The place of fear in our bibliology

The other night, a friend and I reiterated our independent observations that, despite all nuances, what ultimately stands behind most of American Christianity’s implacable dedication to inerrancy is fear. Dr. Jim Kidder, in so many words, makes the same point. The following quote certainly rings familiar.

For many people, this is not a scientific issue, it is a moral one. Even when having conversations with my wife, it is not uncommon for her to say that she understands the evidence and accepts it but that the ramifications make her uncomfortable. Indeed, both the ID side and the new atheists write that “Darwinism” is dangerous. The reasons are similar but the motives are different. Both argue that it leads one away from faith.

This is where I’m so baffled. Have these people not encountered the risen Christ in a dynamic way? I assure you as one who’s come through this process, letting go of inerrancy is an act of faith in the One who should be standing behind our beliefs, whom we have encountered in some meaningful way. Why should acknowledging that even the ancient believers whose testaments to God’s work became our Bible might not have been omniscient nullify what most evangelicals claim as the heart of our faith, our relationship with God? From where I stand, slavish, ritualistic belief in a set of rigid propositions strikes me as much more a “religion” than a “relationship” (to evoke a phrase I have always despised).

Commenting on some remarks from a well-spoken non-inerrantist that sound very much in line with some of my beliefs on Scripture, Kidder says:

This is the start of the “slippery slope” argument that is soundly resisted by most purveyors of the YEC model—Genesis must be read literally or else there is no barometer for how we should read scripture at all.

If I had a dime for every time I’ve encountered this objection, I’d be one wealthy son of a gun. But in the end, it’s simply a fear-based, not a faith-based (much less an evidence-based) approach to the issue.

Is all truth not God’s truth? Which is scarier? Coming to terms with the fact that our neat and tidy theological suppositions are merely comfortable illusions, or living our lives and training our children in oblivion and careful isolation from the possibility that we’re wrong and that even those without faith in God might be right on some matters? Is it really so horrifying that Christianity might actually ought to be a religion based upon something other than a flawless paper idol?

Be sure to read Jim’s whole post.

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