Last Saturday night, I was listening to the Coast-to-Coast AM radio show hosted by Ian Punnett. His guest, “Bible expert” Dr. Bart Ehrman, represented a new breed of theologian who dismissed the inerrancy of Holy Scripture by pointing out discrepancies in its stories, discrepancies that often pass unnoticed to the causal reader.
Dr. Ehrman has written several successful books addressing these inconsistencies.
For instance, it was pointed out in the interview that Scripture contains TWO creation stories, which were irreconcilably different. They certainly are different.
Because of these inconsistencies, the guest theologian has surmised that these various interpretations of events must have been the logical result of different authors, often separated by hundreds of years, expressing their subjective points of view.
The bottom line is that the stories of Scripture were not the result of direct communications from God in heaven to those on earth who penned these accounts.
What I found amusing (if not laughable) was that the guest author seemed to think that the academic world had a better sense of what is ontologically real than those with simple faith. I am not merely defending the historical accuracy of Scripture but rather its sacred inerrancy. Factual history and biblical inerrancy are two different issues.
“Huh?” you say.
Enter scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg. He discovered that Holy Scripture is a multi-dimensional document and that a proper interpretation requires the human mind to make distinct jumps in cognitive function. In other words, the literal interpretation of Scripture and the issue of salvation (soteriology) offer more than meets the eye—even a scholarly eye.
Swedenborg pointed out that since God’s Word had its origins in heaven, the literal meaning of its stories were derived from an a priori spiritual world, which is not under the constraints of spacetime laws. In other words, the narratives of Scripture, on a deeper fundamental level, contain ontological abstraction by which physical and worldly qualities correspond to and are analogs of non-material spiritual realities.
Swedenborg devoted many volumes to interpreting these higher meanings within God’s Holy Word, including Genesis, Exodus and Revelation (with various references to the Gospels).
The Bible contains two creation stories because the first version addresses, symbolically, the spiritual evolution of humankind. The simple phrase “Let there be light,” when interpreted from its psycho-spiritual equivalent, means let there be “understanding.” The second version of creation addresses humankind’s fall. When interpreted spiritually, the Garden of Eden depicts a psychoscape and represents a state of wisdom reached by humans who followed the precepts of divine order. Their removal from Eden was not a physical event—it was their removal from wisdom.
A psychoscape is the inner “turf” of one’s heart and mind. It is the “theater” of human dispositions and choices, which are a person’s true spirit.
Swedenborg claimed that those who are the most educated often have a harder time accepting and raising their cognitive function to embrace the higher levels of meaning in Scripture than the faithful and the simple.
Swedenborg encouraged more creativity in biblical interpretation—not from radical pluralism but from the precise science of correspondences. My new book Proving God will not only address the issues of biblical interpretation in a post-modern world, but show how science and theology can be unified by a more profound understanding of the spiritual dynamics intrinsic to God’s Holy Word and its sacred architecture.
And yes, my new book will address the important question of why we suffer.