avoid compromising the authority of Scripture? In what way is the Scripture authoritative? What makes it so? The church must firmly address these and similar questions to understand the nature of the "God-breathed" revelation in Scripture.
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