Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

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inferred truth

9/15/12

 

 

The dictionary definition of infer is to deduce or conclude (information) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements.

 

It is extremely interesting to note how often the tenets of Christian Orthodoxy involve inferences from the Bible as opposed to specific statements and instructions. In a former church affiliation I was taught specifically that the Bible teaches by commandment, example, and necessary inference. This reliance on inference as the source of biblical truth is a basic cause of confusion. Obviously, once human reasoning and deductive powers enter the process of biblical understanding, differences of opinion and resulting uncertainty are inevitable.

 

In relying on inferences as the necessary element to decipher what the Bible says and means, the institutional church reinforces the notion that the Bible is a mysterious book, one which requires careful and skillful study before it can be fathomed. Thus, we have the importance of full time church ministers who have the freedom and capability to unravel it all for the benefit of others. A straightforward Bible would make this ministry unnecessary.

 

The church teaches that the bible is the only source of vital information for mankind, information that must be accepted and acted upon in order to avoid eternal rejection by God. Thus, one would expect that the source book would be designed by God to make that necessary information clear and concise. Anyone who has read the Bible probably rejects that idea. A 2000 page book is definitely not concise. If it was clear in its revelation and requirements, why would we have so many divergent opinions about it?

 

A classic example of how the church adds to the confusion surrounding the Bible by employing inference is the matter of age of accountability. Many in the church desperately want young children to be exempt from the requirement to follow a set procedure in order to avoid rejection by God if they die. The same is true of those born with very limited mental capacity. In order to justify these exclusions from the Bible the church is left to find various passages from which one might "infer" that such is the case. As it relates to the age of accountability for young children, reference is made to Matthew 19:14 which indicates that children are a part of the kingdom. In order to establish a specific age of accountability, some point to Jesus at age 12 travelling to the temple to worship or age 20 as seen in the numbering of the House of Israel (Numbers chapter 1). Thus, in dealing with a  most critical matter, we are left to guess.

 

Nothing could be more important to the issue of God's justice than the biblical exceptions to the supposed requirement to follow God's plan of salvation and thereby avoid eternal damnation. No one who adheres to the evangelical concept of Christianity can avoid the conclusion that some people never have a chance to meet God's demand of obedience. Foremost in that category for many would be the those who die very young. If the young child is born condemned and remains so at his or her early death, the emotional impact on family members and society at large is profoundly negative. Even the most ardent fundamentalist probably recoils from the thought that his or her deceased child suffers eternal rejection by God. Yet, in order to justify any exception to the obedience requirement, not only must the truth of that exception be inferred, as opposed to being clearly stated, it is clouded by multiple inferences. Why in the world would such be the case if God's plan for mankind involves achieved righteousness through obedience?

 

What we see in the Bible is not a clear delineation of the necessary process to achieve righteousness by faith but rather a scattering of verses here and there which comprise what the church concludes are the steps to salvation. If there any exceptions to these supposedly rigid requirements because of extenuating life circumstances, these exceptions have to be surmised. Why would God operate in inferred, veiled truth if that truth is so critical? As an instruction book to escape God's wrath, the book is exceedingly strange in style, length, organization, and omission. If God is not the author of this confusion, who is?

 

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