An adequate response to #2 and #3 seems to require the question of
scripture inerrancy be addressed. I see five separate Christian positions
(there are others) more or less clearly. Visualize them as being along a
horizontal line as follows:
FR. This is the position of Bob H., a very dear friend of mine, one who
teased me unmercifully about my new Christian faith back in 1963 when he
was the director of the Computer Data Processing Center at Akron
University and I was his IBM technical liaison. Bob became a Christian in
1970, and I treasure his letter to me with the announcement. He
enthusiastically embraced a fundamentalist position and today holds the
FR position that says the KJV of 1611 is not only inerrant but also
inspired -- i.e. more to be trusted than the Greek texts it is based
upon. No errors -- none. This position can be seen in the writings of one
Peter Ruckman and information about him can be found on the Internet.
Bob and I have carried on a correspondence by mail on issues surrounding
the faith for over 30 years. Although we view one another's positions
with dismay, the cordiality and friendship that began in the late 1950s
prevails. He views me as simply a misguided Christian.
Slightly to the left of position FR are those who regard the KJV as
inerrant but "preserved" rather than "inspired," seeing the word
"inspired" to refer to the texts behind it. I don't understand that
position very well, so I'll pass it by.
R. This position may describe some on this list -- I mean it in that way.
The scriptures are inerrant, they hold, but only in the original
manuscripts. The FR person must explain the differences between, for
example, the inconsistencies between 2Kings 25:8 and Jer 52:12 (what day
of the month was it?), 2 Kings 25:17 and Jer 52:22 (how high was the
chapiter?), 2 Kings 25:19 and Jer 52:25 (how many men were taken?), Ezr
2:1-12 and Ne 7:5-17 (how many children of Arah, Zattu, Binnui and
Azgad?). Persons holding the "R" position are not concerned with such
discrepancies -- attributing them to copyist errors. BTW, my FR friend
has an explanation for each of these which argues that there is no error
at all, not even a copyist error.
The Chicago statement, which I posted recently, seems to apply to this
position. Persons who "fit" this description might include Pat Robertson,
Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Henry Morris, John Stott, etc. It is a
respectable position, even if some of the persons above might be seen as
less than respectable.
C. This is a centrist position (of course). The scriptures are regarded
as inspired writings, but not in any sense "inerrant." Some parts are
more useful for "faith and practice" than other parts. The text is not
necessarily to be regarded as accurate history, although there may be
some historical correspondence; more in the NT than in the OT. As for
observations of the natural world, it is assumed that phenomenal language
is used ("Sunset" rather than "horizon rise," etc.). Comparisons of
ancient manuscripts are encouraged to tease out as close to possible what
the originals might have said.
L. This position, while still seeing scripture as "inspired," sees it
more as the records of how the ancients wrote about their perceived
relationships to God; useful for faith but less important for "practice."
Where "C" people often see direct evidences in scripture of behavioral
principles, for example, should females have the same ordination rights
as males, the "L" person sees ethical and behavioral questions as, while
often guided by scripture, to be usually best argued on a non-scriptural
FL. Here we have the position of those who, while they find scripture to
be of high relevance and importance, see it solely as the writings of the
ancients. Borg, Bultman and Spong fit this category. The Christ they
worship is hardly recognizable to many of those to the right, but having
studied the FL position, I am unwilling to judge them as outside the
fold. I think they would not feel comfortable assenting to the ASA
statement of faith.
Where do I stand? It is easy to reject the extremes; I suspect that if I
was pressed to take a position it would be somewhere between L and C.
That is enough for one post. I will address challenges #2 and #3 later. I
continue to appreciate the discussions here, even where I disagree with
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