Consider the following quote by respected Christian apologist William Lane Craig.
Genesis 1 permits all manner of different interpretations. And Christians are not necessarily committed to special creationism.
It is strange to hear an apologist, who presumably believes the Bible contains relevant truth, speak of it this way. But he’s right. The Bible is inherently vague. Were it not, and its truths were absolute, it could not have adapted to the ever-changing pressures of change placed on it over the centuries. Let me list a few implications of this notion that the Bible is, to some degree, packaged in vagueness. Because the Bible is vague…
- there are innumerable denominations and churches all claiming to most properly parse the words of God. This is very odd since one clear statement in the Bible says that the Holy Spirit “will lead you into all truth.” Presumably, those with the Holy Spirit will be in agreement. If there is no agreement, this leaves us wondering where this Holy Spirit might be, and of what use is a book that claims to contain Truth when the Truth within that book is not readily accessible, even by those who know it well. However, this allows persons of different personalities and inclinations to pick and choose a comfortable church based on its dogma menu. You might call this ecclesiastical post-modernism.
- believers will be dependent on church leaders to unpack the interpretation of the Bible rather than on their own reading of it, and because many do not pay attention, they will not know what they are supposed to believe. This was of recent news when 26% of Evangelicals said in a Pew study that they thought atheists could get into Heaven. Even the central tenet of salvation only through faith in Jesus has become hazy in the minds of the devout. Perhaps these devout are seeing through the twisted methodology of Evangelical exegesis and are, as a result, relinquishing the traditional dogmatism that has been long a hallmark of fundamentalism.
- shifts in cultural notions of morality can not destroy Christianity since Christians can, without batting an eye of integrity, claim that the previous generations of Christians had it wrong. “Sure,” they will say. “Christians defended the immoral practice [such and such] in the past, but we can rest assured that we have this moral thing right now.” Then the next generation says the same. You’ll find this migrating morality in the historical examination of slavery, torture for sinners, the forceful taking of wives, the killing of witches and polygamy. This moral relativity is a hallmark of extant religions. They must evolve morally to survive.
- it is inoculated from invalidation. If things get sticky with unbelievers pointing out supposed discrepancies within the Bible, the verses in question are usually such that they can be reinterpreted to have another meaning, even if you have to sacrifice a bit on textual coherency. If God has promised that he will do anything if you ask him to in his name, yet it doesn’t seem to be working out quite that way when you asked him to heal your amputated leg, simply pull verses from other contexts in the Bible to emasculate that verse into meaninglessness. Then accuse the unbeliever of taking the initial verse out of context.
Supplementing the Bible’s vagueness is the Christian’s novel use of logic. Let’s say you have two verses that are contradictory. In a court of law, this would invalidate the testimony of one or many witnesses. However, if the Bible claims that God is an invisible spirit that no one has ever seen in one verse(John 1:18), yet has Moses observing the opaque rear of God in another verse(Exodus 33:23), creative logic allows you to say with a straight face that both are correct. And if that answer doesn’t suit your parishioners, they can just find another church.
Isn’t the fuzzy Bible blessed?