Inerrancy

Hello my friend.  I hope that your weekend was restful and restorative.  I’ll do my best to answer your questions today.  An excerpt of your last post:

  • How do you view the Bible in terms of inerrancy/infallibility/etc. and what does your chosen term mean to you (I’ll let you define it)?
  • Why do you believe your answer to 1?
  • How certain is your belief in 1?
  • What, if anything, do you wish were different about the way the Bible was formed?

For our purposes I think we can dispense with technical differences between inerrant (without error), infallible (without failure), and truth (err…truth).  They functionally mean the same to me and I use them interchangeably.

Why is your question worth answering?  Besides you being my friend and being sincere, it gets to one of my four cornerstones of belief:  supernatural, scripture, savior, saints.  If supernature does not exist, then scripture is irrelevant.  If scripture is unreliable, then any notion of a savior is fictitious.  If there is no savior, then believers in that savior join admirers of the Easter Bunny.  Or something like that.  I’ve completed only 1/16th the book of Romans.  It is fair to pause and ask why I trust what I read in the first place.

I did not grow up with knowledge of the phrase inerrant.  I had a believing mother who taught me from an early age that scripture was reliable and true.  I loved my mother and early notions that I had of scriptural authority had the imprint of parental endorsement.  My father believed scripture too, but as I’ve glanced over before he was more like you.  Analytical and logical.  My mother, emotional and verbal, believed scripture almost literally.  My father, an engineer, systematically believed scripture but did not adopt a literal interpretation of all passages.  I didn’t recognize or reflect on these differing approaches until my late adolescence and early adulthood.

Here is what I read to understand inerrancy:  what it is and what it is not.  And here is a ten minute interview with a pastor/theologian that I trust which explains the same thing.  I don’t expect you or any reader to spend an hour on the manuscript, but I offer the references in case you want to.  Here is the most valuable quote to me:

In the statement, inerrancy does not refer to a blind literal interpretation, but allows for figurative, poetic and phenomenological language, so long as it was the author’s intent to present a passage as literal or symbolic.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy has 19 articles, each about 1 paragraph long, with an affirmation and corresponding denial.  The full PDF is linked from the Wikipedia article.  Here is an example that resonates with me:

Article XVIII  We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.  We deny the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.

Why do I believe this formulation of inerrancy and how certain am I of this belief?

As our conversation progresses I realize that your approach to belief may be Bayesian.  I’m excited to learn more about that with you.  In simple terms, my beliefs have been formed this way too.  As evidence accrues, I’m willing to reassess my beliefs.  But – – I must pause to acknowledge how powerful childhood beliefs are.  Could I really set aside the ingrained teachings of trusted parents?  I don’t know.  But I’m willing to ask the question humbly, and that is a step forward for me and others like me.  If my beliefs are worth holding, then they are worth questioning.  If God is real, his reality is not threatened by sincere (or even insincere) questions.

Why do I believe this?  I had previously read several of the authors:  Boyce, Schaeffer, and Sproul.  I found them to be trustworthy.  The statement made sense to me and helped me to reconcile my love of science with my love of scripture.  It helped me to attain the cognitive resonance that you desire.  How certain are you?  It let me think more about the content of scripture and what it means for me today.  It allowed me to spend more time on the meditation of how to love people well.

My beliefs are open to your audit friend.  As are my actions.  I will say this – – I, like many, have limited intellectual and emotional bandwidth.  So, for several months I dedicated that bandwidth to questioning whether my childhood faith in scripture was childlike or childish.  When I was assured of the former I moved on.  I’m always willing to go back for a friend.

What do I wish was different about the way the Bible was formed?  I think your answer to that question will be more helpful than mine.  I’m content, hopefully not complacent.

Pascal

–1:16

 

15 comments

  1. Thank you, Pascal. This was helpful. I watched the video and skimmed part of the Chicago statement. I’ve started a response but I think it will need to wait until lunch or evening tomorrow. I’ll make it a new post.

