Inerrancy vs. the god Objectivity

In light of the conversation here, I’ve been planning this post for a few weeks now. Frankly, I’ve been concerned that “younger” evangelicals are bothered by the appearance of secular sourced evidence that “proves” the Bible contains errors. I’ve been there and continue to face this challenge.

I note in many of their questions and comments an underlying angst. They are frustrated, in part, because the old inspiration-inerrancy-infallibility triad seems fatally broken by unquestionable secular evidence. They try to couch this in terms of “determining how the Bible is authoritative,” all the while dismissing the intra-Biblical evidences for its inerrancy.

In reality, it seems at least to me, they are bowing before the Secular god of Objectivity. I read in them an unacknowledged (somewhat unaware) allegiance to the supremacy of rationalism over God himself. I realize they will argue differently. Still …

I simply want to remind them, or possibly introduce some of them, to the wisdom of our forefathers who already faced the challenge of the god Objectivity, and found the Bible’s own answer to slay it. It is found in the Westminster Confession’s first chapter, on the Bible:

WCF 1.5 We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture, (1Ti 3:15 1) and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole, (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God;

yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the word in our hearts. (1Jh 2:20,27; Jh 16:13,14; 1Co 2:10,11,12; Isa 59:21.)

Note that we can acknowledge the “under the Sun” rational evidences for the Bible’s claim to being God’s word. Yet our only full assurance of this fact, the only objectivity we have if you will, is subjectively sourced – it is the Spirit’s own witness in our hearts that we (objectively) know these things to be true.

What this means for inerrancy (and inspiration and infallibility) is at least:

1. We will always find our convictions here fatally challenged by any system which assumes man is the ultimate authority.
2. We can only be assured in our convictions by the Spirit’s work in us as individuals.

This is a curse: Objectivity went out the window when our first parents rebelled against the Author of Objectivity. It is because of the fall that we cannot, as mere men, know for sure. It is because of the fall that Secularism will always rise up with new, seemingly insurmountable challenges to the Bible as God’s word.

And a blessing: God graces his children with the removal of the curse, and restores to us a surety that surpasses mere knowledge. No antagonist, no enemy, no person set on destroying your faith can touch such surety. You will not find comfort in trying to come up with a scheme where God uses error to speak truth – it is in the end irrational because God has said so (in the Bible in particular.) You will, however, find comfort in resting in God’s own witness.

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible (affirmed by the Spirit) tells me so.”

- Reed DePace

Post-script: after reading some blogs of neo-errantists, I expect some will laugh at my assumption of their naivety concerning the Spirit’s inward witness. They will respond, “of course, and that’s how we know we know what we know (about the Bible) is right.”

Fair enough. The real question is not whether or not you or I say the Spirit confirms, especially that which we disagree on (inerrancy.) The question is what does the Bible say? After all, it is the only judge of who has the credible right to claim the Spirit’s amen to their convictions.

Two final thoughts I hope the neo-errantists will consider. 1) I’ve yet to see serious interaction with the biblical claims to inerrancy. Rather, you’ve offered little less than a dismissive comment or two.

2) Consider that in principle you have no basis for assuming anything in the Bible is inerrant. Or, putting aside the inerrancy angle for the sake of the discussion – your position has left you with no basis on which to affirm infallibility. Your position leaves no place for the objective work of God to authoritatively show itself. In principle, everything in the Bible, and therefore in the ministry of the Church, is left up to the autonomous opinion of the individual.

Your’s is a position which has removed the mantle of sacredness from the sacred Scriptures, and has lain it across the shoulders of the individual. Be ware the “demons” you let loose; they will not easily be re-caged.

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201 Comments

  1. Pete Myers said,

    June 22, 2009 at 6:44 am

    John 17v17 is still a text that still has no credible errantist exegetical interpretation.

    (Note that “long”, and “using big words” doesn’t equal credible)

  2. greenbaggins said,

    June 22, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Similarly, I have asked whether the neo-errantist position can actually find any support of their view from the ipsissima verba of Scripture. According to them, the only way to get to their view is through the extra-biblical sources. Apparently, you cannot read Scripture and get it from there, you have to get it from outside Scripture. There is not one passage in Scripture that even remotely supports their view unless they are interpreting it through this objectively certain ANE evidence. To my mind, this is a more than a little flimsy, since God would surely have told us about the almost equal important that ANE sources would have to our understanding of Scripture, if it really was all that important.

