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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

This should really be on the Uriel blog

Reader-submitted question: I'm not sure how you are taking Edward Current's comments. As I watched this video, it became apparent that Ed is being facetious. For one thing, he calls the Bible "unerrant." The word used by those of this opinion is "inerrant." For another, he blatantly points out conflicting instructions given in the Bible and just says (and I paraphrase), "Accept the contradictions and act accordingly." No inerrantist would say this. They would claim very loudly that there are no *real* contradictions in the Bible, only *apparent* contradictions. They would then go through a great song and dance explaining why the contradictions aren't "really" contradictions.

So my question is, are you a biblical inerrantist or not? If you are, then I can see why Ed's video is bothering you. If you are not, then maybe you aren't picking up on his facetious tone, and you are bothered by the fact that the Bible might be inerrant but that you haven't believed this up until now, and you are wondering if God will condemn you for your lack of inerrantist belief.

Yeah, this should definitely be on the Uriel blog, but I don't want to break character over there.

Edward Current is a satirist. He and Uriel have a lot in common: many people think they are serious. They are not. It is all in jest.

Uriel is currently going through a crisis that was brought on when she showed kindness to a traveling missionary. When she meets people who follow other religions, she usually spits on them and tells them they are going to hell. For some reason, she actually listened to this guy's stories and realised that he has a holy book that says the entire book is true. She is not sure how to handle this. She is comforting herself by spending even more time than usual on the Internet, trying to find someone who will tell her what to believe. She thinks Edward Current is her soulmate. In a way, I guess he is.

I'll bring Uriel back when I figure out what to do with her, I promise. However, your questions still deserve answers.

Uriel is an inerrantist. She is also a member of a splinter sect that meets only on the Internet and uses the Bible along with several other "holy" books that have been passed along through the generations. Of course, they all exist only on the Internet. She believes that the hard copies were destroyed by the government because they were TOO TRUE. She also believes that you cannot trust hard copies, because they have both jots AND tittles. Online versions, on the other hand, are completely electronic and much more accurate.

Everything in those books (well, websites) is 100% true. None of it is metaphorical. As you point out, she goes through a song and dance trying to figure out how it can all be true when it clearly isn't.

I personally am not an inerrantist. Thanks for your question.


Linguist said...

Okay, thanks for explaining. I had come across "Uriel" quite fortuitously while doing a Google search for some term. I decided to check out the current entry and found that very amusing video. Now I know what kind of person Uriel is and something of her creator. Keep up the fun work!

Megan said...

The thoughtful questions are always my favourites. This one was great.

Anonymous said...

Great topic, Megan.
It's common to find that the words people use to discuss religious topics are misleading. Nothing is more misleading than the term "inerrantist". The opposite of "inerrant" would (presumably) be "errant". So, if you are not an "inerrantist", you must believe that the Bible contains errors. But what does that mean? Whatever your opinion of the Bible, you must certainly acknowledge that the Bible is literature: a work of art. What could it possibly mean that a work of art contains "errors"? Is that really meaningful? Does Huckleberry Finn contain errors? Does Beethoven's Ninth Symphony contains errors? And if these works of art do not contain errors (and of course they do not), why would you think that the Book of Job or the Gospel of John contains errors?
We need a different way to speak of the Bible! When describing the Bible, we'll do better to use the traditional term: INSPIRED.

Megan said...

"Huckleberry Finn" would indeed be shown to have errors if people were claiming it is 100% true. We could check to see if the people in the story had existed and if they were in those places at those times. We could also check to see if there were any other written accounts of Huck and his friends doing the things the book claims they did.

The problem comes from a belief that the Bible is not a work of literature, but rather a history book that is completely free of error. The world was made in six days, Noah put two of each species on the ark, people lived for hundreds of years, the world is 6000 years old.

These guys' own religious beliefs are so fragile that they will completely fall apart if they do not find a way to believe that, say, mustard seeds grow into trees.

On the other hand, I think the "mustard tree" story is a rather delightful way of saying that the kingdom of God is much much bigger than anyone could imagine. You think it's going to be really small because the seed is so tiny, but it grows into something incredible.

Anonymous said...

I won't speak for Uriel, but I have read explanations of "inerrancy" by bona fide scholars, who subscribe to the concept (I do not, for the reason I stated above). They certainly make room for metaphor, and they understand that the Bible is not really a book of history. Of course, it contains historical information, but it was not written by the standards of contemporary historians. Inerrantists also limit the concept to the original manuscripts, not to the copies we now possess. So, there is sophistication in their thinking.
You can be a responsible, thinking human being and still subscribe to inerranacy, but for myself, I think the whole debate is beside-the-point. I think some of these inerrantists would rather be Muslims. That religion reverences an inerrant Scripture; the Christian religion reverences an inspired Scripture. The Koran was (supposedly) dictated by an angel, and is (supposedly) the word-for-word utterance of Allah, with no human contribution whatever. The Bible is the work of human beings, inspired by the Holy Spirit.