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The Bible; Inerrant And Infallible, Holy Spirit Inspired, Word Of God?


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Over the past week I've had a lengthy dialog with a very passionate literal/evangelical christian acquaintance of mine. As a progressive christian I drive her crazy. We have little, if nothing, in common with regard to our separate faiths. The central issue stems from our differing opinion on the status of the bible. She believes, utterly, that the christian bible, 'Old Testament' and Canon, is the inerrant and infallible, holy spirit inspired, word of god. I do not. She claims that one cannot be a christian if one does not believe in a supernatural status of the 66 books contained in the christian 'bible'. Her reasoning is this; rejection of the supernatural status equals rejection of the contents.

 

I believe that, not unlike lying, calling upon the supernatural as a viable reality requires further 'stories' to cover and maintain the last. The repertoire becomes larger and more fantastic to maintain itself. In our modern age, mankind simply knows too much to maintain even the supernatural repertoire of a mere 100 years ago. In such a climate the necessary increase in the story becomes even more frenetic. Under such weight, the center, and any semblance of truth or beauty, comes under tremendous pressure against the sheer implausibility of its covering.

 

The birth stories in Matthew and Luke, along with their incompatibilities, do nothing to augment the message of the living Yeshua. They do make for better firelight storytelling to keep people listening and they did help compete with other religions but they, like the extraordinary addition of numerous persons resurrected from the dead (Matthew 27:52-53) at the moment of the death of Yeshua do no service to the invaluable message for us all. It is in the supernatural storytelling that the greatest loss is made, never won. I believe that my literal/evangelical friend is champion of the very distortion of the message that she fervently believes she is protecting.

 

What do you think?

Edited by DrDon
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Amen

 

I too have Christian friends of all diferent persuations from holy rollers to frozen chosen Presbys to tasteful Episcopalians (me) to Catholics and former Catholics. I am a searcher which means I go to Sufi retreats, Hari Krishna celebrations, and many more

events of the "others"

 

I read Spong and Borg with relish, but I also listen to my Fundy and Evangelical friends with a selective ear. When gays or the subject of abortion or the inerrancy of the Bible come up I politely listen with a surging cloud of wrath and indignation rolling around my head.

 

God is such an amazing "ground of being" that there is room for all of us.

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And that, Kaykuck, is the really important issue. God is way, way bigger than any of us can imagine or, especially, put into words. Those with a proficiency (self-assigned) at representing God in any detail have managed to shrink God, generally, into their own image. Those who go to great and authoritative lengths to share with others the nature of God's being, mind, personality, wants, limitations... even where God 'lives', actually ignore the scripture itself in their imaginations. If 'Scripture' is indeed the inerrant and infallible, holy spirit inspired, word of god then those who believe it to be so ought not to say anything other than direct quotations from it. Extra-biblical description and interpretation should be utterly unnecessary and considered an attempt to add to the body, something forbidden. I read a lengthy forum by evangelical christians who worked diligently to disprove Exodus 33:11. Yes, they engaged in the very thing they deny others to do because Exodus 33:11 makes them uncomfortable. It's a MESS!

Edited by DrDon
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Don,

 

I think the world would make for a better place if we all just said "I can't be sure - God may be this...but I can't be sure. God may be that.... but I can't be sure".

 

This allows room for people to have their beliefs/security systems, whilst not being offended/upset by other people's beliefs/security systems.

 

But that of course doesn't lend itself to certainty, which I think most people like.

 

Paul

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Paul-

 

I do agree with you. There is a particular honesty and honor in the Agnostic. Hardly the wimps that they are often accused of being, they avoid the emotional positions of their Atheist or Religious counterparts.

 

I believe what I do because I choose to. It suits me. If I decide that what I choose to believe is the universal truth for everyone, I have abandoned the honesty that keeps me grounded and sane.

 

We must avoid losing touch with our 'inner agnostic'. To do so can easily lead to the enmity that has been ever-present in human history.

