ch. 10, a long form book response to Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood

Derek Flood has written an excellent book explaining the issues I covered in my blog series this past autumn. My series is titled "Not everything Biblical is Christian." His book is titled Disarming Scripture. Cherry-picking liberals, violence-loving conservatives, and why we all need to learn to read the Bible like Jesus did. It is certainly a mouthful, but his examples are better than mine and deserve a thorough treatment here. Flood's book is ten chapters long and I intend to speak about each chapter in separate blog posts. I heartily recommend this book for the thinking Christian.

Chapter 10 is titled, "Re-thinking biblical authority." Flood introduces this chapter with a serious question. "If there are things endorsed in the Bible like genocide and slavery which we can and must clearly recognize as wrong, then in what sense can we say the Bible is inspired, let along infallible or inerrant?" p. 229 Even before we can ascertain what the Bible is we have to recognize the fallibility of its readers and interpreters. If we weren't fallible, if we did not bring to the Bible our psychological wounds, nor social privileges, nor our cultural blind spots, perhaps we could even begin to discuss the Bible how fallible or not the Bible is. Yet it was written by people who wrote with those same limitations. And we have seen shown by Flood how Jesus and Paul have used parts of scripture differently than they were intended. In summary, the point is moot, because we don't agree on much of anything. If we did, Zondervan would not be constantly publishing it's Four Views series on different biblical topics.

Flood notes, even with Jesus, Peter, and Paul, life experience affected their understanding of scripture. "...Paul had, in fact read Scripture and arrived at a very different conclusion - aligning himself with a toxic narrative of violent zeal for purity. In other words, Paul had read the Bible extensively and gotten God completely wrong." p. 238 But when he encountered Jesus, he saw everything in scripture completely differently. In the same way, Peter, as a faithful Jew, who had already ministered with Jesus, still needed a dream and an observation of God's Spirit working in non-Jews to change his understanding of who God's people actually include.

So what is the role of scripture? Flood asserts, "Scripture is therefore not an end in itself, but points us to that life-giving relationship, leading us into a life of Christ-like love." p.255 We need to distinguish between the Word of God, Jesus, and the book which contains words from God that point to the Word of God. "Martin Luther thus describes the Bible as the manger in which Christ is found. Without the manger you will not find Christ, but you dare not confuse Christ with the manger." p. 255 As I noted in my series, Not everything Biblical is Christian, all the lead up to Jesus provides the problems and symbols and clues that Jesus solves when he arrives. Jesus is the climax of the story. A story that only has a climax is a comic strip.

My conservative evangelical tribe already practices faithful questioning in safe areas. Those texts that were challenged a long time ago and already won, e.g. slavery. There are other places still not safe to challenge and be seen as faithful when done, women leadership, violence, and LGBTQ inclusion, among others. We can join those brave heroes of the faith in the past if we take the great risks they did.

This is the last chapter in Flood's book and last part of my long book response to it. This has been fruitful for me so I will do this again with another book I read recently.


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