Infallible or Inspired; the tension of how the Bible is read

There will probably always be the tension of reading the Bible and understanding it as infallible or inspired.

To clear the air as to what that entails I’ll put it out there:
Thinking the Bible is infallible means that there cannot be any errors within the text, while the inspired perspective on the Bible means that God spoke to and through the writers and by that method they were the ones who put the Bible together…

Personally I’m caught in this tension simply because of the different circles of followers of Christ I hang out with, some have a conservative view on life and so from their their faith is developed while others have a liberal worldview and so from there their faith has been cultivated.
Is it wrong to be conservative or liberal? No, if not practiced to the extreme. I believe it’s good to be even keel in one’s beliefs, whether in matters of faith or other matters, to have a balance in what one believes to be true.

I also believe that one should be able to live with a bit of doubt; too often I think followers of Christ (myself included) have only lived out our faith because we think we have all the answers and we’re the ones who are right…but I believe that as a result of this we’ve traded faith in for certainty, to which as Anne Lamott so aptly put it; “the opposite of faith isn’t doubt, it’s certainty.” To which I would have to agree with her, but sometimes I think Christiandom only says “we are right” in a cocksure matter-of-fact kinda way, when we should live in the tension of doubt and faith and say “what if we’re wrong?” As Peter Rollins says quite often (to which it’s the theme of his book Insurrection) “to believe is human, to doubt divine.” And while I won’t get into it in this post, I believe Jesus too hung in this tension for a while when he lived some 2000 years ago.

I believe that whether you fall on the side of the fence that says the Bible is infallible or whether you fall on the side of the fence that says the Bible is inspired that the Bible needs to be read in context. By context I mean not the verse alone, not even the verses surrounding that verse alone, not even that chapter alone… But all of the Bible needs to be read as to give the fullest broadest perspective, to read in a co-mingling of faith and doubt and trust and tension. But one thing to keep in mind is that who we are and what we have gone through as well as what we’re going through affects how we read and keep in the Bible as well as what we keep out of the Bible as well, as NakedPastor put it in one of my favorite comics; “The Bible + My Interpretation = My Interpretation”


Your turn:

To Christians, how do you read into the Bible? 

To people of other faith systems, do you live in the tension of your texts? Whether they be infallible or inspired or other?




4 thoughts on “Infallible or Inspired; the tension of how the Bible is read

  1. I am not a Bible literalist. I don’t think it’s completely infallible. I believe it’s a product of the time it was written just as much as any book, and that worshiping the Bible is the same as worshiping any idol. We’re here to serve God–to meditate on his words, sure!–learning by the examples we have of Jesus living and teaching as he did. But I feel the same about Biblical nitpicking as I do about ANY nitpicking…it seems like a colossal waste of time.

  2. I think you might be mixing up the wording of inerrant vs. infallible.

    Inerrant- that the bible is without error
    Infalliable- The bible is useful and inspired for biblical truth
    Inspired- That God motivated- and inspired the author to write and fashion the words to his desire.

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