Dalmatian Theology (or possibly Leopard Theology)


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Do you think the original writings of the Bible turned out as God wanted them to, or do you think you can pick and choose which parts God really inspired?  They don’t refer to it as such, but many Christians teach a message of Leopard Theology, where the Bible is only inspired in spots and they are inspired to spot the spots.

Leopard on tree stump

Note: I used to call it Dalmatian Theology, but changed it to make it more universal.  I thought about using it as an illustration while preaching during a mission trip in Kenya.  I didn’t end up using it, but I realized that they may not have known about the Dalmatian breed.  But everyone knows what leopards are, and they are more dangerous — just like this false set of beliefs is.

Saying the Bible isn’t fully inspired by God may seem like a humble premise, but it actually makes several strong and unfounded claims.

It implies that God couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver His word to us in a reliable way, and that despite God’s alleged failings flawed humans are able to discern which parts were inspired and which parts were not.  Are we to believe that humans are to correct for God’s alleged errors?

Why is this a serious problem?  It is hard enough to follow the teachings of the Bible without having “Christians” pick and choose what they want to believe in.  Worse yet, they ignore some parts of scripture so they can teach that the opposite is not only acceptable but desirable.  Some may do it accidentally but others are just blatant false teachers.  They have made up their own God and their own religion.

If someone claims the Bible is only partially inspired, ask a few questions:

  • How did they come to this conclusion?
  • Do they think their favorite verses are inspired?  If so,  how do they know?  How about John 3:16?  How about “love your neighbor?”  Whenever “Judge not, lest ye be judged” is quoted, I never hear the liberal theologians insist that Jesus didn’t really say that.
  • If the Bible is only partly inspired, how can they be sure that their preferred verses aren’t the ones that are uninspired and the ones they don’t like are the “real” verses?
  • Why is it that God couldn’t inspire the original writings of forty writers, but He can inspire billions of people to properly determine which parts are right and which aren’t?
  • If He couldn’t get Paul, Luke, Matthew, John, etc.  to record his word accurately, how can He get you to do it?
  • Why should I trust your “inspiration” over those who penned the Bible, or over my “inspiration?”

Here’s one I made up: Advanced Leopard Theology.  It is just like Leopard theology, except God is also changing spots and adding/removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling theological liberals and progressives.   They use phrases such as “God is still speaking,” but they don’t mean He still speaks through his Word (that would be a true statement).  They think He is still revealing new truths to the church and changing doctrines taught in the Bible.  They may also say things like, “The Holy Spirit is moving in a new direction.”  Indeed.

Here’s an example: A Methodist pastor named Laurie Hays Coffman did a pro-gay theology piece that made the argument that she wants to “unfurl our corporate sails to catch today’s winds as the Spirit blows afresh.”  She said she was challenged by the vision God gave to Peter in Acts 10-11 where God makes it clear that the Gospel is for the Gentiles, too, and that the Israelites’ ceremonial dietary laws are no longer in force.  Her reasoning is that in the same way that God overturned those laws that He is now overturning the prohibitions against homosexual behavior.  The problem is her poor Biblical analysis.  There are at least nine things wrong with this view:

  1. The person with the revelation was Peter, one of Jesus’ inner circle and a key leader in the early church.  It wasn’t made to you, me or someone like Ms. Coffman.  That doesn’t mean God couldn’t reveal something important like this to us, just that it is highly unlikely.
  2. The visions were clear and emphatic.  Peter was given the vision three times.
  3. Peter was inclined to reject the meaning of the vision, whereas these Advanced Leopard Theologians have views on human sexuality that are virtually indistinguishable from the prevailing culture and they are glad to accept this “new revelation.”
  4. There was external validation for Peter from the Roman centurion.
  5. This lesson showed up in the Bible, not outside it.  I’m not saying miracles don’t happen outside the Bible.  It is just that things appear in the Bible for a reason.  God communicating that the ceremonial laws had been fulfilled was one of those “big deals.”
  6. This vision overturned a ceremonial law, not a moral law.  There are zero examples in the Bible of God reversing his moral laws.  In fact, the more Jesus talked the stricter the laws seemed to get, because He emphasized the spirit of the law and not just the letter (i.e., lust was akin to committing adultery, anger was akin to murder, etc.).  The dietary laws never applied to Gentiles.
  7. The “God has changed his mind view” is primarily being “revealed” to theologically liberal Christians in the U.S. . . . the very ones who often deny the authority of his Word to begin with!  So we can’t trust the accurate transmission of the original writings but we can trust their new revelations?  I’m skeptical.
  8. If God is revealing a change, why is it necessarily more liberal?  Why couldn’t God make his laws more stringent?
  9. The Bible gives strong warnings not to add or take away from its teachings.

