Articles you need to know about, summarized in 60 seconds (or less).
The Article: The Bible Meets the Modern Age: A Conversation with Former President Jimmy Carter
The Source: Transcript from the radio program Thinking in Public
The Author: Interview by Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
The Gist: Corresponding with the release of the NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter, Rev. Mohler talks to the “world’s most famous Sunday School teacher” about his view of the Bible.
I think all of the Bible is divinely inspired, but it was interpreted, God’s message was interpreted, by fallible human beings, who were constrained by their knowledge of facts about the universe, for instance, when they wrote. God, who created everything, knew that the size of stars and God knew that the earth was not the center of the universe. And when the Bible says that the stars would fall on earth as though they were little twinkling things, obviously that’s not factual. And so I believe the basic thrust of the Bible, the basic message of the Bible, is epitomized in the life of Christ and in the teachings of Jesus Christ. And I also believe that there is nothing in the Old Testament that contradicts the basic teachings of Christ for peace, justice, humility, love and so forth, and each person’s proper relationship with other human beings and also a relationship with God. So I believe in the miracles of the Bible. I believe that Jesus was come from a virgin birth. I believe Christ died for our sins on the cross. I believe He was resurrected and that we are promised, if we have faith in Christ through the grace of God, that we will inherit eternal life. I believe that God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son. I believe those things, but I know that there are some things as a scientist—my background is in nuclear physics—there’re some things that weren’t understood by the writers of the Bible. I just ignored those discrepancies as insignificant.
The Bottom Line: Mohler does a commendable job highlighting President Carter’s basic decency, concern for humanity, and appreciation of Scripture. But Carter exhibits a surprisingly underdeveloped and immature view of the Bible for a man who has spent nearly 80 years studying God’s Word. As Mohler notes, Carter “holds to what in the twentieth century would be defined as a neo-orthodox understanding of Scripture.” The former president seems to have been more influenced by theological fads of the last century (he counts Paul Tillich as one of his favorite theologians) than by the scholars of his own Southern Baptist tradition.
YSK Rating: Skim-worthy. While the lengthy interview (9,500) will be of interest to fans of President Carter, many readers will be dismayed that his unorthodox views on Scripture will considered representative of evangelicalism.