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  2. The reading and understanding of the Bible is indeed a lifetime labor. It is not a science book. It is not a philosophy book. It is not a history book. It is not sociology book. It is however a collection of writings declaring the character of God and His plan for our redemption through Jesus. I certainly understand now more than 15 years ago and will understand even more 15 years from now. I believe the writers to be ordinary men inspired by extraordinary means known as the Holy Spirit. Because the Bible is not a text book or biographical survey, I think how it is approached has significant influence of our understanding and reaction to it. I concede that there are errors in innocuous matters, but inerrant in matters pertaining the serious substance of God’s interaction with humanity and remedy for its shortcomings. If one approaches the Bible on strictly an intellectual level, he is sure to get bogged down. Moreover, if one elevates the Bible over God, then idolatry is the result. Surely we as finite beings are incapable of understanding every minute instance in the Bible. No one will ever corner the market of complete understanding. But the Bible is written in a way so folks with differing levels of intellect can grasp its overarching redemptive message. Coupled with Christ’s resurrection and ascension, the Bible remains the most compelling book revealing God, His nature, and plan for humanity.

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    1. John – – thank you for your thoughtful comment, and welcome. It was a joy to visit your site and see what God has done in your life. The Bible is not a philosophy text but it is the essence of philosophy (love of wisdom). It is not a biographical survey, but I think that Paul was Paul, Abraham was Abraham, and Jesus was Jesus. As for science, I don’t see the conflict in truth that God reveals either in science or in his Word. Truth is truth. What is the purpose of scripture? I can’t say it better than you. Again – – welcome – – believers and skeptics can meet and reason together here.

      Blessings,
      Pascal
      –1:16

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    2. Hello John,

      Welcome. Thank you for visiting and commenting. There was a time when I agreed with all your points, but I’m not there now. Perhaps you can help me return to my former position.

      It seems to me that the Bible is a collection of beliefs about God and everyday life, some of which are specifically scientific, philosophical, historical, and sociological in nature.

      I believe the writers to be ordinary men inspired by extraordinary means known as the Holy Spirit. Because the Bible is not a text book or biographical survey, I think how it is approached has significant influence of our understanding and reaction to it. I concede that there are errors in innocuous matters, but inerrant in matters pertaining the serious substance of God’s interaction with humanity and remedy for its shortcomings.

      My questions are:

      1. Why is it more reasonable to believe that the authors were actually inspired by a deity (i.e. God through the Holy Spirit) rather than the natural explanations that often lead to such theistic beliefs?
      2. I agree that how it is approach has a significant influence of our understand and reaction to it. However, why should we approach it assuming it contains the thoughts and actions of a deity rather than being skeptical of such a claim (which is the normal approach)?

      3. If you agree that there are errors in innocuous matters (i.e. it doesn’t appear to be entirely supernatural directed or preserved in its recording and/or transmission), why assume it is entirely accurate in the parts that discuss the supernatural (i.e. that which we, by definition, cannot have knowledge of)?

      4. In sum, why is it more reasonable to hold that the authors’ beliefs about God reflect the Truth (the reality that is) rather than just their occasionally flawed and very human beliefs/desires?

      If I could find a suitable answer to that last question, I would dive head-first into faith again.

      Gentleness and respect,
      –Russell

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      1. My short answer is that I personally sense an authority in scripture. I don’t think men are capable of producing such work. There is a distinct flavor of what I refer to as divine wisdom which spans the entire collection of books. There is phenomenal continuity from Genesis through Revelation regarding God’s nature and character. All of God’s statues are provisions for humanity’s protection and wellbeing. We may not understand or agree with His methodology of redemption, but I think there is sufficient rationale in God’s assessment of the human condition and a much needed and definitive solution. When I read the scripture, I don’t hear the voice of men who penned them, but the authoritative voice of God. When 2 Timothy 3:16 says all scripture is given by inspiration of God (Hebrew – “God breathed”), and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…, I find it reasonable to believe God could get His redemptive message out without error. Also, I really can’t find any Biblical instruction for living for God to be unreasonable in light of God’s holy character. Perhaps you could provide an example of a belief or desire in scripture outside of God’s realm of wisdom and instruction. In closing, I have to say that my apologetics are guided by my belief in the Bible coupled with experience. Experience with the resurrected Jesus. The Resurrection of Jesus is the only reason for my trust in God and His promises. Without the resurrection of Jesus, my faith in vain. Peace be with you as you will be in my prayers.

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  3. Hi John,

    My short answer is that I personally sense an authority in scripture. I don’t think men are capable of producing such work.

    I haven’t read anything in the Bible that seems as if it could not have been penned by men in the estimated time ranges and cultures it was written. Perhaps you can provide an example?

    There is a distinct flavor of what I refer to as divine wisdom which spans the entire collection of books.

    I don’t see any evidence of divine wisdom, either. I see much wisdom, but not levels beyond the great thinkers of the time. I’m earnestly searching for an example of this divine wisdom as well.