 

I cannot prove God exists. I accept that there is not one shred of evidence to support my desire to believe in God. Perhaps, if we will allow for this, it can actually be the best part!

 

Live fully! Love wastefully!

 

Donald

Edited by DrDon
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"I cannot prove God exists. I accept that there is not one shred of evidence to support my desire to believe in God. Perhaps, if we will allow for this, it can actually be the best part!

 

Donald"

 

Don,

 

I share much of what you said except for the above quote. To me existence itself is the ultimate evidence of God, howbeit not necessarily man;s traditional definition of God. . I do not require that anyone else accept it as evidence but i find existence its own evidence , most compelling and not in need of proof.

 

That is my perception,

Joseph

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Joseph-

 

Not the first time we have sat at this point!

 

I appreciate fully that you find the assurance and satisfaction you do. It does not lend the same to me and, obviously, I stand with my own. Each are sufficient to their adherents!

 

As always, I wish you well in your journey!

 

Donald

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You are correct, we have sat here before. Thanks for the reminder Don.

 

Memory has been a weak point for me in these past couple years and i certainly do not wish to dictate what is to be sufficient for another. Just expressing my own perceptions.

 

Thanks,

Joseph

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I feel the Bible inspires us to live wholely, holy and dive into the heart of the mystery. We seem to mistake the finger pointing to the moon as the moon. May we stop worshiping the Bible and experice the truths it reveals.

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Joseph-

 

So sorry you are struggling with memory issues. If it is an aging thing, I'm with you. If it is an illness issue, my heart is with you.

 

I have never felt pushed by your perspective in our encounters. You have always been most gentlemanly to me. For that I truly thank you. Our perspectives have been consistant, always a good thing!

 

Wishing you all the very best.

 

Donald

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Soma-

 

You bring up an interesting point when you speak of 'worshiping' the bible.

 

I have been told very clearly that holding the bible to be inerrant... is a prerequisite to being a christian.

 

Is this a form of idolatry?

 

Donald

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I feel many Christian Authoritarians make dictates that are not very Christian and mislead the masses according to the standard of love. Some Christian philosophies have a lack of total explanation; therefore, they have lost the power to bring about the original experience of oneness with God and have become superstitions and an impediment on the road to spiritual development. The mere reading of the Bible does not make us a Christian, and the direct experience of the soul can't be realized by the mere hearing of words or by reasoning alone. The Bible has to be read with an open mind to gain the indirect knowledge about the soul and I feel we have to be open to bring that knowledge into ourselves in an actual experience. The indirect experience described in the Bible can inspirer us to gain the direct perception of God consciousness within ourselves.

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".....To me existence itself is the ultimate evidence of God, howbeit not necessarily man;s traditional definition of God. . I do not require that anyone else accept it as evidence but i find existence its own evidence , most compelling and not in need of proof.

 

That is my perception,

Joseph

This is where I would expand my above-listed thoughts about people just admitting they don't 'know' for certain what/who God is. Of course many people are convinced they have evidence of God, as Joseph demonstrates. I have to say that he could well be on the money. He may well know God and I don't. The big difference with Joseph's view though is that he doesn't require anyone else to accept his view as evidence.

 

I think I would refine my comment and say that if people just acknowledged they don't know God exactly, or if they believe they do that they accept that others might not see things that way, then the world would be a much better place for it.

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Greetings all .

 

I feel , that these are wonderful , and deeply thought out comments , within an ongoing journey , that moves forwards towards understanding .

 

I may never reach that " understanding " and my quest may be as old as human civilisation itself , yet there is a fulfillment born into me ,

 

that I try to express and share . I feel that God should unite us all , not divide us into groups .

 

May I add some food for thought here , and draw attention to , what we have learned so much about our history of human civilisation .