    Of course the ANE sources are important for the interpretation of texts. It gives us important historical background. But that is WAY different from saying that our view of what Scripture actually is needs to come from these sources and not solely from Scripture, like the Reformed have always said. At the very least, the view that states that what Scripture is has to be determined not by sole reference to the Bible, but also including ANE sources has absolutely nothing to do with being Reformed.

  3. Reed Here said,

    June 22, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Lane: I suspect that our neo-errantists friends will cry “foul” to your observations. I think you are dead on.

    I remember well the deepening of my own convictions about the nature of Scripture, as I worked my way through the coursework at WTS. I finally arrived at the “yep, got it,” stage when I realized that the only completely valid support for the Bible as God’s word is the self-authenticating argument. The Bible is its own witness, submissive to no other witness. Extra-biblical sources may add to and strengthen our committment. Yet the Bible stands as its own witness.

    The problem with the neo-errantist position is that it begins, not with the bare witness of Scripture, but with the challenge to that witness presented by the external sources. I.e., it is not the Bible itself that teaches Enns’ incarnational analogy. Rather the analogy is an explanation suited to the synthesizing of extra-biblical sources with the Biblical text.

    The only proper argument begins with the Bible’s own self-witness, and builds from there.

  4. Nathan said,

    June 22, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Insofar as you continue to assert that the “neo-errantist” position begins “with the challenge to that witness presented by the external sources”, you continue to misrepresent the position of many of us “younger” evangelicals for whom inner-biblical phenomena (i.e. contradictions, etc) play an important role in arriving at our “errantist” position. It is not only, or even primarily (for me, and I suspect others), extra-biblical sources that gives rise to this position, but rather from inductive study of Scripture itself. You need to keep this in mind when you characterize this position if you want to avoid arguing against a straw man.

  5. Reed Here said,

    June 22, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Nathan, no. 4: appreciate your point. I respectfully disagree. Rather than me (or Lane) keeping this in mind, you (and others) need to demonstrate this.

    We’ve listened to you, worked with your examples, walked through your logic with you. In the end, the critical piece of the puzzle is some extra-biblical data that leads to you to your position. It is not the Bible’s own self-witness, but your extra-biblical-data influenced interpretation that leads you to your position.

    You (I’m generalizing the you, don’t take it personally) do not begin exclusively with the Bible’s own witness. Instead you begin with a statement like, “the Bible gives evidence that it does not support the traditional inerrancy position.” You then follow up with the explanation, “We are merely trying to determine how the Bible presents itself in terms of in/errancy.”

    The critical question is this: what leads you to the first conclusion, what is the intra-biblical evidence that leads to this conclusion? When y’all answer that question, you cannot do so without appeal to extra-biblical data.

    It is not that we are arguing against a misconception of what you are saying. Rather it is that y’all are not tracking with this critical flaw in what you are saying.

    One sufficient example to the contrary will suffice.

    Again, do not take this personally. I do not expect you to have to take up the challenge. Rather, I expect you to show the same respect for my point as I have for y’alls. (FWIW, I do read neo-errantists’ blogs, as well as more importantly listening to the scholarly voices such as Enns.)

  6. June 22, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    [...] Green Baggins: Inerrancy vs. the god Objectivity by Reed DePace In light of the conversation here, I’ve been planning this post for a few weeks now. Frankly, [...]

  7. Nathan said,

    June 22, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Reed,

    It is really quite strange to disagree with someone’s characterization of their own position. Indeed, as a general rule, we should all strive to characterize other people’s positions in a way that the other person would approve.

    “The critical question is this: what leads you to the first conclusion, what is the intra-biblical evidence that leads to this conclusion? When y’all answer that question, you cannot do so without appeal to extra-biblical data.”

    I tried to supply just such an example in “Who Ya Gonna Believe.” My last post, #41, was not answered (does that mean I “won”?). You may disagree with my exegesis in that argument (as I disagreed with yours), but that is not the point. The point is I never appealed to extra-biblical data in my argumentation. There is your “one sufficient example to the contrary.” Other examples of legal contradictions in the pentateuchal legal corpora could be multiplied without recourse to extra-biblical materials.

    So again I ask that you pay us the courtesy of acknowledging that recourse to extra-biblical data is not necessary for the “neo-errantist” position you are attempting to characterize.

  8. Reed Here said,

    June 22, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Nathan, no. 7: no, nothing strange about it. It happens all the time that one presentshis position, and another challenges. Surely you are not arguing that your opinion is sacrosanct.

