Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Those Crazy Adjectives!

There's a new trend in Southern Baptist Life...ADJECTIVES, ADJECTIVES, ADJECTIVES!

It seems these days that there's quite a bit of pressure to tack the right adjectives on the front end when we speak of and describe God's Word. Most of you know what I'm talking about(and if you don't you should feel lucky!). Words like "inerrant" or "infallible" seem to have become rather crucial to others ideas, thoughts, and understanding concerning what they think I believe about God's Word.

When describing God's Word, you can no longer just simply say God's 'HOLY' Word. You can no longer just say 'INSPIRED' Word. That's no longer good enough now during the post-takeover era in the SBC. You have to use those two(2) words(inerrant, infallible) at all times when talking of and about God's Word. I can't say, "I love God's perfect Word." I have to say the exact words, "I love God's perfect, inerrant, infallible, Word of God." If I don't use those two words then I am automatically assumed to not believe the Bible, I'm black-listed in the state convention, and removed from elegibility to preach at the Annual Baptist Associational Meeting!!

I've made my mind up that I will never use the word 'inerrant' when describing God's Word. I'm not going to do it. No way, never! And I don't care what the consequence might be. Not because I don't agree with the definition of inerrant, but because the word has become a battle word. "Inerrant" is now a word of manipulation & division. Fundamentalists try and corner and trap those they believe do not believe that like they do or are not on their side or in their club. I'm against any attitude, action, word(ing), maneuvering, or anything else that divides people. And especially God's people. Oh, I know. They say we've got to weed out all those Christians that "don't believe God's Word." Jesus told us in Matthew 12:25+ that "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand." Most "adjective" people ignore that particular 'inerrant' scripture! They probably also overlook Paul's words in Romans 16:17 when he says, "I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions..." But what most Christians forget is that you can use every positive adjective known to man to describe the Bible, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you will live God's Word & allow Jesus to translate out in your daily life.

I know there are many pastors that harp about the "inerrant" Word and then walk out of their church and hate black people. They preach about the "infallible" Word and then go home and cheat on their taxes. They throw around the "inerrant" Word in sermons while constantly treating their wives like second class citizens. And if they rant & rave about certain adjectives and then go out and live in those ways...then it's my belief that those folks don't believe God's "inerrant" Word near as much as they think they do!

So someone might ask the question, "Then what's the point to all of this?" My answer is that it's certainly not about adjectives!! And it's not whether everyone is in total agreement about the Word of God. The key is "INTERPRETATION." I sat at the Southern Baptist Convention this past June in Greensboro, NC and looked around that coliseum wondering if there were actually folks that traveled all that way to the SBC Convention that honestly did not believe God's Word. And I've got to honestly say that I dont' believe there were any. But I do think that there were probably many, many differences of interpretation among the Baptists present. That's really the key. It's not that some believe the Bible while others don't. But it is about there being different interpretations among Southern Baptists. Not everyone is going to believe and interpret the same thing in the same way. And if there are those that allow their beliefs & convictions to drift way outside the perimeters of SBC doctrine and theology...there's not much I can do about it. But God never said it was ok for me to get out of fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ! Especially over differences in adjectives that we use.

When I was pastoring in the Louisiana Baptist convention several years ago, every few weeks or so I would recieve the newsletter from the state's Baptist Inerrancy Group and I would throw it in the trashcan. It never failed though, a few days later I would always receive the state's Baptist Moderate newsletter. Do you know what I would do with that publication? That's right. I always threw it into 'file 13' also.

I wouldn't then, and I'm not going to start now...wasting my time, energy, and effort to read or support these group's publications who have nothing better to do then bash, bad-mouth, and rebash one another over what they say and think they believe about God's perfect Word. When you honestly believe and trust the "inerrant & infallible" Word of God, it changes all of your life...even how you treat other people who may not believe exactly like you do.

These days, "Inerrancy" is about men who want to climb the SBC social & political ladder so that they can raise themselves up above everyone else. So they can control how everyone else lives, believes, and thinks. But I'll just have to say "NO THANKS" to all that. I'll just keep letting the Lord Jesus control my life. That's good enough for me.

