Even Pastor knows of the Folly of Biblical Inerrancy

Pastor Blasts Biblical Inerrancy

“Few words in the last 30 years have caused more mischief than the term “inerrancy,” Richard Kremer told the congregation of Garden Lakes Baptist Church in Rome, Ga., June 24.

By Bob Allen

Biblical inerrancy – the idea that the Bible’s authors were safeguarded against error when inspired by God to write facts about science and history in Scripture – is a misleading and harmful concept that has been used to hurt people and is damaging to the cause of Christ, a Baptist pastor in Georgia said recently.

“Few words in the last thirty years have caused more mischief than the word inerrancy,” Pastor Richard Kremer said in his June 24 sermon at Garden Lakes Baptist Church in Rome, Ga.

Kremer, who came to Garden Lakes three years ago from St. John’s Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., said while the word “inerrant” might seem like a perfectly fine word to describe the authenticity and authority of the Bible, the term “has been used and manipulated,” especially during the divisive area in Southern Baptist life often called the “conservative resurgence.”

“This word has in fact done horrendous damage to the character of the Bible and ruined countless lives,” Kremer said. “The cause of Christ is being damaged by its use even now.”In a sermon text picked up by a Save Our Shorter website opposed to recent changes at the Georgia Baptist Convention-related Shorter University, Kremer referred to a biology professor there who resigned because his boss wanted him to teach theories like young-earth creationism that have no scientific basis.

In effect, Kremer said, the administrator wanted the professor to “turn a blind eye to the fossil records, ignore the evidence of geological shifts and continental drifts, ignore the pottery shards — all of which make the point that six thousand years is but a sliver of human existence on this earth, much less the history of the earth as a whole.”

Kremer, who holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the reason some people want to treat the Bible like a science book is “the doctrine of plenary verbal inspiration,” which he summarized as, “God said it, and humanity wrote it down.”

Kremer said there are a few Bible passages that seem to support the idea, such as God dictating the Ten Commandments to Moses and commanding Moses to write them down. On the other hand, Kremer said, God would have to be pretty egotistical to dictate words to the psalmist to be read back as praise unto himself.

Kremer said the fact that each of the four Gospels reports different details surrounding Christ’s resurrection, such as who was present and how many angels were at the empty tomb, shows the Bible wasn’t intended to convey history in the same way that a modern historian would write a book about the Civil War.

Kremer noted that the creation account in the first chapter of Genesis says that God created everything in the world first and humanity last. Another account in Chapter 2 God created humanity first, and then followed with the natural order. Kremer said the editor of Genesis was surely smart enough to notice the discrepancy, “but he didn’t care,” because he was not proposing a scientific explanation of creation, only that it ultimately goes back to God.

Kremer also pointed out that the traditional understanding of biblical inerrancy applies not to modern versions of the Bible but to a hypothetical original referred to as “the autographs.”

“That’s very convenient,” he said. “For no one has ever seen the Bible’s original autographs. Do you know why? They don’t exist! There is not some dusty text, this original hidden away in some obscure cave in Israel.”

“The Bible came into being over a period of centuries,” Kremer said. “Its pages originated in diverse places and in diverse times. The Old Testament existed in oral tradition, passed down from generation to generation before it was ever recorded in print. When it was printed it was written in a variety of places in a variety of versions.”

“There is no such thing as an original autograph of the Scripture, and to claim such a manuscript is the basis for the inerrancy is intellectually dishonest,” he said.

Kremer said some people might desire to just dismiss the whole argument with, “Why does it matter?” but in fact it does matter what people say about the Bible.

“I don’t want young people thinking they have to discard their faith because some scientist has made a discovery that seems to contradict some biblical principle,” he said. “I don’t want a scientist having to put his/her brain on ice because his/her discoveries contradict what the Bible allegedly teaches about one scientific discipline or another.”

Kremer said Shorter University’s new statement of faith “We believe the Bible … is the inerrant and infallible Word of God” is true to a point. “When you come to talking about the character of God, the Bible is indeed inerrant,” he said. “When you’re talking about the revelation of God in Christ, we can trust that information with perfect confidence.”

