Churches that claim the Bible is inerrant but that they’ll agree to disagree on certain Biblical facts are speaking out both sides of their mouths.
Whenever I get the urge to visit a church for the first time, I’ll check out its website to see what it says about itself and its beliefs. Generally, that’s a great way to know what you’re potentially walking into.
Just last week, I gave an example of a friend of mine who says he has a problem wrapping his head around the worldwide flood mentioned in the story of Noah’s ark. He has a hard time imagining a flood so big that it could have covered the entire planet. But at the same time, he doesn’t have any problem with the concept of Noah being 600 years old.
How can he believe Noah reached an age that, as far as science can tell is biologically impossible? Because the Bible says so.
Another example goes back to the story of creation in Genesis, where the timetable is in “days” even though at first, the sun and stars isn’t necessarily created until a few “days” in. He’s fine with not arguing over whether everything that is was created within six 24-hour periods or whether the word day in that story is more of a metaphor.
He’s willing to suspend debate on that to focus on the bigger story that God is the sole Creator of all that is.
But if you’re one of those who believes the Bible is “inerrant,” claiming to accept different “interpretations” of the Bible appears to be a cop-out. And if you belong to that declining population of Christians who believes that the Bible must be taken literally, “agreeing to disagree” is definitely a cop-out.
You can’t have it both ways.
I do believe that it’s a nice gesture meant to curtail pointless disagreements and unnecessary division within a congregation. But if you’re not willing to grant that there may be one way to interpret things, you can’t then project a notion that certain parts are “not worth” getting upset about.
If the Bible’s inerrancy cannot be questioned, then Noah had to actually be 600 years old and that flood had to be worldwide.
Oh, and everything that exists had to come about in six days: God did it all in 144 hours.
It seems there are churches that want to project a welcoming atmosphere by claiming they won’t sweat the small stuff yet simultaneously want to insist Biblical facts aren’t subject to debate.
It comes down to whether you believe God Himself wrote every word or whether man wrote every word while feeling inspired by God to write it. What’s the difference? That’s simple: consider what certain churches around America have done, such as protesting at funerals of soldiers, while insisting they’re inspired by God to do His will.
If they’re genuinely inspired into action by God, what right have we to question their motives?
We can agree to disagree, or we can say, well, since they’re inspired by God to act, their actions must be right.
That’s what the debate over Biblical facts and the inerrancy of the Bible looks like to people who are looking for a church community in which they can grow themselves and their faith.
We have to be clear on what we say we believe when we’re trying to build that kind of relationship with people, but we first have to be clear with ourselves about exactly what we do and don’t believe.
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.