If errantists judge the Scripture by modern sensibilities, which ones do they use? They can use ones in their particular church, but don't they go to that church because it largely believes as they do? And do they actually agree with one another anyway? If they did not agree on what was and wasn't a true picture of who God, Jesus, the gospel, what God requires of us, etc. actually is in the Bible, don't they simply employ the same method against each other that they employed against the Bible, i.e., unbelief?
In other words, isn't the final arbiter of truth the self in errancy (true errancy that must determine what theology and ethics in Scripture are true and good as opposed to others that are false and evil)? If that's true, and the errantist holds to some things that are also in orthodox Christianity and others that are of his own intellections, should he really consider himself a Christian anymore?
Let me explain it this way. Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Arians, Gnostics, Muslims, Hindus, the New Age movement, Masons, Branch Davidians, the People's Temple, and even that crazy cult where the guy says he's Jesus and sleeps with all of the women who follow him, including his son's wife, all incorporate what they think is true from the Bible and reject what they think is false or in error. The cult leader is the one who determines what is what. He is led by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the divine light within him, his experiences with God, his advanced study of the Scriptures, to conclude rightly against the text when it is wrong and correctly with the text when it is right.
All cults are biblical errantists, whether because the Bible is just a record of man's experiences and theological speculations about God, or because it isn't translated and interpreted as well as the cult leader can translate and interpret it. But every one of these cults and religions incorporates something of God from the Bible, something of Jesus from the Bible, something of the gospel from the Bible, something of the ethics of the Bible. What they don't do is incorporate all of it, lest the authority of the leader be wiped out. Who needs to listen to a guy who is more fallible than the Scripture. We would just go to the Scripture then to get our views of God, Jesus, the gospel, and Christian ethics. No need for the cult.
This brings me to the errantist. If he is the one who ultimately must decide for himself what is true and false, what is good and evil, in biblical teaching, then how is he different from any other cultic or non-Christian religious movement that merely uses alternate sources of authority to distinguish the spirits within the Bible itself?
I can see only one difference, and that is that he uses the self, rather than a cult leader, to do the same that the cult leader does. He just removes the middle man. He is his own cult, his own religion.
Which brings me to my next point. Why call himself a "Christian" when he is really a follower of himself, incorporating Christianity where he sees fit and rejecting the rest where he doesn't agree with it? I understand that most cults will call themselves "Christian," but maybe he should identify himself as something else, something that fits his religion better. Perhaps, he can just use his own name and put an "anity" after it?
But my real question is why his approach to the Bible is any less different than that of a cult, who sees the Bible as erroneous and an external source to the Bible reliable enough to judge where it is erroneous and where it is true?
Our generation has less a problem with cult leaders than we do with self reliance and hubris. Kids used to be enamored with superstars, now they think they're all superstars themselves. The same seems be the case with true errantists. The greatest man or woman in the errantist's life is the errantist. He's the most reliable source. Hence, there is no need for a cult leader. He is his own cult leader and follower into one.
Of course, I've said before that he is really just duped by his culture, as no one is detached in such a way. We either have to be critical of culture using another culture or source of authority, or we end up being puppets of the culture and its sources of authority critiquing other cultures and sources of authority. It's a cruel game. The cult leader wants to be first, but he's really last. He's a lackey for other cult leaders and for another cult. He just doesn't realize it.
Now, one could argue that everyone assimilates some things into his own cultural religion. I'd grant that, of course, but the real difference between a cultist and a Christian is that the Christian is growing further and further into the biblical religion of Christianity as he is sanctified by something outside of himself. The cultist isn't growing in Christianity at all. He's remaining in his cult. He can't grow out of it, as it is the most reliable source for what he ought to be growing into.
In other words, sanctification can occur and be recognized by marking it with what the Bible teaches, but one who leads himself, or is led by his culture, simply grows with his cult-ure. He does not become more Christian, but more cultic. Hence, I think there is a big difference between the true errantist cultist and a genuine Christian inerrantist.
I also understand the need to hold onto the name. It gives authority to the cult leader. If he starts his own religion, then people will know that he just made it up unless he goes through the really hard work of making it legit in the eyes of the people. But a cult leader would rather hijack the authority God gave to Christianity. Remember what Paul warned the Ephesian elders about? Wolves will come, not sparing the sheep, and will distort the truth in order to accumulate followers to themselves. Others will just twist the Scriptures to their own destruction, but continue to call themselves Christians because it's comforting to think that I can undermine the Bible and still be acceptable to God as a "Christian." In any case, if there is a difference between the errantist and cultists it would simply seem to be in the number of followers the cult has.
If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't
like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. Augustine