It came as a great surprise to me when I read it.
I was reading “Jesus I Have Loved , Bu Paul?” written by a Christian by the name of Kirk who admitted that he’d never felt comfortable with the Paul you meet in the New Testament.
Anyways, he is now comfortable with the Apostle Paul, because he’s read him more carefully, became better acquainted with the background story of the Bible and, as he said, like many evangelical Christians, discarded the doctrine of the infallible inerrancy of the Bible.
That last bit was something of a shock to my system.
Seriously? A thoughtful, mature Christian writer, just decided that the Bible was not the infallible word of God, but something that we should rely on alongside, as he said, alongside other human traditions, such as the teachings and experiences of the church over the millennia?
My first thought was “So we’re back to Luther again.”
Protestant evangelicals like to celebrate Martin Luther as the courageous German monk who was prepared to stand before the Pope himself, declare that eternal doctrine Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) to him, and finish saying something like “Here I stand, I can do no other. God help me.”
Kirk’s dismissal of the inerrant Bible takes us straight back to the basic theological battles that Luther fought 500 years ago like Sola Scriptura (the Bible as the only infallible source of knowledge).
If the Bible is not infallible, then it is, simply put, not the Bible. There is no reason to take on anything the Bible says that makes us uncomfortable, because we can say “oh that’s just the fallible bits, but the rest of its really good”. If we only accept the bits of the Bible that we like, then it’s not the Bible we are following, but ourselves.
The Bible loses its value as a spiritual text. Since I know the author can discard anything Paul said that he doesn’t like, I no longer feel like I’m reading a commentary on the Word of God. The book feels like a biography of St. Augustine or Phillip Yancey- a trivial work with an interesting story and maybe some insights I could pick up on.
And that’s my point. Sola Scriptura, scripture alone as the only, God-inspired source of infallible wisdom we all must follow seems like an antiquated and obscure theological battle now dead German monks squabbled over in the 1500s. But it’s not. It’s essential. Without it Christianity ceases to be actually Christian and becomes whatever you want its to be.
So we need to know these theological doctrines, and know why they are true and what it means for them to be true, because they are essential and they will be challenged.