We fundamentalists have been getting a bad press lately. Worse, if our critics ever omit to charge us with spreading everything from galloping dandruff to rampant Republicanism, one of us will almost certainly disengage his brain, open his mouth, and launch some stupendous piece of verbal folly. Such was the recent unbiblical statement that God does not hear the prayers of Jews. If he doesn’t, there may be hope for those who read the Bible selectively (the great Thomas Jefferson kept his scissors busy; I believe he is now better advised).

Now, my fundamentalism is not that of the cover-to-cover Bible believer. It’s worse. I believe the cover, too: Holy Bible, Biblia Sacra, Die Heilige Schrift, La Sainte Bible. The holiness of these books is not a matter of my predilection, inclination, or choosing, and needs my affirmation no more than it suffers from the skeptic’s negation. It is fact.

I believe the Bible to be the written Word of God himself (the pronoun’s gender is not of my choosing; he could have elected to be the Mother of his children; his actual choice may emphasize the special blessedness all women share and convey to those of us men who by his grace can perceive it). Patently, the God who is himself Truth has no countenance for a lie.

I further believe his Spirit spoke to the Bible authors in words, since the human mind, at least in this life, has no other vehicle for ideas. And since we, like his other creatures, are fallible, he has taken special pains to create in his chosen the best possible hearers, keepers, and spreaders of his Word. The long, hard course in holiness God gave the Jews includes a meticulous care in the minutiae of scholarly toil, a diligence rooted in awful love.

Of course there have been scribal ...

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