Those who assert that the Bible is correct on its teaching about geology, however, “grossly misinterpret the Bible’s purpose,” he said, because the ancient biblical writers did not even know that an endeavor known as “geology” would ever exist.

Kremer said those who argue for the Bible’s perfection go beyond what Scripture has to say about itself. “The word never claims perfection for the word,” he said. “The perfection is for the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ.”

About M. Rodriguez

When I first received Christ salvation, I made it a priority to read the whole bible and I did. But it was the Bible that made me question my faith. For I found it flawed and lacking. Due to this I launched a personal inquiry/investigation into my faith, and ultimately realized that the Christian God of the Bible was indeed man-made. Now I Blog about those findings and life after Christ.
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17 Responses to Even Pastor knows of the Folly of Biblical Inerrancy

  1. Nate says:

    That is a really fascinating article — thanks for posting it!

  2. unklee says:

    He’s far from the only one BR!!!

  3. “inerrant to a point…” I dislike this sort of thinking. How does he know the Bible is not mistaken about God’s character? I just don’t follow how you can say such a thing. Either it’s without error or it isn’t. Saying it gets some things right and some things wrong should means it can’t be inerrant as a whole.

  4. unklee says:

    “inerrant to a point…”

    I think it’s just a way of saying, right about the important things but not factual about everything – uses the key word some people need to hear while suggesting to them that they need a new understanding.

  5. gold price says:

    “There is no such thing as an original autograph of the Scripture, and to claim such a manuscript is the basis for the inerrancy is intellectually dishonest,” he said.

  6. Thank you for your honesty about your perspective on the Bible. Perhaps you would like to check out my blog, as perhaps we have had similar experiences in matters of religion. My site is http://www.hopebeyondreason.org

  7. graceone says:

    I agree with this pastor’s comment.

    There are few doctrines more pernicious. This teaching leads to an actual idolatry of the Bible, and naturally lends itself to the misapplication of the Scripture being employed like a Scout handbook. No one even spoke of Biblical inerrancy in the church before the time of the reformation.

    Now we have a paradigm where people have their whole faith in Jesus Christ conditioned and based in this doctrine rather than in the early church’s witness to the death and resurrection of the Lord which of course preceded even one written text of the New Testament. Where did this oral tradition come from?

    Do the gospel accounts need to be totally inerrant to be essentially trustworthy accounts/summaries of the life of Christ? Really is there any historical source out there based in antiquity that is free from any sort of error or inconsistency? Do we automatically conclude that we can know nothing about history then?

    Of course, we also have independent witness concerning the faith of the church from the writings of the early fathers independent of the New Testament documents as well.

  8. Lisa Koen says:

    I am devouring books that discuss the Old Testament/New Testament. I found one that although it was published in 1914 it is awesome!! THE RELIGION OF THE HEBREWS, BY
    Anyway, I am struggling with the fact that we are told to believe certain things as true, but what is truth?? Anyway, it was customary for the Israelites to destroy the old books after the scribes made new ones. So no telling what they decided to change to make them look good and powerful. One thing that I am dealing with is the fact that at the beginning of creation God is mentioned in the plural…so was there a female counterpart that society obliterated? For instance, Proberbs 8 talks about the Shekinah/Sophia. No question It is a female counterpart from the beginning. Why would God create man in his image if he does not have a female counterpart that we can assimilate to?? And if you look at the painting of Michalangelo of the creation, the figure touching him sure looks female to me!! although in a very subtle way. Did he believe/know something that the Roman church did not want us to know? Also, from the beginning of time the figurines found by archeologists mostly depict a female. Did they know something that has been suppressed to us?
    Anyway, there are many things I am dealing with at the present time. I do believe that there was/is a Creator. Things did not just occur from nothing. But my question, is the Creator that we know of today depicted truly in His essence? Or did we made up all the stuff to suit our worldly needs?
    Well, there is so much I can add. But for now I shall say…Peace.

    • graceone says:

      Lisa, there is also certainly feminine imagery in Scripture used to reference and describe God. The term for the Holy Spirit in Scripture if often used in the feminine gender. But, in truth, in a deeper sense, we can only speak and describe God by way of analogy. Can the eternal God have a gender?

