A young man decided that his understanding of the Bible and inspiration was deficient. He determined to come to some firm conclusions about it and have answers to some of the problems he had encountered. He made an appointment with Brother Adams to discuss the matter.
“Brother Adams,” he opened, “I’ve heard people say the Bible doesn’t have any errors, but then someone asks me about contradictions between some of the Gospel accounts, and I have to admit that they seem contradictory. Others have thrown in my face some of Jesus’ statements about Abraham’s bosom and Hades being literal places in the earth and how unscientific that is. I just don’t know how to answer and defend the Bible.”
Brother Adams smiled knowingly. “You’re trying to defend too much, my young friend. You must understand that the Bible is a product of ancient oriental culture. Many of the cultural aspects of that day are obviously unacceptable today. We know there’s no compartment in the earth where souls might be held. What you should emphasize to people is the spiritual trustworthiness of the Bible. Help them to look beyond the cultural vehicle used to communicate the truth, and see the real spiritual meaning. Do you understand?”
The young man thought he did and thanked Brother Adams as he made his exit. On his way home, though, more questions came to mind. If the Bible had certain cultural prejudices, how could you trust it on issues like the relationship of men and women, or creation, or even salvation? Who was to say that salvation wasn’t just a cultural concept of that day that was no longer applicable for us today? Who was to determine the spiritual meaning behind that concept? Perhaps the Church could claim to interpret the spiritual reality behind cultural words. Maybe that was the solution.
When he reached his house he began delving into his history and theology books. It didn’t take him long to realize that there was no consensus whatever about even so basic a doctrine as salvation. Everybody had a different view of the spiritual reality of sin and forgiveness. No, this idea of “cultural inspiration” didn’t seem to be satisfactory. The young man realized he had better ask some more questions. He made an appointment to see Dr. Beal.