Scripture Inerrancy, Literalism, and Pres Veazey

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Prophet/President, Community of Christ

Prophet/President, Community of Christ

There are those (especially among Evangelicals) who believe that the Bible is inerrant and literal.  For example a scriptural literalist will claim that Noah’s flood covered the entire earth.  A non-literalist may say that the flood was merely a large localized flood.

Pres. Stephen Veazey is the prophet for the Community of Christ, and he gave a sermon on scriptural literalism.  The videos can be found on the CoC website, and this quote comes from Chapter 4.  Let me quote from Pres. Veazey directly:

Scripture is authoritative, not because it is perfect, or inerrant in every literal detail, but because it reliably keeps us grounded in God’s revelation.  And here is the heart of our challenge:  over the last several centuries, a doctrine of scripture emerged in Christianity that insists that all scripture, every single word, was directly dictated by God, and is inerrant in every detail.  This belief emerged as a response to the questioning of religious authority from those who held that human reason alone was the most reliable pathway to truth.  So a doctrine of scripture emerged that enshrined the literal words of scripture as inerrant and as the sole authority on all matters.

This view still dominates much of global Christianity today.  It also strongly influences more than a few members of the Community of Christ who have adopted it from the larger religious culture.  However, that doctrine, that view of scripture is not how scripture was understood in Christianity since its birth.  It’s not how Jesus Christ used and viewed scripture.  And it is not how the community of Christ officially views scripture today.

The church affirms that scripture is inspired, indispensable, essential to our knowledge of God, and the Gospel.  In addition, we believe that scripture should be interpreted responsibly, through informed study, guided by the Holy Spirit working in and through the church.  Scripture was formed by the community of faith to shape the community of faith, therefore, interpreting scripture is the constant work of the faith community.  Community of Christ also stresses, that all scripture must be interpreted through the lens of God’s most decisive revelation in Jesus Christ

So if portions of scripture don’t agree with our fullest understanding, of the meaning of the revelation of God in Christ, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit, and discerned by the faith community, the teachings and vision of Christ take precedence.  This principle applies to all of our books of Scripture, especially any passages by some to categorically assign to God’s disfavor, or negative characteristics, or secondary roles to others.

This is why our belief in continuing revelation is so important.  This belief keeps us open to yet more light and truth so we can grow and understand of God’s supreme will as revealed in Jesus Christ.  Doctrine and Covenants 163:70 states, “Scripture, prophetic guidance, knowledge and discernment must walk hand in hand to reveal the true will of God.”  Follow this pathway, which is the way of the living Christ, and you will discover more than sufficient light for the journey ahead.”

I find tremendous agreement with the CoC position.  What are your thoughts?  Do you lean for or against scriptural literalism?