The biblical cat is out of the fundamentalist bag -
Once a conversation about the Bible gets started, it's hard to stop. That was true 500 years ago when the Reformation was brewing, and it's true today.
Yesterday, I read a Huffington Post piece by a brilliant young writer and theologian, Derek Flood, that included this highly quotable observation:
These leaders represent a sea-change in the Evangelical landscape which has long been associated with being anti-gay, anti-women, and anti-science. Chalke, along with these other leaders, represents a growing shift, especially among younger Evangelicals, towards a more affirming, compassionate and thoughtful face of Evangelicalism, and this flows into how Scripture is interpreted and applied. In contrast to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Chalke's paper firmly denies the idea of inerrancy and instead calls for a way of interpreting Scripture characterized by debate and questioning,
"We do not believe that the Bible is 'inerrant' or 'infallible' in any popular understanding of these terms. In truth, there is nothing in the biblical texts that is beyond debate and questioning, and healthy churches are ones that create an environment which welcomes just that. The biblical texts are not a 'divine monologue', where the solitary voice of God dictates a flawless and unified declaration of his character and will to their writers."
This morning, I just came across an important piece by Tony Bartlett (another gifted theologian) that also includes an important critique of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy that has been a landmark for fundamentalist and older Evangelical Christians.
Then a few minutes ago, I read yet another great piece on the Bible, by Brian Zahnd.
I just posted news about a great group of people is coming together in a few months in Nashville to explore new ways of teaching the Bible to kids.
And for the last few months, Rob Bell has been blogging about the Bible raising deeply important questions and offering provocative and needed insights.
So the conversation has begun.
Over in the UK, Christian Today reported on Steve Chalke's article and said the Evangelical Alliance is planning to offer a response. And other responses are showing up online, with zesty dialogue in the comments section.
In the US, a recent Christianity Today article (that used Rob Bell, Don Miller, and me as negative examples) seemed to double down on the conventional view - cautioning people against thinking for themselves about the Bible, urging them to listen to the ministers (and by implication, not people like Bell, Miller, or me) and characterizing any departure from conventional interpretations as prideful, individualistic, selfish, compromising, cowardly, and pandering to popularity.
So, in a sense, the gauntlet has been thrown down. People will make all sorts of public statements as the conversation continues, but the real question is this: in the privacy of people's own hearts, will they (will you, will I?) have the courage to think, rethink, question, and consider the possibility that the conventional view of the Bible is in need of radical rethinking - not to reduce confidence in the Bible, but to discover a wiser, more just, more honest, and more proper confidence?
A good start would be to check out these links and begin to prayerfully open your heart and mind.
(If you want to read something I've written on the subject, try the first several chapters of A New Kind of Christianity.)