Incoherent Inerrancy

Recently a few of the threads here have become, at least partly, directed toward a dominant tangent. This is the issue of the adjustment to the biblical doctrine of inerrancy offered by Dr. Peter Enns (Inspiration and Incarnation) and others.

What I’ve read in comments here at GB supports what I’ve learned already about this position. Its proponents want to maintain the following three points:

1. The Bible contains non-incidental errors.
2. The Bible itself is inerrant.
3. This is not a contradiction.

I won’t go into all the proper tweaking and explaining that needs to be attached to these in order to fairly understand these brothers. The critical thing to note is that they are arguing that the Bible does contain errors that are non-incidental; errors that necessarily impact the exegesis of doctrine.

Nor do I want to spend time noting the adjustments in definitions that these brothers make. This is most particularly with reference to what “inerrant” means.

Rather I want to speak as a pastor to these brothers, and ask them to consider their brothers and sisters in the pew. There are many more readers of this blog than posters. From the notes I’ve received, I’m pretty confident in saying that many of them are laypeople who come here looking for advice, insight, and help with questions that are bugging them. (I’m sure Lane and the other moderators will affirm that this is their take as well.)

Brothers, I have one word to summarize what I hear you saying: incoherent. No, I’m not saying that bits and pieces don’t make sense. Nor am I saying I do not track with your arguments. I do.

Nor am I ignorant of the underlying conversation. I graduated from WTS in ’99. I sat under, with respect and appreciation, Enns and the rest of the faculty, including: Green, Taylor, Groves, Kelly, et.al. (These fathers named merely because y’all often reference them in support of Enns. The rest of the faculty has my gratefulness as well.) I listened carefully. I followed what they were saying. While I don’t propose to be as bright as some, the mostly “A”‘s I received in class, I dare say, we’re not given because of their kindness.

As well, I’ve read I&I, and a host of other documents referenced in these conversations. All this to say, while I’m never going to be the next generation’s Sproul (Edwards, Owen, take your historical pick); I’m not a slouch who has it all figured out and is not interested in listening to anyone who disagrees with him.

If I find you arguments incoherent, what do you think the average layperson hears when they read what you’ve written? One of you recently actually said, in the same paragraph, the Bible has errors, and the Bible is inerrant. (A fair paraphrase.) The context of those statements did not remove the onus present in this summary.

Brothers, assume for a second your position is right, and it will be a blessing to the Church in the future. Does not the significance of the subject (the only rule for faith and practice, THE source of spiritual food for the people of God) necessitate more care and caution on your parts?

Your arguments are not as well thought out and erudite as you think. You have not yet listened carefully enough to your critics. It will not do to maintain as one of your standard retorts, “You’re not understanding what I am saying” (in multiple variations, a continual response from y’all.) Even if this were true (it is at times, and in some quarters, but not as generally as y’all want to think), even it were inerrantly true :) – does this not suggest a greater burden on your part to gentleness, patience, and longsuffering?

Now, yes, I do recognize that some of you do evidence these qualities at times. Yet y’all are not considering that even when you’re not “fending off the opponent” you speak with an incoherency to the broader Church. It is as if y’all have figured out the secret password, been admitted to the club, and now spend your time speaking gibberish to others outside the club – all under the motive of helping them gain admittance too.

I will let the cat of the bag so to speak, in terms of my convictions and fear. I have learned and accepted bits and pieces of arguments from your side. Yet I do not see your fundamental point. Rather, I believe your position is only supported via the use of a post-modern influenced redefinition of words and concepts. You are wrong, and this will be shown in time.

My fear is that you are starting another battle for the Bible. I know this is not what you say you want – but that is how you are proceeding.

For myself, I am gripped by the fear of both my own weaknesses, and my calling to protect the sheep from error. I pray you likewise be gripped more by the fear of your weaknesses and the calling of your discipleship.

I recognize my words here cannot help but to offer offense. I do not do so casually. I hope I’ve not been careless. I also recognize that for some of you, your first reaction will be just that: reaction.

Please though, pause and consider how incoherent this sounds: error-laden inerrancy. This is how you sound.

- Reed DePace

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630 Comments

  1. Pete Myers said,

    May 19, 2009 at 9:17 am

    While agreeing with you on the inerrancy position… I did feel a little convicted by the challenge to stop shouting at people that “you are not listening to me!!” Which I nevertheless do a tad too regularly when my position on an issue is classical or not!

    Thanks for your post, Reed. I indeed come to Green Baggins to learn, but being sucked into comment discussions and speaking way out of my league is far, far too easy.

  2. May 19, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Reed, this may be–no strike “may be”–this is the best, most pastoral, most welcoming invitation to those of us in the Enns/Sparks camp (hate that, but for lack of a better label), I’ve seen yet to us to explain ourselves better.

    Your concerns are extremely valid and crucially important. I well remember the flip flops in my own stomach when I first sat in Enns’s class as well as some of my other biblical studies classes at WTS. The long, strange trip that seems so incomprehensible to you and others has brought me, FTH, Art Boulet, and many others much peace and joy in our study of the Bible. But if we are just confusing the church, then we are at best “clanging gongs” and at worst worthy of millstone neckties.

    I implore everyone (and myself first!) to keep this one thread pure and devoid of personal insults and recriminations. I’m hoping that this thread will be one place where we may have a chance to make clear why we think what we are pursuing will come to blessing and not harm for the church.

  3. Reed Here said,

    May 19, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Thanks Pete. Me too.

    Thanks Mark. I amen your appeal.

  4. rfwhite said,

    May 19, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Reed, would it not be helpful to provide a definition of inerrancy as a starting point? Is the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy suitable for your purposes: “Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives” (A Short Statement, para. 4)?

  5. art said,

    May 19, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Reed,

    I appreciate the tone of this post. It’s a welcomed change for this blog.

    A few things I’d like to thrown out there, one minor, a couple maybe more significant.

    First, Pete was granted his Ph.D. from Harvard in ’94, so he was a Dr. while you were studying under him.

    Second, I can only speak for myself, but I would not agree with your second point above. In I&I, Pete does not deal with inerrancy head on as, for instance, Sparks does in GWHW. Sparks’ formulation is not that the Bible errs, but that God does not err. Because Scripture is God accommodating himself to a fallen humanity through fallen, finite, and errant humans, the Bible bears the marks of this accommodation (i.e., errors).

    Third, I think a better way to formulate how myself and some others think about the Bible would be:

    1. The Bible contains errors.
    2. The Bible is infallible.
    3. This is not a contradiction.

    Fourth (and finally), another way to sharpen the argument you make in this post is to drop the whole ‘postmodern’ thing. While I understand where you are coming from, scholarship has moved on from postmodernity. Most of the authors I follow hold to some variation of ‘critical realism’ or ‘practical realism.’ Both of those epistemological options are no friend of postmodernity, nor are they close to postmodernity. So while I understand your point in that paragraph, I think it is an incorrect evaluation of the situation (at least towards me and a large number of my friends who think in similar ways).

  6. Reed Here said,

    May 19, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Dr. Fowler: yes, that will suffice. Thanks for the help.

  7. May 19, 2009 at 11:11 am

    If the traditional inerrancy side can agree on the CSI as their starting point, that will be helpful. It will give us something on which to base our critiques.

    I very much agree with Art’s request to drop the pomo label. Trust us that’s now what’s driving us. I’m hoping we don’t have to waste a lot of column inches here explaining that.

  8. rfwhite said,

    May 19, 2009 at 11:19 am

    One more item on definition: for what it’s worth, I notice that M. Silva’s 1988 essay, “Old Princeton, Westminster, and Inerrancy” (which appears in WTJ and in Westminster’s Inerrancy and Hermeneutic symposium) has this succinct statement of the Hodge/Warfield thesis (p. 67 in the WTJ article): “the Bible, whose primary author is God, teaches no errors.”

  9. May 19, 2009 at 11:26 am

    rfwhite:

    I think Art and I would agree with Silva’s statement without qualification. We have never held that the Bible teaches error in any way. What I think will be up for grabs in this discussion, for one thing, is what each of us think it means for the Bible to “teach.” Is it intended to teach inerrant history, geography, ancient Israelite cultic practices, cosmology, etc. Or does “the Bible teaches inerrantly” refer to what it teaches for “faith and practice”?

  10. May 19, 2009 at 11:27 am

    You are all idiots and I am right…to hell with those confused masses in the church, they should just listen to me..

    Oh, wait…that is not the goal or tone of this thread, is it? : )

    More seriously, hopefully some discussion here can help, especially as Reed has oriented us towards what should remain front-and-center in all our minds: how what we do serves (or does not) the Kingdom and others in the church. Thanks for pointing us here directly, Reed. That said, I suspect this discussion (while hopefully more polite than others) will also reveal some differences between us concerning what is useful to and edifying for others in the church. That, BTW, does not render the discussion of less value at all. Hopefully we will also find that we overlap in our visions of how to serve the church in the most important areas!

    For now, I am getting back to reading stuff for the paper I am trying to complete. Thanks for starting this thread Reed.

  11. Reed Here said,

    May 19, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Art:

    1. Thanks for your response. No hidden meaning when I’m glad to hear you affirm this for yourself. Please appreciate from my perspective that any failure in tone here in the past was a mutually shared failure.

    2. (Your first): thanks for the clarification. As this is immaterial to the point of the paragraph; I’ve edited it out.

    3. (Your second): I fail to see how what you’ve said materially disagrees with what I’ve summarized.You affirm that the Bible contains non-incidental errors, yet is inerrant (or infallible; I’ll respond to that below.) This is all I’ve claimed y’all are claiming. Here might be a good example of where you actually are being understood, when you do not think so.

    4. (Your third): I understand your syllogism. It fits perfectly with the (hyper) sense of accomodation inimical to the position. (The pre-fix “hyper” denotes my take that your’s is an imbalanced understanding of “accomodation.”)

    I note that others have not so nuanced this distinction. They do affirm the syllogism I’ve laid out.

    I’d also note that if we take your syllogism at face value, then in effect the doctrine of inerrancy is meaningless to you. If God’s word will prove infallible, and errors do not matter, than inerrancy is rather a pointless doctrine. I’ll leave it to others to examine whether or not this squares with Scripture.

    5. (Your fourth – isn’t this fun): I’m tracking with you. If y’all want to affirm that you’ve moved beyond post-modernism, I won’t argue. I will observe that this is rather a silly thing to argue for.

    From one perspective, one I know you agree with, we never fully escape our own background. An elder who came into my office while I was writing this, responded, “ah, the influence of Hegel.”

    Thus if post-modern, modern, or Enlightenment nuances (or any other ‘ism” influences) can be seen in your argument, then it is right for your opponents to observe this, and wise for you to consider in what ways these things might be influencing you.

    I used the post-modern label merely to note the definition changing necessity in your position. I do recognize that y’all claim any such re-defininf is driven by the Bible itself. I’m grateful for y’all recognizing we disagree.

    In particular I believe your re-defining is driven by the challenges from higher-criticism that you cannot handle. I think you’ve actually bought some of the presuppositions of these opponents to belief and are trying to find ways of accomodating your position to them.

    Call it what you will, practical realism will suffice. In the end, I’d say that this is just another example of the age old error of accomodation to unbelief.

    (By the way, postmodernity seems to have died rather quickly. Kind of suggests the hubris of our era-labeling era, does it not?)

  12. May 19, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Brethren,

    In keeping with the tone of this post please receive this as a peaceable contribution to the subject. John Murray, in his 1986 article “The Attestation of Scripture,” tackles the teaching of J. Munro Gibson and other liberal scholars of the early 20th century. Murray explains their position thus:

    “…in every case the Bible and all the Bible was written by those who were mere men and therefore by men who, without exception, where themselves imperfect and fallible. This plain and undisputed fact has led many students of the Bible to the conclusion that the Bible cannot be ‘in itself’ the infallble and inerrant word of God. Putting the matter very bluntly, they have said that God had to use the material he had at his disposal and, since the material he had was fallible men, he was under the necessity of giving us his Word in a form that is marred by the defects arising from human fallibility (p. 2-3).”

    Murray continues his analysis:

    “It is by plausible arguement of this sort that students of the Bible, like Dr. Gibdon, have too rashly come to the conclusion that the human factor or, as we should prefer to call it, ‘human instrumentality’ settles this question and that the Bible, though God’s word, must at the same time be errant and fallible, AT LEAST IN SCIENTIFIC AND HISTORICAL DETAIL, simply because it came to us through the ministry of men (p. 3).”

    Murray repudiated this explanation when he wrote:

    “Those who thus contend should, however, be aware of the implications of their position. If human fallibility precludes an infallible Scripture, then by resistless logic it must be maintained that we cannot have any Scripture that is infallible and inerrant. All of Scripture comes to us through human instrumentality. If such instrumentality involves fallibility, then such fallibility must attach itself to the whole of Scripture. For by what warrant can any immunity from error be maintained in the matter of ‘spiritual content’ and not in the matter of historical or scientific fact? Is human fallibility suspended when “spiritual truth” is asserted but not suspended in other less important matters?”

    Now, I realize that Enns, Spark, et al, are not saying precisely what Munro said. But they are saying that the historical materials used by the prophets and apostles were errant, and, therefore, it is not wrong to assert the “errant humanness” of this material. It seems to me that Murray’s “resistless logic” applies equally to this discussion. Am I correct? If one part of Scripture is errant, should we not conclude that all of it is errant? I am not asking whether Enns affirms Divine inspiration. I am asking if you all will affirm inerrancy.

  13. May 19, 2009 at 11:40 am

    The article was written in 1946, not 1986. Just more proof that I am not inerrant!

  14. art said,

    May 19, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Reed #11:

    In regard to your third point: I make a distinction between inerrancy and infallibility. I take Scripture to be infallible in what it means to teach (which, as Mark points out, is another aspect of this discussion that may be worth getting into for the sake of clarity); I do not take Scripture to be inerrant. So you are correct in saying that the doctrine of inerrancy means nothing to me as it is a pointless and untenable doctrine from my perspective (no offense meant; just being honest).

    For the sake of full disclosure, I do not buy into the idea of Warfield, et. al. that their idea of inerrancy is what former theologians in Church history meant when they used infallibility. That viewpoint, I think, is either the result of anachronistic readings of Church history or simply a misunderstanding of what other theologians were getting at.

  15. art said,

    May 19, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Nick #12:

    It seems to me that Murray’s “resistless logic” applies equally to this discussion. Am I correct? If one part of Scripture is errant, should we not conclude that all of it is errant? I am not asking whether Enns affirms Divine inspiration. I am asking if you all will affirm inerrancy.

    Murray’s ‘resistless logic’ would only be applicable as the result of ignoring the arguments of Sparks, Enns, et. al. It is interesting that this idea only comes from the critics and not from someone who affirms errancy and infallibility. In other words, I don’t know of an evangelical scholars who affirms what Pete, Kent, et. al. are affirming and also affirms that all of Scripture is errant. That is not the argument, nor is it the necessary conclusion of what we are saying.

    As for affirming inerrancy: no, I will not because I am not convinced that 1) that is a tenable viewpoint or 2) that Scriptures teaches such a doctrine.

  16. May 19, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Nicholas (#12):

    Murray’s “resistless logic” can be resisted, because it forces an unnecessary extreme. He argues that if we let one little bit of human fallibility creep into the biblical text, then all is at jeopardy of error, including the spiritual teaching. This is a surprising underestimation of the power of the Spirit on Murray’s part. I would hold that God is more than able to insure that what he intended to teach us through Scripture (i.e., the “spiritual truths”) is communicated without error. We hold that it just isn’t necessary to hold that God did that for everything in the Bible.

    Again, where we’re differing here is not on the character of God, but on what he intended Scripture to do, to teach.

  17. May 19, 2009 at 11:54 am

    If you are all so ready to contradict Murray now, why weren’t you when this discussion began last year? I distinctly remember when Warfield, Hodge and the original Westminster faculty were being drawn in to suppose your doctrine of Scripture. Why were we made to look like the theological kill joys in the light of your continuing legacy of Westminster? The reality is, we have been standing with them the whole time. I really am asking with sincere desire to understand. If you all had been flat out denying inerrancy, when we were hashing this out early on, it would have saved so much time and effort on our part.

  18. May 19, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Mark,

    An attack on Scripture is an attack on God. The Bible is “living and active and sharper than any two edged sword;” it is “God’s living and abiding word.” Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you, they are Spirit and they are life.” Now, if they are errant, there can be no life. That is resistless logic no matter who tries to contradict it. If Scripture is not the word of God, then what is?

  19. May 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Nick,

    Thanks for posting some Murray quotes. As always, Murray provides incisive clarity…once one is able to actually understand what he means to say : ).

    Hopefully this does not derail the thread, but I do not link the Bible’s messiness and errors to its humanity as opposed to its divinity. I broached this on another thread here (and in a short essay I may post at some point). If I may (adapt and) quote from my comment on another GB thread:

    One of my problems with Enns’ book is that his approach does seem to imply that messiness is somehow a property of the “humanity” of Scripture. Thus, it does seem to come across as saying that “it is messy because it is human;” i.e., Gibdon’s argument that Murray tackles. Now, I think Enns used this approach to make illustrating what he is doing easier for average Christians and not because he really theologically binds up “messiness” simply with the humanity of Scripture…but, again, he still does seem to come across with a similar argument to the one you mention Nick. Of course, Enns does not talk about errors in the Bible, only messiness : )…

    I, however, will talk about errors, contradictions, etc. I do think the Bible is full of them in the way we usually use the term. I also think the examples of “messiness” Enns uses in his book are a level below child’s play compared to other things the Bible does that cut across how we usually mean “inerrancy.”

    I do not, however, theologically locate this in the humanity of Scripture, as though the Bible has errors because God just had to make do with the best option available: inherently errant humanity (I do not accept this logic). Everything about the Bible reflects its divinity just as much as its humanity. Thus, all the “errors” (from our historical point of view) are in fact just as indicative of God’s authorship as the accuracies; they reflect the divinity of Scripture just as much as its humanity…and God did it this way! So, from another point of view, I do not consider the Bible to have errors because everything in it is doing exactly what God wants it to be doing…including the errors. Is this some of the confusing discourse you have in mind, Reed? : )

    I know you, Reed, others here, etc., disagree with my views…and I do not post this comment to discuss them so much as to indicate how my thought on this differs from the aspects of Gibdon you mention—relating “flaws” to the inherently flawed human instruments of Scripture. I realize, however, that I (we?) have often not communicated clearly enough so that it is reasonable to think we function with logic similar to Gibdon’s.

    OK, end thread-tangent…hopefully my next comment can relate more directly to the things Reed explicitly brings up with this thread.

  20. Richard said,

    May 19, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    If I may add my congratulations to Reed for his judicious post. I am reminded of the relationship between Warfield and James Orr, in the midst of disagreements over this issue charity reigned and brotherly love continued.

    Art, I would be interested if you could outline your skepticism towards inerrancy. My own skepticism stems primarily from manuscript evidence which undermines the concept of an original autograph so casting the classical formulation into doubt.

  21. art said,

    May 19, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Nick #17:

    The issue when the discussion began was Peter Enns, the incarnational analogy, the function of extra-biblical literature in our understanding of Scripture, and the place of the human author in our doctrine of Scripture. It was focused on Pete and the issues brought up from his book. Pete does not deny inerrancy in his book, nor do I know of a place where he does such. I would still argue that his work was within the tradition of WTS, but that is not what this post is about.

    The conversation today is about our views. Not Pete’s views or his work.

  22. May 19, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Art,

    Fair enough. I wish you and Steve would have been a bit clearer early on. Thank you for being clearer now. It is helpful to know precisely what people believe, including the logical implications. I think this helps clear the air on making logical accusations. I fell much better knowing that you deny inerrancy (at least in the “humanity” element of Scripture) and Steven denies it in both the humanity and divinity of Scripture.

    Steven, does this mean that God can err? If so, can he lie? Is that an error in Scripture? What about the promises of God? Are they errors as well?

  23. art said,

    May 19, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Richard #20:

    Part of my skepticism towards inerrancy does have to do with the classical formulation of ‘inerrant autographs.’ I fail to see the need to attribute characteristics to things that do not exist.

    Another part of my skepticism comes from Scripture itself. It does err, in places it errs quite clearly. I do not think this means that it errs everywhere (contra Nick’s quotation of Murray) nor do I think this means it is not God’s word to his people. I think it does mean that we need to seek harder to understand what the purpose of his word to us actually is: to include an inerrant account of Creation (including cosmology) that syncs with modern science? To include an inerrancy history of Israel and Judah that must, if one truly holds to inerrancy, fall right into line with archaeological evidence? I’m not convinced such is the case.

    Another part of my skepticism comes from the failure of inerrantists to provide convincing arguments that inerrancy is 1) what the Bible teaches and 2) how the Bible actually functions.

  24. May 19, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Not sure if I spelled Steven (Stephen) correctly. I apologize if I did not.

  25. May 19, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Well Nick, as I have written many many many times here, I do not think God lies or makes Divine “errors.” I think just the opposite. God is Truth, everything he does defines what Truth is, etc. So, when I find Scripture and its behavior clashing with my understandings of truth, I endeavor to move forward with what I thought was a very Protestant and WTS impulse. Allow Scripture (something God “did” inspiredly), and thus God (since Scripture is His Word) to redefine my notions of Truth and what it means that God is True…especially in relation to His Word.

    I continue to wrestle with this from a theological level…as Mark, Art, and I have also said many times. This, however, seems infinately more preferable to ignoring what God actually did in giving us His Word and persisting in doctrinal notions and sensitivities that Scripture (and thus God) seems to contradict.

  26. Reed Here said,

    May 19, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    No. 14, Art: see, I really did understand you! :-)

    Seriously, I do appreciate the frankness. It does help to avoid confusion that lends itself to debate without purpose.

  27. May 19, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Art,

    Would it be a fair statement to say that you see certain parts of Scripture as erring, because you read them through the lens of ANE? If so, ANE is more authoritative than Scripture, corect? If so, what makes the Bible God’s word? If you affirm the Bible to be God’s word because it says, “Thus says the LORD,” regardless of its so-called errors, why would you not accept 1 and 2 Esdras as being part of the canon? Do you see where I am going? Inerrancy is bound up with authority, and authority is bound up with inerrancy. This is not a “Bible” argument per se, but it is a logical and true argument.

  28. Pete Myers said,

    May 19, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Hey people,

    Comment #21 and the train is still on the track – hoorah! Some things:

    1) Remember that I’m Pete too… and referring to “Pete” (as in Enns) can be a little confusing.

    2) I am very interested in this distinction between what scripture “teaches” and what it says but is not “teaching”. I would love a clear definition of how that distinction is drawn. I offer the friendly challenge for you guys to come up with a definition that doesn’t appear arbitrary, and that wouldn’t require lots of re-working or lots of disagreement.

    3) Uncharitable discussion is rife everywhere, and particularly on the internet. The only reason it happens lots at GB is simply because this blog is a smelting pot for people who disagree about issues that are important. That doesn’t excuse it, and I find it very uncomfortable, … but I think it’s unfair to imply that it’s more true of GB than anywhere else, or more unfair of one “side” of any issue rather than another.

    4) If God knows something to be true, and God cannot lie, how can he say that thing he knows to be untrue?

  29. art said,

    May 19, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Nick #27:

    Would it be a fair statement to say that you see certain parts of Scripture as erring, because you read them through the lens of ANE?

    I don’t think that is necessarily the case. ANE literature, as well as 2nd Temple Literature, shed light on how we understand some aspects of Scripture. But I do not think that noticing that Genesis teaches the earth is covered with a solid dome, or that Job understands the world as flat supported by pillars, or that Matthew mistakes Jeremiah for Zechariah happens because I read those things ‘through the lens of ANE.’

    I also do not affirm the Bible to be God’s word simply because it says ‘Thus says the Lord.’ Nor do I affirm it to be God’s word because it is inerrant. Mathematical formulae are inerrant, but that does not mean they are God’s word.

  30. Pete Myers said,

    May 19, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    #23 Art,

    As an inerrantist, I’m very happy to say that my case stands or falls with your (1), but that I will always have unresolved questions about (2), but that doesn’t threaten my position.

  31. rfwhite said,

    May 19, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    9 Mark T, you are right about the term “teach” in Silva’s summary statement. Interesting that in the context of his article the distinction is made between “official teaching” and “personal opinion.” In any case, Reed accepts the CSBI statement for the purposes of this discussion.

  32. Pete Myers said,

    May 19, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    …and just to get us started, I consider John 17v17 to be a proof-text worth reflecting on.

  33. Ros said,

    May 19, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    #28 Pete

    On point 4. Because ‘truth’ and ‘lie’ are not always the only categories. Functional communication is more complex than this. Hyperbole, for example, is not ‘true’ (for some definitions of truth) but it is also not a ‘lie’. Similarly metaphor, allegory and other literary devices.

  34. May 19, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Ok Pete Myers, let us also use Daniel 9.1 as a proof-text worth reflecting on (where Daniel wrongly says Darius was Xerxes’ son…when, in fact, he was his father…in addition to several other historical errors).

    : )

  35. May 19, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    FTH,

    I presupose that your presuppositions are errant!

  36. Richard said,

    May 19, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Pete, see this.

  37. May 19, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    “Even the study of textual questions can only be ultimately fruitful if it is based upon Theistic presuppositions. And a philosophy of error can only have meaning if it be grounded upon the truth. Man of himself does not know enough to assert that there are errors in Scripture.”

    E.J. Young “The God Breathed Scripture” p. 14

  38. May 19, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Jesus always appeals to the written word of God for supreme authority. That should settle the question for us, shouldn’t it?

    We either take the testimony of men who are fallible, or the testimony of the God who does not lie.

  39. May 19, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    FTH,

    How can you say that Daniel 9:1 is errant, but Malachi 3:6 is not? How can you make yourself the final authority. If it is up to me to determine what is an error and what is not in Scripture, I am done. “In my flesh, no good thing dwells.” I need to pure word of God to give me light and wisdom.

  40. Richard said,

    May 19, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Nick, if memory serves me correctly Jesus does indeed appeal to the Pentateuch but most often that is in dialogue with the Pharisees and has a polemic twist. Most often than not Jesus appeals to his own authority, for he is the final revelation of God.

  41. May 19, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Richard,

    Jesus appeals to Genesis in regard to (Marriage in Matthew 19; Abel as a real individual in Luke 11:51; Abraham in John 8), Exodus (to prove the resurrection in Matthew 22:23-33), Numbers (to the serpent in the wilderness in John 3); Deuteronomy (in His temptation in the wilderness in Matthew 4); David from Psalm 110 in Matthew 22; Solomon from 1 Kings 10 n Matthew 12; Jonah 3 in Matt 12; Daniel in Matthew 24:15, and on and on and on. Jesus everywhere appeals to Scripture.

    I would recommend that we all reread William Henry Green’s Introduction to the Old Testament.

  42. Richard said,

    May 19, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Nick, indeed he does and one would expect he would. But that is not Jesus providing a Bibliology, most of what you cite were ‘sermon illustrations’. I just think we need to be careful not to read into Jesus’ words what we want to find in them, and I say that to myself as much as anyone.

  43. May 19, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Richard,

    “You do err not knowing the Scripture or the power of God.” (Matt. 22:23-33) Does that sound like Jesus is setting up a sermon illustration from the OT. Sounds pretty authoritative to me.

  44. Richard said,

    May 19, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Nick, I am not denying that the Scriptures were authoritative for Judaism (along with their Oral Torah), after all they were God’s instructions to his covenant people. But Matt. 22:23-33 doesn’t justify a claim that Jesus taught inerrancy. I believe that the Scriptures are authoritative, but I am sceptical of inerrancy.

  45. Pete Myers said,

    May 19, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    #33 FTH,

    That’s not a “proof-text” in the sense I understand the term.

    There is a crucial methodology difference that seems to be coming out more and more in these discussions – it’s the difference that Scott nails in his article on inerrancy in the latest WTJ.

    I quote John 17v17 because I’m appealing to a statement in scripture that scripture makes about itself.
    FTH quotes Daniel 9v1 because he’s appealing to the conclusion he’s reached about that verse, not because of a statement the verse is making.

    This is a big difference. A presuppositional difference, a difference you can see worked out now in my answer to FTH:

    I’d admit that I have had open and unresolvable questions about every doctrinal position I hold that I believe scripture teaches me didactically. This includes inerrancy. There are loads of places where scripture seems wrong on something or other.

    When faced with such questions, I’m driven back to examining scriptures didactic statements on the subject, and each time, I remain convinced that scripture still teaches that it is inerrant. Therefore, I’m left with no choice but to submit to what scripture says about itself, and pray for clever people to resolve the open issues that perplex me.

    Why am I not more worried about this? There will be such open and unresolvable issues on every point of doctrine until I reach the New Creation.

  46. Rick Phillips said,

    May 19, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Art #23: You cite the Bible’s account of Creation as errant because of “modern science” and its history of Israel and Judah erring because it does not “fall into line with archaeological evidence.”

    FTH #33 You declare Dan. 9:1 as errant because of the “fact” of archaeology.

    In both cases, the scientific community’s judgment based on the limited data available is accorded greater authority than God’s Word. This raises a question: following this procedure, should we not also allow the scientific community to judge the Bible’s doctrine of man, God, and salvation? The only way to avoid this is to erect a Kantian two-tier approach, in which some definition of inerrant “spiritual” truth is relegated to God’s upper tier, where as all hard historical truth is found in the lower tier under the sovereign human authority of the academy. Liberal theology has already shown where this (the Enns) project ends: first, a romantic pietism unsupported by reliable truth, followed by, second, the inevitable rejection of all Scriptural claims as non-binding and unreliable altogether, so that God, man, morality and salvation are completely decided by the wisdom of man. Thanks, but no thanks.

  47. Pete Myers said,

    May 19, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    #43 Richard,

    I work on the paradigm:

    authoritative means therefore infallible means therefore inerrant.

    Reed very helpfully pointed out, that, this “errantist” position contains points that appear to be in conflict. The questions I still have are:

    1) What non-arbitrary yardstick can be used to discern what scripture “teaches”, and what is simply accomodation?
    2) How can scripture be authoritative, yet contain errors (if the answer given, is, it’s authorititative only in what it teaches, then, aside from lots of the discussion that could be had on that, question 1 becomes more pertinent)?
    3) You guys seem to talk as if there isn’t a massive body of exegetical evidence that has been used in the past to show that scripture teaches us that it is inerrant. But there is. If that’s all wrong, then where is all the academic work to show me? (not academic work to demonstrate supposed biblical errors, academic work to refute the exegetical arguments that the Bible claims inerrancy)

  48. Pete Myers said,

    May 19, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    #45 Rick,

    Helpful.

    In fact, Bavinck in his Prolegomena, narrates in great detail exactly those kinds of discussions about in what sense the Bible is true.

    What I find confusing, is the way that the “errantists” seem to be talking as though nobody has ever had the discussion about in what sense the Bible is true before.

  49. Richard said,

    May 19, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Pete: You have cited Jn. 17:17 yet you haven’t demonstrated that Jesus is speaking about the Bible, indeed Calvin would disagree with you. The issue is now more complex, assuming Jesus was refering to the Bible, as you assert, to what was he actually refering,? Keep in mind the canonical debates both NT and OT as by Jesus’ day the OT canon wasn’t settled and none of the NT had been written.

  50. art said,

    May 19, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Rick #45:

    Do you mean to affirm that there actually is a solid dome (raqia) covering the earth?

    Are you affirming that there is a one-to-one history between the Biblical account and actual history?

  51. Rick Phillips said,

    May 19, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Pete,

    Yes, for all the talk about “new evidence,” there is nothing new here at all. There are now two approaches to this question, as there have virtually always been. On the one hand are those who judge the Holy Scriptures by some other, higher, more objective, and more authoritative standard. The claim that this is judging Scripture, not God, fails, for the Bible says, “God spoke… through the prophets”, etc. Then there are others, always despised by the respectable intelligensia, who do not try to defend the Bible item by item against the supposedly superior data of human investigation. Instead we follow this syllogism: 1) The Bible says it is God’s Word, and we receive it as such via the immediate testimony of the Holy Spirit; 2) God, as presented in Scripture, is perfect (which we take to include being without error); 3) the Holy Scriptures are therefore perfect, and whatever definition we may give to such perfection it includes inerrancy. You find these two approaches all through this thread, and all future discussion will be governed by these two approaches. The former group has begun a process of judging the veracity of Scripture according to some human standard — a perilous process that has a very bad track record. The latter group will face supposed problems honestly (not needing bogus harmonizations), trying to think through them so as to gain understanding, but will rest all loose ends in the hand of God. As J. C. Ryle said, “Give me the plenary, verbal theory of biblical inspiration with all its difficulties, rather than the doubt. I accept the difficulties and I humbly wait for their solution. But while I wait, I am standing on rock.”

  52. Reformed Sinner said,

    May 19, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Good challenge Nicholas, and I think pro-Enns guys need to answer. And I guess I need to make it explicit that I ask with sincerety as I am really curious and wondering.

    On what basis do we affirmed the 66 books that we have now as infallible and God’s Word and not others? Since there are many other books (such as Esdras, Wisdoms of Solomon, etc.) and many other versions of the same book, etc. From the discussions here it’s obviuos some of you have a distain for Masoretic Text. So would you public say you affirmed the 66 books we have now as fully authoratively Words of God and infallible, and not others, and why?

    Thanks

  53. Rick Phillips said,

    May 19, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Art #49. As for the raqia, while Doug Green’s discussion on this topic in OTHT1 (which I also took) were fascinating, I do not give them such authority as to declare the Scriptures errant. In other words, the exegetical solution to this problem, which is highly reliant on non-biblical materials, should not be taken as gospel, so to speak. (I was completely persuaded, however, regarding tohu and bohu…). As for “a one-to-one history between the Biblical account and actual history?” I would say this. What do you mean by “actual history”? I am fully willing to absorb issues concerning the theological nature of OT narrative, etc., along with hyperbole as a legitimate narrative tactic, etc. and think that we can profitably apply such insights. I simply do not think “error” or “errant” is an acceptable way of describing the situation of relating the Bible and “actual history”.

  54. art said,

    May 19, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Rick #50:

    Two things:

    1) It is false to claim that we are judging Scripture by a higher standard. If you believe such is the case then you completely and utterly have misunderstood what we are saying. To continue to say such is disingenuous at best. We are judging Scripture by Scripture. Yes, we use other sources as an insight into understanding Scripture (as do commentators in your own tradition). But one needs not to use those sources to see that Scripture errs.

    2) I accept your syllogism in that 1. I believe Scripture is God’s word and receive it as such via the immediate testimony of the Holy Spirit. 2. God, as presented in Scripture is perfect and without error. 3. Scriptures are perfect (although I would not include inerrancy within that definition of perfection, as I believe Scripture is perfect for the purpose that God has given it to his people…not perfect in the sense of being completely error free).

    One last thing in regards to your Ryle quote: that seems to intimate that we are not standing upon Scripture and, instead, stand upon doubt. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  55. Roberto G said,

    May 19, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    1.) From those biblical passages that bring up questions of archeological, chronological, scientific, doctrinal, and other such discrepancies, which specific examples rise to the level of error or contradiction?
    2.) Was this conclusion reached according to a judicious method?

  56. Rick Phillips said,

    May 19, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Art,

    As a follow-up, what I am saying is that when it comes to conflicts between Bible history and secular history, I neither a) feel a need to prove the Scriptures against the secular source (although interaction can sometimes be fruitful) or b) declare the Scriptures in error based on the secular authority. Taking FTH’s declarion of the errancy of Dan. 9:1 with respect to Darius/Xerxes, I respond this way: 1) I have no access to the relationship between these two men other than historical records. The historical record I trust most is the Bible, since I am operating under a presupposition of its divine authorship, which always trumps human authorship when it comes to veracity and authority; 2) there may be a way in which Dan. 9:1 is interacting with the “actual history” of which I am not presently able to be aware. A good example is the situation in Daniel 5, where liberal scholarship derided the Bible as errant because at that time archaeology declared that Nabonidus, not Belshazzar, was the last of the Babylonian kings prior to the Persians. So Daniel 5 was wrong: there was no King Belshazzar, and all the known tablets proved it. But the archaeologists kept digging, and they found the cylinder scroll from Nabonidus to the previously unknown Belshazzar, who was serving as Nabonidus’ regent while Nabonidus was worshiping moon gods in the desert. It turns out the Bible wasn’t so errant on Den. 5 after all. Similarly, I believe that were all the data in, all the Bible’s supposed errors would be resolved (I say this acknowleding that many of the Bible’s errors are not errors but literary issues like hyperbole). In the meantime, I believe that God has all the data, so I prefer his version as more authoritative than the version of the scientists and their combination of human error, sin, and limited evidence.

  57. May 19, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Art,

    Can you really not see what you are doing in regard to Rick’s evaluation of your placing Scripture under ANE and extra biblical materials? That’s the difference between you and us. Thats the only difference. Our presuppositions are antithetical when it comes to the authority of God’s word. We believe/affirm that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. You believe/affirm that it is not. You can come back and say, “But I believe it is God’s word.” But you don’t actually believe that it is self-interpreting and self-authoritative. In regard to your statements about Gen. 1 teaching that there is a dome around the earth and Job teaching that the earth is flat, you are mistaken. You have drawn those conclusions and then made another conclusion that the Bible contradicts itself. I am drawing a conclusion that your conclusions are incorrect.

  58. Rick Phillips said,

    May 19, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Art #53. Please do not take offense, as I sincerely do not intend to give any. But we do disagree. When you declare the Bible as errant based on “modern science” and “archaeology”, then that is judging Scripture by another and therefore higher standard. So I am not being disingenuous in this.

    The raqia is a good example. If I believed that Scripture intends to say that the sky was originally a dome, then how could I argue against this as truth unless I had another authority that is higher than Scripture. One point this makes is that inerrancy must be distinguished from the authorial intent of the Scripture. Amen to that. But the Bible’s teaching of historical fact (and scientific fact as to creation is historical fact) cannot be separated from its theological “facts”. If the one is errant, it is unreliable, and the other must also be, too.

    So please do not take offense at what I am saying, including my remarks in #50. The only way for us to declare Scripture to have erred is to have a higher authority that exposes the error. I refuse to do this based on the theological teaching of the Scripture. There really are these two approaches, and those who declare the Scriptures to be errant are by definition following a different procedure than those who refuse to do so. We all acknowledge the supposed errors — in fact, the idea that inerrantists do not acknowledge them was one of the more ludicrous features of Enns’ book. The issue is what we do about them. My argument is the way we handle them has deep and vital implications for how we receive all of Scripture.

    So, 1) yes, there is a difference between calling the Bible errant and ascertaining what the Bible intends to say; 2) but to call the Bible errant is to place some other authority over the Bible. I think it requires, at best, a Kantian dualism, and I would urge us against such an approach.

  59. May 19, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    What is scariest of all is that the arguments you espouse are the same as those that atheists use. See John Loftus’ “Why I became an Atheists.” While atheists propagate many argument, these are some of the principle arguments against Christianity.

  60. May 19, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    per # 57: “The only way for us to declare Scripture to have erred is to have a higher authority that exposes the error.”

    This is the point! Amen.

  61. Rick Phillips said,

    May 19, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Art #53.

    One more response. You object to my Ryle quote by saying that this suggests that you are not standing on the Scriptures. When it comes to declaring the Bible to be errant because of “modern science” or some other secular source, I am sorry to say that I do believe that you are standing on modern science rather than the Scriptures. If you are not saying that the Bible is in error on the basis of modern science, then I sincerely apologize. But it seems to me that you are saying this. So, again, I do not mean to give offense but to urge you to consider the implications of your procedure.

  62. May 19, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Art and Steve,

    What errors are in the Bible? How can I know what they are? What standard do you use to determine them? I am sincerely asking.

  63. Pete Myers said,

    May 19, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    #48 Richard,

    False antithesis. Saying “the Word” of Jn 17v17 is the gospel does not mean it therefore can’t be applied to the scriptures. That is to assume that they are not the same thing.

    Here’s what I mean, to quote my favourite catechism:

    The Word of God which is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments…

    That Word is truth. That Word is gospel.

    I imagine you might get hung up, now, on “in”… the Word of God is not the scriptures, you might say, it is “in” the scriptures. Well… my answer would be that the Word of God is in the scriptures in such a way that you can describe the scriptures themselves as “God-breathed” (2 Tim 3v16).

    Let’s make a series of propositions:
    1) All of scripture is God’s Word (2 Tim 3v16).
    2) God’s Word is truth (John 17v17).
    3) What you have to demonstrate is that there are “two categories” of God’s Word (aside from The Word who is Christ)… that there is:
    a) a Word which is truth, but
    b) This Word which is truth is a different Word than the scriptures taken as a whole.

  64. May 19, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Last comment then I’m out.

    Art, you appeal to Gen. 1 and the creation account in order to prove that there are errors in the Bible, yet even those who hold to a framework, analogy and day age scheme of creation do not say that there are errors in the Bible. They may, as you seem to be doing, place science over Scripture, but they do not draw a conclusion that Scripture is historically errant.

  65. GLW Johnson said,

    May 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Candidly, the comments from the other side of the aisle -who will no doubt start to tear their clothes and throw dirt in the air for my making an appearance- confirm the obvious. They reject the Old Princeton /Westminster tradition on Scripture-citing by name Warfield and Murray and yet they insist that the Enns’ position ( that they support) is somehow in keeping with the ‘tracjectory’ of this tradition all the while vilifying WTS for taking the course of action they did in dismissing Enns,accusing the powers that be of ‘political’ skullduggery. That WTS sought to maintain this tradition is ,in their view, wrong. My question: Why is the seminary not in their rights to do this? You don’t like what the seminary has historically stood for then simply leave and go to some place that has no such tradition.

  66. Wayne said,

    May 19, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Great Piece Reed! We don’t need any more confusion in the pew than is already there. In many of our Reformed congregations some of which are still dealing with the last confusing heterodoxy (FV) the last thing they need is someone questioning the inerrancy of Scripture.

  67. ReformedSinner said,

    May 19, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    #64, Gary,

    Hopefully Reed you can see I’m not here to spill gas on fire, but to highlight a very critical inconsistency with pro-Enns gangs.

    1) When the whole thing happened they fight that Enns is well within the Reformed Tradition and not antithetical. That he is well within the Doctrine of Scripture formulated by Warfield, Old Princeton, etc. But now they backtrack and say they are not in agreement with Warfield, Old Princeton, etc. That Enns is right to challenge the Reformed tradition.

    2) They insist that believing Bible has errors, and beliving the Bible as God’s Word and therefore “infallible” is not antagonistic. But now they are “growing” in their arguments. They are now saying what the Bible “teaches about faith” are infallible but not “other areas” such as history and science. And now they claim this is consistent with what the Jesus/apostles always believed. So this is the “trajectory” we are watching developing right before our eyes. The Bible as a whole is infallible reduced to what “it teaches about faith” is infallible.

    3) Their high views of extra-biblical data, makes one wonder if the Bible needs to be corrected by extra-biblical data/texts/findings/traditions/etc. then what makes the Bible uniquely God’s word and not just another human literature? What makes them so sure the 66 books we have now is the Word of God breathed out by God? They don’t hide their distain for the Masoretic Text, and if that’s the case what’s stopping them (or affirming them) from simply declaring we can never be sure if the OT that we have it is fully God’s Word and that there’s the possibility and probablity that the Church has missed a good chunk of God’s Words out there?

  68. May 19, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Rick and Nick,

    I understand where you are coming from more than you realize. I used to hold not just to inerrancy, but I used to articulate it in almost exactly the same theological-theoretical ways Rick has above. I do appreciate your sincere intentions here.

    That said, from my point of view, Rick and Nick, both of you are also appealing to a higher-authority than Scripture in this discussion, if we are going to argue that way. You see, you have assumptions about what it means that the Bible is God’s Word, what it means that God is Truth, what it means that the Bible is inspired, etc. With these assumptions, which you remain unwilling to allow Scripture’s actual characteristics to challenge, you impose a standard on the Bible itself. You also do this most certainly “where it counts,” because with these assumptions you create normative reading methodologies that pre-determine what the Bible can do or say.

    You claim I am starting with X, Y, and Z presuppositions that are unChristian or not in line with Scripture. Perhaps I am. Both of you, however, most certainly bring a host of assumptions to the table as well. You start with the following related presuppositions and doctrines (many of which you certainly get from Scripture): the Bible is God’s Word, all scripture is God-breathed, God is Truth and Perfect, everything God does bears the stamp of his truth and perfection, God does not lie, etc. At this point, however, a whole host of unargued (at least not from Scripture) assumptions take over for you. The Bible being God’s Word and God being Truth and Perfection means for you that it is true and inerrant according to your specific sensitivities about truth and perfection. You move from “all Scripture is God-breathed” to all Scripture is inerrant, non-contradictory, teaches propositional statements that exist in a transcendent systematic-theological system, etc. You assume that the Divinity of Scripture entails its inerrancy, historical-scientific veracity, etc. etc. etc. Nick, above you move from Jesus appealing to the Scriptures to (at least implying), therefore, Jesus shows that the Scriptures are inerrant as you conceive of them (because you assume [not argue] that for Jesus to appeal to the Scriptures as a Final Divine authority they must also be inerrant). From all these assumptions, which you accept as axiomatically inherent in Scripture’s divinity, you derive normative reading methods for how the Bible can be read: i.e., only by means of interpretive strategies that presume its inerrancy, systematic-theological coherence, etc.

    Thus you can discredit anyone who does not submit to your approved normative-reading methods; you can discredit them for not reading Scripture as God’s Word, for appealing to some higher authority than Scripture for judging Scripture, etc. AGAIN, thus you operate on the basis of a whole host of unargued (from Scripture) assumptions. If I may go a bit further, employing these unargued assumptions constitutes a brilliant strategy (sometimes conscious). By deploying these assumptions precisely as presuppositions for which you will not argue, you make them self-authenticating within this field of discourse. You give them the status of unquestionable definers of the field…the act of questioning them (or asking someone to argue for them) itself becomes a disqualifier. You thus completely ensure the conditions within the field that lead to your theology (and authority as a specialist manipulator-producer of that theology within social formations constituted by many people who participate as consumers of this theological-intellectualist discourse) reigning supreme. Put another way, you strategically “beg the question,” moving the very points of discussion out of the realm of discussion and into the realm of presuppositions and assumptions that must be held even to participate within the field. In logical terms, by the way, we call this “begging the question.”

    Even if you will not now argue for all these assumptions I bring up here, can you at least acknowledge that your charges of us “appealing to a higher authority than Scripture” depends upon acceptance of this cluster of assumptions (again, e.g.: the divinity of Scripture just entails its inerrancy…God being Truth means that Scripture must be true according to your notions of truth, etc.)?

    As I bring this comment to a close, let me go back to how you also appeal to authorities higher than Scripture here. I will try by starting with some questions. Rick and Nick, WHAT IF Scripture has errors in it and WHAT IF Scripture behaves in ways cutting across your notions of inerrancy and what-it-means-that the Bible is God’s Word? WHAT IF, even though some passages of the Bible assert the truthfulness of God’s Word/God’s perfection/that God does not lie/etc., WHAT IF even in view of those passages the Bible contains errors and does things that cut across your notions of what it means in-the-details-of-Scripture that God is Truth? At this very point, the move you will most basically make (the one Gaffin, Tipton, and every other WTS Van Tilian to whom I have put these questions, makes!) shows how, when it comes down to it, you appeal to an authority “above” Scripture. Ultimately you will argue that Scripture just cannot do those things and that any reading of the Bible showing that it does is, by definition, a faulty reading…it is, by definition, appealing to an authority above Scripture. Please see what you thus do, you insulate your doctrine of Scripture from Scripture itself. You make it impossible for Scripture itself to challenge your doctrine of Scripture. Here you appeal not to Scripture, not to “exegesis,” but to your (strategic) assumptions about what Scripture is and must be. At best you will appeal to logical syllogisms, laws of non-contradiction and truth, and slippery-slope arguments. In all this, however, one of the things you emphatically DO NOT DO is appeal to Scripture…you appeal to your notions of how Scripture must be. The most humorous part of all this comes when Van Tilians then revel the circularity of this move. Does it not bother you that you have made your doctrines of Scripture immune from Scripture itself? How does this basic dynamic of Reformed-Confessionalist operating (especially as exhibited at WTS, on this blog, etc…the dynamic I used to whole-heartedly endorse, BTW) not constitute an appeal to an authority above Scripture?

    …and, congrats if you made it this far. I hope this makes sense and comes across with the tone we want on this thread : ). As I have said many times here, I really wish some of us (who disagree with each other) could have these discussions together over some good beer in a bar. Nick, I know we did that once…and it proved very edifying. Hopefully we can do it again!

  69. GLW Johnson said,

    May 19, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    FTH
    You again confirm what I just said. The Westminster tradition-of which Van Til is representative- stands in sharp contrast to what you are advocating. Right or wrong ,it is you that have departed from what Westminster historically represented. Why are you still insisting that the seminary should abandon its tradition and embrace something that is clearly at odds with what WTS was designed to maintain? more importantly, why do you continue to castigate those at the seminary who seek to remain faithful to the vision of the founders?

  70. Todd said,

    May 19, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    R.K. Harrison, in his Introduction to the Old Testament, answers well FTH’s criticism of the accuracy of Daniel 9:1.

    “Any suggestion to the effect that the writer placed Darius I before Cyrus and made Xerxes the father of Darius I ignores the fact that Daniel was referring to Darius the Mede. It is difficult to see how an intellegent second-century B.C. Jewish author could possibly have made such blunders as the critical scholars have ascribed to the complier of Daniel, particularly if he had access to the writings of Ezra. Had the work contained as many frank errors as are usually credited to it, it is certain that the book would never had gained acceptance into the canon of Scripture, since it would have emerged very poorly by comparison with the writings of secular historians such as Herodotus, Ctesias, Meander, and others…” (pg.1122)

    This to me is one of the many major problems with the errantists. They seem to end up holding that those closest to the actual history had no idea of the historical mistakes they were making when writing Scripture, or those reading the Scripture back then were just as clueless. Not very likely.

  71. GLW Johnson said,

    May 19, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    p.s. FTH I would love to set down with over a beer (or two ) and a good cigar and discuss these things with you. I am ,after all, one of Machen’s warrior chidren.

  72. Vern Crisler said,

    May 19, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Re: #33
    Daniel’s Darius was a Median king, son of Xerxes, another Median king (cf. Dan. 5:31; 6:28; 9:1). He was not the same individual as Darius 1, the Persian king. Despite irreligious claims that the book of Daniel confused these two kings, the Bible goes out of its way to distinguish these kings by their respective nations.

    Presumably Darius the Mede was a vassal king under Persian king Cyrus (the Great). Vassalage was a common practice in the ancient world.
    Darius 1, the Persian, was the second king after Cyrus the Great. The progression goes like this:

    ———Media——————Persia—————–
    1.–Ahasuerus (Dan. 9:1)———————————
    2.–Darius (his son)————-Cyrus 2 (the Great)———
    3.—————————-Cambyses 2—————
    4.—————————-Darius 1 (son of Hystaspes)–
    5.—————————-Ahasuerus (Xerxes)———
    6.—————————-Artaxerxes 1————–
    7.—————————-Darius 2——————

    For a fuller discussion, see Josh McDowell, *Daniel In the Critics’ Den*, p. 71ff, though I do not necessarily agree that Darius the Mede was Gubaru.

    Vern

  73. Vern Crisler said,

    May 19, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Looks like Todd beat me to the punch.

  74. Pete Myers said,

    May 19, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    FTH,

    The assumptions that Rick and Nick are coming to scripture with are assumptions that they have taken from the didactic statements of scriptures about itself.

    Your assumptions when coming to scripture are from somewhere else (i.e. not assumptions based on what scripture is telling us directly to believe about itself).

    This is why their assumptions are not external authorities to the Bible but yours are.

  75. Rick Phillips said,

    May 19, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    FTH66

    To be honest, this is what I would expect you to say, otherwise you would probably agree with me. I heard all this before when I took OTI with Pete Enns. In part, I am hampered by the limits of this forum. But when I say that divine perfection mandates inerrancy, I do realize that this is not necessarily the case. But it does not mean that I do not gain that view from the Bible, even if I have only asserted it here. In general, though, I would say that while you want the Scripture to define our doctrine of Scripture by an objective assessment of Scripture, I want to define scripture’s doctrine of Scripture subjectively, by what the Scripture says about itself and about God. In other words, while you are willing to employ higher critical methods to assess the text, I consider higher critical methods to be inconsistent with belief in what the Scripture says. This, I believe, marks the difference btwn Enns and Tipton/Gaffin et al. What I heard from Pete in the mid-90′s indicated that the embrace of h-c methods kept him sane at Harvard (I do not mean that as a barb). That embrace, which is inconsistent with the theological commitments of Old Princeton, set him on the trajectory he is on. So our mutual appeal to Scripture is fundamentally separated by our interpretive presuppositions. That doesn’t answer all that you said, but it’s the best I can do on my Blkackberry at my daughter’s softball game!

  76. May 19, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    I would respectfully ask the moderator(s) to keep this discussion on topic. It has been one of the best I’ve seen anywhere. I think both sides are stating their positions very clearly and helpfully.

    If one of the bloggers here wants to start a thread about the particular situation at WTS regarding Peter Enns, then those who care to could discuss it there. This thread needs to stay focused not on personalities and politics but on the issues Reed raised: What are the main arguments of each side of the current inerrancy debates, and how does each side answer the substantive challenges of the other.

  77. GLW Johnson said,

    May 19, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    MT
    I asked a very legitimate set of questions, the likes of which you do not wish to address. Reed, is this out of bounds ?

  78. May 19, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Rick #73,

    I thought FTH gave about as clear an explanation as could be given of why we get frustrated when your side claims the high ground (“we’re the ones who believe what Scripture says about itself”) without admitting any need to defend how it is that you are so sure that what you say Scripture says about itself is what it really does say about itself (if, indeed, it is even correct to say that “Scripture speaks about itself”–several above have already raised difficulties inherent in that assumption.)

    If we can get no further than your insistence that your presuppositions are not presuppositions but merely right by definition, then perhaps we have come to the end of useful discussion. If that is the case, I don’t find that in itself discouraging. I don’t think any of us entered into this expecting that we might “convert” anyone from the other side. The main utility of a discussion like this, I think, is to flush out what each side really thinks, and the real basis of their thinking. I think we have done that to a large degree.

