Saturday, September 15, 2007

Inerrant discomfort

I came upon a discussion about inerrancy, and decided to wonder "out loud" about it. Here's the comment I left:
I guess the thing that kills me about the way I have, in the past, defended this issue is crystallized in the phrase: "All Scripture is God-breathed."
In the last few years, I've realized I have very little idea what that means. God is, somehow, and to some degree, the originator (at least of those Scriptures to which the verse refers). But did those who wrote it hear correctly? Did they hear words or concepts? Did they write through their own cultural and theological zeitgeist (how could they not?). And isn't it a tad arrogant to assume I know the answer to any of these?
The implications are huge - for unless we hold to a word-for-word dictation theory (as the early Mormons did regarding their books), a literal translation is often not the best rendering. Indeed, literal translation, even among modern languages (say, Spanish to English), is horrible translation, and what's being said is more often obscured than clarified.
What we're after is the heart of God. How we get to it, ironically, may not be in ways that fundamentalism finds "safe," and is inescapably subjective. But making it "safe" with baseless assumptions is worse, for we know such assumptions must be partly wrong.
I guess I find "safe" unsafe. To quote C.S. Lewis: "He's not a tame lion!"
Thanks for the opportunity to reflect!
Watcha think? Should the D.S. take me out for "stakes"?

1 comment:

bob said...

I guess I don't struggle much with the question of inerrancy (of what we would technically call the "autographs" of the scriptures which we no longer have). My thought has always been kind of along the line of how can I trust the spiritual truths contained in the Bible if a lot of the other stuff (eg. history, etc.) was incorrect.

As far as translations go, you're right on. We can lose significant concepts. A case in point is at the end of the Book of John where Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loved him. The first 2 times in the Greek the love Jesus asks about is "agape" and Peter responds that he has "philos" for him. The 3rd time Jesus questions even Peter's "philos" love for him, which was why Peter was grieved and confirmed his "philos" for Jesus. Of course most of our wonder English translations just throw in the generic word "love" for both of these distinct types of love.

Anyway enough rambling for my first post.

Good to have you on board, Monte!