5 Common False Assumptions Inerrantists Make about Me as a Progressive Believer

Since I often challenge the concept of biblical inerrancy, I receive a lot of feedback from inerrantists. But often that feedback reveals false assumptions inerrantists make about me—assumptions that are sometimes the very opposite of what I believe.

Here are five common false assumptions I repeatedly receive.

Assumption 1: That I Don’t Read the Bible

It is amazing to me how often response is along the lines of ‘You should read the Bible.’ It is as though I don’t read the Bible when, in fact, I began reading the Bible when I was 8 or 9 years old and never stopped. I remember, as a child, reading the Book of Genesis in one day. I also did Bible memorization—including the entire Book of James. The Bible was important to me and still is.

I suppose some inerrantists cannot comprehend why I would read the Bible when I don’t believe it is inerrant; or they think that, if I read the Bible, inerrancy would be obvious and I would reach the same conclusions they do.

Assumption 2: That I Have No Valid Reason for Reading the Bible

Another way of saying this is, ‘If the Bible isn’t inerrant how can you trust anything in it?’ Many years ago I discovered histories and biographies. Most seemed well-informed, but none were inerrant, and I read them anyway. One thing I found was that the older a book was the more I needed to consult scholars for clarification and correction. Even though it took more work to understand them better, I didn’t throw out my books because they were not inerrant.

Much of the Bible involves history and biography—and it is old! But it also contains fiction, poetry, wisdom, myth, and metaphor. While a flat, inerrantist reading of the Bible seems to provide simple answers, understanding the Bible in context and in all its variety takes a lot more work. Scholars help, but so does simply dropping an inerrantist perspective and dealing with literary, historical, and textual contexts instead. It is more work but far more rewarding.

And it is valid, whereas the assumption of inerrancy is not.

Assumption 3: That I Don’t (or Can’t) Believe in Jesus

Part of the thinking that drives this assumption is the common complaint that if the Bible is not inerrant how can I be sure of any of it? So how can I really believe Jesus and follow him if I don’t know if what was written about him is true (inerrant)?

Well, I can say that there ARE differences in details of the gospels that really cannot be harmonized. I think some things in the gospels are not literal but are Midrash instead, which was a popular practice among the Jews of the day. I think some parts of the gospels result from the creative impact of the preaching of Jesus’ disciples rather than a literal narration of events.

However, the four gospels present a consistent portrait of Jesus, his teaching, and his actions that are compelling to me—so compelling that Jesus is the foundation of all my faith and belief (rather than an inerrant Bible which once was).

I believe Jesus tells us of a loving Father/Mother who wishes to heal us of our brokenness, alienation, and pain. Jesus tells us that it is important to love others rather than to follow legalistic rules. And I believe Jesus’ resurrection overcame the power of evil and death and provides for our own eventual resurrections.

How can someone tell me that I don’t believe in Jesus?

Assumption 4: That I Believe and Trust Only in Good Works

I think this assumption springs from my emphasis on loving others and treating them right rather than following legalistic rules from an inerrant Bible. But I certainly do not trust in good works (what does that even mean?) I believe our resurrections from death to eternal life is provided by Jesus—not good works.

But, on the other hand, how can treating people with empathy, compassion, and care be a bad thing?

Assumption 5: That I Cherry-pick the Bible for Things I Like

bible cherry picking8

Cherry-Picking the Bible

If you are a believer who does not accept biblical inerrancy perhaps some, or all, of these assumptions have been applied to you, as well. But I am quite sure you have been accused of this one: ‘You cherry-pick the Bible for passages that suit you.’ Or, ‘You cherry-pick the Bible for parts that you like.’ This is probably THE MOST COMMON assumption about believers who are not inerrantists and is often delivered as a judgmental accusation.

This accusation, at best, questions the sincerity of the believer; and at worst it questions the believer’s motives as it is sometimes accompanied by a proof-text from 2 Timothy 4:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (KJV)

The implication, of course, is that sound doctrine derives only from an inerrant Bible. Do progressive believers cherry-pick what they like from the Bible? Sure, there might be some who do; but it is not the general practice.