  79. May 19, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    GLW:

    I do not at all mean to imply that your questions are unreasonable. Quite the opposite! I was just appealing that we stay on one topic here. That is not at all to cut off that it might be useful to debate the WTS-Princeton tradtion and our relationship (or non-relationship) to it. That’s a fair question, just not the one before us here.

    Fair enough?

  80. GLW Johnson said,

    May 19, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    MT
    The names of Warfield, Murray and Van Til along with that of the Old Princeton/ Westminster tradition were all cited in this thread . Why then are my questions considered inappropriate ?

  81. May 19, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    OK fine, Gary. Go ahead and ask. I’m just not answering (not here anyway). I’ll interact with their arguments, for sure (where I feel able to do so). But what I’m saying I’m not going to get into (on this thread) is whether or not we (and/or Enns and/or any other WTS profs) are or are not in any particular tradition. This thread is not about what badge we’re wearing and whose flag we’re flying; it’s about the arguments for each side’s position.

  82. GLW Johnson said,

    May 19, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Mt
    You really think that the essence of Reed’s post is unrelated to the Enns/ Westminster issue? It is at the very heart of this debate. Enns claims that he is standing in this tradition ( at least he did while he was on the faculty). Reed , Lane, Rick Phillips and myself among others, content otherwise. How is that not part of this discussion? You want to debate this subject in the abstract- which I find impossible given the dynamics of the whole debate. What I think is perfectly clear is that you are on the horns of a dilemma the points of which are a discomfort to you.

  83. May 19, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    You will have to think what you want to think, Gary.

  84. GLW Johnson said,

    May 19, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    MT
    I really would like to set down with you and FTH , Art Boulet and Carlos Bovell over a beer and a couple of good cigars and discuss these issues with you guys… as long as I can bring along Reed, Lane, Rick, Nick, Ron Gleason and Jeff Waddington.

  85. Reed Here said,

    May 19, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    O.k. All: not fair! I make a few hospital visits, sit through a nail biter baseball game in which my son hit a stand-up triple (with RBI!), and I come back to find y’all filling up my mailbox!

    Glad you’re finding this discussion helpful. Keep going.

  86. May 19, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Now THAT would be a roundtable to remember, would it not, Gary? Probably could have happened a few months ago (if you happened to be visiting Philly), but we’re starting to disperse now.

  87. May 19, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Reed,

    Stand up triple! Wow. We should ask him what his opinion on this matter is and that will settle it. I mean, when someone’s experienced a miracle, we ought to listen!

  88. Reed Here said,

    May 19, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Gary and Mark:

    It appears you’ve settled the question yourselves at this point.

    I’ll only add that it appears to me that while Gary’s particular question maybe tangential (to wit, your prior relation to the Warfield/Murray/Young tradition at WTS), I do think he is right to observe that their arguments are fundamental to the debate here.

    On the other hand Gary, while not out of bounds, Mark has chosen to not discuss “the past” and instead wants to focus on exploring the bounds of the differences here. In that my primary goal for this thread is to demonstrate the incoherency of his (Enns, et.al.) position, I’m willing to abide by his wishes.

    P.S. If we ever get the chance to do the beer and cigars thing – I’m in. Just don’t ask me to enjoy the cigar. I seem to have some sort of reaction to the aroma of tobacco smoke, one that involves various shades of green :)

  89. Kurt said,

    May 19, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    OK, in the interest of full disclosure I am joining this discussion as somewhat of an amateur (though I have read I&I and followed inerrancy debates for 30 years)– but I have perhaps some different perspectives from most of y’all as I, first, am a working scientist with a PhD in Chemistry from UC Berkeley, but 2nd have lived and worked cross-culturally for 6 years, and tend to think missiologically (in a “classical” sense of thinking how one effectively communicates cross-culturally). I am also, to complete the full disclosure, an RE in the PCA.

    I would like to make two points, then pose a question or two that may take the discussion in a bit of a different direction. Maybe this topic has been discussed elsewhere and someone can point me to it. Here is my first point: whenever incarnation takes place, this necessarily takes place in a specific cultural context. When Jesus incarnated, he did so as a first century Palestinian Jew; and when God’s Word became inscripturated in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, this necessarily took place in particular cultural contexts– in the case of Scripture, a whole variety of cultural contexts over many centuries.

    2nd point: God’s redeemed and gathered-in humanity, from Pentecost through the visions of Revelations, and as incarnated today (if you will) as the universal Church, is NOT a-cultural, but rather pointedly multi-cultural, and celebrated as such. My personal affirmations of faith are necessarily formulated and expressed in 21st century English– this is context of my personal incarnation– but as soon as I try to translate these affirmations into a different cultural context, there is no one-to-one correspondence, and anything I do is approximate at best. But as in Acts 12-15, God seems to keep welcoming all sorts of unlikely folks and even their enculturated affirmations of faith.

    Here is my question, then, and it’s for those of you who disagree with FTH #66: please help me understand how you would argue your position about inerrancy, in the light of the multi-cultural context out of which the Scriptures arose, and in the light of the multi-cultural reality which is the Church that is seeking to understand Scripture as the word of God. I am having trouble seeing how a Chicago declaration-type formulation has any relevance for that portion of the Church (probably most of the current worldwide church, including many younger people right here in the US) which is incarnated, and seeking to follow Christ, in a non-Modernist cultural context. Are you saying they need to become modernists?

    While you are explaining this to me, I will continue to ponder the paradox of Rick #73, where if I understand what he is saying, it is FTH#66 who is said to be committed to “objectivity”, while Rick sees a surer path, leading to inerrancy, based on “subjectivity”

  90. GLW Johnson said,

    May 19, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Reed
    I know its late , but what do you mean by ‘is wishes’ ? By the way all of you will have to come to Arizona for our get together. And Mark, you can bring along Pete Enns if I can invite Carl Trueman.

  91. GLW Johnson said,

    May 19, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    One final thing . Mark, Steven, Art and Carlos-please accept my sincere apologies for my often rough response to you-esp, you Art. I hold WTS (and Old Princeton) in very high regard and become very defense when I think my alma mater is slighted. My zeal often gets the best of me.

  92. Reed Here said,

    May 19, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Steven (FTH), Art, et.al.:

    I won’t repeat the arguments that I would offer in response to a lot of what you’ve said. I will say thanks for the interaction and point to most of what Rick and Nick have said (and others), as they pretty well sum up my take.

    Steven, I hear your anxte about our “presumption” of an unassailable mountain of presuppositions on which we have founded our doctrine of Scripture. Hopefully no more frustration for you when I simply observe what else can one do?

    Your position, contrary to Art’s denial (sorry Art) is founded upon a particular set of man-authority presuppositions. As you know, there is no such unassailable set in all of Creation. This is a sad fact of reality, an aspect of the curse that must be faced with humility.

    The search for objectivity is a failure, be it the frenetic modernist search for one, or the arrogant presumption of one by post-modernism, or the latest of carefully rationalistically detailed positions such as critical (practical) realism. All rest on the authority of fallen Man, the one guaranteed source of errancy and fallibility.

    Rick’s well expressed subjective reliance on “thus says the Lord” is all we really have to rely upon. I remind you of the WCF’s affirmation about the only Source of real conviction that the word is God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible word – is the testimony of the Spirit.

    I find it interesting that this is the answer prior to our modern, post-modern, and now your post-post-modern ruminations into incoherency. As well, in that the Divines were summarizing what they had been taught, from others teaching what they had been taught, etc. back to the very dim dawning of the canon itself – the evidence says to me that the Spirit has been confirming this triple “i” nature for Scripture for quite some time.

    Look at it this way: you say look to Man’s opinion for the authority of the Bible’s nature; whereas we say look to the Divine Author’s testimony. I recognize it is more nuanced in your claims. I do think those are only claims you make, assertions not proven.

    I’m afraid your’s will be yet another attempt to secure an objectivity based on the authority of man. You will fail in that effort, simply because such is impossible. I take no glee in saying this to you. As much as you wish we’d see what you see, I wish you’d see you’re fascinated by the same old smoke and mirrors images that have fooled so many so often.

  93. Reed Here said,

    May 19, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Gary: oops, “his” wishes.

  94. May 19, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Gary, thanks for the apology. It means a lot. You have mine in return, for I know that I have tried to go tit-for-tat with you in unhealthy ways as well. As you’ve experienced, we were pretty passionate about “our” WTS as well, and the whole thing happening there these past few years is nothing if it is not a “war” between people very passionate for a certain vision of that school.

  95. GLW Johnson said,

    May 19, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Mark
    Yes it has. I have been aware of this developing situation for sometime and it has caused me and no doubt you and many others, no little personal grief. That said , I hope to conduct myself with a bit more restraint in the future.

  96. Tommy Keene said,

    May 19, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    What a wonderful set of apologies. It’s good to hear some constructive discussion on these issues. Thanks for this thread.

    I only want to say two things.

    First, this blog really really needs to install something like IntenseDebate. Threaded comments would make things a lot easier to follow.

    Second. Ros’s comment (#33) received far too little attention. Brief, but jam-packed and enormously important, imo.

  97. May 19, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Tommy,

    Thanks for pointing back to comment #33. It posted late because comments by first-timers are held for moderation. (That should be made clear on the comment box.)

  98. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 19, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Art (#29):

    Mathematical formulae are inerrant…

    You’ve never graded math tests, have you? ;)

    One basic question unaddressed here is “What is an error?”

    Another question for Art and FTH:

    Both of you have articulated the idea that Bible is True (FTH) or infallible (Art), and yet contains errors. To what extent is your method different from or similar to Bultmann’s notion of a kernel of truth within an errant husk?

    Jeff Cagle

  99. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 2:30 am

    Hmmmm…

    It seems the depth of discussion has reached that point where whar’s needed is a far more careful treatment of the issues than this forum allows.

    Just to say this though (as a guy with no connection to wts, I’m an evangelical from across the other side of the world). What some of you are saying is “very big”, and is not where conservative evangelicals are at all over here in the UK. But, the arguments you put forward, and the logic that underlies them, doesn’t appear new to me in any way…

    The “inerrantist assumptions” are based on hundreds of years of evangelical argument… but none of that seems to have been properly addressed by anyone. Indeed, that was Scott’s critique of Enns in the latest WTJ. Forgive me, brothers, if you don’t feel listened to. But, I simply can’t see how you’ve listened to the standard case put forward for inerrancy for a very long time.

    Neither has anyone, apart from Richard, tried to even begin to address the proof-texts I’ve put forward in this discussion. Either the discussion on this as WTS is soooo mature, that, you’ve moved on from the classical arguments for inerrancy a long time ago, or, as an outsider I’ve got to say that you are simply not addressing the bright pink elephant standing in the room stamping on your feet.

  100. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 4:23 am

    Hey guys! Can I get in on this party? What, no name-calling allowed? That’s a crazy idea, who came up with that one?

    Here’s my two cents for what it’s worth:

    Although I personally think “inerrancy” has outlived it’s usefulness and should be replaced by “trustworthy” or “authoritative,” I don’t think what Reed writes above is hopelessly incoherent.

    1. The Bible contains non-incidental errors.
    2. The Bible itself is inerrant.
    3. This is not a contradiction.

    In my view, this does not necessarily lend itself to contradiction so long as the way in which the Bible contains non-incidental errors is not the exact same way in which the Bible is said to not contain errors. The category of error in each assertion seems to me different. Consider with me an analagous case if you will:

    1. Our Lord Jesus Christ was begotten of the Father before all ages.
    2. Our Lord Jesus Christ was begotten of the virgin Mary.
    3. This is not a contradiction.

    Some non-Christians insist this is a contradiction and leave it at that, but most Christians are willing to allow ample room to nuance their way out of contradiction. Or again,

    1. Our Lord Jesus Christ is of one substance with the Father.
    2. Our Lord Jesus Christ is of one substance with us.
    3. This is not a contradiction.

    Some non-Christians might see this as a contradiction and refuse to discuss the matter any further. Again, most Christians see enough wiggle room to nuance their way out of contradiction here too. The way that believers nuance their way out of this may not be easy for laypeople to understand (or theologians and philosophers for that matter), but that does not mean that the nuancing is not advisable. But naysayers may have time for said nuancing, it may come across as a bit ad hoc, and the way that people nuance out of this, especially if one is not sympathetic to what the nuancing is attempting to accomplish, might come across as more or less forced. Consider with me again:

    1. We believe in one God.
    2. We believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
    3. This is not a contradiction.

    I hope that you might be able to grasp my meaning by now. In each case, Christians will try to reassure that the categories in each 1 and 2 above are different and therefore do not constitute a contradiction. I think some who still want to be called “inerrantists” wish to do a similar thing with the 1, 2, and 3 that Reed enumerates above in his post.

    Now some “errantists” as they have been called have tried to explain these kinds of maneuvers to “inerrantists” and have not been all that successful. In fact, some have gradually become convinced that it would be best if “inerrancy” could be dropped from the discussion and “trustworthiness” or some other equivalent should be advanced in its stead. This way they won’t have to go through the same type of clarification process that I am attempting now with every inerrantist that they happen to be speaking. They think “inerrancy” might profitably be used to describe their position but notice that the word has become so entrenched in a cultural Battle for the Bible with a very specific and limited connotation that it might be wiser to let go of it and opt for a new way of looking at things.

    GLW:
    In an attempt to answer your question regarding the Warfield trajectory, I think that pro-Enns people may think that if Warfield were here now he might modify what he had written under the force of his own arguments. Scripture is the word of God and over the course of another two generations of biblical studies is beginning to defy certain expectations that we have placed on it. In order to be faithful to a high view of scripture, scripture itself should be allowed to have such a say as to cause us to revisit bibliology critically in a way that does we might be able to do better justice to the way that scripture actually appears to behave.

    Granted, this is only one possible trajectory to follow out of a Warfield-like position; it is progressive and will not be compelling to everyone, but there is a claim to be made that if scripture is not approached in such a way that it MUST be, a priori, in absolute comformity to what confessional theology says about scripture, then some will come to the opinion that there is more to say about scripture and its authority. And in order to adequately express what that “more” might be, a new vocabulary might be introduced.

    Grace and peace.

  101. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 5:23 am

    #cbovell,

    Whatever “label” you use the discussion is about whether the Bible contains error or not. I.e. whether it is “errant” or “in-errant”. I don’t know of a discussion I’ve had in the last year, where the “labels” used have so accurately the described the issue in contention.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but, everyone seems to agree the Bible is authoritative, indeed that it is infallible… the question at hand is whether the Bible therefore needs to be inerrant. The current issue under discussion is very succinctly and aptly referred to as whether I believe the Bible can be errant or whether it must be inerrant.

    What I don’t understand, is, where is the scholarship that deals with the actual evangelical argument for inerrancy?? The “errantists” on this blog have continually pointed to examples in the scriptures of where they believe they can demonstrate errancy “look this is errant… therefore the Bible can be errant”.

    The accusation that is made against those whom believe in inerrancy, is that their position on inerrancy is an a priori assumption. The problem with this, though, is that it is now an assumption, because evangelicals have spent 100 years or so proving it.

    Inerrancy was a conclusion reached from lots of exegetical and theological work… and because of that it is now an assumption.

    But I’ve seen no evidence, nothing, nada, to suggest to me that the actual work put in by evangelicals over hundreds of years to prove that the scriptures claim inerrancy for themselves has been refuted. All of the arguments put forward seem to begin with dismissing inerrancy as an unproven assumption, and then to attempt to demonstrate errancy by observation.

    One justification of this dismissal is that previous generations hadn’t come across the new and sophisticated arguments and views that we are dealing with in our generation. I don’t dismiss this out of hand… it is true that the church modifies it’s beliefs over time as new information comes forward. However… the discussion over what the Bible teaches (which is truth), and what is incidental (which is claimed can be errant) is not new. Bavinck for one provides all the major philisophical backbone and building blocks for the “assumptions” we now have about inerrancy. Chapters 13 and 14 of his Prolegomena contain much of this, but his work on the foundations of dogma in chs 7 and 8, and the history of revelation in ch 9 also bear weight on the discussion. Grudem offers a list of proof-texts, and a summary of some of the most basic arguments. If these are so inadequate, where is the work showing they are inadequate?

    Inerrancy is not an evangelical assumption. It is an evangelical conclusion, defended so many times previously that we now assume. If people are so disparaging of this “assumption” of inerrancy… I can only imagine that is because they have seen lots of scholarly work gone into disproving the actual arguments of Hodge, Warfield, Bavinck, etc. because simply dismissing their conclusions as an “assumption” simply because you think you observe errancy is fallacious.

    I would appreciate being directed toward this body of work that tackles exegetically the case that the Bible claims inerrancy for itself… rather than being pointed towards work that supposed observes errancy, as though that is somehow “proof enough”.

  102. May 20, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Pete,

    Thanks for seeking to refocus the discussion. Most helpful. Your question is a good one. Rest assured that we “errantists” are fully aware of the evangelical proof texts and exegesis, and have found them wanting. Perhaps that is so far in our background that we neglect to explain how we got there. It would indeed be helpful for you and our readers (I’ve heard from dozens who are following this discussion with great interest) if we laid that out.

    For that reason I am very happy to see that Carlos Bovell has joined the discussion. He might be too modest to say it, but he has written an entire book answering your question, Inerrancy and the Spiritual Formation of Younger Evangelicals.

    I will not be able to participate much as I have a busy work day ahead, but I leave you in capable hands.

  103. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 5:50 am

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for that… for this conversation to be “on topic”… it basically boils down to: What does scripture teach about itself?

    I will order your recommendation from Amazon now, though, I’m slightly confused by Bovell’s description (from his website), that, “it is a cumulative pragmatic argument”… and how exactly the books argument therefore meets the challenge that I’ve laid down (to exegetically show the Bible doesn’t teach inerrancy about itself). But, you read my long comment, so I’ll take your word for it – book ordered.

  104. Richard said,

    May 20, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Pete: re #63

    You said that “Saying “the Word” of Jn 17v17 is the gospel does not mean it therefore can’t be applied to the scriptures. That is to assume that they are not the same thing.”

    Actually Pete, I am doing some simple exegesis, i.e. I am answering the question “To what is Jesus refering to when he is saying “word” in Jn. 17:17?” To argue that Jesus is refering to the 66 books of the Bible is untenable. Further, to argue thus:

    P1: The Bible is the word of God.
    P2: Jesus said “Thy word is truth”
    C: Therefore the Bible is truth.

    is to fall afoul of a non sequitur as C simply does not follow from P1 and P2.

  105. art said,

    May 20, 2009 at 6:39 am

    GLW #90:

    I appreciate that apology very much. I often allow my zeal to get the best of me in these conversations as well, for which I also apologize.

    I wish I would be able to jump into this conversation right now, but I must be getting to work. I hope to join it again this evening. I think it is going in a good direction.

  106. GLW Johnson said,

    May 20, 2009 at 6:49 am

    Carlos
    I personally find your suggestion that if BBW was around today he would be persuaded to adopt a position similar to that which you have embraced extremely hubristic. It sounds like -”Poor Benny, if only he knew as much as Carlos he would quickly change his mind”. Mark T. ,I have read Carlos’ book. Let’s just said that if Carlos had been around during Warfield’s day and BBW had reviewed this book -Carlos might have changed his name afterwards.

  107. May 20, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Pete,

    While Carlos’s book is primarily a pragmatic argument (“pressing inerrancy on younger evangelicals will only result in driving them out of evangelicalism”), he does deal with some of the classic proof text passages along the way. And he’s WTS trained, so he knows the classic arguments well.

  108. May 20, 2009 at 7:06 am

    #95
    Tommy as to Ros’ comment #33, I actually agree. Every verse in the Bible cannot always be read as a truth proposition. As Ros and I have both done work on the Song of Songs this is quite evident. The Song is filled with literary metaphors and symbols. Now, those symbols need to be interpreted according to authorial intent in their context. This brings the canon issue to the forefront, which has been the issue for so many of us in this whole discussion. If the author of Scripture is God, and if He alone can give the true interpretation, then we must look to Him for our interpretive principles. He has said that “the words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in the furnace of the earth tried seven times.” Here is an example of a verse of Scripture making a truth claim about the inerrancy of Scripture, yet using metaphors and similes to do so. There is also symbolism at work in the verse (i.e. the allusion to being tried 7 times). So, the only way I can understand this verse is to interpret the metaphor, simile, and symbolism. The way I do that is by comparing Scripture with Scripture. This is what Paul tells us to do in 1 Corinthians 2:9-13:

    9 But as it is written:

    “ Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
    Nor have entered into the heart of man
    The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”[c]

    But God has revealed them (i.e. the deep things of God) to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
    13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy[d] Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

    Verse 13 especially teaches the Reformed principle of Scripture interpreting Scripture. This is an inspired hermeneutic.

    Now, apply all this to Art’s statement #29 that Job taught that the world was flat and supported by pillars. Despite the fact that even secular biblical studies scholars understand that in the ancient world, the earth was viewed as a temple (i.e. the explanation of the pillars), and that this is obviously symbolism, this is evident from the same teaching of Genesis to Revelation. I do not have to look outside the canon. The reason scholars who hate Jesus understand this is because they have literary studies skills and read the Bible, at least in the context of what is accepted as the HB. They fail to see the Christo-telic principle that Enns so rightly promotes, but they do get the grammatical-historical structure. So, Ros is correct. We need to recognize when we are dealing with metaphor, simile, symbol or literal propositions. Nevertheless, I would assert that Ros is incorrect to pit these things against truth or falsehood. The symbol speaks of some real idea or concept. The idea or concept is then to be judged according to its referent, and therefore, as to the proposition in which it fits. The propositional statement that is deduced from the place of the metaphor, simile or symbol is then to be preached. Otherwise what is preaching? If we do not drawn propositional statements from story or narrative that includes metaphors, similes, etc. what good is preaching?

  109. May 20, 2009 at 7:13 am

    I do want to clarify that when I say, “Every verse in the Bible cannot be read as a truth proposition,” and then conclude that “The symbol speaks of some real idea or concept. The idea or concept is then to be judged according to its referent, and therefore, as to the proposition in which it fits,” I am affirming that every verse fits into a larger truth proposition in one way or another–even in the Song of Songs!

  110. May 20, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Ros,

    Would you be willing to give an example of hyperbole, from Scripture, that is not “true?” I am not asking this in a sarcastic tone. I sincerely want to demonstrate what I have said above.

  111. May 20, 2009 at 7:33 am

    GLW,

    Thanks for your apology. Of course, I never get carried away while blogging… : )

  112. Reformed Sinner said,

    May 20, 2009 at 7:39 am

    “pressing inerrancy on younger evangelicals will only result in driving them out of evangelicalism”

    I keep hearing this being preach. However, my talking with all the pastors and church leaders that I know of (and no they are not just Reformed, I deal with them all, independents, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, etc.) and ALL of them (so far I haven’t met one) says people being exposed to the theory that the Bible contains errors but yet is still the Word of God are very detrimental to the church. The definition of Evangelicalism itself is full trust in the Word of God in all of life. If the Word of God contains errors, then it cannot be trusted, then everything is fair game. It made young people very critical of Church teachings, very critical of any absolute teachings, and very agnostic.

    I’m really trying to find out which group of people Dr. Enns (and others) is speaking about when they say their way help rescue young people and make them even more faithful to the Word instead of more critical/agnostic to the Word.

  113. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 20, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Carlos (#99):

    So would it be fair to say that the errors you see are “errors” in one sense but not in another? This would be the most obvious way to sustain the syllogism.

    So now … what senses?

    Jeff Cagle

  114. Reformed Sinner said,

    May 20, 2009 at 7:49 am

    I’m still waiting (maybe this question is too shallow for the theological masters of this forum and thus ignored) on how the Bible is infallible if by observation it’s full of errors everywhere, how can we know for sure the 66 books we have is infallible and why not the apocryphals and others, and since we hold extra-biblical materials to such high regard what’s stopping us from appending them into the Bible for the Church to benefit from such wonderful “keys” to help us open the wisdom of God, since the wisdom is obviously locked up without these extra-biblical “keys”

  115. GLW Johnson said,

    May 20, 2009 at 7:57 am

    My experience during my undergraduate days were just the opposite of what Carlos claims. I went to a fairly typical secular univ. I was a very active member of the local IVF chapter and watched with great sadness as one after another fellow IVF students fall away after being exposed to the higher critical views of the Bile that reigned surpreme-standard JEPD stuff, late Daniel, deuto-Isaiah ,Synoptics vs. John’s gospel, Non-Pauline authorship of the majority of the epistles that bear his name. One of the religion professors ( a Ivy league PhD) that I had took great delight in upending the naive beliefs of those who thought the Bible was inspired by God. It was during my sophmore year that I came across J.I. Packer’s little book ,’Fundamentalism and The Word of God’ and discovered in its pages the name Warfield and who became to me what Interpreter was to Christian in Bunyan’s ‘ Pilgram Progress’. I see from Carlos ‘s background he was never exposed to this kind of stuff.

  116. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:03 am

    #103,

    Richard… What you have done there is simply to ignore my argument, and then claim that I made no argument.

    We are both doing exegesis on John 17v17.

    However… we are both then doing the systematic task of asking what significance what Jesus says has for our doctrine in light of the rest of scripture.

    You are constructing a false antithesis: “either Jesus is explicitly talking about the 66 books of the Bible directly, or what he’s saying cannot be applied to them.”

    What is the “Word of God”? For simplicity we can say the “Word of God” is three things:
    a) Christ himself.
    b) The canonical scriptures that are breathed out by God.
    c) The content – the information contained in – the scriptures.

    An absolute statement about the nature/essence of (b) that is made at any point in history applies to the whole of (b). If God says authoritatively “All Scripture is God-breathed” and only 60 books have been written, the statement still applies to the 6 that are unwritten. Because when they are written then if they are (b), by definition they carry the attributes essential to what makes (b) (b).

    When Christ was talking about “the Word of God” in John 17v17, he makes a statement about the essence of God’s Word… the Word of the Father is truth. In other words a defining characteristic of the Word of God is that it is truth.

    Since you agree that the whole of the scriptures are the Word of God, by very definition they are truth. Your position can only stand, now, if the scriptures themselves are not the Word of God, but that they contain the Word of God within them.

    None of this discussion between us, Richard, is historically new in any way so far. If I’m wrong, I’m yet to see why I’m wrong because of an argument, or an idea, that has arisen recently that hasn’t been addressed before. Your problem is a systematic one… or put another way, your problem is one of application… you are not applying what you learn by exegesis of John 17v17 to your view of scripture as you should do… that application doesn’t happen because of a systematic theological position you bring to the table that you haven’t defended – which is that scripture, word for word, is God’s Word… God’s Word is not just some mystical thing “inside” scripture. 2 Tim 3v16 is the proof-text that tells me scripture is word-for-word God’s Word, and that has been a shared assumption up until now.

    In actual fact, my explanation here also begins to provide an answer to the question you’ve thrown at me a number of times “If we don’t have the original autographs – then why does it matter if they’re inerrant or not?” The reason is, because, we are not Muslims and the actual autograph itself is not sacred. It is the words, the content, of that document that is sacred.

    However, because the Word of God is every single word that autograph contained – and not something mystical “inside” those words – the “content” of the autograph is just as inerrant now as it was when first written. So the complex and painstaking process of working out what the exact words were written down on that original autograph the the work of finding out word for word exactly what God said. That “content” is the inerrant Word of God, and that is why the inerrancy of the original autographs is important to inerrantists.

  117. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:05 am

    “pressing inerrancy on evangelicals will only drive them out of evangelicalism”

    That depends on how you define evangelical. The case can be made (and is recorded in numerous evangelical doctrinal statements) that if you ditch inerrancy you are already outside of evangelicalism.

  118. Reformed Sinner said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:10 am

    A good blog response on Inerrancy that may help this discussion.

    http://www.reformation21.org/featured/is-inerrancy-unbiblical-rationalistic-and-presumptusous-a-critique-of-atb-mcgowa.php

  119. Richard said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Reformed Sinner: re #52 where you ask:

    On what basis do we affirmed the 66 books that we have now as infallible and God’s Word and not others? Since there are many other books (such as Esdras, Wisdoms of Solomon, etc.) and many other versions of the same book, etc. From the discussions here it’s obviuos some of you have a distain for Masoretic Text. So would you public say you affirmed the 66 books we have now as fully authoratively Words of God and infallible, and not others, and why?

    From what I can make out, the apostolic church used the LXX which included Edition I of Jeremiah attested to by 4QJer^b. So upon what grounds should we go with Edition II as found in the MT and attested by both QJer^a and 4QJer^c?

    Brevard Childs has also noted that the victory of the MT ultimately stemmed from the political situation in Palestine rather than the MT exhibiting textual grounds for being preferred.

    An important book to read is The Canon Debate edited by Lee Martin McDonald & James A. Sanders, in which Ulrich notes:

    Qumran demonstrates that the textual form of most books was still in that state of creative development until at least 70 C.E. and possibly as late as 132. Now, when considering the books of scripture in the period of the late Second Temple and the origins of Christianity and rabbinic Judaism, we must distinguish between the book or literary opus and the particular wording or literary edition of that opus which may still have been in the stage of creative development.

    As far as I am concerned, the jury is still out on this one.

  120. May 20, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Nick,

    When you get a chance, please let me know what you think of my lengthy comment to you and Rick (#68).

    Also, you seem to misunderstand the common cosmos-as-temple view(s) held by many ancients. Many understood this quite literally. We could walk through dozens of ancient texts discussing precisely the physical composition and characteristics of the cosmos, organizing them in terms of a Temple. The point being that this “imagery” most certainly does not mean that many did not “really think” of everything this way.

    That said, a diversity of opinions obtained among the ancients on cosmology, especially among ancient intellectuals and discourse producers. Just start reading the positions taken among the “pre-Socratics.” Also, in the ANE, one could view the cosmos as a Temple AND also the world as flat, supported by pillars, with a sea under the land (see Gen 2!) and above the solid dome. As you said, we can see this throughout Scripture itself. With varrying nuances, many writings present the world as a temple and also as flat, supported by pillars, with waters above the dome/heavens (for example, see Ps 148.4; interestingly 148.6 would seem to militate against the idea that 148.4 referred to a canopy of water that subsequently fell and that Scripture teaches as no longer up there…). Here, Nick, you seem to misunderstand the relevant ANE data.

    Lastly, just for fun, you and others have brought up EJ Young. To be clear, I do not enlist him as supporting my views as-a-whole. That said, if you read his Studies in Genesis 1 carefully you will note that he holds Genesis 1 to represent the raquia as a solid-dome with a sea/waters above it. See especially p.90 and fn 94 on p.90. This brings to focus how EJ Young represents a type of honesty and subservience to the Scriptures not seen among many contemporary Reformed-Evangelicals. You see, most contemporary Evangelicals “know” (from science) that the waters are not up there and that the sky is not a solid-dome. They therefore, also “knowing” that Scripture cannot err when it touches in the nature of physical reality, “know” that the correct understanding of Genesis 1 either (1) does not have it teaching the sky as a solid dome with water above it or (2) that if it does say that its genre signals that it is not intended to be taken as predicating propositional truth about the nature of physical reality (or they come up with theories about a canopy of water that fell…not sure how they handle the solid-dome, however). Thus they contort the historical readings of Genesis 1 on the dome and the waters above it to line up Genesis 1 with what they “already know.”

    Again, this is where EJ Young displays a commitment to following the Scriptures wherever they go that inspired me years back when I read him. EJ knew what contemporary science told him and he certainly held that when the Bible did say or imply something (with genre taken into account) about physical reality we must submit to is as correct and accurate. AND YET, he refused to distort Genesis 1 (and many other parts of Scripture) on the solid-dome and the waters above it. Thus EJ Young, in yet another way, stood on Scripture just as Luther, who wrote in his Lectures on Genesis,But Moses says in plain words that the waters were above and below the firmament. Here, I take my reason captive and subscribe to the Word even though I do not understand it” (I have this quote in a file and am not sure where I originally came across it). Of course, Calvin rationalized the text away and took the waters “above” to refer to clouds (the position both Luther and, later, EJ explicitly reject). I recall reading someone saying that in private conversation EJ Young told him that he held Luther’s position on the matter (probably Paul Seely). So, bringing this digression to an end, I commend EJ Young as one displaying (at least in this instance) a type of commitment to the Scriptures not seen among many of Enns’ attackers (for example). EJ highlights some of these issues for us…especially when it comes to the raquia and the waters above it.

  121. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:14 am

    GLW:
    You know, I don’t really think BBW would change his mind. All I am saying is that some scholars think there is a trajectory that shoots out from Old Princeton on scripture that is amenable to a more progressive reading. That’s all I’m saying. BBW would probably say similar things about my book as Themelios did in a recent article. But we’ve been through all this before and in honor of the topic of the original posting, we’d probably be wiser to leave it at that.

    Even so, I might try to bring up the ground we covered in some of those connversations in a relevant way for the present discussion. The Silva article in your BBW book, GLW, makes a distinction between what the Bible “teaches” and what the Bible “says.” I, for one, am inclined to think that this is simply a more pious sounding way of allow for some incidental errors in the Bible. For if (or when) there is an “error” found in scripture, one will then look (with some earnest, I might add) to make sure that that’s what the Bible is “teaching” after all. But if (or when) the error proves incontrovertible, we’ll utter a sigh of relief by going on to decide, oh, well that’s ok if that’s not accurate, because that’s not what the Bible is teaching.

    Why not just call them “errors” and move on? Conservative Reformed and evangelical theology could use more help finding more adequate ways of articulating their understanding of scripture’s authority.

  122. Ros said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Nicholas, #107-109, thanks for your response. The Song is indeed a good example of a book where the question of truth/falsehood is a complicated one. It isn’t made up of propositional statements. Your conclusion from that is that we must deduce propositional statements from it (which can then be evaluated as true or false). I think that if the purpose of the Song were to communicate propositions, it singularly fails. It seems to me that the poetry of the Song is designed primarily to work on our affections. It evokes emotion rather than communicating information.

    You ask what would be the point of preaching if not to communicate propositional truths. I can only say that I have a wholly different view of the purpose and nature of preaching. Propositional truths are important, but we are to love the Lord with our hearts, souls and bodies, not our minds only. Simply giving your congregation propositional truth is not, I think, enough.

    I’m intrigued by your clarification that “every verse fits into a larger truth proposition in one way or another”. It seems to me that that is exactly what those on the non-inerrant side of the debate are suggesting.

    Okay, with a deep breath and a nervous look, here’s an example that I would consider to be hyperbole. By which I mean that it is true, but not literally true. It is true when understood as a literary device. And also that I understand the main communicative function of the hyperbole not to be stating propositional truth. Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.”

  123. Richard said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Pete: re #115

    because the Word of God is every single word that autograph contained…the “content” of the autograph is just as inerrant now as it was when first written. So the complex and painstaking process of working out what the exact words were written down on that original autograph the the work of finding out word for word exactly what God said. That “content” is the inerrant Word of God, and that is why the inerrancy of the original autographs is important to inerrantists.

    So I take it you now see how absolutely essential the concept of “original autographs” is for your position. Now all you need to do is find them. Interestingly, most scholars who accept an original text recognise that it’s impossible to reconstruct it.

  124. May 20, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Ros,

    Thanks for replying as well. If propositional truth is not important with regard to the Song then why did you write a Th.M. paper on it? Even the title of your paper is a proposition. Furthermore, “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength” is a proposition, as is making the statement that the Song is “primarily to work on our affections.” When you say “If the purpose of the Song were to communicate propositions, it singularly fails,” you are again making a propositional statement that you believe to be true. Let’s not play semantical games.You have to explain what love is, what affections are, etc. in order to make the truth statement you have made. What is a kiss? Why is it important? The Song has all these symbols to interpret into propositional statements that then ought to impact the heart of man with love to Christ. Who is Solomon? Who wrote the song? What is the purpose of the Song? These are questions that need to be answered in order to understand the meaning of the Song. It is not just some mystical, irrational, illogical, unexplainable book that only works on the heart without first going through the mind. No one, to the best of my knowledge, ever said that the propositional statements deduced from the symbols in the Song as it is taken in the context of the Bible, are an end in and of themselves. They lead us to Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus Christ? You need to read the propositions of Scripture to learn who Jesus Christ is. If you believe the symbols of the Song mean what you say they mean in your thesis then you have to admit that they form propositions. Your entire thesis opposes what you are saying here.

  125. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Reformed Sinner (#113):
    “…since we hold extra-biblical materials to such high regard what’s stopping us from appending them into the Bible for the Church to benefit from such wonderful “keys” to help us open the wisdom of God, since the wisdom is obviously locked up without these extra-biblical “keys.””

    I read these words and think, hey! that’s exactly what people are doing with the WCF! That’s pretty revealing, I think. FTH is surely on to something when he insists that we are all employing extra-biblical materials to help us better understand scripture. It’s just that one “side” says that their extra-biblical materials are actually biblical (which I don’t find compelling).

    GLW (#114):
    I guess engagement with critical scholarship can cut both ways. Some people are really hurt by the kind of critical discussions that we are pursuing. Others are just as hurt when these discussions don’t take place. How does one meet the needs of both kinds of people, GLW? That’s a very interesting question, especially when both kinds are likely attending the same church, school, fellowship or when they’re in the same family. A forum like this one might be a great start. I mean nobody’s told anyone that they’re going to hell because of their views. That’s got to count for something, doesn’t it?

    Pete Myers (#116):
    I don’t think historians define evangelicalism solely on the criterion of inerrancy. I know that’s how some conservatives define evangelicalism (or even Christianity!), but in my view that would be an overly narrow definition.

    Jeff Cagle (#112):
    Well, one way out is to introduce different senses to error, this way the assertions can cohere. Some have offered that historical and scientific errors are what we find in scripture. They surmise that the Bible, being God’s word, would never contain a theological error.

    Kent Sparks suggests in his book that what God says in scripture is never in error, but what humans say in scripture is very prone to error, even if what they say has to do with theology. That’s another attempt to reconcile the puzzle.

    In my view, I think error is not a good category to begin with, not for scripture anyway. I think that a new syllogism (if that’s what these assertions amount to) should be constructed. That work still needs to be hashed out in a public setting. Perhaps I can help contribute to that kind of work in the future. I have a second book due out next month that takes another stab at it, this time from a different angle.

    Grace and peace

  126. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:47 am

    #122,

    Richard, again you are running the logic wheel backwards.

    I deliberately haven’t answered many of those questions directly for fear of encouraging you to do exactly that.

    I’ll shout this now: NO AMOUNT OF EVIDENTIAL MANUSCRIPT PROOF IN THE WORLD WILL CONVINCE ME TO CHANGE MY MIND, BECAUSE THAT’S NOT WHY I’M AN INERRANTIST.

    I hold to my position because of what scripture says about itself, not because of the manuscript evidence. I wait patiently to see the big ferris wheel of scholarship come full circle back to demonstrating that the Bible’s claims about itself were right all along.

  127. Ros said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:58 am

    #125, Pete *takes fingers out of ears* Have you stopped shouting now?

    I get that. I really do. You believe that the Bible is inerrant because of its own claims about itself. So do I.

    I also believe that the kind of inerrancy that the Bible claims is the kind that it actually demonstrates. That is, I believe that what the Bible actually is defines for us what it means to be inerrant. So when I find statements of, for example, hyperbole or idiom or approximation in the Bible I don’t feel the need to find a way of making them measure up to some standard of ‘scientific’ or ‘historical’ accuracy. I simply read them and say, ‘Huh, look at that. Hyperbole (or idiom, or approximation) is a way of communicating truth without error.’

  128. May 20, 2009 at 8:58 am

    ReformedSinner (113),

    To be honest, I do not find your questions helpful to this conversation. You (among many others here) continue to reproduce some of the rhetorically-charged discourse that probably needs to be set aside if this conversation is to progress. You also continue to reproduce very inaccurate quick representations of our positions (or at least short-hand allusions to them). This too needs to end before we can have a serious discussion here.

    Quickly,

    (1) We have time and again explained that, for us, we question the necessity of making lack-or-errors a marker of infallibility, divinity-of-scripture, etc. This is not because (at least for me) I want to propound the older supposed distinction between classical inerrancy and infallibility. Rather it is because…well, read any of the NUMEROUS comments I have written about this. Honestly, I find it frustrating that I write over-and-over again on points like this and you (and some others) continue to act as though I/we have not. You need not agree with us, but perhaps be charitable and sincerely engaging by showing you have understood what we have said and at what level we want to have this discussion.

    (2) I “can be sure” of our 66-book inspired canon by following, roughly, the position Gaffin outlines in his essay in Inerrancy and Hermeneutic, a self-consciously Van Tilian approach to the issue. We do not select some criteria outside-the-canon to determine what belongs in it. I accept the canon we have by faith worked by the Spirit…not because I chose some criteria external to it and judged (by an authority outside of Scripture) what can be Scripture. You seem to imply that we should judge whether or not something belongs in the Bible based on criteria associated with our notions of inerrancy. I reject this just as Gaffin would (see his essay) and I suspect Van Til would as well (GLW, perhaps you can weigh in here). We do not set up any authority outside of Scripture to pronounce upon Scripture. That turns the Bible into God’s application to be our God, “Here is my Word, I trust you will find it fits with all your notions about what My Word should be. If so, please accept it. If parts of it do not measure up, throw them out and add in whatever you think belongs…” I don’t think any of us consciously want to go down that path.

    (3) Perhaps Art/myself/someone else can make yet another a comment on this charge of us having a “high regard” for extra Biblical data over the Bible yet again sometime soon. Quickly, we use “extra-Biblical” material as contextual data to illumine the context of the writings of Scripture, just as we use extra-Biblical data so we can read the extra-Biblical dialects of Hellenistic Greek in which the NT writings are written. If you have a problem with this you also have a problem with reading the Bible in Hebrew, Imperial Aramaic, and Hellenistic Greek. Hermeneutics 101: the context within which you (explicitly or implicitly) understand something DETERMINES its meaning for you. I am not saying that on some theological-ontological level, that historical context determines God or something like that. I mean this on the level of describing how we read and understand things. We all read the Bible in several implied contexts. Using extra-Biblical data helps us illumine the historical contexts more accurately so we can better READ what the writings of the Bible themselves say within those contexts. Exactly how specific pieces of data fit in with reading specific passages…you cannot come up with a formula for this. It differs in each instance…thus why we train specialists in historical studies of the Bible (just as we train specialists for other areas too). BTW, this does not set us up for a legitimate charge of advocating a “priesthood of scholars” or challenging the perspicuity of Scripture. Since I have commented also on this point MANY TIMES here, I direct you to one of those comments (it touches on some of the points I would make) rather than typing out the same thing I have written many times here (that usually goes unacknowledged): http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/hugely-important-journal-issue/#comment-63283

  129. May 20, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Ros! Howdy. It has been a while. I did not think I would run into you here… : )

  130. Ros said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Um, hello? I don’t know who you are. Should I?

  131. May 20, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Stephen…one of the trouble-making students at WTS… : )

  132. Ron Henzel said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Carlos,

    After flip-flopping on the question of whether Warfield would change his mind, you wrote:

    …All I am saying is that some scholars think there is a trajectory that shoots out from Old Princeton on scripture that is amenable to a more progressive reading.

    And earlier you wrote:

    Granted, this is only one possible trajectory to follow out of a Warfield-like position; it is progressive and will not be compelling to everyone…

    On the basis of these statements of yorus, I think it’s becoming obvious that the concept of “trajectory” is proving itself unhelpful in this discussion. If (a) Warfield himself, as you now seem to concede, had no intention that the “trajectory” of his doctrine should hit the target that your so-called “progressives” are aiming at, and (b) that any one of a number of “trajectories” can supposedly be deduced from various statements made by Warfield, then it follows that it is no longer a matter of the trajectory of Warfield’s thought per se that is under consideration—i.e, the direction his thought naturally travels under its own impetus—but rather it is a matter of the destination to which others are trying to push Warfield’s teaching in spite of his own intentions.

    The only alternative is that poor old Warfield simply did not understand the ramifications of his views, so that when he shot off the cannonball of his teaching he did not realize where it would land. This is not only insufferably patronizing toward Warfield, but you yourself have already admitted that that there was more than one possible place it could have landed, and the only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that, in the case of those who essentially disagree with Warfield’s view of Scripture such as Enns and those in his camp, for them it has landed where they have forced it to land.

    So ultimately, all this talk of “trajectory” becomes meaningless. It is not about the inevitable ramifications of Warfield’s thought, and it never has been. If his cannonball’s trajectory is not hitting his intended target, it is because the winds of other people’s views are blowing it off course.

  133. May 20, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Steven,

    I don’t have a lot of time but I will try to answer your question in #68 and #119

    As to your WHAT IF questions in #68, if the Scriptures have errors in them then you cannot put your trust in the God of Scripture. Ros should appreciate where I went with that statement. The goal of reading the Bible is not to be able to rationally answer every question or to know more than the next guy. The purpose of reading the Bible should be to know the TRUE and LIVING God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. You can know everything in the Bible and go to hell. So, I would first answer your question with an appeal to the exegesis of John 17:3 and 1 John 1:4. John writes, “I have WRITTEN these things that your joy may be full.” If there are errors in the Bible I cannot get any real joy from it. If the Bible errs, then it cannot be authoritative. That is a question none of you can answer. How is the Bible authoritative if it has errors in it?

    There are really two different discussions at work in this thread. The first regards the nature of Scripture, the second the interpretation. You have said that I am not appealing to exegesis, or that my interpretation of verses I have appealed to is wrong. I would be willing to hash this out for weeks and months but I am content on giving you one verse that sums up this whole debate. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” Paul is concerned that Timothy, as a minister of the Gospel, understand the responsibility he had before God, to correctly interpret the inerrant written word of God. That is the clear and straightforward reading of the text in Greek, English and and other language you find the Bible translated into. There are no lexical loopholes or uncertainties. You have to face the fact. The written word of God is called the “word of truth.” It is true in its entirety.

    Now to the interpretation part. I am not saying that everything Job’s friends say equates to theological truth, but it is in the context of a book that brings to the forefront, in the face of their bad theology, the truth of God. Job’s friends did actually exist. It is not just poetic theodicy. The words that Job’s friends spoke were inscripturated by God the Holy Spirit, and, therefore, become part of the word of truth. So, if you are saying the Bible has errors in the sense that Job’s friends words are not theologically accurate, I would simply ask you to consider defining things more carefully. If you are saying there are historical and factual errors in Scripture then I think you are wrong.

    You have charged Rick and me with using circular reasoning. OK! You right. I agree. You are using circular reasoning also. Every consistent Van Tillian will readily admit that he is using circular reasoning. The difference between your circular reasoning and mine is that I want mine to return again and again to the Word of God and the Triune God Himself. Yours seems to return to your own ability to reason out the ANE and all the other data you place, at least on par with if not above the Bible. You have demonstrated this by your appeal to the ANE in relation to the pillar issue. I will readily take issue with your literalistic interpretation of the temple motif, even in ANE, the same way I take issue with the literalistic, earthly interpretation of the Song of Songs and dispensational interpretations of so many prophecies and the book of Revelation. We will just have to leave it there. I think you are wrong. You think I am wrong. I believe that the word of God is free from errors. You believe that the Bible has errors in it. I am content to interpret it by comparing Scripture with Scripture. You are not.

    I do appreciate your willingness to talk with me about this. I appreciated our time at Monks. I wish I could convince you of your need to reappraise your position, but I realize that only the Lord can do so. I am always open to phone conversations or private writing, but it is probably unproductive to pursue this here any further. Thank you for your kind speech in the posts. I am thankful that you have been honest about the fact that you believe the Bible to have errors, both in regard to human and divine authorship (see #19). I am not thankful that you hold that position, only that you have been honest about it.

  134. Ros said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:14 am

    #123, Nicholas.

    Well, I may have failed entirely with what I was aiming for in my MTh thesis but my aim was not to elucidate the propositional truths contained in the Song. That’s not to say I don’t think it has any. I do. I just don’t think that the primary purpose of the Song is to tell us stuff. I don’t think there’s any propositional content in the Song that we wouldn’t learn (and learn more quickly and straightforwardly) elsewhere in the Bible. I think the primary purpose of the Song is make us love and feel loved. Or something along those lines. Desire and be desired, perhaps. That’s what I was beginning to try to show in my MTh thesis and what I’m still working on in the PhD thesis.

    I think the same about preaching. I don’t often learn stuff from listening to a sermon. Sometimes I do, and certainly when I was a younger Christian I often did. But I don’t find that the sermons which impact me most profoundly are those which inform me of things I didn’t know before. The sermons I cherish most are those which change my heart and my life, not those which change my mind. I am not saying that my mind does not need to be changed nor that I have nothing to learn, just that I don’t think that communicating information is the only, or even the primary, purpose of preaching.

  135. Ros said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Oh, that trouble maker! Hi!

  136. Ron Henzel said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Ros,

    You wrote:

    Propositional truths are important, but we are to love the Lord with our hearts, souls and bodies, not our minds only.

    Please advise: what other kinds of “truths” are there besides propositional ones? Is there any truth that cannot be stated in propositional form? In what way do propositional truths fail to help us love the Lord with our hearts, souls, and bodies? How do we know that we are to have such love for God if it is not communicated to us propositionally? Even if we have such knowledge intuitively, how do we know we have it, and how can others know we have it, if we cannot state it in the form of a proposition?

    You wrote:

    Simply giving your congregation propositional truth is not, I think, enough.

    This is correct. Our lives must also reflect that we truly believe the propositional truths that we give to our congregations.

    But how does that challenge the notion that the propositional truths of Scripture are central to the Christian faith? Why is church history strewn with creeds and confessions that claim to be essentially collections of propositional truths? Why is it that only now, after nearly 2,000 years of church history and thousands more of redemptive history, that people are challenging the central role of propositional truth?

  137. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Ron (#131):
    I’m ok with the trajectory being something that BBW would not like to do. I’m not going to speak for him. Others might feel comfortable doing so, that’s their prerogative. I do note, though, that he’s from several generations earlier and that he had a personality that was influenced by different issues and a different philosophical and scientific milieu. That does not negate the possibility of mining Warfield for insights and taking them in some constructive direction, whether conservative or progressive.

    Martin Heidegger did not like what Husserl was doing and Husserl did not at all like what Heidegger was doing. Yet everyone acknowledges that Heidegger is one possible trajectory that Husserl’s thought can take. Why is there some taboo that a non-inerrantist cannot say they are taking up some of BBW’s thought? I can understand how one might say that a progressive trajectory of Warfield is not all that helpful. That, I think, you have every right to say, but I am puzzled why you thought to say that the very talk of trajectory is unhelpful, as if contemporary theorists have to get their theological self-understanding approved by the Warfield police before asserting it. That makes little sense to me.

    Flip-flopping or no, I still really think that insofar as there is a trajectory to for progressives to follow from Silva’s article back to BBW, then non-inerrantists can argue that they are one possible trajectory of BBW.

  138. Richard said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Pete: I am under no impression that you adhere to inerrancy owing to manuscript evidence. In fact I know that it is impossible you to adhere to inerrancy by basing an argument upon manuscript evidence precisely because I know that the manuscript evidence does not support the claims of inerrancy.

  139. May 20, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Ros,

    I humbly submit my concern that you have entirely misunderstood what I have written. I have said that symbols and metaphors have a literary and philosophical relationship to the “truth that accord with godliness.” The end of everything ought to be to “know the true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.” I have actually admired your work on the Song and sought to get in touch with you when I was still living in Philadelphia. You have greatly helped bring light to the true meaning of the Song, so that people can love God and know that they are loved by Him. But now I am a bit concerned with your desire to pit propositional truth with the subjective experiential knowledge of God. Subjective experience must always be rooted in objective truth. This is the foundational and fundamental principle of Christianity. The imperatives of Scripture must always rest on the indicatives. This is why biblical theology is important. Biblical theology, tracing the narrative of Scripture throughout, does not abandon objectivity. Paul would always have us know that truth accords with godliness. There is no godliness (affections, desires, holiness, etc.) without truth. That’s basic Christianity. Would you agree?

  140. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:26 am

    #126, Ros,

    I was shouting, because, I don’t think Richard has heard me. But, as it is, I don’t think you have “got it” either.

    All you’ve done is “got around” inerrancy by using funny language. The point this thread has got to is that unless someone believes in the classical definition of inerrancy, we’re not using the word “inerrancy” to describe what they believe.

    When I say “I believe the Bible is inerrant because the Bible tells me it is inerrant”, I obviously mean that I’m claiming the Bible tells me that it contains no errors – i.e. the Bible’s claims about itself tell me what to believe about the Bible, a doctrine we have since which labelled with “inerrancy”.

    Your response still boils down to:
    A) The Bible says X about itself, but doesn’t talk about Y
    B) I observe Y when I look at the Bible.
    C) Therefore I believe X and Y about the Bible.

    Don’t use the term inerrant, unless you use the definition that everyone has used for a long time.

    While there is pliability in meaning… of all the different ways to define inerrancy, any definition that includes error in some fashion is nonsensical.

    Though, of course, since our discussion has now come full circle, and people are discussing the defintion of inerrancy again (which happened near the top of the thread), I’m not sure if we’re going to cover any new ground any more.

  141. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:26 am

    In #136 above “then non-inerrantists can argue that they are one possible trajectory of BBW” should read “then progressives can argue that they are one possible trajectory of BBW” (since some progressives still consider themselves inerrantists).

  142. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:27 am

    #138, Richard,

    Why, then, Richard… do you still attempt to refute inerrancy by using manuscript evidence?

    If you have heard that point, then what you need to do is look at everything you’re saying and be consistent with it.

  143. Ron Henzel said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Carlos,

    One reason that words like “trajectory” and “progressive” are both unhelpful is because they are obvious attempts at “loading the language.” That is, due to their inherent connotations, their usage is actually designed to bias the discussion in favor of a particular view, in this case yours. The word “progressive” has a positive connotation, and implies superiority over that which came before it. The word “trajectory” at minimum connotes the inevitable destination of something in motion (such as a projectile), and often connotes an intended goal or target.

    I think I have succeeded in demonstrating that the target that errantists are trying to hit with Warfield’s statements is neither inevitable nor intended. I also think that the manner in which the word “progressive” seeks to bias the discussion is too obvious to require explanation. I don’t know where the border lies between being disingenuous and simply getting stuck in a “jargon rut,” but in my opinion the line is very thin and the errantists are dancing on it as if no one notices. But we do.

