Friday, May 22, 2009

Random Addenda

1. It's a pretty huge irony, when you stop to think about it, that the doctrine of biblical inerrancy does not originate in the Bible. While inerrantists have a handful of verses that they trot out when defending their position, the doctrine is ultimately based on the assumption that if the Bible is God-inspired and authoritative, then it must be as perfect as its Creator; the verses used to defend that assertion were conscripted afterward.

For fundamentalists, who view all human reasoning as suspect and believe that nothing about God or his creation can be properly understood without first turning to the Bible, this is extremely problematic. For any belief to be true, it must be derived from the Bible. The Bible is a reliable source of truth because, as God's Word, it is perfect. The Bible itself, however, never claims to be perfect - therefore, according to fundamentalism's own rules, inerrancy is a questionable doctrine at best and a heresy at worst. And without an inerrant Bible, their own either/or thinking leaves them with nothing.

2. Speaking of fundamentalism, Jim Babka of Positive Liberty offers a thoughtful analysis of why some people gravitate toward such belief systems. Babka's ideas correlate with Fowler's Stages of Faith, specifically Stage Three, which is where many people stop growing. Life is much easier to cope with when one can rely on an external authority to spell everything out in black and white terms. It's an escape from responsibility, really, for all that fundamentalists talk about accountability; one never need apologize for anything done in the name of obedience to God, no matter how destructive.

3. On the subject of showing respect for those whose beliefs differ from ours (and I mean genuine respect, not lip service accompanied by passive proselytizing), Doorman-Priest has written about his friendship with a Muslim colleague - an individual who does not at all conform to the stereotypes that most of us in the US have about followers of Islam. In short, there's no reason that reasonable people cannot be neighbors, friends and sometimes even allies regardless of their differences in belief.

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