I am told that when a person has doubts about his/her faith, that that is a good thing. It shows that a person is wrestling with issues and their faith is not an unhealthy faith. In other words, they do not stand on something that is clearly there…they stand on something that they cannot see or understand.
On a sidenote, I often wonder about current views on Scripture. I hear pastors, denominations, and churches “stand on the inerrant, infallible Word of God.” But is that faith? Is it really faith when I can point to it in the Bible and say there it is; I believe it. This gets down to the nitty-gritty. Is the Bible inerrant?
My favorite way of explaining Scripture is the Westminster Confession. It states that the Bible is infallible in all areas of faith and practice. It stops short of saying that it is inerrant. I do not like the term inerrancy. Most people assume that it means “without error,” not necessarily a bad assumption. The dictionary defines it as “free from error” They usually use it interchangably with the term infallible which means
1 : incapable of error : UNERRING
2 : not liable to mislead, deceive, or disappoint : CERTAIN
3 : incapable of error in defining doctrines touching faith or morals
So is the Bible without error or incapable of error and does this accurately define Scripture at all?
My opinion is that the Bible is infallible in the second meaning of the definition, but not inerrant in the true sense of the word. I cannot depend upon the Bible to be scientifically accurate. One example of this is that it clearly states that the average life span of a man is seventy years. This is really no longer the case. The average life span is approaching 80, and even if it isn’t that high, it is certainly higher than 70. What about the fact that the Bible accepts as science the idea of a three-tier universe? It often talks of heaven above, hell below, and earth in the middle, and we now know that that is not true. What about the passage where the sun stands still? We know now that the sun does not revolve around the earth; the earth revolves around the sun. But here’s the better question: If the Bible is not scientifically accurate, then does that nullify it’s authority?
Again, my opinion is that the Bible’s authority rests upon itself. It stands alone. If we are depending on the Bible being scientifically accurate in order to validate its authority, then what does that say about a person’s faith? They are placing their faith in the scientific accuracy of the Bible rather than in Christ. My faith should never lie upon the accuracy of the Bible, but rather upon the finished work of Christ on the cross.
Now, again, the Westminster Confession says that the Bible is infallible in all areas of faith and practice. My opinion is that the Bible was probably scientifically accurate from the understandings at the time that each book was written. I only say probably because I am a self-described theologian and not a scientist and I do not believe I am qualified to make that statement definitively. I will say that I believe that in all the areas of faith and practice, the Bible is to be taken as the Word of God.
I guess this was more than a sidenote, huh? I wonder how many emails I will get.