But if the Bible is clear and inerrant, shouldn’t all inerrantists agree on what the Bible says? Instead, there is a wide range of belief among inerrantists. Is that because they pick and choose or just understand the ‘inerrant’ passages differently?

How I Feel about these False Assumptions and Accusations

However, I don’t feel badly when these assumptions are expressed. I know they are not true, and I can understand an inerrantist’s need to explain my rejection of inerrancy—which can be quite puzzling to them. And I know that when these assumptions are made about me that I am in very good company. In addition, I don’t consider inerrantists to be my enemies. We will talk about that next time.

Jesus without Baggage exists to assist and support those questioning beliefs they have been taught in fundamentalist, traditional evangelical, and other groups. If you know someone who might find Jesus without Baggage helpful, feel free to send them the introductory page: About Jesus without Baggage.

Articles in this series:
Belief in Biblical Inerrancy Must be the Second Most Damaging, Misguided Christian Belief of All
Why Do Inerrantists Think the Bible is Inerrant Anyway?
How the Bible Actually Works by Peter Enns: a Book Review
Did Jesus Confirm the Inerrancy and Historicity of the Old Testament?
5 Common False Assumptions Inerrantists Make about Me as a Progressive Believer
Inerrantists are My Brothers and Sisters in Jesus—Not My Enemies

See also:
Books and Resources on Inerrancy


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47 Responses to 5 Common False Assumptions Inerrantists Make about Me as a Progressive Believer

  1. tonycutty says:

    You are very gentle and tolerant of these ‘questioners’, and for that you have my full admiration 🙂

    Most of these assumptions that you have raised on the inerrantists’ behalf are rooted in the typical black-and-white thinking of people at the ‘conventional’ phase in the stages of spiritual growth, where security is usually found in group agreement and in adherence to written doctrines, creeds and, of course, especially the Bible – or at least to their interpretation of the Bible, which ironically enough is not usually written down but instead is tacitly agreed. There is a blindness to the validity of anyone else’s belief systems, where these beliefs differ from their own, hence the 2Tim4 proof-texting. You do an admirable job of thinking from their points of view, a skill they could do well to learn themselves. Of course, you and I both know that the reason you show such understanding is that you have been in their place at one time. And I think there is a great deal of pure fear that they too could fall into similar ‘heresy’; if you could fall so far, so could they!

    I am so glad to be free of that fear and I am glad you are free of it too. Freedom is indeed everything it’s cracked up to be 😀

    Blessings as always bro.

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, thank you for the kind words about gentleness and tolerance. However, I do grow impatient in a conversation when a person keeps hitting at the same thing over and over when it is clear it is not working. It feels like badgering, and I try to get out of those situations as quickly as I can.

      Everything you said about inerrantists is true about the ones I have known or encountered, and that is a lot of people. I was one of them for a long time, as you say. I agree that freedom is much more beneficial in every way. I loved your slogan, you should turn it into a meme: “Freedom is indeed everything it’s cracked up to be.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. tonycutty says:

    And on the subject of cherry-picking, these believers will, in their turn, also cherry-pick the parts of the Bible that they like, too. Which, strangely enough, are usually the doom-and-gloom, horrible ‘vicious god’ passages and dire warnings about how people are going to suffer.

    Quite why people would want to cherry-pick such passages is beyond me; even as a fundamentalist, I tried to look at the light side as well as the dark. But the thing for me is that Gospel, which is how we translate the Greek word ‘Evangelion’, means Good News. Therefore, it makes sense to pay more attention to the verses that reinforce the idea of the Good News, rathe than the Bad News that these people seem to revel in so much.

    Everyone knows that anyone can twist Bible passages to say what they want them to say, and both ‘sides’ may well be guilty of that. This in fact shows that the Bible is not entirely inerrant; were it in fact so, there would be no latitude for such twisting. But the sad fact is that it seems to be Evangelicalism’s ironic bent, in these days, to try to qring every scrap of Bad News out of the Scriptures that they can. Why they then claim to be full of ‘joy’ is quite inexplicable, based on the Bad News they would prefer to believe.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, I totally agree. Someone could probably write a book on ‘Cherry-Picking through Leviticus’ And what about God’s plan for marriage: I have never seen a fundamentalist defend polygamy or taking young girls in plunder.

