When Interpretation Fails or, Trump-eting Greatness?

Evangelicals are the biggest Liberals. So says David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw. They take up a discussion of Inerrancy and Evangelicals at one point during the conversation. Maybe they are being provocative. Maybe not.

The Word Became Fallible?, the recent episode of Fitch and Holsclaw’s Theology on Mission podcast is shock full of Tweet-able lines. Here is one,

Our interpretation must bear the burden of yielding the fruit of a compelling life.


We will know our interpretation off when it fails to manifest the fruits of the Spirit.

The Burden of Yielding Fruit

Recently the real story behind the early retirement of the President of a Baptist college stirred the passions of my friend, Dave Miller. Originally the reasons for the retirement did not include the existence of a video where the, then President’s, son video’d his Dad tucking his shirt in after an apparent tryst, and appearing disheveled, while another woman hid. Hello Youtube.

Seven months later it appears the fact had been covered up. Miller refers to this as the Tubbs Miller method of sin management.

Will you forgive me in advance for this illustration? Before our dog (Tubbs) took the one-way trip the vet, he would go into the back yard to do his business. After he was done he would turn around and kick and scratch a little to cover over what he’s done. A couple of blades of grass and a little dirt – that’s all. I never understood why. Did he think kicking a little dirt and grass on the “mound” would hide it?

Jason, another friend, and I shared a very brief FB Messenger conversation when I learned of the news. My line of thinking was that this demonstrates the vacuity of inerrancy. Jason may have disagreed.

Some Conservatives still suggest that when Liberals gave up on the idea of Inerrancy it was a slippery slope to the acceptance of everything and the loss of a moral compass. I remember hearing these arguments in the early 1980’s when I entered college.

Inerrancy does not ensure any behavior. Personal integrity does not derive from a position on Inerrancy. Insisting on adherence as a means to maintain faithfulness is a rouse. Fitch describes Inerrancy as an empty signifier for Evangelicals in his book, The End of Evangelicalism.

At some point some may begin to take him seriously. Until then, we will continue to see the way Inerrancy fails to provide an interpretation that secures the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit. We are asking and expecting a word to do too much.

Worship the Theory

Fitch is not done, not by any stretch. He contends Inerrancy was birthed in an environment where someone outside the community, read the Church, set the agenda for what constitutes authority for modern sensibilities. Once a theory outside the Text is used to support the theory of the authority of the Text results in a shift of subject, if we could see it. Fitch summarizes Stanley Hauerwas,

If I need a theory of truth to believe the bible, why would I not worship that theory?

Outsourcing an understanding of authority seems odd to a group of people who tout the sufficiency of Scripture. No?

Maybe there is a very visible illustration.

I continue to be struck by the support Donald Trump receives from Evangelicals.

Trumpet-ing Greatness

Yes. I did it. No. I cannot get those ten minutes back. I watched Sarah Palin interview The Donald. It is where I learned there were Trumpet-eers. Appealing to the need to make America great again, Palin pointed to those who were Trumpet-ing their support for The Donald.

What became real odd was the way they took off on a brief discussion of the question posed to Trump regarding his favorite Bible verse. If you have not seen the meme #TrumpBible, you really should take a minute and Google some of the responses. Palin and Trump both downplayed the question while both talked about the Bible as exceedingly important.

Let the irony sink in.

How would it be that Evangelicals with such a stated high view of the Scriptures could not find this problematic?

I guess the same way Evangelicals still maintain that Inerrancy is the surety of a compelling life.

Let me recommend you subscribe to Theology on Mission.

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About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

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