  144. Ros said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:37 am

    #139, Nicholas. Thank you for your kind words about my work on the Song.

    I think we are misunderstanding each other in this discussion. Sorry.

    You write: But now I am a bit concerned with your desire to pit propositional truth with the subjective experiential knowledge of God.

    That’s really, really not what I am trying to do. All I am trying to say is that propositional truth is not everything. It is important. I just don’t think that it is the only thing that is important. If it were, would we not have a bible that was wholly composed only of propositional truths? Why would we have texts such as the Song at all? I would like to see preaching that reflects the richness of the Bible – that causes us to weep for its laments, and rejoice at its hymns of praise, to struggle with the frustrations of Qohelet and Job, to submit our hearts gladly to its commands and admonishments and so on. And yes, you are quite right that all of that requires that we know and understand the truths contained therein. All that I am trying to say is that it requires more than knowledge and understanding.

    You write: The end of everything ought to be to “know the true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.”

    I cautiously agree with this if by ‘know’ you also mean ‘love and obey’. I am nervous of the way that knowledge is sometimes given a higher value than love and obedience. I agree that knowledge is a pre-requisite to love and obedience but I do not think that it can stand alone from them as ‘the end of everything.’

    You write: Paul would always have us know that truth accords with godliness. There is no godliness (affections, desires, holiness, etc.) without truth. That’s basic Christianity. Would you agree?

    Yes. I would also want to say that truth without godliness is hollow.

    Does that help?

  145. Reformed Sinner said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:45 am

    #127: FTH:

    FTH, is your purpose here trying to show how smart you are than the rest of us, or trying to build up the Church? If the former than fair, I am not as read up on in the OT/ANE stuff as you have clearly demonstrated. My pastoral duties have prevented me from being as scholarly informed as I was at WTS.

    However, I thought one of Reed’s condition was how does this discussion build up the Church, as Reed pointed out many lay people read this blog and wants answers. From the tone of your answer you seem to think I’m trying to ask you “got-cha” questions and you dismissed them as “unhelpful to the conversation” – on the contrary I think those are very important pastoral question and demands a clear and careful answer, not just a “quick answer” to blow me off. But the Church that you seek to “reform” needs a thorough, patient, and loving answer. You can’t just open huge cans of worms like the Bible is full of errors, the Bible itself is insufficient and we need to rely on ANE extra-biblical materials to informed on the truths of God, Jesus/apostles and their teachings are purely the product of their Second Temple period, and then dismissed questions that naturally flows out of your “trajectory”

    Whether you realize (or care to admit) it or not you’re doing something very different than the Evangelical Church has always done, and because of it the burden is on you, not us, to defend your new doctrines and understandings to the level the Church as a whole can understand, learn, and appreciate.

    My three questions are not aim to make you look bad (so stop being defensive), but based on Nicholas’ good challenges and reflected of what people typically asked at church every time the “Bible has errors” theory pops up.

    When you try to tell the Evangelical Church that Bible has errors and there are no such thing as inerrant autograph then the congregation will naturally ask if that is true then on what basis do we affirm the 66 books we have now as infallible and Word of God out of so many different candidate of books out there?

    When you try to tell the Evangelical Church that we need to rely on extra-biblical materials as normative then the congregation will naturally ask if the Bible is enough or not enough to help them in their lives? Are they missing crucial information because they don’t have readied access to these extra-biblical resources? Worse, are they misunderstanding crucial teachings due to a lack of these resources?

    Again I will reiterate if you can’t even tolerate simple “lay people” questions that I raise up here, then I sincerely fail to see how you guys are bringing unity and a deeper understanding to the Evangelical Church. When you seem to be very defensive and borderline hostile to anybody that dares to bring up legitimate “layman” concerns as where your new teachings will bring the state of the Church.

    Are my questions designed to advance scholarly conversation that’s going on here? No, and I thought that’s exactly the purpose of this thread, as outlined by Reed. This thread is to remind the posters here that what we say have a direct affect to the Church and its lay people, and we need to show more patience, love, and willing to carry the burden to answer pastoral questions that clearly demonstrates how we are trying to build up the Church rather than just a bunch of academics arguing with each other in haste.

  146. Richard said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I attempt to challenge your understanding of inerrancy by using manuscript evidence precisely because I know that the manuscript evidence does not support the claims of inerrancy you are making. After all I am an evidentialist!

  147. Ron Henzel said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Richard wrote:

    I attempt to challenge your understanding of inerrancy by using manuscript evidence precisely because I know that the manuscript evidence does not support the claims of inerrancy you are making. After all I am an evidentialist!

    And when you actually supply evidence for this assertion, perhaps we can evaluate it.

  148. Ros said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:49 am

    #143, Ron

    Please advise: what other kinds of “truths” are there besides propositional ones?
    There are forms of communication which are non-propositional. These are the kinds of texts I was talking about earlier where ‘truth/falsehood’ is not a useful category of distinction.

    In what way do propositional truths fail to help us love the Lord with our hearts, souls, and bodies?
    They do help. But they are not the only thing that helps. If you give your wife a rose, that helps her to know you love her. Is that a propositional truth?

    How do we know that we are to have such love for God if it is not communicated to us propositionally?
    Because we read texts like the Song which are designed to produce an affective response and we trust that since these texts are God’s word, their effect is intended.

    Even if we have such knowledge intuitively, how do we know we have it, and how can others know we have it, if we cannot state it in the form of a proposition?
    Why do we need to know that we know what we know? Can you not just know something?

    But how does that challenge the notion that the propositional truths of Scripture are central to the Christian faith?
    I have not sought to challenge that notion. All I have sought to demonstrate is that not every verse of Scripture is best categorised as propositional truth.

    Why is church history strewn with creeds and confessions that claim to be essentially collections of propositional truths?
    And yet, why is it that we have a Bible rather than a creed or confession?

    Why is it that only now, after nearly 2,000 years of church history and thousands more of redemptive history, that people are challenging the central role of propositional truth?
    Perhaps because only now are people trying to claim that propositional truth excludes all other forms of communication. It seems pretty clear to me that commentators on the Song throughout the ages have understood the value of things other than propositional truth.

  149. May 20, 2009 at 9:58 am

    [...] by Reformed Reader on May 20, 2009 There is a lengthy comment thread going on over on the Greenbaggins blog discussing inerrancy.  Wherever one stands on the debate, one will see that this is turning out to [...]

  150. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Carlos (#137) :

    Martin Heidegger did not like what Husserl was doing and Husserl did not at all like what Heidegger was doing. Yet everyone acknowledges that Heidegger is one possible trajectory that Husserl’s thought can take. Why is there some taboo that a non-inerrantist cannot say they are taking up some of BBW’s thought?

    We note that there are two senses of the word “trajectory” — continuity of which the originator would approve, and continuity of which the originator would disapprove.

    It seems to me that the latter is easier to come by, but of much less value. What do you gain by saying, “I’m on Warfield’s trajectory, but he would disown me”? Wasn’t the point of the trajectory language to provide justification for one’s belief by an inductive appeal to authority?

    Jeff Cagle

  151. Richard said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Ron: I have already cited the examples of 4QpaleoExod^m, 4QJer^a, 4QJer^b and 4QJer^c which undermine the concept of original autographs, which undermines the concept that the original autographs are inerrant.

  152. May 20, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Ros,

    Knowing Jesus Christ means being savingly united to Him by faith. If someone only knows about Him they will go to hell on the day of judgment.

  153. Elder Hoss said,

    May 20, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Gents:

    A worthy post from Reed. Very well-put, and with an eye on the implications of this for the layman.

    In that spirit, let’s look at the following consideration:

    **What has been the result in seminaries and denominations where non-Inerrancy views have prevailed?

    Try some of these on for size:

    ~The sufficiency and exclusivity of Christ alone for salvation (Harvard fell ca., 18th century, Yale, 19th century, Princeton 20th century, Fuller 20th/21st century – in the case of the latter, just go to Fuller now and ascertain what is being stated about Islam).

    ~The sufficiency of Scripture for constructing a system of ethics, pastoral casuistry, etc. (plug in similar numbers, maybe push out 10-20 yrs from the above chronology – if you really want shock value, take up, say, the sodomite marriage issue).

    We are not Grecians living in the realm of the “forms”, which is to say, our teachings about Inerrancy or Non-Inerrancy, or “Inerrant Inerrancy” are teachings rife with consequences – consequences, historical, ethical, and eternal.

  154. Ros said,

    May 20, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Nicholas.

    I agree. And that knowledge of Jesus which is being savingly united to Him by faith involves things like love and obedience. That’s why I think we need to be careful not to emphasise propositional truth to the exclusion of all else because it can lead to the situation you describe in your second sentence. That’s really the point I’ve been trying to make.

  155. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 10:30 am

    #146, Richard,

    If the Bible claims inerrancy for itself, yet it is not inerrant, then the Bible is patently wrong, and obviously not God’s Word.

    As evangelicals first and foremost, the primary issue is: What does the Bible say about itself?

    If it says it is inerrant (and no slippery re-definitions from anyone please), then we have to believe it is inerrant… if it says it is not inerrant, then we can believe what we like on the matter.

    As an evangelical, then, it makes no sense to try and persuade a fellow Christian to change their mind by presenting evidence one way or another. Surely you want them to submit to God’s Word? But by not addressing the case for inerrancy from God’s Word, but instead by presenting your “evidence” you are not helping people submit to God’s Word… and your methodology reveals that’s you’re own error in this instance.

    Richard… pastorally if you talk to anyone in your congregation and use the arguments you use here, then, you will be actively undermining the faith of the saints. Going through the proof-texts for inerrancy and trying to show they don’t teach inerrancy would be much healthier… but that’s not what you’re doing. Instead you’re flashing your intellectual credentials by waiving textual criticism at people.

    Textual criticism is subservient to exegesis. Whatever your views on Van Til aside, it is not evangelical, or faithful, or helpful to others, or submissive to do my theology from textual criticism rather than exegesis.

  156. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Jeff and Ron,
    I am honestly surprised by the commotion caused by my attempt to explain to GLW why some progressive inerrantists think they are descendents of Warfield. Rather protective of Old Princeton, are we? I don’t know that BBW would disown me, he was before the DSS, for example. But I conceded the point for the sake of argument (and that consistuted flip-flopping?). But this point doesn’t matter to me either way.

    My use of “trajectory” and “progressive” act to remind that we are all children of the same theological parents, we are all participants in the same evangelical community. All evangelicals construct their view of scripture in a context where BBW is a major player. Some look to change what he’s done, some look to preserve it. I’m not mentioning BBW to appeal to him as an authority. In my view, mention is made of him to remind all involved that progressives are part of the family, too. We have all been raised inside the same community, we are all brothers and sisters.

    Protestants don’t need Catholics’ approval to say they stem from the same historical tradition nor vice versa. An evangelical who is raised within evangelicalism begins with BBW by default. For better or for worse, he is the father figure as it were. Where they go from there in terms of developing his thought is an open matter. Yet if they end up denying him as did Heidegger Husserl, does that all of sudden mean that Heidegger is not a very meaningful trajectory of Husserl’s thought. (Perhaps you’re not familiar with my analogy. Have you read Heidegger? It’s reads to me as Husserl revamped, but the two would NEVER authenticate each other.)

    Inerrantists who are “progressive” see a need for change. “Conservatives” don’t see that need. What’s so biased about those connotations? I am sure that there is some force to your objections, but I, for some reason, am missing it. I am not saying that I’m a follower of Warfield, or that anyone claiming to descend from him needs his approval in order to descend from him. I just mean that progressives automatically begin with the groundwork Warfield laid on account of the fact that he’s what they’ve been nurtured on. But then, after a point, they begin trying to tweak inerrancy to be more meaningful to them in the present context. For my part, insofar as the Silva article is Warfieldian, many progressives are also Warfieldian and can claim him as an influence.

    I should clarify that I do not see a use for inerrancy and am not interested in connecting myself to Warfield, but I could see how someone might want to with views similar to mine (through Silva’s article, for example).

  157. Richard said,

    May 20, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Pete:

    If the Bible claims inerrancy for itself, yet it is not inerrant, then the Bible is patently wrong, and obviously not God’s Word.

    Is the Bible you hold in your hand (KJV, TNIV, NRSV) inerrant?

    Are the manuscripts they are based on inerrant?

    The logic of you argument is such that one must conclude that we do not have God’s word, why?

    P1: God’s word is inerrant
    P2: Only the original autographs are inerrant.
    C1: Therefore, only the the original autographs are God’s word.
    P3: We do not posses the original autographs.
    C2: Therefore, we do not posses God’s word.

    And yet you charge me with actively undermining the faith of the saints!

    Textual criticism is subservient to exegesis.

    Textual criticism actually preceeds exegesis, before you can exegete a text you need to make sure you have the right text.

  158. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Oh for goodness’ sake, Richard… don’t be so slippery.

  159. Richard said,

    May 20, 2009 at 10:51 am

    I am not being slippery, I am putting forward why I find your position logically incoherent; ultimately your position is, as I noted above:

    P1: God’s word is inerrant

    P2: Only the original autographs are inerrant.

    C1: Therefore, only the the original autographs are God’s word.

    P3: We do not posses the original autographs.

    C2: Therefore, we do not posses God’s word.

    Ultimately your position is self-refuting.

  160. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Richard,

    It’s not self-refuting. You are being slippery.

    I could factor down your summary of the inerrantist position to this:

    1) Only the original autographs are God’s Word
    2) We don’t have the original autographs
    3) Therefore we don’t have God’s Word

    You cannot get past this original autograph thing can you?

    Richard, the problem is still methodology. Which has the higher authority? The didactic statements scripture makes about itself, or your assessment of the manuscript evidence?

    Because every time we begin to even start getting somewhere with building up a theological position based on scripture’s own claims about itself, you seem to have to substitute your own assessment of the manuscript evidence as the “trump card”. This, Richard, is not valid.

    A) Scripture makes claims about itself.
    B) We observe things about scripture.

    If A and B contradict each other… then we have to go with A until we can resolve them. This is submission to God’s Word… placing it as a higher authority over our human observation and reasoning.

    So…

    A) Scripture claims it is inerrant.
    B) Scripture does not appear to be inerrant (because it appears there wasn’t an original autograph to be inerrant.)

    In this case A and B contradict each other… so we have to go with A until we can find a resolution. In other words, we have to believe scripture is inerrant.

    So… for the scholars who submit to the Bible… the question is not about B… it is about A. What really is A? Does scripture really claim inerrancy for itself?

    Richard, I have proven that this is the real question many, many times. However you repeatedly keep returning to B as your highest authority here… you keep retreating to your observation and assessment of scripture as the final arbiter (i.e. “but there isn’t an original autograph…” a claim I could debate, but I’m not going to because that’s not where the issue gets decided).

    There is a mountain of a case to answer for. Theological greats have built this case up. You don’t seem to be familiar with it. As it is, we’ve managed to bring 2 (just two) verses to bear on the discussion – John 17v17, and 2 Tim 3v16. You have not demonstrated in any way that these fail to teach inerrancy… and so you’ve retreated to your autograph issue… which is easy comfortable territory for you.

    P1: All scripture is God’s Word (2 Tim 3v16)
    P2: God’s Word is Truth (John 17v17)
    C1: Therefore All scripture is Truth (and hence by definition – inerrant)

    Let’s make sense of these sorts of texts first Richard… and only then can we look at the manuscript evidence, knowing what it is scripture is teaching us about the manuscript evidence.

  161. May 20, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Just spent my lunch time reading up to this point. Thanks again to all who have participated. Most illluminating.

    My takeaway to this point is that we are somewhat stalemated, because each side is convinced that the other is not understanding it and even misrepresenting it. Some participants are claiming certain terms of the discussion as “self-evident” and refusing to allow others to either challenge that self-evidence or disallowing any other possible definition of the term.

    My final takeaway is that I’m sure this discussion will continue for a while, but I feel like I’ve gotten all I can from it. I feel more secured than I did before as to the real nature of the positions of the CSI-inerrantists; it turns out that your ways of thinking were exactly as I thought they were, and they are exactly the kind of thinking I could never return to.

    I thank you for shoring me up in my convictions, and in the spirit of Reed’s initial post, I will go on with my efforts to help the many evangelicals whose faith has been shipwrecked or near-shipwrecked as they discover that the Bible is not what their high priests tell them it is, that information is being intentionally kept from them….in other words, they have been duped. Many of them then decide Christianity is for the birds. Those of us who have been responding from the non-CSI-inerrantist (or errantist, as any inidividual might prefer) position here have managed to NOT lose our faith; to the contrary, we think our faith and love for God has been strengthened. It is now our duty to help those who have run into the same shoals we did, and show them that the ship does not need to go down.

  162. Richard said,

    May 20, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Pete: We really need to keep in mind that the doctrine of inerrancy concerns the original autographs alone hence they are the issue. So Greg Bahnsen states “While the Bible teaches its own inerrancy, the inscripturation and copying of God’s Word require us to identify the specific and proper object of inerrancy as the text of the original autographa.” (My emphasis). Hence the issue is not whether the NRSV is inerrant or whether the MT is inerrant, rather all advocates of inerrancy are arguing that it is the original autographs and them alone that are inerrant. Bahnsen notes, “The evangelical doctrine pertains to the autographic text…and maintains that present copies and translations are inerrant to the extent that they accurately reflect the biblical originals…the evangelical restriction of inerrancy to the original autographa is warranted, important, and defensible.” I quote Bahnsen here to demonstrate that the existence of original autographs is actually a big issue indeed. So ultimately by teaching that only the original autographs are inerrant and that we don’t have the original autographs you are logically advancing the position that we don’t have God’s inerrant word.

    Now your position is that the truth of inerrancy rests upon the witness of Scripture and yet John H. Gerstner, an advocate of inerrancy no-less, argues that it is wrong to use the Bible’s own testimony as the basis for inerrancy stating, “the fact that the Bible claims its inspiration is not the basis for Inerrancy.”

    Moreover, you have to deal with the problem that you are basing your doctrine of inerrancy on an errant translation of an errant manuscript, i.e you are claiming that something that is errant can be inerrant.

  163. GLW Johnson said,

    May 20, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Carlos
    What you call ‘progressive inerrantists’ were alive and well in Warfield’s day-and he rejected their understanding of ‘rectricted’ or ‘quailified’ inerrancy. See his reviews of J. Patterson Smyth ,’How God Inspired the Bible’ ( interestingly enough, Enns appealled to Smyth in his book I&I as an example to follow); John DeWitt, ‘What is Inspiration?’; and T.George Rooke, ‘Inspiration’. These can be found in ‘The Presbyterian and Reformed Review’ (vol.5,1894) pp169-179.

  164. May 20, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Mark,

    One quick question. What has caused the “shipwreck” or “near shipwreck” of many so-called evangelicals, the observation of seeming errors and contradictions in the Bible or the teaching of inerrancy? It seems that this lies at the heart of this thread. It appears that you think many have had their faith shipwrecked because they have been duped into believing in an inerrant Bible that does indeed have errors in it, while I believe that they have been shipwrecked because they have accepted a false theory that there are errors in the Bible and then they have drawn the logical conclusion that it cannot, therefore, be trusted. The fact that you have not suffered shipwreck is amazing considering the fact that you believe you have an untrustworthy rule of faith and life. I am thankful that you have been inconsistent with your own beliefs about the Bible for the sake of your relationship with Christ. But this does help me understand what Enns and others have been saying about their ability to help those who have wrestled with the difficulties in the Bible. If you make the problem belief in inerrancy, rather than errors in the Bible then you can certainly seek to move forward in your desire to help those who don’t believe the Bible because of seeming-contradictions.

    One more thing. I think it is interesting that in all my conversations with unbelievers, and all my apologetic evangelism over the years, I have never encountered someone who has lost confidence in the Bible as God’s word because they felt they were duped into a doctrine of inerrancy. On the contrary I have met hundreds (and that is no exaggeration) who argue unbelieving philosophies exclusively on the grounds that they think the Bible has errors in it. All of these people are more logically consistent in their inferences. And, almost none of them grew up ever being told the Bible was inerrant. They simply knew that if the Bible is God’s word, as evangelicals say, then it is perfect and free from contradictions and if it is not then it will have contradictions, thus manifesting its falsehood. Capishe?

  165. Elder Hoss said,

    May 20, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    …to GLW’s rejoinder as well, “Progressive Inerrantists” presided over the entire capitulation and demise of their academic and ecclesiastical institutions.

    Ideas/consequenses….

    Again, note the aforementioned bodycount from that period alone (Union Theological, late 1800′s, Princeton, Q 1 of the 20th century, along with other lesser-known casualties of war…).

    Notwithstanding the utility of their work in other respects, so much for Brevard Childs’ and Barth’s supposed “moderating” position, which would locate the authority of Scripture within the community of faith, as this much more appears to be a case of a SUBVERSION of biblical authority in the community of UNBELIEF.

  166. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Nick,
    Not to intrude on your conversation with others but I noted that you wrote:

    “They simply knew that if the Bible is God’s word, as evangelicals say, then it is perfect and free from contradictions and if it is not then it will have contradictions, thus manifesting its falsehood.”

    I think I understand where you’re coming from, but I wanted to point out that your statement, oddly enough, can be read as actually bolstering what Mark and others have been trying to communicate all along. The definition of inerrancy that is traditionally assumed by conservative evangelicals is a culturally constructed expectation and not an exegetical conclusion. The main reason people who don’t know that the Bible “teaches” its own inerrancy simply expect the Bible to be inerrant is because they live in breathe (as do everyone else) the very modernistic expectations that are latent in our cultural moment. That’s why many contributors here have been insisting that conservative views on inerrancy are cultural constructs, theological assumptions, theoretical presuppositions that have been brought to the text BEFORE reading it and exegeting it. After exegeting, the process of inductively culling scriptural passages will be done in such a way as to corroborate insofar as possible the pre-understanding that has already been culturally constructed, namely inerrancy.

  167. Rick Phillips said,

    May 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Wow! I went to one daughter’s softball game last night and another daughter’s birthday party this morning, and the thread has jumped by a hundred! Just wanted you all to know that I didn’t ditch the thread. However, Sunday sermons and a commencement address are going to keep me from further contributions. I would just answer Mark in #66 by saying that I made my remarks about Enns and Harvard not out of an attempt to personalize this issue (surely Enns is part of the issue by now) but to make a simple observation, namely, there was a time when the attitude towards higher-critical interpretation shifted among some at WTS (it seems to me that Pete’s arrival at WTS marks this point, although I could be wrong) and that this marks the real divide to this day. FTH argues that Nick and I are not letting the Bible speak, but most of his evidence is not what the Bible says but what has been said about the Bible. Our refusal to use h-c methods, based on our presuppositional commitment to the view of Scripture taught by Scripture, causes us essentially to have different Bibles altogether. Those willing to embrace higher-criticism have the Bible as the object of their study, whereas we who refuse h-c have the Bible as the source of our study. When Scripture says, “Thus saith the Lord,” we do ask, “now what does that mean?” But we do not ask, “Should that be accepted as true or not?” “Thy Word is truth,” really is our motto.

    I suppose I have to ask in advance that no offense be taken by these statements, as I do not say them in order to seize some high ground. I just believe this really does mark the dividing line between us. We simply do not have a common ground for discussion, because while we share the same Bible we relate to it quite differently.

  168. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    #162, Richard,

    Richard… you still are not actually refuting my argument.

    For the sake of argument, I will assume this proposition to be true: “No amount of human scholarship will ever be able to prove the existence of original autographs for the books of the Bible, and as scholarship progresses, the case against there being any original autographs will increase.”

    If that’s the case, then, the question of whether there was an original autograph is not settled.

    If…
    A – …scripture tells me there was an original autograph…
    B – …yet scholariship tells me there was no original autograph…
    C – …then I will believe what scripture tells me about itself, rather than the scholarship.

    The big, big, big factor here is that you are refusing to take into account the possibility that your conclusions about the manuscript evidence even might be wrong.

    But… we are going to keep banging our heads together. In a sense Mark was right. This conversation has flushed out our presuppositions very clearly.

    On this issue…
    For me, what the Bible says about itself is my ultimate authority… come hell or high water, I submit to that.
    For you, what can be demonstrated by observation of the manuscript evidence is your ultimate authority… come hell or high water, you submit to that.

    That’s why I keep calling you to look at the exegesis of the passages that claim inerrancy. And you keep calling me to look at the manuscript evidence. When you look at the exegesis, you are expecting them to leave room for errancy. When I look at the manuscript evidence, I am expecting it to always leave room somewhere for a single autograph in antiquity, that contained no errors.

    That is the difference in our positions… and you are now increasingly arguing for the manuscript evidence to take precedence over against the discussion I want to have about the exegesis of passages that claim inerrancy.

    That is putting human reasoning as an authority over scripture.

    Finally, Richard, it is only fair that your pastor know clearly what it is that you actually think. Especially since (for those on the other side of the pond Richard and I have discussed this already), the doctrinal confessions we work under explicitly state inerrancy. You said you would be fine with me letting your pastor know. Integrity does mean making sure that your views on this are made clear to your pastor, and not “fudged”, and all the ministers I’ve spoken to in my gospel partnership have said they think your pastor needs to know. Being clear with people about what you believe in a way where they understand is part of having integrity in ministry even if it is not convenient for those people to find out what you really think.

    What church do you work for?

  169. May 20, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Rick (and others who follow him here),

    I take great offense and will contact your session later today… : )

    Why does your “presuppositional commitment to the view of Scripture taught by Scripture” inherently oppose use of “historical-critical methods”? Can you flesh this out with some details? What about “the historical critical method” opposes scriptural presuppositions?

    Even if Rick does not have the time to answer, can anyone else on board with him chime in here?

  170. May 20, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    …if I can add one other thing, implicit in my above questions is another question: what do you all mean by “the historical-critical method”?

  171. Ron Henzel said,

    May 20, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Ros,

    I wrote:

    Please advise: what other kinds of “truths” are there besides propositional ones?

    And you responded:

    There are forms of communication which are non-propositional. These are the kinds of texts I was talking about earlier where ‘truth/falsehood’ is not a useful category of distinction.

    Even if I were to grant your point, it does not answer my question. I specifically asked you what other forms of truth exist beside propositional truth, and you tell me that other forms of communication exist. I do not believe this addresses the issue in the way you think it does, for reasons that I hope will soon become clear.

    I wrote:

    In what way do propositional truths fail to help us love the Lord with our hearts, souls, and bodies?

    You replied:

    They do help. But they are not the only thing that helps. If you give your wife a rose, that helps her to know you love her. Is that a propositional truth?

    Yes, it is. A propositional truth is simply a statement of truth in coded form. The most common code used for this purpose, and the most efficient, intelligible, and reliable one, is that of language, but it is by no means the only one. Gestures may be substituted for words, but they still communicate propositional truth, although less efficiently and reliably.

    When my wife receives a rose from me, she must use contextual clues to interpret my gift just as she would if I had said to her, “I love you.” Am I giving it to her because I need forgiveness for something? Did I give it to her to mark a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary? Or am I giving it to her as a spontaneous gesture, apparently prompted by nothing other than my emotions for her? However she interprets it, she will invariably translate it into a proposition, and if she misinterprets it, I will need to correct her proposition with the true one. But we can never separate it from propositional truth.

    All real communication is ultimately propositional in that it is always directly translatable into propositional terms, and, in fact, is dependent on such translation for its intelligibility and reliability. In fact, if something cannot be stated propositionally, it is not true in any meaningful sense.

    I wrote:

    How do we know that we are to have such love for God if it is not communicated to us propositionally?

    You replied:

    Because we read texts like the Song which are designed to produce an affective response and we trust that since these texts are God’s word, their effect is intended.

    Are you saying that the Song of Solomon is designed to teach us that we are to love God with all our beings? By beginning your reply with the word, “Because,” you are signaling precisely that. But if this is so, then it contradicts what you said earlier about it when you wrote, “I think that if the purpose of the Song were to communicate propositions, it singularly fails,” and “It evokes emotion rather than communicating information.” You seem to be inconsistent here.

    Or, to revert back to your previous statements, are you saying that we can know that we are to love God apart from propositions because the Song of Solomon gets us all choked up without actually saying anything? Then it seems to me that you’re trying to keep your cake and eat it, too.

    But given its genre and content, how would you know that anything was the intended meaning of the Song of Solomon if it had not been explained to you in propositional terms? For the moment, let’s go with your “affective” approach to the book and assume that it’s “meaning” is to be found solely in the emotions it evokes. What if different people experience different affective responses to the Song? It happens all the time with all kinds of texts.

    What if someone with a long history of romantic rejection experiences strongly negative emotions after reading it, while someone else experiences inappropriately erotic emotions, and yet another person experiences warm love for his spouse? How do we know which one is correct?

    Are you saying that this one particular “meaning” that you specify—i.e., that the text is simply intended to produce an affective response—(out of all the exegetical possibilities) is accessible purely from a surface reading of that text independent of any other propositional input? I think not. I do not think anyone will read the Song and then simply say, “My! Isn’t it nice to have a book in the Bible that just makes you feel good instead of making you think?” Instead I think the more typical reaction is the same as the one we read about in Acts 8:

    Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

    “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

    [Acts 8:30-31, NIV]

    I wrote:

    Even if we have such knowledge intuitively, how do we know we have it, and how can others know we have it, if we cannot state it in the form of a proposition?

    You replied:

    Why do we need to know that we know what we know? Can you not just know something?

    Because human knowledge is far from reliable, and ultimately requires divine confirmation. And when God confirms it, He invariably does so with propositional statements.

    I wrote:

    But how does that challenge the notion that the propositional truths of Scripture are central to the Christian faith?

    You replied:

    I have not sought to challenge that notion. All I have sought to demonstrate is that not every verse of Scripture is best categorised as propositional truth.

    So then you agree that the propositional truths of Scripture are central to the Christian faith?

    I wrote:

    Why is church history strewn with creeds and confessions that claim to be essentially collections of propositional truths?

    You wrote:

    And yet, why is it that we have a Bible rather than a creed or confession?

    What do you mean by “rather than?” Do we not have both: the Bible being God’s propositions, and the creeds and confessions being human propositions about what God’s propositions mean? And if every tradition within the church has consistently worked hard to carefully re-state the truths of Scripture in propositions relevant to its needs, how can we say that

    I wrote:

    Why is it that only now, after nearly 2,000 years of church history and thousands more of redemptive history, that people are challenging the central role of propositional truth?

    You replied:

    Perhaps because only now are people trying to claim that propositional truth excludes all other forms of communication.

    Really? Are you saying there are people who claim that no one ever communicates propositional lies? Can you name these people? I certainly do not know any.

    Perhaps what you meant to say was that there are people who claim that all communication is ultimately propositional, as I do. And by that I mean that all true communication can be expressed in propositions, and is actually dependent upon that form of expression for its intelligibility and reliability.

    If you come across a truth that cannot be stated propositionally, please let me know what it is…uh, somehow…

    It seems pretty clear to me that commentators on the Song throughout the ages have understood the value of things other than propositional truth.

    Really? Are you trying to say that commentators throughout the ages did not exegete the Song of Solomon in propositional terms? Are you trying to say that commentators throughout the ages reduced it to the literary equivalent of abstract art, as you do when you write, “It evokes emotion rather than communicating information”? I suppose you might find such an approach among interpreters in the late 20th or early 21st century, but prior to that, I highly doubt it.

  172. Ron Henzel said,

    May 20, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    In my previous comment I have an unfinished sentence that I would like to finish here:

    And if every tradition within the church has consistently worked hard to carefully re-state the truths of Scripture in propositions relevant to its needs, how can we say that propositional truth is not central to the Christian faith without going against 2,000 years of virtually unanimous tradition?

  173. Ron Henzel said,

    May 20, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Richard,

    You wrote:

    Ron: I have already cited the examples of 4QpaleoExod^m, 4QJer^a, 4QJer^b and 4QJer^c which undermine the concept of original autographs, which undermines the concept that the original autographs are inerrant.

    And I have already explained why the speculative interpretations you presented, some from a scholar whom I do not believe you have accurately represented, do not accomplish what you think they do.

  174. Richard said,

    May 20, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Pete: In recent comments I have tried to move away from the textual evidence to focus specifically on the logic of your argument that only the original autographs are inerrant. I have demonstrated that by means of the following argument your position is actually self-refuting. Perhaps you could humour me by answering the following with either a “Yes” or a “No”:

    Do you accept – P1: God’s word is inerrant?

    Do you accept – P2: Only the original autographs are inerrant?

    Do you accept – C1: Therefore, only the the original autographs are God’s word?

    Do you accept – P3: We do not posses the original autographs?

    Do you accept – C2: Therefore, we do not posses God’s word?

    Ultimately if you want to affirm that “The original autographs are inerrant” that is up to you, in reality it means nothing as what exists remains errant and that is what we have at our disposal to use.

  175. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    #169, FTH,

    Seriously FTH I have explained that over and over again throughout this thread, I’m guessing Rick has too. Asking for clarification on what one of us has said would be fine… but could I point you back to the thread?

    In a nutshell:
    A) What scripture claims about itself.
    B) What I observe to be true of scripture.

    A takes precedence over B. Specifically applied:

    I believe that:
    A) Scripture claims that God’s Word, which includes every Word of itself, is by definition Truth, and therefore inerrant.
    For the sake of argument I’ve been assuming that:
    B) Our observation of the phenomena doesn’t appear to bear this out.

    And the basic gist of my (our?) challenge then is: There’s lot’s of places where it’s true that what scripture claims doesn’t appear to be vindicated by careful human investigation… and that is because our careful human investigation is fallible, and will one day prove to have been false, will be refuted, and scripture’s claims about itself will be vindicated.

    So… do I believe what scripture claims about itself, or do I believe the human observation of the phenomena of scripture.

    Some discussions have begun titliing towards “But scripture doesn’t claim inerrancy for itself, that’s you reading it into the text.” To be honest, I’d very much like to engage with that kind of discussion, as I think it’s the most profitable line of enquiry, adn the most faithful at the end of the day.

  176. Ros said,

    May 20, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Ron, I don’t think I can have this conversation with you. Clearly we are both starting from such different places with respect to these issues that the discussion we would need to have would be far from the purpose of this thread and would take more time and effort than I have to give to it. And I’m not sure that an online discussion would be the most efficient way of having that conversation anyway. So, that’s it. You can have the final word, if you like.

  177. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    #174,

    Richard the logic of my argument does not depend on the original autographs.

    Richard. I’m now genuinely convinced that you don’t understand my argument. You don’t “get” the issues.

    Since my response has degenerated to just stating this. I can’t really see us gaining anything as the discussion moves on. You are either not listening, or just not able to understand.

    You are repeatedly not dealing with my more pastoral challenge, though, you are involved in a group that subscribes to inerrancy in it’s doctrinal basis. Integrity demands that you make your view clear to your pastor… and don’t fudge it.

    What church do you go to?

  178. May 20, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    One more thing, for Rick and Reed (92, I believe),

    I find it interesting you all are labeling me as on some quest for objectivity (read: bad) versus Rick’s more trusting “thus says the Lord”-trusting subjective (read: good and Van Tilian) approach.

    First off, this is incredibly humorous since not much earlier Reed labeled us as post-modernists…you know, the people who completely reject quests for objectivity. Now, apparently, it is more convenient to trot out the objectivity rhetoric and aim it at me? I am confused…? : )

    Secondly, I am not questing for anything more “objective” than what you claim to seek: ways to conceive of Scripture based on Scripture, both its statements about itself and its behaviors. I make no claims to stand on a neutral, a-contextual, a-cultural, Archimedian point above the fray. I would never do that, primarily because I do not think such a thing or ability exists…at least not for people. In utilizing historical methodologies I simply seek to employ a commonly accepted academic (culturally determined) way of reading and understanding things. I find it fitting in this discussion as American Reformed-Evangelicals also explicitly use (or at least claim to use) historical methodologies for reading the Bible. I advocate consistency in its use, not that it delivers us to some paradisaical realm of objective certainty.

    And…to bring this back around again, I fail to see how claiming (Rick and Reed) that you start from the subjective faith approach to trusting Scripture’s divinity and what it says about itself…I fail to see how this advances the discussion. YET AGAIN, the issue is not whether the Bible is God’s Word or that some of us want to prove that it is or is not. We (at least I) start from the same presuppositional place as you on this point. The issue IS what it means that the Bible is God’s Word; what it means in relation to prescribed reading methodologies for and expected characteristics (errors or not?, logical-systematic coherence?, etc.) of the Bible. Trotting out Scripture’s divinity, inspiration, truth, etc., on their own brings nothing to this discussion at the level where substantive interaction might happen…because the points of debate revolve precisely around what those things mean when it comes to issues like inerrancy, acceptable hermeneutical approaches, etc….and if attending to how the Bible actually behaves should (does) modify our understandings of what, for example, Scripture’s divinity means when it comes to issues like inerrancy (or not) and acceptable reading methods.

  179. May 20, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Pete (175),

    If human observation is fallible when it comes to what you observe to be true about Scripture, isn’t it also with respect to your understanding of what Scripture says about itself?

    If your historical methodologies work for learning what Scripture says about itself, do they suddenly become dysfunctional when they find Scripture actually behaving in ways that cut across what they found Scripture to be saying about itself?

    Also, as I have pointed up, I question your move in point A from Scripture claims it is Truth to, therefore, Scripture is inerrant. What if the way Scripture is true does not involve inerrancy? This may make no sense to us, but perhaps God did it that way…something about His Ways being Higher than our ways…? : )

  180. WhatChrisLikes said,

    May 20, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Ron (171),

    Where do emotions come into your worldview? Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you hold an utterly mechanistic view of humanity. You write that other forms of communication aren’t as efficient or reliable as language-based propositions. But all I can imagine when you say things like that is the Coneheads or Vulcans. I know that probably sounds a little harsh, but I’m just trying to figure out where things like emotional response come into play here if you honestly think that the exact ways that men and women love each other (or Christ loves the Church) can be expressed simply in propositional truths. My opinion is that they can’t. That’s why we write poetry and create visual art: because sometimes just a proposition doesn’t (can’t?) carry and convey all of the meaning that’s loaded up in our experience.

    I realize this is a little off of the original topic of the blog post, but I’m hoping you’ll help me understand what you’re saying in your comment.

    Thanks. Chris.

  181. Reed Here said,

    May 20, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Mark, no. 161:

    Your comment, “I will go on with my efforts to help the many evangelicals whose faith has been shipwrecked or near-shipwrecked as they discover that the Bible is not what their high priests tell them it is, that information is being intentionally kept from them., is definitely NOT in the siprit of my original post, and I take offense to it brother.

    It is one thing for me to observe my fear over what will be the results of your “errantists” efforts. It is quite another to suggest that such results are intentionally your goal.

    This is what you say here. I’ll deal with the smary-ness of the “high-priest” crack and chalk it up to weak sartirical skills on your part.

    I will not accept the accusation that anyone who disagrees with you is intentionally hiding the kinds of “problems” you see in the Bible from anyone, and are therefore culpable in their spiritual shipwreck. Such loose language is more than unkind brother; it borders on the slanderous.

    Apart from my strong rebuke here Mark, please accept that I expect you did not intentionally offer this insult, but wrote carelessly, or allowed frustrations with the hurt someone gave to you to be hurled at your opponents here.

    Either way, you do owe an apology for that Mark. And no, I’ll not let disappointment with this one flaw stop me from thanking you for your otherwise helpful interaction.

  182. Reed Here said,

    May 20, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Stephen: I think you’re bing a little simplistic. The search for objectivity (as defined by modernism) is not bad, it is impossible.

    Post-modernism does not reject objectivity. It merely claims it is objective because it says it is, and anyone who disagrees should just shut up :-)

    Again, I used the post-modernism to identify a characteristic (the re-definition process). I did not say your position was an expression of post-modernism. I will take it that you are just being silly and that these commentsfrom you do not demonstrate that you actually haven’t really paid attention to what I wrote. ;)

  183. Reed Here said,

    May 20, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Stephen: and a little more …

    It is not objective vs. subjective. That is the ground of the argument from your misunderstanding of the orthodox inerrancy position. The ground is rather one of authority – whose authority determines what the Bible is? This is what you consistently “skip over.” Your only authority for what the Bible is, is yourself. In the end, you choose what makes sense to you and what does not.

    Our authority on the other hand is the Bible itself. And no, this is not the same for you. The Bible claims to be truth, errorless.You accept the challenge of unbelievers to that claim and then respond with, “o.k. let’s redefine what it means for the Bible to be truth.” You presumably let the Bible itself take precedence over this redefining process, but in reality your a priori commitment to the veracity of the unbeliever’s challenge so effectively limits the choices before you that you end up arguing for error-laden inerrancy, or like Art abandoning inerrancy altogether.

    You’ve eliminated the culturally-laden doctrine of inerrancy (as Carlos labels it in his rejection of it) as something imposed on the Bible. According to you, this orthodox view of inerrancy just can’t be plausible, not because it is not plausible from the Scriptures themselves but because your a priori committment to the unbeliever’s challenge womt’ allow it!

    So, no I’m not deliberately trying to take the high ground. Instead you’ve chosen the low ground. Your position is not based on what the Bible says for itself. You are not letting the Bible speak for itself. You are letting the Bible speak through a gag placed on it by unbelievers!

  184. Reed Here said,

    May 20, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Stephen: yet more …

    Your “what if” in #179 is begging the point. We recognize that this is what y’all are claiming.

    Plain and simple, the ony sure method of validating the Bible is to let it speak for itself. It claims to be the word from God (inspired) and therefore exhibit qualities consistent with God’s character (inerrant and infallible.) This is the self-attesting witness of Scripture.

    You need to get over the unbeliever’s “prove it!” challenge. Not only can you not do this, God himself never caters to such rank rebellion. Instead you need to rest in the promise tha the self-attesting nature of the Bible is always affirmed by it Self-attesting Author.

    (This is why I find Mark’s shipwreck concern so disingenuous. I’ve never yet run into one such child of Godor whom the Self-attesting One was an insufficient witness. Likewise, I found Dr. Enn’s anecdotal evidence of this to be more demonstrative of the failure of fundamentalistic discipleship, not inadequacy of the doctrine in question.)

  185. WhatChrisLikes said,

    May 20, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Reed (184),

    I’m not sure about what all the other guys are claiming, so I can’t claim to speak for any of them (also, I’m a WTS drop-out so I’m not sure I would even know the meanings of most of the words they might use to say what I’m about to say), but my response to your statement, “Plain and simple, the ony sure method of validating the Bible is to let it speak for itself. It claims to be the word from God (inspired) and therefore exhibit qualities consistent with God’s character (inerrant and infallible.) This is the self-attesting witness of Scripture,” is to say that my problem isn’t with what Scripture is saying. It’s with how we’re interpreting it.

    So I don’t have any problem with seeing the same words on the page that anyone else does, but it seems to me that we are all importing meaning into those words from outside of the biblical witness, whether that’s through our philosophical presuppositions or through our word choice when translating from the original languages. It is a 2000 year old document; to assume that we’d just be able to look at the pages and understand something as complex as the inspiration of Scripture seems to be naive. So instead of just saying “We’re going to let Scripture speak for itself”, I would say “Scripture can speak for itself, but I’m bound to misunderstand it, so I’m going to use every tool at my disposal to attempt to interpret it correctly.”

    I’m pretty sure there are some logical holes in what I just said that can be picked apart, but as I’ve been studying all this stuff, it’s started to seem to me that there are logical holes in just about every argument put forward on every side, and, barring a personal crisis that resets our comfort levels so-to-speak, we each just end up siding with whatever has the right mix of confrontation/affirmation for what we already believe.

    Chris.

  186. WhatChrisLikes said,

    May 20, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    PS – I just realized that the last sentence in my comment (185) might come across as condescending or negative in some other way. I meant for it to be more a statement of almost depressed resignation.

    (Are any of my comments even coming up on here? I read that they are being moderated for first-time commenters (which I am), but I’m not seeing anything that’s saying “Awaiting Moderation”.)

  187. GLW Johnson said,

    May 20, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    One would think we all have suddenly been dropped into a Dale Brown novel where Warfield is the head of a secret organization designed to keep people in the dark. Take heart, there is this Harvard PhD OT scholar ,accompanied by his small band of faithful followers, who will stop at nothing to uncover this sinister plot. Tune in tomorrow boys and girls for the next thrilling episode!

  188. May 20, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    GLW, Keep quiet about our secret society!

  189. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    #179, FTH,

    The more I discuss with you guys, the more confused I am…

    …do you agree with the analogy of faith? I am assuming that as a common presupposition. The analogy of faith would very clearly demonstrate that a statement scripture makes didactically about itself carries more weight than something I think I observe about scripture.

    Your position (I haven’t interacted with you personally, so, I’m making assumptions about your position now based on Enns and others, please forgive me if this doesn’t represent your view FTH), is that you guys say that what scripture “teaches” is inerrant, but everything outside that is errant. If that’s the case, then, very obviously and clearly the category scriptures didactic statements are it’s “teaching”. So why are you questioning me privileging scriptures teaching statements over and above what you claim to observe about scripture?

    As to the definition of truth… once you start questioning what truth means in the way you’ve just done, you’re in big trouble. Scritpure talks in the same terms about God’s Word as it does about God himself. If you say that truth doesn’t necessarily imply inerrancy, then you’re saying that the statements that God is truth don’t necessarily imply inerrancy either.

    I put to you FTH, that, redefining words like you’re doing based on what you expect the text to say because of your observation of how scripture works, rather than based on a careful word study, is not good practice, and there’s nothing stopping it degenerating into a justificaiton of just about anything you want to make a text say.

    If the big challenge you guys are making is “your assumption of inerrancy hasn’t been proven but read into these texts”, then I’d ask why your exegetical handling of a proof-text isn’t much more sophisticated than this. Again, it suggests to me that nobody has really done the level of work necessary to refute the classical arguments for inerrancy… instead you’ve just assumed inerrancy was an assumption on the part of others.

    As exciting and stimulating as studying under Peter Enns likely was, I’d appeal to you to think through that carefully – hand on heart FTH, was the assertion that inerrancy is an unproven assumption on the part of evangelicals carefully argued exegetically in Enns’ classes – or was it an assertion he made that, in the main, he backed up with observations of the way scripture works?

  190. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    #183, Reed,

    You need to get over the unbeliever’s “prove it!” challenge. Not only can you not do this, God himself never caters to such rank rebellion. Instead you need to rest in the promise tha the self-attesting nature of the Bible is always affirmed by it Self-attesting Author.

    Reed, you always put things so succinctly and clearly… thank you.

    Also… reading your other comments on this above, I yearn to emulate your pastors heart brother, I really do. You always have your finger on the pulse of what it means for people on the ground, thank you brother!

  191. May 20, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Quickly, Pete, my positions do not necessarily line up with Enns’ At no point in class (or in his book, for that matter) does he try to refute inerrancy.

    Though Enns is a friend of mine and was one of my professors, he was not the professor who impacted the most at WTS. Also, many of the positions I hold now were by no means taught to me at WTS by anyone.

    Also, just so you know, I do not make that distinction between the “teachings” of Scripture (on spiritual things?) being “inerrant” versus other things possibly containing errors.

    As to the proof texts, we could go into those. I would like to think I have nuanced ways of approaching them. In the end, however, I do not really dispute that passages in the Bible predicate truthfulness of God and that he does not lie, that the sacred writings are breathed-out by God, etc. I would probably try to refocus discussion of many of them since I think the common “exegeses” of many of them makes far grander claims than the passages themselves do. Also, as a whole, I do not think the writings of the Bible focus much on themselves…to the extent they do, they tend to focus more on the functions and purposes of Scripture—especially in pointing beyond themselves—than on Scripture’s nature and origins.

    So, for example, 2Tim 3 does say that pasa graphe are theopneustos, but that is not the over-riding focus of the passage. It says it and then connects it to what it focuses on more: the function and purpose of the sacred writings (interestingly, not a more detailed discussion of the nature and origins of the scriptures). This different focus does not undercut its claim about the inspired nature of the sacred writings, but it should inform the traditional evangelical-Reformed treatments of the passage. Also, it is worth noting that 2 Tim 3′s author DID NOT have the New Testament writings in mind when he wrote this. Now, theologically I do not mind broadening the passage out to cover the NT…but the point is worth making. Lastly, we should note that this classical proof text says absolutely nothing about the sacred writings being inerrant, teaching primarily a set of propositional teachings that exist in a logical-systematic relationship with each other, etc. We often fill out the content of what theopneustos means for our doctrine of Scripture will all sorts of things we infer from elsewhere in the Bible and our systematic theology. The question remains, did the author of 2Tim 3 actually mean all these things…and how might you decide, historically, what 2Tim 3′s theopneustos means when it comes to the details of our doctrine of Scripture?

    I am unaware of any “word studies” that really help the matter here…at least any you would accept. I could point to a whole host of broader Greco-Roman (including Judean) sensitivities about “inspired” writings (including texts using that same word or very similar ones) not to “determine” what it means in 2Tim 3, but because that is generally how you go about starting to research a word’s possible range of meaning. I suspect, however, you would probably not accept such an approach in this case unless it produced a range of possible meanings that agree with your theology…just a hunch.

    From a more theological-reading perspective, I try to flesh out what theopneustos means for the characteristics of Scripture (inerrant?, how to be read?, etc.) by observing what Scripture actually does…and, by the analogy of faith, I theologically put the two together. This is not, interestingly, a historical way of approaching the passage as it does not necessarily tell me what the human-historical author of 2Tim thought theopneustos meant concerning the nature of the sacred writings in relation to our interests…but it does offer a broader theological way forward…and perhaps, from another point of view, gives us a glimpse of what the divine author might have meant here.

  192. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    FTH,

    Thanks for putting me right on your position :)

    What I mean by “word study” is that in your previous comment dealing with my application of the implications of John 17v17, you called into question my understanding of “Truth” in that passage.

    God’s Word is Truth.

    For God’s Word to contain any error, you need to redefine “Truth” in some way. If you’re going to redefine “truth” so that it can include “error” you need to show that by demonstrating it with a word study.

    Bible words have Bible meanings… and I think of all the places where I can say the burden of proof is in your court, this is clearly one. It is not pushing the verse too far… it’s not pushing the verse at all, it’s simply reading it… to say that God’s Word is Truth… and that means there is no “untruth” in God’s Word.

    FTH – you are trying to argue that the verse says the opposite of what it does say, and yet you’re gently implying that my exegesis isn’t sophisticated, and is pushing verses too far. What does truth mean in John 17v17, and can you justify your definition?

  193. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Hi Reed,
    I wanted to inquire further into some of your recent remarks (which were not directed at me).

    You encourage FTH in the following way:

    “You need to get over the unbeliever’s “prove it!” challenge. Not only can you not do this, God himself never caters to such rank rebellion.”

    Am I right to think that when one critically inquires into the nature of scripture, it need not always be construed as an unbelieving act? In most of our cases, I would say that it is a “faith seeking understanding” approach. Some of us, during the course of honestly contemplating our faith, have come to the conclusion that we don’t adequately understand the authority of scripture yet and need to do some more thinking about it. Why must that automatically qualify as unbelief seeking understanding (which is what I hear you saying God will not cater to)? I see a sort of taboo creeping in here and I’m curious as to why we are not allowed to critically ask about whether we understand the authority of the Bible correctly and take a critical look at the taboo as well. (I think that’s where some of FTH’s sociological insights seem apropos.)

    I mean one could easily turn this around and say that believers who aren’t willing take a hard critical look at scripture are ignoring a potential challenge and that this constitutes some form of rebellion. In fact, that what may be what Mark is trying to say when he sees that his teachers had a responsibility to walk him throught the challenge instead of leaving him to go it alone. In his view, his teachers knew of the challenge and did not help him meet it as much as he thinks he could. Now I’m putting words into his mouth here but I’m trying to capitalize on what’s been said in a potentially fruitful way. Why wouldn’t God answer people who are sincerely inquiring into the nature of scripture in a critical way? Critical does not equal unbelieving–at least not in my book.

  194. Pete Myers said,

    May 20, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    cbovell…

    But again, it all comes down to whether scripture teaches inerrancy about itself.

    If it does, then Reed’s comments are fair. It is doesn’t, then Reed’s comments aren’t.

    What’s quite awkward, though, is the way that the question of “what does scripture teach about itself” isn’t being properly addressed, and is being drowned out by the question “what do we observe about scripture”?

    So critical does equal unbelieving, if what I’m being critical of is something God has said. The question is – has God said it? We’re all up for having that discussion, and if that was what was being discussed, then there’d be no need to draw contrasts liek the one Reed was forced to draw.

  195. GLW Johnson said,

    May 20, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Carlos
    Would you care to comment about my remarks in #163 ?

  196. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Hi, GLW.
    Sure I’ll say something about what you said. You wrote:
    “What you call ‘progressive inerrantists’ were alive and well in Warfield’s day-and he rejected their understanding of ‘restricted’ or ‘quailified’ inerrancy.”
    You then referenced some of the older literature.

    I can’t speak to the later articles, but I do remember reading J. Paterson Smyth’s book, How God Inspired the Bible, after taking Enns’ class:

    “It is a commonplace truth enough that religious doubt and disquiet are not necessarily evil. And yet it is a truth that needs to be often emphasized for the doubting and disquieted. A man’s doubt, if it be candid, honest doubt, may be as much a gift of God as other people’s belief, and may ultimately accomplish as widespread good…and there are times when it may be sinful to shake off such doubt. For men disquieted about the Bible such as I am addressing, it would probably lead to a vague uneasiness on a wider subject, and tend to loosen the foundations of all belief in religion and in God. To deny inquiry is but to increase doubt. Involuntary doubt cannot be sinful, for how can that be sinful which a man cannot help? And if he cannot believe, what else can he do but doubt? Blessed are they who have no doubts to disturb their quiet, but blessed still more are they who through doubt and darkness have won their way to a higher knowledge of truth. It is the highest faith to believe that to those who, with humble, honest heart, are seeking the truth at any cost, God will give His assistance to find that truth, and His pardon if they miss it.”

    I found this to be very edifying.

  197. GLW Johnson said,

    May 20, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Carlos
    But you have not read the reviews by BBW? Oh, but you were impressed with Smyth…but Warfield wasn’t. Don’t you think that is significant?

  198. GLW Johnson said,

    May 20, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    One more thing. Did you know that Smyth was part of the Briggs party in the Presbyterian church ? I pointed this out in my chapter in the book I edited on Warfield for P&R back in 2007. I thought you told me you read it, no?

