If I Can’t Believe the Bible, No One Can!

It would seem that Bible believers are not really Bible believers according to “Progressive Christian” Chuck Queen. His charge is simple:

No self-identified Bible believer actually believes the whole Bible — at least not in the way they claim to. Bible believers claim that the whole Bible, every part of it, is inerrant and infallible.

What then of his argument supporting the charge? Well, he himself used to claim to be a Bible-believer, but he could never really stomach Apostolic instruction like 1 Timothy 2:11-15, in which Paul forbids women from usurping the pastoral office. Even in his “conservative” days, he used to avoid the implications by claiming it was culturally conditioned (although he’s honest enough to note how grounding the instruction in Creation and Fall cannot help but make it universal.) But he’s learned and grown since then. Now he avoids the implication by claiming it wasn’t written by Paul. In other words, Mr. Queen was never a Bible believing Christian, and all that’s changed are his rationalizations for rejecting the parts of Christ’s teachings that he doesn’t like.

He goes on to argue… Wait, he doesn’t. That’s actually his whole argument. Needless to say, it’s not terribly compelling.

Of course, extending his personal experience to all self-proclaimed Bible believing Christians is nothing more than projection. He doesn’t even try to give examples, but is content to provide groundless assurance that it covers pretty much everyone. That is, until the last paragraph, in which he says:

Of course, some Bible believers are simply patriarchal, condemnatory, prejudiced Bible thumpers. But there are also many basically good-hearted Bible believers who continue to claim to believe the whole Bible when they really don’t.

Ah. So there are actual Bible believers after all, but they’re horrible people.

So Queen’s “argument” is basically this: Back when he called himself a Bible-believing Christian, he was too “good-hearted” to really believe the Bible. Most other people who call themselves that are the same way, and those who actually do believe the Bible are just “patriarchal, condemnatory, prejudiced Bible Thumpers.” In the end, the piece is nothing more than a circumlocutious and self-aggrandizing way of calling Christians names. Everything else is a rhetorical flourish meant to make actual believers feel like they are alone.

But contrary to his claim about Christians, Queen is the truly prejudiced one, for he is the one who decided beforehand that God could not possibly be against egalitarianism in the pulpit and thereby determined what He is and is not allowed to say. All that remains is to speculate on why 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and other passages don’t apply. On that score, Queen does give his (poor) reasons why, but concludes them with a very revealing statement:

All reasoning here is speculative, but clearly this text in 1 Timothy reflects a push back that contradicts Paul’s earlier practice of incorporating women leaders (see Romans 16) and prophets (1 Cor. 11:5).

And that, my dear readers, is prejudice in a nutshell: Our reasoning is entirely speculative, but our conclusion is clear.

To be honest, I’m not terribly fond of the “Bible-believing” modifier either. Many Christians have issues with reading comprehension, and so, when its not tied to a particular confession of faith, “Bible believing” doesn’t mean all that much. Nevertheless, it does mean something because the term exists for precisely one reason: to distinguish orthodox and even heterodox Christians from the heresy of theological liberalism—the grand tradition of Schleiermacher that proudly stands up to declare itself way too intelligent and sophisticated to believe Christianity is true, but nevertheless wants to use its trappings and institutions for political advocacy and vague spirituality. But that is the natural reaction for those who put a premium on worldliness, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

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One Response to If I Can’t Believe the Bible, No One Can!

  1. Otto Lamp says:

    There is a solid point buried in his comment: if you don’t believe ALL of the Bible, then you really don’t believe any of it.

    Charismatics ignore Paul’s instructions on speaking in tongues . Evangelicals ignore the passages on male headship in marriage. Mainline denominations ignore the prohibition on female pastors. Conservative churches ignore the New Testament teachings on giving and instead teach mandatory tithing.

    The point being, most churches today substitute some man made doctrine for the clear teaching of the Bible on some (and often many) points. But, by doing that, aren’t they demonstrating don’t they believe the Bible is inerrant and infallible; aren’t they demonstrating that they think they know better than the Bible?

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