But the orthodox can fall prey to this in a more subtle way by claiming full inspiration but conveniently ignoring passages we don’t like.  Consider this passage on church leadership, where some exaggerate “not given to drunkenness” to mean no alcohol whatsoever but ignore the “must manage his own family well . . .” part.

1 Timothy 3:2-4 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.

Another example is correctly teaching about the sin of homosexual behavior while neglecting to give proper emphasis to Biblical admonitions against divorce, adultery and fornication.  We need to teach all of scripture with balance.  Grandstanding on sins that aren’t temptations to us and soft-pedaling those that are is not an attractive or Christian thing to do.

There are plenty of reasons and resources to defend the accuracy and integrity of all of the original scriptures.  We don’t need to get sloppy and just follow the parts we like.

I’ll close with some friendly advice: Don’t mess with God’s Word.

Deuteronomy 4:2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.

Proverbs 30:5-6 Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

Revelation 22:18-19 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Also see Men wrote the Bible so it must have mistakes and How many translations did your Bible go through?

14 thoughts on “Dalmatian Theology (or possibly Leopard Theology)”

  1. I whole heartedly agree that God’s word is inspired and without error. But you are using a copyrighted version of the scriptures which means that thousands of changes have been made from the original english translation – the King James version. If you study this, you will realize that thousands of words and verses have been deleted in copyrighted versions of the bible. I would encourage you to read a tract and book by Dr. David Sorenson who wrote “Why we use the King James Version”, and “Touch Not the Unclean Thing”. Both are easy reads written for the average lay person.


    1. Hi Heidi,

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

      I’m not sure I followed your comment. Are you saying that versions like the NIV and ESV, for example, start with the KJV and translate from there? If so, I disagree. Scholars went to copies of texts much earlier than the KJV and in the original languages to create newer translations.


  2. I see that this was written long ago but the question of the veracity of the Bible is persistant.

    If anyone believes the Bible to be true you must just be silly.

    The Bible evolves more than any other book. What once was literal then becomes figurative. That specifically means that those past men of god were not really men of god as through all of their revelation they never really understood a thing.

    Jesus, if there was such a man, was just another to prove that the Old Testament was non-sense as he had to establish a NEW law. Why? Because the god of the Old Testament, who he claims to be, didn’t quite have it right yet.

    If picking and choosing is the best that we can do with the Bible then we could do the same and receive the same benefits from the Koran and/or any other inspirational literature. I, for myself, would say that one of the most inspired books on my shelf is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, though it too has its faults it is much more divine than anything that I have ever read as “scripture”.

    Religious belief is an All or Nothing game. Sorry to say it, but we all beleive it is nothing we just have not accepted that reality yet.


    1. Hi Jeffrey,

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. Those are very important and common objections. I hope you will carefully consider these responses and keep searching.

      If anyone believes the Bible to be true you must just be silly.

      Actually, I have a lot of good reasons to believe that the original writings of the Bible turned out exactly as God wanted them to and that they have been transmitted to us in an accurate manner.

      The Bible evolves more than any other book. What once was literal then becomes figurative. That specifically means that those past men of god were not really men of god as through all of their revelation they never really understood a thing.

      Can you provide some specific examples of that? As I wrote here, we can be very confident that we know what the original said — http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2008/07/30/how-many-times-was-your-bible-been-translated/ . I can point you to skeptics who are experts at textual criticism who will agree with that. They don’t believe the Bible was inspired, but they concede that we know what the originals said to 99.5% confidence.

      Jesus, if there was such a man, was just another to prove that the Old Testament was non-sense as he had to establish a NEW law. Why? Because the god of the Old Testament, who he claims to be, didn’t quite have it right yet.

      First, there really was a man named Jesus who died on a Roman cross roughly 32 A.D. It is an historical fact — http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2008/10/20/a-unique-way-to-approach-defending-the-christian-faith/ . Seriously, go query any historian who studies that period, whether they are believers or not, and they’ll agree that He lived.

      If you study the Bible carefully you’ll see that it all fits together. The New Covenant is a fulfillment of the Old and was part of the plan all along.

