Thursday, June 9, 2011

Is the Bible Necessary for Faith?

I've been noticing statements of faith more frequently recently. Such statements can be for churches, universities, nonprofits, and even individuals. One of the things I've seen is that the authority of the Bible as inspired or inerrant usually is placed rather high on the bullet points of faith.

Of course, the inerrancy v. infallibility v. other options debate is something on its own, and making a position on that spectrum is probably part of the purpose of this part of the statement of faith. Yet I think this debate also reflects onto the presence of this element of such statements of faith.

People frequently question the authenticity of others' faith if they do not view the Bible in the same way they do. The new president of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, for instance, has been implying that people may not be true Christians if they do not take inerrant views of the Bible that support Creationism.

However, does believing in any form of biblical inspiration necessary for faith and a relationship with God?

I'm inclined to say no. Obviously, millions and billions of people over the millennia have had no Scriptures. It really wasn't until the Protestant Reformation that the Bible became more accessible and widely known. People who don't have access to the Bible in their language do not have any less faith.

I think this drive toward the demand of biblical authority is for everyone to have a single document to be able to root their faith. This is fine and even good. However, I think many times people use it as a proof text, needing something to prove a belief system "beyond a shadow of a doubt," which I simply believe is not possible.

At the same time, could someone be a Christian and not believe the Bible was divinely inspired? They might agree with it wholeheartedly but only see it as a reflection of several humans' journeys. It can still be something to root faith in, but not as something to defend oneself against those they disagree.

While I do believe in biblical inspiration (infallibility, not inerrancy), I also wouldn't necessarily question someone's faith if they did not have faith in the Bible. Communication from God occurs in many other ways, too. And as others have said, the Holy Trinity is not Father, Son, and Holy Bible. And then there's the whole controversial history of what's considered canonical...

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