Reevaluating Inspiration September 26, 2011Posted by Matt in Christian Beliefs, church.
Tags: Biblical inspiration, church of christ, EFM, Episcopal Church, old testament, plenary inspiration
As I’ve mentioned recently, I’ve recently begun a program called EfM (Education for Ministry) through our church. It’s a four year commitment, based on seminary materials, that takes participants on a thought provoking trip through scriptures, tradition, and theology. I’m in year one, which is Old Testament, and our first week’s lesson mainly gave an overview of the Hebrew Bible and of the textual criticism dealing with it. Among these summaries was a short section on inspiration and the formation of the biblical canon that I found to be quite refreshing.
Having grown up in a more Fundamentalist sort of church, it was often assumed, either implicitly or explicitly, that biblical inspiration and, by extension, biblical inerrancy were a core belief. I heard that the Bible was, basically, written under the influence of verbal, plenary inspiration, that God told the writers what to write, word-for-word, and that every word came directly from that heavenly plane above. Please note that this idea, like most, is not universal in the Church of Christ, but that I remember hearing it talked of in this manner. For my own part, I started to have a problem with this doctrine years ago when I first really read my Bible from beginning to end and started to ask questions, most of which I brought about little but dismissive non-answers. I began to investigate further and soon found myself engrossed in the works of writers like Marcus Borg, John Shelby Spong, and others who helped me understand that the Fundamentalist view was untenable and that perhaps there was another, more logical, view.
I say this because there was a section in our EfM readings from last week regarding the inspiration of the Hebrew Bible that I found to be interesting:
What seems clear is that the original writers did not think they were writing “Holy Scripture.” The community of faith looked back and came to believe that the Spirit of God was uniquely present in these particular texts which we now term canonical.
I think I’m going to really like EfM.
Losing My Religion – Intro May 26, 2009Posted by Matt in Losing My Religion.
Tags: Biblical inspiration, Christianity, church of christ, exclusivism, faith, false teaching, hell
My thoughts on things have evolved quite a bit over the years.
I grew up in an ultra-conservative branch of the Church of Christ tree and, though the things we learned at home were a good bit different and umm…more realistic, the years of poor theology and ignorance took their toll on me as a young person.
Many were the nights that I would lie awake, haunted by an intense fear of hell rather than thoughts of hope and love. Terrified, I would wonder whether or not there was some sin, even a small one, of which I had not repented, for even the smallest error in judgment would no doubt lead one to the eternal fire.
We were regularly taught that we were the only church (church being a somewhat loosely affiliated number of congregations with the name “Church of Christ” on the door that was most certainly not a “denomination”) and that all others had gone astray. That, regardless of any pesky evidence, our church had a direct line to the day of Pentecost when the apostles set up the first “Church of Christ Meets Here” sign in front of whatever plain, unadorned building in which they gathered together three times per week. Being the only right church, all others were automatically in error and thus would be banished to the fires of hell forevermore. So, every day of our lives we would go to school and play and crack jokes with those bound for eternal punishment, regardless of whether or not they counted themselves as believers.
We learned that the Bible was inerrant and perfect and true in every way, that every single word found therein was exactly as God had dictated thousands of years prior, unless of course you had an NIV or any other later translation, which were written to pander to the “denominations” and which clouded the truth of God with their manmade ideas. Questioning any doctrine was tantamount to heresy and would be subject to quick reproof from others, who would then take it upon themselves to show you a more correct way.
But I turned my back on ideas like these years ago and wandered about as a spiritual vagabond for some time, searching intently for a way, a path through the darkness.
And, though it took some time and a good bit of work on my part, I found a lighted path, one of many, and that is where I travel today. Over the next several entries I want to tell my story of spiritual searching, where it led me and how I got to where I am today.
Please join me on the journey.