Response: 6 Things Christians Should Just Stop Saying

One of our followers recently read 6 things Christians should just stop saying from the Huffington Post, and asked if I could give a response, as these points are ones Christians are likely to encounter when discussing their faith. I must admit that this was definitely an interesting article and of the kind, for which I typically do not give a response, because it easily turns into a mudslinging, ‘no one can win’ kind of conversation, as is evidenced by the comments at the bottom of the article, nevertheless here is my brief attempt at providing responses for those desiring to combated such arguments.
1.       Mr. McSwain’s first point was that Christians should stop saying that the “The Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God,” because “the Bible is replete with errors.” This brings up two questions a) what is meant by inerrancy and infallibility? and b) does the Bible fit the qualifications set forth by a?
    a.       What is meant by inerrancy and infallibility?
        i.      There are so many different definitions regarding these two words so I will set out the most basic definition and the one I find most appropriate. “Christ held the Old Testament to be historically true, completely authoritative, and divinely inspired.”[1] I think it appropriate for our view of Scripture to require no more of it than does Christ’s own view. Therefore the doctrine of inerrancy and/or infallibility should be that which has the expectation of Scripture, that Scripture is historically true, completely authoritative and divinely inspired.

        ii.      What this does not necessitate is that Scripture be without scribal errors. One of McSwain’s points was that scripture is riddled with error. Here are some of the things he is referring to. You be the judge of whether or not these issues undermine the doctrine of inerrancy as we defined it in the point above.
              1.       David’s defeat of the Syrian commander Shobak is record in 2 places in scripture. The difference here is merely the misplacement of a decimal. Does that negate historical truth, complete authority and divine inspiration?
                    a.       In 2 Samuel 10:18 it says David slew seven hundred men of the chariotry
                    b.      In 1 Chronicles 19:18 it says David slew seven thousand chariots
              2.       The differences between the genealogies of Christ in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are often cited as contradictions, because people appear in one but not the other. The differences are that Matthew’s genealogy is of Jesus’ earthly father Joseph, while Luke tells Mary’s genealogy. They should be different because they are genealogies of two different people.
              3.       For more discussion of scriptural discrepancies, see Gleason L. Archer’s article entitled “Alleged Errors and Discrepancies in the Original Manuscripts of the Bible,” which can be found in Norman Geisler’s Inerrancy.

    b.      Does the Bible fit the qualifications set forth by the definition of inerrancy give in A? You be the judge. There’s enough room for those that desire to believe and enough room for those that wish to doubt.

2.       Mr. McSwain dislikes the statement that “we just believe the Bible,” because he says “what you really believe is your interpretation of the Bible,” this leads to a bigger question. Can we know the author’s meaning of a text, without corrupting it by our own interpretive lens? If you say no, all literary material is subject to the reader’s lens of interpretation and the author’s meaning cannot be known apart from the reader’s interpretation, then a) McSwain’s argument is irrelevant because we will each interpret his words through our own lens, making it impossible for us to understand McSwain’s intended meaning and b) this makes any response I give to McSwain, meaningless because your lens of interpretation will deem the meaning of my words irrelevant. If you say yes, the author’s originally intended meaning can be grasped from the text apart from the corruption of human interpretation, then you can in all actuality believe the ‘actual’ Bible rather than just your interpretation of it, if you put the effort into finding the original author’s intended meaning.

3.       McSwain’s third point is that Christian’s should stop saying that Jesus claimed to be the exclusive means of salvation. His argument is based upon varied interpretations of John 14:6, which says “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” McSwain interprets this passage differently, but a plain reading of the text without hermeneutical acrobatics reads that Jesus is making an exclusivity claim.
    a.       Here are some other passage which seem to prescribe that there is a specific means of salvation
        i.      Romans 10:9 – “if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – This is a cause and effect, which implies an either-or relationship. If you…salvation else (you don’t)…no salvation.
        ii.      John 3:16 – “whosoever believes in me shall not perish…” – Sounds like it’s an either-or, not a Jesus is the best way.
        iii.      John 3:36 – “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”- Not sure how much clearer that either-or needs to be…
        iv.      1 John 5:12 – “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”- Are we seeing a pattern?
    b.      He may not like the plain reading but the ultimate question goes back to the answers to questions 1 and 2, if we believe the Bible is historically true, completely authoritative and divinely inspired (#1), and we believe that the author’s originally intended meaning is obtainable by the reader of the text (#2), then it’s our responsibility to take the text at face value, whether we like what that face value has to say or not.

