You know, I’ve said many times that the general church community in the United Kingdom is an example of what the church in the U.S. will become if we don’t stand on the authority of the Bible. Most churches in the UK have compromised with evolution and millions of years. Also, church attendance in the UK is extremely low (6.3% according to a recent report in the Telegraph).
Well, a reporter for the Church of England Newspaper, the official newspaper of the Church of England, is encouraging even more compromise in the church. Paul Richardson wrote in his article, “Reinterpreting the Old Testament” (October 7, 2012), about what he calls the “dark side” of Scripture and how to interpret it in light of the culture.
Richardson wrote, “How we understand the authority of the Bible is crucial. At the basis of many disputes in the church over sexuality or the role of women are differing interpretations of the Bible and differing attitudes towards biblical authority.”
On that point, Richardson is spot on—all these debates lead back to one’s view of the authority of God’s Word. But sadly, Richardson himself doesn’t take a high view of biblical authority and inerrancy.
What Richardson is really trying to argue is that not all of God’s Word can be trusted. He wrote, “When God revealed himself to human beings he had to accommodate his revelation to the culture and viewpoint of finite, fallen human authors. He allowed human authors to be themselves when they wrote the Bible so that their work contains errors and mistaken views but also witnesses to divine truth.” This is the “dark side” of the Bible that Richardson mentions in his article.
So, if God allowed “errors and mistaken views” into the original manuscripts of the Bible, how does Richardson know which parts of the Bible are wrong? Are the words and views of Christ “mistaken”? You see, Richardson’s claim really destroys biblical authority altogether. In his view, the Bible is just a book full of a few truths that everyone in the current cultural climate can agree on—and the rest (e.g., biblical definition of marriage) is just “errors and mistaken views.”
Richardson drew the shocking—but unsurprising—conclusion that authority and inerrancy are unrelated.
Does this mean the Bible does not have authority? We need to get away from the idea that inerrancy and authority must go together. In my life I have learnt from many fine teachers but none of them was perfect. Most students are quick to see where a teacher offers real insight and where a teacher has blind spots.
There you have it. In Richardson’s view, the Bible is just a “teacher” that has blind spots, even if it does have good things to say. That’s a very low view of biblical inerrancy and authority. I would surmise from this that Richardson would also believe in evolution and millions of years if we asked him. I’m sure that this would have had a great influence on the way he looks at the rest of Scripture. This is just another sad example of the consequence of compromising God’s Word.
But you know, these kinds of articles and related teachings are exactly what the church in the U.S. will see more of as the authority of God’s Word is further eroded in the culture. We can’t give up biblical inerrancy and expect biblical authority to remain in society. I encourage you to read Brian Edwards’ article, “Why Should We Believe in the Inerrancy of Scripture?” to learn more about why we believe the Bible to be inerrant in its original manuscripts.
Richardson’s arguments against trusting God’s Word is based on the idea that the Old Testament in particular is unreliable—an erroneous claim that we at AiG have addressed before. To learn more, read Brian Edwards’ article, “Is the Old Testament Reliable?”
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,