Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

the "in" words

11/16/14

 

 

A series of words beginning with "in" come to mind in relations to Orthodox Christianity. The two most common such words  are infallible and inerrant. These words are said to be descriptive of the Bible by many of the churches. As is generally the case, there is no real consensus among the various churches as to what these words really mean. However, Wikipedia gives these two definitions, which likely convey the more common understandings of these terms.

 

            Infallibility: the belief that what the Bible says regarding matters of faith and   Christian practice is wholly useful and true. It is the "belief that the Bible is  completely trustworthy as a guide to salvation and the life of faith and will not fail   to accomplish its purpose.

 

            Inerrancy: the doctrine that the Bible "is without error or fault in all its teaching";             or, at least, that "Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that  is contrary to fact".

 

These two "in" words are deemed essential to a faith which is based on right knowledge and right practice, both deriving from the Bible. If the Bible is unreliable in any respect, it is suspect as the source of right knowledge and instruction in righteousness. The consequences of mistakenness in these critical areas are severe in the Orthodox understanding.

 

Personally, I identify some additional "in" words which are not so highly regarded by the church, but which definitely relate to their message and the infallible, inerrant text. These additional words are "inefficient", "ineffective", and "intolerant".

 

In Christian Orthodoxy's theology, the Bible is known as the instruction book on how to please God and gain heaven in the hereafter. Given that the book is 2000 pages long and boils down, according to the average sermon, to about 30 minutes worth of instruction in how to gain salvation, one would have to conclude that the vast majority of the text is superfluous. In fact, one can attend the average church for decades and never hear reference to most of the Bible, only select passages here and there. Additionally, anyone familiar with the Bible and the course of these typical sermons has experienced how the preacher ties together widely disparate verses from throughout the scriptures in making his point and developing the required instructions. It's hardly the way an efficiently designed set of instructions would be written and organized, with vital information scattered randomly throughout largely non-essential text.

 

Then by the church's own estimation the Bible is mostly ineffective in bringing its intended audience to an actual state of salvation. Even within it's own membership, the church routinely questions whether the Bible instructions have been properly and effectively understood and followed. By way of justification, the church claims various scripture passages purportedly predicting limited success of the Bible instructions, so it is said there no reason to be concerned or surprised that the divine method is largely a failure.

 

Finally, the church exhibits and cherishes an attitude of intolerance. This intolerance is construed as the righteous variety, being mandated by God. Such is a sacred duty and therefore noble rather than mean spirited as it might appear to those subject to that intolerance.  The past church intolerances based on differences in race, ethnicity, or scientific understanding may, in retrospect, have been misguided; but current day prejudices are still valid and mandatory.

 

If Christians can't be special and demonstrate that specialness by rejecting other folks, the label loses its meaning and therefore its appeal. Specialness implies the opposite, the group over which special ones can feel superior and reject accordingly. It's the historical, unexceptional attitude and behavior of humanity ever since the Fall in the Garden.

 

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