  199. rfwhite said,

    May 20, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    162 Richard, it’s interesting to read Warfield’s essay, “The Westminster Assembly and Its Work” in dialogue with Brevard Childs’s essay, “The Hermeneutical Problem of New Testament Text Criticism.” Warfield’s contention was that we do possess the autographs not in just one text but in the many. Childs’s contention is that we should not separate the issue of establishing the text from how the text was received. What do you think?

    For us all: Is inerrancy (“Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching”) a concomitant of canonicity? That is, if Scripture is to given to function as canon, must it follow that Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching? Why or why not?

  200. GLW Johnson said,

    May 20, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Fowler and I both were students under Gaffin and his class on the canon where he made this very point on numerous occasions .

  201. kamelda said,

    May 20, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    I think I understand (or at least, as a housewife, this is all I am capable of understanding after reading almost 100 comments) that what is being advocated by those who believe the Bible to be errant but infallible is that what Scripture is *teaching* us about itself (though without *saying* it, or teaching it propositionally) is that truth is not necessarily factual. We determine what is factual by other traditions than Scripture, and those facts then determine how we interpret Scripture; so we wind up with Scripture containing errors and teaching us this nuanced idea of its truth. If this is wrong please forgive me. I don’t mean to mischaracterize and have honestly tried to understand; as layperson’s were referenced perhaps even if this is inaccurate it will be helpful in demonstrating how this discussion translates to us.

    If it is accurate, this seems to me, again as a layperson, a denial of things I have learned about the incarnation. Not only was the Word made flesh but He came into our factual history and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory. God’s truth is forever incarnate in the very physical facts of our past and our future; and the Logos speaks to those facts truthfully. To define that truthfulness to which it speaks to fact as containing factual error is not only doubling back in a most confusing manner, but it is to deny implications of the incarnation into the factual realm, full flesh into actually history. Personally it would make a shipwreck of my faith to divorce these things. Let God be true and every man a liar; I cannot accept that God’s truth is somehow on the factual level a lie (what of the facts of my life: will they turn out to be divorced from truth in a way that is truthful — or will I find that truth is an improper mode of communication in which to relate God’s faithfulness to my facts: what am I to hope for, if my facts are divorced from God’s truth?): if this is how you are saving people’s faith I believe it’s rather dangerous. I don’t mean to speak with any rancor, and I’m sure I’ve spoken over-simplistically: but this is what I understand and what I would take away from such arguments: again I speak because laypersons have been referenced, as to what affects our faith. I appreciate the concern expressed on both sides for how this affects us.

  202. Reed Here said,

    May 20, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Carlos, no. 193:

    You asked, “Am I right to think that when one critically inquires into the nature of scripture, it need not always be construed as an unbelieving act? ”

    Of course. I’d suggest you are reading this “taboo” into the opposing comments here (unless you have one that specifically does this.) My comments for sure cannot be read that way. You certainly can ask if the inference is there. It is a waste of your time engaging in any debate on the assumption it is there.

    I appreciate your effort to read Mark in a generous manner. In doing so here you assume something about me for sure that is not true, and I dare say others here as well. My pastors never “hid” from me the challenges of unbelieving higher criticism. I was studying the last battle for the Bible in my milk of faith. Such study as continued since. From early in my Christian life I’ve been directed toward an apologetic/evangelistic lifestyle. The subject of the inspiration-inerrancy-infallibility of the Bible has pretty much always been before me.

    I’m not saying this to claim any depth of study (I’ve done enough). I do offer it to deny your generous reading of Mark is all that valid. It is not that these challenges to the Bible are some dark deep secret. They are rather common knowledge, easily accessible by any layperson.

    To construe them as otherwise is disingenuous. To use that argument as a primary support for the position (i.e., this is a consistent refrain from Enns, et.al.) is therefore rather pointless.

  203. Reed Here said,

    May 20, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Brothers: see no. 201. A layperson speaks. What value for her does your position offer?

  204. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    I read your article, several times, GLW, last year or maybe the year before when we talked about it over on connversation. I’m not sure what you expect me to say now in response to you because I already conceded that BBW would probably have attacked my book if he had decided to review it and if he were alive today (but I don’t KNOW this). But either way, how is that revealing? I’ve put my cards on the table. I’m not looking for Warfield’s blessing, I have only said that through Silva’s article, for example, there is a development in Warfieldian thinking that progressives can agree with and claim as their own if they wish to. I’m not sure what’s so revealing about that or about me admitting that I find Smyth particularly edifying.

    Indeed, I appaud his attitude toward biblical studies generally:

    “If your little child is afraid of some bogey in a dark place, he will always have misgivings in passing that place, until you have gone with him to drag it to the light and he sees it is but a white sheet hanging on a pole. And if you are afraid of some bogey in the Bible that seems to be threatening your religious belief, you will always have a secret misgiving until you have boldly dragged your bogey to the light. It may do you good by showing that your belief needed to be corrected; it may vanish altogether when carefully examined by the help of wiser eyes than your own. In any case drag it out. Never, if you can help it, let sleeping dogs lie. They will disturb you continually by growling in their sleep, and some day they will spring up and rend you.”

    I told you that I sold my books last year. You will be pained to learn, thought that my Warfield volumes were among them that were sold and my Briggs volumes were among those that I kept. I find his writing much more edifying. So where does that leave me? (Don’t worry I still have a cd with that 10 volume collection of works.)

    I know you’ve argued that Warfield and Briggs were something like mortal enemies and that anyone who finds some of Briggs’ writings useful are in turn enemies of Warfield. I took exception to that generalization back then when we talked about it and I still take exception to it now.

    Through Silva’s article, the one in your book, there is room for more progressive developments than the ones that are current here on this blog(although, again, these are not the only, or necessarily the best, developments believers might take up):

    “All inerrantists, so far as I know, believe in the factual character of that material [the opening chapters of Gen]. This state of affairs creates a certain presumption that inerrancy by itself demands such an interpretation. But the presumption is false; indeed, it is an equivocation. The doctrine of biblical infallibility no more requires that narratives be interpreted ‘literally’ than it requires that prophetic passages be inerpreted ‘literally.’ that decision must be arrived at by textual evidence and exegetical argument…

    …But infallibility, apart from exegesis, does not by itself determine historicity.”

    And again:

    “The doctrine of infallibility assures us that we can have total confidence in God’s revelation to us. It does not mean, however, that we may have total confidence in our particular interpretations of the Bible. For many believers, unfortunately, assurance that the Bible is true appears to be inseparable from assurance about traditional interpretive positions, so that if we question the latter we seem to be doubting the former…Uncertainty is not a pleasant thing, and our instinct to avoid it can lead us into trouble. Concerned not to leave the door open to excesses, we are tempted to raise artificial barriers. But this medicine is worse than the disease. I mention these things because there is a strong current of opinion in evangelical circles that says we need to tie inerrancy down to certain hermeneutical boundary lines.”

    And lastly:

    “It was no blunder that made a Warfield or a Machen or a Stonehouse pay an enormous amount of attention to the work of liberal and radical scholars. These and other ‘oddities’ are direct consequences of a commitment not to leave any stones unturned to find out what the Bible really says.”

    No stones unturned, GLW. That is the Warfieldian spirit that some progressives feel they are continuing. They began in the Warfield camp and wound up where they are through the course of trying to be faithful to the Warfield mandate. I myself think that not a few stones have been turned in critical scholarship that are actually remarkably fruitful. This is a Warfieldian trajectory and those who wish to claim it are not wrong in my view for wanting to do so. (Again, I am not particularly anxious to do so myself, but others who do want to appear to me to be justified in doing so.)

  205. Reed Here said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Chris, no. 185: welcome to the blog. One of Lane’s requests is that we introduce ourselves when first posting. When you get a chance, thanks!

    You said, “through our word choice when translating from the original languages. It is a 2000 year old document; to assume that we’d just be able to look at the pages and understand something as complex as the inspiration of Scripture seems to be naive.”

    This and the following statements you make are (possibly unintentional) shallow mischaracterizations of what we who affirm the orthodox position are saying. Surely you recognize that someone like BB Warfield did not operate as you’ve described. It is at best ignorance to assume this about a host of other scholars affirming inerrancy against Enns, et.al.

    Of course, this is not the first time I’ve run into this shibboleth. (Take no offense; it does sound like you’re repeating an argument that struck you but which you haven’t validated.) It is part of the kind of argument I from Enns, and others here. I’d like to ask you for one example of that from a respected reformed scholar who opposes Enns. I do not think you can produce one.

    I’d suggest you spend the time to work through such men as Warfield, and then possibly the work of the men who came up with the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. You’ll see rather quickly that this, “but what about …” argument is invalid.

    To whet your whistle, here is an interesting statement from Part III, Section C of that statement:

    “The truthfulness of Scripture is not negated by the appearance in it of irregularities of grammar or spelling, phenomenal descriptions of nature, reports of false statements (for example, the lies of Satan), or seeming discrepancies between one passage and another. It is not right to set the so-called “phenomena” of Scripture against the teaching of Scripture about itself. Apparent inconsistencies should not be ignored. Solution of them, where this can be convincingly achieved, will encourage our faith, and where for the present no convincing solution is at hand we shall significantly honor God by trusting His assurance that His Word is true, despite these appearances, and by maintaining our confidence that one day they will be seen to have been illusions.

    Inasmuch as all Scripture is the product of a single divine mind, interpretation must stay within the bounds of the analogy of Scripture and eschew hypotheses that would correct one Biblical passage by another, whether in the name of progressive revelation or of the imperfect enlightenment of the inspired writer’s mind.”

  206. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Thanks, Reed, for engaging me. Not a few writers who have observed dynamics within fundamentalist communities have commented on how leaders often feel obligated to protect those under their care. This, of course, is to be commended. It is well-intended and shows that they take their duties seriously. I appreciate that. But there is another side, one that someone like myself and perhaps Mark are trying to give a voice to. We’re not trying to be disingenuous, we are speaking our honest thoughts. Kindlly extend to us such charity that you might help us convey our sentiments more agreeably if they come across as slander.

    Now consider with me an excerpt from Kathleen Boone, The Bible Tells Them So:

    “The care taken to shield fundamentalist laypersons from non-fundamentalist discourse reflects that strong belief that the wrong words, the wrong combination of words, can subvert faith–an attitude traceable to the centrality of an inerrant text, without whith fundamentalists claim that faithe can be destroyed. It is not surprisign that fundamentalist institutions exercise careful control over the secondary reading material of the laity…

    There are only two places for a Bultmann or a Tillich volume–in a classroom where a qualified authority can declare these thinkers ‘wrong,’ or the bonfire.” (83-84)

    This describes well my early years in the faith (and perhaps Mark’s) and I think that such an environment can certainly set some thinking people up for a big fall. This might not describe your parish, Reed, and I believe you when you say that it doesn’t, but it does describe some others unfortunately.

  207. May 20, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    I just noticed Kurt’s comment (#89). I think a moderator must have recently released it from a filter because it did not appear at that actual point in the discussion. I just wanted to draw everyone’s attention to it.

  208. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Kamelda’s remarks in #201 are very important to me, Reed. She says that the Enns group is saying things that go contrary to what she’s been taught in such a way that they will destroy her faith if she accepts them. That is tragic news!

    This is precisely why in my book, Inerrancy and the Spiritual Formation of Younger Evangelicals, I warn teachers and leaders not to teach inerrancy in such a way that if inerrancy should ever prove problematic, the entire faith will come crashing down. This is not good for the spiritual formation of believers! I take Kamelda’s testimony to be evidence for this.

  209. Reed Here said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Carlos, no. 206:

    You asked, “Kindlly extend to us such charity that you might help us convey our sentiments more agreeably if they come across as slander.”

    Sure! Thought I did so in my comments to Mark, but I might not have been clear enough.

    Mark’s comment, in the context of this conversation, and especially with his reference to speaking in keeping with the warning tone to y’all in my original post, in effect accuses us who disagree with y’all of being “high-priests” who intentionally hide the HC challenges from their sheep, to the spiritual shipwreck of those sheep.

    That seems pretty clear Carlos. Can you see how making such a blanket accusation borders on slander? (I deliberately did not call it slander, as I think Mark did not intend what he wrote. I think most likely he was careless and actually did not intend to label us. Of course, I did say this as well.)

    Mark could have spelled out that he was going to try and help those like him whose faith was almost shipwrecked by well-meaning but unwise decisions on the part of pastors who unwisely shield their sheep from the topic, not realizing that they are going to run into anyway. Of course, he could have said it a lot simpler than my explanation here, but I do want to err on the side of answering you clearly :) Such a statement would have been appreciated for what it said and did not say.

    Again, I think Mark was probably careless, not actually suggesting this about us. Still, and especially in the vein of irenic spirit we’ve launched here, I did want to afford him an opportunity to adjust and help maintain it.

    S’ok.?

  210. Reed Here said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Carlos: continuing …

    As to the fundamentalist characterizations, I actually do more or less accept that anecdotal evidence. While I spent my first 20 or so years in a dispy, more-or-less fundamentalist denomination, this was not my experience. Still, I’ve run into plenty of fundie (most often dispy) brothers whose sole argument is “the Bible says it; I believe it; that settles it! (I don’t want to hear anymore because I probably can’t deal with it.)” I have myself passed on Enn’s anecdotal observation about the majority of unbelieving HC professors themselves coming from fundie (dispy) backgrounds and and delight in only ruining the faith of naive Christian undergrads.

    Yet Carlos, to the extent that this is true, this is actually a factor of the pietistic, anti-intellectual current that is a common part of the broader evangelical heritage in America. It is not, however, common at all in the reformed circles in which we move. (Fact is, I kind of doubt this strain is found at all in these circles.) Surely Gary’s WTS heritage argument demonstrates adequately that the orthodox view of inerrancy we are seeking to affirm does not flow at all from the kind of narrow, myopic, misguided efforts you and Mark are dealing with in your pasts.

    It should be no surprise then that I would argue against this as justifiable support (defense) for the motive behind your efforts. From my perspective, you are seeking to correct a wrong done you by foisting a wrong on the rest of us. I fully understand this is neither your motive, or your declared goal. But as I fundamentally believe you are wrong (incoherent inerrancy), this is necessarily the way I see it.

  211. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Reed:
    Yes, I appreciate that the “high priests” remark is untoward and also appreciate and acknowledge your willingness to excuse it.

    Again regarding Kamelda’s remarks, Reed, I don’t see any uncomplicated way of appeasing her concerns from my position:

    “To define that truthfulness to which it speaks to fact as containing factual error is not only doubling back in a most confusing manner, but it is to deny implications of the incarnation into the factual realm, full flesh into actually history. Personally it would make a shipwreck of my faith to divorce these things.”

    I note how she feels like she’d have to double back and I would want to prevent this type of situation from happening in younger evangelicals in the future. That is the inspiration for my book: we would do well to cease presenting inerrancy as absolutely crucial to faith.

    As far as helping someone like Kamelda, who is already on board with inerrancy as crucial to faith, I’d have to say that the concept of “truth” is far more complicated than we have realized and that for work needs to be done meditating on that. I’d then maybe suggest further reading in church history and doctrinal development or in cross-cultural comparisons of how Christianity has developed in various cultures across the world over time (a la #89 above). These are very difficult issues and it doesn’t seem to me that there are any easy answers to offer.

  212. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Reed (#210):
    My assumption when writing was that if the book’s grievance applies to you then please take it’s concerns to heart. If it doesn’t, then shrug it off. So it’s totally fine with me if you shrug it off. But then again now we have someone like Kamelda who I might identify as a ‘victim’ of the approach that I decry in my book. That said, I do agree with Boone’s insight that inerrancy is at the heart of the protective instincts she documents.

    But you know what Reed? There was actually a conversation I had with Steve Taylor a few years ago where he tried to explain to me the Old Reformed doctrine of inerrancy and I remember saying to him that if that’s what inerrancy were to ultimately mean then I would actually be on board with it. But given my engagements with conservatives over the years I don’t think there is anyway to recover that old, keen sense of critical awareness with respect to secondary literature and the affirmation of something like “The Bible infallibly accomplishes what God intends it to accomplish.” In my view, sometimes facts are not necessary to accomplish the saving and transformation of sinners for Kingdom service. And these days the conversation seems to be overly-concerned with “facts.” I don’t find this at all helpful.

  213. Reed Here said,

    May 20, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Carlos:

    “we would do well to cease presenting inerrancy as absolutely crucial to faith.”

    Unless of course it is absolutely crucial to faith! Carlos, you’ve already moved on beyond this. You’ve already presumed you are correct in both your critique of inerrancy, and your solution to the HC challenges.

    No disrespect Carlos, but if you are ever in my neck of the woods I will do everything in my power to see you are not allowed to teach such heresy. It is dangerous, and your espousal of it so sincerely and with such caring intentions makes you dangerous as well.

    I for one do not recognize the validity of anyone’s use of the label “evangelical” who denies inerrancy.

    I do appreciate your frankness and hope mine likewise does not unnecessarily offend. Our disagreements here are not insubstantial. We need to recognize that.

  214. May 20, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Carlos, +1 on your comment about Kamelda’s thoughts.

  215. May 20, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    To everyone here,

    If I may add some thoughts I have pondered posting on this thread for a while, about how what we do and teach relates to “the laypeople” and serving the church…a commendable point Reed brings into focus for this thread.

    In my experience, the types of things we (myself, MarkT, Carlos, Art, Enns, Sparks, MANY OTHERS, etc.) try to explore about the Bible only harms peoples’ faith when taught and presented as though it should harm someone’s faith. The two most common type-scenarios involve (1) the professor at the “secular university,” with an axe to grind against Christianity or conservative-Christianity, discussing these issues (messiness and errors) as evidence against faith and the Bible as God’s Word, either explicitly or implicitly. (2) Evangelical-Reformed pastors and theological specialists (such as many on this blog) teaching “laypeople” that these things necessarily damage and oppose faith…especially through binding up the Gospel and Christ with all-or-nothing fortress mentality approaches to inerrancy: if Leviticus contradicts itself on the result of a man having intercourse with a menstruating woman our faith is in vain (Lev 15.24; 20.18); if Mark has Jesus instructing the disciples to take a staff (Mk 6.8) and Matthew has Jesus instructing the opposite (Matt 10.10) our faith is in vain, etc.

    On the other hand, in my experience introducing “laypeople” to things such as what we are discussing here and other such messy things about the bible and Christ actually leads to greater excitement about and commitment to Jesus, the bible, and enacting them in their lives. This proves true for myself, Mark, Art, my wife, countless friends of mine, and the MANY MANY brothers and sisters in Christ with whom I discuss and to whom I teach on these issues. I keep hearing talk about how this is harmful for “the sheep.” But I have yet to meet such sheep, for whom this has been harmful when it comes from someone seeking to explore the Bible and what God did with a view to how it is exactly what God wanted to do and ultimately points us to Christ. On the other hand, I know far too many sheep and former sheep for whom this stuff was harmful because they heard it from someone who presented it as though it should be harmful…including Bart Ehrman types and, especially, their Reformed-Evangelical pastors and specialists.

    Ironically, from my point of view, many of the inerrancy-Scripture crusading Reformed-Evangelicals share much in common with someone like Bart Ehrman. Both agree that if the Bible contains “errors” and does not actually have the inerrant systematic-theological propositional logical coherence that defines Reformed-Evangelical theological-cultural sensitivities it cannot be from God and all this must be harmful to faith in Christ.

    I hope I do not come across nastily or offensively here. I offer these reflections (hopefully) with humility and not as an attempt to sling mud and insult people here. I also feel ridiculous about having to write this last paragraph, but apparently some of us [not me, of course! : ) ] get a little heated over this discussion sometimes…

  216. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Well, I don’t want to be a danger, Reed, to people who are trying their best to live out their holy lives, but I am where I am and am quite convinced that the direction in which I’m heading is much more promising than the inerrantist direction. Now the last thing I want to do is wreck people’s faith, but I can’t go on hiding in some cave either. I will continue to publish as the Lord allows and continue to mull things over, trying incessantly to contribute in a positive way to the kingdom. I hope the kingdom is bigger than the inerrantist world I’m leaving and I am conscientiously trying to find my niche.

    But where does that leave me, Reed, in your pastoral estimation? I’d be asked to remain silent in your neck of the woods and many necks of woods besides. Should I stop attending church? Should I go worship on a mountain by myself somewhere? Should I go to an outright liberal church (which is what we have done) and just bide my time there?

    Is there really no good in what I do until such time as I finally come to my senses and adopt inerrancy anew? That sounds to me preposterous. I, for one, would not agree with such an assessment of my predicament, but I am curious as to what your thoughts might be.

  217. cbovell said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Time for bed, guys. I’ll check back some time after work tomorrow and see what’s going on then.

  218. Reformed Sinner said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    #211 Carlos:

    So basically you’re answer to a lay person is that she’s too less-educated to understand this complicated issue. Therefore she would do well to first be educated like you (go read more Church History, canonical formation, and cross-cultural ministries). So much for pastoring the flock.

    #215 FTH:

    So in summary your answer to the faithful is this: come with an open mind, and don’t blame me if you’re closed minded.

    This is why Carl Trueman’s critique of Liberals are right on. So powerful with the pen, but so weak on the podium.

  219. Reformed Sinner said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Hi Gary and others,

    Have to say I’m out. Not that I have nothing both scholarly nor pastorally to offer. However, this thread basically is arguing the same things we have done last year in the midst of Enns mess. But if there’s one progress in this whole argument is that they at least acknowledged (in this blog at least) that what they are doing is foreign to Warfieldian and Old Princeton’s formulation of Doctrine of Inerrancy and Scripture. But of course they insisted it’s the “right trajectory” – as if we can grow oranges off apple trees.

    Good luck, I will still read this thread for fun thought, and I feel sorry for the lay readers that have to be insulted with the condescending voices of these brilliant academic liberal scholars in their own human wisdoms.

  220. kamelda said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Dear Mr. Bovell, I am on board with the relation of fact to truth as crucial to my faith. If the Bible speaks to historical facts, then it is no help to my faith to believe that ‘truth’ is some form of factual error, for that means ‘truth’ is liable to be some form of factual error in the present and the future, in my own present and future. The future as well as the past is addressed by the word of God: my hope looks forward to the more sure Word of prophecy breaking into physical fact, and my hope is grounded on the Word breaking into history. I believe all of this does point to the incarnate Christ, to his real fulfillment of all history. I am excited about that.

    I reconcile apparent contradictions by remembering that my understanding is not complete; and as I grow in grace I experience the truth of this. So for instance as a child I was confused that people were spoken of as children of Abraham, who were many generations removed. I did not speak of my own father as the child of his great grandfather, but as his great grandchild. As a child was I to conclude, on the resources then available to me, that the bible addressed historical situations in terms of error? But I had a rather childlike faith that these things would one day be less opaque to me: and indeed my appreciation for the richness of fact has only grown as apparent contradictions come to be reconciled, and I see the Bible’s accuracy in speaking of history. My faith is strengthened because I will see the richness of the Bible’s accuracy unfold in it’s factual relation to the present and the future also, as my faith is strengthened.

    I believe in my own errancy.

    I appreciate your honesty in admitting that there is no uncomplicated way to address my concerns, that would basically not damage my faith at this point. Thank you sincerely. I don’t wish to detract from the scholarly discussion so will answer no further.

  221. Matt Foreman said,

    May 20, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    FTH #215 –

    As a WTS grad ’03 and pastor in the Philadelphia area, I know at least one WTS student from ’07 who was very discouraged and depressed by Enns’ teaching (to the point of “harming his faith”) until coming around to seeing Enns’ interpretations as wrong. It was not “exciting” for him at all.

    Also, from my vantage point, your thought process here is begging the question. For those of us who believe you’re wrong, of course we believe it’s going to “harm people’s faith” (either now or into the next generation). Why else would everyone be having this discussion? Aren’t you arguing that the other side is “harming people’s faith”? Of course you think your experience leads to greater excitement. That isn’t everyone’s experience, obviously. And it’s a little disingenuous to say “it’s because the other side’s the one making an issue of it.”

    And I’m not quite sure how to take your “MANY MANY” comment…

  222. WhatChrisLikes said,

    May 21, 2009 at 12:08 am

    By means of introduction: I’m Chris Martin. Former student at WTS (just finished my first and final year). From the grand city of Conway, SC (last traffic jam before you get to Myrtle Beach). Not really a specialist at anything in particular, but I enjoy reading so I get a little bit of everything. I guess that’s enough of an introduction. If you want to know anything more, just ask me.

    I hope you’ll trust me when I say I wasn’t trying to give any mischaracterizations of your position. I wasn’t actually trying to describe the content of your position and judge it’s validity; I was just trying to comment on the way the argument is being presented. I’m not simply being humble when I say that I really don’t know enough on the scholarly level about this debate to be espousing any particular professor or scholar’s view, and while I’ve heard several arguments for and against inerrancy in friendly conversation, I try to make it a point not to portray those as my own unless I’ve thought them through and can validate them. I don’t hold it against you, but I’m not sure how to not take offense when you suggest that I’m just parroting someone else’s point without thinking it through myself. I’m definitely not as well-read or trained to think through the intricacies of theological argumentation as some of the people here, but at least give me the benefit of the doubt when it comes to a question of writing my own thoughts versus passing off those of others’ as mine.

    I guess my problem with the discussion is this: there are people on the inerrantist side who seem to be saying “You guys are just making this waaaay too complicated for the average person to understand. Just let Scripture tell you what it is.” And then they turn around and say, “Well, obviously, it’s not quite as simple as just letting Scripture tell you what it is. Here’s the system we’ve devised to nuance the whole ‘Scripture testifying about itself’ thing.” It seems to me that both sides have long long drawn out explanations to nuance their views but one side (inerrantists) is giving the other side a hard time about it.

    If we want to have a debate about who’s right and who’s wrong then let’s do it. But to have a debate about who has the more convoluted system that’s confusing a bunch of lay people seems like a losing battle for both sides. I would wager that if you tried to teach the kinds of stuff found in Conn’s “Inerrancy and Hermeneutic” to the average lay person, they’d be just as confused as if you gave them a treatise from Enns or any of those other guys. The difference, I think, would be that they wouldn’t raise as much fuss about “I&H” because you’d be trying to teach them something they already want to believe (whether that’s good or bad is up for debate).

    A little more background and then I’ve got to sleep: I guess I might qualify as one of the people whose faith was messed up by being fed a long line about the proper “high” view of Scripture. During college I took a biblical history and lit class in which the teacher made it his point to try to destroy every thing any Christian in the class believed about Scripture. After class I would go talk to a pastor down the street about what we’d studied and he would constantly reassure me that the things the prof was saying were pretty exaggerated and that Scripture really didn’t have that many issues if you would just look at it with eyes of faith. But as I studied it more and more over the years, I realized that it really did have all of those issues and the more I saw that, the guiltier I felt about not having enough faith that if this really was God’s word, there weren’t any problems. Long story short, it eventually got to be too much and I left the faith b/c I lost faith in the Bible and thus the God of the Bible. Praise God, he eventually helped me out.

    So I wouldn’t really say that an inerrantist view itself messed up my faith. It was the way that the view was presented that messed me up (along, of course, with tons of my own sin). Inerrancy is most commonly presented as the simplest, most rational conclusion that a person of faith can draw about Scripture. But it’s just notthat simple. It’s not a simple conclusion that you can come to just by looking at the Bible and having faith. It takes just as much explaining and nuancing as any other view of Scripture and sometimes more (in my opinion, it often takes more; but more explaining doesn’t mean less validity).

    So I’m still undecided on the inerrancy debate, although I’m a little partial to the non-inerrantist guys simply because they don’t treat me as either too sinful or too stupid to understand the truth when I question their views (I’m not referencing anyone here when I say that; I’m thinking about other conversations I’ve had with friends from my campus ministry days).

    Hopefully this hasn’t come across as mean-spirited or angry. I’ve realized over the past year or two that it’s hard to write these things in a way that can’t be misconstrued as angry or condescending unless you want to write in an annoyingly fluffy, happy style. So I just write what comes into my brain (filtered a little, of course) and ask for the benefit of the doubt when it comes to my intentions. Thanks for hosting all this, Reed.

  223. jared said,

    May 21, 2009 at 12:51 am

    What an exhausting thread!

    I didn’t notice, but has anyone offered up an explanation of the difference between “infallible” and “inerrant”? If such an explanation was already offered, would someone kindly point me to the comment number(s)?

    Also, what truth could be taught via error? Let me clarify what kind of answer I am seeking, lest one be so inclined as to direct my attention to the history of Israel and, more personally, to my own error-laden (i.e. sinful) life. I understand that truth can be learned from error as an example of what not to do. I should think we are all in agreement that Scripture does not instruct us to commit errors in order to teach ourselves truth and that Scripture contains many demonstrations of error (e.g. Israel’s incessant disobedience) as a means of communicating truth. My question, then, is what truth could possibly be taught by some actual error contained in Scripture? For example, the question of Daniel 9:1 was brought up as a factual error that (presumably) does not affect the infallibility of Scripture. So what truth is that particular factual error supposed to teach us if it was intentionally (i.e. infallibly) included in His word? How does including that particular error help us understand (1) God, (2) ourselves (3) what God has done and is doing for us, and so on? In other words, what could be the intention or purpose of an “infallible error” (for lack of a better term)?

    My current position lies with WCF 1.8 which sayeth that Scripture “being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, [is] kept pure in all ages”. I would also suggest that God’s care and providence in the preservation of His word across the generations is a truth which overrides (or overcomes) the “problem” of not having the original manuscripts in their entirety.

  224. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:26 am

    Jared,

    My question, then, is what truth could possibly be taught by some actual error contained in Scripture?

    That’s an interesting angle on the discussion you have there. And fresh.

    As to the distinction between infallibility and inerrancy… we haven’t discussed that on the thread so far. External to the discussion, there is a very brief article on it by Frame here: http://www.frame-poythress.org/frame_articles/1999IsThe.htm

    It seems to me that part of the problem here is that a measure of confusion was introduced by people like Peter Enns wanting to affirm inerrancy by redefining it. Fortunately, most people on this thread have been very straightforward with their use of the term… which is good and honest for all sides.

    Since, at the top of the thread, the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy was the “controlling” definition given of inerrancy… I would venture we use that as our definition of infallibility also.

    Infallibility is therefore defined:

    Article 11
    We affirm that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.

    Inerrancy is therefored defined:

    Article 12
    We affirm that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

    And the negative statements placed alongside those position assertions draw out the implications of what those definitions mean for inerrantists. Though I haven’t copied out the negative statements for the sake of not being antagonistic.

  225. May 21, 2009 at 4:27 am

    [...] DePace has a thoughtful post at Greenbaggins on the inerrancy debate to which Pete Enns was a catalyst.  His point is that [...]

  226. GLW Johnson said,

    May 21, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Carlos
    I find it more than a little dysfunctional on your part to rave about Smyth’s book and Briggs while ignoring what Warfield had to said about both Smyth and Briggs -and then in the same breath insist that the ‘progressive inerrantists’ are on a trajectory that Warfield would approach. Incredible, simply incredible.

  227. Reed Here said,

    May 21, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Stephen, no. 215:

    You’ve said, ” I keep hearing talk about how this is harmful for ‘the sheep.’”

    No, you’re not hearing talk, you’re hearing a specific argument; one I think your comment here completely misses. The “harm” we are concerned with is NOT discussing the challenges from unbelieving-higher-criticism (UBC if you’ll allow here after.) The harm we are discussing is the doctrine of error-laden inerrancy most of y’all (Art excepted) are puttinng forward.

    I do wish y’all would stop putting forward the shibboleth that Mark has blanketed us with, and that Chris has assumed we have wrapped ourselves in. We are not afraid of the UBC challenges. Nor are we afraid to let the sheep be exposed to such things.

    It is wrong for you to argue on the assumption otherwise. Please Stephen, take this as an appeal for further advancement of the conversation between us. It does not good to make your arguments upon this presumption.

    Plain and simple – the problem we are focused on is not the UBC challenge. We actually believe this one can be adequately dealt with.

    The problem we are concerned about is the harm caused by those of you in our own circles who think this problem (the UBC) is a nemesis never seen before in the history of the Church; a nemesis who must be fought by using the weapons the nemesis himself has chosen for the dual.

  228. Reed Here said,

    May 21, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Carlos, no. 216:

    You’ve said, “But where does that leave me, Reed, in your pastoral estimation?” and, “but I am curious as to what your thoughts might be.”

    No disrespect Carlos, but given the assumptions you’ve made about where I might think that leaves, I doubt very much if you are that much interested. Curious possibly, wondering whether or not I am merely just one of those knee-jerk, narrow minded reactionary pastors you sadly think are unnecessarily burdening themselves and the sheep – at least this is the impression you give. At best, maybe you are just intellectually curious, as you’ve already written off what you think is my position.

    Nevertheless, I’ll give you a summary: of course remain in the Church! What a silly thing to ask a pastor, as if there is any other place where you will meet with the only One Who can rightly address these issues. Of course make it a gospel believing and preaching church! What a horrifying thing to ask a pastor, as if encouraging a sheep to give himself up to a synagogue of Satan (an apostate-liberal church)!

    Seriously Carlos, I may not think much of your position, but I think much better of your profession.

    Given these kinds of comments from you, and others, and since you’ve asked Carlos, I will be frank here: my opinion is that you are gripped pretty tightly with a significant arrogance. You sincerely believe you have found THE TRUTH, and want the world to know. Fair enough.

    But then when you engage with those of us who maintain the error from which you’ve been freed, you speak with a condescension. You are on a mission to “save” the young evangelicals (to paraphrase a compatriot). I represent the power-structure from which they need to be saved.

    You do express a sincere and significant degree of humility. I do not take this as an affectation, a mannerism you adopt for the sake of communication or strategic advantage.

    Yet in that you are so convinced you are right, and that we are wrong, you cannot help but speak down to us. I fully acknowledge that this is not your intention.

    I will tell you that I do not see that you, or any of your compatriots really track with the rest of us, in terms of how we respond to the challenge from Unbelieving Higher Criticism (UBC from here on if you’ll allow.) We are not uneducated, backwoods (sorry backwoods brothers) buffoons who narrowly walk around saying “me and my Bible.”

    We actually do listen to UBC, and learn from it. Yet the key difference between us and y’all is that we reject the essential UBC presupposition – you accept the premise that the Bible actually does have non-incidental errors. Any explanation not based on that presupposition in your judgment is at best naive.

    We, on the other hand, trust God’s statement that as he does not commit error, then neither does his word.

  229. Reed Here said,

    May 21, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Carlos, et.al.: continuing …

    I know your next response to is to question “yes, but what is the nature of error?”

    Contrary to your opinion that culture has the dominant role in this definition, I affirm that error is error worldwide. An aborigine in any jungle in any corner of the world knows a lie when he hears one (cf., the arguments in Rom 2 here.) We have more in common than otherwise.

    Here is a simple test: show, prove if you will, that any ANE culture whose worldview is at least represented in Scripture accepts as a norm the concept of using erroneous data to teach eternal truth. For example, show the following syllogism pattern is seen in Scripture:

    P1: pagan culture X assumes Y is true.
    P2: We know that Y is false.
    P3: the Bible uses pagan culture’s Y in some manner to defend a divine truth.

    Therefore, the Bible contains non-incidental errors.

    Stephen tried this with Dan 9 and the Darius “error.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve not seen either an argument against the response to him, or a mea culpa from y’all (at least Stephen.)

    No, it is simple. Y’all have bought the lie that the UBC is right. You have no choice but go in the direction you’ve gone.

  230. Reed Here said,

    May 21, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Chris, no. 222, thanks for the intro.,

    You’ve said, “It seems to me that both sides have long long drawn out explanations to nuance their views but one side (inerrantists) is giving the other side a hard time about it.”

    It is this kind of statement (and essentially the rest of your argument) that leads me to reinforce my original response to you. More specifically, you are reading into what we are saying the weakenesses you have read elsewhere. No one here, now, or last year when we had this discussion, has argued as you saying we are doing. That is nothing more than your reading into what we’ve said.

    Read my original post again – you will not find your opinion supported at all. Read my recent comment to Stephen (FTH, no. 227) where I address more specifically.

    It is not a debate between one side, y’all, who want to explore the UBC challenges, and the other side, us, who says, no, no, no!

    It is a debate about y’all puting forward an error-laden inerrancy, something that is incoherent not because it is complex, but because it is flawed.

  231. art said,

    May 21, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Reed: #299

    Here is a simple test: show, prove if you will, that any ANE culture whose worldview is at least represented in Scripture accepts as a norm the concept of using erroneous data to teach eternal truth. For example, show the following syllogism pattern is seen in Scripture:

    P1: pagan culture X assumes Y is true.
    P2: We know that Y is false.
    P3: the Bible uses pagan culture’s Y in some manner to defend a divine truth.

    P1: ANE cosmology affirmed that the world was covered by a solid dome with waters above the dome.
    P2: We know the world is not covered by a solid dome with water above the dome.
    P3: The Bible uses this image of a dome to present God as being the creator of all things.

    Does that do the trick?

  232. May 21, 2009 at 9:29 am

    [...] 21 May 2009 — art For the past couple days there has been an interesting conversation going on here on the perceived incoherent nature of some who view Scripture as authoritative, infallible, and [...]

  233. Reed Here said,

    May 21, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Thanks Art. This is one of those standard examples and serves well to make the point I hope to show.

    As written, you’ve merely asserted that the ANE cosmology affirmed this. You’ve not shown it, let alone proven it. I do not give you P1 so easily.

    Even if I were to do so, you then need to prove P3. Again, not as easily done as you believe.

  234. GLW Johnson said,

    May 21, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Art
    So if ancient cultures had mtyhs about gods who died and came back to life we should conclude that Christianity’s emphasis on the resurrection of Christ might also be ‘mythical’?

  235. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 21, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Richard (#159):

    P1: God’s word is inerrant
    P2: Only the original autographs are inerrant.
    C1: Therefore, only the the original autographs are God’s word.
    P3: We do not posses the original autographs.
    C2: Therefore, we do not posses God’s word.

    The problem is that we all accept C2 as defined. When we pick up an English bible, we understand that it is not the original. When we pick up a Greek bible, all of us except the KJV-only crowd understand that the textual notes imply that we don’t have a 100% pure version of God’s word.

    But that’s actually OK, because we possess a pretty darn good copy of the originals, so we have a pretty darn good approximation of God’s word. So C2 is drained of its force because it overlooks approximations; it insists on an all-or-nothing character of the text.

    Similarly, the ESV, NIV, or NASB function as pretty darn good approximations of God’s word. A savvy pastor or layman will know that the English Bible in his hand is reliable, but must be used with care. A preacher will pay attention to the C and D-choice texts in the NT, or the qetib qere in the OT, and will refrain from placing too much weight on doubtful texts.

    Anyways, do you think that all apparent errors in the Bible are the results of textual corruption? That would place you more squarely with Hodge and at a distance from FTH and Carlos, yes?

    Jeff Cagle

  236. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    May 21, 2009 at 10:38 am

    #167, Pastor Rick Phillips: “Our refusal to use h-c methods, based on our presuppositional commitment to the view of Scripture taught by Scripture, causes us essentially to have different Bibles altogether.”

    Dear Pastor Phillips and others,

    I’d like to gain an understanding and a clarification on an antithesis that I’ve been pondering about over the last several months. To validate whether it’s a genuine antithesis or a false antithesis. I’ll ask it in several ways.

    Is there a genuine antithesis between h-c (higher criticism or historical criticism in its varied nuances) hermeneutic methodology and CSBI (Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy)? Were there or are there any h-c Christian scholars who also affirm CSBI?

    I think I have read somewhere from an Inerrantist that it’s okay to incorporate some “moderate” usage and learnings from h-c methodology while exegeting Scripture and teaching and preaching Scripture. I did not know what to make of that argument.

    My gut feeling (which I’m open to rebuke and refutation since I’m not holding onto this tightly) is that h-c is like a corrosive acid because of its underlying presuppositions. Hence, h-c is genuinely antithetical to CSBI and its usage of the grammatical-historical method. (And which pastor Phillips excerpted remark seemingly points out).

    My downstream concern is then whether I’m becoming overly wrapped up and concerned over hermeneutic methodology. H-C bad; G-H good. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t making a false idol of hermeneutic principles, but I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t being improperly divisive with brothers and sisters who hold to a higher view of h-c than I do.

    If you will, I’d appreciate feedback. Much thanks.

    ——-

    By way of introduction and background, I’m just a lay guy and I lead a small group bible study. A while back Lane granted me permission to post pseudonymously. My first name is Daniel.

    Back when I didn’t know any better and thought that a church with the word “Baptist” automatically meant biblical and conservative, I served in lay leadership. I was pressured out because I wouldn’t vote for women as elders. I thought and still think that Scripture is abundantly clear on the issue.

    Anyways, that’s just some background. I think Green Baggins is for the erudite, big-time Reform boys and I’m just a very occasional lay lurker.

    Lastly, and not wanting to derail this wonderful thread, I do want to commend Lane for his excellent responses to “Sue” on his threads about 1 Timothy and egalitarianism vs. complementarianism.

  237. Tony said,

    May 21, 2009 at 10:42 am

    GLW Johnson,

    C.S. Lewis might not count much for you, but if your comment in #234 is turned into a statement, his book “Till We Have Faces” can be taken as an explication of that statement.

  238. May 21, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Reed, Todd (70), and Vern (72),

    Perhaps I should finally get around to addressing the Daniel 9.1 example. I used it because I expected responses exactly along the lines of what Todd and Vern gave us. I realize this type of example will never “work” for you all, because with your model of the Bible it must be inerrant and true faith thus has the shape of trusting it over ALL other extra-scriptural data. So, even if you accepted that Dan 9.1 is ultimately playing with Darius I (the Persian king), you would just claim that all extra-scriptural material is wrong, that Darius was a Mede and was not the father but the son of Xerxes, that the Medes conquered Babylon (not the Persians), etc.

    I brought up this kind of example (versus simply going through many of the blatant “contradictions” within the Bible) to highlight a sort-of Ray Dillard approach to the issue. Even if you do not feel the need to admit this as an error (i.e., can produce some speculative possible harmonization or made-up historical possibility), this tactic causes you to miss how the “problem” in question might illumine something the text in question is doing…and thus you become a worse reader of the text. But our discussion took a different track after my Dan 9.1 comment, so I let it go…

    Since you want me to come back to this, ok. Todd and Vern mentioned Harrison and McDowell’s solutions, which are similar to the seemingly endless other Evangelical solutions to Darius the Mede, Dan 9.1, and a host of related issues in Daniel (some of which I used to hold to when I was an inerrantist). We could also discuss Gleason Archer’s specific take, the Ugbaru answer (to which Vern referred), EJ Young’s, etc. ALL OF THEM function on a specific type of utter speculation: they rely upon making up possible historical scenarios for which we have NO evidence.

    Vern posits two Median kings names Xerxes and his son Darius to fit the bill. WE HAVE NO EVIDENCE for such kings (as to whether or not Daniel constitutes evidence, I will offer what I think is a better analysis of data from Daniel below). This has about the same credibility historically as positing alien agency, or that the Martians did it. Sure, there “could have been” such Median kings…just as there could be an invisible alien who makes ships vanish in the Bermuda Triangle. If you want to stake your doctrine of Scripture on such details I will leave that to you. If such approaches have plausibility for you, you have to allow them consistently. So, perhaps George Bush is really a creature from the Zeta-Alpha dimension sent by the god Haramashush to rule the country he set up with another one of his creatures (George Washington). Haramashush’s enemy god, Larlapanora, also sent some of his creatures to earth (Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein) and this is the real reason Bush sent US soldiers against them…he was doing Haramashush’s bidding but cannot tell anyone about it because Haramashush will kill his anyangki-partner back in the Zeta-Alpha dimension. All this goes back to how Jesus was really one of Haramashush’s creatures, whom Haramashush took back to the Zeta-Alpha dimension after his “death,” but released him a few times to speak with his followers under orders not to tell them the real story lest Haramashush torture Jesus’ anyangki-partner. Larlapanora later sent his own creature, Muhammad, to start a rival religion to Haramashush’s creature’s religion. Hopefully you get the point here about these kinds of “could have” explanations that have NO evidence for that whatsoever…but are deployed against other hypotheses for which we actually have evidence and data (according to our rules for evidence and data).

    The Gubaru solution to which Vern refers is also just such a speculative solution, with the added advantage that it at least posits a figure for whom we have some ancient source that says something. I will not go into the details of this theory, but no one aside from certain evangelicals accept it…I wonder why? Just for fun, see Lester Grabbe’s critique of it and discussion of Darius the Mede, “Another Look at the Gestalt of ‘Darius the Mede,’” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 50 (1988):198-213. Since I am such a nice guy [but not arrogant! : ) ] I will send anyone who emails Foolish.Tar.Heel at gmail dot com a pdf of the article.

    Todd, through quoting Harrison you (inadvertently) point us in the direction I want to go. First, however, let us note Harrison’s argument would only convince evangelicals who want to be convinced, especially as he builds it on what I might call pseudo and uninformed commonsense that no actual historical specialist would accept. Why is it that the producers and consumers of Daniel in the 2nd century BCE in (likely) Palestine would know of or care about what Herodotus and other historians say? Perhaps they did participate in the same or an overlapping field of discourse in which Herodotus had currency, but you have to argue this. Also, this quote depends upon one of several implied theories of how something “gained acceptance into the canon of Scripture.” You need to flesh these out. I could think of any number of historically plausible scenarios for how this happened…for which, BTW, we actually have evidence. Lastly, the comment about the author having access to Ezra moves us helpfully to the type of explanation of these phenomena in Daniel that I favor. In short, I would argue that it is highly plausible (at least, more plausible than the utter speculation of usual evangelical “solutions”) that the 2nd century author/editor of Dan 7-12 and the whole of Daniel considered Xerxes to be Darius’ father precisely because he had Ezra.

    Daniel 5.30 and 9.1 confront us with Darius the Mede. According to 5.30 he received the kingdom when Babylon was conquered and Belshazzar, son of Nebachadnezzar according to Daniel, was killed. In 9.1 we read, “In the first year of Darius the son of Xerxes, by descent a Mede…” I should start with Belshazzar. He was not Nebuchadnezzar’s son, as Dan 5 claims. He was the son of Nabonidus, a king subsequent not only to Nebuchadnezzar, but also subsequent to Amel-marduk, Neriglissar, and Labashi-marduk. Though “son” can technically mean grandson at times in Aramaic, this does not help since Nabonidus was not in any way descended from Nebuchadnezzar. Nabonidus, Belshazzar’s father, was a usurper. It is doubtful you could argue some form of ‘adopted into the family’ idea. So much for Belshazzar as Nebuchadnezzar’s son.

    Getting back to Darius the Mede, such a figure is not historical. Cyrus (ca 559-30), a Persian, conquered Babylon––not Dairus the Mede or the Medes (and certainly not Darius I [ca 522-486], whom it is likely the book of Daniel has recast as Darius the Mede; more on this below). Rather than resort to the types of utterly-speculative Evangelical “solutions” discussed above, from my point of view it is better to understand Darius the Mede in Daniel as functioning in a very specific way…that actually helps us see better some of the rich things the book of Daniel is saying.

    The book of Daniel operates with a traditional 4-kingdom schema, seen elsewhere in the Near East. It traditionally referred to Assyria, Media, Persia, and then Macedon (Greece)––of course, followed by a decisive final kingdom that will overthrow Macedon. It was a form of Near Eastern anti-Hellenistic political discourse arising in the aftermath of Alexander’s conquest of the Near East along with the Seleucid and Ptolemaic control of the area following Alexander. The book of Daniel shows it being re-appropriated in a Jewish context. Babylon has replaced Assyria and the final kingdom is, obviously, one established by the God of Israel for his people. In Daniel the scheme is thus Babylon, Media, Persia, then Macedon (Greece-Ptolemaic-Seleucid) followed by the decisive and eternal kingdom set up by the God of Israel. Many things in Daniel show the control of this schema. This is where Darius the Mede comes in. Daniel has re-cast the well known Persian king Darius I—–the Darius Dan 6 certainly has in view—–to fit the 4-kingdom schema; a scheme that has a theological function in this book (I can go into this if someone would like, but this is part of the payoff of adopting this non-“explain it away” approach). Darius I was not a Median—–nor was he (1) the conqueror of Babylon as he is presented in 5.30 or (2) the son of Xerxes as presented in 9.1, he was actually Xerxes’ father! The book of Daniel presents him as such to preserve the 4-kingdom schema: (1) Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar–Babylon, (2) Darius–Media, (3) Cyrus–Persia, and (4) Macedon. The schema is partially repeated in the second half of the book: “Darius…by decent a Mede” (9.1) and then “Cyrus king of Persia” (10.1) leading up to the account of the Macedonian kings.

    As to why Daniel 9 presents him as son of Xerxes—–again, when he was actually Xerxes’ father—–understanding Daniel as a 3rd or 2nd century BCE work helps here. It is doubtful that a 6th or 5th century author would have made this mistake. Discourse producers in the Persian empire—and certainly anyone writing a book such as Daniel, especially if the author was part of or had access to the imperial court!—back then would know (1) that Cyrus conquered Babylon, (2) Darius was a Persian and not a Mede, and (3) that Darius was Xerxes’ father and not the other way around. They would most certainly know 2 and 3. Perhaps the 3rd-2nd century BCE producers of Daniel thought the way they did because they had a maximal knowledge of their peoples’ literature and traditions and a lesser knowledge of, for them, ancient Persian history. Thus the literary order of Ezra 4, for example, might have made them think that Xerxes (4.6) preceded Darius (4.24). Perhaps the producers of Daniel were driven to fit the 4-kingdom schema around the conquering of Babylon the way they did—–with the Medes and not Persians conquering Babylon (c.f. 5.30, again)—–because they so understood Jer 51.11, “YHWH has stirred up the spirit of the Medes, because his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it.”

    Lastly, the plausibility of such an explanation only increases when you bring in the growing field of scholarship looking at the cultural legacies of Assyria and Babylon in the Hellenistic period (when Daniel was produced). Since this comment is already too long, I will not go into details no. Suffice it to say that numerous details of Daniel, especially its treatment of “Darius the Mede” fit quite well how we would expect a producer in the Hellenistic period to recall and manipulate the figure of Darius I (Persian King), especially Judean one who has a greater knowledge of and commitment to his sacred writings (I outline how some of this works out above).

    I realize most here will probably not accept my proposed explanation of what Daniel does with Darius the Mede and many other things. No doubt you will label them as speculation too. Sure, they are…just as all historical work it. The key difference between the “speculation” I offer above (which generally outlines how most scholars working on Daniel would treat the issues) and the common Evangelical solutions is that my proposals work with actual historical data and evidence we have to produce a much more plausible historical explanation making sense of a broader amount of data…including details throughout the book of Daniel as a whole. This type of proposal gives us a way forward, also, into reading the book of Daniel at a deeper level that could be very theologically enriching too…rather than simply flailing about for any speculative solution that makes us feel better in view of the unchallengeable models that control the Evangelical-Reformed world when it comes to Scripture.

    I hope this makes sense.

  239. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 21, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Mark T (#16):

    There’s been a lot of water under the bridge, and I notice you may have already signed off here (#161), but I wanted to have a second stab at this:

    Murray’s “resistless logic” can be resisted, because it forces an unnecessary extreme. He argues that if we let one little bit of human fallibility creep into the biblical text, then all is at jeopardy of error, including the spiritual teaching.

    There are two possible ways to think about Murray’s point. One is fallacious, one is not.

    The first, fallacious way is to assume that if we have any error anywhere in the text, then everything is tainted and therefore worthless.

    If this were the inerrantist position, then we’d already be done. As I mentioned above, we don’t possess any error-free copies of the originals, so our fallacious syllogism prevents us from even getting out of the starting gate in formulating theology.

    The second, non-fallacious way is to consider method and meta-method. If I approach the text with the assumption that it may err, then by what method do I decide that errors have occurred? And what then justifies that method?

    And the inerrantist (I’m one!) will argue now that all methods for “determining errors” involve pitting human judgment against what God has apparently said, so that God’s words are either flatly denied or else reinterpreted to be more in keeping with the judger’s worldview.

    So while I can be sympathetic to a model like Richard’s (God –> community –> tradition –> text), I can’t find a way to use it without ultimately asking, “yea, has God truly said … ?”, placing myself outside the text and evaluating its truth claims on some basis other than what God has said.

    For you and FTH and others of your persuasion, the challenge becomes to articulate a method for understanding the text infallibly, errantly, and submissively.

    For my part, I think it’s impossible, which is why I’m not willing to follow down that path. I would cite not only logical argument against the possibility, but also historical precedent.

    Regards,
    Jeff Cagle

  240. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 21, 2009 at 11:07 am

    FTH (#237):

    I think your post illustrates my problem. Suppose I grant your argument. Then on what evidence would I accept the “four-kingdom schema” as truth?

    Whether you are right or wrong, you’ve cast doubt on our ability to read and understand Daniel. Perhaps the four-kingdom schema is itself incorrect, and symbolic for some even larger truth.

    The difficulty is similar to the difficulty with the allegorical method of interpretation. Once it begins, how does it end? What controls can be put on it?

    One last point:

    Vern posits two Median kings names Xerxes and his son Darius to fit the bill. WE HAVE NO EVIDENCE for such kings (as to whether or not Daniel constitutes evidence, I will offer what I think is a better analysis of data from Daniel below). This has about the same credibility historically as positing alien agency, or that the Martians did it.

    Non-existence of evidence is not evidence of non-existence.

    Jeff Cagle

  241. May 21, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Jeff,

    “Non-existence of evidence is not evidence of non-existence.”

    True. So, as I said, even though we do not have evidence for the existence of the Zeta-Alpha dimension and its gods Haramashush and Larlapanora, and their activities on earth in our dimension…that does not mean we have evidence for their non-existence.

    Also, I am not claiming the 4-Kingdom schema is “true” in its various manifestations. I have no idea what that would mean, honestly, in this case. I am simply trying to discuss a common intellectualist convention of the context of Daniel’s literary-producers that seems to help us better understand some of the details in Daniel and parts of its overall organization. Of course we have to examine Daniel itself to see how that convention functions therein.

    BTW, this is not so much an issue of depending upon some univeral validity of allegory. The 4-Kingdom schema issue relates more to what you might call genre questions, thus relating to ways specific pieces of literature or passages are intended to be read…

  242. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    May 21, 2009 at 11:33 am

    I’m shoving in my oar late, without having read everything, but I have to say that your analogy is ridiculuous, FTH. We do know that in the ANE, names of kings went in families, so more than one king with the same name is not at all unlikely. Thus, that proposal is not at all epistemically the same as appealing to Martians.

