Many find themselves struggling with their faith when they are honest about imperfections that they find in the Bible. This sermon helps us understand the nature of these imperfections and offers a way to reframe the way the Bible works as God’s inspired book.
All Scripture is “inspired by God” which literally means “God-breathed.” This has been the bedrock conviction of the church throughout history. But faith in Scripture is falling on hard times and it is one of the main reasons people give up on the faith. This is understandable, as Greg shares his own journey of questioning his faith when he saw some of the major problems that are part of the Bible.
This leads to the honest question: How can this be a God-breathed book when it contains so much obvious human imperfections?
Greg answers this question by pointing us back to the center of our faith, Jesus Christ. There are very compelling historical and philosophical reasons for believing the four Gospels give us a generally reliable portrait of the historical Jesus. Other aspects of the Bible may contain historical challenges, but not the Gospels. The reasons for believing in Jesus do not depend on believing the Bible is divinely inspired. The foundation of our faith and our identity should not be in a book, but in Jesus Christ. We don’t need the Bible to be divinely inspired, let alone “inerrant,” to believe in Jesus. Once we believe that the historical Jesus really was the Son of God, we can trust the fact that Jesus believed the Old Testament was inspired by God. On Jesus’ authority we can take it that the Bible is God’s inspired word. This means that I must take all Scripture seriously even if there are problems that we find in specific passages.
How then do we address the problems? First, the “problems” are only “problems” if you assume that a divinely inspired book must meet our standards of “perfection.” The assumption is that, since God is perfect, any book that God breathes must be perfect, “inerrant.” But this assumes that we actually know what a perfect book should look like. Instead of making such assumptions, we should return to the center of Jesus. On the cross, God breathes the full revelation of himself by accommodating our sin, our mistakes, our imperfections. If God breathes the full revelation of himself through one who bore all the sin, mistakes, and imperfections of the world, why would anyone conclude that God can only “breath” revelations of himself in the Bible through writers that have no sin, no mistakes, and no imperfections? Since God breathed his fullest revelation through the one who bore all the sin and imperfections of the world, and since Jesus tells us that all Scripture is ultimately inspired to bear witness to him, shouldn’t we expect that Scripture also will be filled with imperfection?
The imperfections we find throughout the Bible are no more “problems” than is the sin and imperfection that Jesus bore on Calvary. Therefore, whenever we come upon material that is not consistent with God’s revelation in the crucified Christ, look through the text to see God stooping do to with his ancient people what he did on Calvary, graciously stooping to enter into solidarity with where people are at. In this way, you can see God has always been the God who is revealed on Calvary, the God who is able to breath revelations of himself through sinful and imperfect people.
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