    There is phenomenal continuity from Genesis through Revelation regarding God’s nature and character.

    There is quite a bit of continuity, but that is expected since that was part of the criteria for which books were canonized. There also seems to be some discontinuity from Genesis through Revelation concerning God’s nature and character.

    All of God’s statutes are provisions for humanity’s protection and wellbeing.

    I’ll assume you’ve read them all. Off the top of my head, I’m not sure how it’s for humanity’s protection and well-being that women are unclean for longer after having female babies than male babies, clothes must be made of no more than one material, children must be stoned to death for bad behavior, women must have their hands chopped off for grabbing an assailants genitals or stoned to death for failing to produce evidence of their wedding-night virginity, homosexuals should be stoned to death, people should be stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath, slave-owners should be allowed to beat their slaves to the point of death without punishment as long as the slave can get up after three days, etc. I’d like to believe that the Bible reflects statutes from God that are for our protection and well-being, but if it were true, it appears (at least for some of them) it is only for our protection from Him for violating that which he dislikes (and many of his dislikes seem arbitrary or even contrary modern understanding of well-being). Granted, these were Old Testament laws, but the fact that many of them are now ignored/fulfilled/abandoned/etc. after Jesus’ sacrifice doesn’t seem to support your position that God’s character is consistent. There are many New Testament statutes that seem to violate this notion of humanity’s provision and well-being as well.

    When I read the scripture, I don’t hear the voice of men who penned them, but the authoritative voice of God.

    I can understand. That’s exactly how I used to feel. However, I recognize that is exactly how the believers of competing faiths feel. Also, since the supernatural is unknowable, I’m not sure how to distinguish the confident voice of someone who believes something supernatural – yet is mistaken – from the confident voice of someone who believes something supernatural and is correct. You hear the authoritative voice of God. I hear the authoritative voice of someone who claims to be channeling God. If they were, I’d expect fewer inaccuracies and at least some supernatural evidence that is relevant to us (i.e. post-scientific method). At least something that couldn’t have been known by the people at the time. At the very least, I’d expect the ideas about God to be consistent or all His falsifiable promises to fail to be falsified. Unfortunately, unless I’m missing something, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

    When 2 Timothy 3:16 says all scripture is given by inspiration of God (Hebrew – “God breathed”), and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…, I find it reasonable to believe God could get His redemptive message out without error.

    We agree. But this is not what we find, which is the key problem I face. See my post on Inerrancy? if you’re interested.

    Also, I really can’t find any Biblical instruction for living for God to be unreasonable in light of God’s holy character. Perhaps you could provide an example of a belief or desire in scripture outside of God’s realm of wisdom and instruction.

    I’ll be happy to attempt to clarify anything I can. I want to make sure I understand you, though, and your wording seems a bit nuanced here and I see multiple possible meanings in both sentences. Can you explain again what you’re wanting to know? Sorry.

    I apologize for the long response. Thank you for taking the time to read it (if you do). 🙂

    Gentleness and respect,
    –Russell

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    1. I won’t pretend to understand ALL that is in the Bible, but I do know God’s method of teaching is progressive in nature and stitched in the fabric of culture. Also, I will only debate biblical errancy so far because it can go and on. That is why I anchor my discourse in the Resurrection. Good night!

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  4. In sum, why is it more reasonable to hold that the authors’ beliefs about God reflect the Truth (the reality that is) rather than just their occasionally flawed and very human beliefs/desires?

    My friend, in describing your own doubts you decline to subscribe to big T truth. Rather, you are currently a self-described agnostic atheist. I’m a self-described gnostic theist. Is a gnostic worldview of either stripe permissible? Possible?

    The consequences of a fallen world with only a foreshadowing of ultimate redemption as depicted in the Old Testament is brutal. Women subjugated, men toiling for poverty, slavery, rape, murder, infanticide, then a call apart for an insignificant nation whose second king would be a deeply flawed polymagist who somehow sought and found God’s own heart.

    Why do I believe scripture? The content and meta narrative is internally consistent. On this we currently disagree.

    If God’s character offends you, why disallow his existence. Isn’t another possibility present? Could his goodness be demonstrated by his wrath? Could the one who created everything have created evil? Evil is part of everything. That is still a mystery to me.

    What of other wisdom books? I’m reading more about Hinduism and Islam in a historical novel about India. Neither touch me as answering the problem of falleness as well as following Christ does.

