A critical point of Christian doctrine is that the Bible is God’s word. Each Christian falls somewhere on a sliding scale from 100% inerrancy and factual correctness on the right, to the schmoozy left side where people think that the Bible is just a vague guideline that we should follow “in spirit.”
But everyone who is on the scale at all believes that the Bible is a “magic book” on some level. For me personally, once I came to the conclusion that the Bible was not “God inspired,” my faith quickly unraveled.
Enter Bart Ehrman. He grew up—as I did—believing in the Bible, and went—as I did—to seminary. He studies at the Moody Bible Institute. I have some friends there (who are undergoing their own de-conversion) and I’m familiar with the school. It is extremely conservative. But Mr. Ehrman when to Princeton Theological Seminary, which is notoriously liberal. Ehrman’s faith—which depended upon the inerrancy of scripture, did not survive. Now he is an agnostic, and has written a book: “Jesus, Interrupted.” Here’s a quote:
“It turned out the liberals actually had something to say and had evidence to back it up; they weren’t simply involved in destructive wishful thinking. There were some books, such as the Gospels, that had been written anonymously, only later to be ascribed to certain authors who probably did not write them (apostles and friends of the apostles). Other books were written by authors who fl at out claimed to be someone they weren’t.”
“… if Matthew and John were both written by earthly disciples of Jesus, why are they so very different, on all sorts of levels?”
Why indeed? If God sent the Bible as a message to us, why did he make them look so suspiciously fallible and un-divine? Why would he create us with Brains the size of a cantaloupe, and make us smart enough to analyze his magic book and find it no more inspired than anything else written in the bronze age? Why couldn’t he have delivered to us a book that looked like loving, perfect God wrote it? Did he purposefully muddle it up so that only people who aren’t very rationally oriented would be able to spend eternity in heaven with him? Why would he send us a message that is fraught with inaccuracies and inconsistencies, then put us in hell for not believing it?
Answer: He didn’t, and he won’t. The Bible was written by, and was inspired by, mere mortals. There is nothing divine about the book, and there is no big loving guy up in heaven who is going to throw you into hell for not stepping in line.