 

The ancient cultures , be it from the Aztec's or Australian Aborigines , to the Vikings and the Zulu's , all felt a great and wonderful presence ,

 

On every part of this wonderful planet , that folks have settled , they feel God around them . So there is God , but we feel it differently .

 

 

To me , the wisdom of the ancient spiritual texts , that guided my great , and great great grandparents lives , are about community building

 

and resolving destructive human emotions . Throughout human history , warfare and domination , threatened , and often destroyed , the hard

 

work of peaceful and creative family folks . For a developing community to thrive , they needed to agree , about what is beyond them to

 

understand . Thus , the ultimate authority , and who is the leader ( authority ) of that ultimate authority , becomes the lawmaker and keeper

 

of wisdom and moral values . Look back through the last few thousands of years , it is repeated again and again . Stone Age to now

 

the 21st century and our Space Age , without a Creation story to agree upon , we humans , divide into groups , and compete to dominate

 

as much as anyone can grab . What a tremendous opportunity to move forwards , towards mutually beneficial harmony , as the conscious

 

and developing species , about seven billion of us now , each uniquely different , yet biologically united by the honest hard work at survival

 

of billions of years/generations of our ancestors . God is still beyond us humans to understand , but , the creative energy , of what we

 

can now understand about our history , blossoms , as a new miracle each new day ,

 

 

My view is , that if us humans , can now see , how powerful that our emotions are , in our decision making , from the highest thoughts

 

about God , to the constant everyday busy life , and being a part of our community , that , our distant neighbors , struggle with those

 

same feelings . Such an amazing gift , our individual free will . A burden of responsibility at times , to the reckless freedom and

 

detachment , of , who cares its my free will . My freedom , is nowadays 21st century , dependent upon , my neighbors , feeling that we

 

talk about our historical differences , set aside the swords and bombs , and unite as modern humanity , who work to protect this

 

beautiful place that we are born onto . What an emotional thing , work to protect creation , from our destructive human emotions .

 

 

Is it God's job , or do we learn from the Spiritual wisdoms , that are spread across the continents and our history , and unite

 

about seven billion people , to follow not just Moses Jesus and Allah , and the Eskimo an Morai .

 

 

It is something so foundational and so basic : grow into the changing times , and adapt , for our offspring and survival .

 

 

Jesus would like it , coming back , and see that we get along with our neighbor , forgive trespass , and protect innocent

 

living things , from extinction .

 

 

This has become very long , and I thank you for reading all of this .

 

Towards peace an prosperity Ron .

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  • 3 weeks later...

As a professed agnostic\atheist, I've had many evangelicals try to argue and debate me. They usually always quote one sentence or another from the Bible as if that is something I haven't heard or read before. My experience is that very few Christians actually read the Bible (other than maybe a few key chapters and verses), and even fewer know of the origins and history of the Bible. I used to think that any normal rational sane person would consider changing their views once presented with the facts. Now I'm convinced that change is too difficult for most people. Critically examining their religious beliefs is nearly impossible for the vast majority of people. For me, it’s more natural to examine my beliefs, because I’ve been doing it almost my whole life. It’s easier to stay content in the blissful ignorance of doing the same things, and believing the same things.


As a child I was taught that the Bible was something to be revered, as if it were some magical tome. I never saw my parents reading the Bible (other than as directed Sunday mornings at church), but we always had a Bible proudly on display somewhere in the living room. To this day, my mother says that she believes in the Bible because no one has ever been able to destroy it, although many have tried. I don’t know where she got her revisionist history lesson from but that’s obviously not true, but even if it were true then using that same standard would mean that ANYTHING written that has survived the test of time and has been cherished generation after generation should be treated as “divinely inspired.” Perhaps we should start quoting chapter and verse of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” as divinely inspired?


I feel your pain, but we must face the facts; you and I are NOT going to change the hearts and minds of those so firmly entrenched in a literal interpretation of the Bible that they refuse to even entertain any other concept. I’m just grateful to have found that there are some Christians who see the Bible for what it is. It is those who are seeking to reconcile critical thought with spiritual faith that are receptive to the message that the Bible is filled with a lot of good stuff and SOME of it actually happened.

