Last week, I posted an article in which I explained that appeals to inerrancy in discussions were totally ineffective with those who do not embrace inerrancy. I had in mind those inerrantist believers who aggressively argue against progressive believers but who employ only appeals to inerrancy and accusations.
I stand by what I wrote, but there was a potential problem with that post that I did not foresee. Chas, a regular commenter on the blog, said:
Tim, the difficulty that you now have is that, with this post, you are closing the door on inerrantists, the very people who are weighed down by the fundamentalist baggage that you are hoping to take from their shoulders.
And he is absolutely right! This did not occur to me as I was writing the article; I did not think of the overflow impact it might have on those questioning their beliefs who would also need to use appeals to inerrancy in their interaction.
The Targeted Audiences of Jesus without Baggage
Jesus without Baggage has a somewhat focused target audience. While anyone is welcome to join in discussions, ask questions, or share their own perspectives, there is a target audience. It is specified in the introduction to the blog: About this Blog.
If you are concerned about unreasonable baggage (rules and beliefs) often associated with Jesus, then this blog is for you. It is a message of Jesus without baggage.
1. First and foremost, this blog is meant as a support for those questioning beliefs they have been taught as true or even essential. This is often an extremely frightening process, so this blog is a safe place for interaction, questions, and support.
Those escaping religious baggage sometimes abandon Jesus along with it and really feel the loss. We are here to say that baggage is not part of Jesus’ message to us; you can certainly follow Jesus without it.
I certainly don’t want to become an authority figure to replace authority figures people are escaping. I believe everyone should decide issues for themselves, but I am pleased if this blog provides information and help on your journey. The regular readers and commenters also provide a great deal of support.
2. The second intended audience are those already on a spiritual journey from religious baggage and would like confirmation or conversation from friendly co-travelers. Readers here interact freely with me and with other readers. It is nice to be part of a community of like-minded persons, especially when you might not have that in your local area.
3. Finally, this blog is for anyone interested in Jesus but not the traditional baggage often associated with him, whether or not they identify as followers of Jesus. It is also for those who simply enjoy discussion and interaction on these important topics.
Chas is referring to the first group, which is our primary focus: those who are questioning beliefs they have been taught as true or even essential.
Questioning Religious Beliefs We have been Taught
We find that many of those questioning their inherited beliefs are inerrantists. And, of course, inerrantist believers are often most comfortable posing their concerns in the familiar forms of inerrantist perspective, such as “What does it mean when the Bible says…?”, “How do you explain when the Bible says…?”, or “Do you believe the Bible when it says…”
This is understandable and appropriate. These are the mind-sets and expressions you are familiar with and we want to meet you with great respect and integrity where you are most comfortable. So the things I said about aggressive inerrantist opponents do not apply to you at all. We are here to help you who are questioning your beliefs when we can, and we are not picky about the way you express yourselves.
What about Inerrantists Who Just Want to Discuss Issues?
Sometimes we hear from inerrantist believers who do not question their beliefs but who simply wish to talk about issues with progressive believers. You are welcome here as well! As long as you realize that incessant appeals to inerrancy are unhelpful, we can talk! We can even talk about inerrancy itself if you wish. We love sharing ideas with others and hearing their ideas as well.
Then What was that Previous Article All About?
Over time we are approached by inerrantists who feel that they must prove their point. They are not all the same, but there are a number of very common approaches. The first is the appeal to inerrancy even though we do not accept the assumption of inerrancy. When that doesn’t have the desired effect, they often bombard us with even more appeals to inerrancy. Then there is their consternation and disbelief that ‘progressives really just don’t believe the Bible!’, which is not true. Often they redouble their efforts by applying even more appeals to inerrancy and begin to denigrate us personally and to increase their accusations against us.
We understand their frustration that their sure-fire arguments do not have the desired effect, but our frustration is that we have been through all this before—over and over and over. These are the only inerrantist believers I had in mind in the previous article. And I apologize to inerrantists who felt I was including them as well.
Jesus without Baggage Welcomes Inerrantists!
I love inerrantists; they are my fellow believers and followers of Jesus. All inerrantists are welcome to the discussion here—as long as they realize that authoritative appeals to inerrancy to prove their points will not be effective, especially if they keep pounding the same points over and over.
So I would like to hear from even more inerrantists believers—those who are questioning what they have been taught, those who just want to dialogue on issues, and even those who simply disagree—so long as they don’t become disrespectful and aggressive about it.
Articles in this series: Inerrantist Believers
Why Call Out Fundamentalist Views: Isn’t Everyone Entitled to Their Own Opinion?
Why Progressive Believers and Fundamentalist Believers Disagree on So Many Important Beliefs
For My Inerrantist Friends: Why Appeals to Inerrancy are Totally Ineffective in Discussion
Jesus Without Baggage Welcomes Inerrantists!
‘The Bible Clearly Says’ is Always a Seriously Misguided Statement