4.       I don’t disagree with McSwain on his fourth point. Jesus makes it pretty clear that no one knows when He will return “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” – Mark 13:32 and Matthew 24:36, so pretending that we do is dishonest and pretentious as we’re claiming more knowledge then even the angels and the 2nd person of the Trinity.

5.       McSwain’s fifth comment against Christian claims that “Homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle and it is a sin against God,” is a sticky topic. Follow me because my answer is two-fold and may take a bit to sink in fully.
    a.       This goes back to the answers to questions 1 and 2, if we believe the Bible is historically true, completely authoritative and divinely inspired (#1), and we believe that the author’s originally intended meaning is obtainable by the reader of the text (#2), then it’s our responsibility to take the text at face value, whether we like what that face value has to say or not (Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, Romans 1:26–28).

    b.      Typically Christians choose homosexuality and a few other “obvious” sins upon which to harp, and see these as great mounts for their soap boxes. The reality is “all have sinned and fallen short off the glory of God,” “no man is righteous, no not one” and all are slaves to sin until Christ redeems them with his righteousness, so why as Christians do we look at those who are still slaves to sin and expect them to behave righteously, when we ourselves don’t always behave righteously, even though we’ve already been redeemed by the blood of Christ? “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). Sin is sin, before God. If the worst sin you’ve ever committed is lying, cheating on a test or speeding, then wonderful, but those sins earn you the same exact eternal result as homosexuality (or fill in the blank w any other soap box sin) does, if you’re not redeemed by the blood of Christ. SO rather than harping on whether or not homosexuality is a choice, we should be showing those who identify with the homosexual lifestyle, Christ’s love, in the same way we would anyone else. Lead them to Christ and let Christ work out the details of their sin with them. It’s amazing how quickly God can clean up a surrendered life, without the assistance of us pesky picketers!

6.       As for McSwain’s 6th comment about the age of the earth. I personally believe that there is a Biblical and scientific case for humanity’s existence being less than 10,000 year and the result of 1 set of human parents (visit: Creation Ministries International and The Institute for Creation Research, if you’d like to explore these topics more). Nevertheless, the issue is over whether one set of philosophical beliefs should be allowed to be taught in schools while the other is banned. Humanistic Naturalism is the underlying philosophical worldview behind the theory of evolution. It is the belief that all can be known by natural means and it precludes the option of anything supernatural. In other words, by definition there can be no God, so no scientific explanation that results in, or points to a divine being can be accepted, because that belief falls outside the pre-defined borders. This is a philosophical worldview, Christianity is a philosophical worldview. They are both philosophical worldviews and they are in contradiction with one another AND neither one can be scientifically proven. Hang on, let that one sink it. Neither humanistic naturalism nor Christian creationism can be scientifically proven. Why? Because no one was there at the beginning. We can study all that is currently in existence and then hypothesize as to which theory is the best explanation of reality, but that is all that science can bring to the table, details upon which scientists can hypothesize. So, while I am a young-earth creationist, many of my colleagues find the arguments for an old earth more convincing, both are valid ideas upon which to have a discussion. As for whether or not creationism should be allowed to be taught in schools? My answer is, either remove the teaching of the philosophical worldview of humanistic naturalism from the schools, or allow it to be taught side by side with the philosophical worldview of creationism. What’s the harm in letting the students have some healthy debate?

[1] John W. Wenham, “Christ’s View of Scripture,” Inerrancy, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing House: 1980), 6.