      As a Christian, I believe that God’s most complete Word to us is in Jesus Christ. He reveals to us the nature and character of God . “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” It was God who fully entered into human life and suffering so that we could not only be reconciled to Him, but also enabled to share in His life.

      I think the purpose of the incarnation was not to show God as male, but to show Him as love, and to transform us to be like Him in love. I’m using masculine pronouns here because God has often revealed Himself in this way, so I speak of Him in the same manner, but I understand these terms are conveying that God is personal. We can have a relationship together. I know that God is not literally male.

      Does this make sense?

      • Nate says:

        Hi Lisa,

        The Masoretes were the sect of Jews that meticulously copied the Old Testament in Hebrew. It’s true that they trashed old manuscripts, or any that contained mistakes, but I don’t think they were purposefully changing anything in the Old Testament’s text. In fact, it’s well attested that they placed very rigorous tests on the documents they were preparing so as to ensure their accuracy. However, this practice of throwing out the old ones has put us in a position where our earliest Masoretic texts come from around the year 900 AD, long after the books of the Old Testament were written. And when we compare them to the Dead Sea Scrolls (which are almost 1000 years older), we do see some differences.

        Also, if you’re interested in the changing views of God over time (like using the plural form in the earliest writings), I’d recommend Karen Armstrong’s book A History of God.

      • Nate says:

        Hi graceone,

        I have trouble believing in Christianity just because some people in the 1st and 2nd centuries believed in Jesus. People have been known to believe in all kinds of things, whether they had good reason or not. So I think the quality of the scriptures can be an important test. Seeing miracles would be better evidence, but I’ve never seen any of those, so I would be willing to view a truly perfect text as good reason to believe the claims of Christianity. Of course, we don’t have that — the Bible is full of problems. For instance, even the points you just made about the Holy Spirit come from the Bible, so how do you know they’re correct? When we have no objective standard to base truth upon, everyone is more or less left to follow whatever they are “led” to believe — in other words, whatever they feel is true. For you, that’s Christianity. For Muslims, it’s Islam. Who’s to say who’s right when we have such nebulous standards? That’s how I see it, anyway…

  9. Anaconda says:

    I was able to find good information from your content.

  10. unklee says:

    “When we have no objective standard to base truth upon, everyone is more or less left to follow whatever they are “led” to believe — in other words, whatever they feel is true. For you, that’s Christianity. For Muslims, it’s Islam. Who’s to say who’s right when we have such nebulous standards?”

    G’day Nate, just a couple of points.

    1. Lack of certainty, for example in the knowledge we get from the Bible, isn’t the same as lack of objective truth. I am uncertain about many of my memories, but there is no doubting that things I can’t remember well nevertheless actually happened. Even though we all lack certainty about God, the scriptures exist as objective things, the historians’ conclusions about Jesus are objectively there for us to discuss and ponder over, and it is either objectively true that God exists or that he doesn’t.

    2. The unbeliever is in exactly the same state of uncertainty, arguably worse because they may philosophically believe it is impossible to arrive at objective truth. “Who’s to say who’s right when we have such nebulous standards?” is as true for you as you think it is of me. It is therefore no more reason to disbelieve than it is to believe. Only the evidence counts.

    3. Believers don’t all believe “whatever they feel”, but what the evidence indicates to them. It is true that you find our evidence unconvincing and insufficient, but it is still evidence. I can give very clear reasons for not believing Islam. A Muslim can do the same for christianity, and you can give the same for both. That doesn’t mean no-one has the truth, just that the situation is tricky.

    I make these points not to be pedantic, but because I think there are some important truths here. Thanks, and best wishes.

  11. Pingback: Inerrancy: I think someone forgot to tell the Bible | Mormon Apologia

  12. Pingback: Attempting to end an impasse « Katie and Martin's Blog on the Lutheran Church in Australia

  13. Pingback: Inerrancy: I think someone forgot to tell the Bible « Katie and Martin's Blog on the Lutheran Church in Australia

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