(In The Life Of The Church)
Inerrancy: What do I believe about the Bible?
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16
This Sunday I'm going to talk about the bible and its relationship to the Holy Spirit. In preparing my sermon I jotted down a statement about inerrancy, that to be honest, is a peripheral issue. I didn't want to chase a rabbit trail in the sermon, so I'm using this writing moment to address the issue should some concerns arise.
Defining inerrancy is difficult.
Here is a definition from Wikipedia that is a construction of the thoughts of two theologians: Wayne Grudem and Norman Geisler. "Biblical inerrancy, as formulated in the "Chicago Statement On Biblical Inerrancy", is the doctrine that the Bible "is without error or fault in all its teaching"; or, at least, that "Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact".
Sounds good, right? So why, then, do I not affirm Biblical inerrancy? Truett professor Roger Olson has written a blog that will explain how I feel better than I can. Lest you don't click on that link, let me a share a few reasons. In the Chicago Statement, inerrancy receives about 100 different qualifications. So many qualifications, that some have said that the actual word "inerrancy" dies a death of a 1,000 qualifications. Here's one example Olson gives in the blog post:
"The biggest qualification is that only the original autographs were inerrant. Think about this. The claim made by most conservative evangelicals (and, of course fundamentalists) is that biblical authority stands or falls with inerrancy. If the Bible contains any real errors it cannot be trusted. Then they admit every Bible that exists probably contains errors. Only the original manuscripts on which the inspired authors wrote can be considered perfectly inerrant."
But at the end of the day, it's not even really the theological nuance in the definition of inerrancy that makes me feel the need to distance myself from the word. When I first came to UBC I think the thing I loved most about it was not necessarily what I perceived was UBC's belief it was her attitude towards her belief. It was a humility that understood that we are a depraved people and that depravity effects even our ability to know, even with the gracious help of the holy spirit.
It's dangerous to make blanket statements and so I say with a slight hesitation, but very consistently I find that those for whom the word "inerrancy" is important also have an attitude towards that view that strikes me as incredibly unhealthy and unChristlike. Very often inerrancy is used not as theological tool safeguarding the edification of the church, but rather as divisive litmus test which has an aim of pushing others out. It's the attitude towards the belief which bothers me.
Because I've been pushing us as community lately to not just be deconstructive, but also reconstructive let me take a minute to address the question: How do I read my Bible? As with any issue there seems to be range of approaches.
I begin with Barbara Brown Taylor whose voice will appear again in my posts over the next few days. In her memoir Leaving Church she writes:
"I do not pretend to read the Bible any more objectively than those who wrote it for me. To read it literally strikes me as a terrible refusal of their literary gifts. I will keep the Bible, which remains the Word of God for me, but always the Word as heard by generations of human beings as flawed as I. As beautifully as these witnesses write, their divine inspiration can never be separated from their ardent desires; their genuine wish to serve God cannot be divorced from their self-interest. That God should use such blemished creatures to communicate God’s reality so well makes the Bible its own kind of miracle, but I hope I never put the book ahead of the people whom the book calls me to love and serve."
Some of you may find Taylor's statement a little frightening, and some of you liberating. I understand both of those emotions. If Taylor represents a middle ground then there's certainly extremes on both sides of her. A step further would be to stand behind Gordan Kaufman’s theological statement that scripture is special because it “contains glorious literature, important historical documents, exalted ethical teachings.” In my opinion Kaufman does not say enough. But on the other end of the spectrum we find an equally problematic approach. John R. Rice, a fundamentalist evangelist and publisher, argued for inspiration of the Bible as “dictation” and treated the human authors as mere penmen of the Holy Spirit. Claims like this substantiate Emil Brunner’s criticism that Protestants are often guilty of creating a “paper pope.”
Though I find affinities in Taylor’s thoughtful observation, I find that I can in good conscience latch onto Karl Barth’s approach wholeheartedly. Barth develops a threefold understanding of God’s Word:
- Jesus Christ
- The churches’ proclamation of the gospel.
Barth argues that God’s Word always has the character of event. Thus we find the primary mode of God’s revelation in the second person of the Trinity … not on paper. Of the Bible itself Barth says, “[it] is God’s Word to the extent that God causes it to be His Word, to the extent that He speaks through it.” Barth’s contribution, which is bolstered by John Calvin who acknowledged that apart from the Holy Spirit the Bible would be to a sinner a dead book, is important for this reason.
So what I do I believe about the Bible? I believe the Bible is a gift from God. I believe it is essential the life of the believer. But I also believe that truth is a person, Jesus Christ, and the bible testifies to that truth and that as amazing as the bible is, without the Holy Spirit it is useless. And lastly I believe about the bible what the bible believes about itself. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
 Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith, (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006), 216.
 Gordan Kaufman, “What Shall We Do with the Bible?” Interpretation 25 no. 1 (1971): 96.
 Donald K. McKim, What Christians Believe About the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1985) 57.
 Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics I/1, The Doctrine of the Word of God, Part 1 trans. G. W. Bromiley (Deinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1975), 222.