      If picking and choosing is the best that we can do with the Bible then we could do the same and receive the same benefits from the Koran and/or any other inspirational literature.

      But orthodox Christians aren’t picking and choosing. We are taking the whole thing. This post was pointing out how some pick and choose and why that is wrong. You are correct that if they are just going to pick and choose then they can point to anything. They do exactly that and it is a fraudulent of them to call it Christianity.

      Religious belief is an All or Nothing game. Sorry to say it, but we all beleive it is nothing we just have not accepted that reality yet.

      I sort of agree. Either Christianity is correct about Jesus living, dying for our sins and rising from the dead or it is not. I think if you examine the evidence with an open mind you’ll be surprised where it leads.


      1. That the Bible evolves is saying that the teachings are always changing while the words stay the same.

        Evolution is a great example. Years ago religious groups supported the Bible in saying that Genesis was literally true. Science has shown that Genesis is at best figurative, yes no Adam, Eve and beautiful garden. Man has existed for at least 100,000 years. 5 or 6 thousand is just non-sense.

        Job likely figurative only. Entrance into Jerico, figurative too. Moses, questionable.

        Do Christians take the Bible seriously? I don’t think so. Jesus taught that after conversion and obedience one must sell all, give to the poor and follow him (see young prince in NT for that) but I don’t see Christians selling house and SUV to donate to Africa or India and try a life of complete obedience. I suppose that must either be figurative or not apply to me status.

        We all pick and choose on ethics. Most people are good and will do so.

        Nazis were sactioned by the Catholic Church and many Protestant Churches. It seems that they too have evolved and might choose differently if they could go back.

        Jesus too is of questionable existance. Josephus was the only valid historical writer who even mentions the man and even then if someone rose from the dead, and many others as the Bible claims wouldn’t that make greater news that a single historian.

        I see no real reason to believe in the Bible. I think that Dalmatian Theology is a pure example of how God, if he does exist, does not speak with his children.

        Of course if people are hearing voices in their heads and obey these voices and want to believe that it is someone besides themselves I think they should visit a clinic or keep their delusions to themselves.


      2. On the first part, we have clear evidence from the early Church Fathers favoring a non-literal reading of key section of the Old Testament. From the earliest days of Christianity, that opinion has been held by significant minds.

        Secondly, you write, “Nazis were sanctioned by the Catholic Church”

        Documentary evidence please.

        It seems, sir, that your arguments are founded on your ignorance instead of clear historical facts.


      3. Jeffrey,

        You are just spouting bits from the Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites. It is lame and unproductive. You are welcome to participate in a real conversation on a specific topic.


  3. Dude, this post is brill! I love the term “Dalmation Thology”. I’m gonna file that one in the memory banks.

    By the way, YOU ARE THE MAN! And I mean that sincerely. I’d hate to argue against you, my brother. I’m glad you’re on my team…er, I’m on your team. hahaha (I read this after reading your conversation with Dwight regarding the pro-abortion clergy.)


    1. Thanks, Mike. This is one of my all time favorites. It just describes the false teachers so well.

      And I’m glad to be on your team as well — or more specifically that we’re both on His team. You are out there living the Gospel and protecting people very day.

      The encounter with Dwight was typical of those with theological Liberals. I completely trust that God can convert those He wants to, but in my experience they have the most hardened hearts and the most seared consciences. They call good evil and evil good — yet still claim to be Christians. It is way easier to reason with my Muslim or Hindu friends.

      I’ve learned that the fake Christians like to jump around to different topics when you are annihilating their bad reasoning. That’s why I wouldn’t let go of his petty women-hater fallacy.

      The gender selection abortion topic drives ’em crazy every time. They know if they just admit those are wrong then they have conceded defeat. If they admit that it is wrong to kill the females just for being female, then they can’t explain why is it ok to kill a female or a male for all the other reasons given for abortion.

      But if they don’t say it is wrong, it is hard for them to perpetuate the myth that they are pro-women and we are anti-women.

      It is almost fun to watch them squirm.


  4. “whereby the Bible is only inspired in spots and they are inspired to spot the spots. ”

    Neil, VERY well put. I don’t think these Dalmatianists realized they are claiming to be inspired, but regardless they are putting themselves on God’s level to be able to tell us which verses are God’s word and which are not.


    1. P.S. I just made an edit to this old post and didn’t realize it was going to hit the feeds. I have an update slated for next Monday, where I change the name to Leopard Theology to make it more universal.


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