(This is a two-part Post. Second part next week. This Post is longer than usual)
Most God-followers get their understanding of God from the Bible. Non-God followers often understand God from what people claims about God according to the Bible. Readers may be aware of arguments suggesting dangers when assuming the Bible isn’t entirely inspired by God. I wish to address dangers when not questioning if the entire Bible is inspired by God. When the Bible is said to be infallible or inspired by God, most assume the words penned somehow came from God and thus approved by God. Few suggest God dictated the entire Bible word per word, but a dictatorial style is implied if God somehow prevented biblical writers from having less than perfect views of God. It is very different to approach the Bible from the perspective that God acts uncontrolling but continually seeks to influence for one’s moral good.
Even if God did produce a perfect collection of Books, we could not know for sure
We don’t have the original manuscripts so infallibility is a non-starter. If infallibility was critical, why didn’t God find a way to preserve the original texts if God controls the writers’ thoughts. The most common defense for arguing the Bible is inspired is to claim the biblical writers make such a claim. Such logic would not lead those same people to accepting the Quran being infallible because it claims to be. There are many dangers in assuming the Bible is inspired as opposed to accepting the Bible as a document recording experiences of beginnings with God and Israel culminating with the life of Jesus that we don’t possess in any other documents. Writings about God can keep us talking and reflecting what God is really like. God didn’t necessarily have in mind that recordings would not be questioned.
The danger of wondering or assuming God is an accomplice to immoral behaviors
Did God really inspire or approve a woman being required to marry her rapist because writers couldn’t handle the truth about God at that time? Laws proclaimed by Moses supposedly came from God. Deut. 22: 28-29 says: If a man happens to meet a virgin…and rapes her…He must marry the young women, for he has violated her. One who assumes this law was inspired or accommodated by God rationalize that in that culture woman would be worse off unmarried. The idea of a woman ever having to marry her rapist as a good thing hardly inspires many about God. I am convinced only humans thought this was a good law at that time, not God, and with time most would understand there are more compassionate solutions to a woman violated by a man.
Did God really inspire acts or language of genocide? I Samuel 15:3 says God told Israel: “Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” Today, only evil dictators approve of such actions or talk during war. Hundreds of passages in the Old Testament advocate violence in God’s name. One might suggest, to protect a certain view of the Bible, it was common in literatures in OT times to use warfare rhetoric to induce fear and inspire victory but women and children would be spared when possible. Isn’t it more rational to ask if a good God would inspire or approve such thoughts or language?
The danger of an infallible Book can lead to the idea of infallible interpretations
Most admit literature requires interpretation, thus why biblical scholars often disagree about the meaning of the same passage. Scholars, who respect the Bible as authoritative, disagree if the Bible supports loving hierarchal or equalitarian relationships between partners. It is seldom voiced one’s view about God according to their interpretation could be wrong. Such an admission would better encourage different views standing side by said as we continually evaluate the most loving approach, rather than forcing opinions on others in the name of God. Infallible Books, as opposed to fallible Books, often lead down the slippery slope of justifying interpretations as if infallible.
The danger of justifying violence in the name of God.
The possibility of an infallible Book has led down the slippery slope of assuming God’s view on morality only comes from a Book such as the Bible or Koran. Not questioning if writers always understood God perfectly has led to justifying slavery, killing infidels, and other atrocities in the name of God. Interpretations must be questioned by our moral consciences. It is suggested that Jesus, who was said to be God in person, must be the lens through how we view possible misunderstandings of God in the Old Testament. It may be true that Jesus had a more correct view of God, but this still leads to certain interpretations of Jesus considered more correct and deemphasizes the priority of a relationship with our Creator rather than a Book.
The danger of declaring God mysterious leads to an unknowable and unrelatable God
God sometimes is said to be a mystery beyond human comprehension because one’s interpretation clashes with common human moral sense. When assuming the writers understood God perfectly, we often search for ways to rationalize certain passages. But the Bible ask us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5: 48). How can one understand a God who created us to know and hate evil, if their evil in our eyes is supposedly good sometimes? God says hate evil, so should we hate God sometimes! To declare God is mysterious is to perhaps do the opposite of what God desperately desires – to be knowable and relatable. When we rationalize certain biblical passages, we don’t question God and create barriers in the relationship.
The danger of leading people to reject God for the wrong reasons
Many only condemn gays or restrict women’s spiritual roles because of the Bible, but two plausible interpretations exist on most major issues when speaking of God’s character. Many defend that the Bible teaches that God proclaims women cannot be in authority over men in roles such as a priest or pastor. Scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures also proclaim the Bible can teach roles are based on gifts not gender. Many recognize as bigotry if we humans used such criteria in business or other roles. Women can feel disrespected and confused why a supposedly loving God would put men in leadership position over women which has encouraged dominance on the man’s part and is has been conducive for abuse and other atrocities women face at the hands of men. When God is portrayed in unloving terms, understandably this leads to atheism or rejecting God.
The danger of causing crises of faith because the Bible is supposedly without error
When insisting all of the Bible is inspired or approved by God, it forces one to reject God if the Bible is wrong on any issue. Many insist the Bible can’t support evolution. These same people also insist the Bible is without error. If one believes evolution is a possibility, this forces them to reject the Bible and often God goes with that. There are already enough issues to cause one to turn from God than encouraging the Bible to be another reason by claiming it can’t be without error.
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