    I present this as an alternate way to wrestle with complexity. Walking away is another. The world has been and will be brutal until it ends. We’re negotiating the why and whether that question has meaning at all. You don’t live as if absolute certainty is required. You live with some degree of gnosticism as do I (context specific to our discussions).

    In recent posts I’ve attempted small bites to explain what troubles me in scripture (the difficulty of comprehending God’s wrath) and what doesn’t (genealogy and virgin birth). Being able to do this with a friend and not an internet enemy is precious.

    Pascal
    –1:16

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    1. Hi Pascal,

      I hope you don’t mind my style of quoting you then responding. I just realized that might be offensive or tedious to the point of annoyance. I’m not trying to be. I’m relatively new to this blogging thing. I just find it helpful to pull in some base context so you can see what I’m responding to. I also try to be thorough by responding to most things I see as questions or anything I think needs clarification. I’m sure you know all this, but I haven’t mentioned it explicitly so I don’t want you to think I’m just this analytical and detailed. OK. Actually, that’s also probably true, unfortunately. 🙂

      My friend, in describing your own doubts you decline to subscribe to big T truth. Rather, you are currently a self-described agnostic atheist.

      I don’t think I’ve ever declined to subscribe to big T truth. If I did, it was a typo or we’re meaning different things (either of which seem very likely). I believe there likely is an objective reality out there, but our senses may not get us to it. When I said we aren’t lifting the curtain to reveal reality, I didn’t mean there wasn’t a reality (capital T truth) out there, just that is not the goal of science because our senses can’t be guaranteed to get us there. Science learned long ago not to bite off more than it can chew (though some scientists still forget this and many never learned it – I hope to share this knowledge with at least one or two who are unknowingly taking science too far). While I hope there is an objective reality, I think it’s unlikely that the Bible accurately reflects that True reality that IS based on the parts that are illogical or disproved by science.

      For another lecture series I highly recommend (from The Great Courses), check out Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It. It is not a religious course at all. If you’ve heard me referencing the “fallacy of affirming the consequent”, my deepest exposure to it came in this course’s application of it to science. I also apply it to other knowledge claims like religion, but I hold it equally valid as a caution for both rationalists and empiricists (i.e. both a-priori, including supernatural, and posteriori natural reasoning) and all “ists” in between.

      I’m a self-described gnostic theist. Is a gnostic worldview of either stripe permissible? Possible?

      Gnostic theism and Gnostic atheism are both “permissible” and “possible” in some sense, but I think only gnostic theism could be justified logically. The knowledge that there is no intent of free agent behind our most recent universal causality (currently viewed as the Big Bang) is impossible to justify to the level of certainty (see iMultiverse).

      Something that we might consider a God could always reveal itself in a way that was convincing, however. Even if we could never be absolutely sure that it wasn’t just a sufficiently advanced alien force that evolved within or has some control over the universe rather than the causal agent of the universe, it could still potentially be convincing enough in power and knowledge to justify some level of certainty in its divinity (e.g. a God). So, while I don’t believe gnostic atheism or gnostic theism are currently appropriate given the evidence I’ve seen, at least gnostic theism has a chance of being justifiable in the future, whereas gnostic atheism likely never will. I can think of a seemingly infinite number of things that could convince me of a God, while nothing I can currently conceive could convince me there is no possibility of a God.

      Why do I believe scripture? The content and meta narrative is internally consistent. On this we currently disagree.

      Yes, we do disagree, unfortunately. Maybe not for obvious reasons. I think pattern matching and confirmation bias are playing a role in how we interpret the words of those we disagree with (I’m definitely including myself here). It’s the tappers and the listeners in action during our dialogues.

      If I may be so bold, I don’t think my understanding of theology is as simple-minded as it could easily be interpreted by someone looking for such a view from a non-theist. I sometimes see possible interpretations of scripture that could yield a soluble equation (something in line with a possible reality) for consistency in the whole of scripture. However, in my view, the likely values for many of the variables in that equation (based on what I view is the natural reading) do not make such an equation possible.

      In the end, the Bible is a math problem and the math doesn’t work. Those who believe are using the same reasoning in different words, but they are applying different values (I believe sometimes incorrect values due to motivated reasoning) in that equation. For them, they can get 1 out of the Bible and match it with the 1 of reality. 1 = 1. For me, the Bible yields a number other than 1. I can’t make it yield 1 like I used to when I let my desire influence the values.

      I’m sorry that we disagree about the consistency in scripture. I don’t want to disagree with you. I want to believe.

      If God’s character offends you, why disallow his existence.

