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cartoon by David Hayward, (nakedpastor)

cartoon by David Hayward, (nakedpastor)

Let’s talk about how our view of the God and our view of the Bible are enmeshed.

Here is one example.

If your dominant vision of God is of a sovereign king, enthroned above, who communicates to his subjects through written decrees mediated to inspired men borne along by God’s spirit to insure the accuracy of the divine oracles, you will likely describe the Bible as necessarily: historically accurate, logically consistant, self-evidently divine, inerrant, fully and absolutely authoritative in all it teaches.

Yes, certainly, people who tend toward this view also use other descriptors for God and the Bible, but the view above exhibits functional priority—especially when doctrinal disagreements arise.

Data (either biblical or extra-biblical) that seem to challenge this description tend to be interpreted in such a way as to support the description, regardless. After all, since God is what he is, his word will be consistent with that description. Contrary “data” are contrary only because humans perceive them through their sinful minds and rebellious hearts.

Hence, disparate historical accounts and divergent theologies are only alleged to be so, and so are harmonized. More compliantENNS_BibleTellsMe passages of Scripture are given priority and assigned prescriptive value for determining the “nature of Scripture.” Passages, such as 2 Tim 3:16, are elevated as a super-authoritative standard that trumps any alleged “evidence” to the contrary.

Particularly difficult challenges are either tabled until such a time as adequate counterarguments can be mustered or marginalized by means of rhetoric. The primary task in such cases is to defend the biblical doctrine of Scripture, which ultimately is a defense of God.

Having said all this, my suspicion is that this situation may actually be reversed.

Perhaps it is not the view of God that yields the expectation of Scripture, but the theological need for a certain type of Scripture that yields a particular view of God.

Ot maybe a little of both?

Either way, our view of God and our view of the Bible go hand in hand—paying attention to the one will always tell us something about the other.

**An earlier version of this post appeared on my old blog in April 2012. The view expressed here eventually found its way int0 The Bible Tells Me So, which I began writing in earnest later that year.**

[Comments are monitored because some people on the internet are just plain crazy. I mean, really. It sometimes takes me a few hours—or even a day—before I get to it, so please be patient.]

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.