In this series of short articles, I would like to post for you one by one the articles of faith in the printed constitution for Berean Baptist Church in Ammon, Idaho. I invite you all to share your comments. Hey, this is your great opportunity to ask me all those questions that have been lingering in your mind and bugging you about what the Baptist preacher in your backyard believes. I am working through with my church family on the clarity of these printed paragraphs in our church constitution.
Are you ready?
Let me provide a contemporary introduction to this first article of faith by quoting Karen Armstrong. She lectured at Boise State University. Here is a snapshot from one of her latest books, The Bible (Atlantic Monthly Press 2007), in the last chapter “Modernity”:
“In 1881, Archibald A. Hodge, Charles’s son, published a defence of the literal truth of the Bible with his younger colleague Benjamin Warfield. It became a classic: ‘The scriptures not only contain but are the Word of God, and hence all their elements and all their affirmations are absolutely errorless and binding on the faith and obedience of men.’ Every biblical statement – on any subject – was absolute ‘truth to the facts’. The nature of faith was changing. It was now no longer ‘trust’ but intellectual submission to a set of beliefs. But for Hodge and Warfield, this required no suspension of disbelief because Christianity was entirely rational. ‘It is solely by reasoning that it has come thus far on its way,’ Warfield argued in a later article,’ And it is solely by reasoning that it will put its enemies under its feet.’
This was an entirely new departure. In the past, some interpreters had favoured the study of the literal sense of the Bible but they had never believed that every single word of scripture was factually true. Many had admitted that, if we confined our attention to the letter, the Bible was an impossible text. The belief in biblical inerrancy, pioneered by Warfield and Hodge, would, however, become crucial to Christian fundamentalism and would involve considerable denial. Hodge and Warfield were responding to the challenge of modernity but in their desperation were distorting the scriptural tradition they were trying to defend (199-200).”
I quote her to say I disagree strongly with this contemporary religious scholar. I would like to know how the “belief in biblical inerrancy” is denial and dishonor to the words of God and historical, conservative Christian tradition. I don’t think she is totally honest and fully factual about the historical scenario in the preceding seven chapters (Torah, Scripture, Gospel, Midrash, Charity, Lectio Divina, Sola Scriptura) before her conclusion in the eighth.
Here is Berean’s first article of faith – I. THE SCRIPTURES
We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men supernaturally inspired; that it has truth without any admixture of error for its matter; and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the age, the only complete and final revelation of the will of God to man; the true center of Christian union and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.
1. By “The Holy Bible,” we mean that collection of sixty-six books, from Genesis to Revelation, which as originally written, does not only contain and convey the Word of God, but IS the very Word of God.
2. By “inspiration,” we mean that the books of the Bible were written by holy men of old, as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, in such a definite way that their writings were supernaturally and verbally inspired and are free from error, as no other writings have ever been or ever will be inspired. (Psalm 19:7-11; Psalm 119:89, 105, 130, 160; Proverbs 30:5,6; Isaiah 8:20; Luke 16:31; Luke 24:25-27, 44, 45; John 5:39, 45-47; John 12:48; John 17:17; Acts 1:16; Acts 28:25; Romans 3:4; Romans 15:4; Ephesians 6:17; II Timothy 3:16-17; I Peter 1:23; II Peter 1:19-21; Revelation 22:19)
Ok, I invite all traditional Christians and all LDS readers and critics (even those knee-deep in LDS higher criticism on the Bible like Ronan at BCC, TT at Faith Promoting Rumor, and Blake at New Cool Thang, etc.) to share your thoughts and questions on this first article of faith. Biblical inspiration, inerrancy, canonicity, sufficiency, preservation, and authority are all open game for discussion on this thread.