Sunday School & other Fall Opportunities
... starts this Sunday. In case you missed it, here is a link Craig posted earlier this week that describes what's happening this fall.
UBC first love feast of the Fall will be Sunday night at 6:00 PM. Please bring a side or main dish to share.
We are going to start a new tradition this semester as way to get to know more people at UBC and make friends that are friends forever. If you are new to UBC, or if you have been here a while and just want to meet some new folks, we would love for you to join us for lunch. After church this Sunday, we will have several UBC’ers (Kaley Eggers, Byron Roldan, and Teri Walter) in the coffee room who have a crew they eat lunch with after church, and they would love for you to join. If you would like to go to lunch, just make your way to the coffee room and find out where everyone is going. We will plan on doing these informal lunches a couple of times a semester. If you have any questions, please email or ask Toph (email@example.com).
UBC Ladies Night
Well, ladies- it looks like Galentine’s Day is coming early this year!
This Thursday (September 11th), UBC women are gathering to get to know one another over some incredible deep-dish pizza. We’re meeting in the back room of Rosati’s (824 Hewitt Dr, Woodway, TX 76712) at 7PM, and we would love for you to be there! Who knows? You may find the Amy Poehler to your Tina Fey, the Gayle to your Oprah, the Thelma to your Louise, or even a whole sisterhood with whom you can share a pair of traveling pants. We hope you’ll join us as we celebrate friendship, womanhood, and Chicago-style pizza!
(If you have any questions, feel free to email Kaley.Eggers@gmail.com.)
Work is Worship: 9-7-14
Mug Cleaners: Paul & Linda Taft
Coffee Makers: Emmy Edwards & Stephen Adkison
Greeters: Ryan Graf & Joy Wineman
Shutdown Team: The Cavemen
Sermon Text: John 16:12-16
Love Feast: Love Feast Tonight @ 6:00 PM. Don't miss it!
Emerging Parents: Our first emerging parents class was this last Wednesday night. The emerging parents meet the first wednesday of each month. if you'd like more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
HR and Finance Teams
We are approaching that time of year when some of our faithful members of both the human resources and finance teams are due to rotate off. As such we are looking for capable and willing UBCers to step and replace those people.
We are looking for 1-2 new human resource team members and 1-2 new finance team members.
Interested persons in either serving or nominating another UBCer should email email@example.com
A description of each role and the qualifications for each have been copied form our bylaws and pasted below.
The Human Resources/Staff Support Team shall exist for the following purposes:
To establish procedures for the hiring of ministerial and non-ministerial staff, and to enact those procedures when advised by Leadership Team to do so. To advise Leadership and Finance teams on issues regarding long-term staff needs. To create and implement staff review procedures. To advise Leadership and Finance teams on matters regarding staff compensation, benefits, grievances and termination. To be a liaison between the congregation and staff during times of conflict after all attempts at personal, one-on-one resolution has been made. HR/Staff Support Team members shall have been an active participant in the life of UBC for no less than one year, have received a bachelor’s degree (or roughly an equivalent amount of experience in personnel management, ministry, or other related field,) and have a demonstrable understanding of organizational management.
Purpose. The Finance Team shall exist for the following purposes:
To serve as the primary advisory group for the Leadership Team in all budgetary and financial aspects of the church. To oversee, in coordination with the ministerial staff, yearly budgetary processes, working to create a financial ministry plan in alignment with the ethos, mission and values of UBC. To advise the staff and Leadership Team on any emergency financial matters that may arise with regards to the physical infrastructure of the church building, as well as those matters pertaining to compensation and benefits of personnel. To assess the current financial status of the church on a monthly basis and advise the staff and Leadership Team on matters concerning changes in planned ministry expenses. To advise the Human Resources/Staff Support team on all financial matters regarding new and existing personnel, including available resources concerning salaries, salary increases, insurance, taxes, etc. To advise the church body on all matters relating to stewardship, financial integrity, etc. Qualifications. Finance Team members shall have been an active participant in the life of UBC for at least a year, have received at least a bachelors degree level of education (or roughly an equivalent amount of experience in business or finance,) and have at least a basic understanding of financial reports and budgets.
If you have a concern or an idea for UBC that you’d like to share with someone that is not on staff, feel free to contact one of our leadership team members.
Chair: Teri Walter: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jana Parker email@example.com
Kristin Dodson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kaley Eggers: email@example.com
David Wilhite: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamie McGregor: email@example.com
Byron Roldan: Byron_Roldan@baylor.edu
UBC Finance Team
Do you have a question about UBC’s financial affairs? Please feel free to contact any of your finance team members.
Tom Haines: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Taft: email@example.com
Josh McCormick: Josh.McCormick@dwyergroup.com
Chris Kim: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom McCarty: email@example.com
UBC HR Team
If you have concerns about staff and would like contact our human resources team, please feel free to email any of the following members.
Lacy McNamee: Lacy_McNamee@baylor.edu
Callie Schrank: Callie_Schrank@baylor.edu
Jeff Walter: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Heins: email@example.com