Friday, June 26, 2009


This posting is in reply to the following column in the Springfield News-Leader:  Those who believe all of Bible delusional

See what local writers are saying about Charlie’s essay

8/02/2009: Read the latest response to Charlie's essay

7/19/2009: Read a response to Charlie's essay

Read/Post Comments (2)

       It’s not hard to believe in the contemporary orthodox view of God—unless you have an inquiring mind, or unless you tend not to believe everything you are told, or unless you challenge the Bible as a divine prescription for living. Many of us trap ourselves inside a triangular box comprised of these three generally un-breakable walls: we don’t have inquiring minds about religion; we tend to believe what we are told from the pulpit; and we do accept the Bible as a divine prescription for modern life. Inside the triangular box it is easy to believe in an orthodox God. But once a breech occurs in the walls of the box, reason challenges faith. Something like that happened to Greg Rubottom (“Those who believe all of the Bible delusional,” June 24, 2009).

       Rubottom’s human reason cut a gaping hole in the “Bible wall” of the triangular box when he realized that not everything in the Bible was true--or could be true. This recognition is the first step on the road to the discovery of the Bible as historical text, as human product, rather than an eternal inerrant divine prescription for life. Biblical texts have much to offer their readers, but God’s voice isn’t one of them, rather readers encounter the voices of ancient human beings who express their different faiths in God—the Bible does not speak with one voice but with many. The Bible describes the origins, history, and faiths of two different ancient religions—which are quite different from their modern counterparts.

       A recovering inerrantist (one who believed that the Bible is free from error, and hence everything in the Bible had to be true) might be interested in learning that there are other ways of reading the Bible for greater profit than reading it as a collection of divine mandates. The Bible addresses human issues with which modern society still struggles: guilt, fear of death, moral failure (i.e., “sin”), acceptance (i.e., “forgiveness,”), wholeness (i.e., “salvation”), the purpose of life, etc. But the fact remains that they are ancient texts written about 2000 years ago from the perspective of an outdated world-view, in languages that are no longer part of the modern family of languages, in the context of social cultures that have long passed from the historical scene. Hence their answers should not be considered prescriptive (that is binding on modern human beings). At best, their religious solutions and failed blind alleys may provide us a point of departure in our search for answers in a world that is vastly different from theirs.

       I would encourage Mr. Rubottom not to waste time with the worms in the garden, but to begin reading material outside the inerrantist triangular box, and look about. Others, who have escaped the box, still value the Bible as a valuable resource in their own spiritual journeys, and appreciate the essential role that human reason plays in understanding the texts. Charles W. Hedrick

Charles W. Hedrick
Professor Emeritus
Missouri State University

Posted by Charles Hedrick at 3:06pm

Just a few months too late I noticed the information (from last January) about the class you were teching on Sunday monrings; is there a plan for any more such classes?

Janice Hoaglin
Posted by Janice Hoaglin on 7/6/2009 at 1:36pm

Hi Janice,
I think I would enjoy doing something like that again, but at this point no one has indicated that there was interest in discussing “how reason affects faith” in another public forum. The class was extremely interesting and involved folks who were motivated. And as it turned out, I was as much a learner as teacher!


Charles W. Hedrick
Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Missouri State University

Posted by Charles Hedrick on 7/7/2009 at 11:16am

Bravo, Charlie! The triangular-shaped box is a great metaphor.

Bernie Loposer
Posted by Bernie Loposer on 6/27/2009 at 2:14pm