    As to your sufficient example, I will re-eaxmine it and get back to you. If you’re game, I will engage from this particular aspect.

    As to courtesy, I hope I’m not writing in a discourteous manner. I still must disagree I am not (mis)characterizing the neo-errantist argument. Though at this point please let it lie there. I’ll leave our interaction on 41 to futher press the point.

  9. Nathan said,

    June 22, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    It is not strange for someone to disagree with someone’s position. What is strange is for someone to present their own position, and then for their interlocutor to say, “that is not really your position.”

    If real life neo-errantists would not accept your characterization of their position, you are by definition arguing against a straw man.

  10. Reed Here said,

    June 22, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Nathan, no. 7: I remember now, the argument that Ex 12 and Dt 16, the “two” passover instructions, contradict one another.

    I did not respond any further Nathan because I observed that you were merely asserting yourself at that point. Admittedly you offered text based arguments, yet these (in my opinion) were nothing more than expressions that assumed the conclusion. I.e., you are not proving that the text itself is in error, merely that you assume it is.

    Your position does not allow for any possibility that Dt 16 is a development of Ex 12, one that takes over and supersedes the Ex 12 stipulations. Your argument against this reads like a dispensational hyper-literalist interpretation.

    I note that you did not interact with my observation that superseding development is a consistent pattern in the biblical text. It will not do to force upon the text an errant literalist interpretive principle, and then on that basis say, “see, the Bible contradicts itself.”

    Further, I must say I read you as somewhat of as a tertiary voice to the main discussion. That is, I’ve yet to read any other neo-errantist make such an argument.

    With no animosity, I still maintain your point is not proven. Please, feel free to further develop your argument. I will be glad to respond.

  11. Reed Here said,

    June 22, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Nathan, no. 9: I’m going to ask you to stop what I consider to be a ridiculous line of reasoning. I’m not putting words into any one’s mouth. Continual repetition of “yes you are!” is not going to make it so.

    Your real life person argument is absolutely ludicrous. Please go read George Orwell’s 1984 and then come and talk with me. Either y’all can demonstrate I’m wrong, or y’all will continue to demonstrate I’ve got your number.

  12. Nathan said,

    June 22, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    “Merely asserting myself” by dealing in detail with the grammar of the passage …

    But like I said, my point today is that you cannot claim that neo-errantists slavishly rely on extra-biblical sources. Your “one sufficient example” an argument not relying on such sources has been provided (in the context of a conversation with you no less!). It would be disingenuous for you to continue to claim that all of our arguments have recourse to extra-biblical data.

    As a bonus, here is another “neo-errantist” making an argument about errancy without recourse to extra-biblical data: http://aboulet.com/2009/06/08/consistent-errancy-5/. Now you have two examples of what you would call “neo-errantists” making arguments based on biblical data alone.

    That’ll be it for me today.

  13. Reed Here said,

    June 22, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Nathan, no. 12: you are merely asserting yourself. You have not in any manner, to any degree, proven your case.

    Thanks for once again showing the bankruptcy of your position.

  14. Nathan said,

    June 22, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Reed,

    Just so we’re clear, could you articulate briefly what the case is that I have not in any manner, to any degree, proven?

  15. Reed Here said,

    June 22, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Nathan: you’ve not made the case that the neo-errantist position does not necessarily require extra-biblical evidence for its case.

    As to Art’s Matthew-Jeremiah-Zechariah quote, I’l let others observe for themselves that Art, like you, begins with the premise, “it must be error, therefore no explanation will suffice.”

    We do know the Bible claims it does not make such errors. We do not have sufficient data to conclude, contrary to Art’s absolute assurance of some impossibilities, that all other the plausible explanations are off the table (e.g., quotation referencing different from modern practice, error in copies, etc.) The only way Art is able to reach that conclusion is by assuming it in the first place.

  16. Nathan said,

    June 22, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    What premise Art may or may not begin with is a separate matter from what evidence he appeals to in that post. Cite for me some extra-biblical EVIDENCE that he appeals to, or that I appealed to in my argument in the Who Ya Gonna Believe thread, and your claim that the neo-errantist postion requires extra-biblical EVIDENCE will be more convincing.

    My claim here is quite modest. I’m not trying to convince anyone that the bible is errant. I am only trying to keep a significant aspect of the “neo-errantist” position from being overlooked: the perceived existence of contradictions in the bible itself. That is, one can come to an errantist position without ever reading a single extra biblical ANE document.

