One might reasonably ask whether, when I argue against the inerrancy doctrine of Biblical inspiration, I might not be undercutting the very foundation of our Christian faith. To this I answer an unequivocal “no.” At its core, our faith is not in any text, but rather in the person of Jesus Christ, the Word become flesh who dwelt among us, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11, NRSV).
Greg Boyd said it better than I can, in a recent blog post (note that he qualifies his use of the term “infallible”):
“My belief that Jesus is the Son of God isn’t rooted in my belief that the Bible is God’s infallible Word. Rather, my belief that the Bible is God’s infallible Word is rooted (mostly) in my belief that Jesus is the Son of God. I don’t believe in Jesus because the Bible says so. I believe in the Bible (mostly) because Jesus says so.”
We have got to realize that the Bible’s authority depends on God, not the other way around. The old song
Jesus loves me, this I know
for the Bible tells me so.
actually has it backwards. Put another way, you could take the Bible away and still have a sovereign God; but take God away and the Bible is meaningless.
This is not to discount the value of Biblical texts–after all, most of the little we know about God’s very identity and character, we learn from the Bible. I said in my last post that anything we can’t derive from Biblical sources (as opposed to extra-Biblical) dare not rise to the level of doctrine, and I stand by that statement.
But I don’t think that it’s accidental (or in error) that one of the oldest creeds of the Christian faith, the Apostles’ Creed, begins
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord.
There is no mention of the scriptures at all in that early creed. This is right, because it isn’t the Scriptures in which we believe. . .they are the source of information and teaching and the words of the One in whom we believe. It’s not an idle distinction.