Excerpted from Robert D. Brinsmead. "Living by the Bible." The Christian Verdict, essay 23 (1985)
Many earnest Christians today are uneasy about the findings of modern scholarship. But biblical scholarship, particularly since World War II, has made amazing progress in the study of the Bible. Advances in biblical understanding in the last fifty years exceed all advances made in the previous nearly two thousand years of Christian history.
Four contributions of biblical scholarship should be emphasized:
1. Biblical scholarship has made it abundantly clear that the Bible is not inerrant. It contains numerous mundane mistakes and inconsistencies... perhaps the mistakes are a protection against bibliolatry, a defense against a religion of the letter.
2. Biblical scholarship has also made it abundantly clear that we have no accurate, direct access to the historical Jesus. Even that history is seen through a glass darkly. There are historical discrepancies in the four Gospels. They do not constitute a biography. The records that we have of the life of Christ are from second and third generation witnesses. We are cut off from direct historical access.
3. There is no homogeneous body of teaching in Scripture. Rather, there is diversity. There are tensions. There are different points of view.
4. Scholarship has clearly demonstrated that despite all the professions of living a life controlled by the Bible, no one does it anyway.
Comment: cleaning out the garage can be fraught with unexpected consequences. Like discovering a pile of ancient publications you'd half forgotten. Bob Brinsmead was one of the main influences on my thinking back in the eighties, providing the intellectual grunt to put fundamentalism far behind me. There were other good reasons, of course, to leave an arrogant, hierarchic sect; but without Verdict (in its various incarnations) I'd probably just have settled down in another related group - hopefully one that was less abusive, hypocritical and manipulative.
How does Bob hold up after all these years? Well, life is growth, and most of us have (hopefully!) had a few new thoughts - and I'm pretty sure Bob himself has moved on in new directions. Nonetheless I'm intrigued to find that there's a lot that I can still utter a heartfelt 'amen' to. As I work my way through the pile I'll post an occasional item.
For a sample of the Brinsmead style here's a 34 minute YouTube time trip back to 1985.