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Upholding the word of God | Federal Way letters, March 4
This is in response to Chuck Hastings' letter "Clarifying a fanatical letter in Federal Way" (Feb. 18).
He said that "Contrary to Matson's assertions, the Bible was not written all at once and dropped upon humanity like a thunderclap." I take issue with his premise. My wife did not say that it was written all at once, but rather that "it is a book written once in time that will stand eternally; it cannot be manipulated or changed by either God or man."
Her point is that God inspired men in times past to write the Bible; that it is his word, not man's; that man does not have the right to make changes; and that God has said he does not intend to.
It is the doctrine of inerrancy — the belief that the Bible in its original form is God-inspired and therefore true — that establishes scripture as the authoritative guide for what is morally right and wrong.
Mr. Hastings, however, does not approve of the doctrine of inerrancy, and I know that there are many thoughtful men and women who share his view. But I wonder what it is you have left without this doctrine? Is it the word of God or is it not? I don't think that it can be his word only in part, for how then would we determine which are the God-inspired parts, and which are simply the opinions of men?
If I believed that the Bible contains error, then I would be inclined to classify the warm and fuzzy parts about grace, love, mercy and forgiveness as God-inspired, and the more difficult passages about the fall of man, the ugliness of sin, God's judgment and wrath, and eternal death as mere musings. If you are a Christian who ascribes to this notion, then you can have no good explanation at all for this messy business about Christ's bloody death on a cross as an atoning sacrifice.
The point of all this is not to blast Rev. Sharp, but to uphold God's word. Whether or not you think that the Bible is inerrant, pretend for a moment that you do and consider the implications. If the Bible is true, then it is clear that God hates all sin. Sin is intentional disobedience to God, and as Christians we are called by God to denounce sin and call men to repentance. Since Rev. Sharp acts as a minister of God's word, he must (I hope) believe that at least some actions are abhorrent to God and worthy of denunciation. Murder, for instance. Rev. Sharp will find ample justification in the Bible for the view that murder is sin. But what is the foundation on which he stands? In other words, what is his authority if he does not accept what God has to say concerning other actions that are clearly regarded as sin by the Bible? If Rev. Sharp can pick and choose only those verses in the Bible that suit him, then he is no longer teaching from the word of God, but rather from a designer Bible that should be renamed "The Word of Rev. Sharp."
As to Hastings' suggestion that my wife, Shelly, is fanatical, and that her letter reflects an attitude of extremist fundamentalism: Well if so, it's a very mild case. Or perhaps his definition broadly applies to anyone who disagrees with him.
Leif Matson, Federal Way