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I have had similar frustrating conversations with evangelical fundamentalists, and I always seem to walk away without any satisfaction. But, I suppose this is also true of the person attempting to convince me to believe the same doctrines as they do.

A while back I remember reading one of the Buddha’s discourses in which he talked about how to “preserve” the truth. Basically, he said that it is fine to hold certain beliefs as long as we don’t exclude all other possibilities. The only way to preserve the truth is to think: “This is what I believe now, but there could be other explanations.”

 

As soon as we exclude other possibilities we have destroyed our ability to discover the truth for ourselves. So, it’s preservation and discovery that is important. The truth is always there, but it does require a lot of effort to find it. Once we have discovered truth, it is no longer a belief, it is merely the nature of reality.

 

Peace.


Steve

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IA while back I remember reading one of the Buddha’s discourses in which he talked about how to “preserve” the truth. Basically, he said that it is fine to hold certain beliefs as long as we don’t exclude all other possibilities. The only way to preserve the truth is to think: “This is what I believe now, but there could be other explanations.”

 

As soon as we exclude other possibilities we have destroyed our ability to discover the truth for ourselves. So, it’s preservation and discovery that is important. The truth is always there, but it does require a lot of effort to find it. Once we have discovered truth, it is no longer a belief, it is merely the nature of reality.

 

Peace. Steve

Thank you for the quote I think it is vital to the discussion. Buddha is bringing us to the present moment. I feel many of my fellow Christians are following the Bible and living in the past. They give us dictates and rules from the past from their interpretation of a book. I think the Bible is pointing to the present if one has a relationship with it that means living in harmony with the present. The Chrisians who live in the past are not free so many are up tight, but those that take reponsibility for their knowledge and life are open and accepting. The Christian mystics like the Sufis expressed this well in their flowery passages. It is too bad they are dismissed and not honored.

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Dr Don

Here's my take on things that are inerrant and infallible - not just the Bible.

 

We all interpret stuff and at some point we convince ourselves that we are inerrant or infallible, at least in certain aspects. So consequently we can have interesting view points from evangelicals who with honesty admit that they are not inerrant or infallible, but that their interpretation of the Bible being I&I is not. For me as a devout agnostic I find this very paradoxical.

 

But then we all fall into similar traps.

 

Joseph ... regarding evidence for god. We talk about about personal and impersonal gods. Ultimately our religious texts point to such a concept of god as being transcedent. So by definition (in the eastern sense of the word) - we don't know what we are talking about. So for me any god I have managed to conceive so far I have been able to dismiss, both from the scientific point of view and from a matter of logic based on using the definition of beyond all categories of thought for transcendent.

 

Anyway this is sort of my current I&I opinion.

 

rom

ps Welcome NiteWatchman -

To know is not to know. And not to know is to know.

It could be an agnostic's mantra.

Edited by romansh
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I have had similar frustrating conversations with evangelical fundamentalists, and I always seem to walk away without any satisfaction. But, I suppose this is also true of the person attempting to convince me to believe the same doctrines as they do.

 

A while back I remember reading one of the Buddha’s discourses in which he talked about how to “preserve” the truth. Basically, he said that it is fine to hold certain beliefs as long as we don’t exclude all other possibilities. The only way to preserve the truth is to think: “This is what I believe now, but there could be other explanations.”

 

As soon as we exclude other possibilities we have destroyed our ability to discover the truth for ourselves. So, it’s preservation and discovery that is important. The truth is always there, but it does require a lot of effort to find it. Once we have discovered truth, it is no longer a belief, it is merely the nature of reality.

 

Peace.

 

 

Steve

 

 

I like that quote.

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Dr Don

Here's my take on things that are inerrant and infallible - not just the Bible.

