In Pastor Adam Hamilton’s book Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, he deals with differences in opinion.
One of the basic differences in our Christian faith is how we feel about the Bible. In an earlier post, I referred to Christians as “warring over the Bible.”
Indeed that is what has been happening.
In a previous post, I explained the position of the “higher critic,” the Biblical scholar who looks at the Bible as an ancient book that is the product of human writers and human manuscript copiers. Hamilton says these scholars see the Bible as a “human document that had undergone various revisions over time, as was true of many other ancient books.” They have such little regard for the Divine nature of the Bible that they declare a significant amount of material “not historical” and even “mythological.”
And then you have the opposite view; hence the war over the Bible…the fundamentalists or conservatives.
Some think the fundamentalist position is an extreme reaction to the high critics but these lower critics don’t see it that way. Lower criticism of the Bible is a dedicated focus on the slight variation of existing text and that dedicated focus is proof that the Bible is God’s word.
The higher critics see variation as a major problem. The lower critics see it as Divine Proof. Fundamentalists work like detectives trying to piece together the Bible from as many original manuscripts as possible, carefully studying the variation that has occurred over the years. I am reading a version of the Bible now and in the preface, the translators use the work of fundamentalists to state that their version is true to the best possible Hebrew and Greek texts available.
As you can see, it all boils down to point of view about variation of The Text.
The high critic attacks the divinity of the Bible due to variation; the low critic supports the divinity of the Bible due to variation.
What would settle this argument? Someone needs to discover the first Bible.
Until then, the fundamentalists, conservative or low critics argue that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. They completely reject the argument of the high critics. They don’t feel the criticism of the text is valid because the Bible is not just some ordinary book. Every word of the Bible was placed in the minds of the Biblical authors and God’s spirit guided them in the writing of their thoughts to paper. They go even further; Hamilton states their position: “since God authored the Bible, and God does not lie, nor is God ever in error, the Bible must be ‘inerrant,’ without error.
For many this is a leap of faith.
Because no one owns the first Bible.
Over the years, I have heard so many conservative Christians say things like “The Bible is all I need. I believe every word comes from God.” “God’s Word is special and it is 100% correct.” “My Bible; God wrote it.”
Those statements show great faith. They show that a person has great reverence for the Bible. My problem is that these kinds of statements don’t even acknowledge how man touched the Bible, from God’s transmission of the message to man, man’s recording it, other men recording it and our reading it from the best existing, checked manuscripts.
How do we find some common ground between these two positions?
The higher critic “throwing out the baby with the bath water.”
The lower critic saying “the Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.”