  17. Reed Here said,

    June 22, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Nathan, no. 16: I did give specific inference to Art’s appeal to extra-biblical data. His use of the word “impossible” demonstrates this. The only way he can arrive at that conclusion is based on appeal to, admittedly non-stated, extra-biblical evidence. Nothing in the Bible itself requires the “impossible” conclusion Art reaches. Only by beginning from premises resting on extra-biblical considerations does Art necessarily reach that conclusion. That is, the Bible itself does not require this of him.

    In your posts concerning Ex 12 and Dt 16, your argument rests on the premise that the “perpetuation” stipulation in Ex 12 demands no further development of the Passover practices. To be sure you are saying that your conclusion is grammactically based. Yet what you are doing is picking from among at least two options (I’ve given the other, the development option). You are going with the position you are not because the text demands it, but because the presupposition you bring to the text demands. I.e., something extra-biblical forces that conclusion upon your interpretation. It is just as likely that Ex 12 in initial (first time), the perpetuation stipulation is general (practices) without limitation on further development, and that Dt 16 demonstrates the on-going development.

    Following your line of reasoning, the “contradiction” is not limited to Dt 16, it applies to the whole Church in that following your interpretation, no further development is allowed, therefore the exact Ex 12 Passover stipulations still apply. You make not only Moses (key author of the Pentateuch) contradict himself, you make Jesus contradict himself (i.e., the NT’s abogration of the practices in light of its anti-typical fulfillment by Jesus.)

    Your modest claim is not what you have been pushing for in this last series of posts (and I think you know that ;-) .) I’ve not said anything against the neo-errantist observation of the “perceived” existence of contradictions. In fact, I have agreed with this perception (see comment above.)

    No, my point has been that the conclusion (not perception) of the neo-errantist position, to wit that there actually are errors (contradictions) in the Bible is rooted not in what the Bible necessarily demands of itself, but what your extra-biblical influenced presuppositions require.

    That is, one cannot come to a neo-errantist position without ever reading a single extra Biblical ANE document. You can come to the perception of this without external recourse (every sound inerrantist does.) You cannot conclude this, as the neo-errantist position does, without recourse outside the Bible.

  18. Nathan said,

    June 22, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    “That is, one cannot come to a neo-errantist position without ever reading a single extra Bible ANE document.” Really, Reed? I’m checking out for real this time, but here’s a thought for anyone else who might be reading: how persuasive is an argument against a position that is phrased in such a way that the person who holds the position disagrees with the way you have a formulated it? I recall this ideal being reinforced in AP 101 at WTS and expected in our papers. It would be nice to see it here.

  19. Reed Here said,

    June 22, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Nathan, no. 18: no disrespect, but your retorts are nothing more than rhetoric hoping to persuade by mere verbal force. The sentence you quoted was a carefully re-worded expression of your own statement. In fact, most of it is verbatim. Do you really think you are making your case with snarkiness? (“Really, Reed?”)

    You’re not making the case that I’m not listening, nor representing you accurately. You’re merely asserting I am. You are going back to the ridiculous argument:

    P: I do not recognize my position in your argument.
    C: Therefore you are not talking about my position.

    Your conclusion does not necessarily follow from your premise. It could just as likely be:

    P: You do not like the accurate criticism I am making of your argument.
    C: Therefore you assume I”m not talking about your argument.

    Your AP 101 illustration suggests you either did not pay enough attention, or you are deliberately misusing what you learned. Given your failure to interact with my actual arguments against your assertions, I’m comfortable assuming the former.

    I’m not trying to be nasty. I am responding in kind. It would be nice for those who want to disagree to actually do so with substance. I’m sorry to say Nathan, but you’ve provided yet another example that those holding to neo-errancy have a difficult time actually interacting in a reasonable manner with their opponents.

    I’ll keep trying. When you come back, consider my appeal. I’ve responded specifically to your’s without redress.

  20. David Gadbois said,

    June 22, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Reed, it seems to me that it is entirely possible for one to believe in errors in the Bible based only on internal, rather than external evidence, based on supposed internal contradiction. It is just that Nathan is wrong to classify this as being part of the neo-inerrancy/errancy you are speaking of. That sort of position predates Enns and the various recent, fashionable ANE warrior children by many decades. It was a common belief in the various limited inerrancy circles prior to the Chicago Statement business.

    That position is more problematic than Enns’. It says that not only did the Bible flub getting the facts and history right, it says that the Bible can’t even keep its own story straight.