 

We all interpret stuff and at some point we convince ourselves that we are inerrant or infallible, at least in certain aspects. So consequently we can have interesting view points from evangelicals who with honesty admit that they are not inerrant or infallible, but that their interpretation of the Bible being I&I is not. For me as a devout agnostic I find this very paradoxical.

 

But then we all fall into similar traps.

 

Joseph ... regarding evidence for god. We talk about about personal and impersonal gods. Ultimately our religious texts point to such a concept of god as being transcedent. So by definition (in the eastern sense of the word) - we don't know what we are talking about. So for me any god I have managed to conceive so far I have been able to dismiss, both from the scientific point of view and from a matter of logic based on using the definition of beyond all categories of thought for transcendent.

 

Anyway this is sort of my current I&I opinion.

 

rom

ps Welcome NiteWatchman -

To know is not to know. And not to know is to know.

It could be an agnostic's mantra.

 

Rom,

 

I find that the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.

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As I read the above thread, I considered the role of the ego in humankind's attempt to search for a meaningful relationship with the Creator. The ego I believe prevents frequent use of statements such as "I don't know" or "I am not sure". It appears much easier to say "the way I believe is right, and you are wrong". It is comforting I think to feel that way sometimes. Normally, when I encounter my Fundy friends I discuss with them that if they were to have been born in the Middle East, their outlook on Christianity would be completely different. I think ego drives humans to believe that there is one way North and it is theirs. It seems pretentious in my view for a group to think they have the corner on the market. I am baffled that the inerrant and infallible argument could possibly remain in the face of such scholarly criticism to the contrary. As Dr. Bart Erhman has stated time and again, there are more discrepancies between manuscripts of the New Testament than there are words in the New Testament. How does the argument stand knowing that?

 

When I was younger, I took a course on the Book of Job. To my surprise, I learned that substantial beginning and ending portions of the book were added by scribes at a much later date and were not part of the original. They did so, it is thought, so that it read better and made sense. Did God realize that humans had erred and took action to place the beginning and end portion into the book?

 

My sense tells me no. These are literary products created by humans to describe attempts to understand God. I think the same could be said for the Ghita, the Qu'ran, the Tao and other spiritual writings.

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Hi Bob,

 

I think the fundamental issue that all humans face is the “existential problem”, and our desire to solve it. We do this by developing a belief in a permanent, enduring self, then place something we refer to as our “ego” to act as a sentry. Personally, I think both “ego” and “self” are merely constructs having no enduring qualities. They are, in my opinion, illusory.

 

We find it so difficult to say “I don’t know”. When we acknowledge that we don’t know, we begin to chip away at our security, and few people want to do that. Yet, it is this insecurity, uncertainty and unknowing that defines life itself.

By the way, welcome, and thanks for the insightful comments.

 

Peace.

Steve

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In the words of the great Zaphod Breeblebox

 

 

If there's anything around here more important than my ego, I want it caught and shot now!

 

Just take care when we give our egos qualities whether good or bad - just what is giving them those qualities?

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Something that comes to mind is the absence of power over others when 'belief' becomes personal. Without a 'tribal god' that loves only us and rejects all others, we cannot lever our beliefs into justification of violence and manipulation. Basically, there's 'No Money' in love, compassion, respect and tolerance. It is too individual, too personal.

 

My Literal/Evangelical Christian friend holds firm that, through 'God's Word', there is irrefutable proof that her way of thinking leads to salvation from hell. I know I'm not saying anything new here but I wanted to state that salvation, according to her, is 'from' hell. Hell is the absolute end for ANYONE who thinks ANYTHING different than she.

 

Now that's power.

 

It is out of this kind of power, and the hunger for it, that words like 'inerrant', 'infallible' and 'spirit inspired' become useful. It is the strength of pedigree at work.

 

All of it human assigned.

 

If one questions the pedigree, one is 'attacking' God.

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