I believe the entire Word of God(oops I didn't use any adjectives!). I believe it from the front cover to the back cover. If I can't believe some of it, how can I believe all of it? Yet, I personally will not allow my personal beliefs to be brought under the control of others opinions of me based on certain adjectives. I simply do not trust the motivation & heart of those that can't simply trust my heart and words.

I was just thinking the other day that some things are worth fighting for and some things are not. And one thing that's NOT worth fighting for are certain ADJECTIVES! I was never that good in english anyway.

God bless each of you. Until then...

Bro.E

3 comments:

Dr. Danny Chisholm said...

E,

It will be my privilege to comment first on your blog.

You have touched on one of my pet peeves. Those two terms "inerrant and infallible" seem to be connected and part of the fundamentlist dictionary. I would be more apt to use infallible by itself in referring to the Bible as far as it is unfailing.

Welcome to the blog world. You write really well. Keep it up.

Go to Baptistlife.com and ask Bruce if he will add your blog to list of bloggers. You deserve to be read.

Bro.Eric Hodge said...

Hey Danno!

Thanks for the 1st comments. Will try to keep up with you. Know all of this convention stuff just dishonors the Lord. Can feel it in my bones that it's just not of the Lord.

Talk to you soon!

Bro. Eric

Gary said...

Dear Baptist/evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ,

I ask you to consider these points:

1. When God said that he would preserve his Word, what did he mean? Did he mean that he would preserve the original papyrus and parchment upon which his Word was written? If so, then his Word has disappeared as none of the original manuscripts remain.

Did he mean that he would preserve his word in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek only? He would not preserve his Word when it was translated into all the other languages of the world?

Or did God mean that he would preserve his Word…the message/the words…the Gospel: the free gift of salvation, and the true doctrines of the Christian Faith? Would God allow his Word/his message to mankind to be so polluted by translation errors that no translation, into any other language from the three original languages, continues to convey his true words?

2. There is NO translation of the Bible, from the original ancient languages, into ANY language, ANYWHERE on earth, that translates the Bible as the Baptists/evangelicals believe it should be translated.

No Bible translation on earth translates Acts 2:38 as, “Repent and believe in Jesus Christ every one of you and you will receive the Holy Ghost. Then be baptized as a public profession of your faith.”

Why would God allow EVERY English translation of the Bible throughout history to be mistranslated or use such confusing language as to suggest that God forgives sins in Baptism? And not only all English translations, ALL translations of the Bible have retained these “mistranslations or confusing wording”.

Do you honestly believe that God would allow his Word to be so polluted with translation errors that EVERY Bible in the world, if read in its simple, plain interpretation, would tell the people of the world that God forgives sins in water baptism??

3. Why is there not one single piece of evidence from the early Christians that indicates that ANYONE in the 800-1,000 years after Christ believed that: Water baptism is ONLY a public profession of faith/act of obedience; sins are NOT forgiven in water baptism? Yes, you will find statements by these early Christians that salvation is by faith, but do Baptists and evangelicals really understand how a sinner obtains saving faith? THAT IS THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION, MY FRIENDS! Does the sinner produce faith by his own free will or does God provide faith and belief as a gift, and if God does provide faith and belief as a free gift, with no strings attached, WHEN exactly does God give it?

4. Is it possible that: Baptist-like believers, at some point near or after 1,000 AD, were reading the Bible and came across verses that read “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” and “Call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved” and established their doctrine of Salvation/Justification first, based on these and similar verses alone, and then, looked at the issue of water baptism, and since the idea that God forgives sins in water baptism didn’t seem to fit with the verses just mentioned, these early Baptists re-interpreted these verses to fit with their already established doctrine, instead of believing the “baptism verses” literally?

Is it possible that BOTH groups of verses are literally correct?? If we believe God’s Word literally, he says that he saves/forgives sins when sinners believe/call AND when they are baptized? Why not believe that God can give the free gift of salvation in both situations: when a sinner hears the Gospel and believes and when a sinner is baptized?

Should we re-interpret God’s plain, simple words just because they don’t seem to make sense to us?

God bless you!

Gary
Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals