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Friday, June 21, 2019
Has Church of God International Answered Bible Critics?
Has CGI Answered Bible Critics?
In the current issue of The International News(Vol. 40, No. 2), the Church of God International has presented an article that purports to answer Bible critics -- Answering Bible Critics Lloyd Cary opens the article by expressing his hope that none of his readers believes that the Bible is full of contradictions (and most of them probably don’t). He then proceeds to acknowledge that some “uninformed Christians and sincere doubters question the authority of the Bible.”
According to Cary, there are a few characteristics that apply to most of these questioners: 1) They don’t actually read the Bible, 2) They’re prejudiced against the Bible and predisposed to find error within it, 3) They are inclined to dismiss the Bible when it conflicts with their views/opinions/lifestyle and 4) They don’t know God (if they did, they’d love HIS book).
Based on my own personal experiences within the Worldwide Church of God and then the Church of God International, I would have to say that Mr. Cary is wrong on all four counts! I have questioned some of the material in the Scriptures for many years now (going all the way back to my time in CGI); and I have also read, studied and continued to read and study the Bible extensively (and I know of many other questioners who have done likewise). And, neither I nor most of the rest of my fellow questioners began our journey with any prejudices against Scripture or predispositions to find error within it. Indeed, most of us were the same degree of Fundamentalist/Literalist that Mr. Cary appears to be at present!
Now, it is true that I began to question Scripture when I realized that some of the passages therein contradicted my own life experiences and training. Even so, my initial inclination was to dismiss my own experiences and training and attempt to prove that the Bible was correct. Moreover, even after I concluded that the Bible does contain errors and contradictions, I DID NOT (AND HAVE NOT) dismissed the Bible as irrelevant. Indeed, I continue to hold that book in high regard and still believe that it has the breath of Divine inspiration and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and instructing us in the ways of righteousness (and, once again, I am not alone in this conclusion).
Finally, as for the question of knowing God, if we are appealing to what is revealed in Scripture, I am very familiar with the same information that Mr. Cary has in his possession. As I think that it would be arrogant and unsupported by Scripture to do so, I will not say that I “know” God. If the Bible is to be believed, then we must admit that it is beyond the ability of our human minds to fully comprehend the extent of God’s greatness, personality and love – even with the addition of the Holy Spirit. And, just for the record, I do love the Bible.
Some of us, however, are willing to acknowledge that the Bible is the product of a joint venture between human and Divine, and that the human portion of that equation is quite capable of prejudice, error and contradiction – even with God’s help and direction! Many of us understand that the Bible was never intended by God to be a history or science textbook, and that God never intended for mankind to be forever trapped within the limitations of a Bronze Age understanding of themselves, the world they inhabit or the God they worship! For many of us, the Bible is a SPIRITUAL guide that serves to enrich and strengthen our faith and lead us toward salvation through Jesus Christ.
Mr. Cary, however, remains clearly in the inerrancy camp, and he leaves his readers with a number of suggestions for handling someone who confronts them with Bible errors and/or contradictions. Unfortunately, most of these suggestions are an exercise in circular reasoning. If you have decided beforehand that the Bible does not contain contradictions or errors, it is highly unlikely that you will find any of them in the book you are studying! And, if you ask your CGI minister for assistance with an apparent contradiction/error, it is highly unlikely that he will be inclined to confirm your suspicion that something is not quite right! And, if you’ve followed all of his suggestions and still have questions about an apparent contradiction/error, Cary asks his readers to trust that “God’s” Word is correct (even if you cannot figure it out).
Nice failsafe – the circular reasoning gets you right back to where you started: There is no contradiction/error, because it is impossible for one to exist! By the way, did I mention that I own a bridge in Brooklyn that I’d very much like to sell you?
submitted by Lonnie Hendricks