  243. Todd said,

    May 21, 2009 at 11:47 am

    For those wanting an orthodox, scholarly explanation of the identity of Darius, check out the Westminster Theological Journal 35:3 (Spring 1973) article by James M. Bulman entitled, “The Identification of Darius the Mede”

  244. GLW Johnson said,

    May 21, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Tony
    I have a great deal of admiration for C.S. Lewis and have read , with few exceptions, most of what he has written. His rebuttal of Bultmann’s demythologizing approach to the NT was especially delightful.

  245. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 21, 2009 at 11:55 am

    …that does not mean we have evidence for their non-existence.

    Wouldn’t Psalms count as evidence? “The gods of the nations are but idols, but the Lord made the heavens.”

  246. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 21, 2009 at 11:59 am

    FTH (#241):

    OK, so let’s push it back a level then: what is actually true in Daniel?

    As you read it as a guide to your feet and a light to your path, what does Daniel teach that you cling to as a reliable rock?

    Jeff Cagle

  247. Reed Here said,

    May 21, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Stephen:

    Did Nimrod build Babylon?

  248. cbovell said,

    May 21, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    FTH is trying his best to legitmately incorporate historical scholarship into his understanding of his faith. I realize that Reed insists that conservatives try to do this too, but these initial responses so far make me wonder what exactly Reed has in mind when he says this.

    I remember physicist-theologian John Polkinghorne once noted:

    “As a scientist I am often struck by theologians’ persistent fear of getting it wrong. [In science] a willingness to explore ideas which might prove mistaken, or in need of revision, is a necessary price of scientific progress. One would have thought that the intrinsic difficulty in doing theology would encourage a similar intrepidity. At times (the patristic period, the Reformation) that has been so, but not always. I am not of course, denying the existence of many wild flights of contemporary theological fancy, but saying that within the sober core I detect a degree of disinclination to take intellectual risk, particularly where it involves interaction with another discipline. Hence the widespread neglect of natural science by theologians.” (Science and Christian Belief, 44)

    FTH is trying to do biblical theology interacting with historians who are experts in his particular area of specialization that can directly inform his understanding of scripture. Sure, he might be wrong in what he says or he might be right, but I don’t understand how Christian scholarship is to be carried out well if the consequence of being wrong is socially tantamount to being heretical.

    At times, I find it hard to tell the difference between ignoring critical scholarship and conservative interaction with it if responses to FTH by and large amount to “Well, that complicates my concept of scripture beyond my comfort zone; I’m going to wait for something else (or nothing at all!–since the absence of evidence will almost always be available) that instead reinforces what I have been taught about scripture and if that doesn’t come up then I’ll just make up my own and call all the others ‘unbelieving’.”

    At this rate, all the hard work gets done by critical scholars and then conservatives come in later and pick and choose what they want to fit into their various theologies after the fact. I have to resist with all my merit not to reduce this to a psychological strategy that deliberately effects a safe haven/fortress type approach to scholarship. Is such a passive role what Christ actually expects from his people?

  249. May 21, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    I’ll tag Carlos’s #248 as my response to why I used the “high priesthood” metaphor that got Reed so upset. That was not personal, Reed, but an attemtp to explain how the way you guys respond appears to me, and everything I’ve read since confirms it all the more.

    Case in point: Jeff Cagle’s #239 as an example of the need to be able to “control” Scripture so that it conforms to pre-set theological ideas about what it must be and what it can and cannot do. As FTH has said many times, we are trying to “let the Bible tell us what the Bible is” – not by speculative (again, in our opinion) over-extensions of a couple of proof texts that supposedly settle what the Bible is and does, but by the actual behavior of the Bible itself.

  250. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    May 21, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    CBovell: “I realize that Reed insists that conservatives try to do this too [incorporate historical scholarship], but these initial responses so far make me wonder what exactly Reed has in mind when he says this.”

    May I infer that CBovell’s comment indirectly addresses my comment in #236 and that there is a false antithesis between h-c and the doctrine of inerrancy? Based on the sense that Reed advocates that conservatives adopt some measure of historical scholarship as well?

    At this rate, all the hard work gets done by critical scholars and then conservatives come in later and pick and choose what they want to fit into their various theologies after the fact.”

    What if it’s actually the other way around?

    ;-)

  251. Reed Here said,

    May 21, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Carlos: no need to wonder just ask. Why is it that I (and others here) do not seem to make posts that demonstrate the depth of research and serious interaction with the ANE data that presumably proves that the Bible contains non-incidental errors? Are we lazy? Are we simply so arrogant that we won’t listen to anyone telling us the world is round when we know it is flat?

    Well, for me, it’s about priorities. I’m busy working 70-80 hours a week preaching, teaching, shepherding a congregation, visiting the sick, encouraging the faint, evangelizing the lost, and this is all on top of seeking to sacrifice for my wife and raise my five children in the Lord’s admonition.

    (P.S. for any laypeople reading, this is the best defense for your young evangelicals, not the mission of Carlos, et.al.)

    Again, underlying your comment is a hint of hubristic arrogance (double reference intended at this point brother – you seem to care little for what a pastor thinks if you so easily can ask disparaging inference-laden questions.) Your comment infers that the reason for my (our) lack of detailed documented writing here means a lack on our part to investigate as y’all have. Don’t wonder, tell us the assumption that appears to lurk behind this and similar comments – that we who oppose you just don’t care to take the questions as seriously as you do.

    Please Carlos, drop it. It gets no mileage and I do not take any delight in making such admonishments to you.

  252. Ron Henzel said,

    May 21, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Chris,

    In comment 222 you asked:

    Where do emotions come into your worldview?

    As Woody Allen said, “It is impossible to experience one’s own death objectively and still carry a tune.” But that doesn’t quite sum up my view.

    I would say that emotions are part of the image and likeness of God in which we were created. Emotions are essentially experiences. We speak of both “communicating” emotions and “conveying” them. In the former case, we are often referring to actually stating the emotions we experience propositionally (e.g., “I am happy”). In the latter case, we are often referring to some vocal tone, facial expression, gesture, mannerism, or other behavior that indicates to others that we are experiencing an emotion (e.g., weeping, laughter, etc.).

    In the context of this discussion we can say that emotions are experiential reactions to propositional truth. When someone important to us compliments us, we experience an emotional reaction, such as elation, which we can in turn communicate to others through a variety of coded means, including vocal tones, body language, but all of which are capable of being confirmed propositionally.

    You wrote:

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you hold an utterly mechanistic view of humanity.

    How did what began as a discussion of my view of the nature of truth turn into a discussion about my view of the nature of humanity? If I say that all truth is ultimately propositional, how does that become a statement about humanity?

    In any event, you should not confuse what comes off in writing as a mechanistic description with a mechanistic point of view. I’m not saying you’re right-brained, but this is a common mistake committed by people who gravitate more toward the aesthetic than the rational.

    You wrote:

    You write that other forms of communication aren’t as efficient or reliable as language-based propositions. But all I can imagine when you say things like that is the Coneheads or Vulcans.

    In other words, your immediate reaction is to associate me with popular cultural caricatures of what it means to be rationalistic. I think you’re committing the error of assuming that people who work at expressing themselves in precise, rational terms must therefore be rather one-dimensionally cerebral. This reflects a common error of literary critics to the effect that when a writer adopts a particular style, that style accurately summarizes the writer’s entire personality.

    You wrote:

    I know that probably sounds a little harsh, but I’m just trying to figure out where things like emotional response come into play here if you honestly think that the exact ways that men and women love each other (or Christ loves the Church) can be expressed simply in propositional truths. My opinion is that they can’t.

    A little harsh? Perhaps. But only in a kind of Keith-Olbermann-meets-Paula-Abdul sort of way.

    I think you’re confusing categories again here. Showing love is not always the same as expressing love. Although terms overlap at this point, based on the way I was using the word “express” here I would say that when you talk about “the way men and women love each other,” and the way Christ loves the church, you’re talking about acts of showing love rather than simply expressing it. And quite often when people do things for us that we interpret as them showing love to us, we later find out through propositional communication that something other than love actually prompted that action.

    You wrote:

    That’s why we write poetry and create visual art: because sometimes just a proposition doesn’t (can’t?) carry and convey all of the meaning that’s loaded up in our experience.

    Well, as that great metaphysician Woody Allen said, “Human beings are divided into mind and body. The mind embraces all the nobler aspirations, like poetry and philosophy, but the body has all the fun.”

    But it doesn’t sound as though you would locate the value of poetry in the realm of the mind, as Allen seems to do here. I think you’re confusing the meaning of a poem (and if you’ve read much Dylan Thomas, the appropriate response is, “Whatever that is!”) with the emotion it evokes. To equate an experience or an emotion with a “meaning” is to cause this this discussion to degenerate into non-rational, unintelligible terms.

    You wrote:

    I realize this is a little off of the original topic of the blog post, but I’m hoping you’ll help me understand what you’re saying in your comment.

    I’m basically saying the opposite of what all your postmodernist teachers have been telling you, assuming you’ve had any.

  253. Ron Henzel said,

    May 21, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Actually, I just responded to comment 180, not 222.

  254. Reed Here said,

    May 21, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Mark, no. 248: So I take it I read you rightly? This saddens me. I’ve claimed, in effect, you are imputing convictions to me (and the other opponents) here that are not actually present. Your conclusion that we are high-priests bent on intentionally hiding the challenges of UBC from our sheep is based our your own faulty listening.

    I’ll not refer you back to the multitude of comments I’ve made here to demonstrate this. I’ll just end with my note of sadness. Somehow we’ve reached an impass. I cannot help but conclude that while you think it is a barrier we’ve erected, as one who does not believe you have actually interacted with what I’ve said, I think rather you are the one who has backhoed the gap between us.

    Very sad indeed.

  255. Reed Here said,

    May 21, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Mark: continuing …

    You’ve said, “As FTH has said many times, we are trying to “let the Bible tell us what the Bible is” – not by speculative (again, in our opinion) over-extensions of a couple of proof texts that supposedly settle what the Bible is and does, but by the actual behavior of the Bible itself.”

    This is one of y’alls shibboleths, for which you have no evidence.

    Point of fact we are doing what you claim to be doing. By good and necessary inference, we’re dealing with the fact that the Bible claims for itself to both be written by God and accurately reflect his character, perfect. You are the ones who are necessarily needing to redefine what inerrancy looks like – and you do so because an a priori committment to the challenges of UBC – not because the Bible itself tells you to do so!

    I realize you don’t mean to sound like you’re on a high horse, but watch out for that nose bleed.

  256. cbovell said,

    May 21, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    It’s not that there’s no documented rebuttal, Reed. It’s the general tenor of the replies. I know we’re all busy, believe me. Every free second I get I’m checking out this post to follow its developments. That’s how much I care about this topic. My wife must think I’m totally off the wall by now!

    But the types of replies that I saw were here in response to FTH were just so, I don’t know, …foreign. It’s like they hail from another galaxy or something. I don’t know what words to use to express my experience.

    I think I’ll take a little bit of break now from our little dialogue here, perhaps it’s the most helpful course of action.

  257. GLW Johnson said,

    May 21, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    As I documented in my chapter in the book on BBW that I edited , Charles Briggs accused the Old Princetonians along with his colleague at Union, WGT Shedd and C.H. Spurgeon of not being ‘real’ scholars and of having clandestine motives . He despised their understanding of inerrancy but had the utmost confidence in his own abilities to use Higher Criticism. His scorn for anyone who dared to question the ‘assured results’ of Higher criticism characterized everything he did.

  258. May 21, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Reed,

    FTR, I do NOT think you are intentionally deceiving people nor do I think you are wolves. I don’t know you, so it would be hasty and wrong of me to make such a judgment. I totally accept your insistence that you are none of those.

    My comments have been about how the way you handle these issues appears to me, not judgments on your actual intentions or motives. Quite the opposite, my friends and I have remained in this discussion so long in part because we know that we are interacting with people who are extremely serious about their convictions. We know that many of your are pastors, and have had every evidence that you take your callings very serioiusly, as those who know they will give an account.

    Nevertheless, when I keep hearing responses that come across to me like “it doesn’t matter what you present to us, we’ve already made up our minds that certain proof texts and presuppositions we hold mean the Bible must be such and so,” then I feel like I am talking to a “priesthood” who have a received set of “truths” that must be preserved at all costs and against all evidence to the contrary.

    I don’t know how you can blame us for being a little frustrated when all we get back to anything presented is “by faith, we don’t need to pay any attention to that evidence.”

  259. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 21, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Carlos (#248) and Mark (#249):

    At times, I find it hard to tell the difference between ignoring critical scholarship and conservative interaction with it if responses to FTH by and large amount to “Well, that complicates my concept of scripture beyond my comfort zone; I’m going to wait for something else (or nothing at all!–since the absence of evidence will almost always be available) that instead reinforces what I have been taught about scripture and if that doesn’t come up then I’ll just make up my own and call all the others ‘unbelieving’.”

    Jeff Cagle’s #239 as an example of the need to be able to “control” Scripture so that it conforms to pre-set theological ideas about what it must be and what it can and cannot do.

    You’ve really done a disservice to the discussion at this point by caricaturing my question. I’m asking something legitimate and that is asked in the academic world all the time: How do we place controls on the method (NOT Scripture) so that we can confirm that our answers are something more than subjective feelings in the toe?

    Far from a “pre-set notion”, I was asking an open-ended question, a standard and reasonable question. I think it deserves a serious answer.

    I have not, Carlos, at any point labeled any of you as “unbelieving”; I don’t find that productive, nor do I have a factual basis for doing so.

    Thanks,
    Jeff Cagle

  260. Ron Henzel said,

    May 21, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Mark,

    You wrote:

    I don’t know how you can blame us for being a little frustrated when all we get back to anything presented is “by faith, we don’t need to pay any attention to that evidence.”

    I think it’s possible that a more profitable discussion would center on the identity and nature of the presuppositions each of us brings to the evidence in question, since, in my opinion, it seems obvious that each of us interprets that evidence through the lenses of their presuppositions.

  261. Richard said,

    May 21, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    rfwhite: re: #199 – One thing to bear in mind is that textual criticism of the NT and of the OT are vastly different, in that the NT is relatively straight forward. I held to the view that “Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, whilst we don’t know what the original copy said we do possess all the variations and so somewhere in all of this we have the text of the originals.” The problem is that one cannot simply transpose this way of thinking onto the OT because the OT was formed differently, a simple example – the way a letter is produced is different from how a poem is devised. The OT and NT contain different literary types so the issues involved purely on these grounds are not identical. I could go on about the differences between the NT and OT but I am sure you are aware of them.

    The canon issue is interesting, one reason specifically is that canon seems to have been fairly complex. The canon of the apostolic church of the OT included the LXX which included Jeremiah. The canon of the Protestant Church also includes Jeremiah. But they don’t contain the same edition of Jeremiah! One this issue I find Childs at his least helpful, simply because if the community of faith accepted Edition I as authoritative why would/should we accept Edition II? Childs is also at pains to note that the reason that the MT triumphed was down to the rise of Pharasaical Judaism rather than the rabbis engaging in textual criticism and coming up with the best text.

    For myself, the authority of God resides upon the canonical text, whether Paul wrote 1 Cor. 14:33-34 is ,for me, irrelevant. The issue is were these received by the community of faith as being authoritative? Yes, well then they are to be obeyed. This is a key area where I disagree with Sparks.

  262. Reed Here said,

    May 21, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Carlos, no. 256: as you have time …

    “It’s not that there’s no documented rebuttal, Reed. It’s the general tenor of the replies.”

    C’mon brother! How about it is nothing more than the filters you have in your ears?! (Not shouting, just trying to make the point.)

    Your’s is a gross mischaracterization of the content of the discussion here.

  263. Reed Here said,

    May 21, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Mark, no. 258:

    You’ve said, “when I keep hearing responses that come across to me like “it doesn’t matter what you present to us, we’ve already made up our minds that certain proof texts and presuppositions we hold mean the Bible must be such and so,””

    That’s just it brother – you aren’t hearing that from us! I’m actually getting ready to pound my head on the desk with y’all! I argue you are hearing things not said, and you respond with a statement telling me exactly what you’re hearing – that has in no way, and no where, been said !!!!

    Are you sure you’re not reading from some talking points memo, “Tactics for Debating Inerrantists”?

    God back and look at my one simple test, to which at least Art was willing to begin to respond (he still has yet to respond to my rejoinder.) Or take a look at Jeff’s exceptionally pithy comment in 259. Or what about Ron’s erudite pithiness in 260?

    We are not ignoring, misunderstanding, or just don’t get it. Is it possible that incoherent inerrancy has other noetic effects y’all are exhibiting? ;-)

  264. Vern Crisler said,

    May 21, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    #238
    It’s true that Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus, but given the biblical testimony, he was also the maternal grandson of Nebuchadnezzar (“son” often meaning descendant).

    Vassal kings have sometimes made it into recorded history, sometimes not. Sometimes we get lucky and find a cuneiform inscription attesting to their existence. Darius the Mede is simply another example of a vassal king who was important to the Hebrews but not to those who recorded Persian history.

    If you are determined to create disharmonies and errors in the Bible, no “evangelical” solutions will be good enough for you. For every supposed error that is resolved, you will attempt to find another putative error to support your errancy position. This is ultimately a presuppositional issue — a matter of faith or lack thereof.

    Vern

  265. Richard said,

    May 21, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Jeff: re: #235 – If the OT didn’t exist I could easily be an inerrantist as it makes most sense when talking about the NT. The problem is that the formulation of inerrancy that works for the NT doesn’t work for the OT. For example, Paul writes his letter x. To this is added y by later writers. Now is the original x or xy? I would say the latter. This then gets copies into xy1, xy2, xy3, xy4, xy5, xy6. These are all similar but with minor copyist errors. This is easily compatable with inerrancy, the original autograph (xy) is inerrant but we now only have xy1-6 which contain all that xy did but not pristinely. The problem is that it does not seem that the OT happened in this way, hence my issue with inerrancy, or rather original autographs of the OT.

    In terms of errors in the Bible, I certainly accept that many are due to textual corruption. I would also want to understand how the texts were used within the community of faith; take for example the exodus, now I certainly believe an exodus event took place however I am not convinced it happened exactly as described in Ex. 1-15, i.e. a basic event has been theologised. So Sarna:

    This limitation, together with the paucity of historical data, suggests a high degree of deliberate selectivity. Both the selectivity and the disposition of the featured material stamp the book of Exodus as falling into the category of historiosophy rather than historiography: Not the preservation and recording of the past for its own sake, but the culling of certain historic events for didactic purposes is the intent…It must always be remembered that the biblical narrative is a theological exposition – a document of faith, not a historiographical record

    And Childs notes:

    Israel shaped its historical experience of the law within a frequently non-historical, theological pattern in order to bear testimony to its understanding of its life in relation to the divine will. In turn, this theological rendering became normative for all subsequent generations of Israel.

    So did two million Jews flee Egypt? (1) There is no archaelogical evidence for this, and (2) the text itself is tricky to translate. Even if this claim is historically inaccurate is this an error? Well if the statement was never meant to teach an historical fact then I can’t see how it can be construed as an error.

  266. Richard said,

    May 21, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Jeff: see also comment #166 here.

  267. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    The problem is that it does not seem that the OT happened in this way, hence my issue with inerrancy, or rather original autographs of the OT.

    Or to paraphrase:

    The problem is that it does not seem that the OT happened in this way, hence my issue with the Bible’s claims to be truthful (i.e. without error), or rather original autographs of the OT.

    From the perspective of an unbeliever, Richard, your logic makes a lot of sense.

  268. greenbaggins said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Mark, I also am puzzled as to how you can say, in effect, that we are ignoring evidence and basing everything on presuppositions, while you are are doing the opposite of hearing the evidence and following where it leads. So let’s ask: what are your presuppositions? And can presuppositions be based on the Word? Of course that’s circular, but you have to start somewhere. If we believe that our presuppositions are based on what *the Word of God says about itself,* how is that ignoring the evidence? Why should we believe the ANE background materials necessarily? Understand that I do not challenge the assertion that ANE background materials can help us understand the Bible. But neither are *any* of my colleagues here. What we are saying is that the ANE background materials do not determine what Scripture in fact is. How do we even know that we have a complete picture of what the ANE believed, and how do we know that they are telling the truth? We know God tells the truth, don’t we, when the Bible itself tells us that God cannot lie, and when Jesus says that God’s Word is truth?

  269. Richard said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Pete: You use your terms too loosely, if we are talking about the Bible being inerrant then we are only ever talking about the original autographs, as Bahnsen noted that “the inscripturation and copying of God’s Word require us to identify the specific and proper object of inerrancy as the text of the original autographa”.

  270. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    After my day of interviews away from the PC, just managed to finish reading all the 50 comments I missed.

    Still Lane is forced to pose this question:

    We know God tells the truth, don’t we, when the Bible itself tells us that God cannot lie, and when Jesus says that God’s Word is truth?

    Still there is no depth of exegetical argument coming from the other side dealing with this claim.

    Yet, still, there are claims that the old presuppositions of inerrancy were wrong… where is the work showing this people? This is the big pink elephant in the room… the big pink elephant repeatedly not addressed.

  271. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    #269, Richard,

    Seriously… do you think you could address the challenge that’s actually been thrown at you for once, instead of the one you want to hear because it’s easier to deal with?

  272. May 21, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Lane,

    If I implied that my side has no presuppositions, I certainly didn’t mean to. And I certainly wouldn’t claim that!

    Here are the presuppositions I think I see in your comment, and which I would challenge as fine for you to hold, but so far unproven as being necessary to receiving the Bible as God’s infallible Word:

    1. That the Bible claims inerrancy for itself.
    2. That truth can only mean “no errors of any kind.”
    3. That admission of errors of fact in the Scripture necessarily would make God a liar.

  273. Richard said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Pete: However much you don’t like me saying it, your argument is simple and stands as “The original autographs are inerrant” and it is precisely that statement with which I disagree. You may not like that, you may want to debate Jn. 17:17 but the simple fact is the formulation you hold to crumbles if no original autographs ever existed. Once that is recognised you shall understand that the issue is not exegetical but textual.

  274. Richard said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Oh, when the bug bites Qumran and the History of the Biblical Text edited by Frank Moore Cross & Shemaryahu Talmon will be of use.

  275. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Richard,

    your argument is simple and stands as “The original autographs are inerrant”

    THANK YOU FOR DEMONSTRATING THAT YOU ARE SETTING UP A STRAW MAN.

    That is not my argument, that is the argument you have been putting in my mouth for days, because you feel it’s easier to refute.

  276. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Richard,

    By the way… we have been over the case for integrity before. Integrity that demands that you are clear, open and honest with your ministry team about the views you hold. You can hold your views – that’s fine – but if you’re not being honest about them, that’s not.

    You said it would be fine for me to contact your pastor, as, ministers I’ve spoken to in the EAGP are concerned that your position should be made clear to your pastor. You agreed, but you haven’t actually let me know what church you work for yet…

  277. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Mark,

    Technically that’s just one presupposition that you’ve broken down into 3.

  278. greenbaggins said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Mark, here are some Scriptures that I believe imply inerrancy: Revelation 22:18-19, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:19-21, 1 Thessalonians 2:13. The 2 Peter passage is particularly devastating for Enns’s position, since Enns’s position entails that prophecies of the Bible do depend on a private interpretation influenced by the ANE. On this score, several comments on this thread have argued that the confessional position (I do hope you are not advocating that your position is in accord with the confession) creates a priesthood. How does Enns’s position not, if one must understand the ANE in order to understand the Bible? Who has the time or the inclination to do that?

    Secondly, if the Bible has any errors at all, then the door is thrown wide open for any of Scripture to be false. To claim that historical errors do not necessitate errors of faith is a modernistic delusion. Does anyone really think that history and theology were thus separated at the time the Bible was written? This is a purely Kantian concept, dividing one class of error from another. But if Christ has not been raised, then our faith is in vain. In other words, if Christ’s resurrection is not historical fact, then our faith is vain. This passage demands that Christ has historically been raised from the dead. The alternative is that the priestly guild of scholars determines for the laity what is truth and what isn’t, and what errors are in Scripture and what aren’t. There isn’t a single alleged error in Scripture that hasn’t been shown time and time again not to be an error at all.

    An error is a subset of the category lie. Check out questions 144-145 of the larger catechism. God cannot lie. That does not mean, of course, that God cannot accommodate Himself to us in our mode of communication so that we can understand. This is not an undifferentiated fundamentalist position that assumes modern methods of historiography. But that is a far cry from saying that there are errors of fact in the Bible’s autographs.

  279. greenbaggins said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Besides, Mark, my question is this: what are your presuppositions, and how do you derive them from Scripture?

  280. Richard said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Pete: That may not be the way you present your argument, but that is what your argument boils down to ultimately.

    As I said elsewhere, if you feel compelled to inform my pastor of what I believe then that is up to you but I am sure he has more important things to concern himself with.

  281. greenbaggins said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    And, let me ask one more question of you, Mark. Where in Scripture do you get the view that there are errors? What passage can you exegete that will support your position? If the Bible is clear, as the confession also states, then the Bible should say something clear about itself that proves that the Bible has errors in it. Surely God would not want us thinking that we should believe every word of Scripture, if in fact we shouldn’t. Because then God would be misleading us. So there must be some passage somewhere that says that the Bible is not factually true all the time. And please don’t tell me that the only place you can get this is outside of Scripture itself.

  282. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Richard,

    That may not be the way you present your argument, but that is what your argument boils down to ultimately.

    So… let’s get this absolutely straight – you’re not going to deal with the actual argument I present, only the argument that you insist it “boils down to”?

    This is the most blatant justification of arguing against a straw man I have ever seen.

    As I’ve said to you before, Richard, I can’t inform your pastor of what you believe unless you tell me what church you go to. Now, either you’re not reading that properly either, or, you just don’t want me to and are keeping back the only piece of information you can to stop me doing it.

    Richard, my fear is that you are not demonstrating integrity here. If you honestly don’t mind me talking to your pastor, why be so secretive about what church you go to? Integrity Richard…

  283. rfwhite said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Hey, Richard, while sharing bibliographic info, have you seen/read K. Jobes’s essay in BBR (2006), “When God Spoke Greek…”? or P. Gentry’s essay in the same issue, “The Septuagint and the Text of the [OT]“?

  284. Richard said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Pete, even if your argument is correct all you will be proving is that the original autographs were inerrant, nothing more and nothing less.

  285. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Richard,

    That is just not what I would be proving. You really are determined to only engage with a straw man aren’t you? That is hardly demonstrating a real scholarly attitude to learning or engagement with others.

    Reading books does not a theologian make.

    You are, again, bizarrely silent on the name of your church. Please tell me Richard. I’m very tempted to be cynical about your motives… I’m beginning to doubt your integrity. You’re saying you ahve nothing to hide, that you’ve been clear with your team about your views, that you’d be fine with me talking to your pastor… yet you don’t mention the name of your church. I’m tempted to be cynical. I don’t like being cynical, Richard, please tell me which church you go to.

  286. May 21, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Richard,

    I wish I were able to message this to you privately. I would urge you to continue to protect your identity and private info (such as church membership). I have personally experienced having my entire career ripped out from under me because I asked honest questions about inerrancy (and was honest that I supported Pete Enns) in public forums like this. THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY A COMMENT ABOUT ANYONE COMMENTING IN THIS THREAD, but it is true nonetheless.

    I am no longer working in or associated with any community that would give a rip about any of this (and I thank God for that), so I can comment here under my own full name and not suffer for it. You sound like you are in a more precarious situation. Heed my warning; don’t be drawn in by calls of “pastoral concern” or “integrity.” It is none of their business. Oh, I will be howled at for this. “How dare you interfere; we’re looking out for the good of the Church!” Just smile, Richard, and keep being “Richard” ;-)

  287. Richard said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Thanks for that, I will check them out. Doesn’t Gentry accept the possibility that the parent text behind LXX is in some instances a superior text to MT?

  288. May 21, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    And before anyone jumps down my throat that I am personally attacking anyone in this thread, I don’t have to be meaning any of you. There are hundreds of others reading this thread whom we will never know. I’m not being paranoid. As I said, I experienced being in a dysfunctional Reformed community where everything I said online anywhere was tracked and reported and twisted to do me in.

  289. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Ok.

    peterdanielmyers AT googlemail DOT com

    Here is my private info:

    Peter Daniel Myers
    I work for Christ Church South Cambs, in Sawston.
    I’m an ordinand in the Church of England.

    For much of last year, I found the Federal Vision very interesting. I really found many of it’s views compelling. I’m still sympathetic to much of it. My pastor disagrees with me on much of this. I was honest and up front with him about everything I believed. I did not talk to anyone in the congregation about it. When I applied to Oak Hill Theological College, I was honest with them about my views, and open… even though the issue has been very controversial there.

    I am honest about my opinions on things, even when it has not necessarily been great for my career. That IS being independently minded… but honest about it to.

    Ask anybody who knows me, and they know me warts and all… I am honest with people about things, even if it isn’t convenient.

    That is called committment to truth, and is required of everyone who is in ministry, and being employed by others to look after their congregation.

  290. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Richard (#255,266):

    Thanks.

  291. greenbaggins said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Pete, I edited your email address so that you would not get spammed. It’s always best to put email addresses up this way rather than have a clickable version. :-)

  292. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Besides.

    I already know which church Richard works for. To be vague enough to keep everyone happy… it’s in Cheshire. I just wanted to see if he really is being honest about his views with his pastor.

    I am very concerned about what the redefinition of “truth” looks like worked out in people’s lives.

  293. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Lane, Thanks.

    Anyone can email me who wants to. I don’t promise to respond as my family makes life very hard to engage with everyone by email.

    When you publish things on the internet… this is a real place. When you publish real views and opinions about real things to real people, we must be real about who we are.

    If you want to protect your identity on the internet, then you can’t pretend to be a big player theologically. If you’re protecting you’re identity because you don’t want people to connect what you believe with who you are… then… frankly I’m disgusted.

    I’m sorry, I think that’s the strongest thing I’ve ever said on here.

  294. rfwhite said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Richard, what do you make of Warfield’s contention, in his essay “The Westminster Assembly and Its Work,” that “the genuine text has been kept safe in the multitude of copies”?

  295. greenbaggins said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Besides, we don’t allow anonymous commenting here anyway.

  296. GLW Johnson said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Mark
    You are Carlos both come across extremely paranoid- a really severe case of persecution complex if ever I saw one. This contributes all the more to the notion that there is some sort of conspiratorial plot cooked up by inerrantistic meanies out to get you guys. Perhaps your particular circumstances are due to self-inflicted wounds. You know the old saying about not throwing rocks at hornet nests.

  297. May 21, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    “Besides, we don’t allow anonymous commenting here anyway.”

    Well, we’re not anonymous to you, Lane (or the other mods). But Richard has chosen to identify himself on here by his first name only, so he is effectively anonymous to all else.

    I’m hoping your statement doesn’t imply that you will be revealing his identity or “turning him in,” Lane.

    And Pete:

    You’ve obviously never gone through the hell I did with my previous institution, where I was punished for my “real views and opinons.” Thanks for wanting to make us all holier, but I wouldn’t urge anyone else to put their family’s livelihood on the line for it.

  298. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Mark.

    I would most certainly not lie, or keep my views hidden, to avoid suffering.

    I can’t even believe I’m needing to make this point with evangelical pastors in God’s church.

  299. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    I would put my family, my life, my son, my career, my house, my friends, my everything on the line for what I believed.

  300. GLW Johnson said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Mark
    Your comments here, and on other blogs, are a matter of public record, as are mind. People in the PCA, the OPC as well as other institutions and publications have access to where you stand on these issues. I don’t expect that John Armstrong is going to be inviting me to write for his Act III journal anytime soon or that people at Eastern Univ. and others sympathetic to the views of Peter Enns and Kenton Sparks are going to knocking on my door to speak at any of their events. That is just the way it is-you should know this.

  301. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    #300 Gary,

    But what happens, if I have a God who can use error? What happens if I worship a God who can speak things he knows to be false? What happens to godliness if my God can be completely true, but say something that is partially untrue?

    I’ve built all the theological blocks necessary to justify to myself that saying things that may allow others to believe something I know to be wrong is ok… and I can do that and still be a truthful person with integrity myself.

  302. greenbaggins said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Good grief, folks! Paranoia and reading into people’s motives! Can we stop and get back to the issues, please? I’m not turning anyone in, Mark. I was just making a general comment is all. Richard is not anonymous to me, nor are any of the other regular Enns supporters on this blog. Mark, maybe you could help us get back on track by answering 278,279,and 281.

  303. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Sorry.

  304. GLW Johnson said,

    May 21, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Let add that groups like Answers In Genesis( who I castigated for their treatment of Warfield) as well as the TR Greek text devotees- who positively loathe Warfield and would stone me if I came anywhere near one of their gatherings. That is just the way it is.

  305. May 21, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    In view of Reed’s comment (227) I will repost my comment (215), hopefully making what I meant clearer:

    To everyone here,

    If I may add some thoughts I have pondered posting on this thread for a while, about how what we do and teach relates to “the laypeople” and serving the church…a commendable point Reed brings into focus for this thread.

    In my experience, the types of things we (myself, MarkT, Carlos, Art, Enns, Sparks, MANY OTHERS, etc.) think about the Bible only harms peoples’ faith when taught and presented as though they should harm someone’s faith. The two most common type-scenarios involve (1) the professor at the “secular university,” with an axe to grind against Christianity or conservative-Christianity, teaching and “exposing” the errors of Scripture, presenting them as evidence against faith and the Bible as God’s Word, either explicitly or implicitly. (2) Evangelical-Reformed pastors and theological specialists (such as many on this blog) teaching “laypeople” that if these things are true about the Bible it necessarily damages and opposes faith. One primary tactic involves binding up the Gospel and Christ with all-or-nothing fortress mentality approaches to inerrancy: if Leviticus contradicts itself on the result of a man having intercourse with a menstruating woman our faith is in vain (Lev 15.24; 20.18); if Mark has Jesus instructing the disciples to take a staff (Mk 6.8) and Matthew has Jesus instructing the opposite (Matt 10.10) our faith is in vain, etc.

    On the other hand, in my experience introducing “laypeople” to things about the Bible such as what we are discussing here and to other such messy things about the bible and Christ actually leads to greater excitement about and commitment to Jesus, the bible, and enacting them in their lives. This proves true for myself, Mark, Art, my wife, countless friends of mine, and the MANY MANY brothers and sisters in Christ with whom I discuss and to whom I teach on these issues. I keep hearing talk about how teaching these things (and leading others to believe them) is harmful for “the sheep.” But I have yet to meet such sheep, for whom wrestling with and accepting something similar to our approach has been harmful when it comes from someone introducing these things as part of seeking to explore the Bible and what God did with a view to how it is exactly what God wanted to do and ultimately points us to Christ. On the other hand, I know far too many sheep and former sheep for whom this stuff was harmful because they heard it from someone who presented it as though it should be harmful…including Bart Ehrman types and, especially, their Reformed-Evangelical pastors and specialists.

    Ironically, from my point of view, many of the inerrancy-Scripture crusading Reformed-Evangelicals share much in common with someone like Bart Ehrman. Both agree that if the Bible contains “errors” and does not actually have the inerrant systematic-theological propositional logical coherence that defines Reformed-Evangelical theological-cultural sensitivities it cannot be from God and all this must be harmful to faith in Christ.

    Lastly, we try to focus more explicitly on how Scripture has a purpose extrinsic to itself: pointing us to and encountering us with Christ. In fact, this remains quite central to the basic dynamics of our approach. The messiness, errors, and other “strange” things God did in the Bible fade away as problems when we start grappling with the Bible’s ultimate purpose in pointing us towards and ultimate coherence in Christ himself…not necessarily in some logical-systematically coherent system of propositional teachings. Just for fun, I enlist 2Tim 3.14-17 as a “proof text” here. You will see its overriding focus on the purposes of Scripture. Also, it relates the scriptures’ “theopneustos-ness” to these purposes AND NOT to abstract theological notions about the inerrant nature of Scripture itself. I and others have found this comparatively (at least for us) more Chistocentric and Christo-telic approach incredibly edifying. I realize that most here in no way consider their approach to Scripture and the way they focus on it to detract from the centrality of Christ. John Murray surely did not. Nevertheless, I still have found our approach to bring a healthier focus on Christ for us and others.

    I hope I do not come across nastily or offensively here. I offer these reflections (hopefully) with humility and not as an attempt to sling mud and insult people here. I also feel ridiculous about having to write this last paragraph, but apparently some of us [not me, of course! : ) ] get a little heated over this discussion sometimes…

  306. rfwhite said,

    May 21, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    287 Richard (or perhaps “Richard” is better), provided I have understood Gentry correctly, the answer to your question is, yes, Gentry accepts the possibility that the parent text behind LXX is in some instances a superior text to MT.

  307. GLW Johnson said,

    May 21, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    FTH
    You do know that Sparks is of the opinion that the Apostles AND Jesus made theological errors, i.e. they understood Gen. 1-3 to be historical – there was a garden of Eden with a real Adam and Eve. What else did Jesus and the apostles get wrong? And how does this contribute to a ‘high view of Christ’?

  308. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    #305, FTH,

    You do not come across nastily or offensive in your post at all.

    I think it’s fair to say, that, for all of us we’re going to see our own perspective as encouraging, exciting, edifying for people… whereas we’re going to be able to see the dangers in other’s positions, and see the possibilities of how their position is dangerous, and damaging, and the such like.

    All of us will naturally be able to produce anecdotal evidence one way or the other. And unsurprisingly, what we experience, and therefore our anecdotal evidence, will likely match what we feel.

    As such, I would suggest, that, it’s probably best to stick to what we can demonstrate a view can do to people pastorally using scripture.

    I think I’ve heard your argument, that, if I am telling people to insist that X is true of scripture, but X is not true of scripture… then when someone discovers that X isn’t true of scripture for themselves, they will have a hard time, all because I gave them false expectations. There’s more, that’s the real big one I’ve heard so far.

    The argument that the other side are putting forward is that you are redefining “truth” from what everyone has always reasonably, and correctly, understood it to mean. Also, that, the way many of you are arguing your case is drawing people away building their faith on what scripture says about itself, and instead asking them to build their faith on a lot of clever scholarship… that your rhetoric will force people down the line of “do I listen to the Word of God, or to the words of men?” Especially, since, that scholarship is out of the hands of the majority of the congregation.

  309. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    May 21, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    #301, Pete Myers: “But what happens, if I have a God who can use error? What happens if I worship a God who can speak things he knows to be false? What happens to godliness if my God can be completely true, but say something that is partially untrue?”

    Funny that you should mention that. What do you think of this award-winning philosophy professor’s blog post that you can still have the Authority of Scripture while rejecting the doctrine of inerrancy? Professor Reitan wrote this post on May 12th, 2009 and it’s titled: Authority Without Inerrancy? Part 1: Setting the Stage.

    P.S. Any feedback for my comment #236?

  310. GLW Johnson said,

    May 21, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    FTH
    I know I am sounding like a broken record, but have you read Warfield’s volume on Christology? How anyone could read what BBW wrote on the Person and Work of Christ and draw the conclusion that inerrancy somehow leads to a diminished view of Christ is beyond comprehension.

  311. Pete Myers said,

    May 21, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    #309 TUTD

    I said sorry for my comment in #301 because I got carried away and said too much about people’s motives. I was genuine in that apology. So… best not to discuss that, for the sake of striving for peace with brothers :)

    Your comment in #236… the rule of thumb is the “analogy of faith”. It’s very old and very well known: we should let the clearer parts of scripture throw light on the less clearer parts of scripture. Historical criticism is complicated. There are various questions about it, but, I think you’re pondering how much extra-biblical sources should be allowed to colour our interpretation of scripture?

    If so, then, I’ve been taught that the rule of thumb is that extra-biblical sources are used to throw light on scripture, but not as an “interpretive key” for scripture. “Throwing light” on scripture is simply enabling me to look at scripture and get that moment of going “of course that makes sense, when I read it that way, scripture confirms it”. Using an external source as the interpretive key for scripture would be: so relying on something external to the Bible to understand it, that, in retrospect I couldn’t understand that from the Bible if I now took the external source away.

    That’s a very simplistic explanation, sorry, there’s all sorts of ways it would need to be nuanced, but I hope it’s something to go on. It’s also just my opinion, and my training is very limited.

  312. Todd said,

    May 21, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Vern # 264

    While it is possible that Darius the Mede was a vassal king, another option is that Darius and Cyrus were the same person. M. Kline devoted a whole class period to this, but I can’t find those notes. This is also the position that WTJ article I cited takes.

    Todd

  313. Vern Crisler said,

    May 21, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Hi Todd,

    But doesn’t Dan. 6:28 distinguish Darius the Mede from Cyrus the Persian? More likely that Cyrus was the suzerain, Darius a vassal, no?

  314. kamelda said,

    May 21, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Just as a further book suggestion re: exalted views of Christ and inerrancy, Hugh Martin deals somewhat with this in ‘The Abiding Presence’, especially chapter 5. It is his exalted view of Christ which leads him to argue for a perfectly truthful (by this I mean that the facts are not in error – *smiles*) ‘biography’, for in the Word His presence is still with us. The history by which He manifests His presence to us now cannot be divorced from its factual aspect any more than than the factual aspect of His bodily presence in the past.

    Rev. Keister, thanks for your #278; beyond all points about presuppositions we believe out of that can seemingly be deflected again at the other side I think perhaps I was not understandably clear as to why I feel that one loses anything to believe *in*, if one loses the factual nature of truth; and why to believe what has been put forward here and divorce those would make me lose my faith. You said it.

  315. Todd said,

    May 21, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Vernm

    In Dan 6:28 (29), the Hebrew can be translated “Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” I wish I kept my Kline notes on this.

    Todd

  316. Todd said,

    May 21, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Vern

    In Dan 6:28 (29), the Hebrew can be translated “Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, even in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” I wish I kept my Kline notes on this.

    Todd

  317. Nathan said,

    May 21, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Todd:

    Dan 6:28 is Aramaic, not Hebrew. Are you claiming some sort of appositional relationship between Darius and Cyrus? I am not familiar with this in Hebrew (I checked Waltke/O’Connor and Jouon), much less in Aramaic. Far as I know, both languages express apposition asyndetically, so I doubt that your suggested translation is possible.

  318. Todd said,

    May 21, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Nathan,

    Sorry, writing too fast without thinking. Some of the book is Hebrew (8-12), some Aramaic, that passage is Aramaic. But many scholars believe that translation is possible, but I am a student, not well-versed enough to teach. Check out the WTJ article.

    Todd

  319. sigman76 said,

    May 21, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Perhaps this is not too far off topic since some people have mentioned questions about the MT over against the LXX. If the NT quotes the LXX the majority of the time and the LXX differs from the MT then is that not an error? Certainly, God can interpret himself and change his Word to reflect new situations…but that is not what i mean. Rather, what text is the authority? If Jesus quotes the LXX then doesn’t that affirm the priority of that text for Christians? Yet our OT is based upon the MT?!?

  320. Todd Pruitt said,

    May 21, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Reed,

    Thank you so much for comment 251.

    Some of us study hard each week to preach the Scriptures faithfully as well as shepherd a large flock and lead our families well. Many of us also happen to prefer the work of men like Waltke and Carson to some others that have been mentioned. Anyway it’s frustrating to then be accused of keeping our heads in the sand as if we are afraid of conclusions that will destroy our delicate faith. If our faith was so fragile it would never hold up to the challenges of shepherding God’s people. Never.

    Blessings Reed. Thank you for speaking so well for so many of us.

  321. Reed Here said,

    May 21, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Thanks to you also Todd. Keep soldiering on.

  322. May 21, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    GLW (310),

    Fair point. I do not disagree with you. As I tried to indicate in my comment (305), I fully realize that people here holding the traditional-Reformed positions on inerrancy in no way see that militating against the centrality of Christ. You mention an excellent example in Warfield (I believe I did read that book several years back). I mentioned John Murray.

    The best I could offer is that I have found “our” approach to be a healthier and more robustly Christo-centric approach. But, honestly (as you could quickly point out), what can saying that actually do in this discussion? Presumably everyone here sincerely understands his/her approach to be as Christocetric and Christ-honoring as possible.

    Of course, I am right and you are wrong…because you are… : )

  323. greenbaggins said,

    May 21, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    #319, Sigman, welcome to Green Baggins. Please tell us who you are, and a bit about yourself. Thanks.

  324. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:32 am

    #322 FTH,

    Funny that you use the term “christocentric” as the fruit of your approach, as Enns deliberately shifted the language from christocentric to christotelic.

    That, to me, seemed to imply that while I find Christ in the OT scriptures, he merely finds Christ pointed to by the OT scriptures (hence why, in his view, the apostles needed to “redefine” what the OT was “originally” saying).

    I really don’t see how that is more christocentric than the traditional Reformed position.

  325. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 6:13 am

    FTH
    And what about Sparks…?

  326. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 7:14 am

    I am sure that I am not the only one to notice this…but why are all the self-professed admirers ( most former students )of Peter Enns so openly hostile to the classical doctrine of inerrancy as framed by Old Princeton/Westminster? And yet they claim that Enns never denied this? How , then did they all come to this position? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

  327. sigman76 said,

    May 22, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Thanks Greenbaggins, I’m glad to be able to interact on this site. The comments on both sides have been interesting to read and think about. As a pilgrim on the way to the Celestial city I’m perhaps more curious than I ought to be about the problems and difficulties that fellow travelers are having. I too struggle about knowing what the Bible is. Certainly, I receive it as the Word of God by faith and yet there are many things that are perplexing contained in the Scriptures. Not that this is really surprising. Christ was perplexing to the people in the first Century just as he remains perplexing in the midst of the difficulties of this life. Job was perplexed about God as was Jonah and just about every other Biblical character. God doesn’t seem to fit the presuppositions be bring to the table of epistemology, no matter how piously motivated they may be.

    On the surface, this thread appears to be about different starting points in approaching the Bible. Yet, it is really about power and control. Who is going to control the church? Who controls the reading of the Bible? Who controls the definitions of orthodoxy. Why are the followers of Dr. Enns so upset? Primarily, it was an issue of perceived political maneuvering and assertion of power. Certainly, there are real biblical issues to be worked upon. However, a quick look at the evangelical landscape and you notice that no one is really talking about the issue of inerrancy beside those closely connected to WTS and to a certain extent the Reformed community. A case in point, notice the comment by Dr Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary who is addressing the all or nothing perspectives on both sides of the faith battle (atheist and Christian) over the bible,
    “ It was always those rigid, inflexible fundamentalists who couldn’t see the many viable options for genuine Christian belief apart from the inerrancy of Scripture…If trends continue, thoughtful inerrantists may discover they have greater allies in non-inerrantist wings of Christianity than they thought, and that they have far more in common with them than they do with those who hold the “all-or-nothing” mentality outside or inside the church”!
    http://www.denverseminary.edu/craig-blombergs-blog-new-testament-musings/the-all-or-nothing-syndrome-with-biblical-imprecision/

    Such a statement from a prominent scholar only elicited 11 short comments. This thread is now surpassing 300 posts! It is important to have concern for the “Sheep” in wrestling with these issues. It is also important to be self – critical and ask, is our priority on a doctrine of Scripture over-riding Scripture’s intended purpose. Is Scripture only god-breathed or is it also useful. Paul seemed to think they were both important and related. Jesus criticized the Pharisees for trying to ground their faith in Scripture rather than in Him (John 5:39-40). I can’t help but think the same things are happening here .
    Apparently, God was not concerned about what text the authors of the new testament used. LXX, MT, Targum, pagan authors, etc. The point was to lead people to Jesus. To proclaim to the world who He was and what He did. Nor does it appear that God is concerned about sanitizing the Bible from all errors and problems just as he doesn’t sanitize our lives from the messiness of living in this fallen world. If God’s not that concerned then should we be?

  328. Ron Henzel said,

    May 22, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Pete,

    You wrote:

    But what happens, if I have a God who can use error? What happens if I worship a God who can speak things he knows to be false? What happens to godliness if my God can be completely true, but say something that is partially untrue?

    I would say you most certainly do not have the God of the Bible.

  329. Ron Henzel said,

    May 22, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Gary,

    Regarding your comment #326: the teacher opened the door; the students walked through it. And in this case, the teacher also got pushed out the door.

  330. Ron Henzel said,

    May 22, 2009 at 8:14 am

    FTH:

    You wrote:

    The best I could offer is that I have found “our” approach to be a healthier and more robustly Christo-centric approach…

    It seems to me to be an inevitable consequence of your so-called “Christo-centric approach” that Christ himself was errant. Of which errors was He guilty?

  331. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 8:19 am

    #327, Ron,

    Yes, we are in agreement… and I was alluding to the pastoral consquences of that statement.

    However… Lane rightly pulled me up there, as, I was straying too far into making statements about the motives of others, and so I apologised for making that comment.

    I do think it is a real shame, that, the real case for inerrancy does not appear to have been addressed properly (I mean even on the scholarly level) before such strong words have been used to dismiss it. There has been an incredible amount of manuscript study and observation of scripture as a phenomena… but the more and more we’ve discussed this issue, the more apparent it seems that is about as deep as the case goes against inerrancy.

    It seems like such a fundamental logical error from people who trained at Van Til’s college, that I really keep wondering if there’s something very big that I just haven’t “got” yet.

  332. rfwhite said,

    May 22, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Pete Myers, as to fundamental logical errors and such, here is a hypothesis to test: is the Enns thesis traceable to (an abuse of) Van Til’s idea of apparent contradiction in Scripture? I’m not saying this; I’m asking.

  333. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 8:31 am

    PM
    Most of those on the other side of this debate care very little for CVT. Its like the statement in Exodus 1:8 and not knowing Joseph. As indicated in this discussion, CVT is dismissed without so much as a ‘how-do-you-do’. You might expect this if these were studentd from Princeton but not WTS, Something is definely wrong with this picture.

  334. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 8:46 am

    #331 rfwhite,

    I don’t know the history of how these ideas came about. My observations are only based on the arguments that are put to me.

    The arguments put to me seem to assume that the biblical case for inerrancy has been more than amply falsified already… and then immediately go onto pointing out observed (supposed) errors and contradictions in the scriptures, and manuscript evidence for the lack of an original autograph.

    Drawing out the arguments for how the biblical case for inerrancy has been falsified has been like drawing blood from a stone, and the answers given seem to be at the level of blogegesis, rather than the fruits of some really good exegetical scholarship on the relevant passages. I would have expected to be pointed to a proper dissertation or something on John 17v17 if the proper work had really been done.

    Whether Enns’ view can be traced to CVT or not, the same principle applies, in that I haven’t heard any arguments put forward in this context that would appear to have his logic underlying them. So, I’m yet to see the evidence for the connection.

  335. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I should probably point out as well, that, I know Van Til only by proxy through people like Frame and Poythress. I have a couple of his books on my shelf that I’ve set aside for the summer.

    I only refer to “Van Til” because my argument has basically been presuppositional, and there appears to have been a failure to deal with the presuppositional on the part of Enns, and his students. If anything was true of the trajectory Van Til would have wanted for the faculty at Westminster, it would have been that whatever was taught was grounded in a set of thoroughly self-aware biblical presuppositions. Simply by reputation, I believe that’s not contentious. So I’d be expecting WTJ students to smash me on the presuppositional arguments.

  336. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Of all the names linked to Enns, CVT is not one of them! Enns was never a student of CVT and Enns writings show very little first hand knowledge of CVT’s writings. In fact, just the opposite as I sought to demonstrate in the Warfield book.

  337. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Gary, what Warfield book are you talking about? I saw you mention it a while ago, but only skim read your comment. Did you edit, write, or contribute to it?

  338. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 9:07 am

    PM
    It was entitled ‘B.B.Warfield:Essays on His Life and Thought’ (P&R2007). I edited it and there is a sequel forthcoming…and one after that…and another…

  339. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 9:16 am

    A sequel on Warfield? Or are you doing a series of biographies on different people?

  340. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 22, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Dr. White (#331):

    is the Enns thesis traceable to (an abuse of) Van Til’s idea of apparent contradiction in Scripture? I’m not saying this; I’m asking.

    I’d take a stab at falsification. Van Til’s approach made the Word the absolute and normative authority. As a consequence, he rejected evidentialism as a kind of retreat to Roman Catholic methods, claiming that evidentialism holds up a standard of truth that sits outside the Word — and ultimately judges it (on my reading of Christian Apologetics).

    So the “apparent contradictions” van Til wrestled with were really internal: e.g., God is gracious to the unbeliever, but He is at enmity with the unbeliever.

    The “apparent contradictions” that FTH and others struggle with are (mostly) with the Word against external evidence: e.g., Daniel claims Danielic authorship (Dan 7.1-2), while external evidence shows this impossible.

    CVT would probably say, “So much the worse for external evidence.”

    So I don’t think CVT is more than superficially connected to the Enns trajectory. What is needed to get to Enns is a firm belief in the fundamental truthfulness of external evidence and our ability to properly parse that external evidence, of the “two books of revelation” idea.

    Here’s another hypothesis to test: Is the Enns thesis traceable to E.J.Young’s rejection of Solomonic authorship of Ecclesiastes?

    Jeff Cagle

  341. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Not Biographies. If you are interested in such things then check out the series under the editorship of D.G.Hart and S.M. Lucas- American Reformed Biographies ( three are out: Nevin by Hart;Dabney by Lucas ,and Van Til by Muether) .This series will include one by Carl Trueman on Warfield. Brad Gundlach, who contributed to the aforementioned book I edited on BBW is also producing a very sizeable biography on BBW( that has been in the works for over a decade now). My interest is in Warfield ‘s theological contributions. Speaking of which, my friend Fred Zaspers has just finshed a book on Warfield’s theology that will be published later tnext year by P&R.

  342. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 9:36 am

    JC
    No on E.J. Young. Absolutely no. Enns’ over all methodological approach to the entire range of ANE studies and his critical interaction with these sources is the major factor in his position-which is miles apart from Young ( and Kline as well as Waltke) -this is the source for his views. It is not islolates threads here and there. Let’s give Enns credit for being a bit more rigorous and systematic than that.

  343. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 9:39 am

    I may be training under Carl Trueman from September. He’s on loan to Oak Hill.

    I’m very interested to read Warfield on cessationism. In the UK, every single conservative evangelical I meet is “open but cautious”. Being both cesssationist, and a 6 day creationist, I’m viewed with immense suspicion.

  344. rfwhite said,

    May 22, 2009 at 10:07 am

    On the hypothesis of a Van Til-Enns link, thanks for comments. I do appreciate that Enns’s views of the role of ANE sources in biblical studies shapes his method. My question is really more about his conclusions than his method: what or who shaped his conclusions about inspiration, in which divine authorship and “messiness” coexist? Does anyone have any light on the origins of his conclusions about inspiration?

  345. Reformed Sinner said,

    May 22, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Oh my goodness, so many books to look forward to on Warfield. I’m starting to save money now to buy these books.

    I have also feel Warfield is so grossly underappreciated and the entire Christian church is impoverish for lack of avenues to his mind and his theological framework and exegetical works. It is truly a shame that his collections writings are out of print.

  346. May 22, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Ok, I think the time has come for me to peace out. Try not to miss me too much. When my masochistic impulse overwhelms me again I will come back here to continue banging my head against the wall. It has been fun as always…

    Now, let me see, only about 5 hours until my wife gets home. I have a busy evening ahead of me as I get back to convincing her to judge the Bible by a human authority, to read it using Unbelieving Criticism, and to stop approaching the Bible presupposing its divinity. Then we will put on our swimsuits so we can slide comfortably down the slippery-slope into unbelief, denying the resurrection, and corrupting everyone else in our church. : )

    Cheers.

  347. Reformed Sinner said,

    May 22, 2009 at 10:30 am

    #343,

    This is going to be speculative but a good bet is Enns gotten a lot from his Harvard days. Actually it’s funny you mentioned CVT, it’s preciously Enns not being “CVT enough” to have the ability to think critically about the higher critical methods. A good “CVT student” will have the ability to interact, but not utterly embrace, the higher critical scholarship the way Enns has.

  348. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 10:56 am

    rfwhite: re #294 – the problem with saying that “the genuine text has been kept safe in the multitude of copies” is that whilst it may work in principle for the NT it doesn’t for the OT. I would have to read the relevant article by Warfield to comment on the specifics of his argument.

    re #306 – Thanks for that, so if Gentry accepts the possibility that the parent text behind LXX is in some instances a superior text to MT to what does he ascribe the differences? Does he allow for the LXX vorlage and the proto-MT to stemm from different families?

    Readers may be interested in “Questions of Canon Viewed through the Dead Sea Scrolls” by VanderKam.

    Pete: I’ve re-read our exchange, I think you may have the wrong end of the stick as I don’t work for a church, never have done and don’t presently.

  349. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Gee whiz, FTH, but why the onion skin? No comment about Sparks yet?

  350. rfwhite said,

    May 22, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Richard: Gentry summarizes his view by saying that we evaluate the variants on a case by case basis, without prejudice for the LXX or the MT. In one such case (Isa 53:8), he concludes that, while all won’t be persuaded, the difference in the LXX is probably due to a different Hebrew parent text that preserves the original reading. In the article, he does engage Tov and Ulrich. S. Dempster has also taken up the subject, interacting with McDonald, Tov, Ulrich, and others, in the most recent volume of JETS.

  351. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 11:55 am

    #347, Richard,

    But you’re going to do the North West Training Course… and you mentioned having spoken to your ministry team about some ANE sources. Which led me to believe that either you are a 9:38 student or you’re going to be.

    Either way, if you have any teaching responsibility in your church, you should be honest with your leadership team about your views on this issue, even if you don’t think it’s important, it obviously is to conservative evangelicals, because it’s part of our creedal statements. Trying to convince other members of your congregation of your position also makes you responsible to be clear with your leadership team.

    Since you have made abundant recommendations to me of books to read, let me recommend one to you: Every Though Captive, Richard Pratt

    I do long for the best for you brother, I really do, and you have been in my prayers these last few days. I would invite you to, at some point, actually engage with the arguments that have been thrown your way in favour of inerrancy, rather than the ones you find easier to engage with.

  352. Reed Here said,

    May 22, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Stephen, no. 345:

    Do you really think such sarcasm is all that self-deprecating? First Mark, then Carlos, now you – all making comments to the extent, “well, you are pig-headed, won’t really listen to what I’m saying, and have unjustly consigned me to the pit of Hell. I on the other hand have risen above it all … Ta-ta.”

    Shoot, the only one of you who bowed out with any real graciousness this time was Art.

    You guys are too thin skinned, too uncomfortable with critical interaction. For the record, I’d like to point out that you have been very gracious in demonstrating my main point. I know full well y’all are concluding you haven’t done anything of the sort. Still, I think of some softballs thrown your way, and some “let’s step back” questions as well … all unanswered.

    I’m reminded of the comments from Vern Poythress as he grilled us in Hermeneutics, as to our obligation to the sheep we wouild one day shepherd. Here, as you know, is a scholar bordering on genius (I’m speaking slightly out of respect for Poythress’ humility – I bet the ole IQ test would prove it).

    Here is a man who taught us that if the sheep didn’t understand us – even if it was 99% their problem and not ours, the love of Christ for His flock compels us to make it 100% our problem – and do the hard work necessary to be understandable, even to the littlest of the sheep.

    Here is a man who demonstrated that in his shepherding of us. To this day I marvel at how far he took this brick into understanding of the nature of Scripture.

    I commend this practice of love to y’all, as I do myself.

    Your’s is incoherent inerrancy. Even if it is 99% us, y’all owe it to the rest of usto make it 100% your problem. Rest assured, if your insight IS of the Lord, He will bless you in adopting such an attitude.

    As it stands, as gracious as your interaction has been here, you’ve done nothing more than repeat, ignore soft-ptiches right down the plate, and then left tipping your hat and laughing at us (all the while making it sound like you are laughing at yourself.)

    For all your vaunted concern for “younger evnagelicals,” you sure are not emulating the shepherding of the Shepherd.

    (P.S. apparently the better understood Christ your hermeutic leads you to is teaching you to write off the “older evangelicals”? Hmm … some caution about knowing things by their fruits suggests you might want to pause.)

  353. kamelda said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    345 seems to have gone beyond scholarly discussion and as something I was concerned about is involved, I’d like to clarify that even in my heart I have not been reflecting on the validity of anyone else’s faith here, in raising concerns about what would damage my own. Perhaps fortunately we all believe things with some degree of logical inconsistency so not everyone is affected by a position the way others would be. I do think that if the only response that can be made to serious concerns is to be grieved or affronted that they were mentioned (by at least one person who would be seriously affected), those who advocate this system should be careful throwing this stuff around.

    It seems that people think we can define a few factual errors that don’t seem to be very important into the redefinition of truth without affecting anything vital. I object — redefining truth in its relation to fact affects something much more vital than a few problem passages. If this is personally offensive, I did not mean it so. If the only answer that can be made is that this is personally offensive, I suppose it’s fortunate that I find that response (aside from being sincerely sad to have caused offense), unconvincing.

    That said, FTH, and I mean this just as a layperson — perhaps you and your wife could go see a movie this evening instead. :-)

  354. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    rfwhite: By “original reading” do you mean he working with the concept of the Urtext? Does he interract with the text of Jeremiah at all?

    Are you able to sum up Dempster’s response to Ulrich? I don’t have a subscription to JETS, nor access to it at the moment.

  355. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    kamelda: From one lay person to another may I ask you; if when you sit down tonight to read your Bible do you think that you are holding the inerrant word of God?

  356. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Pete: I’ve no idea what a 9:38 student student is, furthermore I have no teaching responsibility in the chuch I attend. In adition to which I have spoken to some of the ministry team about using ANE materials in exegesis and we had an interesting dialogue. That is to say, it is not as though I hide what I believe, I am open in what I believe to the relevant people and in the appropriate forum.

  357. kamelda said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Dear Richard, apart from what I understand to be ‘incidental’ errors: yes I do.

    It is not only a matter of maintaining a belief about the text but a responding conviction to it as I read that where the God addresses historical fact, He does so accurately — as in the Exodus story which I have been reading.

  358. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Richard
    kamelda can answer for herself in the affirmative- but when you sit down with the Bible do you think the opposite? Do you think that you are reading an err filled Bible? Do you think the apostles and Christ Himself thought such a thing?

  359. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    kamelda: Thank you for your response, do you then agree with Greg Bahnsen that “the inscripturation and copying of God’s Word require us to identify the specific and proper object of inerrancy as the text of the original autographa”?

  360. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Al Mohler has an interesting post on Richard Holloway, a bishop in the Scottish Episcopal church-Hey, wait a minute- that’s not the same ‘Richard’ we’ve been exchanging comments with, is it?

  361. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    #355 Richard,

    Well, you could have said that earlier. When I was sharing my concerns about integrity and making sure you had been honest with your church, why didn’t you just say so then?

    Why didn’t you just make that clear far, far earlier?

    #359 No Gary. Though this Richard does go to an episcopal church, that’s the only connection.

  362. kamelda said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Dear Richard, I don’t know enough about textual issues to debate you on this, to be perfectly honest (nor am I an avid Bahnsen reader, though I believe he was a very good man). I believe God has preserved the factual accuracy of His word as well as the theological accuracy. If I understand correctly, at least some here who advocate the errant inerrancy position still maintain that God has preserved His Word free from error as regards theology. I don’t see that it poses a significant textual problem to believe that God has also preserved the inerrancy of the history the theology arises from.

  363. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    John 17v17 proves there was an original autographa.

    …just to attempt one last crack of the whip :)

  364. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Pete
    Well, you can never be to sure about those things. Besides, a good elbow in Richard’s ribs might help.

  365. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    #363,

    I’ve given him the biggest elbow I feel comfortable giving him already I think.

    Besides, I’ve had your elbow in my ribs, before Gary, and I think you’re better at it :) I did climb down on a number of FV points.

  366. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    You know, it just ocurred to me that ‘Pete’ here might be none other than PETE ENNS! And he is trying to put a fast one on us!

  367. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    kamelda: I am not going to debate textual issues with you so don’t worry about that. I was just interested to see what you held was the proper object of the quality of inerrancy, the Bible in your hand or the original autographs. The CSBI states that “inspiration…applies only to the autographic text of Scripture” and goes on to say that “copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original”. So, in reality, when you sit down tonight to read your Bible you are not holding the inerrant word of God.

    I find it interesting that the CSBI states that the doctrine of inerrancy is not negated by “the use of hyperbole and round numbers” which ultimately means that inerrancy does not, in reality, mean factual accuracy.

  368. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Well my ribs feel fine.

    FV, Pete? You do surprise me!

  369. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    #365,

    Spot on, Gary.

    You see… I “accomodated” to your misunderstanding of who I was, and allowed you to believe something erroneous, so that I could get on with the important work of teaching the truth.

    #366,

    Richard, it’s you saying things like that to lay members of your congregation that have made me push you hard on this. You say “I’m not going to debate textual issues with you so don’t worry about that”, but then go on to subvert the CSBI anyway, and – for all we know – sow seeds of doubt in kamelda’s mind.

    There is more to the issues than the way you spin them. That, in itself, is not straightforward.

  370. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Pete: So I am not allowed to point out the internal probems with the CSBI?

  371. kamelda said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Dear Richard, the Westminster Confession 1, VIII, says: The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal unto them.

    This is what I confess. I trust that God has preserved enough of His inerrant word in translation that accuracy has not been totally lost to us in the English :-). Would not translational errors be on a level with scribal ones — a different matter than inspired errancy, which is what has been under discussion.

  372. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Pete
    You are a gem.

  373. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    #369, Richard,

    Welcome to pastoralia 101: words matter

  374. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    kamelda: What about the sections of the Old Testament in Aramaic?

  375. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Stumbled across “New Testament Textual Criticism in the 21st Century” on Reformed Forum.

  376. Reed Here said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Richard:

    This is the second time you’ve tried this line of thought (the other being an endless set of questions you bandied around with Pete, that you seemed to never “explain”.)

    How about you spell out your points for us front, then give us the “for example?” I.e., tell Kamelda the “big idea” you believe in here, and the “big payoff” you believe it provides.

    I’m sure you mean this proces to be insightful. Yet your pedantic-ness is tiring, not necessarily helpful.

  377. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Richard
    Ok, time out. Pick on someone your own size. Kamelda, by her own admission, is not up to speed on things like that. What, only ‘experts’ with the necessary linguistical equipment, can read the Bible as God intended? How many of the original readers of Paul’s epistles could respond to your challenge?

  378. rfwhite said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Richard: yes, by “original reading” I mean Gentry is working with the concept of the Urtext, though he doesn’t broach that topic directly. And, yes, he interact with the text of Jeremiah. To get into the details would take us too much off the topic of this post.

    Dempster’s response to Ulrich: bearing in mind that Dempster’s focus is not on Ulrich per se but on the contemporary canon debate as a whole, he challenges Ulrich for defining “canon” in such a way that only the explicit listing of a closed collection constitutes evidence of a canon. The challenge comes in the context of an article that treats the literature devoted to the dispute between those who do and do not see the OT as a “done deal” by the time of the early church. Again, to get into the details would be too much off the topic of this post.

  379. GLW Johnson said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Richard
    There my friend here Fowler White. He is very capable in Aramaic, Hebrew-you name it ,he can read it. Go ask him.

  380. kamelda said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Dear Richard, I know nothing of that: perhaps you could take that up with someone else.

    I am a layperson and I confess in a reformed tradition: I do not feel it incumbent upon me to know all the textual issues behind that confession. I do feel it incumbent upon me to know that my Bible is a book in which God addresses me through words inspired by His spirit and in which Christ is present to me by the ministry of the Spirit; and that God does not address the factual nature of our history, on which the events crucial to our faith are founded, in lies. Please be assured that when I read my Bible this evening, I will know it is the Word of God; and that God’s Word does not speak untruths about history any more than about prophecy of future events or words of exhortation, etc.

    I somehow missed the part in your last about hyperbole and round numbers. Round numbers and hyperbole are not errors — untruths, lies — about facts. A round number is a fact: it would only be an error if God inspired someone to write the erroneous round number. This seems to lie on the face of things if one is making proper distinctions? Surely to confuse such a thing is on the level of my childish self thinking that because the bible says ‘children of Abraham’ about people who were his grandchildren many generations removed, God is not being accurate?

  381. rfwhite said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    374 Richard: The Reformed Forum is citing Dan Wallace of Dallas Seminary. In a humorously ironic twist, Dan denies the doctrine of preservation as espoused in WCF.

  382. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Reed,

    My biggest concern is that modern evangelicals are being educated with a basic formula of inerrancy that simply does not work (so the CSBI states some very dogmatic things and then it nuances them in such a way that undermines its original intent) and actually has some disasterous, albeit unintended, consequences. Now I know of noone who means by inerrancy that any version of the Bible is inerrant. All of those advocates I know personally would argue that only the original autographs are inerrant and the goal of textual criticism is to recover the original autographs. Now if only the original autographs are inerrant then that means when I sit and read my NRSV I am not reading the inerrant word of God. It also means that when I sit and read my BHS I am also not reading the inerrant word of God. In reality this means that we do not possess the inerrant word of God today. Ok, it may be close to it but still it isn’t inspired nor inerrant. So by saying that “copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original” will, I fear, undermine the faith of God’s people as none contain the exact text of the original autographs and so none can be said to be the Word of God. Hence I worry that the way modern evangelicals explain inerrancy actually results in their being left without God’s word. It is very much a pastoral concern.

  383. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Richard…

    I used to debate Muslims in both speakers corner, and in the East End of London.

    In all honesty, your view of textual tradition is more Muslim than it is Christian.

    We can be confident that we have 99.9% of the inerrant Word of God. The bits that we are unsure about are clearly well defined.

  384. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    kamelda: My point regarding round numbers is that if the David led 1452 men and the writer of Samuel rounds it up to 1500 men then we have a difference between the historical fact and the reported number. This, the CSBI says, is permissable in its understanding of inerrancy.

  385. greenbaggins said,

    May 22, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Richard, in addition to Pete’s excellent comment, I would only add that no Scriptural truth of any kind hangs on an issue of textual criticism.

  386. kamelda said,

    May 22, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Dear Richard, I don’t see how the example given of a round number changes what I previously said about round numbers being facts, not lies. Perhaps we could say they are an accurate way of speaking of facts that the world has recognized throughout its cultures; but a lie has never been recognized as an accurate way of speaking about facts: ref. Isaac saying that Rebekah was not his wife, and the reaction when that was uncovered.

    From your post to Reed I can see that you are concerned that I and others are attaching significance to a translation that you believe should not belong to it, and that it will weaken our faith to come to terms with this. The significance of my translation of Scripture that I have been trying, though probably not in theologically precise terms, to convey, is the ministry of the Spirit and the presence of Christ, and the preservation of historical as well as theological accuracy. What has been under discussion here has been a view that God inspired factual errors, and that the truth of the Word of God can be redefined so that factual error is accommodated and is insignificant to truth. *This*, not some idea that there are no translational errors in my Bible, is what I have been objecting to: *This*, not a scribal error, would endanger my faith. As your concern and my objection don’t meet, it’s probably better for me to let some more learned person address you (and there are plenty here :-). Thank you for your patience.

  387. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Lane, the numbers in exodus are an issue of textual criticism as is the David-Goliath story (cf. The Story of David and Goliath: Textual and Literary Criticism) so see pp. 36ff. here.

  388. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Pete, please prove that “We can be confident that we have 99.9% of the inerrant Word of God.”

  389. ReformedSinner said,

    May 22, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    #383 Richard,

    Your example of 1452 and 1500 and therefore Bible is not “historical fact” and therefore it is not “truthful” (but in “error”) is a bad one, and demonstrates your lack of understanding in the relationships between fact, truthfulness, and trustworthiness. Especially facts and truths as they function in COMMUNICATION. A fact can be valid, truthful, and trustworthy without it being scientifically accurate the way you demanded it to be or else it’s untruthful and in error. That’s what the statement mean by round numbers and hyperbole: the fact that they exist do not negate their truthfulness.

    Example: if I asked you how far is your home away from your work, and you replied “30 minutes” – can I call you a big fat liar since in reality you probably average 28 minutes to go to work everyday? Are you going to repent of your lies to me before the LORD? No. While the “fact” of your travel time to work is inaccurate, but you’ve successfully communicated a TRUTHFUL and TRUSTWORTHY information to me about your travel time from home to work.

    Example 2: when we read in the newspaper that “hundreds of people have died” when reality there’s over a thousand people dead is that newspaper report in error and untruthful and therefore we can’t trust it? No, the reporter’s reporting event is TRUTHFUL and TRUSTWORTHY.

    What I’m trying to say is your logic that if a fact is not scientifically accurate then it can’t be truthful and must be an error that needs some kind of correction before we can find it trustworthy is a flaw one.

  390. ReformedSinner said,

    May 22, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    #387:

    Texual Criticism pretty such settled the issue, we are confident in the field of Textual Criticism, we have 99.9%+ of the original autograph.

  391. greenbaggins said,

    May 22, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Richard, the link you provided does not point to any specific problem in the text, unless you are talking about the LXX rescension, which is a translation, not the original. I’m not a fan of using the LXX to infer a different Vorlage. It is speculation at best. That is not textual criticism, in my opinion. Textual criticism of the OT would involve purely Hebrew mss, which, as you know very well, hardly differ at all one from another (witness the almost non-existent differences between 1QIs and the Leningrad Codex).

    Furthermore, the burden of proof does not lie with those who accept the veracity of Scripture. It lies with the nay-sayers to prove us wrong. This has never been done.

  392. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Lane, I had to chuckle at your response I am sorry, we obviously have a different understanding of what textual criticism is.

  393. Reed Here said,

    May 22, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Richard: and your chuckle proves … what?

  394. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    #391,

    Yes, Richard, well I think you’ve proven your credentials in this particular field clear enough for the rest of us too, actually.

    A blog does not a theologian make.

  395. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Reed, it proves that I have a sense of humour. If all textual criticism is is comparing Hebrew MSS then of course there will be very few differences but if one sees textual criticism as I and most scholars do then actually there are a far larger number of differences see pp. 103 here.

  396. Richard said,

    May 22, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Pete, be careful with that type of argument. Yes my credentials are not brilliant, (have I claimed otherwise?), but those who do have excellent credentials agree with me rather then you so….

  397. Reed Here said,

    May 22, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Not a very good one Richard. Somewhat condescending as a matter of fact.

  398. greenbaggins said,

    May 22, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    This is especially funny if, as Richard obviously does not know, textual criticism is one of my strongest fields.

  399. Pete Myers said,

    May 22, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    #395,

    Richard… what I mean by “credentials” is more the way one speaks about an issue.

    You speak with the weighty loftiness of someone with several doctorates on the matter. But when pushed on many of the issues by people here (all of whom are cleverer than me), your ability to engage with opposition, and your understanding of the issues involved is demonstrated to not quite reach the lofty heights of your rhetoric.

    I would thoroughly recommend Thielicke’s “A Little Exercise for Young Theologians” for a few lessons in tone. I myself try to read it at the beginning of every term, I recognise that I fall fowl of many of his warnings… especially on the web.

  400. greenbaggins said,

    May 22, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    “I and most scholars do”

    “those who do have excellent credentials agree with me rather then you”

    Textbook examples of the ad populam fallacy, rather poorly done, in my opinion. Us poor dolts in the church supposedly cannot answer any of the critics of the ivory tower theologians, since they obviously know more than we do. Truth is not arrived at by a counting of noses, Richard. If that were true, then Jesus would be false in all his pronouncements, since all the learned scribes and Pharisees, the scholars of His day, disagreed with Him.

  401. rfwhite said,

    May 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    381 Richard: before things turn more surly, let me chime in with a bit more. Having myself taught NT courses for several years on text and canon, there is much in your statement there (381) that I can appreciate and sympathize, expert in the field or not. You raise legitimate pastoral concerns, in my opinion (though your rhetorical flourishes are sometimes prone to alienate). I too “worry that the way modern evangelicals explain inerrancy actually results in their being left without God’s word.” That is why I believe it’s critical to recognize, as I’m sure you do, that underlying your comment in 381 is a set of assumptions about the goal, method, and results of text criticism, each of which has been debated in the historical ebb and flow of biblical studies. To be sure, there are majority views on the issues and those majorities shift over time — but that is beside the point I’m getting to. What I have in mind is that at the heart of the text-critical debates is the question of the relation of text and canon. Childs argued, rightly in my view, that the goal, method, and results of text criticism must be consistent with the text’s role as canon. In other words, we need to do justice to the text as an authoritative document received by the church, not just as an authoritative document issued by the author. So I ask, does your theory of text criticism take the reality of canon into account? If so, how is that reality reflected in your definition of the goal, method, and results of text criticism?

  402. zach said,

    May 22, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    GLW or Green Baggins
    Do you and the viewpoint you represent see a distinction between inerrancy and infallibility?

  403. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 22, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Richard,

    The issue you raised concerning rounding goes back to the question: What counts as an error?

    As one who measures things a lot, I’m not really bothered by round-off. When 1 Ki 7.7 tells us that a circular pit was 10 cubits wide and 30 cubits around, I say, “Good to one significant digit, which is about all that could be expected from measuring tools of the time.”

    So I think the foundational understanding of “error” is different between us, which may account for some of the difference of opinion.

    Jeff Cagle

  404. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 22, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Sorry, 1 Ki 7.23. I was approximately there. ;)

  405. Ron Henzel said,

    May 22, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Richard,

    In comment 366, you wrote:

    I find it interesting that the CSBI states that the doctrine of inerrancy is not negated by “the use of hyperbole and round numbers” which ultimately means that inerrancy does not, in reality, mean factual accuracy.

    You are confusing accuracy with precision.

  406. Ron Henzel said,

    May 22, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Regarding what I just wrote in comment 403:

    Hyperbole actually has nothing to do with either accuracy or precision. It is a rhetorical device. Those who confuse hyperbole with inaccuracy simply prove that, when it comes to the customary use of human language, they have an ear made of tin—or are much more rationalistic than I’ve been accused of being for saying that all truth is ultimately propositional.

  407. jared said,

    May 22, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    And all propositions are ultimately metaphoric. Weird isn’t it? But we certainly don’t need to get off on another tangent…

  408. Ron Henzel said,

    May 22, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Jeff,

    You wrote:

    As one who measures things a lot, I’m not really bothered by round-off. When 1 Ki 7.7 tells us that a circular pit was 10 cubits wide and 30 cubits around, I say, “Good to one significant digit, which is about all that could be expected from measuring tools of the time.”

    Or, we can just say that the writer didn’t really think it was necessary to tell his readers that, technically speaking, the pit was actually 31.4159 cubits around, perhaps because he knew they would have considered him the ancient equivalent of a pencil-necked slide-rule geek with too much time on his hands. It never ceases to amaze me that there are those who, when they read their Bibles, completely forget that as elementary school students they were required to learn how to round off numbers as a mathematical skill, and this included exercises in which imprecise (i.e., rounded-off) numbers were the correct answers!

  409. Ron Henzel said,

    May 22, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Jared,

    You wrote:

    And all propositions are ultimately metaphoric.

    Unless they’re uttered by teenagers, in which case they are ultimately similes. As in the case of the teenage girl who said, “Like, I don’t really like like him; I just, like, like him.”

  410. Richard said,

    May 23, 2009 at 3:00 am

    Reed: It wasn’t meant to be condescending, such is the problem of a toneless medium coupled with a rather dry sense of humour. Apologies to all concerned.

    Lane: I admire any man, or woman for that matter, whose strongest field is textual criticism. Have you read Susan Groom’s Linguistic Analysis of Biblical Hebrew? The issue I had with #390 is that it does not seem to concur with the books I have been reading on the subject who do use the LXX to infer a different Vorlage &c.

    rfwhite: As I understand it the goal of textual criticism is to establish the final form of the text, of which there may be multiple versions, these would be called the ‘original version’. So for example, we should be able to differentiate between a developing text and a developed text. How does this relate to the issue of canon? I also like Childs’ project, however I don’t believe he adequately answered the question of why we should prioritise the MT as canon. As I have noted above and which as far as I am aware has not been dealt with, the apostolic church used the LXX which included Edition I of Jeremiah attested to by 4QJer^b hence upon what grounds should we go with Edition II as found in the MT and attested by both QJer^a and 4QJer^c?

    I hope that goes some way to answering your question.

    Here you can read pp. 205-212 of F. M. Cross’ essay “The Fixation of the Text of the Hebrew Bible”.

  411. Richard said,

    May 23, 2009 at 3:20 am

    This (pp. 31) is a nice and simple table charting the different goals in textual criticism and those that champion them.

  412. Ron Henzel said,

    May 23, 2009 at 5:17 am

    Richard,

    You wrote:

    As I understand it the goal of textual criticism is to establish the final form of the text, of which there may be multiple versions, these would be called the ‘original version’.

    Then you are working with a very novel definition of textual criticism, indeed! Hitherto it the goal of textual criticism has been very consistently defined as that of “establish[ing] the original text as it left the hands of the author” (Cross and Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed., [Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1997], 1595, emphasis mine), or that of “determin[ing] which variant readings in the ancient manuscripts most likely preserve the original wording and then reconstruct a text that best represents the autographs,” (Elwell, ed., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed., [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001], 1178, emphasis mine). Or again: “The textual critic,” wrote Bruce Metzger, “seeks to ascertain from the divergent copies which form of the text should be regarded as most nearly conforming to the original,” (The Text of the New Testament, 3rd ed., [Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1992], v, emphasis mine).

    But, since you have essentially and repeatedly denied the existence of originals, it should seem that to you the goal of textual criticism is a complete waste of time.

  413. Ron Henzel said,

    May 23, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Richard,

    Regarding the helpful chart you shared with us in comment #410: since Metzger finds the earliest pursuit of the truly historic goal of textual criticism back to the 2nd century (Metzger, ibid., 150), it confirms my assessment of its utter novelty of your minority approach (which I assume, based on all your comments, is the Brotzman-Deist-Würthwein approach—but why don’t we just call it the Deist approach for short?), going back at most 30 years. And, of course, the reason for that is fairly obvious: it assumes the existence of multiple redactors who have supposedly operated on much of the canon and shaped the text in highly substantive ways, and did not merely make incidental editorial changes.

    I see that Eugene Ulrich has simply taken the same assumptions and turned them toward a different goal. I also notice that, if I’m correct in identifying your position, Emmanuel Tov is not a member of your camp.

  414. kamelda said,

    May 23, 2009 at 6:04 am

    I talked to my husband about this yesterday evening and he explained to me that Richard and I were probably using inerrancy in different ways.

    1. So when I speak of inerrancy I mean something inherent to the Word of God, simply by being God’s Word — God does not err when He speaks. My translation of the Scriptures, in so far as it has been faithfully translated, is the Word of God: as such it is inerrant.

    2. When others here speak of inerrancy they are referring to external tests that God’s Word passes, with regard to textual criticism (and there are apparently differing views of textual criticism). I think this would be Richard’s view. Thus Richard cannot say that my translation of the Scriptures is inerrant and might not be able to say this of any text?

    3. Is it accurate to say that others are thinking in further terms of passing the tests of historical criticism and since they don’t believe the Bible is passing such a test, they want to redefine inerrancy to include historical, factual error? Unless we do this presumably we cannot think of even texts that are established as the correct or original texts as inerrant for they doesn’t pass h-c tests (though I believe there are differing views here of h-c also).

    I’m not trying to re-enter the discussion but found that clarification very helpful and without discussing further myself, wondered if others could verify whether this is an accurate understanding of the usage of inerrancy?

    I ought to clarify that though I know so little about textual or historical criticism, I’m grateful for those who engage in it: I don’t believe it useless simply because it doesn’t get to define my understanding of and response to the Word of God.

    Thank you very much to all for your kind tolerance of my concerns and questions in this discussion. In fact it has been profitable and strengthening to my faith to consider these things; and many comments have contributed to that. I appreciate very much the pastors who keep discussions in this area grounded in a response of faith to the text, so that they can be spiritually profitable.

  415. Richard said,

    May 23, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Lane: May I also direct you to the second and third paragraphs on pp. 4 of this by Talmon.

    Ron: My goal would be a mixture of 2, 4, 5 & 6. In terms of these being ‘novel’ and only 30 years old etc; as you well know the discoveries at Qumran revolutionised textual criticism of the OT and considering that they were only discovered in 1947 this should come as of no surprise.

  416. Nathan said,

    May 23, 2009 at 7:51 am

    #390,

    Almost non-existent differences between MT Isaiah and 1QIsa? Funny, I’ve been reading through Isa 41-42 in 1QIsa, and it contains differences from the MT in almost every line, including many differences in verbal forms. Perhaps you could argue that these are all somehow insignificant, but you cannot claim that the differences are “almost non-existent.”

  417. rfwhite said,

    May 23, 2009 at 7:56 am

    <412 Ron Henzel: as I see it, Richard’s comments have raised an important consideration that is often taken for granted. Let me frame my point this way: Are you satisfied that Warfield (e.g.) and others were right to follow Hort in defining the goal of text criticism according to the goal of classical studies (i.e. to present exactly the original words of the biblical document, so far as they can now be determined from surviving documents)? Is this definition of the goal adequate?

  418. rfwhite said,

    May 23, 2009 at 8:20 am

    411 Ron Henzel: Let me add this to my comment in 416. Lest we think this discussion is entirely off topic, it seems to me that our definition of the goal of text criticism is directly related to our (pastoral) answer to the question (raised by Richard in 381) that any congregant might ask, “what exactly is this document that I have in my hands”?

  419. rfwhite said,

    May 23, 2009 at 8:33 am

    One more time: Is there utility to distinguishing between the original text “as issued by its author” and “as received by his audience” — between the text received as canon by the church and the text issued as canon by the author?

  420. Ron Henzel said,

    May 23, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Richard,

    I did not actually say that the textual-critical goals of the scholars listed in rows 4, 5 and 6 on the chart were novel. I only explicitly pointed to the Brotzman-Deist-Würthwein in row 2, although it’s apparent that Ulrich’s view in row 6 is even more novel. The reason I pointed to the Brotzman-Deist-Würthwein view was because it is the one that most obviously conforms to the goal you stated to Dr. White (“As I understand it the goal of textual criticism is to establish the final form of the text,” emphasis mine) in a manner which assumes that there actually was no single original form that could be called “the autograph” (as your view holds). As a definition of textual criticism (which has a goal statement inherent in its definition), this is highly novel, and it is not an inevitable conclusion that we must draw from the Qumran evidence.

    In your view, as you stated it elsewhere, that from the beginning there were “double literary editions” of books such as Jeremiah. And so you posit a “plurality of final forms” which precludes the traditional concept of the original autographs. I have responded to that assertion and demonstrated that it is not supported by Tov’s writings, here. You were the first person to recommend Tov, and yet you draw conclusions pretty much opposite from his. In my opinion, as a Qumran scholar he stands head and shoulders above the radical ones you follow.

    The primary manner in which Qumran “revolutionized” OT textual criticism in this case was that it provided evidence for what scholars had long speculated: that actual Hebrew manuscripts lay behind the variant readings found in the Septuagint version of Jeremiah. But demonstrating this point is far from proving that the book traditionally ascribed to the 7th century BC prophet was still a work in progress right up to about the 4th or 3rd century BC. How the variant readings came into existence remains a matter of speculation.

  421. Richard said,

    May 23, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Ron: I think that you may have misread Tov one one or two points that are relevant here. I certainly disagree with him on a few things, but he certainly accepts a plurality of final forms. It is from Tov that I learned to differentiate between Edition I and Edition II of Jeremiah. Tov argues in his book that both are authoritative final forms but of different editions produced at different times. Let’s take Gray’s Anatomy for example, it was first published in 1858 and in 2008 we saw the 40th edition. Now there are three possibilities, (1) we could say that the first edition in 1858 is the final form we want to be reconstructing by comparing all known texts, (2) we could say that the 2008 edition is the final form, or (3) we could say that all 40 editions are final forms that are authentic, authoritative but have been updated owing to changing circumstances in the community of practice. We could also merge 2 and 3 quite easily. [NB: This is also a good example for biblical authorship, whilst the current edition is called Gray's anatomy I would suggest that virtually nothing, if anything at all, is originally from Gray.]

  422. rfwhite said,

    May 23, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Just trying to get my bearings … What is the definition of “authoritative final form”? I presume it’s defined as that form of the document that the community received and used, distinct from that form of the document that the author issued. Also, is there not a distinction to be made between that which is authoritative and that which is canonical? Odd as it may sound, these questions do get to the topic of Reed’s post, reframed a bit by Richard’s 381 comment, it seems to me. But the moderator should decide.

  423. Richard said,

    May 23, 2009 at 9:50 am

    rfwhite: By the term “authoritative final form” I do mean the form of a document that the community of faith received as authoritative. As for distinguishing between that which is authoritative and that which is canonical I wouldn’t mind you fleshing that out a bit.

    What does amaze me is that both Edition I and Edition II of Jeremiah are deemed to be authoritative and canonical and yet the differ significantly!

    I also find Vanderkam’s conclusions important but I’ve not fully digested their implications:

    As nearly as we can tell, there was no canon of scripture in Second Temple Judaism. That is, before 70 CE, no authoritative body of which we know drew up a list of books that alone were regarded as supremely authoritative, a list from which none could be subtracted and to which none could be added.[cf. here]

  424. Pete Myers said,

    May 23, 2009 at 9:57 am

    413 Kamelda

    Well done for trying to tackle the complexities of the issue! I certainly think you’re on the right kinds of lines.

    Hopefully this helps (and, as far as I understand things, even this is still a little simplistic!)… and Lane can correct anything I’ve got wrong here:

    1) When Moses first spoke the 10 commandments, he was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and as such the words he used were God’s Word through him, and hence completely truthful (God’s Word is Truth). A particular, more specific, aspect of being truthful means containing no errors, hence you could describe what he said as “inerrant” (this could be even more carefully defined!).

    2) When Moses first wrote down the 10 commandments, in the book of the Law, he was also inspired by the Holy Spirit then. So, this first written version of the book of the Law was also God’s Word, also Truth, and hence also inerrant.

    3) The Book of the Law was subsequently changed and altered by editors and writers who were also inspired by the Holy Spirit (some examples of later changes are place names, etc. that were “updated” for the people of Israel). Some of this likely involved re-organising some of the material. One of these later writers/editors was Joshua (Joshua 24v26). It is possible that some of the material that entered into the Book of the Law was from a source that was uninspired, and equally possible that one of the “editors” fiddled around with the text, but wasn’t inspired either. However

    4) The 5 “books of Moses” that we have now (the first five books of the Bible), were finally edited together into a version that everyone recognised was exactly what God wanted to say by an editor who was inspired. This “final version” was widely accepted by God’s people as God’s Word (because it was!), and was truthful, and therefore inerrant. Nobody after this moment would have “changed” the text deliberately, because it was the text God had given. Even though some material may have entered some of the canonical books from sources that weren’t inspired originally, they would only have been included in the “final version” of these books under the inspiration of the final editor. Also, even if some people had illegitimately fiddled around with some versions of the books before this, God made sure that this final editor knew exactly what to include and exclude, and in exactly what order (because they were inspired). This particular person sitting in front of this particular manuscript may sometimes be called “the redactor“, “the editor“, or “the author” of Exodus, and this particular manuscript he is sitting in front of may sometimes be called “the original autograph“, “the final autograph“, “the final edition“, etc. etc.

    Richard’s particular sticking point, is, he denies that this version ever existed, and he instead thinks (I think) that there were a few different “final redactors” who attempted to produce a “final version” of some of these books… but no one in particular of these was “inspired”, and no one in particular of these produced a definitive final version.

    5) This “original” or “final” version is the authoritative Word of God written down for all time. Lot’s of copies of it were made. Over time, different copies introduced small copyist errors. With lots of copies being made in different places, scholars can work out what the original must have said pretty much word for word (except for a tiny number of minor places) by comparing thousands of these copies. Where these copies correspond to the original text they are the inspired Word of God, and therefore “true”/”inerrant”. The work of scholars in trying to figure out what the “original” said is the work of trying to find out exactly what God’s true (and therefore inerrant) Word is.

    6) It was also translated into a number of different languages, these are not God’s inspired Word in the strict sense, they’re like our English Bibles. Sometimes, on extremely rare occasions, when scholars are really unsure as to what a text says using only the original language manuscripts… the translations can be used to determine the most likely possibility for the original text.

    7) Inasmuch as our translations convey the meaning of that original text, it is God’s inspired Word, and therefore truthful and inerrant.

  425. Ron Henzel said,

    May 23, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Dr. White,

    You asked:

    Are you satisfied that Warfield (e.g.) and others were right to follow Hort in defining the goal of text criticism according to the goal of classical studies (i.e. to present exactly the original words of the biblical document, so far as they can now be determined from surviving documents)? Is this definition of the goal adequate?

    I am mostly satisfied with it the way you state it here, but I would add what I believe are fairly commonsense nuances. At least they are matters of commonsense to anyone who has dealt with very old documents.

    We often forget how much language changes over the course of only a few centuries. When we approach the Hebrew text of the Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, it’s easy to forget that the time span between the original autographs and our earliest manuscripts is as great and often greater than the time span between our current editions of the KJV and the original edition. Since that original edition, there have been spelling changes that are reflected in our edition, and yet even the most fanatical KJV-only person (as far as I know) does not insist that the only valid copy of the KJV is one that is identical to the 1611 edition.

    My view does not rule out minor editorial changes designed to smooth out the text for later readers. There were also augmentations to the text, such as what we find in Deuteronomy 34:5-12, which were probably authorized by the original author.

    You wrote:

    [...]it seems to me that our definition of the goal of text criticism is directly related to our (pastoral) answer to the question (raised by Richard in 381) that any congregant might ask, “what exactly is this document that I have in my hands”?

    I agree.

    You wrote:

    Is there utility to distinguishing between the original text “as issued by its author” and “as received by his audience” — between the text received as canon by the church and the text issued as canon by the author?

    I’m glad you refer to “the text issued as canon by the author,” because I believe the original authors realized they were writing Holy Scripture. I believe there is utility in this, but I do not think the differences are great, and whatever differences exist in later “editions” (other than copyist errors) are designed to enhance our understanding of the meaning of the text.

  426. Richard said,

    May 23, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Now if I may quickly link this into the issue at hand; for myself, the authoritative text is the final form of a book and I accept that there are multiple final forms of some books. These have been received by the community of faith and are God’s word to his covenant people and as such are authoritative. It is not as if I say, “Hey we don’t have the inerrant originals so let’s give up and go home” rather “We have God’s word in manuscripts that have been deemed to be authoritative by the community of faith that we belong to so let’s seek to live in humble obedience to it”. It is my contention that this way of explaining things is supported by the evidence we have, it doesn’t have the unintended concequences that many modern presentation of inerrancy have (cf. #381) and it ultimately strengthens the faith of God’s elect.

  427. Ron Henzel said,

    May 23, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Richard,

    Regarding your comment #420: while Tov acknowledges the existence of later editions, he has no problem with affirming that “Jeremiah dictated to his scribe Baruch the scroll containing ‘all the words that I have spoken to you—concerning Israel and Judah and all the nations—from the first time I spoke to you in the days of Josiah to this day’ (Jer. 36:2),” (Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible,187-188). And as I have also pointed out, he also has no problem with attributing to Jeremiah those portions of his book found in the MT but not in the LXX. He sees the existence of later editions as a post-authorship phenomenon.

  428. Ron Henzel said,

    May 23, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Richard,

    I think where you lose many of logically is when you write (in comment #381):

    Now if only the original autographs are inerrant then that means when I sit and read my NRSV I am not reading the inerrant word of God. It also means that when I sit and read my BHS I am also not reading the inerrant word of God. In reality this means that we do not possess the inerrant word of God today.

    On the contrary, if (a) I have enough very reliable copies of the inerrant originals to critically reconstruct the autographs with a very high degree of confidence, and (b) none of the unresolved textual difficulties affect any major point of faith or practice (or even minor ones), then the question of the absolute inerrancy of our copies is rendered completely moot. Likewise, if I have an excellent translation of an excellent critical text, for all practical purposes I have the meaning of the inerrant originals.

  429. Richard said,

    May 23, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Pete: re #423 – could you provide a time frame for your statements in 4 and 5, i.e. when was the Pentateuch finally edited together and when were lots of copies made? Also what textual family does it come from, or in other words what text today best represents it?

  430. Todd said,

    May 23, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Richard,

    I have to commend you for hanging on as you seem to be the last errantist on this thread taking our questions and challenges. This is probably a common question – but if Paul warned us against myths (I Tim 1:4), what is the force of that warning if Paul himself could not always distinguish myth from historical reality?

    Thanks

  431. rfwhite said,

    May 23, 2009 at 10:50 am

    On authority and canonicity, I mean that the category of authoritative is broader than the category of canonical. For example, we know there were documents that were authoritative but that are not canonical. Certain documents (referred to in the extant NT texts: 1 Cor 5:9; Col 4:16; Phil 3:1), whose authority is on par with the extant NT writings, are absent from the NT canon. That which is authoritative is not necessarily canonical, and that which is not canonical may nonetheless function as authoritative.

  432. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 23, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Ron: #407 is hilarious. Thanks for the belly laugh.

  433. rfwhite said,

    May 23, 2009 at 11:00 am

    And to loop my point into Ron Henzel’s point in 429, would it be correct to say that there can be practical parity between that which is authoritative (the critically reconstructed text and its translations) and that which is canonical (the text as originally issued and originally received) even if there is not an absolutely certain identity between the two?

  434. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    May 23, 2009 at 11:29 am

    FWIW, I engage a first-rate scholar on textual criticism who implies that…

    Some or most Inerrantists make Jesus Christ the handmaiden to the Bible,

    And

    That some inerrantists seemingly believe that the Bible died on the cross for them because of their affirmation of the doctrine of inerrancy.

    If you care to read this, click here.

  435. Pete Myers said,

    May 23, 2009 at 11:43 am

    #428, Richard,

    All I was doing in #423 was trying to help kamelda get a handle on the generic process of producing any canonical book, and therefore the different things that inerrant may refer to. Because the concepts can be quite hard to understand abstractly, I talked through the process of manuscript authorship, copying, translation and textual criticism by using the Pentateuch as an example.

    What I was describing was generic and abstract, but not specifically what I think exaclty what happened for the Pentateuch, it was merely an example of what the generic picture would look like for the Pentateuch.

    As it happens, I’m not ideologically set against the idea that some changes could have been to the Pentateuch even into the period of Josianic reform, or maybe even the Second Temple period. However, the sort of changes that I would be willing to hypothesise happening that late in Israel’s history would certainly be no where near where much of liberal scholarship tries to assert (i.e. the “reading in” of Prophetic religion into the Pentateuch)… rather the updating of place names would be the sort of thing I’m talking about.

    However, that is far too complicated (and hypothetical) a picture to try and be outlining for someone like kamelda, who has told us she is an interested layman, and is trying to understand the different ways people are using “inerrant” (which is all my comment was trying to clear up). What’s more: many, many, many of these sorts of textual critical questions at this kind of level can be said to be almost totally insignificant for the faith of the church.

    If Josiah’s court scribe changed a place name in Genesis (from an old name to one with more widespread usage), so that the unbelieving people would have less barriers to reading and understanding God’s Word in their context, the lessons that can be drawn for that are minimal at best.

    Again, I’m not even asserting that any of that did happen with the Pentateuch in particular. I’m just outlining for kamelda what the process of textual authorship and “recovery” is… and then sketching a picture for you of the sorts of limits I understand there to be on such an outline.

  436. Richard said,

    May 23, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Todd: I think Paul is referring to the same thing in verse 14 which are “Jewish fables” and which John Gill notes refers to “the traditions of the elders; anything that was not true; or if it was, yet idle, vain, trifling, and unprofitable”.

    rfwhite:

    re #430 – I agree with you here.

    re #432 – I am not sure I am following what you are saying.

  437. Richard said,

    May 23, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Pete: I understand that, I would still be interested in your thoughs to the questions I posed when you get the time.

    It’s interesting that you mention Josiah, have you read How the Bible became a book?

  438. kamelda said,

    May 23, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    (Just wanted to say thanks Mr. Myers, for your kind response re: usages of inerrant.)

  439. Richard said,

    May 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    For the record, Pete’s explanation of my position is wrong but as his focus wasn’t really on what I am arguing we can ignore that.

  440. Pete Myers said,

    May 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    #436

    I don’t have any particularly strong views on the matter, and no I haven’t read that book.

    My interests currently lie in Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology… specifically in the way those two disciplines interact. My primary in interest in this thread (and in the whole Enns controversy) is the fact that much of what is being put forward is, and assumes, lots of systematic theology, yet the whole thesis seems to be presented under a different banner.

    “When we do textual criticism honestly, we have to conclude this about some of our old doctrines of scripture…” is primarily a systematic theological statement, not a textual critical one… and assumes lots of systematic theology itself, that’s why I’ve been pushing you in the particular ways I have.

    I’m not trying to say that I’m a specialist in BT and ST or anything! Simply that, at the current level of learning I have, those areas are more important for my life, godliness and ministry than a deeper knowledge of text critical issues.

    The most serious level of reading and thought I’ve given to textual critical questions is in the context of debate with Muslims, since, they are simply obsessed with the issue. For much of that time, however, I wasn’t clear about how presuppositional arguments worked, and wish I had been, as, with hindsight, that would have been far more useful in apologetic dialogue.

  441. Pete Myers said,

    May 23, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    #437

    You’re welcome kamelda. I hope you are enriched in your walk with the Lord as you think about some of these issues.

    Thanks also for coming back to say thanks. I’m often one of the other 9 lepers when it comes to blog comments I’m afraid, and fail all to often to thank people on the web.

    #438

    You’re perfectly entitled to say that.

    However was my outline of your position flat out wrong or simply imprecise?

  442. cbovell said,

    May 23, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    RFWhite:
    The distinction you make above between “text as issued by author” and “text as received by church” may not bear out in the course of historical research. Wouldn’t have to be more like “texts as issued by editors, redactors, and scribes” and “texts as received by various faith communities” (all plural)?

  443. rfwhite said,

    May 23, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    435 Richard: in 432 I’m asking if we can say this, though now in a bit more simplified manner: for all the purposes for which Scripture was given, the critically reconstructed text is on par with the autographs.

  444. Richard said,

    May 23, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Pete, a little of both. You are correct in what I deny but not in what I affirm.
    By the close of stage 4 you have the Pentateuch (GELND) as Mosaic content (M), plus Joshua content (J) plus and Editor (E) and a final redactor (R). The original autograph is then MJER. You then say that this complete work was copied many times by many people and error crept in. I shall ignore the many major problems with this construction as this will take us too far afield.

    You go on to say that I believe that there were a few different “final redactors” who attempted to produce a “final version” of some of these books and no one in particular of these produced a definitive final version. The problem is that I don’t believe this because I reject your prevous reconstruction of the history of biblical composition, or in this case the composition of the Pentateuch; I would defend the view that the Pentateuch as we know it (GELND) is a post-exilic construction that however individual books eventually find their way into three main locations Egypt, Palestine and Babylon from which we get the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Old Greek and the MT families. See the statement that starts 6 lines from the bottom on pp. 4 here beginning “One has to consider…”.

  445. Pete Myers said,

    May 23, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Richard,

    I’ll say this as clearly as I can: I was not outlining the textual tradition of the Pentateuch as I understand it.

    I think it’s pretty clear, though, that there doesn’t seem to be much understanding flowing in our interactions.

  446. rfwhite said,

    May 23, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    441 cbovell: as a matter of historical research, I think you’re right: we do have to acknowledge a plurality of texts received by the community in its parts and from that plurality is reconstructed the text received by the community as a whole. The idea I’m trying to explore and to gain some light from is whether or to what extent the process of text reconstruction mimics the process of canon recognition. As growing ecumenical communication exposed the local and provincial character of many of the objections to particular books, so growing ecumenical communication exposes the local and provincial character of many of the objections to particular variants. In the history of canon recognition, the larger core of received books had an overriding influence: no book was accepted whose content was seen to contradict the witness of the larger collection. Something comparable happens in the history of text reconstruction: no particular reading is accepted whose content is seen to contradict the transcriptional or intrinsic probabilities of the whole. In the meantime, however, it is not as if the community has no authority.

  447. cbovell said,

    May 23, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    RFWhite (#445)

    I made the suggestion to parallel canon and text in my book, Inerrancy and the Spiritual Formation of Younger Evangelicals. On p 116, I write:

    “The situation mirrored that which arose within the history of the transmission of the sacred texts. Sanders explains: ‘In the early history of transmission tradents of the text, both scribes and translators, could focus on the need(s) of the community to understand the messages of the text, even to the extent of modestly altering or clarifying archaic or out-moded expressions so that their community could understand what it might mean to them.’ We have suggested above that the needs of the situation at hand allowed Torah teachers flexibility with their open canon, bounded ultimately by their personal (or collective) understanding of how God was present working among his people. In this regard, Sanders again: ‘the primary character of canon was still its relevance to the comunities it served. Once the text could no longer be modified to show relevance, hermeneutic rules were devised to break open the frozen text…When stories could no longer be added…the stabilized canon was subjected to new ways of reading…’” (I am referring to James A. Sanders, “The Issue of Closure,” in The Canon Debate.

    What do you think?

    Also I always think that it should be more explicitly stated that there are multiple communities making conscientious decisions regarding canon and texts according to their various historical needs and contexts. I wanted to ask you, are you reaching for some abstraction, “the church,” to you achieve that once and for all functional, canonical authority since one is not historically available?

  448. Vern Crisler said,

    May 23, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    #443
    Richard, I like your MJER, but I don’t understand your claim that the Pentateuch is a post-exilic compilation. Isn’t that what unbelievers believe?

    Caveat: MJER should not rule out the view that Noah, Shem, or the patriarchs made contributions to the sacred text. Moses should not be thought of as entirely original.

    At the least, MJER makes a lot more sense than JEDP.

    Vern

  449. rfwhite said,

    May 23, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    446 cbovell I can’t commit to the analysis that variants in the texts are due to an open canon situation. I can see the plausibility of something comparable to it like this: as the agents of revelation died off, there was a shift in focus from “that which was spoken” to “that which was written” and to the need to preserve the original apostolic-prophetic witness in and by the church. It seems to me that the post-apostolic church’s recognition of the canon answered to the apostles’ intention that their witness-tradition be preserved. So the reconstruction of text would seem to be comparable. That is, it would seem that the church, ecumenically conceived, moves beyond local and provincial apographa. So, yes, the church is an authority, but it remains a subordinate authority, that is, an authority of Christ through the text. I don’t know if this is right or making sense; I’m thinking through this and piecing this together as we move along.

  450. rfwhite said,

    May 23, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Sorry; 448, penultimate sentence should read: “So, yes, the church is … an authority under Christ through the text.”

  451. May 23, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    [...] Inerrancy, Uncategorized) Tags: Bible, Enns, Inerrancy The interaction on the previous post (Incoherent Inerrancy) has been both irenic and helpful. In my estimation, our brothers who no longer affirm the orthodox [...]

  452. cbovell said,

    May 23, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    RFWhite:
    I talk about the shift from an oral word of God to a textual word of God in my book. I mention how the new category of prophet in second temple Judaism is the interpreter of texts. I’d be interested to know what you thought of chaps 5-6 of my book where I mention these topics as topics that younger evangelicals struggle with but are not dealt with enough by inerrantists.

  453. Richard said,

    May 24, 2009 at 3:30 am

    Pete: Ok, when you do outline the textual tradition of the Pentateuch as you understand it I would offer the following pointers:

    1. Approximate dates as a general timeline is helpful.
    2. Keep in mind that Israel was primarily an oral society until the exile, although the shift to text began under the monarchical period. This is actually very important, whilst ancient societies did write at the time of Moses (Egyptians, Ugarit, Mesapotamia) there is a qualitative difference between ancient Israel and these and this is discussed well in How the Bible Became a Book.
    3. You are also going to have to account for the diversity between some specific books, (e.g. Exodus) which can’t be explained using the copyist error argument.

    rfwhite: I don’t think we can say that the critically reconstructed text is on par with the autographs.

    Vern: MJER is my summary of Pete’s argument which may not actually be his argument. I don’t adhere to this, rather I would be more inclined to go with JEPD. I quite like Ulrich’s argument:

    Whether we imagine authors or tradents or schools, such as J and P, along the lines of the Documentary Hypothesis, or whether we attempt revised hypotheses, we are most likely left with this conclusion: the narratives and the law codes that now constitute the Torah were composed through a repeated process of older traditions being retold in a new context and in a new form, with the resulting composition on the one hand faithful to the spirit of the old tradition and their intent, and on the other creatively revised to teach the people and help guide their future destiny.

  454. Pete Myers said,

    May 24, 2009 at 6:17 am

    #452

    Richard, I take it that, whatever one’s position on a number of specific textual-critical questions, from Sinai onwards, Israel became a “people of the book”.

    Even supposing if (and I’m not saying I think this is the case, but even if it were the case) that the vast majority of Israelites couldn’t read, the national religion was still codified in a written Word, and was liturgically grounded in the written word (rather than just the oral tradition).

    I stipulate this, because, post Sinai, Israel had a written authoritative Word of God, and the Israelite cult centred around it (i.e. the preached Word of the priests) and it’s enacted pictures (i.e. the Temple & it’s system).

  455. Pete Myers said,

    May 24, 2009 at 6:18 am

    Oh… for goodness sake… “Temple” was a bad choice of word. Replace it with Tabernacle. You know what I mean.

  456. Richard said,

    May 24, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Pete,

    A ‘people of the scroll’ would probably be a more acurate saying but even then we should keep in mind that until the monarchy writing was sporadic as Israel would not have developed the infrastructure to support it. There are some fascinating books on the development of writing in Israel and how this relates to biblical composition , I would certainly recommend having a read of the following when you get the chance:

    1. Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible by Karel van der Toorn.
    2. Writing on the Tablet of the Heart by David Carr.
    3. How the Bible Became a Book by William Schinedewind.

  457. rfwhite said,

    May 24, 2009 at 11:12 am

    452 Richard: allow me to clarify. Would you say that any critically reconstructed text is sufficient to accomplish all the purposes for which Scripture was given? Or do we have to have the autographs in hand to have a text sufficient to accomplish those purposes? More broadly, what is the nature of that text which is sufficient to accomplish the purposes for which Scripture was given?

  458. Richard said,

    May 24, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I would say that critically reconstructed texts are sufficient to accomplish the purposes for which Scripture was given (teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness &c.) but that does not mean we have God’s inerrant word, that is the autographic text.

  459. rfwhite said,

    May 24, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Richard: again, seeking clarification and understanding, so would you say that critically reconstructed texts are sufficient to accomplish the purposes for which the autographs of Scripture were given?

  460. Richard said,

    May 24, 2009 at 11:47 am

    rfwhite, if by the autographs you mean the Urtext then no, but if you mean the final form then yes.

  461. Richard said,

    May 24, 2009 at 11:48 am

    For clarification; don’t forget that I deny the existence of an Urtext.

  462. Richard said,

    May 24, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Do read Talmon’s essay here and especially the diagram on pp. 37. I would accept we have evidence to go back to HB and HP but I can’t see the evidence for H*.

  463. rfwhite said,

    May 24, 2009 at 11:57 am

    RIchard: clarifying: how would you distinguish the purposes accomplished by an Urtext from the purposes accomplished by a reconstructed text? What conditions have to exist for there to be a distinction between the purposes accomplished by the texts in question?

  464. Richard said,

    May 24, 2009 at 11:59 am

    rfwhite, not sure if you read #460. I see multiple final forms rather than an Urtext.

  465. rfwhite said,

    May 24, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Yes, I read 460. I want to try to understand how the purposes of an Urtext/autograph would differ from those of final forms.

  466. Richard said,

    May 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    The purpose would be the same however I don’t believe the Urtext existed.

  467. rfwhite said,

    May 24, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Got it … on both counts: purpose and existence!

  468. rfwhite said,

    May 24, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Richard: Will follow up on the Talmon essay. One other thing: it seems I lost track of your comment in 261: “The issue is were these received by the community of faith as being authoritative? Yes, well then they are to be obeyed.” I understand. And, further, the identity of the text received will turn on the identity of the community doing the receiving: that is, the provincial or ecumenical identity of the text is a function of whether the receiving community we’re talking about is provincial or ecumenical. To that degree, the church’s text reconstruction/reception is analogous to the church’s canon recognition, a process that arguably answers to the authorial intent that the church guard that with which it was entrusted.

  469. rfwhite said,

    May 24, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Richard: when the community receives and obeys these texts, is it receiving and obeying the word of God? That is, is the text received the word of God? Also, is that which the community received any less the word of God than that which the author issued?

  470. jared said,

    May 24, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Ron Henzel,

    Re. #408,

    Touché

  471. Richard said,

    May 25, 2009 at 2:48 am

    rfwhite: Yes, when the community receives and obeys these texts it is receiving and obeying the word of God.

    When you ask, “Is that which the community received any less the word of God than that which the author issued?” don’t forget that the way I see biblical composition is such that the line is far less clear between author and community for as I see it Scripture arose out of the traditions of the community. So Ulrich,

    …the various books of the Bible were produced through a complicated series of editorial stages by a process that included two major thrusts: the faithful repetition or retelling of important traditions, and the creative reshaping of those traditions in new theological directions often as a response to the pastoral needs of the people of Israel as perceived by major editors or tradents whom we call the biblical authors. The composition of the Scriptures was dynamic, organic. It was in a sense evolutionary, insofar as the traditions remained static for a period and then in a burst of creativity leaped to a new form, a new literary edition, due to the creative adaption effected by some religious leaders, usually in response to a new situation.

    Perhaps it would be easier to think of the (multiple and varient) final forms as the original autographs. As far as I see it, the Bible is very much a document of the community of faith at a particular time and in a specific place giving voice to the Spirit of God working in and through them. The formula of

    God -> church -> tradition -> scripture

    helps us see that the Bible did not drop from heaven ready made (immediate) but the Holy Ghost spoke through the community of faith (mediate).

  472. kamelda said,

    May 25, 2009 at 6:15 am

    I’m sorry to burst on ‘yall’s’ (as Rev. DePace would say) sight again, but I wanted to post a couple links and a quote from a little reading and re-reading I’ve been doing that seemed relevant and might be helpful to any other laypersons reading: I won’t debate them: these guys know far more than I do.

    Some good Augustine quotes and links to other informative discussions here; and see Alec Motyer’s response to ‘How important are questions such as who wrote the first five books of the Bible?’ here. (Though the whole article is well worth reading: Dr. Motyer is just splendid,)

    Here is a quote I went back and found in a book of his I’ve been reading:

    The Story of the Old Testament, ch. 2:
    “The Hebrew Text
    “Writing is one of the oldest human skills and can be traced back, according to present knowledge, into the fourth millenium BC. Professor D. J. Wiseman, in an unpublished lecture, affirmed that if Moses did not keep a daily record, he is the only known leader of antiquity who failed to do so.
    “Written records
    “When Genesis 5:1 mentions ‘the book of the ongoing story of Adam’ there is no reason why it should not be taken seriously, with the implication of written records preserved and handed down within the family.
    “Equally, it is as much against reason as against evidence to suggest that the prophets did not leave written records of their ministry, even editing them with their own hand. It is difficult indeed to imagine that a prophet should be aware that the words he was speaking were the very words of God and then leave them to the changes and chances of that game of Chinese whispers called oral transmission!
    “The books of the prophets fall, for the most part, into bite-sized pieces — not at all, therefore, word-by-word transcripts of preached sermons. Preaching has to be a much more elongated, leisurely exercise, with repetitions, elaborations and other tricks of the trade by which the preacher gives the hearers time to dwell on what is being said. In contrast, the books of the prophets look like carefully crafted summations, the distilled essence of the proclamation. What we have, therefore, are either notes from which the prophets preached or succinct statements of their preaching designed to be preserved. . . ”

    (Incidentally I noticed this listening to the Iliad and to Genesis before I read this discussion, and had remarked to my husband that it seems the Iliad was not geared at an audience that would use it in textual form, while Genesis is: even a housewife would pick this up from the way passages flow, and how things are repeated, etc.)

    We sang from Psalm 119 in church yesterday. That Psalm means more to me, having understood more of these things.

  473. Richard said,

    May 25, 2009 at 7:52 am

    kamelda: Try not to forget that the Hebrew Bible is highly variegated so, for example, we cannot argue from the prophets back to Moses in terms of authorship. Israelite society was completely different in the prophetic age than in the Mosaic. Further, it is one thing to say that the prophets left records of their speeches and quite another to say that they composed the books we have today. Four excellent books on the prophets are Sweeney’s Isaiah 1-39: With an Introduction to Prophetic Literature and his Berit Olam: The Twelve Prophets, and Seitz’s Prophecy and Hermeneutics and Isaiah 1-39.

  474. Richard said,

    May 25, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Oh and it’s interesting you mention the Iliad! F. M. Cross has used work done on the Greek Epic to inform his work on the JE strand in the Tetrateuch. Do check out Homer and the Heroic Tradition by Cedric H. Whitman, Oral Tradition as History by Jan M. Vansina and The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic by Jeffrey H. Tigay. Cross’ essay is in his book From Epic to Canon: History and Literature in Ancient Israel.

  475. kamelda said,

    May 25, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Richard thanks: I was referring more to what Dr. Motyer said re: Genesis 5:1 with my reflections on the apparent contrast between the Iliad and Genesis as primarily oral/written traditions. I will probably read Dr. Motyer’s book on Isaiah and Calvin’s commentaries on the prophets before making a priority of anything further; but I do appreciate the suggestions and will note them down. I don’t understand all the back and forth (though I think I understand a great deal, re reception by a community etc) but I think Dr. Motyer’s conclusions throw another light on statements made earlier in the thread about Israel as a primarily oral society up to certain periods etc. It at least shows that there are quite a few disagreements about this stuff among scholars and it probably does, as Rev. DePace pointed out in his most recent post, come down to presuppositions and loyalties where we see the evidence pointing. Thanks sincerely for all your help in coming to a further understanding of this.

    I actually returned to the discussion because I had chopped off the last sentence of the above quote which I copied! — “The individual units may even have been designed to be written up in public, like a wall-newspaper (compare Isaiah 30:8).”

  476. rfwhite said,

    May 25, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Richard:I’m beginning to understand your working hypothesis (aka formula) better, and I hope others are too. A couple of things strike me.

    One, if the position you are contesting here boils down to the view that “the Bible dropped ready made from heaven” or at least a more ostensibly academic equivalent thereof, then the obstacles to understanding and agreement are regrettably greater than I thought. Such a perception of things is not constructive for either side of the discussion.

    Two, as I reflect on your views as they are expressed here (and I grant you that it has to be cobbled together from the pieces of correspondence posted here), it is more and more evident, to me at least, that your view depends on certain theories of canonization and authorship, which in turn depends on certain definitions of canon and author. For you,

    the “canon” is that text (whatever text, if you will) which is received and recognized as Scripture by the community;

    the “author” of that canonical text is plural, not singular, including the “autographer” and all of those editors-tradents who made alterations to the autograph/Urtext;

    the “canonical” text is the product of an “open canon” situation, a product that remains “multi-form” as long as the community keeps the “canon” open but that becomes “final form” when the community closes the “canon.”

    Do I have this right?

  477. Richard said,

    May 25, 2009 at 8:36 am

    kamelda: Motyer’s commentary on Isaiah is good, I hope you like chiasms! What is interesting about the Greek epic is that they were transmitted orally by the sages through festival celebrations before they became written, which is very similar to how the early parts of the Pentateuch was transmitted. You may find “Jerusalem, the Late Judahite Monarchy, and the Composition of the Biblical Texts” interesting.

    rfwhite: In terms of your first point, many people I have come across have as their basic working assumption that the bible came about whereby God said X to Y who wrote down X and we find that in Book X. So that it is almost a dictation theory of inspiration.

    In terms of canon, author etc yes you are correct although I may quibble over the specific terms used but you have the gist of it.

  478. rfwhite said,

    May 25, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Richard: ok. In your analysis, you assign the work of keeping open and closing the canon to the community. What role, if any, does the “author” (as we have defined it) have in this canonization process?

  479. Richard said,

    May 25, 2009 at 9:21 am

    rfwhite: Good question, I don’t have an answer. Up until recently my focus has been on determining the ‘author’ of the books of the Hebrew Bible, i.e. I have been focussing upon the first stage rather then the closing stage. I hope to read through Sanders’ Torah and Canon, The Canon Debate and Exploring the Origins of the Bible over the summer.

    In his “Questions of Canon Viewed through the Dead Sea Scrolls” VanderKam notes that “In short, we do not know how, when, or by whom the list of books now found in the Hebrew Bible was drawn up.”

    You could try The Notion and Definition of Canon and this.

  480. kamelda said,

    May 25, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Thank you for the link, Richard — I will check it out. It’s too bad life is too short to read all the secondary (and tertiary and quadrupilary and quintitiery) literature: It’s far too short to read all the primary things one would wish to — at least with the oft recurrence of laundry. Yes I love chiasm.

    I certainly wouldn’t disagree that oral traditions factor into Genesis (I learned this from Matthew Henry!), but Genesis sounded like it was meant to be used more than the Iliad, and based more than the Iliad, as/on text from various differences I observed on hearing them both; and Dr. Motyer’s point about Genesis 5:1 would bear that kind of distinction out. We might still disagree on this, but I hope it’s a clearer statement than what I said before; and wanted to clarify lest it should be any sort of a distraction for any reader from the ongoing discussion between you and Dr. White. All the best!

  481. rfwhite said,

    May 25, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Richard, I am happy to receive and follow through on the bibliographic notes you have provided. At the same time, let me ask if we can agree on this: the choice to include or omit the “author” from a theory of canonization (text and canon) is a crucial consideration, and not just to this discussion (Reed’s post)? I ask this as one who concedes your definition of the term “author” here, which definition to my mind is in a sense a sideshow. The more pertinent question is, what is the role of the author (broadly conceived) in the canonization process and, in fact, in the definition of that process?

  482. Reed Here said,

    May 25, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Richard, no. 176: do you believe anyone here has been operating under a dictation theory of inspiration, or even “almost?”

    If so, can you show that to me?

    Sincerely, I’m beginning to conclude that a lot of the disagreement stems from mischaracterizations on the part of those who see the need to jettison the orthodox view of inerrancy. If I’m right, then the answer they are coming up with are reactions to non-existent errors, not correctionsof actual errors in inerrancy.

  483. Richard said,

    May 25, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Reed: I am not saying that anyone here holds to the dictation theory but rather people I know personally operate under that assumption, not in its pure form but almost, i.e. the shape of the text we have now is exactly what God “told” the biblical writers to write thereby denying any re-working by redactors or shaping of the text by tradents.

  484. rfwhite said,

    May 25, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Richard: according to your theory, what role, if any, would you say that God played in the work of the redactors/tradents?

  485. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    May 25, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Richard,

    Do you believe that you can maintain the doctrine of the Authority of Scripture without Scripture being inerrant?

    What would you say in regards to this longish essay by a Philosophy professor?

    Excerpt: “In my last post, I outlined what I took to be the main objections to the progressive Christian view that the Bible can serve as an important authority for Christians even if it is not regarded as inerrant. In this post, I want to look with some care at the first of these objections, what I have dubbed “the Argument from Eroding Trust.”

    In brief, this argument holds that rejecting the doctrine of biblical inerrancy leaves us with a Bible we can’t really trust at all. If the Bible is errant—if its content is subject to error—then anything it says might be in error. And if it might be in error, we can’t be sufficiently confident about what it says to rely on it in forming our beliefs about the divine. And so, the argument concludes, the Bible cannot serve as an authority for Christians in any meaningful sense, and the middle ground espoused by progressive Christians is untenable.”

  486. Richard said,

    May 26, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Richard: I believe the Spirit of God was working in and through the tradents.

    TUD: Yes I believe that I can maintain the doctrine of the authority of Scripture without Scripture being inerrant.

  487. rfwhite said,

    May 26, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Richard: Ok; thanks. Do you affirm the work of the Spirit in and through the authors (pre-tradents, if you will)? How do you compare and contrast that work with his work in and through the tradents?

  488. Reformed Sinner said,

    May 26, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    #485 Richard:

    “Yes I believe that I can maintain the doctrine of the authority of Scripture without Scripture being inerrant.”

    Please elaborate. The argument is that the Doctrine of Authority in Scripture is that the Scripture is its own and the ultimate authority over all, it means there can’t be any higher standard of authority above Scripture that rules over Scripture. As in this case, if one maintains that Scripture has errors, in which the Scripture itself does not teach, then one is subsuming Scripture to a higher authority (the authority to decide which parts of Scripture are and aren’t in error since the Scriptures itself does not teach nor points to that direction).

    I am looking forward to you exploring your position more, because so far none of the errantists are.

  489. Richard said,

    May 26, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    rfwhite: Sure, I affirm the work of the Spirit in and through the authors or those pre-tradents. I see not qualitative difference between his work in either. I would also he him working in the oral transmission. I quoted Barr very early on in this discussion but it may be worth while my reposting it:

    We have seen that scripture emerged from the tradition of the people of God. Now there is no reason why we should say that scripture, i.e. the final written product, is inspired by God but the stages which led up to it, in which the important decisions were take, the stages of oral tradition and the like, were not inspired by God. So inspiration would have to be understood in the sense that God in his Spirit was in and with his people in the formation, transmission, writing down and completion of their tradition and its completion and fixation as scripture. In this process the final stage, the final fixation, was the least important rather than the most important.

    This comes from Barr’s “Has the Bible any Authority” in The Scope and Authority of the Bible. In another essay in the same book, this one entitled “The Bible as a Document of Believing Communities” he notes similarly,

    As we have seen, the communication and formation of what we now know as the Bible must extend over an enormous number of people, most of them anonymous. It must mean the inspiration not of writers of books, but of the tradition of the believing community, out of which scripture was eventually formed.

    Hope that helps.

  490. rfwhite said,

    May 26, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Richard: And, again, thanks. Still seeking understanding, let me ask: would you affirm that the work of the Spirit extends to the documents that make up the Bible (as distinct from the authors and tradents) throughout the history of their production, from original form to final form?

  491. Richard said,

    May 26, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    RS: The the authority of Scripture does not rest upon it being inerrant but rather it lies in its being the voice of the Spirit of God as it works through the community of faith in history.

  492. Richard said,

    May 26, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    rfwhite: Yes, I would.

  493. rfwhite said,

    May 26, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Richard: Once again, thanks. Given that the locus of the Spirit’s work is the documents, would you say that the authority of those documents rests in their character?

  494. rfwhite said,

    May 26, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Let me try to be clearer. Does the authority of those documents rest in the character that the Spirit gives to them?

  495. Richard said,

    May 26, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I am not sure if this answers your question, I am not 100% sure what you mean by “character”, but the documents are authoritative because they are the voice of the Spirit though this must be nuanced to say that this has been mediated through the community of faith.

  496. rfwhite said,

    May 26, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    By character, I mean attribute(s). Does the authority of the documents rests in certain attributes that the Spirit gives to them, or in something other than attributes (say, in the use the Spirit makes of them), or both?

  497. ReformedSinner said,

    May 26, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    $490 Richard,

    Thanks for the answer, but again my question is how do you come up with that answer that the Bible before us is the voice of God, when there may possibly be errors. Or in other words, what gives you assurance that the passages about the Bible being God’s words are not in error, i.e., are not the human situatedness or mistaken ancient cultural notion that God speaks to people.

    Since you’ve granted that the Bible can contain errors due to human situatedness and limitations, what makes the passages about the Bible being the voice of God immune to such possibilities of errors?

  498. Gianni said,

    May 27, 2009 at 2:07 am

    Pete #47,

    I am on your side.

    But when you write . . .

    “I work on the paradigm: authoritative means therefore infallible means therefore inerrant. Reed very helpfully pointed out, that, this “errantist” position contains points that appear to be in conflict. The questions I still have are: . . . 2) How can scripture be authoritative, yet contain errors?”

    . . . that is not helpful.

    Many God-ordained institutions are genuinely authoritative in spite of being errant and often mistaken: parents, pastors, kings. Also soccer team coaches.

    You need to say explicitly what I believe you mean all along: “ultimately authoritative”.

    This would be helpful because it would raise the crucial question of what is the ultimate authority of those who disagree with us.

  499. Richard said,

    May 27, 2009 at 2:43 am

    rfwhite: The authority of the documents does not rest in certain attributes that the Spirit gives to them (save perhaps inspiration); think of a letter from a king, any authority the letter possess comes from him who wrote and sent it rather than any inherent qualities of the document itself.

    ReformedSinner: I’ll get back to you a little later in the day.

    Gianni: Good points!

  500. cbovell said,

    May 27, 2009 at 6:49 am

    Richard:

    I think your remarks have been consistently the most patient and thoughtful among us and I, for one, have followed your discussion with rfwhite with great interest. Thank you for enduring the greater part of the dialogue without wearying.

    In my book, I treat the concept of open canon and try to find a way to accomodate the state of flux that you mention by saying that texts are accepted, refused, interpreted and reinterpreted in terms of how relevant they are to contemporary concerns of the various communities that are handling these texts. I argue that it is not wise to look for a stable locus of “ultimate authority” in scripture because scripture is always already involved in a canonical dialectic that involves a great number of different faith communities and a great number of texts over an extended period of time.

    In your last remark you say:

    “think of a letter from a king, any authority the letter possess comes from him who wrote and sent it rather than any inherent qualities of the document itself.”

    This observation holds in limited (or even many) cases, but there is a central facet of authority that you have not emphasized (or if you have I have simply not picked up on it) in the present discussion and I think is crying out for our some attention.

    Whatever authority a text might have has to do, in large measure, with that text’s saliency to a given community. The text has to be eminently salient both sociologically and religiously to their tradents in order to be accepted as authoritative. If a king sends a letter that contains a list of what’s in his pantry, it doesn’t possess any authority just because it is written by a king. Communities accept texts because they believe they stem from a source of authority AND because they find the texts especially pertinent to their sociological and religious situations. And if texts prove especially salient to a community, then they may even find the need to invent a plausible source of authority for it in order to ensure that the texts will have the requisite cultural currency to be able to use it toward whatever end they see as immediately pressing.

    In other words, if the texts are not salient in relevant ways then, it seems to me, the tradents must deliberately handle these texts anew in such a way that they can make them become salient again for the community. Otherwise the texts in question will be passed by in favor of some other text(s) that more effectively provides them with meaning in their contemporary settings.

    Inerrancy seems to me an ideological maneuver that tries to escape this sort of socio-religious dialectic so that there is always a salient text available to the communities who subscribe to it. With inerrancy, the text can now be accepted as eternally relevant–poof! just like that–since accuracy and errorlessness in the modern period have been interpreted as able to somehow transcend the historical contingencies that are inherently built in to a canonical dialectic such as one that I describe in my book.

  501. Reformed Sinner said,

    May 27, 2009 at 7:35 am

    #499 cbovell,

    “I argue that it is not wise to look for a stable locus of “ultimate authority” in scripture because scripture is always already involved in a canonical dialectic that involves a great number of different faith communities and a great number of texts over an extended period of time.”

    Problem: Jesus and apostles (and pretty much any people of God in the Bible) uses the Bible as “ultimate authority” with no regard to this “dialectic” method of yours. The dialectic method may explain the FORM of the canon, but doesn’t fit well in how the people of God understood the CONTENT of the canon.

    “Communities accept texts because they believe they stem from a source of authority AND because they find the texts especially pertinent to their sociological and religious situations.”

    Problem: have you ever lived in a dictatorial country? The people follow and submit to the dictators not because they find his rule of law “pertinent to their sociological and religious situations” – you either follow his edicts or you die, it’s simple as that. There is no “dialectic” communication between an absolute dictatorial power and the people under his rule. You either fully obey or you’re guilty of a crime.

  502. cbovell said,

    May 27, 2009 at 8:12 am

    RF:
    A) And what “Bible” did Jesus use? What “Bible” did the apostles use? What “Bible” did “any people of God in the Bible” use? The very point I’m making is that the answers to these formative questions are pluriform.

    B) Please help me see how your second remark bears upon the present discussion. Are you suggesting that God is an absolute dictatorial power and the people living under his rule either follow his edicts or die (“simple as that”)?

  503. rfwhite said,

    May 27, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Richard: In light of Carlos’s opening remarks in 499, I express again my thanks for your patience answering of my questions. I see little point in expressing agreement or disagreement with your approach if I haven’t taken the time to understand your thesis and arguments. I readily acknowledge that others here have a different take.

    That said, let me ask this: How does the community verify or falsify the source of the documents/letter? Also, if one attribute that the Spirit gives to the documents is, in fact, their inspiration, what, if any, bearing does that particular attribute have on the authority of the documents for the community?

    Carlos: Your analysis of saliency for the receiving community is pertinent as far as it goes, though your assessment of inerrancy as a “manuever to escape” the dialectic you describe doesn’t reflect the motives of history’s most thoughtful exponents of inerrancy. Let me ask this of you: what, if any, role does God have in determining the saliency of the text for the community?

  504. sigman76 said,

    May 27, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Lane,

    This is Steve (Per #323), I live and work in Philadelphia. I agree with the Doctrines of Grace and for the most part the system of doctrine contained in the WCF. However, some points I would be open to revision such as in light of the New Perspective (NT Wright version) or on the doctrine of Scripture. In any case, I’m looking forward to honest engagement with ideas and not arguments.

  505. cbovell said,

    May 27, 2009 at 10:56 am

    It may not describe motives, rfwhite, but it certainly describes effect, at least in my exposure to the inerrantist literature.

    (As an aside: Regarding your “history’s most thoughtful exponents” remark, I have come to the conclusion that our notion of inerrancy cannot be said to be the “real” position of various church thinkers over the course of Christianity’s history, at least not until such time in history when science began seriously calling scriptural interpretations into question, meaning such a time when various disciplines began offering competing explanations that are modernly compelling, i.e., scientific, critical explanations that directly contravened treasured scriptural interpretations. When people began denying science and “scientific,” “naturalistic” biblical criticism, etc. in the name of scripture, it is only then, from within that kind of defensive, cultural context, that our notion of inerrancy could “really” become a specific Christian writer’s view of scripture.)

    Back to your question.

    I quickly want to admit that what role God has in any historical process is a question too complex for me to answer at present, especially with any degree of confidence. Whatever answers I muse on an existential level, I mean in terms of an “explanation” for me personally, one I tell myself to help me understand what scripture is, are always quite speculative. What I might say at this point is that to ask about the saliency of the text for “the” community misunderstands the multiform scale on which God is acting, historically-speaking. Communit-ies (plural), all idiosyncratic, developing and growing (flux) in different historical and sociological locations, this is God’s domain of interaction: in sheer cultural and historical diversity.

    My present view is something like this: God constantly calls people from within their communites (religious or not) to hear and believe the Christ-story. Whatever historical canons obtain within the various communities are, I presume, of sufficient inspiration to effectively achieve that end. This is all very tentative and would not have enough meat on it for some readers, but I thought I would nevertheless in good faith venture a response to the question asked. Truth be told, I see the need to extend the concept of canon beyond scripture to include creeds, liturgies and other traditions that communities of faith have nourished and fostered over time. I know that others here will nail me for this, but these are things I am presently considering (since you asked).

  506. Reed Here said,

    May 27, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Carlos: not intended in any way derogatory to you, but I want to offer an observation here.

    Your last comment here demonstrates a substantial degree of tentativeness on what is the nature of the Bible. No criticism on this basis, just this observation: your tentativeness above shows you have given substantial effort into understanding what the Bible is/is not according to sources outside the Bible. Yet there does not seem to be that same degree of reflection on what the Bible claims for itself.

    I recognze you profess otherwise. My challenge Carlos is are you really giving that much attention to what the Bible says for itself after all? You demonstrably give lot’s of attention to what others say it must be. Yet your tentativeness in answering Dr. White’s question here, at least to me, belies this profession.

  507. Reformed Sinner said,

    May 27, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    #501 Carlos:

    You claim that people follow an Authority not just solely based on the source of the authority, but (AND) “the [canonical] texts especially pertinent to their sociological and religious situations” – you call that a dialectical relationship.

    I am merely refuting this relationship. People of God believed the texts are canonical because the text demonstrates itself to be canonical, the text demonstrates itself to be the source from God. Not because of some dialectical relationship.

    As for your rhetorical question on “which Bible” the Jesus and apostles use. The argument is never the differences in FORM of the Bible, but Jesus and Apostles never doubted the CONTENT of the Bible as historical, accurate, and inerrant. Just like people using the English version of the Bible today to shepherd their flock, that doesn’t proof they doubt the authority of the original Greek and Hebrew versions. So I really do not get why you are so up tight about the fact that Jesus and the apostles chooses to use LXX rather than MT. Could it simply be because they are reaching out to an audience that relates better in Koine Greek?

    Oh, and I thought it’s basic Christianity 101 to think that listen to God and you live and disobeying God and you die. Are you trying to say there’s another path to salvation besides Christ?

  508. Pete Myers said,

    May 27, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    #497, Gianni,

    Thanks for your comment, I’m really tied up this week, and Reed’s answer in the other thread is really helpful.

  509. Pete Myers said,

    May 27, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    #506,

    Just to clarify, when I’ve used “authoritative” in respect to scripture it is shorthand for the way in which evangelicals normally mean “authoritative” in respect to scripture, i.e. “ultimately authoritative”.

    I hadn’t thought to clarify that term, as, nobody in the discussion seemed to have an idea of the “authority” of the Bible that was less than ultimately authoritative, and indeed, people wanted to defend their credentials on that view.

    So, it appeared that nobody had misunderstood the term until now.

  510. rfwhite said,

    May 27, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    501 Carlos: I genuinely appreciate your honesty. I hope we can agree that the definition and the affirmation or denial of God’s role in determining the saliency of a text, particularly the documents we’ve been discussing, is as fundamental as it gets. It is, after all, at the heart of Reed’s post.

  511. Richard said,

    May 27, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    rfwhite: When you ask “How does the community verify or falsify the source of the documents/letter?” what are you meaning by source?

    As for, “if one attribute that the Spirit gives to the documents is, in fact, their inspiration, what, if any, bearing does that particular attribute have on the authority of the documents for the community?” Excellent question! I will have to ponder that and get back to you but I shall most likely have to re-phrase #498.

  512. Richard said,

    May 27, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I suppose I would add that it may be interesting to look into whether the process of canonisation had any effect on how the documents were treated. Prior to canonisation the text of the documents were quite adaptable but it seems that once the documents had been deemed as “canon” the text remained stable. The way that the scriptures changes was not their being redacted but by the production of commentaries upon them.

  513. rfwhite said,

    May 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Richard: by “source,” I mean to refer back to your comment that “any authority” a document possesses “comes from him who wrote and sent it.” The authority possessed by a document resides in the writer-sender from which it comes. How, then, do the recipients verify or falsify that the documents are what they claim to be? How do the recipients recognize documents whose writer and sender is God?

  514. cbovell said,

    May 27, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    rfwhite #508:
    What is your definition and affirmation of “God’s role in determining the saliency of a text, particularly the documents”? And in what particular way do you see it as being at the heart of the present discussion?

  515. Richard said,

    May 28, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    rfwhite: Thanks for the clarification; you ask, “How do the recipients recognize documents whose writer and sender is God?” Honestly, I am not sure. It is certainly something that needs to be explored. This type of issue is both historic and subjective; so, “How did they (whoever “they” are) recognise that some documents were qualitatively different from others?” and “How do I know that some documents are qualitatively different from others?”

    Speaking historically; that some books were deemed authoritative is beyond doubt, quite why is beyond me. I would “guess” it’s down more to the voice of the community otherwise known as tradition.

    Speaking personally; I do wonder how the Church recognised that the NT was inspired and to be “canonised”. This is then very interesting owing to the Church historically having sided with St. Augustine whilst the Reformed have gone with St. Jerome, Anglicans always wanting that via media went with Jerome but not to the exclusion of Augustine. For myself, I accept the epistle’s of St. Peter because the Church tells me to not because I hear a “voice” telling me it’s inspired &c. A high ecclesiology is my solution, but I am the first to admit it is not without its problems.

  516. Richard said,

    May 28, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Reformed Sinner: If it is “fact that Jesus and the apostles chooses to use LXX rather than MT” then how should we treat those who use the canon found in the LXX rather than the shorter MT?

  517. rfwhite said,

    May 28, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Carlos:As I understand it, God’s role in determining the saliency of the documents would be defined along these lines: he is the one who brings the documents into being by his breath and who employs the testimony of the community and the testimony of the documents themselves (if you will, external and internal evidences) so that the community accepts them for what they really are, the holy written word of God. The particular way in which I see this definition/affirmation related to Reed’s post is that the attributes of those documents are a consequence of God’s role in their production by the authors (even broadly conceived), not a consequence of his role in their preservation by the tradents.

    Richard: I would agree that we need a high ecclesiology, but we also need a high pneumatology. When it comes to canonics, the Spirit’s role in the community is different than his role in the authors of the documents. That is, broadly considered, developments in the church concerning the canon are consistent with the authors’ call for the church to preserve their witness. Early on, the authors’ witness is called “tradition” — which was originally oral as well as written. Its authoritative, binding character is seen in the fact that Paul, for instance, commands his readers to hold firmly to it (1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15; cf. 3:6). Thereafter, in his last correspondence, Paul issues a last call to preserve the witness received: he instructs Timothy to guard the deposit, to preserve and maintain the authoritative deposit of truth, 1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 2:14. So, as I understand it, developments in the postapostolic church concerning the canon involved the increasing awareness in the church of the nature of inscripturated witness or tradition. The complement to the apostolic call to preserve the tradition, in other words, is postapostolic recognition of the NT canon. The church’s recognition of the canon, however, is also consistent with Christ’s intention. No one less than the exalted Christ himself, through the Spirit of truth, is the architect of that process. The Spirit of truth created the community through the word of the authors; the Spirit preserved the word of the authors through the church. At least, that’s my take.

  518. Richard said,

    May 29, 2009 at 11:04 am

    rfwhite: Good analysis, I would agree with that. however how that works out in practical terms still needs to be fleshed out. Does your high pneumatology clash with my high ecclesiology? I am not sure they are incompatible, I would also like to think I have a high pneumatology. I think I would accept your take. :-)

  519. rfwhite said,

    May 29, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Richard: To be sure, it all has to be fleshed out. I don’t think the high pneumatology has to be viewed as clashing with the high ecclesiology. If this is basically agreeable, then we’re left with the question of the attributes exhibited by the documents as a consequence of God’s role in their production by the human writers.

  520. Richard said,

    May 29, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    rfwhite: If I may then open up the discussion by asking, to what extent are the documents culturally situated? If the Spirit is working in and through the community of faith and that community operates within certain literary parameters to what extent does the Spirit’s influence work with this and to what extent is it ahistorical / a-cultural? I hope that is clear…

  521. rfwhite said,

    May 29, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Richard: As I understand your comments and questions in 520, the documents are brought into being by the Spirit as culturally situated texts (they are occasional, ad hoc), but they are also situated by the Spirit in the history of special revelation and redemption. The transhistorical, transcultural character of the texts, then, derives from their character as the Spirit’s documentary witness to that special revelation and redemption on which the community is founded and built and by which it is bound. To be sure, the exact bearing of the occasional, ad hoc texts may vary depending on differing life situations. Nevertheless, as inspired repositories of special revelation, they transcend their cultural situatedness and are profitable for all God’s people in all places and all times. Whether you agree or not, am I addressing your concern?

  522. Richard said,

    May 30, 2009 at 11:15 am

    rfwhite: You say that the documents are “inspired repositories of special revelation”. To what extent does that apply for the OT narratives that have been edited together from sources in the royal archives or temple library?

  523. Reed Here said,

    May 30, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Richard:, no. 522:

    I have no intention of being obnoxious or offensive in what I’m about to ask you. Rather, I truly am both concerned and curious.

    You did not answer Dr. White’s question. I understand you are seeking further clarification. Yet, even a simple tentative answer about the implications for inspiration on the nature of the Bible seems to be something you are extremely hesitant to do.

    In fact, in all your comments, I cannot recall one place where you’ve offered one substantive opinion as to the implications for inspiration on the Bible. You have spent all (most of?) your time discussing and debating the issues of the human-ness of the Bible. You seem reluctanct to close with the issues of it’s divine-ness. Its as if your presuppositions cannot allow you to conclude anything about the Bible’s divine origins.

    I could be wrong. There may be the beginnings of a comment or two, or a brief affirmation without any development.Or you may have made a substantice response as to your critical presuppositions, and I’ve lost it in the sheer number of your comments (no complaint, just observation of fact.)

    Do you, in fact, believe in inspiration, as understood in the Westminster Standards (or CSBI, or any other reformed standards)? I’m not asking do you affirm “inspiration,” some vague notion for which you have not really settled your mind on exactly what means. Rather, do you really believe God wrote the Bible, that when it claims “I’m spoken by God himself,” it does so factually, without mistake? Do you believe in the reformed understanding of inspiriation without any equivocation as to the meaning of this?

    This is not witch-hunt or gotcha game question. I sincerely want to know, as it is critical to understanding you.

    Again, you (once again?) have not responded with an answer to the most critical question in your discussion with Dr. White. Can you, why or why not?

  524. Richard said,

    May 30, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Reed: I’m not sure what question of Dr. White’s I didn’t answer.

    As for my view, I would echo Kuyper’s words in his Work of the Holy Spirit:

    Although the Holy Spirit spoke directly to men, human speech and language being no human inventions, yet in writing He employed human agencies. But whether He dictates directly, as in the Revelation of St. John, or governs the writing indirectly, as with historians and evangelists, the result is the same: the product is such in form and content as the Holy Spirit designed, an infallible document for the Church of God.

    Hence the confession of inspiration does not exclude ordinary numbering, collecting of documents, sifting, recording, etc. It recognizes all these matters which are plainly discernible in Scripture. Style, diction, repetitions, all retain their value. But it must be insisted that the Scripture as a whole, as finally presented to the Church, as to content, selection, and arrangement of documents, structure, and even words, owes its existence to the Holy Spirit, i.e., that the men employed in this work were consciously or unconsciously so controlled and directed by the Spirit, in all their thinking, selecting, sifting, choice of words, and writing, that their final product, delivered to posterity, possessed a perfect warrant of divine and absolute authority.

  525. Reed Here said,

    May 30, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Richard, no. 524: for your convenience, here is the question, with the key conclusion from which it grows, again:

    “Nevertheless, as inspired repositories of special revelation, they transcend their cultural situatedness and are profitable for all God’s people in all places and all times. Whether you agree or not, am I addressing your concern? (emphasis added)

    Your response to me is a good starting point. However, no one here has in principle said anything in disagreement with quote Kuyper. I dare say no one on this side of the question does. As such, your answer is immaterial to the question.

    I note again your emphasis on the human-ness of the Bible. The question from Dr. White goes to the divine-ness of the Bible, and what, if in any ways, this divine character trumps the human character issues which seem to be so pressing to you.

    Can you follow why I’ve ask my question? Its as if you’re saying, “yes I believe in inspiration, but the human messiness of the Bible is so overwhelming that for all practical purposes, I have no idea what relevance the divine-ness of the Bible plays.”

    It is as if your stuck with a whole host of “but what about” questions rooted in the fallenness of our context, and the only real direction to look for a solution to such questions (up toward God) is the one direction your mind is unable to look (in any meaningful manner.)

  526. Richard said,

    May 30, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Reed: The answer to that questions is, Yes Dr. White was beginning to address my concerns; my response was seeking clarification in a real situation.

    You moan about my focussing upon the human-ness of the Bible but the reason I focus on that is the divine-ness is taken as given and what I wish to explore is how the two work out in specific situations. Perhaps an example is in order. In the narrative books of the OT we read of references to extra-biblical work that the writer has used. This indicates that the writer does not draw a hard and fast line between what he is writing and the scrolls he made use of, it is as if he is saying “and if you want to read more see ….”. This implies a fairly fluid understanding of what his book is, did the Deuteronomist know he was writing an inspired work? Did the community of faith draw a distinction between the trustworthiness of the sources the deuteronomist historian used and what he wrote? Now jump forward into the first century C.E. Here there is a line drawn between ‘biblical books’ and non-biblical books. So we can speak in general terms about 1 & 2 Kings being inspired repositories of special revelation and yet does this apply specifically? Yes they are inspired repositories but are they ‘special revelation’ when the deuteronomist historian used uninspired documents to compile his theologically motivated history?

  527. Richard said,

    May 30, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Reed, it may also be helpful if you could explain briefly how you believe the bible was composed. We could use the prophets as a case to look at. So let’s say “How did the Book of the Twelve come about?” No matter what we confess or profess about inspiration etc we need to ensure that it correlates with historical reality.

  528. Richard said,

    May 30, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    If I may quickly add a quote that may help you see where I am coming from regarding the prophets try:

    Although the words and actions of the original prophets initiated the composition of the prophetic literature, the writings of the later editor and tradents completed it. Obviously, they saw something of value in the words as an address to them and their own situations. Only by investigating the process by which such later tradents understood, reformulated, and reapplied the earlier words of the prophets can the form critic identify the impetus for the preservation, growth, and continued vitality of the prophetic tradition. In order to understand fully the meaning and significance of the prophetic literature in relation to the communities that produced it, the form critic must account for the prophetic book in its entirety. This means that the form critic must consider both the “original” prophetic speech forms and the later material that defines the present form, insofar as they can be identified. The setting of a text form therefore includes both its Sitz im Leben (”setting in life”) and its Sitz im Literatur (”setting in literature”; Richter, Exegese, 148)

    Sweeney, M. A. (1996) Isaiah 1-39 with an Introduction to Prophetic Literature. FOTL. Eerdmans. pp. 12

  529. Reed Here said,

    May 30, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Richard, no. 526: now, now, no one is moaning here.

    You seem to grant my observation in your response. You’ve spent rather quite a bit of time exploring one example after another. Dr. White has stuck with you through all the permutations you believe are relevant. Last, he’s asked a question that intentionally moves from the human to the divine -

    And your response to him was to ask another human-related clarification question.

    When I ask “what gives,” you respond with a rather standard response about inspiration, quoting someone else (not expounding in your own words.) When I further pin down the observation, you respond by saying, “the divine-ness is taken for granted, but what does that mean for the human-ness, for example …” and then drift off into another example that does not actually close with the conclusions you’ve already reached.

    All the while I note you still have not substantively answered Dr. White’s last question. Are you interested in only questioning, never concluding?

    I’ll back off Richard, and assume you are close to doing as you imply, directly dealing with Dr. White’s point concerning the divine-ness transcending the human-ness issues (my “trumping” if you will.) Please, ask a few more clarifying questions of Dr. White.

    And by all means, tell us what you think this all means for the divine-ness. In particular, does the divine-ness transcend the human-ness?

  530. rfwhite said,

    May 30, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Richard: The intervening sidebar between you and Reed was useful, for me at least. I think I’ll just pick up the discussion where it has gone between you two in 522-529.

    I would say, yes, the biblical books are repositories of special revelation when the authors used uninspired documents to complete their theologically motivated histories. Various narrative books of the Bible make reference to extracanonical texts and, to the extent of those references, they treat those extracanonical sources as trustworthy for the purposes for which they were cited. The citation of extracanonical sources in biblical texts does not indicate their plenary trustworthiness, much less their canonicity. Extracanonical documents do not share the attributes of canonical documents.

  531. Reed Here said,

    May 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Man, I’m so tempted to jump back in, but I’ve said I won’t.

    Please, please, get to the meat here :-) You’re killin me!!!! (please note I’m laughing as a I write.)

  532. rfwhite said,

    May 30, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Hey, Reed: this ain’t fast food, man. :-)

  533. Reed Here said,

    May 30, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    LOL! Just don’t over cook my steak ;-)

  534. Richard said,

    May 31, 2009 at 4:08 am

    rfwhite: Thank you for #530. Linking back to what I said in #520 and your acceptance that “the biblical books are repositories of special revelation when the authors used uninspired documents to complete their theologically motivated histories.” I take it you are understanding the DtrH to be Geschichte rather than Historie? From this flows a question:

    1. The deuteronomist historian(s) have made use of documents written by royal scribes / priestly scribes and these reflect the literary conventions of the time and its understanding of history, which was different from how a Westerner in the 21st Century views history.
    2. The deuteronomist historian(s) have used these documents to construct a document that is Geschichte rather than Historie.

    Would you accept that for the Western Christian to read the DtrH as Historie is to mis-read the text and, further, to read the DtrH as historical narrative is also to mis-read the text? So to understand the document correctly we need to understand the literary conventions of the time in historical writing and we need to remember that the real message of the document is its theological message. Hence to claim the document is accurate in all its historical details is to treat the document in a way that is was never meant to be treated?

    As regards your comment in #521, I don’t have any objections in principle to what you say there but I would like the details to be fleshed out. Take for example your saying “as inspired repositories of special revelation, they transcend their cultural situatedness and are profitable for all God’s people in all places and all times.” If we look at the creation narrative and we take on board Beale’s excellent work where he notes that the narrative is presenting the narrative as a temple building programme. As You are probably aware I would see Gen. 2-3 as Yahwist and written during the monarchical period perhaps as early as Solomon and we both know what he was doing! Then when we learn that the Pentateuch took its final shape in the post-exilic community when temple construction was on the agenda again we find an added bonus that the creation of the world in Gen. 1 parallels the construction of the sanctuary in Ex. 39-40. Knowing this, we realise that to read the creation narrative as science or history, and thereby claiming it is without error on both of these issues, is to misread it rather we need to read it carefully to take from it the message it was intended to teach.

  535. Richard said,

    May 31, 2009 at 4:13 am

    Just in case you are not aware:

    Geschichte – The interpretation of Historie.
    Historie – that which is reported as fact.

  536. rfwhite said,

    May 31, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Richard: To understand documents correctly we need to understand the historiographic literary conventions of the time. On the other hand, it is a methodologically false dichotomy to say we have to choose between theology and history. The texts of the Bible exhibit an unbreakable interest in both, not least because, as the documents present them, revelation and redemption are rooted in history. To invoke the expression “the message it was intended to teach” gets us back to the question of the author’s identity and his involvement in the production of the documents. So, again, given the Spirit’s role in their production, what are the attributes exhibited by the documents, particularly if they root revelation and redemption in history?

  537. GLW Johnson said,

    May 31, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Richard
    Go read Van Til’s ‘Christianity and Barthianism’-CVT has a very penetrating analysis of the terms ‘Historie’ and ‘Geschichte’ especially as they were used by Barth. Your definition of ‘Geschichte’ is not fully nuanced.

  538. Richard said,

    May 31, 2009 at 9:13 am

    rfwhite: I agree completely that we don’t have to choose between theology and history however I don’t think that we can draw a straight line from the biblical account to the reality behind that account as if the text is functioning simply as a TV screen letting us peek in on what really happened in an unmediated fashion. A quick digression; in From Genesis to Chronicles there are two excellent articles, (1) “The Beginnings of Historical Writing in Ancient Israel” and (2) “The Deuteronomistic Theology of History in 1 and 2 Kings”.

    As I noted above, the attribute that the Spirit’s involvement in the documents gives to them is that of being inspired and ergo authoritative. The documents themselves witness to YHWH’s acts as understood by Israel and are themselves shaped by historical circumstances whereby Israel seeks for answers concerning its own situation and so reworks its own documents, hence the readaction of DtrH1 to explain the exile in DtrH2.

  539. Richard said,

    May 31, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Gary: Thanks for the suggestion. Is that volume by CVT completely different from his The New Modernism, a work H. U. von Balthasar called “grotesque” (The Theology of Karl Barth, pp. 61) owing to its methodological errors?

  540. GLW Johnson said,

    May 31, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Richard
    No, it is not the same. And H.U.vB. doesn’t carry much weight with me.

  541. GLW Johnson said,

    May 31, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Rihard
    Have you read CVT or just what a Roman Catholic( who was run out of the Jesuits by the way) has to say about him?

  542. Richard said,

    May 31, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Gary, yes I’ve read van Til although not his take on Barth. H. U. von Balthasar was a well respected authority on Barth and his analysis of Barth was commended by T. F. Torrance, we can therefore be assured that von Balthasar knew what Barth was on about even if CVT didn’t in his earlier days.

  543. GLW Johnson said,

    May 31, 2009 at 10:59 am

    For a different take on CVT on Barth see John Muether’s recent biography in the American Reformed Biographies series that P&R is publishing.

  544. ReformedSinner said,

    May 31, 2009 at 11:23 am

    #542: Richard,

    First off, even T.F. Torrance’s take on Barth is not widely accepted by Barthians themselves even thought he is one of the authority on Barth.

    Second, your sniping at CVT as if he doesn’t know what he’s talking about shows your lack of depth of knowledge in this area. CVT was the foremost theologian in America that is widely recognize as the original and first Evangelical critique of Barth, CVT was reading Barth in original German when rest of American theologians are struggling over how to translate Barth into English.

    Gary beats me to the punch, for a nice review over this period, how CVT was first herald as a great voice in defense of orthodoxy against Barth, but later on lost favor in the Evangelical world and Barth starts to influence American Evangelicalism, and how some American Evangelicals abandons CVT, this is a fascinating read.

  545. rfwhite said,

    May 31, 2009 at 11:46 am

    538 Richard: Eager, as I am, to eliminate caricatures from our exchange, I would make no claim that the text functions in an unmediated fashion, much less in a fashion untouched by historical circumstances and situations. For example, I see no problem in acknowledging that the narratives of the history of revelation and redemption, once authored, are at least eligible to be reshaped throughout that history, that is, for as long as the Spirit of prophecy is working through authors and final editors to document that history on which the community is to be built. (Taking the creation narrative as an example, I would say that it was written originally for the exodus generation when tabernacle construction was on the agenda and was read subsequently by generations when temple construction were on the agenda.) On the inspiration and consequent authority of texts, let me ask: would you agree that those texts are given, in part, to document the history of revelation and redemption? If so, would the traits of inspiration and authority have to extend to the historicity of those texts or not?

  546. Richard said,

    May 31, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Gary: Thanks, I’ll check it out.

    ReformedSinner: Criticisms of CVT’s take on Barth are pretty well known. H. U. von Balthasar’s criticism was that CVT failed to differentiate between the early Barth and the later Barth and proceeded to conflate the two failing to recognise when Barth had shifted away from his early dialectical method. Of course von Balthasar was a Catholic so we can’t trust him now can we! Both of the following come from evangelicals in the trajectory of CVT himself; concerning CVT’s The New Modernism Mark D. Thompson writes that CVT’s criticism of Barth “at points flies so directly in the face of the evidence as to be absurd” (Engaging with Barth, pp. 172-3 n.15). Further, Michael Horton states that CVT’s Christianity and Barthianism “exhibits critical weaknesses” (Engaging with Barth, pp. 347).

  547. Richard said,

    May 31, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    rfwhite: I think it would be overly simplistic to suggest that those texts are given to document the history of revelation and redemption. Let me explain as best as I am able. I would suggest that in ancient Israel at the cultic shrine of Gilgal the Exodus-Conquest was celebrated by a covenant renewal ceremony which included passover, circumcision and the singing of Ps. 114. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that at some point a text (Q) was produced which recorded this and I would suggest that this memory is to be found in Josh. 3-5. Now this text (Q) will record what Israel believed to have happened. Now along comes the deuteronomist and he is writing his history which will eventually become DtrH1 which is celebrating Josiah. He finds Q in the archives and uses that in his narrative in what we now know as Joshua 3-5. Then in 2 Kings he proceeds to portray Josiah as a Joshua figure, so Joshua is told to delight in the law and renews the covenant and celebrates Passover etc and guess what Josiah does? (cf. Richard Nelson’s “Josiah in the Book of Joshua”, JBL) Now I don’t want to say that this never happened but I want to point out the theological message of the deuteronomist determines what is said and how it is said rather than the text being to simply document the history of revelation and redemption. Indirectly it will do but it will be mediated through the pen of the writer/redactor/tradent.

    So yes the traits of inspiration and authority do extend to the historicity of those texts or not but not in a simplistic way.

    I hope this helps.

  548. Richard said,

    May 31, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Gary: I would be interested on your take of Muller’s presentation of Warfield in vol. 2 of his PRRD (2nd ed.) esp. footnote 192 on pp. 414 and the second para on pp. 415. Muller notes that,

    “A rather sharp contrast must be drawn, therefore, between the Protestant orthodox arguments concerning the autographa and the views of Archibald Alexander Hodge and Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield.”

  549. rfwhite said,

    May 31, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Richard: I too am keen to avoid overly simplistic accounts; at the same time, we both need room for summary and generalization. I agree that the theological interests of biblical narrators determine what they say and how they say it. Would you say that such determinacy falsifies the historical claims of the narrators? What bearing does this falsification have on the inspiration and authority of the text?

  550. Reed Here said,

    May 31, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Dr. White, no. 549: I deleted no. 551 (your explanation for duplicate) and original no. 549. Your original 550 (correct version) is now 549.

    Jez so’s dere’s no cunfusin out dere ;-) (man I like being in the south!)

  551. Richard said,

    June 1, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    rfwhite: I agree, I am just wary that when we start to generalise there can be the danger that we have generalised to such a degree that we can be holding mutually exclusive positions and yet think there is agreement.

    Would you say that such determinacy falsifies the historical claims of the narrators?

    That is a tricky one, in some cases I would say “Yes” and in others “No” and in others I would sit on the fence. We cannot, at least IMO, simply assume that the narrative has no roots whatsoever in real historical events but equally I don’t think we can simply assume that the narrative is necessarily portraying what really happened. As you yourself note, “the theological interests of biblical narrators determine what they say and how they say it”.

    What bearing does this falsification have on the inspiration and authority of the text?

    It would have a major bearing if one held that what we read in the biblical narrative corresponds 1:1 with what happened historically. However as this is not what I believe, and I don’t think you believe either, then I don’t think this will have a major bearing upon anything. The documents are still inspired and are still authoritative. James Barr notes in his essay “Historical Reading and Theological Interpretation” found in The Scope and Authority of the Bible, and I would concur, that

    Narratives are not necessarily written because of a primary interest in the past. They can be written for a quite different reason: they can be written to provide pictures of the promises of God which will come to pass in the future.

    The problem is that often we find ourselves approaching the documents from the perspective of what we think they are and proceed to read them in such a way that we think they should be read. I can remember reading Barr for the first time and thinking, “I am not sure if I agree but I’ve never thought of reading the narratives that before”.

    Does that answer your question? I hope so.

