My life has been super-busy lately, and the blog is obviously suffering a bit. This post should have been written days ago but I put it off through a combination of laziness and having stuff that honestly was more important to do.
The origins of this post can be found in a comment that I left to Rik Fleming of Journal of a Struggling Christian (formerly Gay Christian Journal). Looking back on the comment, I realize that I was a total brat to Rik and I apologize for that. I'm pretty mellow in person, but give me a pen (or a keyboard) and my words can come off as pretty strong. I wish I had the same grace that Pam has when she writes, but for right now I'm simply working on it.
Still, according to Rik my comment raised several good questions and he graciously wrote a very detailed post in response. I had no idea Rik had such a rich background in theology and philosophy, and since I'm just your average college student, much of his reply was simply over my head.
I can thank him for giving words to concepts that I've held for a long time. I've always made a distinction between Biblical Truth and human truth. For example, I believe Jesus is the Son of God and died to save me from my sins. That's Biblical Truth. It cannot be proven, so it must be taken on faith, and that kind of Truth is revealed to us through the Bible. I also believe that Earth is billions of years old and that animals evolve from primitive forms to more advanced forms. This is human truth. It runs counter to what is described in the Genesis account. However, it is pretty much established through scientific method. There is Truth in the Genesis account, however. Though I don't believe God made the planet in six literal days, I do believe He created everything. That is Biblical Truth.
Confused? People often are when I tell them about this view, and it has led to some sticky situations in the past. Thanks to Rik, I know that there is an actual term for it called "limited inerrancy." I'm happy about that, because the whole "big T / little T" system I made really didn't work out. Rik then spends many paragraphs going over why it is an incorrect view. Like I said, I can't respond to him on a theological or philosophical basis. I just don't have the appropriate knowledge to create a response that won't be laughable. I will do my best to respond to this quote, though.
"To argue, as do many evangelicals who hold to limited inerrancy, that we may have a high degree of confidence in Scripture with respect to matters such as doctrine but that the text may contain factual errors regarding historical, geographical, ethics or scientific details is detrimental to the faith. If we introduce the possibility of error even in the slightest degree, the foundation of our faith would be destroyed."
All I will say about this view is that it is the precise reason why many faiths have been destroyed. Many people are raised with a view that the Bible is perfect, infallible, and not subject to error or scrutiny in any way. When the time comes that logic gets the better of them and they start questioning some aspects of Scripture (such as the Genesis account, the Exodus story, or the idea that women can't be preachers) their faith crumbles. I know because it's happened to me and friends of mine.
Where does the answer lie? I really don't know. With me, I have come to the conclusion that the Bible was written by many authors over thousands of years. It is a combination of different genres. Not all of them were meant to come across as pure historical, geographical, or scientific fact. They were all, however, a message of God's love and grace. How do I distinguish between what is truth and what is True? To be honest, I haven't figured it out that far yet. I have a great respect for the Church and what has been considered "traditional morality" throughout the centuries. After all, the way I live my life certainly isn't congruent with someone who cherry picks what he wants from Scripture. Some people think I'm a conservative nut-job, and that's fine by me.
At the same time, there are many things that I still have questions about. I'm still searching. Maybe in a few years I'll look back on this and go, "Limited inerrancy? What the heck was I thinking?" Maybe I'll look back and go, "Celibacy? Are you kidding? I have the best boyfriend in the world now!" Maybe I'll look back and be proud of who I am. Actually, that will happen no matter what. In either case, I thank Rik and all the bloggers I read for helping me ask more questions, giving me advice, and challenging me to think about these issues. This may not be the response Rik was looking for, but like I said, I'm busy and I don't have the time to write a super-awesome post like he can.
And honestly, I'm realizing that I just don't know enough about God to say some things with total certainty. When I do, I feel a bit like I'm spreading false rumors. Maybe that's something I need to work on. Have a nice day, everyone!