In order to gain perspective on the whole Creation/ evolution topic it’s important to know where you stand on the concept of revelation. In this case I’m specifically referring to revelation from God. What exactly has God revealed to us and what impact does it have?
To start with, as a Christian, I believe the Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God (1 Corinthians 2:9-13, 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Matthew 5:17-18). But what does that even mean? Well, to keep it as simple as I can, it means that those individuals who physically wrote the Bible were speaking from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:20-21). This has a huge impact on our understanding of scripture because it means that these men were not making up their own religion, but wrote down what God intended them to write. Therefore the Bible is a firm foundation and solid rock of truth when it comes to knowing who we are, where we came from, what our purpose is, and what God expects from us. Finally, this understanding of scripture gives us confidence and assurance of salvation.
I bring this up after reading an article from Dr. Richard Kremer, a pastor in Georgia. He blasted biblical inerrancy, and I find his words sad and unfortunate. Here’s an excerpt of the article:
Biblical inerrancy – the idea that the Bible’s authors were safeguarded against error when inspired by God to write facts about science and history in Scripture – is a misleading and harmful concept that has been used to hurt people and is damaging to the cause of Christ, a Baptist pastor in Georgia said recently.
“Few words in the last thirty years have caused more mischief than the word inerrancy,” Pastor Richard Kremer said in his June 24 sermon at Garden Lakes Baptist Church in Rome, Ga.
Kremer, who came to Garden Lakes three years ago from St. John’s Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., said while the word “inerrant” might seem like a perfectly fine word to describe the authenticity and authority of the Bible, the term “has been used and manipulated,” especially during the divisive area in Southern Baptist life often called the “conservative resurgence.”
“This word has in fact done horrendous damage to the character of the Bible and ruined countless lives,” Kremer said. “The cause of Christ is being damaged by its use even now.”
Kremer uses some strong language to attack those who believe in Biblical inerrancy, accusing us of damaging the cause of Christ. So, if those who believe in Biblical inerrancy are guilty of manipulation, what exactly does Kremer think is the proper use of the term? First he states that he agrees with the statement that “the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God” to a point, and says, “When you come to talking about the character of God, the Bible is indeed inerrant.” And, “When you’re talking about the revelation of God in Christ, we can trust that information with perfect confidence.” He also says that “inerrant” seems like a perfectly fine word to describe the authenticity and authority of the Bible.
So Kremer picks and chooses what he wishes to believe, kind of like ordering from a menu at a restaurant. It seems okay for him to believe that the Bible is inerrant about the character of God or the revelation of God in Christ. But what he says we can’t do is believe anything that could possibly be interpreted as having any bearing on geology, biology, the fossil record, continental drift, or pottery shards. This leads me to ask the question, why is it okay to believe the Bible is inerrant in one aspect, but not another? Is Kremer’s personal opinion enough to settle the matter? This is what it comes down to. It sounds like he believes whatever secular science claims about our origins; therefore, either the Bible is wrong, or we need to change our interpretation of what the Bible actually says, or completely change its meaning. So what makes him the ultimate authority on the matter? I’d suggest that he stands convicted by his own statements.
The Bible actually instructs us to examine scripture to find out if what someone says about it is true (Acts 17:10-12). By searching scripture we can find passages that contradict his claims. In fact 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all scripture is ‘God-breathed’ and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. So if scripture is indeed God-breathed, then he cannot claim it’s purely a human concept and that the parts touching on the physical world, history and science can be discarded. We certainly can use scripture to understand history and science when applicable. In Matthew 5:17 we have the words of Jesus himself, who states that he didn’t come to abolish the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them. This means that Jesus accepted what was written by those prophets and validates them. Then in Matthew 4:1-11 both Jesus and Satan quoted from scripture, so it’s clear they both believed what had been written. Not only did Jesus speak about spiritual truths in spiritual words and heavenly things, but he also spoke about earthly things and historical events and criticized those who don’t (John 3:12). He believed the physical and spiritual events that happened to Moses, Adam, Jonah, Abraham and others. When Jesus spoke of these events he validated them.
Kremer did acknowledge that there are a few passages in the Bible that seem to support the idea that the Bible can be treated like a science book. So it’s strange that he ultimately rejects them.
Kremer, who holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the reason some people want to treat the Bible like a science book is “the doctrine of plenary verbal inspiration,” which he summarized as, “God said it, and humanity wrote it down.”
Kremer said there are a few Bible passages that seem to support the idea, such as God dictating the Ten Commandments to Moses and commanding Moses to write them down. On the other hand, Kremer said, God would have to be pretty egotistical to dictate words to the psalmist to be read back as praise unto himself.
