Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Evangelicals, the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy, and a strictly redemptive focus to the bible

I have been writing this blog for over two years now, and time and time again, in various and many ways I have posited that Jesus and his first century followers saw the scripture as solely redemptive in nature. First by their redefining of the phrase word of God, and secondly by Jesus’ outright declarations such as John 5:39-40 & Luke 24:27, 43-45. In article XII of the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy you can find this denial; “We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes.” I want to focus on the redemptive themes phrase. I believe that it is limited to solely redemptive themes. It is the story of redemption. It has no other purpose.

It is not a law book, science book, manual for living, or any other such book that you may think of. It is strictly, solely, and completely an inspired history book that posits the history of redemption. Those who do the best job of properly explaining the gospel within evangelical and fundamental Christianity are those who revere the idea that the Bible contains a crimson thread of redemption. The plain truth of the matter is that it is ONLY “the redemptive thread” that is the sole purpose of the scripture. It points to Christ Jesus to provide life. It does not have, nor has it ever had, a legal constitutional purpose except for the time of Moses and the Exodus… and it was solely for the Nation Israel… and it was negated because Israel broke the agreement. There is no other way that it has a legal constitutional purpose. That legal and constitutional purpose is limited to the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The rest of the bible, including the four mentioned books, is otherwise the history of redemption.

This is so important to understand when using the scripture for faith and practice. It is designed to encourage those who are unsure about God and his purpose to redeem humanity. This is an area where so many evangelicals and fundamentalists get their back up. They believe that Christianity as we know it would disappear if they would adapt the solely redemptive view of scripture (I am not so sure that would be a bad result.) Let me shout this out. IT WILL NOT DEMINISH THE INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURE TO SEE IT AS SOLELY REDEMPTIVE! Jesus can still be divine. God can be the one true God. Those facts are not compromised by seeing scripture as solely redemptive. In fact, I believe that opposite is the case. Jesus will be more highly revered and God will be loved much more.

This will require an extreme paradigm shift however. It is so seductive to see the bible as a legal constitutional document. It has been viewed that way for thousands of years now. However, If EVERYONE would embrace the solely redemptive view, and ingrain it in all teaching… then, when people are resting in the redemption found solely in Jesus Christ; Then, we could begin to allow the law and Christian walk admonitions to inform us on ways to show our love for God. Not as a must… “thou shalt and shalt not”… but as a way to embrace and live out our real station in life, which is to be the obvious sons and daughters of God.

Evangelical and fundamental theologians and leaders will claim that the bible does not support such an idea. I say unequivocally that they are just plain wrong. It depends on how you look at the story, and who is telling the story. It comes down to the lens that you use to look at the biblical narrative. My claim throughout this blog is that the scripture teaches that Jesus and his followers changed the lens and paradigm. Here we call ourselves Christians and we use the Pharisee-Judaic lens of looking at scripture. It would seem to me that people who named Jesus Christ as their leader would view scripture as he did. I implore you to thoughtfully and prayerfully read through this blog… and be a Berean.


  1. Joe, would you explain what you mean by "be a Berean"? I missed that somewhere along the way! Thanks.

  2. Hi Brian,
    Great question... the Bereans checked things out in the scripture to see if they were so. My challenge in this and many of my blogs is for people to check out and see if what I write squares with scripture.

    What I have discovered is that Jesus and his followers looked at scripture much differently than did the scribes and Pharisees. However, the evangelical hermeneutical lens is much more akin to that of the Pharisees than the one that Jesus and his followers subscribed to.

    1. I should have quoted the passage for the Bereans; Acts 17:10-11 "Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. (11) These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so."

    2. Ok thanks Joe! Yes I would definitely call myself a Berean now! I find much of your writings match what the Spirit has been teaching me lately as I search Scripture with the lens of grace. I think you are right on target: much of what I read about the attitudes of people in the church today seems more like what the religious leaders taught. Jesus dismantled the Jewish religious system. But so many people seem to want to rebuild it.

    3. It is a blessing to hear from someone who has thought through what I have written and has independently received similar revelation, or perhaps a better word is illumination. I find it surprising that more of the heresy hunters have not taken me to task on these matters. I would welcome that actually. Maybe I just do not yet have a wide enough following to attract their attention. At any rate, I appreciate your feed back! Thanks Brian.

  3. First of all, why do we need theologians? They have been a curse upon christian life from century 3. The dichotomy between "spirit and scripture" started with them.....i.e. experience (the incredible impact of Christ's indwelling and His effect upon that believer) vs the study of "God's Word" and apply law and "fact" to practice . Why is institutional xianity AFRAID of the free movement of God's Spirit within the believer?

    May I suggest "income"? These factory-trained 'theologians' aren't worthy of working at the local gas station. They have to suck the $$$ out of "their" congregation!!

    If they found themselves in situations that most human beings are in today, they would simply shit their pants. What would they do without a 'parsonage, an income and benefits'? Yet how many are "out there" fighting for basic human rights for 'their congregations' ? Percentage-wise, probably -10%.

    As far as my life is concerned, I say, burn the so-called 'holy books' and let's really see who "believes". Who is truly in LOVE with Christ? Who has had a head-on collision with HIM, and, as a result has found their life transformed?



The purpose of the gospel is not to make you a better person

If one listens to the main focus of evangelical Christianity, one would conclude that the main purpose of the gospel is to make one a better...