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Doctrinal Statements and Bible Use

A friend e-mailed me about a post which caught my attention. It seems that a blogger wanted to use the feed of the ESV Bible from the official web site, but found that the terms of service required him to accept a doctrinal statement first (relevant links are in his entry).

Personally, I think that the blogger, Kevin Wilson, was pretty nice about the whole thing. He’s correct, of course, that they have the right to make any terms of service they wish. But the fact that they do have a doctrinal statement in their terms of service does lead me to ask something about the priority of doctrine over scripture–or the reverse.

Personally, I’m convinced that getting people to read the Bible for themselves is a good thing. For one thing, there’s nothing like exposure to actual Bible passages in context to convince one that inerrancy isn’t a very viable approach. (Yes, I know that intelligent, educated people agree with me. They’ll say that I’m wrong, and I say that they’re wrong, which is as it should be.) Further, however, I do believe that the Holy Spirit works through the study of scripture in reaching individual minds. So I’m not even content with Wilson’s acceptance that one might not want the service used on a site that mocked the Bible.

What better benefit could a site have than to have multiple links back to their own work from sites that opposed them? Who do they want to have reading their Bible? Perhaps this is the true confirmation of what I keep hearing from some defenders of the ESV–it was not really designed to be understood by unchurched people, so the doctrinal statement makes sure that readers will know the language into which the ESV is translated.

But I suspect it’s more likely simply that this is an attack of random exclusivism. The site provides a translation for people who agree with them. Surely people who don’t believe in inerrancy and the several other doctrines they list will not even be able to comprehend the Bible anyhow, so what good would it be to them?

Personally, I’m going to keep advocating easily read translations that are made as widely available as possible. It just seems like the Christ-like thing to do.

This leads me to ask something about the priority of doctrine over scripture.

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  1. Yes, it applies only to the feed. That’s odd. Perhaps there is a difference of opinion, or perhaps the standard license is intended to be close to “fair use” restrictions.

    Nonetheless, I find it odd.

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