      The fundamentalist message IS bad news. And usually bad news leads to apprehension or even outright fear. The is much fear in fundamentalism.

      Liked by 1 person

    • fiddlrts says:

      Tony beat me too it. EVERYONE cherry picks. Even the most theonomic of Reconstructionists cherry pick. Even the ones who support polygamy and literal ownership of women. (If nothing else, they ignore anything remotely connected with economic justice in the Torah, the prophets, and the teachings of Christ.)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Assumption #5 is something I’ve heard so many times, but it’s easy to point out that pretty much everyone cherry picks here and there. It’s simple to show this by bringing up passages that still have no explanation in various theological formats, such as Calvinism (in which most of my family is deeply entrenched). They may answer the question about a certain passage, but they quickly see that they too pick and choose and bend verses completely out of shape.

    Personally, I’ve been working on not feeling the need to “proof text” anything. I think proof-texting is a disease in the Church that needs to be eradicated as it only leads to division and hate. Many Christians, myself included, tend to have pet verses that we use to defend what we believe, regardless of the depth and complexity of Scripture as a whole.

    I know that I disagree with you on the nature of Jesus, as I think the entire book of John was written to examine, but I still agree with you on midrash, even in John 1. Ancient peoples simply had different ways and habits, and we cannot judge or even completely understand them from our modern eyes. In John 1, it’s obviously a metaphor about another metaphor (Gen 1), though I think that its purpose was to point to Jesus as divine. Were words actually spoken in Gen 1? Probably not, though I’d point out that the Big Bang seems to indicate some sort of colossal explosion of creative force, light, love, and genius. I think Jesus was involved as the Logos of God, one part of a Being that we cannot understand.

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Prog, you say that we disagree on the nature of Jesus. But I don’t know that I have ever expressed my thoughts on the nature of Jesus on this blog. I agree with you about Genesis 1, but I think the passage from Proverbs 8 is more important to John’s introduction than even Genesis.

      Can you elaborate on your thoughts on the nature of Jesus and what you think my thoughts might be?


      • I was just referring to a comment you made on your midrash post. You mentioned that you saw Jesus more as a good man chosen to represent God on Earth. That post was several years old, so it may be even out of date as far as your personal evolution is involved.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Thanks, Prog. I got it now. I am sorry I was so unclear; I have never seen “Jesus more as a good man chosen to represent God on Earth.” Actually, I do not have a settled view on the nature of Jesus, though I do believe he is God’s son. But he could be God’s son from before creation or he could be God’s chosen son–which would be adoptionism. Both would be equally served by the Midrash on Proverbs 8.

          I plan to write more about Jesus’ relationship with God in a couple months or so. We’ll see.


    • Chas says:

      TPM, The logos was a concept produced by the Greek Stoic philosophers, and it referred to the Universal Reason, an impersonal force that brought about change in the universe. John seems to have reasoned that this force acted when God said’ Let the re be….’, and so comprised the words that God used. It seems that the purpose of John’s was to make a case for the church in the western part of the Roman empire having authority over the church in the east, because they were both trying to take authority over the other. John’s Gospel put forward arguments for the western view of the nature of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Steve D says:

    Just do as good as possible and be kind, no one’s death absolves bad behavior and or evil acts,if continuing with such behavior there will be a purging in the next realm.That isn’t what folks want to here but has reasoning and common sense to it,clean up your act if your doing wrong ask for forgiveness and move on but keep focused on doing good as much as humanly possible. Respect the environment also use but don’t abuse. Its all there in the plan of redemption, folks have the wrong ideas or religion views to understand it. Be open and Spirit will allow the process to begin
    to work within.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Steve, I like your emphasis on doing good as much as possible and also respecting the environment. I think it is also important to follow Jesus’ teaching and actions that we find in the gospels.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Chas says:

    Tim, in regard to your point 2, the more history you read, the more you realise that it is subjective, and thus dependent on the views of writer, and also on the sources that he/she chooses to believe. When we take account of the fact that the source documents that they have used are also subject to these same limitations, then the best we can expect from history is a good approximation to the truth. A further problem is a good deal of the OT is myth which has been assumed to be genuine history. On top of that, there have been many writers of what became the canon of the bible, who were writing for their own purposes, but were also having to take account of what had gone before. That in itself is inevitably going to cause problems.
    As to the reaction by inerrantists ‘if the bible is not inerrant, how can we be sure of any of it,’ my reply would be ‘that is entirely the point, we can’t be sure of any of it.’ Their reply should be ‘then what do you believe and how do you believe it?’ My response would be ‘go back to what you first heard, or read that made a big difference in your life (if there is more than one, go back to the most recent one) and consider what that was. Since that involved God, that is what you should continue to believe.’
    In regard to cherry picking, I agree with Tony, the inerrantists are as guilty of that as anyone else. They ignore passages that disagree with the point that they wish to make.
    My question is, since we know that the bible is not inerrant, shouldn’t our approach be to ask God what He/She wants us to understand from what we are reading, despite knowing that it might not be literally true.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Chas, you raise good points about history being subjective and the similar situations in approaching the Bible in addition to issues of genre. I also like your reply, ‘that is entirely the point, we can’t be sure of any of it.’ I do think we can come to some reasonable conclusions, though, especially about Jesus.

      I think you are right that inerrantists are often guilty of cherry-picking. I see it in conversations with them but usually do not bring it up because it would not likely be helpful and would just intensify the arguments with their denials.

      When I am trying to understand a portion of the Bible, I use a variety of tools–including being open to God’s leading.


    • theotherlestrangegirl says:

      Riley, I think Tim covered some good points about Evangelicals. But I wanted to add one more thing.

      The problem I have with Evangelicals is that they often (not always, but a lot) do it the wrong way. In fact, they do it completely backwards.

      Jesus evangelized all the time. When you read through the gospels, you’ll see him doing it almost constantly. But he didn’t do it the way modern Evangelicals do–by fervently preaching at people until they “get it” and then discarding them when they don’t.

      Jesus led with relationship first and message last. He offered nothing more than company and friendship, which shocked most people he encountered. Once he’d spent some time with them and gotten to know them, then he could easily deliver his message. Why? Because, by that point, they were enthralled with him and eager to hear what he had to say.

      A lot of Evangelicals try to lead with the message and only offer a future relationship, maybe, if the person responds how they want. That makes people feel used and unvalued.

      Evangelism is a million dollar industry. Just look at the amount of capital churches put into it. And yet, the return on investment is dismal. Evangelism is failing. And I believe it’s because Christians are doing it wrong and not like Jesus did at all.

      If you look at some surveys where non-believers are asked what they think of Christians, the answers are shocking. You’ll frequently see words like judgmental, cold, hypocritical, bad at friendship, etc.

      Why is it that Christians have this reputation when Jesus was quite the opposite? One of my favorite resources is the NALT (Not All Like That) Project, an organization that spreads the message that not all Christians are judgmental and cruel, as they are often perceived. And yet, isn’t it a shame that such an organization had to be started in the first place?

      Evangelism, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. It’s a very good thing. But I think it’s, more often than not, done incorrectly and that causes a lot of harm.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Chas says:

        theotherlestrangegirl, One of the problems with evangelism as many churches carry it out is that they are doing so without God’s guidance. Unless God is acting to influence people while we speak to them, all efforts on our part will be fruitless. We should speak to people about Jesus when a suitable opportunity arises, for example when a person brings up the subject of faith, God, or Jesus in our conversation with them. That is a sure sign that God is involved in the conversation.

        Liked by 2 people

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Strange Girl, you raise an excellent point. When I was involved in evangelical churches I was very active in ‘personal evangelism’, and I witnessed (no pun intended) the very thing you say–it was ‘save as many as you can as quickly as you can and then go on to the next one.’


  6. Riley Case says:

    Thanks for your thoughts. In response (I speak as an evangelical): Who specifically are the “inerrantists” you speak of? The evangelical world is a big tent and I am sure there are some who might call themselves inerrantists but that is not a preferred title. Be that as it may, allow me to pose a counter response: “Four false assumptions progressives make about me as an evangelical Christian: 1. Evangelicals are “literalists.” One might put “literalism” on a sliding scale. In other words some are more “literalists” than others. I know of no 100% literalists. Furthermore, in the fundamentalist world literalism historically was a distinction made by dispensationalists not over the matter so much as the Virgin Birth, but over matters such as whether “Israel” refers to the Jewish people today or to the Church. Literalist is a bad term. 2. Evangelicals are “inerrantists.” Related to literalism but not quite. The problem here is in part philosophical. The word inerrantist implies a kind of Greek philosophy which posits perfectionism and idealism. This is foreign to a Hebrew understanding of things. “Inerrantist” thinking leads to a kind of scientism in which things are proven by the test tube. The argument gets complicated here but accept the fact that the very word is a poor choice with which to carry on discussion. 3. Evangelicals do not believe in progressive revelation. Thus evangelicals want to quote Leviticus as somehow to be understand to mean that if we were consistent we would stone adulterers. In progressive revelation the world lives by the law of the jungle. But God reveals more and justice is introduced by way of the commandments. Then God reveals more and we are instructed that in the new community we live by, say, the Sermon on the Mount. 4. Evangelicals place other Bible teachings above the teachings of Jesus. Basically, many progressives object to dependence on the apostle Paul. The response is to be put in the context of the unfolding of revelation. The life and death and resurrection of Jesus requires interpretation and explanation and thus we need books like Galations and Romans to understand what really has been taking place. The problem evangelicals have with many (maybe most) progressives is that there is no clear understanding of Original Sin, Atonement and Salvation. Thus the distinction is blurred between saved and lost, or between heaven and hell. Thus, we end up with something less than Christianity as it has always been understood and taught since the time of the early church.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Riley, this is a really rich response. Thank you.

      You are right, of course, that Evangelicals are not one big unified body in their belief. In fact, there are some Evangelicals who are actually progressive believers. I even continued to call myself a theologically progressive Evangelical until the election of our current US President. My roots in Evangelicalism are strong.

      At various times I speak of fundamentalists, fundamentalist/evangelicals, and inerrantists depending on the issues at hand. In this series, I have been focusing on inerrancy. I was raised a strict inerrantist and continued so for many years. However, I did come to a point where I began to recognize various genres as different than literalism. I even came to accept evolution based on the study of Genesis.

      But the time came when I no longer embraced inerrancy at all–and it had to do with Paul. When I realized that Paul thought Adam was an historical person and was, therefore, not inerrant, I went into more than a year of existential anguish and the mourning of the loss of God before finding Jesus as the foundation of my belief rather than an inerrant Bible.

      Never-the-less, there are large pockets of Evangelicals that tend to be very inerrantist. You mentioned the literalism of dispensationalists; there is strong inerrancy in some significant Reformed circles, and so forth. And there is also ‘popular’ inerrancy held by more common people who are not necessary well educated theologically.

      When I make statements about inerrantists, I often modify them with ‘some’ or ‘many’ because I know not everyone is the same. I tend to address the practice of inerrancy more than inerrancy as a label.

      You said, “The problem evangelicals have with many (maybe most) progressives is that there is no clear understanding of Original Sin, Atonement and Salvation. Thus the distinction is blurred between saved and lost, or between heaven and hell.”

      Riley, I think I have a clear understanding of each of these issues–I just don’t believe they are biblical. I assume you refer to penal substitutionary atonement which was not even a doctrine until about 500 years ago. Most of the early church did not believe in any sort of eternal punishment in hell. And original sin is based on Paul’s reference to the non-historical story of Adam in the garden.

      Thank you sooo much for your comment; I really enjoyed reading it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Riley, I forgot to mention that I really like your four points.


