Monday, December 05, 2011

Citing Uninspired Text as Inspired

Reading through the Biblical book of Job, I had a thought.

Most of the book relates the back-and-forth arguments between four people. These arguments often contain tidbits that strike us as wise or true, and we might be tempted to quote these tidbits as God-inspired Truth. For example:

HCSB Job 18:18 He is driven from light to darkness and chased from the inhabited world. ...21 Indeed, such is the dwelling of the wicked, and this is the place of the one who does not know God.
But the gist of the whole book is that these men don't know what they're talking about; they're humans, grappling with the issue of evil in the world, trying to make sense of it. But in the end it's revealed that they simply don't have the answers.

So when we quote these passages as God-given Truth, we're making a mistake. We're quoting fallible humans who don't know what they're talking about, and calling it God's message. This is not God's message to us, but rather Man's guesswork.

We do the same thing with the healed man in John 9; we cite his statement that "God doesn't listen to sinners" (v. 31) as if this is a truth from God. It may indeed be true, but it's a message from a mere uninspired man; we should not quote it as an inspired message from God.

Likewise, even though we know the centurion at the cross spoke truth when he stated that Jesus really was the Son of God (Mark 15:39), we should not cite him as an inspired speaker of God's word.

Obvious examples could also be given, such as when the Assyrians came against Jerusalem and said that Israel's God could not save them from the Assyrians (2 Kings 19:9-13). We know not to cite this passage as inspired Truth, for whereas we know it's true that the words were spoken, we also know the words that were spoken were not true.

The problem is that when we find something we want to be true, we're willing to cite it as God-inspired Truth, even if it, like the obvious non-truth above, is uttered by a non-inspired speaker.

Conclusion: Just because the text is recorded in the Bible by inspiration, that doesn't mean the text is inspired Truth, and we should not cite it as such.

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