Football: Handmaid to Hermeneutics

How I wish that you could have seen the play! We were behind the perennial powerhouse Port Arthur Yellow Jackets 13 to 7 with seconds left in the fourth quarter. Now a junior in high school, I had my only real chance to beat these giants on our home field at Beaumont High. After a holding penalty (if we had a rope available we would have been justified in using it on these behemoths), it looked hopeless. Third down and twenty from our own fifteen. Taking the snap from center, I retreated to the seven. While Bill Lindsey, my wide receiver, tried to shake the Yellow Jacket posse on a post pattern, I ducked Leviathan and Atlas, who both charged with apparent intent to end my career on the gridiron. That was when I saw Lindsey break open running for his life. I do not think that I ever threw a J5V that far before or after, but 5,000 frenzied fans nearly assassinated the bleachers as Lindsey hauled in the throw and raced for the heavy white line.

Ah, me. I relive it every Fall in my mind. Unfortunately, we did not get it on film. As a matter of fact, the thrilling event exists only in my fantasy. You see, the Fall of my junior year I quit football to circumnavigate the globe and preach in thirteen countries. After watching game film and really top quarterbacks, I had concluded that even if I were at best an average preacher, my future lay there rather than in pro football.

But please do not be too hard on me for leading you on. Embellished football thrilling moments are a common genre today. These accounts are widely disseminated and generally accepted. And besides, spinning this yarn helped me hook you into reading what I need you to read, so in a sense it is even true. But you will surely protest that I deceived you and now my credibility is at stake, so who knows whether the junket around the world is even true.

Recently, from the pen of a Southern Baptist philosopher came the allegation that Matthew embellished the account when he recorded in his Gospel that after the resurrection of Jesus, Old Testament saints appeared to some in Jerusalem (Matt. 27:51-53). The author explained that he still believed in the inerrancy of the Bible, even though Matthew manufactured a false account. Ostensibly the genre was familiar to most in that day, so Matthew is reliable even though he spun a whopper.

If a scholar cannot prove that his theory is correct (and in this case he certainly cannot), why risk damage to the body of Christ and to the souls of the lost by hatching a theory that the Bible contains error, even though it somehow remains true.

Let’s be clear. A story, an affirmation, is either true or false, but not both true and false in the same way at the same time. That is a long accepted law of logic, and no amount of fudging can make it change. While I have no reason to question the sincerity of the author and while only God can judge his heart, Southern Baptists paid far too great a price to insist on the truthfulness of God’s Word to now be lured by a fresh emergence of the priesthood of the philosopher, especially when a philosopher raises a question about the truthfulness of Scripture.

And here is a good idea. If a scholar cannot prove that his theory is correct (and in this case he certainly cannot), why risk damage to the body of Christ and to the souls of the lost by hatching a theory that the Bible contains error, even though it somehow remains true. By what criteria do we discern what is and is not reliable? Southern Baptists have declared that the Bible is truth without mixture of error. This is no time to forfeit that doctrine.