Kremer uses faulty logic here. Firstly, the Bible isn’t being treated like a science book as he claims. Science textbooks are constantly being revised and edited, and what was believed to be true at one point is no longer true today, so they’re quickly outdated. But the Bible is timeless and can never be revised in this manner. Of course what we read as the Bible isn’t the original text; it’s a translation of the original text. So someone may claim that the Bible is indeed revised and edited. But this would be an improper suggestion simply because we’re talking about the original text being infallible and inerrant, not any particular translation. On a side note, I also don’t know anyone who claims that a science textbook is infallible, yet many on the side of evolution treat them as if they were, and perhaps with a greater dose of authority. So even though the Bible is not a science textbook, it is still applicable to science and history when it makes certain claims, such as the creation account and the global flood. Secondly, God doesn’t demand our praise because he’s egotistical; he demands it because he’s worthy (2 Samuel 22:4, 1 Chronicles 16:25, Revelation 4:11, Revelation 5:12). I’m truly sorry Kremer doesn’t understand this part of God’s character, especially when he claims that the Bible is infallible concerning God’s character. So why would he defame God’s character? I don’t think that was Kremer’s intent; I think his intent was to convince his readers that man wrote the Bible without any input or direction of God, so therefore we don’t have to accept anything in the Bible that has any bearing on science.
Kremer also pointed out that the traditional understanding of biblical inerrancy applies not to modern versions of the Bible but to a hypothetical original referred to as “the autographs.” “That’s very convenient,” he said. “For no one has ever seen the Bible’s original autographs. Do you know why? They don’t exist! There is not some dusty text, this original hidden away in some obscure cave in Israel.” “The Bible came into being over a period of centuries,” Kremer said. “Its pages originated in diverse places and in diverse times. The Old Testament existed in oral tradition, passed down from generation to generation before it was ever recorded in print. When it was printed it was written in a variety of places in a variety of versions.” “There is no such thing as an original autograph of the Scripture, and to claim such a manuscript is the basis for the inerrancy is intellectually dishonest,” he said.
In essence, Kremer is mounting an attack on the whole Bible. He argues that since we don’t have the original text to examine, we can’t claim the Bible is inerrant. But if this is so, then we have no basis for believing anything in scripture. So if he rejects the parts of scripture claiming that it is the inspired Word of God and not a man-made product, I don’t know how he can, at the same time, claim that we can have perfect confidence in the revelation of God in Christ. It seems to me that we could only have such confidence if scripture was reliable everywhere. Fortunately scripture has been preserved throughout history by God’s grace. Archaeological discoveries have time and again validated scripture; every time we do find older manuscripts, they always match the most current documents. The Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, demonstrate the reliability of scripture through the ages. This means we can have confidence that our current translations are based on the original message from God. So it’s sad to see that Kremer assumes unreliability simply based on his own personal faulty logic and agenda.
Kremer has a reason for denying the earthly things that the Bible speaks about. He’s afraid young people will discard their faith. He says:
“I don’t want young people thinking they have to discard their faith because some scientist has made a discovery that seems to contradict some biblical principle,” he said. “I don’t want a scientist having to put his/her brain on ice because his/her discoveries contradict what the Bible allegedly teaches about one scientific discipline or another.”
His concern seems very practical and noble on the surface. But I’d suggest that Kremer is misinformed about his concerns. Young people absolutely don’t have to discard their faith just because some scientist has made a discovery that “seems” to contradict the Bible. Having a Biblical perspective on any particular discovery is a good thing, and I would highly recommend it. The important thing for young people to remember is that, if properly understood, there is no contradiction between science and the Bible. Problems only arise when one doesn’t have a proper understanding of the Bible and science. If there’s an apparent contradiction, either the scientific conclusions or interpretation is incorrect, our current translation is incorrect, our interpretation incorrect, or we just haven’t been provided enough information to make such a conclusion. What I’m suggesting is that it’s incorrect to assume that the scientific conclusions are correct while the Bible is wrong or has been misinterpreted; this is the approach Kremer has taken. He assumes that because secular scientists claim the universe is 13.6 billion years old, and the Bible doesn’t seem to agree with this, then the people who wrote the Bible are wrong, relieving God of any responsibility. This is backwards thinking. To me, as a Christian, we can’t pick and choose what parts of the Bible we like, and then discard what we disagree with or find inconvenient, or simply reinterpret them to make ourselves feel better and clear aside any obstacles interfering with secular science. If the Bible takes a stance on any particular subject, then we should hold scripture up as the authority. But some people disagree because they hold science up in such high esteem, as if it couldn’t possibly be wrong, even though scientists often get things wrong. This understanding of science doesn’t mean we’re hostile to science or disrespect scientists, as some people suppose, but it simply means that we don’t hold science on a pedestal as infallible. Kremer, however, seems to hold science in greater esteem than the Bible in this regard, which is just the opposite of what one would expect from a believing pastor.
So it seems that Kremer doesn’t like the word “inerrancy” because it’s hurtful to his cause. With his low view of the writers of scripture, blasting them here and there, I’m wondering how he’s able to trust anything written in the Bible. If the words written by the writers are subject to such criticism, then it stands to reason that he should reject Christianity as a whole. Why put your faith in the hands of such incompetent writers when God wasn’t involved?
But as soon as we accept that scripture is exactly what it claims, namely that it is the infallible, inerrant Word of God, then we can put our hope and trust in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior.