Inerrancy & Humility

This is just a quick comment about a phenomenon in this inerrancy discussion that disturbs me. It is particularly addressed to all those (young) men who find the orthodox inerrancy position untenable.

I have paid some attention to the blogs of those opposed to the orthodox view of inerrancy. There has been quite a bit of critique of my posts here and the comments. That is all well and good. I blog because I hope to have conversations with others that Christ might use to bless His Church.

I’ve been struck and saddened however by the great degree to which much of the criticism is wrong-headed. Y’all are both assuming things not said, and then working off that asusmption, offering criticisms that simply miss the mark. Your confident assertions of how right you are, and how wrong we are, give sad evidence of a serious lack of critical listening and judgment on your part.

I’m not writing to this vent. (My choice of words here would make it much more obvious if that was my intention.) Rather I’m posting this because I am concerned.

Many of you are young yet. I’m not disparaging your obvious intellectual skills. I willingly admit many of you are miles beyond me.

Rather I see you making young man’s mistake. You are so busy arguing against what you think is wrong that you are not really listening to your opponents. Quite frankly a number of you read what I’m saying as if I were an inflexible fundamentalist with a “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!” mentality.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Seriously, aside from a few of you who have commented here, you are so busy apply labels to me (and the others defending orthodox inerrancy) that you are justifying yourself in conclusions for which you have little support.

Asking questions, struggling with the issues is good. But to misread, and then mischaracterize, and on that basis conclude, “Therefore my opinion is right,” is dangerous.

Let me end by hopefully offering a blessing:

Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. ~ Proverbs 18:12

With you, because of Christ, I am committed to pursuing his blessing of humility in this discussion.

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107 Comments

  1. Mike said,

    June 15, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Great thoughts, having been on both sides of this issue at different times, I see everyone (errantists and inerrantist) struggling with this. To me it goes to prove one thing we probably all agree on…the effects of our own sin and the lack of ability to truly listen and understand each other. This issue has reaffirmed to me the truth of the Bible regarding our dealings with each other (specks and planks). I hope some day this issue is not so divisive.

    Can you imagine a scene worshipping, in the name of Christ, together with those whose beliefs on this subject differ from ours? I can….I think for Christ’s sake we have to move beyond and allow some flexibility here. No doubt some will vehemently disagree with me on this ( I really don’t care) but the kingdom of heaven is not about this issue…at least not for me. there are people dying out there physically and spiritually….believe me, they don’t care about this….they need water.

  2. grigs said,

    June 15, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    @Mike… That was a bit off topic. I don’t see why we cannot acknowledge the truth about the innerancy of the Bible and take care of those physically starving. Perhaps people are starving spiritually because of emphesis on personal devotions en lieu of a word and sacrament ministry at their local church?

  3. Reformed Sinner said,

    June 15, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    #1 Mike,

    This is why theological issues rarely gets settle on friendly terms, but seems to always end up in hostile situations. Your post, ironically, outlines exactly why that is the case.

    (I know my post here will probably turn you off, and writing me off as a prime example on a cold-hearted trouble-maker that likes to go around and argue, and bang people’s head with orthodoxy. But that is not why I, and others, are here. We are here truly because we love the LORD, the Word, and our neighbors; and we love so much that it hurts us to point out the wrong-headedness in others, but we only do it because Jesus, yes Jesus and His Word, asks us to do it this way.)

    You come out appealing to both sides to put our guns down, fair and very pastoral. However, then you make a suggestion that the only reason we have a difference (errantists and inerrantists) is not because of the clarity of God’s revelation and the calls to defend them with charity, but it’s because of our sin and our inability to listen to each other. And the only fault, at the end of the day, is not the positions of errantists and inerrantists, but it’s our sinful arrogance and you long for one day all of us can sit down and get along, regardless of correctness of theological conviction.

    And I only wish shepherding God’s flock is that easy. Believe me, if what you are saying is the Truth I would be the first person to sign up. Do you think I enjoy debating? Do you really think I have nothing better to do to log on, and say to myself “who can I try to put down today with my theological arguments?” No, like the OP I am here out of concern for young men who read a couple of books, listen to a couple of lectures, and declared themselves smarter and more advance then 2,000+ years of Church wisdom and guidance by the Holy Spirit.

    At the end of the day allow me to be so bold and our hearts is like Paul in Galatians. If it was that easy then I’m sure Paul would just say: “you know what, let us not fight. Circumcision, no circumcision, who cares? It’s just physical act anyway, let’s just sit down and hold hands and pray to Christ.” Why does Paul want to offend the Jewish Christians of his day (a really stupid thing to do), and even stood up and rebuked Peter (yikes!) before all the other Christians present? Because the very core of the Gospel is at stake, and if Paul doesn’t speak up now (even if it’s against another apostle), he realizes the essence of the Church would change. It may still be call the Church, they may still worship Christ, but at the end of the day like Machen infamously say: “it is another religion”

    You then highlighted the wish that one day everyone, regardless of “beliefs”, can worship in the name of Christ together. Again if it was that easy I would be the first to sign up. Athanatius took Christ so serious that he became a hated trouble-maker of his day against that charming peaceful fellow Arian. Augustine was so offended by Pelagius that he went after him with all his might. Luther got so upset of Zwingli’s view on Eucharist that he declared him “of a different Spirit”. Calvin burned Servetus, a fellow who dedicated his life to bring flexibility to the boring Doctrine of the Trinity. These are all done not because they are hateful men, because they realized if false doctrines are ever allowed to propagate, then the whole Gospel and Church is at stake.

    Christ, for His own sake, rebuked everybody that didn’t get it perfectly right. He called his religious contemporaries with ancestors of Satan, and called them all kinds of nasty names (white-washed wall being a classic). Never in 3+ years of Jesus’ own ministry did He ever hint of a compromised and flexible understanding of the Gospel.

    Finally, you declared “the kingdom of heaven is not about this issue” and “you really don’t care” what others think. Please stand back, take a few breathes, and think if this is really the attitude the Church should have. Yes people do need water, but that water doesn’t just need to provide the promise of eternal life, but also assurance of eternal life. That is the real hope in Christ – we are truly saved in Him with no compromise and nothing in this world can take that away from us. Unfortunately its easier said then done…

    What do I mean by that? My Church is independent and therefore I can never stop a speaker from speaking purely on theological ground. The reason is simple: “sorry RS, but we are independent and welcome all gifted speakers.” One day a pastor came and preached: “You need to keep listening to God even as Christians, if you don’t then God won’t love you because he can’t love a sinner, and you will have no place on the book of Life.” Right afterwards may congregation came to me and worried, worried to death, that they will not go to heaven and they started to tell me the sins they’ve done, and now they are sure God won’t like them anymore. I bring the issue up with the leadership, but while recognizing the problem but they still say: “well, RS, who is to say your Sovereignty of God’s view is right? It is only one interpretation. That other pastor is just as gifted and has a great loving reputation and soft spoken heart. We need to love everyone and worship together without spending time to argue over trivial things. Next item on the agenda…”

    At the end of the day flexibility of theological convictions brings confusions and desperations, and worst lost of faith and leaving the church. This is why denominations are formed not out of power hunger folks, but out of necessity. Even independent church, if they are to survive, needs to have a consistent system (and it’s usually whatever the most influential pastor says) and be antagonistic to any other system that deviates from it. That is the nature of God’s house.

    At the end of the day I truly belief honest debate will yield honest results. But I think OP’s point is not no one can have flexiblity of views, but whether we are being honest towards our views. I agree fully with OP that errantists are not honest in their views, and have never engaged in an honest debate. This is not a two-way street, this is a one-way critique (and sorry if this makes people think because it’s a critique it’s automatically unloving, uncharitable, and thus can be ignored.)

  4. Ron Henzel said,

    June 16, 2009 at 1:58 am

    Mike wrote:

    …I think for Christ’s sake we have to move beyond and allow some flexibility here. No doubt some will vehemently disagree with me on this ( I really don’t care)[...]

    Reformed Sinner responded:

    At the end of the day flexibility of theological convictions brings confusions and desperations, and worst lost of faith and leaving the church.

    For what it’s worth, I will state my own sentiments on this matter of “flexibility” with as precisely as I know how. I will do it by stating just how far I am willing to be flexible in practical terms.

    To the man who gives a credible profession of faith and yet believes that the Bible has errors in it, no matter how he may hold or state that opinion, I offer my Christian fellowship. I offer him my charity in the Lord. I will consider him as a brother in Christ and endeavor to treat him as such. Even though I think he has a serious and potentially dangerous theological blind spot, I will gladly share with him in all matters of the faith, and welcome him to sit beside me as we partake together in the Lord’s Supper.

    But should that brother attempt to assume a teaching role in my church—any kind of teaching role whatsoever—I will oppose him with every provision of Scripture that is at my disposal. Whether he seeks to be a Bible study leader, a Sunday school teacher, or a teaching elder—whether the level of teaching authority he seeks is small or great, whether the role is informal or formal, he will not seek it apart from the sound of my loud protests, and he will not ultimately gain it without my widely-broadcasted departure from that church. If I have to leave, I will not leave quietly.

    I will oppose him in the session; I will oppose him in the presbytery; I will oppose him in the general assembly. I will do whatever it takes and never stand down until either he steps down from teaching or I am somehow finally prevented from having any say in the matter. At that point I will shake the dust from my feet and seek a church that is obedient to what the Holy Spirit has spoken through His word.

  5. Reed Here said,

    June 16, 2009 at 4:50 am

    Grigs, no.2: please introduce yourself to us (first name at least, locale, church affiliation, any church office held.)

  6. GLW Johnson said,

    June 16, 2009 at 6:53 am

    Reed
    If I may be so bold ( and I am not referring to all who have expressed contrary opinions here)-the thing that strikes me about this bunch of zealots is not only the lack of humility ( the caviler dismissal of the likes of Warfield, VanTil, Henry,Young, Archer and the entire ICBI council as backwoods fundamentalists) but that their bellicose ignorance that they constantly display in their pretentious claims to ‘scholarship’. These are the kind of individuals Peter had in mind in 2 Peter 3:16.

  7. Frank Davies said,

    June 16, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Lane, are you how old are you?

  8. Mike said,

    June 16, 2009 at 9:21 am

    RS #3 “my post here will probably turn you off, and writing me off as a prime example on a cold-hearted trouble-maker that likes to go around and argue, and bang people’s head with orthodoxy”…but this is not my thought at all. I don’t judge or attempt to label people who hold this view…I just have a different opinion…that’s all.

    Regarding the issue of flexibility bringing confusion…I would rather live with the confusion as opposed to certainty that I am not so certain about.

  9. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 16, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Wow. Wow.

    What Ron Henzel said in #4.

    And I also think his comment is appropros to the Enns affair at WTS and how it turned out. I think Christ was glorified with the eventual ouster of Enns at WTS. Praise God for the men and women who stood firm in the faith for the doctrine of inerrancy and its impact on the Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture which is instrumental and crucial in the Church’s ability to give witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  10. Mike said,

    June 16, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    RH #4 so if our salvation is the ultimate question here and being with God in heaven for eternity the ultimate reality…will I be in heaven after I die if I believe in Christ’s atoning work on the cross…but not in the inerrancy of the Bible?

  11. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 16, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Mike: “… so if our salvation is the ultimate question here and being with God in heaven for eternity the ultimate reality…”

    Mike, let’s consider instead the doctrine of Sola Deo Gloria as a prime motivator in the discussion here.

    The doctrine states essentially that everything that is done is for God’s glory to the exclusion of humankind’s self-glorification and pride. Christians are to be motivated and inspired by God’s glory and not their own.

  12. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 16, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Mike: “I would rather live with the confusion as opposed to certainty that I am not so certain about.”

    I would rather live with the self-attesting facts of the Living Word and the Written Word as opposed to the postmodern faux humility of being certain that they should be uncertain about knowing the truth of God’s Word.

    Why aren’t Pomos uncertain about their own uncertainty? But they are seemingly certain that they should be uncertain about the inerrancy of God’s Word. There’s something that’s disgustingly disingenuous about that. Who can explain it?

  13. Ron Henzel said,

    June 16, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Mike,

    Regarding your comment #10: did you not read the fourth paragraph in my comment #4, which begins, “To the man who gives a credible profession of faith and yet believes that the Bible has errors in it…”?

  14. Reed Here said,

    June 16, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Frank, no. 7: Lane’s age is immaterial to this post, as I made it.

    I am 48 years old. I believe my age is immaterial to this post, as I would include myself, to some degree, in the “young crowd.” I am thinking in terms of ministry experience, years since seminary, etc.

    While I have been in pastoral ministry since the early 80’s, that was predominantly in a denomination which relies, in part, on significant lay ministry. As an ordained (under mutual submission to fellow elders) minister, I have been a “minister” of this kind since 2001 (licensed in ’99, age 38.)

    The issue here is the relative appearance of a lack of humility on the part of many of the dissenters to inerrancy (not all, I expressly want to note and thank Mike and Richard for the humility with which they handle themselves, and this inspite of my serious differences with their convictions.) No, the issue grows more out of the kinds of things Dr. Johnson refers to above.

    I remember sitting in class at WTS learning from Dr. Enns. I found myself challenged always, skeptical often, and learning regularly. I struggled with an arrogance that suggested, just because his arguments did not fit my paradigm, I could dismiss him and them.

    God is merciful in Christ to grant such arrogant men as myself humility. This is my prayer for these brothers.

    Now to the follow up question. Often folks ask your kind of question because they want to offer a “don’t throw rocks in glass houses” challenge. Hopefully I’ve answered sufficiently for you to conclude I am not throwing any rocks.

    I will not ask how old you are, thus assuming you are not holding any rocks. I will ask, in keeping with Lane’s rules for his blog, for you to fully introduce yourself, specifically your locale, your church affiliation, and any church office you hold. Thank you.

  15. Mike said,

    June 16, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    thanks to all for your responses. I appreciate the time interacting here. May God bless you richly as you seek him.

  16. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 16, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    Hi Ron,

    Suppose we substitute the doctrine of egalitarianism for errancy in your post #4. Would you still respond the same way?

    Transposed:

    “To the man who gives a credible profession of faith and yet believes that women should be church elders, as well as taking a headship role in the family, no matter how he may hold or state that opinion, I offer my Christian fellowship. I offer him my charity in the Lord. I will consider him as a brother in Christ and endeavor to treat him as such. Even though I think he has a serious and potentially dangerous theological blind spot, I will gladly share with him in all matters of the faith, and welcome him to sit beside me as we partake together in the Lord’s Supper.

    But should that brother attempt to assume a teaching role in my church—any kind of teaching role whatsoever—I will oppose him with every provision of Scripture that is at my disposal.”

    P.S. I wonder if errantists believe that God erred on those verses and passages in the Bible commanding male headship in the church and in the family.

  17. Pete Myers said,

    June 17, 2009 at 5:32 am

    #16,

    In my view egalitarianism is a less serious error than belief in biblical errancy.

    Neither are necessary to make faith “saving” (but that question is a whole different ball game altogether). But biblical errancy has more direct and serious consequences than egalitarianism.

  18. GLW Johnson said,

    June 17, 2009 at 5:37 am

    I came across another example of what I was referring to in my comment #6. This time the individual, after stating that he found the Old Princeton/Westminster understanding of inerrancy badly “flawed”-then suprisingly declared that he had just begun to read Warfield on the subject and said ” I find his arguments less flawed than I had assumed”. ! ! !

  19. Reed Here said,

    June 17, 2009 at 6:35 am

    Yes, Gary: such examples are far too common. How many debating here when asked, have you read at least Warfield, either said no or simply did not respond. Of those who said no, did any actually give a committment to do so? I think all I remember was one, “it will have to go on my reading list.”

    We can fully agree with these men, as to the (apparent) problems they see. Indeed such things need serious and honest attention.

    Yet to jettison inerrancy without first doing a study of those who have alreadt fought this battle and arrived at a deeper conviction of inerrancy ?!?!?! Do any of y’all not recognize that by the very nature of Enns’ (et.al.) approach, there is a provisional nature to it in that is still relatively new in the life of the Church?

  20. Richard said,

    June 17, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Reed: Does B. B. Warfield deal with the discoveries at Qumran and what they mean for textual criticism and the existence of an Urtext? Ok, so I know the answer…does he at least deal with issues regarding the multiple literary editions of Exodus in the SP and MT and Jeremiah in the LXX and MT? Does Warfield prove the existence of divine original autographs for the Hebrew Bible?

  21. Mike said,

    June 17, 2009 at 6:59 am

    I hadn’t planned on jumping back in here again but I am struggling with some of these concepts. If adherence to these things (egalitarianism or biblical inerrancy) are not necessary for “saving” faith (Pete #17)…then who cares? This is what I was trying to get at in my comment (#10). In discussion re: inerrancy I have heard the words “grave consequences”, “dangerous”, and even suggestions of eternal condemnation….but if it is true that adherance is not necessary for salvation are we wasting our time here?

    I understand eternal condemnation…but when folks use the word grave consequences or dangerous without telling me what that means it becomes meaningless. It is just that we are displeasing our Father in heaven…our sin does that everyday…or is it something more serious. Is non-belief in inerrancy any more grave than any other sin? I am struggling with this and it true importance.

  22. GLW Johnson said,

    June 17, 2009 at 7:04 am

    Richard
    Have you taken time to read BBW to see how he developes his understanding of the doctrine of Scripture? To the point of your inquiry-are you suggesting that the doctrine of Scripture is to be held in a state of suspended animation as we hold our collective breath waiting for the next discovery in the field of archaeology? If that is the case then every single doctrine essential to Christianity must needs be in a state of flux. Hmmm, how so very postmodern-which comes as no surprise coming from you.

  23. Reed Here said,

    June 17, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Richard: I’d ask you to consider Gary’s response as essentially mine.

    Do you refuse to study any Father of the Church on any other subject? Why would you not do so with this subject?

    We’re not talking about ignoring the current issues and studies. We’re talking about ignoring the wisdom already communicated.

    Seriously Richard, why does this seem so anathema to you brother? This is a characteristics of humility that transcends our disagreements, and most likely will receive God’s blessing in reducing the extent of the disagreement.

    You are obviously bright Richard. Why in the world would you not study equally as thoroughly those who disagree with your position as you will those who agree?

  24. Pete Myers said,

    June 17, 2009 at 8:02 am

    #21 Mike,

    Let me have a go at answering some of your points. Hope this is a useful response.

    1) Many, many people in the history of the church have tried to factor down the “essence” of the gospel to the basic “essential truths” someone needs to be saved. Every attempt has failed for a variety of reasons. The main reason for this, is, that our saving faith is primarily about trusting God through Jesus Christ. The knowledge of the gospel enables us to lean on God through Christ… but it’s even possible to be so confused that I might profess that I’m saved by my own works, but still I’m essentially trusting Jesus.

    That is why it’s possible to hold to all sorts of horrible heresies, and still be saved on the last day.

    2) Different misunderstandings and elements of hardness/unbelief can have different levels of importance. There are many factors involved, here are some:

    a) Am I simply mistaken/misinformed/struggling to understand, or am I hardening myself against something God has said that I don’t like. (Incidentally: very often people get to a place of hardening themselves because they were first mistaken, but then don’t want to lose face). It’s also possible to hold onto truth for the wrong reasons! God wants us to trust what he tells us (Hebrews 11v1-2), and having an increasingly humble and contrite heart before God’s Word will lead us into more and more truth. However, it is possible to actually harden my heart to God’s Word while still professing something that God’s Word actually teaches.

    b) What pastoral effects does the view have?

    c) Does the view undermine, or strengthen, the core doctrines that particularly teach us how to relate to God through faith in Christ? So while I said it was possible to have faith in Jesus if I’m confused and believe some odd RC doctrine of grace/works… that doesn’t mean it’s likely. In fact these kinds of falsehoods will lead people away from the Lord.

    All I’ve intended to do there, is to show you that there are lots of factors that make wrong-thinking more or less dangerous.

    3) Why a denial of inerrancy is more dangerous than egalitarianism. There’s numerous things that need to be said here, too. I’ll restrict myself to two: the nature of faith, and, the centrality of the Bible.

    The nature of faith is something that has not been pinned down very carefully in all of the inerrancy discussions so far. Many of the errantists have claimed that their position helps their faith. I think the big problem i have with that is – how do you define faith?

    If I define faith as my ability to intellectually accept the core doctrines of the gospel, and therefore to trust Christ for salvation… then I understand the errantists point. In that case, I can see how seeming contradictions between the Bible and modern scholarship challenge my ability to intellectually accept the credibility of the Biblical message, and therefore if I’m given some way of dealing with those challenges, then my “faith” is strengthened. However, I believe this is an incorrect definition of faith. There are too many things wrong with the way faith needs to be construed to be compatible with an errantist position to be able to go into all the detail here. But the key difference is that this is not faith at the Bible defines it.

    Biblical faith is, basically, trusting what God says. Of course that means trusting God for my salvation through Jesus Christ – that is the core of the content of faith… but faith itself isn’t simply having that package of “central gospel belief”. Faith is trusting God’s Word – i.e. being dependent on God. “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” – Isaiah 66v2

    The essential difference between evangelicalism and liberalism is not a package of particular beliefs about salvation. The essential difference is that the evangelical trusts what God says, whereas the liberal does not trust what God says. And the history of liberal hermeneutics for hundreds of years has been to separate “Truth” (i.e. that which is true and is to be believed) from “Revelation” (i.e. that which God has declared and revealed to us in the scriptures).

    Just because people have a set of correct beliefs about the cross, sola fide, etc. in their “Truth” package doesn’t mean they’re evangelical… no matter how right the “Truth” package is, separating it from the “Revelation” package is really dangerous.

    There’s the obvious reasons for that, which we’ve already alluded to in our conversation. That being that once “Truth” is separated from “Revelation”, I have no way of maintaining the “Truth” as being what God wants it to be. I know that everyone feels that I’m different, that somehow I’m immune from the dangers of slipping into heresy. But historically that has never proven to be the case. What’s more, by separating “Truth” from “Revelation” one is already denying crucial elements of the “Truth” that “Revelation” gives us. Anyway – maybe you do have the willpower to hold onto evangelical “Truth” even though you’ve made yourself the arbiter of what is true and what isn’t – but think about the effect on others? What keeps others from wandering off into vain myths once we’ve separated what they should believe from the Bible?

    So… even though I can still get to heaven without believing in inerrancy… denying inerrancy is dangerous both to me and to those around me. It means that some separate authority than the Bible itself now decides what is true and what is false in what the Bible is saying. Even if I remain true and steadfast with that position – I can easily shipwreck the faith of others by saying that.

    But on a more fundamental and dangerous level, remember that faith is trusting what God says – taking God at his Word. So, even if we agree with much of what God says, if we only agree because it sounds good, or says what we want it to say, then our heart is not in a place of agreeing with God because we trust what says.

    Plenty of people where I live agree with what the Bible says about homosexual practice, for example (it’s funny that the church is sometimes less Christlike about these things than the world is). Plenty of them agree with the Bible that homosexual practice is “unnatural” (sorry to all our celibate gay brothers and sisters out there, this is just a convenient illustration). But they don’t agree with the Bible because that’s what God says. They agree with the Bible because they’ve decided what’s right and wrong, and come to the same conclusion.

    As for egalitarianism, I am very good friends with several egalitarians. I believe they are wrong, however, they hold their position because they are trying to trust what God says, and are trying to sincerely believe him and take him at his word. Whereas the reasons put forward for denying inerrancy have nowhere been – but God tells us he will accomodate himself in this particular way. The arguments have instead been “Ignoring the passages that have traditionally been used to show that the Bible claims inerrancy for itself, I think I know better than that because when I observe scripture, and do my clever manuscript work and other things, I come to such and such a conclusion.”

  25. Richard said,

    June 17, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Reed: Of course we are to listen to the voices of those who have gone before, but I am sure we would both accept that when one reads the Fathers one is to read critically. When we read those of ages past we should really take not of what they were saying but not ignore the context in which they were writing. I am sure you would enjoy Dr. William Dennison’s book on The Young Bultmann wherein he deals with influences upon Bultman such as Freiderich D. E. Schleiermacher and Neo-Kantianism. That is, in order to understand a person and their argument one must take into account their presuppositions. In saying this I simply wish to lay down the foundations for pointing out that B. B. Warfield was very much a product of his time, a great man of course, but he held to certain presuppositions which influenced his arguments regarding inerrancy.

    Some of these presuppositions are the scholarly consensus of his time within which he worked. For example, in his article on “The Formation of the Canon of the New Testament” he notes that “It inherited this idea from the Jewish church, along with the thing itself, the Jewish Scriptures, or the ‘Canon of the Old Testament.'” A central assumption of Warfield’s (and Hodge et al) was that the canon of the Hebrew Bible was closed by the time of Jesus. Owing to the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered some years after Warfield
    had passed on we now that that is actually wrong and that there was no canon of the OT until 200 C.E. at the latest. This renders any arguments that are based upon his assumption invalid. How then does this relate to inerrancy?

    Simply put, Warfield assumed the existence of divine original autographs for the Hebrew Bible, which obviously implies a single authoritative text. The obvious problem with this is that the textual evidence doesn’t support this. Evidence from Qumran (unavailable to Warfield) demonstrates that in Second Temple Judaism there was more than one text-type for some of the books of the Hebrew Bible, e.g. Exodus and Jeremiah.

    It is not that I refuse to read thoroughly those who disagree with my position, rather one major problem is that Warfield is unable to interract with my points for the simple reason that I have to contend with textual evidence that was unavailable to him and with which he did not deal. More mportantly, this new textual evidence raises questions about some of his presuppositions.

    I have not come across Warfield discussing the differences in Exodus between the MT and SP which he could have discussed as these were both available to him. If he did, it is likely he would have taken the general view that the SP is a corruption of the MT which would have allowed him to argue along the lines of the proto-MT being the witness to the divine original, this view was a standard view until the discovery of the DSS.

    Nor have I come across him discussing why the MT should be favoured over the LXX both in terms of canon and text. You and Gary have obvously read far more Warfield than I and yet neither of you can point out where he discussed these issues, not that I am implying you are ignorant of what he said rather it suggests that Warfield did not deal with this type of issue. If that is the case, it is doubtful how helpful he can be in convincing me of inerrancy. It would by like trying to convince someone that the sun revolves around the earth by refering to pre-Galileo writers and the other person saying, “But they don’t interract with Galileo Galilei!”

  26. ReformedSinner said,

    June 17, 2009 at 9:32 am

    #18 Gary,

    Too often people read the secondary readings on the attacks, or their favor person’s attack (or take) on the other side of the people opposing them and assumed they are on target. Rarely do people read original text and double check secondary readings anymore.

    I remember talking with a bunch of Gersner disciples on how “un-biblical” Van Tillians are in the supposive utter rejection of any use of evidence by Van Til. When I show them a bunch of passages from Van Til’s books about how Van Til doesn’t reject Evidence and actually assumes/requires the use of evidences in the proper Christian Theistic context, they were shock and in disbelief. However, what amazes more is their arrogance to bluff off these passages and continue their belief that Van Til and his minions reject evidences, or that we are “inconsistent” that we tried to eat both sides of the pie but at the end of the day we are anti-evidences and anti-traditional and anti-Classical, whatever. My goodness.

  27. Mike said,

    June 17, 2009 at 9:34 am

    I am trying to get my head around this and please correct me if I am wrong. It sounds like you are suggesting that there is “saving faith” and “biblical faith”…if that is true then how are they related? are they related? Are they parts of a whole or something else?

    Can the faith that errantists hold be faith, but not full faith as you have described?

    Now this next statement is going to sound really selfish and callous but it is not meant to be. If I am right….and the bible does contain errors, ANE parallels, wrong cosmology, mythology, etc, etc, etc that has been discussed at length here and other places (that DEF I don’t want to rehash) then I can’t be too concerned about what the impact of that may have on others. If anyone knows this God does and my faith in that is enough for me (and yes I see the presuppositions in that statement I just made)

    Is it destructive to orthodox christian faith? yes..but I do believe that all truth is God’s truth and so I am not so interested in maintaining orthodoxy as I am in seeking truth. I know some will say that statement is a contradiction in terms but I tend to disagree.

  28. Reed Here said,

    June 17, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Richard, no. 25: dear brother, do not take this comment the wrong way. I truly do hope I will be not simply heard and understood, but “amen”ed by you.

    You are doing it again. You are over-loading what is a simple point with a plethora of verbiage. I do understand that you believe everything you have written is essential to the point here. I accept that you are not merely blowing smoke in hopes of avoiding, of escaping from the sharp end of my point :-) After all, nothing here required you to jump back in to the conversation.

    Please, consider my recognition of your sincerity and acknowledgement of what you believe is essential to the issue before us here. Consider this when I say you are yet again in danger of missing a criticism that may actually bless you to heed.

    Simple observation:

    > Do you believe it is important to understand Barth’s input on the subject of the nature of Scripture? I assume you do. Clearly Barth is also not as up-to-date on the state of the discussion as Warfield (slightly more of course, but still missing late critical developments.)
    > Do you ignore Barth? If not, why ignore Warfield?

    We’re not even talking about ignoring your preconceived convictions about his weaknesses in light of his “faulty” presupposition. All we’re talking about is you making room, and in the near future, for studying men like him.

    Why will you not amen that? I dare say, if you will look a little more closely, your reasons stated here are insufficient for not doing so.

    In an upcoming post I will be providing a good bibliograpy for this subject, from the inerrancy perspective. It will contain both classic and modern works.

    You are right to challenge us to interact with the plethora of resources you have referenced. We do and will continue to do so.

    All I am suggesting here is that a likewise committent on the part of neo-errantists such as yourself is necessarily consistent with a credible profession of faith that receives Christ’s blessing. I am not arguing pro or con any one scholar’s arguments. I am arguing against an arrogance that is worldy, not biblical, from either the inerrantist or errantist perspectives.

    Seriously, can I get your amen, and an agreement as God prospers you in the near future (next couple of years) to give some serious study to stuff arguing against your position? Amen or nay?

  29. Richard said,

    June 17, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Reed: I am not ignoring Warfield rather by the very fact of not dealing with the issue of multiple literary editions he excludes himself from this discussion. If he spoke to this issue I would heed him, that he doesn’t means I have nothing to listen to. Barth also does not speak to this particular issue so there is nothing to listen to from him on this. By all means suggest material for me to read through, all they need to do is demonstrate the existence of an Urtext taking ito account the Qumran discoveries and multiple literary editions of books in the Hebrew Bible.

  30. Richard said,

    June 17, 2009 at 10:44 am

    BTW, an interesting essay by Waltke is here.

  31. Pete Myers said,

    June 17, 2009 at 10:53 am

    #27 Mike

    I am trying to get my head around this and please correct me if I am wrong. It sounds like you are suggesting that there is “saving faith” and “biblical faith”

    No that’s not what I’m suggesting.

    All I’m saying on that is that someone can be putting their trust in Jesus, even if what they intellectually assent to is massively inconsistent, or even directly contradictory to that.

    However, just because it’s possible to be so confused that I think I’m saved by works, but my actual heart attitude is one of trust that is hardly an ideal position to be in.

    Let me put this in simple terms, and perhaps that will be easier for you to engage with, then we can build up the complexity as needed, since it’s obviously not helping when I try and give you a “whole package” in one go. Sorry about that.

    Let me suggest simply that “faith” means “taking God at his Word.” Someone holding to an errancy position is not “taking God at his Word”, and so as much as they feel enriched and encouraged by their view of errancy, it is – by it’s very definition – not something that enriches faith.

    What do you make of that Mike?

  32. Pete Myers said,

    June 17, 2009 at 10:59 am

    #29, Richard,

    I am not ignoring Warfield rather by the very fact of not dealing with the issue of multiple literary editions he excludes himself from this discussion. If he spoke to this issue I would heed him, that he doesn’t means I have nothing to listen to.

    But Richard, do you not see that you are effectively saying “unless the terms of the debate are the ones I arbitrarily choose, I won’t engage with other people on this.”

    Despite the fact that people have repeatedly demonstrated to you how the terms of the debate you choose to use are inadequate, and fail to engage properly with the opposing position.

    If I said “I believe in inerrancy because I divined it from the cycles of the moon, therefore I don’t need to read Enns.” – then I would be making a comparable error.

  33. Richard said,

    June 17, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Pete: I am not arbitrarily choosing the terms of debate; they are set by the parameters of the issue at hand – the existence or non-existence of divine originals. It is quite clear that their non-existence is arguable from the existence of multiple literary editions and which would, if true, negate inerrancy (or at least its traditional formulation by Warfield). If Warfield does not deal with multiple literary editions and its relation to an Urtext then I cannot engage with him because there is nothing to engage with. Waltke on the other hand does deal with literary editions and its relation to an Urtext hence there is something to engage with.

  34. Mike said,

    June 17, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Pete #32. I understand your definition of faith but would most evangelical scholars/theologians agree with this definition of faith? To me it seems beyond what is expostulated in the bible itself.

    I would say I take God at his word…because I believe the bible is adequate not inerrant. I know this takes some postmodern thinking to be comfortable with this position but that is the position that keeps me from abandoning the faith altogether. Some see this as hopeless and utterly futile compromise. I haven’t come to that conclusion yet.

    So while we both have faith, I realize it is faith from a different set of principles. In fact, having once held an inerrant view of scripture, I find that the faith I have to have now (having let go of that precept) requires a lot more effort to exercise in the midst of the uncertainty.

  35. Mike said,

    June 17, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Pete #32..forgot to add this to my last comment. I think I understand what you are saying. i.e. we might believe the right things but for the wrong reason…true?

  36. Reed Here said,

    June 17, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Richard, no. 29, 33: I agree, you are not arbitrarily narrowing the debate. Rather you are decidedly and specifically narrowing the debate, based upon a preconceived conviction rooted in one side of the debate.

    Such a conclusion, as you’ve demonstrated here, is both intellectually dishonest and biblically arrogant. It is one thing to say that Darwin’s writings have at best a tertiary impact on the subject of inerrancy, and therefore should receive little attention. It is quite another to say so of Warfield.

    Please Richard, Warfield is not worthy of your interaction because of the narrrow subject of the Urtext, a matter particularly fundamental to the debate? This is like a pro-abortion advocate saying to a pro-life advocate, “you have to remove any arguments presupposing that life begins at conception from the debate before we can go forward.”

  37. Pete Myers said,

    June 17, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    #34-35 Mike
    I’ll try and give answers to what you say bit by bit by quoting you. Hope it helps.

    I understand your definition of faith but would most evangelical scholars/theologians agree with this definition of faith?

    Yes.

    All I’m saying is faith is not intellectual assent to a bunch of ideas. Faith is trust in the living God… and the living God is revealed to us in his Word. Therefore faith is taking God at his Word…. Trusting in God’s Word, because that is where God is revealed to us.

    Having said that… I imagine that errantist evangelical scholars may well disagree… but that is precisely because of the discussion at hand, and the fact that their system is refuted by the above statement.

    To me it seems beyond what is expostulated in the bible itself.

    No it’s not. It’s very clearly taught in the Bible: “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” – Isaiah 66v2

    Peter Adam has written a book about this as a theme throughout the entire Bible. I’ve heard Mark Dever preach on it doing a similar thing. Just some examples.

    I would say I take God at his word…because I believe the bible is adequate not inerrant.

    “Taking God at his Word” means “believing what God says”. So when God says something happened at a particular date in a particular place… “taking him at his Word” means believing him that that thing really did happen at a particular date in that particular place.

    It’s untenable to construe the phrase “taking God at his word” to mean “agreeing with the bits I want to, but not with the ones I don’t.”

    So while we both have faith, I realize it is faith from a different set of principles. In fact, having once held an inerrant view of scripture, I find that the faith I have to have now (having let go of that precept) requires a lot more effort to exercise in the midst of the uncertainty.

    Mike, I think you’re missing my point here.

    Do you believe what God says? Period. Arguing that God didn’t actually say what I think it says is one thing… but arguing that God wasn’t correct in saying something he said is not believing God. Which is not faith.

    Which brings me onto:

    I know this takes some postmodern thinking to be comfortable with this position but that is the position that keeps me from abandoning the faith altogether.

    My point exactly is that either I believe what God says – or I don’t. Nobody gets any credit for believing “half” of what God said, or “not being as bad as those guys over there who don’t even believe in such and such…”

    Nobody even gets any credit for “believing the right things”, or even for feeling the right things: “Even the demons believe – and shudder!” – James 2v19

    Mike, I’m gonna try and put this from another angle, so you can see the starkness of the issues. Please understand that’s my motive in this (to help):

    You still agree with some things the Bible says – big deal! You’ve already said that you don’t wish to submit to the Bible, you don’t wish to let God be the Lord of what you confess to be true. After that it doesn’t matter if you have seven PhDs from Reform D. McReformed seminary – because “faith” isn’t about what you intellectually hold to be true… it’s about submission (which then has implications on what we intellectually hold to be true).

    I think I understand what you are saying. i.e. we might believe the right things but for the wrong reason…true?

    That is one of things I’ve said yes, and has also come over in this comment too.

    #33 Richard
    To say this for the umpteenth time: The inerrantist position believes in original autographs as a conclusion, not as an assumption.

    The decision you now have is to continue to “pretend” that’s not what inerrantists believe, or to actually engage with the argument inerrantists put forward.

    Inerrancy stands or falls on the Biblical passages that teach inerrancy. As long as those passages are shown to teach inerrancy, then inerrantist scholars will continue to believe that there were original autographs despite the limited, temporary and apparent evidence to the contrary.

    In exactly the same way the bodily resurrection of Christ stands or falls on the Biblical passages that teach the bodily resurrection of Christ. As long as those passage are shown to teach the bodily resurrection of Christ, then Christian scientists will continue to believe that bodily resureection is possible in our physical world despite the limited, temporary and apparent evidence to the contrary.

    Though, Richard, I’m not quite sure if you’ll just ignore my answer, or whether you don’t actually have the capacity to understand it (Pete said to try and goad Richard to actually deal with the real issue, and not dodge it).

  38. Mike said,

    June 17, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Pete #37, thanks, thanks and thanks…I appreciate your dedication to this discussion. I know it must get tiresome..espeically with knuckleheads like me. We are probably getting to the point of talking in circles because I simply don’t accept that view of the Bible for reasons which you well understand but don’t agree with. I sincerely appreciate your perspective. It is well reasoned, thoughtful, insightful and you articulate it well…better than most that I have read actually.

    I have peace in that ultimately God will judge me…not men (errantists or inerrantists). He alone knows my heart in this and my desire for his kingdom and for the truth that we all must search for. This journey has brought me many places that I could not have foreseen…but I am not afraid any more.

  39. GLW Johnson said,

    June 17, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Richard
    So, according to you, we don’t build our doctrine of Scripture from Scripture,i.e. what do the Scripture teach about Scripture. Instead we construct our understanding of Scripture from outside the Bible. Tell me then, do we do the same with other doctrines-the doctrine of God, Christ, salvation etc.?

  40. Reed Here said,

    June 17, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Mike: I agree your judge is God, not any man. The issues before us here are not really about whether or not you have peace with this. To paraphrase Jude, even demons can have such “peace.”

    No one here wants to challenge what you believe God has shown you. Rather, the fair challenge is that you’ve set yourself up as your own authority. As your brothers, called to both be ministered to by you, and minister to you, how are we able to interact with someone who is not willing to agree with the same definition of what it means that God is authoritive?

    In the end, your confession of faith is comforting to you, but is meaningless to the rest of the Church.

  41. Pete Myers said,

    June 17, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    #38 Mike,

    Brother, thanks for your kind words. Can I just say that you have been the humblest errantist I’ve engaged with on this blog. You’ve been very gracious to the other side, very open and honest about your position and views.

    However… you could actually get your teeth out a little bit more… that would be very welcome. I can’t quite tell from your last comment if you’re trying to wrap the discussion up? If so, I’ll leave you alone!

    However…

    because I simply don’t accept that view of the Bible for reasons which you well understand but don’t agree with

    Mike, I actually don’t think I’ve heard you give your reasons clearly. Or at least give your reasons in response to my arguments.

    In my last few comments I have been drawing the conclusions of my argument more strongly and pointedly to try and encourage you to, well, “debate” me on the points.

    Agreeing to disagree is a polite thing to do, but, I’d be very happy if you wanted to try and shoot some of my reasoning down. I’m afraid I don’t think I’ve seen your reasons for your position.

    But, if you’re trying to wrap the discussion up, that’s fine. It’s up to you…

  42. Mike said,

    June 18, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Pete, thanks. I have purposely chosen not to get into the “debate” mode in this discussion with teeth bared and fists clenched…been there, done that. I find it just devolves into finger-pointing, name-calling and (worst of all) labeling. I think when we start to label it shuts down the otherwise helpful discussion and we make assumptions and the ideas get lost in the rhetoric of anger…not helpful. So at times when folks on this blog have directly said (or implied) things about what I believe (or don’t believe) that I find disagreeable I have set my feelings aside….not always easy to do btw.

    I have many reasons for not believing in inerrancy. Obviously I have read Enns and Sparks and I find their points credible if not somewhat overreaching at times. I have read their critics as well so it is all not one-sided for me. This is important for me to get right. Plus I don’t find the statement of inerrantists very believeable when almost all of their arguments boil down to this…it is inerrant because that is our doctrine of scripture. This self-validation is like saying I am right…because I am right. Now an inerrantist would argue that that is not a valid comparison because the Bible is not man saying but rather God….so inerrancy is a self-fulfilling proposition.

  43. Reed Here said,

    June 18, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Mike, no 42: if I might amen what you conclude at the end of your comments. Indeed you understand well the nature of the inerrancy position. In the end it is a self-fulfilling proposition, a classic circluar argument. The Bible claims God has said, God has therefore said …

    I would ask you to consider that an errantist argument necessarily devolves to in effect the same: the errantist claims, therefore the Bible has said …

    All appeals to external evidences are insufficient to effectively, objectively conclude the matter. I actually am completely with you in terms of every step of your argument (as you’ve presented it), believing you are actually on target with the Bible, excepting your last conclusion.

    Do you not think that the only sure way to validate the nature of the Bible is for its author to so answer?

  44. Pete Myers said,

    June 18, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Mike,

    Hmmm…

    Plus I don’t find the statement of inerrantists very believeable when almost all of their arguments boil down to this…it is inerrant because that is our doctrine of scripture. This self-validation is like saying I am right…because I am right. Now an inerrantist would argue that that is not a valid comparison because the Bible is not man saying but rather God….so inerrancy is a self-fulfilling proposition.

    I’m really not sure what to make of this. I really don’t recognise what you’re describing as the inerrantist position.

    This self-validation is like saying I am right…because I am right

    What you’ve actually described is us inerrantists saying “I am right… because the Bible says so.”

    You may disagree that the Bible teaches inerrancy. (But no errantists seem to want to demonstrate that we’re wrong about that). But how is believing something because I “think the Bible says so” self-validation?

    Mike if you said “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” Then you’d be doing exactly the same thing.

    I think the confusion is explained by your last statement:

    Now an inerrantist would argue that that is not a valid comparison because the Bible is not man saying but rather God…

    If, Mike, you don’t believe the Bible is God speaking, then you’re not a Christian. I had been talking to you on the assumption that you were a Christian who believed in errancy. I therefore thought we shared a few core beliefs that we both considered to be true… like the fact that the Bible is God’s Word. I’m sorry for making that assumption, as if you don’t believe the Bible is God speaking then I’m clearly talking past you.

  45. Mike said,

    June 18, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    I do believe the Bible is God speaking…just not clearly because of the man component. I think the Bible is adequate for us to know God and what he is like, but not inerrant. So I can say “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” without being hypocritical.

    But if the test of being a Christian is to believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant word, then I guess am not one…

  46. Reed Here said,

    June 18, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Mike: no, I do not think Pete is saying a belief in inerrancy is essential to real faith. I think we all affirm that one can indeed truly be regenerate and have a host of defective convictions. I know this is true, definitely historically and possibly still, in my own life.

    The issue for me comes down to a credible profession. Brother, echoing RS’s statements previously, if you were in our church down here in Alabama, you’d be a blessed and warmly welcomed addition to our covenant family. I could not, in good conscious given my vows to shepherd the sheep, give you any opportunities for teaching the congregation.

    I say this without any animosity. Rather, given your stated convictions, I have no choice but to conclude that you, by conscious I admit, cannot biblically place yourself under any biblical authority and accountability. In effect Mike you make yourself your own authority, even over God (in spite of what you sincerely claim.)

    Again, no animous. Hope this makes sense and helps move your thinking forward.

  47. Richard said,

    June 18, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Pete: If you would like to share with us how “The inerrantist position believes in original autographs as a conclusion” I am sure we will be most interested, I would at any rate.

    You say, “Inerrancy stands or falls on the Biblical passages that teach inerrancy.” Better, “Peter Myer’s belief in inerrancy stands or falls on his interpretation of some Biblical passages that he believes teach inerrancy”.

  48. Todd said,

    June 18, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    This question has been asked of the errantists a few times but I don’t rememeber it being answered. If the Bible’s history and science can be in error, why not it’s doctrine?

  49. Mike said,

    June 18, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Todd, I am not exactly sure where you are coming from with your question but would certainly agree that doctrine can be in error…Am I reading this right?

  50. Todd said,

    June 18, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Mike,

    Not just doctrine in general, as in man’s formulations, but the what the Bible teaches about God, sin, salvation, etc… Can there be errors in those teachings in the Bible also?

  51. Pete Myers said,

    June 19, 2009 at 8:34 am

    #45 Mike

    Mike, in stating your position against inerrancy you said this:

    Now an inerrantist would argue that that is not a valid comparison because the Bible is not man saying but rather God…

    Which implies that you don’t believe the Bible is God’s Word. That’s what I was picking up on.

    What did you mean by that statement?

  52. Pete Myers said,

    June 19, 2009 at 8:46 am

    #47 Richard,

    You say, “Inerrancy stands or falls on the Biblical passages that teach inerrancy.” Better, “Peter Myer’s belief in inerrancy stands or falls on his interpretation of some Biblical passages that he believes teach inerrancy”.

    Yes exactly. Don’t be tautological just because you’re upset. That’s not a better statement it’s just more long winded. Though this is what all inerrantists believe, not just Pete Myers, eh Richard S.?

    If you would like to share with us how “The inerrantist position believes in original autographs as a conclusion” I am sure we will be most interested, I would at any rate.

    I’m glad you’re finally interested.

    1- The inerrantist position believes the Bible didactically teaches us that it is inerrant.
    2- In order to be inerrant, the Biblical texts must have had original autographs.
    3- Therefore the inerrantist believes in original autographs.

    Richard, if you read a very, very, very simple argument for inerrancy – such as Wayne Grudem’s in Systematic Theology… then you’d see exactly that reasoning. He starts by listing passages that he believes teach inerrancy. He interprets them and demonstrates why he believes they teach inerrancy. He then concludes that inerrancy is true. Then he addresses the manuscript arguments against this and tries to demonstrate they are wrong.

    At no point did Grudem look at the manuscript evidence, and reason his way into the inerrancy position.

    This really isn’t complicated. If you can demonstrate that the Bible doesn’t teach inerrancy about itself, then, the inerrancy position falls down. However, until then I’ll believe in the existence of original autographs because I’ve been convinced that the Bible teaches inerrancy about itself.

    Hence: “Inerrancy stands or falls on the Biblical passages that teach inerrancy.” and “The inerrantist position believes in original autographs as a conclusion”

  53. Richard said,

    June 19, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Pete: I am glad you didn’t disappoint, I figured that your argument would proceed along the lines of:

    1- The inerrantist position believes the Bible didactically teaches us that it is inerrant.
    2- In order to be inerrant, the Biblical texts must have had original autographs.
    3- Therefore the inerrantist believes in original autographs.

    From my point of view the pivotal issue is 2.

    a. You are still assuming that original autographs existed. I am not saying that your thought process is “Ok now first off let’s assume the existence of original autographs” but your thought process does assume their existence, in the case above it forms the minor premise (3 is simply stating explicitly what is assumed in 2). However let’s leave that to one side for now.

    b. Could you flesh out why, “In order to be inerrant, the Biblical texts must have had original autographs”?

  54. Richard said,

    June 19, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Todd,

    Let’s take a closer look at Genesis and use that as an example in answering your question. In terms of historicity we would do well to heed the sage advice of Rolf Rendtorff when he says, “We should content ourselves with assuming the possibility of historical reminiscences from the time before the settlement without mistaking the character of the texts.” The first question of any text in Genesis is primarily about its literary form; it would be unreasonable to expect the same level of historical reporting from both a story passed on orally for centuries by nomads and a record from the Royal archives written by educated scribes during the reign of Hezekiah. Keeping this firmly in mind should help us know what we should be expecting a saga in Genesis to tell us about history. The issue is further complicated when one recognises that those sagas have been placed into the narrative structure to teach the reader something; that is, the oral form of the saga may predate its literary form by many centuries and its literary form may have been edited to suit the message of the final form of the narrative. This again undermines our desire to read the literary form of the saga to understand the history of the period it seeks to narrate. Our desire is anachronistic and we should re-tune what we want to know to what the text was intented to tell us. I would certainly commend David M. Carr’s Reading the Fractures of Genesis to you. The doctrine that is taught, is taught through the narratives and our listening carefully to them. Moreover, as I understand it, the doctrine taught does not depend upon the historical inerrancy of the narratives.

    I hope that answers your question even if you may not find it satisfactory.

  55. Reed Here said,

    June 19, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Richard. no. 54: not to ask you to digress frm talking with Todd, I want to make one observation from what you say here:

    it would be unreasonable to expect the same level of historical reporting from both a story passed on orally for centuries by nomads and a record from the Royal archives written by educated scribes during the reign of Hezekiah.

    I can only surmise from what you say here that your view of inspiration is effectively truncated by your conviction in favor of errancy. For all practical purposes, saying “God wrote the Bible,” is a meaningless phrase for you when at every turn the human nature of Scripture trumps its divine nature. You have no room for a God who authors both the history AND the text so that the truth inheres in both (historical event and historical text.)

    I note for emphasis that nothing in your observations here necessitates that the recording of the history, even when differently emphasized, requires that it be an error in terms of the actual historical events. You just don’t believe in a sovereign God. Your’s is a god of weak puny-ness whose is subject to the error of Man Almighty.

  56. Todd said,

    June 19, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Richard,

    You really didn’t answer my question. My question is, if it is possible that the Bible errs in matters of history and science, is it also possible that the doctrines in the Bible have errors? Hell, for example. Since there is obviously no etxra-Biblical evidence for a place called hell, may the Bible’s teaching about a place of eternal, consicence punishment be an error?

  57. Richard said,

    June 20, 2009 at 3:33 am

    Reed: I do not like to speak of an errant scripture nor an inerrant one, rather I prefer to speak of God’s authoritative word. Paradoxically because I deny “that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture” and further, “that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original” I have a far higher view of the texts we have today and their faithful translations than you potentially have. That is for me, for all practical purposes, the NRSV is just as much the word of God as your (hypothetical) original autograph. For you, each verse of the ESV (I assume this is your version of preference) is only the word of God if it is in the original autograph so goodbye to 1 Jn. 5:7; 2 Tim 3:16 etc.

    Moving on, I was almost dancing for joy when I saw you said,

    I note for emphasis that nothing in your observations here necessitates that the recording of the history, even when differently emphasized, requires that it be an error in terms of the actual historical events.

    Exactly!! Almost twelve months ago I posted a quote from Klaus Koch on my blog taken from his The Growth of the Biblical Tradition wherein he stated, “It is hoped that the use of the term saga in connection with biblical narratives, which are regarded by the church as the word of God, will not shock some theologians, or horrify the more devout. But the reader must not make the crude mistake of dismissing the saga as a fantastical, primitive, and therefore ‘untrue’ phenomenon….on the contrary biblical sagas conceal much that is true, and are of vital importance for the preaching of Christianity.” As I have noted in the past, I believe that a real historical event stands behind the narrative of the fall but that it is presented to us through the literaty genres of the time and so needs to be read in that way, i.e. Gen. 2-3 should be taken “as a form of historical narration through the special literary genre of saga.” I am not saying that Solomon didn’t exist, what I am saying is that the way the text presents his kingdom is more literary than historical. We do need to be careful what we mean by error. Is 1 Kings 4:20, 21 historically accurate? It reads, “The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy. And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. These countries brought tribute and were Solomon’s subjects all his life.” It seems more likely that it is a painted picture looking back to the Abrahamic promises and seeing it having been “fulfilled” rather than it being a factual report. That said, Solomon’s kingdom may have been as reported. The fact is we don’t and cannot know. Whilst we may disagree over whether this report is historically accurate we would both agree on what its message is and how it is to be interpreted through the lense of Christ after a biblical theological fashion.

  58. Richard said,

    June 20, 2009 at 3:45 am

    Todd: I suppose it would depend what you mean by Bible doctrines. As I understand it these are “man-made” based upon what the Bible says about certain things. It would seem to me that the error of such doctrines will stem from our misunderstanding of the statements of Scripture than what Scripture itself says.

  59. Richard said,

    June 20, 2009 at 3:46 am

    Edit: “…rather than what Scripture itself says.”

  60. Todd said,

    June 20, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Richard,

    That still doesn’t answer the question, and it seems you don’t want to answer the question. The Bible teaches that Jesus is God. John 1:1,14. Could it be true that Jesus is not God? Could John 1:1 &14 be erroneous?

  61. Richard said,

    June 20, 2009 at 8:20 am

    Todd: No, it could not be true that Jesus is not God.

  62. Todd said,

    June 20, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Richard,

    Why not? Why can’t the Apostles be in error there? Could they have misunderstood Jesus? Why not?

    Todd

  63. Richard said,

    June 20, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Todd: Good questions, I will spend some time composing a reply, in the meantime note that the problem for the inerrantist is that he cannot defend the inerrancy of these verses. The CSBI states that “inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture” and “copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original”. So you would have to prove that John 1:1,14 are a part of the autographic text, which is impossible to do.

  64. Jared said,

    June 20, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Reed,

    Great to see you at GA. I recognized the name but since I am a “new reader” I didn’t put 2 and 2 together. Hope to see you again soon.

  65. Reed Here said,

    June 20, 2009 at 11:52 am

    And you Jared. Scott’s relation to you? (reedhere at gmail dot com.)

  66. Reed Here said,

    June 20, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Richard, no. 57: now don’t get too elated just yet. ;-) I still think we’re in different universes here.

    Your position, in effect, is that the historicity does not matter for God’s usage of the history in the text. Yes? There may or may not be a correlation between event and text, but this is immaterial. What is material for you is God’s literary intent (I prefer rhetorical, but I’m open to advice/correction.) I’m tracking, demonstrating I’m getting what you are saying (more or less?)

    In that I think I may not have made my point clear enough. Let me try:

    > I agree that the literary type of a given passage is key to rightly interpreting what God is saying.

    > I do recognize there are many different literay types in Scripture, including some in which a strict literal interpretation is not intended, and actually works against proper interpretation.

    Let’s agree that Solomon’s Song serves as a textbook example of such a literary sytle. I.e., I’m not saying there are not necessary historical elements which must be accurate representations (e.g., there was a Shulamite sweetheart.) Rather in general the book is to be understood as a series of metaphors intended to communicate truth about our relationship with God without substantial regard for the underlying history. I’m not saying it is irrelevant, rather that it is secondary.

    > The problem comes in with reference to the issue of a literary type which poses as historical, but in fact is nothing of the sort. Rather it uses the historical data in a cut & paste manner, God fitying the elements together as he sees fit to communicate truth, regardless of errors, or better, contradictions with the actual historical event.

    > This is a proposed literary type labled by Enn’s as “myth”, or in your reference previously, as “saga.” Possibly meta-history is an apt description. Again, the idea is that God uses the historical data to construct a “story” that truly comminucates truth, all the while, not deying the underlying history, but so ignoring it that questions of historical “accuracy” are meaningless, as they fall outside the bounds of the meta-history’s purposes and literary structure.

    Aside from my failure to adequately focus my words, I think I get this. Indeed I was first exposed to this while sitting under Enns.

    The problem I have is that I cannot find such a literary type in Scripture. Or more precisely, in order to find one I must redefine what such key words as truth, error, hisotry, accuracy, and veracity mean. I must redefine them in such a way that the cease to have any secure meaning. They become incoherent.

    The problem goes further in that I see Scripture using such “meta-historical” passages as support/proof of other necessarily real historical events, events absolutely essential to salvation.

    Your use of Solomon’s reign is an good example. Contrary to your “the historicity is immaterial” position, I maintain that what I see in Scripture rather requires that the event & text actually match up. Consider, is not Solomon’s fulfillment typical-proleptic of Jesus’s ultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic promises? I think given the NT’s usage of Abraham as father of the NT saint, we have to conclude yes.

    Then, if we conclude that Solomon’s fulfillment is nothing more than a rhetorical statement, that God is merely cutting and pasting history to make the picture fit the fulfillment – why should we have any confidence that Jesus’s fulfilment is likewise nothing more than rhetorical? If Solomon the type is merely “saga,” then on what basis can we conclude that Jesus the anti-type is nothing more than “saga?”

    You cannot get around this by insisting that Solomon is meta-historical, whereas Jesus is historical in the ordinary common sense usage. You’ve already elminated that possibility by your position.

    Thus, in your attempt to remove the apperance of error (lack of correspondence between event and text), you necessarily remove the historicity of Jesus and his ministry. Appealing to more textual evidence is rather silly when by principle you’ve given man’s rationalism the ultimate authority in resolving such connundrums.

    Let me end by noting my conviction in terms of historicity between event and text. God is not merely the author of the text, he is also the author of the event. Thus his reporting is both accurate to the event, and fitted to his particular intent in the text.

    Certainly he did not given us all the historical details, E.g., he did not give us the exact metes-&-bounds property line descriptions of the extent of Solomon’s kingdom. Yet what he did give us is consistent with the actual history, is consistent with recognized methods of communicating such history without error, and therefore emphasizes those elements which he believes are necessary for us to focus on to trust in Christ.

    In the end, I agree that there are numerous “appearances” of error, of contradiction between event and text. Yet given that the Sovereign God is both author of event and text, I can rest confident that when that great day comes, I will see that He who says trust me with the Central Truth (Jesus) was also trustworthy with all the tertiary truths (event-text) which serve to point to that Truth.

    This is what I meant when I said nothng you’ve said requires the kinds of position you are taking.

  67. Pete Myers said,

    June 20, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    #53 Richard,

    Oh, for goodness sake. Let me restate the position in a way that makes it harder for you to twist it. It is extremely irritating argumentation, Richard, to deliberately not listen to the case the other person is putting forward.

    1 – I believe in inerrancy because the Bible teaches inerrancy about itself.
    2 – If the doctrine of inerrancy therefore requires belief in any other axiom, I will accept that axiom as true.

    2 is accepted on the basis of 1. 1 is an assumption that leads to 2. 2 is not something that supports 1 in this argument.

  68. Richard said,

    June 20, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Reed: Let me digest what you have said.

    Pete: I know that you believe in inerrancy because you believe the Bible teaches inerrancy about itself. My point is why then do you feel the need to confine said inerrancy to original autographs alone?

  69. Pete Myers said,

    June 20, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    #68,

    Because the original autographs were the inspired scriptures… everything else is a copy of the inspired scriptures.

  70. Richard said,

    June 21, 2009 at 3:51 am

    Pete: Do you not see the inconsistency here, i.e. you believe your errant copy of of the inspired scriptures teaches inerrancy about itself (problem 1) insofar as it is in agreement with the original autographs but you can never be certain if a specific verse was ever in the original autographs anyway (problem 2)?

    Of course I could now be mean and now ask you to prove that those verses you believe teach inerrancy were in the original autographs…but I wouldn’t want to be that unkind now would I?

  71. Pete Myers said,

    June 22, 2009 at 5:26 am

    #70

    Do you not see the inconsistency here, i.e. you believe your errant copy of of the inspired scriptures teaches inerrancy about itself (problem 1) insofar as it is in agreement with the original autographs but you can never be certain if a specific verse was ever in the original autographs anyway (problem 2)?

    What you’re now doing is actually shifting the terms of the debate… the logic of inerrancy is:
    1) The Bible teaches inerrancy for itself.
    2) Therefore any axiom that need to be held in order for inerrancy to be true are implied to be true by the Bible.

    Your “problem 1″ is not a problem with this argument (i.e. with the “real” argument… with the argument your opponents are actually making).

    There’s two ways I can parse your problem 1:

    a) You are basically trying to suggest that we can’t trust the copies of the scriptures we have because they’re errant. That is not engaging with the inerrantist argument I’ve laid out above, that’s just casting doubt on God’s Word full stop, because you’ve run out of arguments against the actual position that’s being put forward against you.

    b) Or, you think that I think the scripture is claiming inerrancy for copies of itself. That’s absurd. I’ve only met Muslims who believe that. It’s certainly not the position of any of the inerrantists here. Again your “problem” boils down to a problem with something that’s not being said.

    Let’s flesh this out:
    – God’s Word is inerrant.
    – Therefore the things spoken and written by those whom are being inspired by the Holy Spirit are inerrant (which is just a more long-winded way of saying the same thing).
    – This inspiration is organic. There may have been a number of sources for the particular human being involved to be made aware of the information (secular history, religious tradition, direct revelation from God, etc.), however the Holy Spirit so worked with the mind of the inspired writer that his Words were God’s actual Word letter for letter that he wished to be written down.
    – Therefore inspired history, prophecy, law, wisdom, etc. is God’s Word and hence inerrant.
    – The transmission of that Word through history is not inerrant.

    Richard – your problem 1 should have melted away a long time ago if you’d just listened properly to a simple case for inerrancy (like Grudems, which I’m sure is accessible to you).

    Problem 2… is what makes me think that you’re doing (a) above. There’s various ways of answering this, but, first let me just ask you if you actually believe what you’re saying here? Do you really believe, Richard, that we can be so unconfident of the Biblical texts we have today that we can’t be certain of any verse in the Bible as to whether it was originally written down by God’s inspired author?

    If you do, then the discussion has reached a whole new level. I’d ask if you’ve made your church aware of that, before doing any ministry under their authority?

    Of course I could now be mean and now ask you to prove that those verses you believe teach inerrancy were in the original autographs…but I wouldn’t want to be that unkind now would I?

    Richard. I’m afraid I’m snapping now, and just say it.

    I find you to be an incredibly arrogant person.

    Do with that what you will. I pray that you might take stock, reflect for a moment, pray and think through why someone you barely know would feel compelled to say that from the way you talk about others and their opinions. You don’t seem to get annoyed online, Richard, you just seem so unbelievably condescending.

    Yours in Christ
    Pete

  72. Richard said,

    June 22, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Pete: What I am trying to do is point out, as best I can, some of the flaws I see in your argument. I am trying to point out that your argument has some unintended consequences, i.e. I am trying to point out the problems with your need to confine inerrancy to the original autographs alone and your implicit acceptance that what we have avaialable now is errant.

    I would be interested in how you deal with problem 2. FWIW, no I don’t believe we can be so unconfident of the Biblical texts we have today that we can’t be certain of any verse in the Bible as to whether it was originally written down by God’s inspired author? In #57 I noted:

    Paradoxically because I deny “that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture” and further, “that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original” I have a far higher view of the texts we have today and their faithful translations than you potentially have. That is for me, for all practical purposes, the NRSV is just as much the word of God as your (hypothetical) original autograph. For you, each verse of the ESV (I assume this is your version of preference) is only the word of God if it is in the original autograph so goodbye to 1 Jn. 5:7; 2 Tim 3:16 etc.

    Ok, you believe in inerrancy because the Bible teaches inerrancy about itself. Please now prove that those verses you believe teach inerrancy were in the original autographs. The logic of your argument necessitates as much.

  73. Richard said,

    June 22, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Pete: Just to add; when you say that I am “basically trying to suggest that we can’t trust the copies of the scriptures we have because they’re errant” one should keep in mind, my point is that the logic of your argument demands that we can’t trust the copies of the scriptures we have because they’re errant and we don’t know which are inerrant because we don’t know which, if any, were in the original autographs. That is, as I see it, the unintended consequence of your own argument. Ultimately the person in the pew is left questioning each verse, rather than accepting each verse as inspired by God and therefore authoritative.

  74. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 22, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Richard,

    Please consider the following blog post by Steve Hays on the relationship that you are identifying as being problematic between Inerrancy and Textual Criticism:

    “At some point I intend to comment on some of the contradictions that Bart Ehrman imputes to Scripture in his new book, Jesus, Interrupted. For now I want to draw attention to a dilemma generated by his own position.

    A contradiction involves a discrepancy between two or more passages. You can’t allege a contradiction unless the text is reliable. If the text is unreliable, then you’re in no position to say that these passages are ultimately discrepant. For all you know, the discrepancy might well be a scribal gloss.

    So a necessary precondition for imputing contradictions to scripture is the essential integrity of the text. If the transmission of the text is unreliable, then any contradiction you allege is vitiated by an unreliable witness to the original text.

    Therefore, the liberal has to choose between two mutually exclusive lines of attack. If he attacks the integrity of the text, then he forfeits the right to attack the inerrancy of the text–but if he attacks the inerrancy of the text, then he forfeits the right to attack the integrity of the text. One line of attack cancels out the other, and vice versa. You can pay on the way in, or you can pay on the way out, but either way, you have to pay up.

    Incidentally, a parallel conundrum is generated by critics who claim the meaning of Scripture is hopelessly uncertain since Christians disagree over the correct interpretation of Scripture. If you press this issue, then you disqualify yourself from imputing error to Scripture–for the imputation of error is only as good as your interpretation. So the unbeliever is in a quandary. He likes to attack the Bible from every conceivable angle, but in the process he is forming a circular firing squad. He makes himself the target of his own incoherent stratagems.”

  75. Pete Myers said,

    June 23, 2009 at 6:01 am

    #72-73

    Richard, some of what you say is just off the wall. Your attempts to find “flaws” in the internal logic of the inerrancy argument repeatedly break down into bizarre characterisations.

    The substance of the issue is what scripture teaches about itself, the argument you put forward for why we can’t be sure of what scripture teaches about itself is inconsistent with your claim to believe we can trust what is in our hands in the pew.

    Richard, at an early point in our conversation, I demonstrated to you the exact opposite of #73… that your position means that the person in the pew can’t trust what’s in their hand, they can’t know what to take away as “true” from the scriptures unless you are there to affirm or deny the truth of every single verse. As a perfect example of this – what would you say to the person in the pew who is confident that the Exodus through the Red Sea actually happened because of Exodus 20v1-2? You told me that reading that statement as being historically true was “dangerous”. You are just being plain inconsistent now.

    John 17v17 is a proof text for Biblical inerrancy. Frankly, though, read any defence of inerrancy, and it will give you a list of texts as long as your arm. Have you actually done any reading of the inerrancy position?

  76. Richard said,

    June 23, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Pete: Your argument boils down to the simple assertion that the original autograps are inerrant and that you believe the errant MSS we have today is only inerrant insofar as it mirrors what the original autograps said. You assert that John 17v17 is a proof text for Biblical inerrancy, this involves a two-part claim. First of all you are claiming that John 17v17 was in the original autograph. Second you are claiming that the only viable interpretation of said verse is inerrancy of the Bible. Now leaving aside the exegesis for now (and I have told you repeatedly why I find such exegesis wrongheaded) you need to firstly establish that John 17v17 can be found in the original autograph. Until you do that you cannot be sure that this verse is speaking inerrantly.

    the argument you put forward for why we can’t be sure of what scripture teaches about itself is inconsistent with your claim to believe we can trust what is in our hands in the pew.

    Of course it is, but you may have misunderstood my method of argument. My argument is that the inerrantist can’t be sure of what scripture teaches about itself because he cannot prove that those verses which (he believes) teach inerrancy were in the original autographs. As I don’t believe in the original autographs this line of argument does not reflect my own views.

  77. Richard said,

    June 23, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Pete: At the risk of being charged as arrogant once again I really do think you have completely misread what I said regarding Ex. 20:1-2. I never said that your being confident that the Exodus through the Red Sea actually happened was “dangerous”, I said your belief that the story narrates exactly what happened to be “dangerous”, i.e. your seing the biblical narrative as correlating 1:1 with historical reality is what is dangerous. Of course I would want them to think again whether it was the Red sea of the reed sea….

  78. Richard said,

    June 23, 2009 at 10:57 am

    On the issue of Biblical narrative I can really commend Alter’s The Art of Biblical Narrative to you and Carr’s Reading the Fractures of Genesis.

  79. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 23, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Richard, are you attacking inerrancy or text criticism transmission? You can’t have both. Do you need assistance understanding the logic of Steve Hays in #74?

  80. rfwhite said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    57/72 Richard: Please remind us of the basis for your claim that “for all practical purposes, the NRSV is just as much the word of God as your (hypothetical) original autograph.” How do you know that your claim is true?

  81. Richard said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Dr White: My claim is that the community of faith has over time produced a number of writings which it has deemed to be authoritative. Owing to the work of redactors and tradents who read and re-read, edited and re-edited earlier work to form newer work as well as historical circumstances (e.g. exile) a number of textual streams have been produced (Egyptian, Babylonian and Palestinian) and a pluriformity of literary editions. I would not make a hard and fast distinction between author and editor/tradent etc. The early church then re-read these scriptures in the light of the Christ-event and a new community of faith was born which in time produced its own authoritative writings. This is a matter of historical fact. In terms of why I believe the claim that these are inspired, i.e. God-breathed, as I noted in another thread, I believe this on the testimony of the Church.

  82. Reed Here said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Richard: you’ve got a number of responses to follow up with, so please respond to mine last (if at all). You said (snippet):

    My argument is that the inerrantist can’t be sure of what scripture teaches about itself …

    Does your position allow for any such surety? On what basis outside of the autonomous individual?

  83. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Richard,

    Don’t forget mine:

    “Richard, are you attacking inerrancy or text criticism transmission? You can’t have both. Do you need assistance understanding the logic of Steve Hays in #74?”

  84. Richard said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Reed: Indeed my position allows for us to be sure of what scripture teaches about itself, and does so on the basis of the authority of the Church as well as that of scripture itself.

    But even if I am wrong and my position means I can’t be sure of what scripture teaches about itself, I am in no worse a position than I am if I accept the inerrancy argument as advanced by Pete.

  85. Richard said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    TUD: I am suggesting that Pete’s articulation of inerrancy is undermined by the fact that he cannot show that those verses he believes teach inerrancy are in the originals.

  86. Reed Here said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Richard: so you would make a tradition-authority argument?

  87. Richard said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Reed: Could you spell that out so I know precisely what I am agreeing with or not as the case may be.

  88. rfwhite said,

    June 23, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    82 Richard: Thanks for your forbearance in rehearsing old comments. Another question for clarification, perhaps old too: would you say that the authority of the writings depends entirely upon the testimony of the community, or that that authority depends also upon the testimony of anything or anyone else?

  89. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 23, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    TUD: I am suggesting that Pete’s articulation of inerrancy is undermined by the fact that he cannot show that those verses he believes teach inerrancy are in the originals.

    Richard, think a little deeper. You are not doing what you are think you are doing or suggesting. You don’t really understand what Steve Hays articulated, do you?

    If you attack Pete on text transmission, saying that we have errant copies of the original autographs, then pay attention to what Steve declares here:

    “So a necessary precondition for imputing contradictions to scripture is the essential integrity of the text. If the transmission of the text is unreliable, then any contradiction you allege is vitiated by an unreliable witness to the original text.”

    That being the case, you can’t allege that Scripture is errant.

    Or are you attacking Pete by him holding to inerrancy? If so, then this statement by Steve holds:

    “A contradiction involves a discrepancy between two or more passages. You can’t allege a contradiction unless the text is reliable. If the text is unreliable, then you’re in no position to say that these passages are ultimately discrepant. For all you know, the discrepancy might well be a scribal gloss.”

    Do you get it now Richard? The tables are turned upon you. Thanks for playing.

    Here’s the takeaway: “Therefore, the liberal has to choose between two mutually exclusive lines of attack. If he attacks the integrity of the text, then he forfeits the right to attack the inerrancy of the text–but if he attacks the inerrancy of the text, then he forfeits the right to attack the integrity of the text. One line of attack cancels out the other, and vice versa.”

    Do you understand what mutually exclusive lines of attack means?

  90. Richard said,

    June 24, 2009 at 1:45 am

    Dr. White: I would suggest that the authority depends entirely upon the testimony of the community. Of course I believe it’s the testimony of the Spirit working through the community but in objective reality it is the witness of the community. James Sander’s book Torah and Canon whilst a little basic is a pretty good primer on this.

    TUD: Please read what I say, I am not imputing contradictions to scripture ergo Steve Hays’ argument does not work against my line of argument. I don’t believe we have we have errant copies of the original autographs, I don’t agree that there ever were such things. My point is to show that within Pete’s framework of argument his claim that the Bible teaches inerrancy of itself is open to challenge.

    Pete’s argument proceeds thus:
    1. Verses x…n teach inerrancy.
    2. As the MSS we have are errant we must apply inerrancy to original autographs.
    3. The MSS we have are only inerrant insofar as they mirror the original autographs.
    4. The task of textual criticism is therefore to reconstruct the original autographs.

    Now here my point comes into play arguing that there is an inner tension; because of point 3, point 1 cannot stand until verses x…n are demonstrated to have belonged to the original autographs. Why? Because Pete is arguing that only those verses are inerrant, hence as things stand it is entirely possible, within his own framework, that those verses that he believes teach inerrancy are actually errant and didn’t belong to the original autographs.

    I trust that is clearer.

  91. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 24, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Richard: “I trust that is clearer.”

    Well, no. There are a couple of responses I have to your comment, but I want to ask for a clarification first. You wrote:

    I don’t believe we have we have errant copies of the original autographs, I don’t agree that there ever were such things.”

    So are you saying that you believe we have inerrant copies of the original autographs?

  92. rfwhite said,

    June 24, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Richard: given that the community is liable to err, what happens to the authority of the writings when the community errs?

  93. Richard said,

    June 24, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    TUD: Apologies, I deny that an original autograph existed. To answer your question, I don’t believe we have inerrant copies of the original autographs.

    Dr. White: A good question. As far as I can see one could deny that the community is liable to err. Another solution would be to clarify what I said earlier and note that the text owing to its inspiration is authoritative in and of itself, it becomes authoritative for the community when that community recognises its authority. Here we need to keep in mind that one can’t draw a hard and fast line between the community and the authors. So for example, Jesus is king whether you live in the American Bible Belt or in the deepest darkest Amazonian tribe who never hear of Jesus. That objective truth becomes subjectively true when individuals in the tribe hear the gospel, repent etc. Similarly, the book of Ephesians is authoritative objectively owing to its inspiration yet is only subjectively authoritative for the faith community when it recognises it as being authoritative. Am I being clear here?

    So given that the community is liable to err, the authority of the writings remain authoritative in an objective sense but not subjectively for that community.

    Think for a second about the canon of the OT, for the Protestant the OT = OT1 whilst for the EO the OT = OT1+X. For the latter X is deemed to be authoritative whilst for the former they are not. One query I do struggle with is which is correct? Either X is objectively authoritative and and this authority is recognised by the EO and the Protestants err or vice versa. Which ever canon I end up with is upon the testimony of that Church be it Protestant or EO, the one that can build the most convincing case.

  94. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 24, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Richard: “TUD: Apologies, I deny that an original autograph existed. To answer your question, I don’t believe we have inerrant copies of the original autographs.”

    Gracious apology graciously accepted. Yet, I’m still left scratching my head in bewilderment with your statement: “I deny that an original autograph existed.

    I have never heard of such a thing. Would you like to retract or restate?

  95. Richard said,

    June 24, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    TUD: In my discussions on this topic I have been using the term “original autograph” as synonymous with an Urtext. Within textual criticism (of the OT especially) there are two schools of thought, (1) those who believe an Urtext existed, e.g. De Lagarde, and (2) those who don’t, e.g. Kahle. A simple example is that the MT and Vorlarge of the LXX differs to such an extent that it is unrealistic to argue that they are based upon a common text (an Urtext). I hope that makes things a little simpler.

  96. Richard said,

    June 24, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    This may be helpful to see the differences.

  97. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 24, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Richard: I deny that an original autograph existed.

    TUD: In my discussions on this topic I have been using the term “original autograph” as synonymous with an Urtext. Within textual criticism (of the OT especially) there are two schools of thought, (1) those who believe an Urtext existed, e.g. De Lagarde, and (2) those who don’t, e.g. Kahle.”

    If you are familiar with the game of tennis, then I must say that you have wrong-footed me. I am not familiar with the argument arguing that the original autographs did not exist. Do you apply this argument just as staunchly to the NT as well?

  98. Richard said,

    June 25, 2009 at 11:20 am

    TUD: I love tennis (come on Murray!), watching it that is, I can’t play for toffee!

    I certainly don’t think the issue is quite as complex for the NT as it is for the OT. That said, let’s take the issue of interpolations:

    1. Paul wrote a letter to the church at Corinth, say x.
    2. A redactor, guided by the Spirit, added some verses, say y.
    3. The final form of this letter which is found in every Bible is xy.
    Question: Which is the original autograph, x or xy?

    If we assume that all we have now are copies of xy and x how can we tell which is original? Ultimately we cannot, we could hypothosise that x was the original and y added later, or we could suggest that xy was original and y was accidently overlooked by copyists. Objectively we couldn’t decide between them.

    Personally I would prefer to forget about the concept of an original autograph and instead accept we have writings that the community of faith has recognised as authoritative and these writings don’t necessarily agree in text, so LXX Jeremiah is just as authoritative as MT Jeremiah even though they don’t agree and x is just as authoritative as xy in the example above.

  99. Reformed Sinner said,

    June 25, 2009 at 11:38 am

    #98 Richard,

    Interesting. So the “community of faith” decides what is the Word of God. So a series of questions are begged:

    1) Why does a specific “community of faith” get to decide what’s the Word of God and what’s not? And why is the canon closed (or do you even believe in a closed canon?)

    2) What is your definition of “authoritative?” Or to be more direct: do you believe they are the exact Word of God or merely man’s words attesting God? If they are Word of God how can you reconcile God having multiple versions of the same set of Words?

    3) What is your definition of “community of faith” and how does that relate to the succession of Scripture?

  100. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 25, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Richard,

    I will defer to my CSBI Inerrantist betters on the issues that you bring forth. It is an argument that I’m wholly unfamiliar with.

    Thank you for sharpening my iron. Which I believe is in the Book of Proverbs.

    ;-)

  101. Richard said,

    June 25, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    RS: Ultimately the community of faith says which writings are in and which are out and so as history works itself out a specific “community of faith” decides what it believes is the Word of God and what is not. Let’s return to my earlier example of the EO, they believe that the Septuagint is the inspired version of the OT or as Timothy Ware puts it,

    As its authoritative text for the Old Testament, it [the Orthodox Church] uses the ancient Greek translation known as the Septuagint. When this differs from the original Hebrew (which happens quite often), Orthodox believe that the changes in the Septuagint were made under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and are to be accepted as part of God’s continuing revelation.

    There is no evidence that supports this claim, either you believe it or you do not. The Presbyterian Church doesn’t for it claims “The Old Testament in Hebrew…being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical” and that “The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.” Of course there is no actual evidence to substantiate that claim, you either believe it or you do not. In one sense then both of these communities of faith are deciding what the word of God is. On historical grounds however it could be seen that the EO has the stronger case.

    In terms of what I mean by the term “authoritative”, I simply mean that it possesses authority over something, i.e. I should submit to its teachings. I think you are posing the follow up question in the wrong order, rather “Seeing that we have multiple versions of the same set of words how should revise our view of verbal plenary inspiration?” But to answer yopur query, I would say we need to proceed carefully rather than dogmatically. If the scripture is the word of God (which it is) and there is a pluriformity of varying texts (which there are) we need to be proceed thoughtfully rather than assuming these truthful statements need reconciling.

    Perhaps we may wish to take the route of questioning why exactly were are so committed to the MT rather than the LXX. I find the arguments in favour of going with the LXX to be far more persuasive than why we should go with the MT, if of course a choice is needed.

  102. Richard said,

    June 25, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    TUD: No worries, on the issue of multiple editions you may wish to have a look at Eugene Ulrich’s The Dead Sea scrolls and the Origins of the Bible and on the subject of canon you may wish to check out The Canon Debate edited by Lee Martin McDonald & James A. Sanders.

  103. pete myers said,

    June 25, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    i have been at a e beeconference all week, and have only been able to read the updates to thread and respond from my phone. Sorry..

    Richard, on exodus 20v1-2 the substantive point I charged you with stands even if I concede what you said. That is the problem here I’m finding with discussing these issues with you. You are not addressing the argument that’s being presented to ygou, and regularly avoid the actual substance of a point with an immaterial detail you can focus on. Whichever way you try to spin your comments about exodus 20v1-2, your view still means that the person in the pew has no idea whatsoever what scripture says – they have no way of reasonably determining what os truth god is teaching and what is simply untrue accomodation. The fact that you think the resurrection is important to hold to historically, but that other events aren’t proves that the congregation member needs to be able to assess what is true or not from scripture (ie its not ok to dismiss all of scriptures history as at least the resurrection is part of the actual message). But how does the congregation member know what they can and can’t believe from scripture without the ever wise richard being there to “filter” the scriptures for them? Thus, it is not the inerrantists but you who are taking the bible out of the hands of the layperson.

    Secondly, you are constantly insisting on turning the inerrancy psoition backwards because that makes it easier to argue with. And you are now being equivocal.

    You and I both believe that the texts we have faithfully bring gods word to us, yet, your recent line of argument has turned on trying to cast doubt on the texts we have, which therefore causes problems for my position, because my position is built on the text of scripture.

    How desperate an argument is that? Richard either admit that we can trust the manuscripts we have, or, admit that you don’t think we can trust the manuscripts we have. Don’t adopt whatever position most easily allows you to criticise others, even if that means adopting contradictory postitions at different points in time.

    John 17v17 says that gods word is truth. That means gods word is inerrant. That means that wherever the copies of gods word we have accord with gods word they also are inerrant. I’m afraid you have to show that the copies of gods word we have are so poor,and the textual tradition is so corrupt that we can’t possibly be sure we know what gods word written actually is before ypou can dismiss this argument.

    As to all the stuff you keep saying about the chruch formulating the word, then, let me tell you that the church is against you. Read the reformed confessions, read the doctrinal basis of your own church, of the north west gospel partnership, read the csbi. Read the roman catholic catechism.

    The church says that scripture is inerrant, scripture says scripture is inerrant. Either one you pick as your final authority, you have to concede inerrancy if you wish to have consistent integrity.

  104. Richard said,

    June 26, 2009 at 6:30 am

    Pete: What you need to do is demonstrate that John 17:17 was contained in the original autograph. Unless you can do that you cannot claim that it is speaking without error. I don’t need to do anything, it is your assertion that John 17:17 was in the original autograph, all I am doing is asking you to prove it.

    I quite understand what you mean by saying “the church formulating the word”.

  105. Richard said,

    June 26, 2009 at 6:33 am

    I mean; “I don’t quite understand…”

  106. Pete Myers said,

    June 28, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    What you need to do is demonstrate that John 17:17 was contained in the original autograph.

    The requirement for me to demonstrate that a verse that is universally accepted by Christians throughout the world as authentic before I marshall that verse in support of my position is…

    …refutation enough that you don’t have a leg to stand on anymore.

  107. Richard said,

    June 29, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Pete: This caused a wry smile, now you are butressing your view upon the testimony of the community of faith.


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