Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Bible - Fundamentalist view of Transubstantiation?

I am currently reading Elmer Towns work on Theology, Theology for Today, and as I was reviewing the second part - Bibliology - my brain began to ponder a few things.

Here are my thoughts, your comments and feedback positive or negative are gladly accepted.

When I hear the debate about inspiration I am in agreement with most scholars that the Bible is the inspired word of God. When it comes to inerrancy I am certainly okay with the idea that the Bible is without error yet I am open to other views about this.

Where my thoughts caught me this morning was thinking about some of the statements I read from Towns. Here is the one that got me thinking the most,
"Just as a man can say, 'I am as good as my word,' God can say the same thing, for the Bible is God's Word. When the Bible is raised to this level, it is as perfect as God, and its perfection extends to every word." [1]
On the surface the statement may seem to be harmless but if you dig a little deeper you might see where I came up with my thought.

When you review what was said Towns seems to infer that the Scriptures are in fact God if they are as perfect as he is. Earlier he denies this point as something non-inerrantists like to use as a tactic of ridicule.  He states, "They accuse the inerrantist of 'bibliolarty' - worshiping the Bible." [2], yet it appears Towns could be leaning towards this point.

I think Scripture would be best understood like a good biography. If I wrote my biography and someone was to read it they would be able to get a feel for my life, personality, thoughts, beliefs and my very nature (namely that I am human). Yet on the other hand the reader could not carry the book to bed with them and state to their partner that, "Chris is coming to bed with us tonight." That seems most absurd to say something like that and I would suggest that person seek psychological intervention. Yet when we elevate the Holy Scriptures to this status it does leave the window open for someone to make the Bible the 4th person of the divine union of God.

In this way I believe some inerrantists place a burden on the Scriptures such as the Catholic theologians did when they postulated and instituted the doctrine of Transubstantiation on the Eucharist. Every time a Catholic takes communion they are literally eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ. This makes the wafer and wine out to be the very God we are said to worship. My God is no cracker or liquid and as we can see from a elementary study of Scripture, God is an immaterial being, "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship him in spirit and in truth" (Jn. 4:24), how can he be imbued in a wafer?

Well those are my thoughts, we need to be cautious of the weight and burden of inerrancy we put on the Scriptures. Though I am certainly inclined to believe and affirm the Bible as God's perfect word, I am never open to claim God's word as equal to God, this is heresy. Again, though Towns does not affirm this, such a strong stance on inerrancy may lead one down a slippery slope to idolatry. It happens to pastors who are on radio or television, these men are raised to rock star status when they did not nor were they intended to be raised to this status. When this happens it becomes more about their message and transformation than the Heavenly Message Giver and Transformer. I think again, this could happen to some who places such a weight on Scripture, they would worship God's Word and not the God who uttered and inspired those words.

1. Elmer L. Towns, Theology for Today (Mason: Cengage Learning, 2008), 72.
2. Ibid., 65.


  1. Spectrum Analyzer is down again, reinstalling Windows XP. Better do some blog reading!

    Good thoughts. Personally, this topic is the biggest barrier to my own belief, as to me the Bible appears to be too human to support the idea that it's God's word.

    But a lot of modern theologians are emphasizing the dual-nature of the Bible, much like the dual-nature of Christ, both man and God. I appreciate this approach more than an unwavering commitment to innerrancy. There is little discussion that can take place between the pure inerrantist and the non-believer.

    It's indeed a difficult balance to view the Bible as the word of God, but not to effectually submit to the Bible as though it were God itself. I think the more difficult question is not whether taking the Bible to bed is equivalent to taking God to bed, but whether devoting to the Bible's words is equivalent to devoting to God.

    I think your "All In" article is pertinent here, as eternity is put on the table. If the Bible is indeed the word of God, it could be akin to a documentary of real encounters with God. Through human authors, the documentary reports on events which truly ocurred, events which are vital to our purpose on Earth. The documentary is the best report we have of these events and therefore sacred above all other writings, but is indeed a documentary, not the events, characters, or source of truth that it reports on. On the other hand, if hypothetically the Bible were entirely human in origin and incorrect about Jesus' deity, then the Bible would unwittingly BE the Christian god, even to those who try to avoid bibliolatry. A lot riding here.

    To consider a writing to be the word of God is to offer that writing a level of devotion and submission that only God should receive, and to elevate that writing to a position of authority that only God should have. There's certainly a lot riding on what the Bible really is, and a lot of thought needed on the human-vs-divine nature of the Bible.

  2. Though I think it a potential slippery slope to hold the Bible itself to such a high view, viewing something as the word of God does not mean that a person would worship the book itself, it merely offers the opportunity to do so.

    A person does not submit to the book but the divine commands contained in the book because of its underlying source, namely the God of heaven.

    What I do find interesting about Scripture is that the human personality of the writers was not silenced in the process of recording and outlining doctrine. Clearly in the letters of Paul one can see his personality appear all over his writings. Yet what was not in error was his presentation of consistent Christian doctrine.