Before I discuss our Bible, let me sum up what I have talked about so far.
First, in Inerrancy – Part 1: Doctrine of Inerrancy, I discussed the basics of this doctrine. I also eluded to the fact that this doctrine is essentially useless to us because it makes claims only about writings that we do not have. Instead, we have copies of copies of copies, which we know contain errors.
Second, in Inerrancy – Part 2: Scripture, I stated that the word scripture means “a body of writings considered sacred or authoritative.” The word translated as scripture is γραφη (graphē), it’s general meaning is “writing,” and when it is used in the New Testament it always points back to the writings of the Old Testament.
Now, onto the bible.
We deal with the bible every day. We do not deal with the original writings, we do not have the original writings. In fact, I am not even sure we would know if we had the original writings (it’s not like they’d be stamped with “original” or something). The bible has been translated over and over again from copies of copies that we know contain errors. If it is true that if the bible contains one error it is untrustworthy, then the bible must be untrustworthy.
Yet, by the very same evidence that suggests its untrustworthiness, we claim it is trustworthy… not because it contains one (or more) errors, but because it has a great track record where it does agree (95% O.T. and 99% N.T. is not something we can ignore, especially when it comes to ancient writings). At the very most, based on this evidence alone, we can say that the bible we carry with us everyday reflects, to a great deal of accuracy, the copies of very influential religious writings. This evidence does not allow us to call the writings scripture, because they are still untrustworthy. The evidence only gives us a hint to what the originals *might* have looked like, without giving us absolute assurance.
Now, put down the stones, I am merely talking about what the scientific evidence allows us to say about the bible. There is more to this story, namely, God. When we add God into the picture, this is what we can say about the Bible:
The bible is reliable as far as it reflects the original authors work, which means we must rely on the Holy Spirit to not only determine the original intent and believe it as truth, but also to understand and interpret it properly.
It is my conjecture that the Doctrine of Inerrancy has caused many people in the past, and in the present, to trust in an untrustworthy document. By doing so, they have forgotten to trust God and have thus mistranslated, misinterpreted, and plainly misused the writings that He gave us. These writings by themselves cannot lead us to truth. It is only by the power of God himself that we are able to sit down, read the bible, and understand its message, content, and meaning. Does the Bible reflect the truth? I believe so, but the mirror is broken and we need to lean on the eternal God to fill in those cracks. I will be the first one to admit it, it is much easier to play with numbers to make us comfortable with the trustworthiness of the bible. However, I have to also state that it is much more comforting to know that I have to lean on God to know and understand the Truth.
Should we throw away our bibles? No, may it never be! God gave us these writings for a reason, but he wants us to use them with him by our sides, guiding us, showing us, leading us. When we trust in man-made doctrines, we put God to the side and we have to figure out our own interpretations. Can those interpretations be correct? Yes. But I would rather know that I was led by God for a correct interpretation than by myself.
I know this is probably like a big bomb, do you have any thoughts? Am I completely off the wall? Have I missed some important fact that proves me completely wrong? Please share/comment/etc.