Growing up as a Fundagelical, I was taught that there was absolute truth and my pastor and church were in possession of that truth. Our car bumpers, Bible covers, and other Jesus junk were emblazoned with the saying “The Bible says it; I believe it; that settles it.” Disagreeing with the doctrine handed down to me by my Fundagelical teachers was considered sinful. Questioning the doctrine was considered to be “losing one’s faith.”
Fundagelicals accuse Progressives of destroying the Christian faith. I’ve been writing responses to an article about the so-called dangers of progressive Christianity and the warning signs that the author issued. The first was Progressives have a lowered view of the Bible; the second, feelings are emphasized over facts; and the third, essential Christian doctrines are open for reinterpretation.
Continuing on my series in response to the dangers of Progressive churches and the “warning” signs, the fourth warning sign is: historic terms are redefined. This, in reality, is just a rewrite of the previous warning. Let’s quote the article,
There are some Progressive Christians who say they affirm doctrines like biblical inspiration, inerrancy, and authority, but they have to do linguistic gymnastics to make those words mean what they want them to mean. I remember asking a Pastor, “Do you believe the Bible is divinely inspired?” He answered confidently, “Yes, of course!” However, I mistakenly assumed that when using the word “inspired,” we both meant the same thing. He clarified months later what he meant—that the Bible is inspired in the same way and on the same level as many other Christian books, songs, and sermons. This, of course, is not how Christians have historically understood the doctrine of divine inspiration.
The example used is about inspiration. When a Fundagelical says the word inspiration, they, in general, mean Verbal Plenary Inspiration. In a nutshell, this means every word in the Bible is given to us directly by God. As such, it is exactly what God wanted to say and is inerrant (Without mistakes) because God has preserved His word.
Some Fundagelicals go even further and indicate that God literally dictated the Bible to human writers who simply wrote down what God said to them. The problem with this view is that God apparently is inconsistent in his language and grammar use. I guess when God dictates, He likes to switch up formal, informal, and atrocious grammar just to keep everyone on their toes. God likes to change His writing style frequently too.
If push comes to shove and you really pin a Fundagelical down, they will admit that verbal plenary inspiration and inherency only apply to the original autoscripts. (The original documents the original writers wrote down.) Of course, we don’t have any of those and haven’t for a long time.
As you can see, even Fundagelicals have different views on inspiration. Then we come to that troublesome word “Historic.” terms like inspiration and inerrancy may be historic in the fact that they existed in history, but they are not historic in the sense that they go all the way back to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Inerrancy is a recent doctrine created in the 1920s. Jesus, the apostles, the early church did not teach inerrancy. They believed the scriptures were inspired by God but certainly not inerrant.
Looking at inspiration historically, a dozen different views on inspiration can be found. Luther and Calvin differed on their views. The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church differed on their views. Protestants denominations differ on their views. So, historically, there is no singular, unified, monolithic view on inspiration.
The use of the term historical is another attempt to give the illusion of authority through a false historical tradition. To say Progressives redefine historic terms is meaningless. Every church redefines historic terms. Fundagelicals just claim to have the correct one, pretend it’s what Jesus, the Bible, and the Church have always taught, and offer condemnation to anyone who disagrees with them. The phrase “This, of course, is not how Christians have historically understood the doctrine of divine inspiration.” Should be rewritten as “This, of course, is not how Fundagelicals have historically, since 1920, understood the doctrine of divine inspiration.” Fundagelicals believe they are the only REAL CHRISTIANS and their doctrines are the only TRUTH. If you’re wondering why the early Church didn’t teach things the way Fundagelicals do now, it’s because the truth is continually being revealed and came to its fruition through the Fundagelicals. In other words, this has always been the truth; God is just using Fundagelicals to tell you now.
Progressives, on the other hand, see the Bible as a beautifully inspired work. The Holy Spirit has inspired each author to tell their story, their perspective, and create a record of how people have understood and debated God. The New Testament records the life of Jesus and His teaching. Jesus himself is the Word of God, not the things people wrote on paper. The most brilliant part about the Bible and proof to me that it is inspired is how it draws you into the discussion of the divine. We join with the community of saints from the first book to the last and discuss, debate, and explore God. The divinely inspired aspect of the Bible isn’t a set of answers and doctrines; it is the ability of the Bible to make us dependent on the Holy Spirit and the Community of believers to ask questions and seek answers. Ultimately we are left trusting fully in the goodness of Jesus to save us, even if we don’t have the answers, instead of being saved by the affirmation of propositional truths. Suddenly the Bible is no longer a collection of dry doctrine but a tool to connect with God and our neighbor and drive us ever more dependent on Christ. To me, that’s an inspired book.
Thanks for reading, don’t forget to like the post and subscribe if you haven’t already. You can watch my vlog at Rev’s Reels on YouTube. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Join me and a bunch of other former Fundagelicals at Open Door Ministries in Westminster at the Westminster Mall.