      I don’t understand what you mean here. It seems as though you’re applying a generalization even though you’re probably aware that my beliefs do not match what you’re arguing against. I may be misreading you. I’m going to take this at face value in case I miscommunicated something before and you were honestly asking this question of me.

      First, I do not disallow God’s existence. His existence is not something in my control so I could not allow or disallow it. That wording is strange to me.

      Second, what I think you might have meant by that phrase is why do I disbelieve in Him, which (depending on your definition of disbelieve) you know I don’t. I just lack belief because I lack sufficient evidence to outweigh the counter-evidence.

      God’s character doesn’t offend me in this context. By God’s character I think you mean the God of the Bible. I do not believe the God in the Bible exists, so I am not offended by His character. My description of the claims made by the Bible writers about the character of the God they believed in when responding to John’s comment were solely an attempt to demonstrate how 1 ≠ 1 for me. His claim was that “All of God’s statues are provisions for humanity’s protection and wellbeing.” I listed some things that I didn’t think on a natural reading upheld that claim. My personal opinion of the moral attributes of a divine being have no bearing on whether that being exists. The consistency of that divine being’s attributes with claims made elsewhere in the book that describes Him have everything to do with the logical possibility of that God existing.

      Further, it’s not a requirement that a God care about the well-being of humanity, and I’m not certain it’s clear that the Biblical description of God includes this requirement. It was John’s assertion, so I just mentioned some random statutes and provisions that cause me to question whether it was true. There are many more applicable issues that more directly confront that notion. I’m not angry at a God I don’t believe in, I’m just trying to explain why I think the  God described in the Bible is unlikely to exist (while some God’s existence is neither likely nor unlikely based on what I’ve experienced).

      Isn’t another possibility present? Could his goodness be demonstrated by his wrath? Could the one who created everything have created evil?

      I believe you know I think many other possibilities are present concerning God’s existence and what we mean by God.

      Yes, goodness may be demonstrated by wrath, but I think I would have to redefine goodness a bit in light of actions of the God of the Bible. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing because we can’t expect our finite understandings and definitions from our limited perspectives to apply to a deity who understands far more than we, but a redefinition would be required. Look up the definition of “good” in your special dictionary 🙂 or use this one. In my opinion, creating creatures who suffer does not equal “good” from our perspective. From an infinite perspective it might, if we knew the whole story. But since we don’t, we can’t just assume it’s “good”. We have to go with what we know to be true here, and our terms just don’t match. Creating creatures who will suffer for eternity seems logically inconsistent with what I can currently imagine might be construed as “good”, even from an infinite perspective. I’m not certain there isn’t a loop-hole there, but again, from what I understand of “good” or “love” now, that action does not qualify. 1 ≠ 1.

      Certainly God could have created evil. Again, I do not reject God on the basis of morality, but on the basis of a consistent idea of what could logically exist. The good/evil debate only takes me as far as “is it consistent or not”, not as far as “can I worship such a God.”
       

      Evil is part of everything. That is still a mystery to me.

      I admit it is difficult to reconcile the God described in some parts of the Bible with the ultimate cause of evil, though I do acknowledge a number of verses (maybe 5-10) that indicate that He is that cause. The problem is the other verses that say contradicting things about Him, as if the writers can’t agree (because they don’t know). In truth, I’m not sure “evil” exists in the way we commonly think of it. I can look at actions and equate them with my concept of evil, but I don’t know that evil is more than the deliberate intent to cause suffering. I don’t have such an intent, but I can certainly see where it is completely expected given an evolutionary view of intentions. I won’t get into it here, but from my perspective as a non-theist, I don’t have to struggle to make sense of a God that is only good AND creates evil. See Epicurus’ problem of evil I mentioned before (this is a different link).

      You call it a “mystery”. I’m familiar with such mysteries. To me, many of them are misnomers. A mystery is something difficult to understand. I think there’s a tendency to classify some things as mystery because we don’t want to acknowledge they are really contradictions. “Mystery” is a classification that saves us from facing cognitive dissonance – but we often put things there that don’t belong.

      Our faith (hope) tells us there must be a solution (1 must = 1), however our mind just can’t grasp issue X (or isn’t meant to understand it) in this life. Thus it must be a mystery. I completely understand. My assessment is just different than yours on some issues in the Bible. My conclusion is that some of those mysteries are best explained by actual contradictions. Therefore those claims are not consistent with science (which deals with what we can know to what degree in this life – including what we can falsify), regardless of how badly I want them to be. The “1” on the reality side of the equation must be (if anything must be). The “1” on the side of the Bible is not a necessity, despite our desire. He we find ourselves, and the Bible is just one hypothesis for a why. Put another way, we can be more certain that we exist (cogito ergo sum, and that we can sense, test, and apply logic) than we can be certain that the Bible accurately defines the cause of that existence (see the fallacy of affirming the consequent).

      What of other wisdom books? I’m reading more about Hinduism and Islam in a historical novel about India. Neither touch me as answering the problem of falleness as well as following Christ does.

      You are atheistic about those religion’s deities because their scriptures don’t seem to connect with you. You understand my position about the Bible. It seems as if it was written for many people, but not for me. It’s not the way I think. It doesn’t connect with me.

      You mentioned that those books don’t answer the problem of falleness, but are they trying to? The use of that word implies a preconception of a riddle you’re expecting them to try to crack. This may not be true, I’m just asking because it’s possible that the riddle may be a figment our imagination we bring with us. Many cultures view the world in different terms (I know you’re keenly aware of this). Why must the problems in this world be due to falleness, and what does that mean in your evolutionary world-view? Must there have once been a pristine state of existence in which human beings did something wrong and were driven to this fallen state as a result? I can see that would be the answer your looking for, but isn’t it begging the question if your counting out other religions assuming they have to conform to this narrative? Must any of them be right? Also, according to your Biblical view, was there even an Adam to fall? Did Lucy fall? What about the Neanderthals with whom I share 2.6% DNA? Where specifically did God intervene with to imbue a soul into the primates? And what of the demonstrable morality amongst species varying widely from primates? I’m not suggesting you don’t have answers, but I’d like to understand the reasons and level of certainty for the answers you do have. I’m curious about this topic.

      I present this as an alternate way to wrestle with complexity. Walking away is another.

      I know of only one way to wrestle with complexity. A combination of divide and conquer and piecewise refinement, iterated over and over until complex issues are logically trivial. It’s not about the difficulties, it’s about not hanging on to a valuation that we really want to keep when the math doesn’t work. That’s the struggle and it’s the best way to dig our way through to Truth.

      I’m not offended by the claim that I “walked away” (I know you didn’t specifically apply it to me), but I think a more accurate phrase for me is that I “stepped back”. I don’t want to imply that I’m done with faith altogether. My back is not turned. I’m not committed in another direction. I’m on this blog trying not only to explain, but to learn, understand, and grow. I’m searching. I just haven’t found what I’m looking for yet.

      The world has been and will be brutal until it ends.

      The world is brutal, but we each have the same goal in mind. We want to lessen that brutality. You through reasoned faith, me through reason alone.

      In recent posts I’ve attempted small bites to explain what troubles me in scripture (the difficulty of comprehending God’s wrath) and what doesn’t (genealogy and virgin birth).

      I’ll get to those soon. 🙂

      God’s wrath only troubles me (at this stage) as it relates to consistency in the conceptualization of God as a logically coherent entity. Beyond the fact that I can’t make myself believe something that I believe to be illogical (not that I just don’t have enough knowledge to understand, but that conflicts with known logic, 1 = 2 for example), inconsistencies about God also show the Bible to be less than trustworthy. Therefore, wrath and goodness is a logical problem for me, not a moral one. I’m re-emphasizing this too much, probably, but it’s such a common pattern in the way believers think about non-believers that I want my specific views to resonate. I know I’ve written about genealogy and the virgin birth, but that’s just because they were in context of Romans 1 (“in the flesh”). In the grand scheme of Bible problems, they are very trivial. Those two things alone were insignificant in causing my doubts. Issues with God’s goodness, likewise, were insignificant. We have a long way ahead if we want to break down the list. You said we had 10 years, right? I might need to write faster. 🙂

      Honestly, as I’ve said before, I don’t like writing about Bible issues. Not only is it tedious, in most cases I don’t have a desire to bring others to question their faith. Critiquing a faith does little to help me learn or grow in understanding and I’m not an anti-theist. I do want to be honest about my issues as a way of explanation but I respect the Bible and those who follow it. I understand them and on many levels I envy them. It’s not a fun task for me and I doubt the challenge of tediously defending the Word against an analytical skeptic like me thrills you either. I’m truly sorry about that.

      Being able to do this with a friend and not an internet enemy is precious.

      I couldn’t agree me. I’m looking forward to our next meeting. 🙂

      –Gentleness and respect,
      Russell

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