    • Chas says:

      Riley, do you believe that the bible is inerrant?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Riley Case says:

        Like I said, I do not like the word “inerrantist” and never use it of myself. I believe the Bible is fully authoritative and that it contains everything necessary for salvation (as in Wesley). This means there is not new truth being revealed that cancels out anything in the Bible. My professor in seminary (William Hordern, from Garrett, whom I greatly respected) would talk about “propositional revelation,” meaning that the Bible is not just a witness or a record of God’s acts in history but is the inspired record (not that he believed that but he saw it as a legitimate position). In other words, the words themselves are tied in with the revelation. Peter Forsyth used the example of an act of parliament (he being British). Parliament passes a bill but it is not official, or does not have authority until properly recorded. Hebrew is poetic and inerrantist or literalist does not do justice to Hebrew thinking. If I quote the poem “Roses are red…etc.” it makes no sense to apply words like literal or inerrant to that poem. Not all roses are red, for example. The poem is communicating deeper truth than the color of roses or the sweetness of sugar.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Chas says:

          Riley, excuse me, but you have not answered my question. Let me put it another way. Do you believe that some parts of the bible contradict other parts. If they do, then the bible is not inerrant and cannot be God’s word, because God is perfect.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Riley Case says:

            Of course there are parts of the Bible that contradict other parts. There are different ways of looking at things and explaining things. So, we have four gospels. People used the thought patterns of the day. I don’t know how old Methuselah was but I am quite sure he was not 969 years old. Hebrews used numbers very different from the way we do. So kings ruled 40 years which basically means they ruled a long time. So the Hebrews wondered 40 years in the wilderness. So Jesus was tempted for 40 days and nights. So how did Judas die? There are two accounts. It could be that neither one is historically correct. The point is that Judas met a tragic death. When my sisters and I tell family stories incidents sometimes don’t even sound like the same event. When we are dealing with spiritual truth it is beyond us. Trying to explain heaven or hell is like trying to explain red to a blind man. We use pictures and images that will contradict each other. I am not bothered by “contradictions” because even the contradictions may be two ways, or ten ways, or pointing to truth. In your last sentence you say if there are contradictions the Bible is not God’s word because God is perfect. That is the wrong way to put the problem. I do not use the word “perfect” to refer to God. The word (as in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount) is better translated “mature,” or fulfilling the purpose God intended for it. The Hebrew word sedek (righteousness) does not mean perfection, or (and especially) self-righteousness, but acting (I am tempted to use the word “being” but again “being” is not a Biblical concept) in the way God intended. We do speak of a 3-year old as “perfect.” The 3-year old may be mature, or acting like 3-year olds are intended to act, but in reference to 3-year olds the word “perfect” makes no sense. Again, a lot of theology, both ancient and modern, has been affected by Greek philosophy and ways of thinking. This, by the way, applies to both liberals and conservatives. In fact, those who use the term “innerantists” are probably farther afield than many others. I believe (and I have heard others say also) the two groups that are most apt to get the Bible wrong are the extreme fundamentalists and the extreme progressives. The progressives want things to be logical, consistent, in harmony with science. When they appear not to be they don’t examine their own approach to the Bible, but simply declare the Bible wrong, or inadequate, or not really God’s word. They don’t blame their own presuppositions. I go back to what I think is the real issue: propositional revelation. The words of the Bible, or the words of God, are an integral part of the Word of God.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Riley, you raise some really good points here.


  7. Joe says:

    I do not consider myself a progressive Christian, (I also do not consider myself a Conservative Christian – although I am Catholic). But I think your message here is an important one for Christians of all types. For some reason we have not learned from 500 years (or more if you include the split of Orthodox an Catholic) of fighting and calling everyone who disagrees with us Heretics.

    The notion that we must accept everything in the bible or we are Cherry picking, or in my case everything the church teaches (whatever that might mean) or we are a cafeteria Catholic and doomed is not healthy or biblical. People come up with all sorts of things to say you must believe all of this (whatever it is) or you are not Christian. The thing is if you read the bible you do not see Jesus saying the holy Spirit allowed divorce as written in scripture therefore it is inerrant that and never to be questioned. Who did Jesus say allowed divorce?

    I mean this is just one of so many many many times Jesus warns against overly legalistic concerns about scripture – woman in adultery, Beatitudes, he even boiled down scripture for us
    “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
    Matthew 22:37-40

    I mean you would think Jesus said “you must believe every word of scripture in a literal sense or you are doomed!”

    I just think those who ascribe to extreme inerrancy could not have possibly read the same Gospels I am reading.

