Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Don't call me "guy."

I am not a guy.

Yesterday I watched Sunday Morning, a CBS television magazine.  As they flashed pictures of events from 2013 on the screen a picture of Margaret Thatcher appeared.  The word used to describe her career was, "Statesman."   I was very disappointed.  I thought they knew better.  

I am not a kind of a man!

I also watched part of a program on The History Channel called Mankind: The History of All of Us.  If they mean all men than the title was appropriate.  During the time I watched the program I saw many women feeding children or killed by invading armies but there was no mention of the contributions of women to history.  Maleness is not the normative gender for the human race.  
Language creates reality.  Male generic language erases femaleness from our vocabulary and our consciousness.  

Not Counting Woman and Children

Each of the four gospels record an event where large numbers of people were fed. The story of the loaves and the fishes is found in Mark 6:32-44, Matthew 14:14-21, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:8-20.     John says it was people who were fed.  Luke and Mark say it was five thousand men.  Matthew also says five thousand men were fed.  But Matthew adds the phrase, "Not counting women and children."  If Matthew had not added that phrase we might be left to believe only men followed Jesus.  Male generic language erases the presence of women and their children.  We look for ourselves in Paul's writing to the brothers and we add sisters believing that we must have been included.  Every time we call women "guy" or "dude" or assume that women are included under the umbrella of mankind we diminish and erase ourselves, our mothers, our daughters, our sisters and our friends.  I think women are too wonderful to be erased.    

Monday, December 9, 2013

Biblical Inerrancy

Biblical Inerrancy

I have not blogged for several weeks.  With the help of Cathy Winch and Vanessa Finney of Personhood Press I have been editing my manuscript for Prostitutes,Virgins and Mothers: Questioning Teachings About Biblical Women.  As I come to the end of this process I am compelled to draw a parallel between our editing process and the centuries of copying and recopying the biblical manuscripts. I am staggered by the amount of errors in the manuscript. Errors which either I made or were made by one of the four brilliant women who read and made editorial comments in the manuscript.  I'll tell you one thing I am never using a comma again!

Biblical Infallibility 

Halloween of 2009 a Baptist congregation in Canton, North Carolina used their belief in biblical inerrancy and infallibility to burn Bibles.  


As Lee Martin McDonald states in The Formation of the Christian Cannon, "Those who would argue for the infallibility or the inerrancy of scripture logically should also claim the same infallibility for the churches in the fourth and fifth centuries, whose decisions and historical circumstances have left us with our present Bible." 

On the website Mainstream Baptist Dr. Bruce Prescott offers a test for "Inerrantist Truthfulness."  He says, "Here's a simple way to tell if you are getting a straight answer about claims for the Bible's inerrancy.  Ask inerrantists the questions listed below.

1. Is the Bible you read and hold in you hands inerrant?  If he says, "No," he is being honest.  If he says, "Yes," ask question 2. 

2. Do all the ancient manuscripts of the Bible say exactly the same thing?  If he says, "Yes," he or she is being honest.  He or she is simply uninformed about the history of the transmission of the Bible and needs to do some study. (2 Timothy 2:15)  If he says, "No," ask question 3.

3. How can you honestly say the Bible is inerrant when you know that all the manuscripts of the Bible have errors in them?  If he says, "The Original Manuscripts were inerrant."  Ask question 4.

4. Where are the "original manuscripts?" If he admits, "They have all been lost," or "They no longer exist on earth." Ask question 5.

5. Since God didn't bother to see that the Bible was preserved inerrantly, why is it necessary to believe it is inerrant?  If he says something like, "So men could be sure of their salvation." Ask Question 6.

6. Do you have to believe the Bible is inerrant to be saved?  If he says, "Yes," ask question 7.  If he says, "No," ask question 8. 

7. Do you have to place you faith in an inerrant book (unseen) before you can have faith in Jesus?  Doesn't that make the Bible an object of faith and another mediator between us and God? (1 Timothy 2:5)  Doesn't that make the Bible an idol?  Or, does belief in inerrancy prove that you are saved and is failure to believe proof that you aren't?  Is that why some inerrantists call Mainstream Baptist infidels? 

8. Why have inerrantist worked of 20 years to exclude Mainstream Baptist, divided the SBC and BGCO, and revise the Baptist Faith and Message to make it say the Bible is inerrant?  Was all the pain this has caused in the lives of God's people and churches really necessary?"   

I know this test doesn't work on several levels and it certainly doesn't work if one believes that it is the first King James translation which is inerrant.  I share it because of my passion for biblical literacy, my new found sensitivity to the errors that can creep into the written word and because of my experience at Liberty University where the doctrine of biblical inerrancy was used like a weapon.    

I also want to say that I found errors in the  questions above.  Some I chose to leave in like Original Manuscripts and original manuscripts.  Others I chose to change like mainsteam to mainstream.  Biblical inerrancy?  I don't think so!  How many errors can you find?