My last post discusses how some Christians find faith in God through a bible they consider errant yet divinely inspired, communicating God’s word, but written by fallible men. This post looks briefly at the skeptical side of that view.
Kenton Sparks sees inspiration and inerrancy in the bible, it being God’s Word, but is also honest about the errors and inconsistencies it contains. While I appreciate his perspective, it still leaves me a far cry from faith in the God of the bible. The errors seem to point to the bible being a child of man rather than an inspired book. Like I am.
Once you take away the magical inspiration of the bible and try to view it through the lens of being an inspired book but written by fallible men, how is it distinguishable from any other book written by fallible men? Unique, yes, more valuable and commendable than some other books, yes. But like theistic evolution, if the processes observed can be largely explained by naturalistic processes, they become indistinguishable from what we would expect to see if there were no God involved. The observations themselves are no longer evidences of God’s existence. One can have faith that God is somehow involved, but if he is so divinely hidden, what sense of interaction and relationship is there?
That’s pretty much where I am. If God is so hidden, I don’t have to worry too much about it. But what I appreciate about the form of Christianity espoused by Sparks is that it provides a way for committed Christians to look at the bible and the world around them honestly. They might not draw the same conclusions I ultimately draw, but it opens up relationships for honest debate, discussion, and mutual respect of opinions. And ultimately that is the most important thing for me in studying the bible, being able to relate to those around me.
I enjoy the conversations, and enjoy looking at the bible to understand it, to understand it’s history, to understand what it really is, to satisfy my own curiosity. Some might see that as disingenuous on my part, but I don’t think so. I honestly try to consider what Christians have to say, and seek to encourage them to think for themselves, not to deconvert. For me conversations like these are part of the joy of having left the faith, being able to consider and conclude whatever I want.