    The sad thing for me is hearing people like Bart Ehrman, who was taught at the moody bible school, say he was pulled away from the faith because he realized the mustard seed was not in fact the smallest seed. I can only shake my head in wonder how Christianity could become so distorted.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Joe, thanks for introducing me to a new concept–cafeteria Catholics. I was not previously aware of that terminology, though I thought I understood right away what it meant. So I had to look it up. Yep, just what I thought. I am sure if I were Catholic I would be a cafeteria Catholic.

      You mentioned: ‘I mean you would think Jesus said “you must believe every word of scripture in a literal sense or you are doomed!”’ Wouldn’t that be a great archaeological find for inerrantists! But, just like inerrancy itself, it is wishful thinking.

      You are right, of course, that believers have been call other believers ‘heretics’ since the first centuries of the church. This has led to mass exclusions and even death. That ain’t right! We can disagree without getting hateful and violent about it.

      By-the-way, many years ago I was shocked to discover that the mustard seed was not the smallest seed.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Joe says:

        Yes you would indeed be accused of being a cafeteria Catholic! (It is supposed to be derogatory term, but what can we do other than our best?)

        I have to say that finding people who literally have quibblings about the size of a mustard seed shake their beliefs in Jesus greatly saddens me. After all of his teachings about not being driven by minutia that people would actually reject the faith over something like this makes me think they must not have actually understood much of what Jesus said in the Gospel at all.

        I am pretty sure our entry into heaven is not dependent on how we answer this question: “what is the smallest seed?”

        Liked by 2 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Joe: “I am pretty sure our entry into heaven is not dependent on how we answer this question: “what is the smallest seed?” True, but for some the real question is ‘Is the Bible trustworthy?’ If Jesus is wrong about mustard seeds, then what else might be wrong. I admit, though, that this is a bit extreme even for inerrantists–most would not see this as an issue.

          Liked by 1 person

        • tonycutty says:

          The real questions for entry into Heaven are these:

          “What is your name?”
          “What is your quest?”
          “What is the unladen airspeed of a swallow?”

          – With thanks to Monty Python…. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

      • Chas says:

        Tim, one of the most useful things to know about mustard seeds is that they can remain in the ground for at least 20 years before germinating, which tells us we need patience when we are waiting for God to take action. (It might not be generally known that mustard seeds can take that long to germinate, but my Dad knew of fields where no mustard was sown in the years after WWII, but mustard was still growing in those fields from time to time during the 1960s – that was probably dependent on seeds being brought near the surface during plowing – from this we can learn that other actions might be needed before God takes any action when we are waiting for Him/Her to do so).

        Liked by 1 person

      • fiddlrts says:

        Forget the size of the seed: the most obvious issue (at least to someone who is horticulturally inclined) is that mustard is not a tree. No way, no how. It is an annual herb (in the scientific sense) that can get to 8 feet tall here in California, and has brilliant yellow flowers that brighten our hillsides in good years, but it isn’t a tree. And while birds do indeed perch on them (say, Redwinged Blackbirds), none would be so silly as to actually build a nest in one. I figured that out when I was single digits. So clearly something wasn’t right. Was it a translation issue? A different meaning of mustard back then (was it made from a different plant?), a parable which was misrembered or embellished? Or just an error.

        (BTW, didn’t make me lose my faith. Just started me on the path of treating the Bible as a human book with human flaws.)

        Liked by 2 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Fiddlrts, thanks for the insights. I don’t think I have ever seen a mustard tree (or big herb). They are outside my personal experience.


        • Chas says:

          fidlrts, To argue about whether or not it is a tree is as pointless as arguing about the size of the seed. We do not know what the writer would have defined as a tree in his time. We are putting a modern interpretation on something that is long past.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Chas says:

          fiddlerts, The problem with both the size of its seed and whether or not mustard is a tree is that we are applying modern definitions and knowledge. The writher would have thhought that the seed was the smallest, and mustard might have been thought of as a tree to him. What matters, as has been shown in several points made above, the fact that we know it is not the smallest seed shows that the text was not inspired by God, as only He/She can knows what the smallest seed really is.

          Liked by 1 person

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