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Thomas J. Wilson

I think it is funny taht you should have started this series when you did, my friend. I have been having discussions with my circle, at times heated, over the infallibility of scripture. I think one of the things that I consistently get to is that YES, i DO think that God was capable and willing to reveal his will to mankind, but with 2-3 millenia of human tampering, transcribing, translating; who can be sure of WHAT God's message originally was. One could contend that God, either miraculously or "providentially" (whatever THAT means)could have preserved "His Word", but if he was going to intervene in THAT way outside the bible, then is it possible that he was continuing to intervene in OTHER ways.

I think the problem is, with the fundamentalist arena with which we grew up in, is that they depend upon an OBJECTIVE approach towards the "Word of God". They sit back and say THIS is it (whatever "THIS" may be). I personally believe that ALL ways of approaching god, of understanding Him are HIGHLY subjective. What I hear you saying is that you are coming to believe that the Bible, or at least UNDERSTANDING the Bible, is subjective as well.


barry writes:

this is so interesting to read, duane. it just underlines for me the extent to which the church we grew up at -- trinity -- was in fact many many churches all under one roof.

the idea that the bible was inspired by god working through people and then preserved and compiled and passed on by god working through people is so second-nature to me that i can't imagine anyone with a similar background to mine being shaken to the core and wondering if they're still a christian for thinking it.

but that's just it: our backgrounds are not as similar as we might think. john & betty tompson and larry & carolyn heitzman and john & pat coventry and clint dunagan are radically different in their approaches to some pretty basic questions. who you had as your sunday school teacher, who you had as your parents, who was your youth minister at a given point -- those are all watershed questions in a church like ours.

all those truisms about baptist life turn out to be true after all.

at any rate, catherine and i will be in prayer for you on this journey.


barry adds:

by the way, *did* you ever have larry heitzman? he had this pet lesson, "refrigerating the gospel," in which he would comically propose slicing up scripture to be placed on your refrigerator. it's a powerful emblem of exactly the thing you're talking about, pulling out bleeding chunks of scripture to be misused however one sees fit.

"refrigerating the gospel:" what a redolent phrase. by cross-stitching our favorite sentences, out of context, and framing them and putting them on magnets, we do indeed refrigerate the mighty flames of gospel truth that could so transform us.

Cliff Knighten


Thank you for honestly sharing your journey of faith. I have asked and continue to ask many of the same questions. It seems clear to me that many conservative Christian presuppositions about the bible are rooted in the fundamentalist/ modernist controversy in the early 1900's.

The terms that so many of us have viewed as unquestionable dogma, like "absolute truth" and "inerrancy" reflect the specific context of academic and scientific challenges to faith. While these challenges had been brewing ever since the Enlightenment, they came to a head in the early 20th century. Think J.Gresham Machen and Old Princeton theology for example.

Of course, these challenges to faith were and in some cases still are real. Unfortunately, I believe the challenges led many in the church to overreach and make claims for scripture that are found neither in scripture nor the historic Christian tradition.

My personal view is that there is a great deal of fear underlying terms like "absolute truth" and "inerrancy." We have accepted the foundationalist project and sought to ground our faith in the bedrock certainty of "absolute truth." This gives us certitude and confidence that we are right and others are "wrong." I once heard Walter Brueggemann say that he grew up in a church with "acres and acres of certitude."

This is a way of eliminating anxiety and doubt. But I would argue it also eliminates faith. Our security is not in an "inerrant text" but in the one who is "the way, the truth, and the life."

D.J. Bulls the blog. I also am wading through an emerging faith, dealing with changes in how I view religion, faith, church, all that stuff! Yet another commonality we share! Love to chat with you about it! Until, tommorow, "urah hanevel, v'chi nor..."


great post. i resonate. keep writing.

Matt Norman

Hey Duane,

Great conversation. I too have found myself on this journey of faith. Stepping out of a false comfort. It is amazing to me how we search and study and construct ideas/thoughts all in the attempt to find God...understand God.

Vincent Donovan writes in his book "Christianity Rediscovered" of a conversation with a Masi worrior about faith and God. The worrior says that we humans think that we are like lions, hunting, stalking, searching for God. When really the lion is God, hunting and stalking us.

Sometimes it hits me that we are so busy hunting for God that we forget to sit still and be overtaken by that which we seek.

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