  552. Reed Here said,

    June 1, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Peter: I think it might be helpful to review, starting back at no. 521. It was at that point that Richard and Dr. White reached a critical stage of agreement.

  553. Pete Myers said,

    June 1, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks Reed,

    I have reviewed again, and read Richard’s summary of his position in the other thread. I am still left with Fowler’s question to Richard, I still can’t see how Richard has answered it. Forgive me if I’m just “missing it” here.

    Let me rephrase what appears to me to be a key issue in a way that might be a little fresh.

    1 – The Spirit gives attributes to scripture.
    2 – The human authors give attributes to scripture.
    3 – Richard wants to make sure that Dr White recognises the attributes that the human authors give to scripture.
    4 – Dr White wants to make sure that Richard recognises the attributes that the Spirit gives to scripture.

    So, I have some questions for both of you, because I want to try and pin you both down and understand where you’re coming from.

    Dr White
    1) What attributes do the human authors give to scripture?
    2) So what makes scripture different to a hypothetical complete manuscript that God just dropped from heaven out of nowhere?
    3) Granted that scripture is both human and divine, how do you balance these two truths? i.e. in describing scripture’s divinely-attained attributes, what distinguishes the attributes of scripture from the Spirit? And why do you draw the line there? (e.g. the Spirit is omniscient – does that mean scripture contains all knowledge? Why not?)

    Richard
    1) What attributes does the Spirit (the divine author) give to scripture?
    2) So what makes scripture different to a godly document produced by the community of faith (such as the apostle’s creed, or the didache)?
    3) Granted that scripture is both human and divine, how do you balance these two truths? i.e. in describing scripture’s humanely-attained attributes, what distinguishes the attributes of scripture from the attributes of men? And why do you draw the line there? (e.g. sinful men are wrong in everything they do… including their teaching, everything is completely soaked in sin… is scripture so soaked in errancy that everything it says is effectively a little bit wrong? Why not?)

  554. rfwhite said,

    June 1, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Richard: I agree with Barr’s comment: I am persuaded (inductively as well as deductively) that the biblical narrators write history using literary strategies that enable the reader to trace the unity of God’s purpose and the consistency of his governance from the first generation to the last. A fundamental — perhaps the fundamental — component of that perspective is that the past is designed to be as a predictor of the future. In other words, “what will happen” is inextricably bound to “what really happened”: the past predicts the future. We cannot have one without the other; we cannot have promises without history. For this reason, when I read you define our problem as one of “approach[ing] the documents from the perspective of what we think they are and proceed to read them in such a way that we think they should be read,” I say, “yes, indeed, this is an undeniable and inevitable reality. Left to ourselves, we’re all unable to break out of the mold into which they have been squeezed unawares.” Perhaps I’m wrong, but we don’t disagree in that analysis. Where we do disagree is this: you approach the documents from the perspective that what really happened is not necessary to their message; I approach those documents from the perspective that what really happened is indispensable to their message. Taking the Bible on its own terms, we can’t have God’s promises of what will happen without the historicity of what really happened, can we?

  555. rfwhite said,

    June 1, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Pete: In response to your questions:

    Q 1) What attributes do the human authors give to scripture? A: If I may be allowed to summarize the attributes that the human authors give to Scripture, I would say that they give to Scripture its historically conditioned, historically situated character.

    Q 2) So what makes scripture different to a hypothetical complete manuscript that God just dropped from heaven out of nowhere? A: Fundamentally, the difference between a manuscript dropped from heaven and Scripture is that Scripture, unlike a manuscript dropped from heaven, appears in history through many persons in many times from many places.

    Q 2) Granted that scripture is both human and divine, how do you balance these two truths? i.e. in describing scripture’s divinely-attained attributes, what distinguishes the attributes of scripture from the Spirit? And why do you draw the line there? (e.g. the Spirit is omniscient – does that mean scripture contains all knowledge? Why not?) A. What distinguishes the attributes of Scripture from [those of] the Spirit is that Scripture is a historically conditioned creation; the Spirit is Scripture’s unconditioned author. Scripture, created as it is, partakes of no incommunicable attribute of God; it does partake of communicable attributes: holiness, goodness, and veracity.

  556. June 2, 2009 at 9:08 am

    [...] encouraging us that he is trustworthy after all. (More can be read on this in the previous posts, Incoherent Inerrancy, Who Ya Gonna Believe, and There’s Accommodation, and then There’s [...]

  557. Pete Myers said,

    June 2, 2009 at 9:41 am

    #555

    Thanks Dr White, that was helpful. I look forward to hearing Richard’s side of the argument, and then – if I may – I might push you a little further on some of your answers.

  558. rfwhite said,

    June 2, 2009 at 11:00 am

    You know, it occurs to me that, to some folks, blogging about theology must sometimes look like watching sausage being made.

  559. Reed Here said,

    June 2, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Alright, now you just went and ruined my love for sausage! (And it was quite a love ;-) .)

  560. Pete Myers said,

    June 2, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    #558,

    I’m afraid I definitely need more explanation to “get” that one!

  561. Richard said,

    June 2, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Peter: Phew, I thought I was the only one!

    rfwhite: It is not so much that I approach the documents from the perspective that what really happened is not necessary to their message but rather I don’t believe that we can get discover “what really happened”. My problem with your position thus far is that I don’t really comprehend how you can hold your saying on the one hand “the theological interests of biblical narrators determine what they say and how they say it” and then on the other proceed to say that “what really happened is indispensable to their [scripture's] message”.

    Your question, “we can’t have God’s promises of what will happen without the historicity of what really happened, can we?” I suppose I wonder what you mean by saying something “really happened”. Does the text tell us what really happened or is that mediated to us through the teller of the story?

    As you agreed with my last Barr quote let me post another,

    The narrative materials of the Old Testament…should be classed not as history, but at the most as ‘history-like’ (Hans Frei’s expression). The material was not in essence history, it was story that included substantial historical elements. The writers were not historians, they were story-tellers whose stories included much historical material.

    This also comes from his essay “Historical Reading and Theological Interpretation” found in The Scope and Authority of the Bible.

    As an aside; for those interested Hans Frei wrote Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: A Study in 18th and 19th Century Hermeneutics. An excellent book on narrative in the OT is Alter’s Art of Biblical Narrative

  562. Richard said,

    June 2, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Pete: Good questions, I’ll post a response tomorrow.

  563. Richard said,

    June 2, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Pete: Below is what I have thus far, if you want me to tease it out then just ask.

    What attributes does the Spirit (the divine author) give to scripture?
    Because the Spirit (co-)authors the scriptures (inspiration) they are authoritative.

    So what makes scripture different to a godly document produced by the community of faith (such as the apostle’s creed, or the didache)?

    Scripture is ontologically authoritative as it’s God-breathed whilst the creed is authoritatively derivatively – derived from the Spirit’s work in the Church.

    Scripture is inspired whilst the diadache isn’t.

    Granted that scripture is both human and divine, how do you balance these two truths? i.e. in describing scripture’s humanely-attained attributes, what distinguishes the attributes of scripture from the attributes of men? And why do you draw the line there? (e.g. sinful men are wrong in everything they do… including their teaching, everything is completely soaked in sin… is scripture so soaked in errancy that everything it says is effectively a little bit wrong? Why not?)

    This is where the incarnational analogy helps; how do we balance the two truths that Jesus was both fully divine and yet fully human? Ultimately we can’t, we just do, we just accept it and give thanks for it.

    I don’t agree with you that people are wrong in everything they do.

    No, scripture is not so soaked in errancy that everything it says is effectively a little bit wrong because what is being taught does not depend upon the truthfulness of the events portrayed. My point has been that we misread the text when we simply treat it as a history textbook as if in reading the text we are looking through a glass ball seeing historical events happen as if we were there as well.

  564. Pete Myers said,

    June 2, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Well…

    I think there are things that I’d like to tease out from both Dr White, and from Richard, if I may. For those who are just catching up, the questions were posed in #553, Dr White responded in #555, and Richard responded in #563.

    Dr White
    1) I think “historically situated” seems fairly straightforward. But can you develop a little bit what you mean by “historically conditioned“? Picking up Richard’s language, what effect does this historical conditioning have on scripture ontologically, if at all, in your view?

    2) The “fundamental difference” you describe could still mean that scripture was “dropped out of heaven”, just in little chunks over a period of many years. I suppose pushing you on this is actually only getting you to describe what your answer to my last question looks like in practice, but, what would the difference be in the text itself?

    3) In all that’s a helpful answer. Though by making the distinction between the incommunicable attributes of God and the communicable attributes, your description of the relationship between scripture and the Spirit sounds analogous to the relationship between man and God. Since Richard picked up on this analogy, could you describe to what extent you agree with the incarnational analogy and to what extent you disagree? (oh… and why)

    Richard
    Thanks for your responses. Can I push you on a few of them as well?

    1) Why do you say that the Spirit gives the attribute of authority to scripture, and not list any other attributes? Dr White distinguished between the incommunicable attributes and the communicable attributes. In other words, he gave a reason why some things are true of scripture and some aren’t. How are you deciding that the authority of the Spirit is attributed to scripture, but other attributes aren’t?

    2) I’m a little confused by the distinction you’ve drawn between scripture being ontologically authoritative, but the creed deriving it’s authority from the church. Only because reading over your previous posts, you seem to have been saying at one point that the authority of scripture is derived from the community of faith. Could you spell out the distinction between the authority of scripture and the authority of the creed in a bit more detail?

    3) We could get side-tracked on a discussion on total depravity, et al. In order to avoid that, I hope it’s ok if I bring the question back round from a different tack. The confusing problem with the incarnational analogy in the way it seems to be used is that Jesus was God incarnate as a true human, rather than a sinful human. Whereas scripture is the words of God spoken through sinful men.

    I suppose we could put it like this. When we talk about Christ, we are talking about one person with two natures… a human nature and a divine nature. However, redeemed men sort of have two natures also… they have an old man, and a new man… a sinful nature, and a redeemed human nature. That’s a slightly odd way of putting things… but it’s the best I can do in a paragraph, and will suffice for our purposes I think. The point is, there are 3 “natures” in play when it comes to the writing of scripture. There is the divine nature, human nature, and the sinful nature.

    What attributes do you think scripture takes from each of these three “natures” as it were, or do some of them not affect the attributes of scripture at all?

  565. rfwhite said,

    June 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    559-560: In American idiom, when we say that something is like sausage being made, we mean that unpleasant truths emerge about it that make it less pleasant. So, the idea here is that, when people who aren’t accustomed to theological give-and-take view our blogging about theology, they may be less fond of theology … or blogging … or, most likely, us! Hopefully, not all three.

  566. rfwhite said,

    June 2, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    561 Richard: Rewording our principal difference at this point: you approach the documents from the perspective that what really happened is undiscoverable (inaccessible); I approach those documents from the perspective that what really happened is discoverable (accessible) and indispensably so. The reason I make this claim is that that which we have dubbed “what really happened” is the history of revelation and redemption and God gave Scripture to make that history known. Can you tell us why are you so skeptical of discovering what really happened? Do you mean to say that theological interests necessarily, inevitably obscure history (aka “what really happened”), even when theological interests depend for their authority on history? If the theological interests of the biblical authors do not depend on history for their authority, on what do they depend? Or, again, do you mean to say that a medium is incapable of communicating what really happened? Do you mean to say that mediation invariably corrupts story-telling so that no story — at least no story told for theological interests — can be told as it really happened?

  567. rfwhite said,

    June 2, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    564 Pete Myers:

    On Q1, by “historically conditioned” I mean that Scripture is a product of the circumstances of time and place.

    On Q2, well, Pete, you’ve changed the terms of your question. The question you asked me was to contrast scripture with “a hypothetical complete manuscriptdropped from heaven.” The fundamental difference I identified was intended to highlight two features: 1) that Scripture was not in “complete manuscript form”; it was given, if you will, as a multi-volume library (a library of manuscripts); and 2) that Scripture was not “dropped from heaven”: it did not originate from nor was it instantaneously delivered from a suprahistorical environment, that is, a setting independent of the vicissitudes of the historical process. The text is the product of human history’s epochs. Whether dropped from heaven or emerging from history on earth, however, that text is brought into being by the breath of God through human authors.
    On Q3, I can’t improve on what Lane G. Tipton has said with regard to the incarnational analogy (see his “Incarnation, Inspiration, and Pneumatology: A Reformed Incarnational Analogy”): “my suggestion is simply that the way Christ’s assumed human nature relates to his eternal person as the Son of God provides a paradigm for understanding the way human agents and historical context relate to the eternal person of the Spirit. In this sense, pneumatology is a powerful antidote to historicism and skepticism. (emphasis added) The divine person and work of the Spirit supplies the ultimate context framing all hermeneutical considerations; the historical is not ultimate.” To relate this to my point: Scripture is historically conditioned, but it is also Spiritually conditioned, and the Spirit rules Scripture’s historical conditioned-ness, ensuring that Scripture is holy, good, and true.

  568. Pete Myers said,

    June 3, 2009 at 2:06 am

    Dr White
    Thanks for that. I’m finding pushing you and Richard quite helpful. I hope you’re happy to bear with me.

    Again, I’ll wait until Richard responds further before asking you any more questions. Though – for a heads up – my next question to you will be along the lines of why we should privilege the Spirit over the historical as the ultimate context? And there are various other questions that then leads to.

    But, as I say, once Richard responds, I’ll ask you the question again and frame it a little more carefully.

  569. Richard said,

    June 3, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Pete: # 564
    If I may alter the order of your questions and deal with Q3 first.

    a. Whilst I subscribe to the incarnational analogy I am quite careful in how I use it as a teaching aid as, like all analogies, it breaks down when pushed too far. I would want to add to your analysis to say that as I understand it, Jesus’ human nature , whilst not sinful, was like ours in that it suffered from the effects of the fall (it has been a while since I studied Christology systematically so please correct me if I am wrong here). He hungered, thirsted, tired etc. We also have examples in the Gospels where Jesus’ knowledge is limited, i.e. not omniscient. Then of course Jesus dressed as a Jew did in the 1 C.E. and did things as they did then, he was culturally a Jew of the first century C. E. Jesus was no suprahistorical figure he was also culturally situated.

    b. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t find your three natures helpful. I agree with what you say – “scripture is the word of God spoken through sinful men”, how mind blowing is that!

    Q1 & Q2 to follow

  570. Richard said,

    June 3, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Pete: # 564

    Q1: By looking at what scripture is we can determine what its attributes are and from what I can tell all we have on the divine side of things is that the scriptures are inspired. I am not convinced of Dr. Whites presentation simply because there was no reason given why God’s communicable attributes reside in scripture. I’d have no objection outright to saying that scripture possesses holiness, goodness, and veracity but I would have to ask, “What does that mean concretely?”

    Q2: My argument has not been that the authority of scripture is derived from the community of faith but as I noted above, the authority of scripture lies in its being the voice of the Spirit of God as it works through the community of faith in history, i.e. I have grounded the authority of the scriptures in their God-breathedness and so they are authoritatively in and of themselves.

    So how do I distinguish between the authority of scripture and the authority of the creed? I suppose the simplest way of getting this across is to say that documents derive their authority from their authors, so the scriptures are authoritative because their author is the Spirit of God and the creed is authoritative because its author is the Church. Does that help?

  571. Richard said,

    June 3, 2009 at 9:26 am

    rfwhite: re – #566 – Yes, theological interests may obscure what really happened, and the story as it has been mediated is incapable of communicating what really happened. Could you explain how theological interests depend for their authority on history, perhaps using the differing chronology below?

    1 Chronicles 13:1-4 (No parallel)
    1 Chronicles 13:5-14 = 2 Sam 6:1-11
    1 Chronicles 14:1-16 = 2 Sam 5:11-25
    1 Chronicles 14:17 (No parallel)
    1 Chronicles 15:1-24 (No parallel)
    1 Chronicles 15:25-16:3 = 2 Sam 6:12b-19a
    1 Chronicles 16:8-22 = Ps 105:1-15
    1 Chronicles 16:23-33 = Ps 96:1-13
    1 Chronicles 16:34-36 = Ps 106:1, 47, 48
    1 Chronicles 16:37-42 (No parallel)
    1 Chronicles 16:43 = 2 Sam 6:19b-20a

    Which one really happened? How do we know?

  572. Richard said,

    June 3, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Do check out this and this.

  573. Pete Myers said,

    June 3, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    #569-570, Richard, & #567 Dr White

    Richard. Thanks for your response. I feel there’s a few answers from Richard that don’t actually answer the question. I’d like to push you further on your answers once I get them, but, I can’t do that until you tackle the essence of them head on.

    But, since that means I’m writing a lot to Richard, and nothing to Dr White… I’ll now quickly pose the question I wanted to ask Dr White off the back of his answers: Why we should privilege the Spirit over the historical as the ultimate context?

    #569
    I’m afraid that in #569 you don’t seem to have actually addressed the questions. Your comment about Jesus’ human nature:

    Jesus’ human nature , whilst not sinful, was like ours in that it suffered from the effects of the fall (it has been a while since I studied Christology systematically so please correct me if I am wrong here). He hungered, thirsted, tired etc. We also have examples in the Gospels where Jesus’ knowledge is limited, i.e. not omniscient.

    I don’t consider being hungry, thirsty, or tired to be effects of the fall. Before the fall, man had to eat, drink and sleep. Also, Jesus’ knowledge being limited is not an effect of the fall. Human nature is limited, and therefore not omniscient.

    In fact omniscience is called an incommunicable attribute for precisely the reason that no creature could ever share in this attribute. You must be the infinite God to be omniscient.

    Your following response is a little perplexing:

    I’ll be honest and say I didn’t find your three natures helpful. I agree with what you say – “scripture is the word of God spoken through sinful men”, how mind blowing is that!

    I’m not asking these questions to “help” you. I’m asking them to try and understand your position, particularly at the points where it doesn’t appear coherent. I’m trying to push Dr White similarly.

    Furthermore, why is it “unhelpful”? What do you mean by “unhelpful”? If it’s unhelpful, then what is a better way of understanding the issue, and why? It’s not actually helpful to me to simply not answer my question because you don’t like it.

    The question is actually very important, so I’ll put it a different way for you: There are attributes that are inherently divine (e.g. being omniscient, being omnipotent, having supreme authority, being utterly truthful – i.e. infallible and inerrant, etc.), there are attributes that are inherently human or creaturely (e.g. being dependent, being limited – including limited in knowledge, therefore having gaps in knowledge, etc.), and there are attributes that are inherently sinful (e.g. being untruthful, or deceptive, being disobedient, etc.).

    To illustrate. Adam before the fall was limited but perfect. There were gaps in his knowledge – things he didn’t understand – and so at the end of the day there would always be something he couldn’t explain. However, after the fall, Adam and you and me are now not only limited, but also imperfect, inherently rebellious, and prone to lies. Before the fall, Adam said things that were true, but weren’t the whole picture. Now you and I say things that are true, but also things that are false. Adam – before the fall – never said anything false, because he was perfect.

    With that explained, could you expand on what you mean by,

    I agree with what you say – “scripture is the word of God spoken through sinful men”, how mind blowing is that!

    Whether people agree on the surface can be immaterial to a discussion, when what’s underneath the surface (i.e. what’s meant by a statement) is completely different. So what do you mean underneath?

    #570
    I’m afraid that your answer to question 1 seemed to side-step the issue. Can you do any better to defend your view of what attributes scripture gets from the Spirit than simply “when I look at it, these are the attributes it seems to share”?

    To put that more strongly – does your view of what attributes the Spirit shares with scripture have anything better to support it than simply your opinion?

  574. rfwhite said,

    June 3, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Richard: You’ll notice that I did not ask whether theological interests “may” obscure history but whether theological interests “necessarily, inevitably” obscures history. No matter really: your subsequent claim (that “the story as it has been mediated is incapable of communicating what really happened”) makes it clear that theological interests obscure history, story-mediation thwarts history-telling. Given that you approach the text with such skepticism, there is little profit in discussing individual passages at this point. Your skepticism raises more serious issues, it seems to me. Among them:

    What is the basis of your confidence that the text of Scripture is the Spirit’s voice (as you do in 570; cf. 461, 495)?

    Moreover, what is the point of talking about Scripture as the Spirit’s voice when Scripture, as it has been mediated, is incapable of communicating about things as they really are and presumably capable only of communicating about things as they are not really?

    If the Spirit has a communicative intent, and if Scripture is the Spirit’s voice and is the Spirit’s medium of choice, how is it that Scripture does not render the Spirit incapable of accomplishing his communicative intent? Indeed, how is it that the Spirit, by making Scripture his voice, has not stifled himself?

  575. rfwhite said,

    June 4, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Pete: In answer to your question (573: Why we should privilege the Spirit over the historical as the ultimate context?), I would say, in summary, that we should privilege the Spirit over the historical as the ultimate context because the rationale for Scripture’s existence comes from God. Scripture is the historical phenomenon by which God, the sovereign architect and lord of history, asserts and maintains his supreme authority. History, including Scripture, is, down to its most minute details, the realization of God’s eternal, predeterminate counsel and good pleasure. Scripture exists at God’s pleasure and for God’s ends. So, as I understand it, God through the Spirit takes precedence over the historical as the ultimate (defining) context-condition for Scripture.

  576. Pete Myers said,

    June 4, 2009 at 9:18 am

    #575, Dr White,

    Thank you. I won’t push you any further until Richard has answered the outstanding questions.

  577. Richard said,

    June 4, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Pete: I see where you are going, whilst I agree that the Spirit of God is omniscient, omnipotent, possessing supreme authority, and utterly truthful you cannot simply apply these attributes directly to the scriptures as if the text is itself divine. The attributes the text gets from the Spirit is simply its inspiration (“Scripture is God-breathed” 2 Tim. 3:16).

    By saying that “scripture is the word of God spoken through sinful men” I mean sinful men wrote the scriptures which is the word of God.

  578. Pete Myers said,

    June 4, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    #577 Richard,

    1) “Inspiration” isn’t an “attribute”… and if it is an attribute, what does it mean?
    2) You still haven’t actually answered the questions laid out. I very carefully unpacked them for you.

    By saying that “scripture is the word of God spoken through sinful men” I mean sinful men wrote the scriptures which is the word of God.

    Your explanation here is – frankly – tautological.

  579. Richard said,

    June 4, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    rfwhite:

    What is the basis of your confidence that the text of Scripture is the Spirit’s voice?

    The witness of the Spirit through the Church.

    what is the point of talking about Scripture as the Spirit’s voice when Scripture, as it has been mediated, is incapable of communicating about things as they really are and presumably capable only of communicating about things as they are not really?

    The Spirit message is that which has been mediated, it is not as if we are playing a game of chinese whispers where the Spirit speaks to the first person who then repeates it to A1, A2…An and the end results is a distortion of the Spirit’s voice, rather the end product is the Spirit’s voice.

  580. Richard said,

    June 4, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Pete, what is ‘inspiration’ if it is not an attribute?

  581. Pete Myers said,

    June 4, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Richard, please just deal with the question.

  582. Reed Here said,

    June 4, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Richard: ahem … feel free to stick with Pete’s and Dr. White’s questions. Let me observe something which I hope you receive with the graciousness with which it is intended.

    You are so tentative Richard that your convictions are in effect meaningless. The only real conviction you’ve expressed is that which you sought to apply to Kamelda – the Bible we have is really just the word of sinful men, not actually the word of God.

    I know you will say with some reaon, “now wait a minute, haven’t I said … x, y, and z about the Bible being God’s word?” Yes, yes you have. Yet your expressions, as seen in these last two responses (to Pete and Dr. White) show that such affirmations are meaningless to your understanding of the Bible.

    I expect you’ll disagree. I doubt you’ll find one single area in your convictions where the fact that the Bible is God’s word as you understand it is essential. Rather what is essential is your own conviction.

    You are expressing faith in your constructs, not faith in God’s testimony. It is your understanding that rests supreme, not God’s declaration.

    I know that is a hard charge Richard. I offer it with all the sincerity and desires for your blessing I can ask from our Lord. You almost sound lost man.

  583. Reed Here said,

    June 4, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Pete: for Richard’s, mine, and other’s sake, please re-post the questions here. This will make them fresh for all of us, and make Richard’s answers more understandable.

    Thanks!

  584. Richard said,

    June 4, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Pete: Inspiration means that the Spirit of God has breathed out the scripture.

    Reed: Thanks for your input.

  585. rfwhite said,

    June 4, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Richard: Help us understand how it can be the case that “it is not as if we are playing a game of Chinese whispers … and the end product is the Spirit’s voice”? What is the basis of your confidence in the church as a medium of the Spirit’s communication? Is the church any more capable of communicating than the text? Is there something about the medium of the church that is superior to the medium of the text? That is, if the Spirit’s witness through the church is mediated just as the Spirit’s voice through the text is mediated, and that which is mediated is incapable of “real” communication, why are you not as skeptical about the church as you are about the text?

  586. Pete Myers said,

    June 4, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    #584

    Richard… I don’t understand why you’re even bothering to write that sentence. You said that
    1) 2 Tim 3v16 tells us that scripture is “God-breathed”
    2) which means it’s “inspired”
    3) and now you’ve said that “inspiration” means that God has “breathed out” the scripture.

    …so you’ve actually said nothing.

    Richard, I really can’t figure you out. I can’t tell if you are being deliberately ingenuous in order to avoid answering a question you don’t want to, or whether you just don’t understand how your above answers are pointless, because they are tautological.

    Since Reed has asked me to repost my questions, and now there’s been some water under the bridge, so I will re-articulate them again. I’d ask you, Richard, to please respond to the substantive point of the question, rather than skirting around the issue.

    I’m going to try and summarise what’s been said. Then lay out the issues on the table. Then state the questions that need to be answered.

    You have acknowledged that scripture is God-breathed. I have deliberately pushed Dr White on the implications of scripture having human authors, and in contrast I have attempted to push you on the implications of scripture having a divine author.

    Bearing in mind that scripture has a divine author… what implications does this have on the attributes that scripture possesses? The answer you’ve given so far is to state that scripture has authority. But I then asked you why scripture should take the attribute of authority from God, but not other divine attributes. The answer you’ve given to that, so far, is to say that scripture is the way you observe it to be.

    The problem with that answer, though, is it basically boils down to you saying “Well, things are the way they are, because that’s the way it seems to me.”

    You need to explain, though, why scripture has God’s authority, but not other divine attributes. Dr White put forward the suggestion that scripture shares God’s communicable attributes, but not his incommunicable attributes. You have rejected that paradigm, but not explained why, nor put forward an alternative paradigm.

    Furthermore, I have outlined for you the differences between attributes that are inherently divine, attributes that are inherently human (or creaturely), and attributes that are inherently sinful.

    God is omniscient, he knows all things, and he knows them all truly and completely. Furthermore, God is completely truthful, God cannot lie, nor can he deceive. In other words, the nature of divinity is inerrant.

    Before the fall, Adam did not believe anything untruthful. He was limited, that’s true, and so there were gaps in his knowledge, and things he couldn’t explain… but everything he did know was completely true. In other words, the perfect man was also inerrant.

    After the fall, men became sinful, and began to believe lies and deceit. So after the fall, sinful people now believe things that are false. In other words, it is only things that are marred by sin that are errant.

    1) What attributes does God give to his Word?
    2) Why do you think God gives his Word those attributes, and not others?
    3) What attributes do the human authors give scripture?
    4) Does scripture have any attributes from the sinfulness of men?

    By “attributes” I mean what we’ve been talking about for a good while now… the things that are ontologically true about the nature of scripture itself.

  587. Reed Here said,

    June 4, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Richard: let me emphasize what has been said by others already. We thank you for sticking with the conversation thus far. I know Dr. White’s and Pete final follow up questions could be read antognistically. I just want to reiterate that is not their intention.

    I’m sure you know this and agree. I thought it might be best to remind ourselves, and re-affirm for others merely reading along that this is where things stand, and not otherwise.

  588. rfwhite said,

    June 4, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Pete, Richard: For clarification, the reason why I invoked the communicable attributes of holiness, goodness, and veracity to answer Pete’s question about the Spirit’s attributes that reside in Scripture is because Scripture is a divine creation sharing certain attributes ordinarily ascribed to the Creator. This seemed to me an easy and useful summary reference point to answer Pete’s question, given that the incommunicable attribute, omniscience, is not a trait of Scripture. If the incommunicable-communicable framework confuses the discussion, let it go for now. Ordinarily, we speak of such things as authority, clarity, necessity, and sufficiency as the traits of Scripture — but these don’t answer the question Pete posed. On the other hand, if authority is a trait of Scripture consequent on its inspiration, and authority entails the right to be believed and obeyed (as we’ve agreed above), are not holiness, goodness, and veracity entailments of the authority of Scripture as they are entailments of the authority of God the Spirit?

  589. rfwhite said,

    June 4, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Richard: Perhaps I’ve missed it, but I’m still trying to understand: given your approach to Scripture, how is it that Scripture does not render the Spirit incapable of accomplishing his communicative intent? I apologize if I’m not hearing you on this point. I’m pushing it because of other commitments and increasingly limited time to devote to our conversation, which has been useful for my and, I hope, others’ understanding.

  590. Pete Myers said,

    June 5, 2009 at 2:03 am

    #587

    Thank you Reed. My intentions are certainly to try and understand where Richard is coming from and to encourage him to move toward a more classically evangelical view of scripture. Since Reed felt it necessary to clarify my motives, obviously my comment in #586 could be read as terse, and I apologise if that is the case.

    It was hard work summarising lots of discussion in just a single blog comment, and I only have a certain amount of time to do it in (before my son tries to eat the computer cable again), and so I don’t always have time to re-read my comments. Equally, though, it is very difficult when I have to work hard to extract plain answers to questions.

    So, sorry if I was terse. I look forward to more interaction on the issues outstanding (in #586)

  591. Richard said,

    June 5, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Pete: It’s clear that we are working upon different lines that don’t seem to be crossing at the moment. Our differing paradigms inevitably mean that what you think are main issues are in my mind relatively minor if at all significant and vice versa and our methodologies are founded upon divergent principles.

    When you ask me, “What does ‘inspiration’ mean?” my reply has been to define what it means as I understand it, if you don’t like how I understand it then fine and dandy, feel free to offer another definition.

    Your comments above concerning ‘adam are purely theoretical and too philosophical for this type of discussion.

    We need to take seriously the human authorship of the biblical witness, yes it was inspired, but I do wonder how that plays out especially when we consider the creator-creature distinction. Whilst the nature of divinity is inerrant, the scripture is first and foremost a human production written by fallen human beings marred by sin and if, as you say, “things that are marred by sin…are errant” we can know that the scripture is errant, unless of course you want to argue that the scripture has a divine nature.

    I am skeptical of talking about God giving his Word attributes, rather because God is x so his word is x and yet we must resist carrying this out after a reductionist manner. I am unable to say that scripture is God’s word without that being nuanced; well we could both say “scripture is the word of God” yet if we did we would not be agreeing on anything.

  592. Richard said,

    June 5, 2009 at 7:52 am

    rfwhite: I am arguing that Scripture does not render the Spirit incapable of accomplishing his communicative intent because the end product, after all the “chinese whispers” is what God is pleased to say.

    Further, the Spirit’s witness through the church is mediated just as the Spirit’s voice through the text is mediated are one and the same and FWIW, that which is mediated is capable of “real” communication.

  593. Reed Here said,

    June 5, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Richard: man I’m sorry to do this. Yet as I sense you are beginning once again to move away from dealing with necessary implications of all that you’ve said, this needs to be concluded:

    Your convictions about the divine nature of Scripture are meaningless, vacuous affirmations with no relevant value. You so emphasize the human aspect of Scripture as to make the divine aspect moot.

    Pete’s probing question about your view of inspiration has been met with a “if you don’t like my definition,” oh well. Your definition was nothing more than a textbook answer which all the details of your conversations these past few weeks belies. Again, it is like listening to a Mormon insist they believe Jesus is the Son of God – don’t be so rude as to not take it on face value.

    Your response to Dr. White is akin. The Spirit is not rendered incapable because God is God after all …????!!!! For one so concerned that we not rest with simplistic notions of what it means that the Bible, though inspired, is writen by fallen men, you offer a response that amounts to nothing more than fideism.

    I am quite frankly very, very disappointed that you have not seen fit to offer the rest of us patiently listening and interacting with you the courteousy of an actual response or two that get’s to the heart of it all. Telling PEter, “well, we’re coming from two different perspectives, so I guess we can’t really converse,” is just plain arrogant. It is especially so given the amount of careful listening granted to you.

    It may very well be that you are sitting at your PC right now, mildly shocked by my words, not even beginning to understand why I am saying what I am. My only response would be that there are degrees of arrogance – assuming it is all the other guy’s problem is the height of it. Dude (might you say “bloke” on that side of the pond?) don’t you really get it????

    Seriously Richard, your’s is a position that agrees the Emperor really is naked, and then goes about describing the glories of sumptuous wardrobe he is wearing.

    Please, if all you think to respond to me is with a “thanks for the response,” no need. I’m not writing to get a pound of flesh from you. I’m worried about you and those you influence. If God is not honoring my words in your soul by bringing any critical response (positive or negative), then I appreciate your politeness and assume it still stands.

  594. Pete Myers said,

    June 5, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Richard,

    1) It’s not that I “don’t like” your definition of inspiration, it’s that I’ve demonstrated that you’re “definition” actually offers no substantive explanation at all. It’s a circular argument: “Inspiration = God-breathed, and God-breathed = inspiration.”

    Do you genuinely not understand how that is a redundant sentence?

    2) Nobody else is denying the importance of taking the human authorship of scripture seriously. Have you noticed that I was pushing Dr White on those questions, and attempting to do so simultaneously while pushing you on the questions of what the divine authorship means for scripture? While Dr White has offered robust arguments in support of his view, you have not even engaged with the questions thrown your way, you have repeatedly side-stepped the issue.

    3) You are still failing to actually engage with the questions being asked of your position. And all this does is seriously cripple your argument. It means that you’re effectively saying “My argument is rock solid, so long as you don’t ask me X, or talk about Y, or go anywhere near Z.”

    4) It is very convenient that the issues that are glaringly inconsistent in your position are the ones that you don’t believe are important enough to even address.

    5) You have not presented a paradigm. I would love to understand the differences between our paradigms, but instead you present half a paradigm, but then fail to address the questions people ask of how your paradigm appears to be self-refuting.

  595. Pete Myers said,

    June 5, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Richard,

    On a personal note, I have had to make major climb-downs before on issues on this very blog. It was difficult, and it was embarrassing. And when I did finally, someone still continued to derride me! They said that if I’d climbed down, then that demonstrated that I was obviously a poor thinker!

    Needless to say, that wasn’t very nice.

    But Richard, I share Reed’s sentiment when he says that I do not wish to get a pound of flesh from you. I really, really, really would prefer to you to tackle the tough questions for you position properly rather than make you do a public climb-down that you really don’t want to make. If you’re avoiding questions, because it seems like you’d lose so much face and qudos, then I totally understand. I really do not want you to have to face an embarrassing public “I was wrong” – what’s the point of that.

    But, the issues are important. Whether you think they are or not, the statements of faith that we work within the context of affirm inerrancy. Drop me an email… I can be contacted through my website http://www.metepyers.com/contact (metepyers is a nickname I picked up at St Helen’s, and is always a free username!). It would be much easier to tackle the issues seriously in private than in public.

    It’s up to you. But please don’t continue to just ignore the inconvenient because you’d have to lose face if you tackled it.

  596. rfwhite said,

    June 5, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Richard: I meant the expression “real” communication as blogging shorthand for communicating what really happened. Did you? Are you saying that the text is incapable of communicating what really happened, but capable of “real” communication? Please explain.

  597. Richard said,

    June 5, 2009 at 9:16 am

    rfwhite: By “real” communication I meant the message that was intended to be communicated, i.e. the theological message. Such a message depends not upon what really happened but rather upon what is reported, ergo one can have real communication without historical reality. I trust that makes sense.

  598. Reed Here said,

    June 5, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Real Communication: using that definition, Aesop’s Fables, The Fall of the House of Ussher, and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow are all real communication.

    Of course, we presume that none of them are anything but a man’s real communication. It still comes back down to what is real for the Spirit’s communication in Scipture?

  599. rfwhite said,

    June 5, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Richard: Thanks for 597. Help me understand: If, as you say, “what is reported” does not rest on “what really happened” (things as they really are), why should we believe and obey what is reported?

  600. Richard said,

    June 5, 2009 at 9:58 am

    rfwhite: We are believing and obeying the message not that which is reported as this is subservient to the theological message. So, for example, in Aesop’s fables the aim of the story “Boy who cried wolf” is to stop us from crying wolf, this message is to be heeded. The historicity of the story is irrelevant to the real meaning and our response. The aim of the deuteronomist writing DtrH2 is to explain why God brought the exile to pass and to exhort Israel to obey God’s Torah.

  601. Pete Myers said,

    June 5, 2009 at 11:52 am

    #600

    And a key reason is because “I am the God who saved you out of Egypt”

  602. Richard said,

    June 5, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Pete: I’m not too sure what your point is, Sarna writes, “It must always be remembered that the biblical narrative is a theological exposition – a document of faith, not a historiographical record” (Exodus). Brevard Childs works within this arguing that, “Israel shaped its historical experience of the law within a frequently non-historical, theological pattern in order to bear testimony to its understanding of its life in relation to the divine will.” My pointis, and has been, that the biblical witness often refers to historical events but its description of them is for a purpose other than simply describing what happened. This is quite clear when one reads the DtrH.

  603. Pete Myers said,

    June 5, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    My pointis, and has been, that the biblical witness often refers to historical events but its description of them is for a purpose other than simply describing what happened

    That is not your point. We all agree with the above statement. The point you make goes beyond that statement.

    As to my point in #601, simple… It is not just the resurrection where the theological point being made is tied to the historical event. That is also true of the exodus, of the covenant between YHWH and Israel. Exodus 20 tells us that Israel’s covenant status is presupposed upon the historical veracity of the saving events of Exodus 1-19.

  604. Richard said,

    June 5, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Pete: It tells us nothing of the sort, to make such a claim is an incredibly dangerous one indeed. You are reading the final form of the text, the canonical shape, as if it is historical as if it presents history to us univocally. There is a difference between an historical event and accounts of that same event that have been shaped according to Israel’s self-consciousness.

  605. Pete Myers said,

    June 5, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Richard… I’m reading the theological statement of canonical scripture… and pointing out that the theological statement is bound up with it’s historical claims.

    Now.. let’s just all be clear here. I am reading the plain meaning of Exodus 20v2, and you are describing that as “incredibly dangerous“.

    Richard, wherever one defines the line of what an Evangelical is you are clearly far beyond it by now.

  606. rfwhite said,

    June 5, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Richard: As you are now recycling false disjunctions between theology and history, I’m obliged to move on. Thank you for keeping it cordial.

  607. Reed Here said,

    June 5, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Richard:

    Did Jesus really rise from the dead, or is this merely a theological statement not connected to the historicity of the underlying events?

    If there is a one to one connection between these two (the theological statement and the historical event), what principle(s) are used to to differentiate this historicity from any other text-event couple in the Scripture’s, like the Exodus?

    Where does one find this (these) principle(s) in the Scriptures?

    Surely you can see the relevance of what I’m driving at. Please, no meadering answers, rehashing old ground. Especially no links to something you’ve read.

    This is basic Christianity even the simplest believer is enabled to answer.

    Is the resurrection historical fact, or mere theological statement? What principle enables you to determine this?

  608. Reed Here said,

    June 6, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Richard:

    I trust your day is going well. May your worship tomorrow be blessed.

    Please, respond as soon as you can. I find this to be quite urgent.

  609. June 6, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    [...] on the supposed errors in the Bible there is an unacknowledged gorilla in the room. (See Incoherent Inerrancy, Who Ya Gonna Believe, There’s Accommodation, and then There’s …?, and Check Your Facts!, [...]

  610. Richard said,

    June 7, 2009 at 4:16 am

    Reed: Each Lord’s day I have the pleasure of professing what I believe through the reciting of the creed:

    I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:
    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten son of God, Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made: Who for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man, And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead: Whose kingdom shall have no end.
    And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord and giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one Catholick and Apostolick Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the Resurrection of the dead, And the life of the world to come. Amen. [My emphasis]

    The rising of Jesus from the grave is an historical event; through form critical analysis we can discover early creedal or confessional forms used by the apostolic church prior to the writing of NT scripture and centuries before the canon was settled, e.g. 1 Tim 3:6 ” Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory.” And 1 Cor. 15:3-7, “Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles.”

    The form of the literature itself bears witness to the reality of the history that stand behind them. This is different when we come to the OT documents, often there does indeed stand an historic reality behind what is talked about, e.g. the Exodus, but the witness to that event has been shaped by millennia of reworking by the community of faith. In his Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic points out the weakness of the older critical analysis noting:

    …some members of the history-of-redemption school are driven to find separate cults or festivals, or separate units of Israel contributing one by one the elements in the historical pattern of Israel’s early cult and epic: Exodus traditions stemming from one place, those of the covenant making at Sinai from another, Conquest traditions from a third cult or shrine or tribe. While it is true, obviously, that all elements of later twelve-tribe Israel did not engage in these epic events but came to share them as historical memories through the “actualizing” of them in the covenantal cultus, it must be insisted that the pattern – Exodus from Egypt, Covenant at Sinai, Conquest of Canaan – is prior, cultically and historically, to the several elements in the pattern or Gestalt.

    I follow Cross in his analysis that the Song of the Sea is one of the oldest pieces of Hebrew poetry we have and it stems from a very early period in Israel’s history, this testifies to the fact that a group of people believed an exodus took place. I believe the numbers involved as we read in our text is most likely a textual corruption, perhaps an idealised number, but that an exodus took place I have no doubt whatsoever. If we accept this and go with the later date of 1300 BCE with the final P redaction of Exodus at about 600 BCE we have at minumum 700 years for the story to be told and re-told according to different situations; this is in stark contrast to the NT.

  611. Richard said,

    June 7, 2009 at 4:46 am

    Pete: It is probably best to say you are reading what you believe to be the plain meaning of Exodus whilst at the same time ignoring the tradition-history of the text. The problem is when you start making historical claims based upon the canonical shape of the text which is theologically shaped not historically driven. That the exodus took place I doubt not, but that is different from saying Ex. 1-19 provides us with an eye-witness account of what really happened, do check out the work of James Barr.

    Two excellent books that I am sure you would enjoy; “Behind” the Text: History and Biblical Interpretation and Canon and Biblical Interpretation.

  612. Reed Here said,

    June 7, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Richard:

    In other words your support for the historicity of the resurrection is based on the critical reliability of the NT record. I.e., if you did not have such external textual evidences, or the period was longer – poof goes the proof.

    What if we dig up an Egyptian monument that records the Exodus exactly as Mose reports, a monument date within 50 years of the supposed date?

    Richard, your’s is not an evangelical conviction. Note you have not demonstrated that your intepretive principle is found in the Bible. I.e., you rely ultimately, as your primary source of authority, not on God speaking in the Bible, but on man speaking in higher criticism. You have let unbelief determine what you should believe.

    P.S. no more lengthy quotes please. It would suffice to reference the Apostles Creed. As well, you need to focus your source references futher. Too many words, Richard, tend to mask the underlying unbelief in your principles.

  613. GLW Johnson said,

    June 7, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Reed
    Peter Jones has written a very perceptive piece that relates to this whole discussion entitled ‘Evangelicalism Hijacked by Closet Theoloical Liberals’ over at truthXchange (Feb26,2009) http://www.truthxchange.com/article/55-evangelicalism-hijacked-by-closet-theoloical-liberals/htp

  614. Richard said,

    June 7, 2009 at 7:07 am

    Reed: I prefer to base my theological convictions upon “What is” not “What if”; the former deals with the evidence we have at our disposal and attempts to grapple with it, the latter ends up as special pleading which ultimately convinces no-one.

    When it’s claimed that the Christian faith is a faith rooted in real events that took place in time, attempts to look into history to verify those claims cannot be said to be illegitimate; when people point out that the historical evidence fails to support the claims found recorded in the text one cannot simply claim they must be wrong simply because you don’t like it, well theoretically you could do this but don’t be surprised when your objection is not taken seriously.

    Do check out A Case for ʻReformed Evidentialismʼ by John Johnson.

    God bless!

    PS: It was the Nicene Creed.

  615. Pete Myers said,

    June 7, 2009 at 7:13 am

    Richard,

    Do you acknowledge that your position effectively removes the perspicuity of scripture?

    With the position you’re putting forward: Discerning God’s truth cannot be done with scripture alone. Discerning what is and isn’t being taught as true is impossible to achieve without mountains of historical-critical scholarship.

    Even believing the creed and the claims of the historicity of the resurrection is impossible for the average punter in the pew, because they have no way of deciding whether it is being taught as historical fact.

    For the punter in the pew, they must have you in the church to “vet” everything they wish to take from scripture as either true or false. There is no way to achieve this otherwise.

    Do you recognise that consequence of your assertions?

  616. GLW Johnson said,

    June 7, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Richard
    Do you actually read the stuff you link here? Maybe you do ,but gee whiz, simply because the author of the piece ‘A Case for Reformed Evidentialism’ puts stress of the reliablity of the historical record as a proper apologetic basis does not or should not give you any consolation for impugning the historicity of the OT narratives. All of the old Princeton men plowed in this furrow- including the OT scholars like Wm.Green, O.T. Allis and Robert Dick Wilson and they certainly did come out where you are.

  617. Richard said,

    June 7, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Pete: Perspicuity never meant that we can discern God’s truth with scripture alone (just look at John Gill’s commentaries!), as Muller makes clear in PRRD vol. 2. The Reformers and High Orthodox recognised that in places Scripture was unclear, but not on matters of salvation. They further recognised that an educated clergy and doctors of theology were essential for the life of the Church in order to explain scripture; so the Synopsis purioris theologiae states, “The right of public interpretation of Scripture and of adjudging the truth of interpretation in public do not belong to all, but only to those who have been supplied with both the gifts and the calling to the task.” Further Leigh argues that the historical circumstances of the text must be analysed and Lightfoot attempted to reconstruct the historical, religious and cultural context of the NT by using the Talmud and Midrash. The approach I am taking has its roots firmly centred in the Reformation.

  618. Richard said,

    June 7, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Gary: As a general rule I don’t cite what I haven’t read.

  619. GLW Johnson said,

    June 7, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Richard
    “The approach I am taking has its roots firmly centered in the Reformation” I think you forgot to insert the word ‘radical’ before ‘Reformation’. By radical I am referring the the critical views of the Bible, especially the OT ,that began to be proposed by the likes of Leo Sozzini and his nephew Fausto (By the way, Leo conducted a correspondance with Calvin, who ended up rebuking him for his views on Scripture).This picked up speed with the Remonstrants after the Synod of Dort and ushered in the higher crititism that gained ascendancy in the learning centers of Europe.

  620. Richard said,

    June 7, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Gary: Not really, I mean the scholarship of Matthew Poole and his analysis caused Muller to note that in reality there was not a radical break between pre-critical and critical exegesis. Ultimately the approach that the reformers developed gained a momentum of its own perhaps best summarised by Muller thus:

    The theological problem faced by late orthodoxy, including those late orthodox writers who accepted many of the results of textual criticism, was that the path from exegesis to doctrine had taken a methodological turn that removed many of the traditional dicta probantia from the realm of legitimate use….In addition, given the increasingly rationalistic approach not only to the text and its problems, but also – as evidenced by J. A. Turretin’s concept of accommodation – to the question of religious truth, the identification of multiple sources of biblical books, of unnamed authors and redactors, an exercise not at all theologically problematic to Poole, Henry, and other orthodox exegetes, became increasingly difficult to reconcile with an orthodox approach to doctrine.

    Interestingly even Calvin’s exegetical endeavours were quite critical, he was more than happy to challnge accepted views when he felt the evidence warranted it, e.g. his rejection that Ps. 2:7 is “referring to the eternal generation of Christ.”

  621. GLW Johnson said,

    June 7, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Richard
    But of course-and if I told you that wolverines make delightful house pets and are children friendly- who wouldn’t believe me?

  622. Pete Myers said,

    June 7, 2009 at 10:40 am

    #617 Richard… that’s exactly my point… the position you’ve asserted means that matters of salvation are undiscernable by the ordinary reader. You have affirmed that some historical issues at the core of the gospel are true, but your basis for deciding between what is true and false in scripture is totally beyond the ability of someone who doesn’t have extensive knowledge of manuscript theory.

    Richard, I can’t decide whether you are simply unable to see the holes and massively inadequate elements in your own argument, or simply whether you refuse to. You don’t answer questions that point at where your position fails to stand up, and you base your “evidence” on listing reference after reference after reference… however your references are proving to be inadequate, neither do they affirm your position, nor do you seem able to robustly articulate the argument of the things you’re referencing all the time.

    When you want to give the impression you are orthodox, you quote something orthodox… but repeatedly many people have said very clearly that the thing your quoting doesn’t support your position.

    Luther said that it doesn’t matter how much a man professes all kinds of truths, but if in the one area where the gospel is under attack he doesn’t profess the truth, then, all his affirmations are basically worthless. In your case, Richard, you need to engage properly with the things people are saying to you, and not dismiss them with no explanation, and a string of references to try and pass yourself off as extremely well read and clever.

    Richard, are you able to actually answer the substance of any of the serious criticisms levelled at your position and your methodology?

  623. Richard said,

    June 7, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Pete: Is Scripture easy to understand? No, “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” said the Ethiopian, “unless someone explains it to me?”

  624. GLW Johnson said,

    June 7, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Richard
    I can only imagine the state of total bewilderment you would have created in the mind of the Ethiopian eunuch if you had been in Philip’s place.

  625. Reed Here said,

    June 7, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Richard: some responses, not to all the red flags you raise, just some key ones.

    My missing that you were quoting the Nicene Creed shows my hurriedness this morning, and my conviction that your extensive quotes at best obfuscate, not clarify. I note the highlighted element, a few key words, and wrongly assumed. I note that my error does not deny my conclusions, because …

    Your rather extensive responses to me, Pete and Gary demonstate expressly what I said to you, a horrible charge of unbelief, a charge you not only do not outright deny, but in your obfuscation to at least avoid the charge – you prove it.

    Your faith needs, not the testimony of the Lord, no your faith NEEDS the testimony of fallen man to be secure. Your faith is weak or strong, according to the weight of the record of man external to the Bible.

    Please quit trying to post reformed fathers in support of your position. They do not agree with you. At this stage in the conversation, it is just more obfuscation on your part.

    No, be focused and specific. Try being perspicuous, merely on the things pertaining to salvation. You believe in the historicity of the resurrection because you have more external evidentiary support for it than otherwise.

    This is a conviction rooted in unbelief. It is true in your eyes because Man says it is true. All your obfuscation is nothing more than an attempt to say, “no, I’m saying it is God trustworthily speaking through an errant record we call the Bible (and I know this because the extra-biblical textual evidence “proves” it.)”

    Please, spend some critical time reading the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 1. Then read Warfield on the subject of Scripture.

    At the very least your’s is not a position consistent with an evangelical ministerial profession. I urge you to act with the integrity you claim. Make known these convictions to those under whose spiritual authority you reside.

    You’re not doing so Richard is the dangerous behavior consistent with the wovles who rise up from among the midst of the brethren, intent on destroying those for whom Christ died (Acts 20:29-30.) You’re not doing so is behavior consistent with supposed men of God who sneak in unawares and lead the weak sheep away with never-ending controversies about myths (1Ti 4:7; 2Ti 4:4.) Your not doing so is the behavior of modern day Jannes and Jambres, and will not be blessed of the Lord (2Ti 3:1-9.)

    Let me be very clear Richard. I am not saying that because of the opinions you’ve expressed that you are a false teacher. Nor am I saying you do not have a right to your convictions – only God is Lord of the conscious. I am saying you have no right, either by the deceipt of silence or the deception of deliberateness, to pursue ministry in a body whose convictions are antithetical to yours.

    Again, your authority is nothing less than fallen Man. You have replaced the inerrant God, whose Scripture trustworthily reflects His character, with the fall-originating, errant-laden, untrustrworthy opinions of men.

    You may very well be a believer. Your profession of faith is worse than not credible. It is a profession rooted in unbelief.

    John 2:23-25 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

    You say you believe in Jesus because the signs from man, the evidence outside the Bible, persuade you this is so. There is nothing good in the heart of man. I urge you, please, consider your danger.

  626. Richard said,

    June 7, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Reed: I am unsure how this thread can develop further in a constructive manner so I shall leave it here.

  627. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 7, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Richard,

    I think this thread can possibly develop in a constructive manner by branching off into another blog post to answer or address the following questions that are inherent in this comment by Reed:

    “You may very well be a believer. Your profession of faith is worse than not credible. It is a profession rooted in unbelief.”

    #1. What is the duty or obligation in both style and substance that a genuine Christian has towards a fellow believer who possesses a profession of faith that is rooted in unbelief, a profession which truly damages the Church’s witness to the Gospel?

    #2. Assuming there is a duty or obligation, what is the genuine Christian to do when she or he is maligned for being legalistic, pharasaic, judgmental, unloving, and un-Christlike from Christians who prize charity, civility, tolerance, inclusion, tolerance, plurality, and diversity in Christian engagement with one another?

  628. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 7, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    #3. How to address fellow professing believers who, perhaps unwittingly and unknowingly, let in wolves to prey upon the sheep?

    How to address fellow believers who value the virtues of “niceness” so much that they eventually become pawns of the Enemy? And who also emphatically deny that they are being duped and pawns.

  629. Reed Here said,

    June 7, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    All, as Richard has chosen to bow out at this point, I think it best to not leave any follow up questions for him.

    For the record: I have not said Richard is an unbeliever, and …

    > Every time Richard was asked to make a profession consistent with that of a believer, he was ambiguous at best. Often he simply ignored the question, or answered in an obfuscating manner.
    > Every time Richard was asked to close with the necessary implications of the topic being discussed, he was unwilling to do so. I say unwilling because he has demonstrated sufficient intelligence as to not be accused of merely being dense.

    I do not knowwhy Richard has done so. I do know such behavior is at best a witness to a seriously deficient and defective faith. At the very least Richard has provided a textbook example of Incoherent Inerrancy. I conclude that with no relish.

    I mean no ill will to Richard in such observations. Quite the contrary, I believe we owe him our prayers.

    So please, at his request, no more followup with Richard here.

    Thanks.

  630. Pete Myers said,

    June 7, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I have been, and am, praying for you Richard. God bless.


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