    I suppose you Presbyterians are more generous than us Continental Reformed types. We certainly wouldn’t let anyone with any of these forms of limited inerrancy join our churches. HC 21:

    True faith is
    not only a knowledge and conviction
    that everything God reveals in his Word is true…

  21. Reed Here said,

    June 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    David, no. 20: hmmm … The point is, one can do so, but not with consistency with the Bible’s own claims. I’m echoing you (HC 21) here.

    Any errancy (classice, latent, neo, or otherwise) position must begin with an external presupposition in its favor because the Bible begins with an internal presupposition oppsed to it.

  22. David Gadbois said,

    June 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Any errancy (classice, latent, neo, or otherwise) position must begin with an external presupposition in its favor because the Bible begins with an internal presupposition oppsed to it.

    Ah. I see what you mean now.

  23. Reed Here said,

    June 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Glad someone does :P

  24. art said,

    June 22, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Nathan’s point is proven here, both in Reed’s interactions with him and with Reed’s apparent knowledge of my premises before reading Scripture.

    Reed: you are incorrect in thinking that you know my premises. You don’t.

    Until you can actually paint an accurate picture of a viewpoint you oppose, you are critiquing a strawman that is detached from reality and not worth listening to.

    Be fair and put forward an accurate formulation of what we believe and the conversation and dialogue can occur.

    Or keep talking to yourself. The choice is yours.

  25. June 22, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    If I can add a bit Reed, have you ever thought of asking us how and why we came to think the way we do…perhaps a bit of autobiographical reflection from us? If you did you would find that we all held Reformed-inerrantist views, and very strongly. At least I know for myself, I not only held them, but argued for them extensively, reading the best theologians and evangelical-reformed Bible scholars on these issues (e.g., the ones you guys always reference). I participated in and ran study groups at the University of North Carolina for people taking Bart Ehrman’s Intro to the NT course, critiquing his lectures and articulating inerrantist responses and approaches to his arguments. In this context I openly critiqued the various evangelicals on campus who advocated accepting errors in the Bible because the core message remained, etc.

    I started to change my views not because of some “Extra-Biblical data” or viewpoints. Since I held views similar to yours it did not matter what extra-Biblical sources said in terms of them contradicting the Bible…I always took the Bible as historically accurate and inerrant compared to them. I started to change my views when, as Nathan mentions, I continued noticing more and more inner-Biblical contradictions and errors, if you will. Beyond that, I not only continued noticing them, but experienced how paying attention to them (and not explaining them away) helped me read the texts of our Bible better and catch more of what the authors of the Bible were doing and saying. I found these details of the Bible helping me to more deeply edifying readings of Scripture, oddly enough.

    I would be happy to explain this in more detail. I suspect this outline roughly approximates the experiences of Art, Nathan, Mark, and many other “neo-errantists.” Can you see how your way of phrasing things here rubs us the wrong way?

  26. Rob Harrison said,

    June 22, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Just dropping by . . . it seems to me there’s a twofold assumption here on the part of Nathan and art which is, in fact, somewhat dubious: a) only someone who holds a position can accurately define that position, and b) their definition must necessarily be accepted as accurate. To be sure, one must always be careful, in arguing against another’s position, to do so fairly and accurately, without replacing one’s opponent with a straw man; but that doesn’t change the fact that none of us can see our own face without a mirror, and in an argument, the only mirror we have is our opponents. There are times when, in fact, those who argue against us can actually perceive our positions more clearly than we ourselves can, because they see implicit/unexamined assumptions which we don’t see, or because they catch logical implications of our position which we haven’t caught. As such, to say “I don’t agree with your characterization of my position, therefore you aren’t addressing my position” is not, in fact, necessarily true. It is, rather, a reason for careful self-examination to see if, perhaps, someone else might have seen something in our position which we ourselves have missed.

  27. David Gadbois said,

    June 22, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Reed, FTH, Nathan, and others, I sense in this conversation that there is a failure to distinguish between an ‘internal’ self-witness or self-testimony, the claims the Bible makes about its own nature, and internal evidence (whether or not we conclude that there is contradiction between various biblical texts).

    I don’t see how Reed’s point is even contestable – FTH, Nathan, and others are allowing the latter to overturn the former. And theologically, this is no improvement over having external evidence (ANE material, whatever) overturn the biblical self-witness. And, tellingly, it betrays the infidel philosophical loyalties you have adopted in order to come to your position.

  28. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 22, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Foolish Tar Heel: “If I can add a bit Reed, have you ever thought of asking us how and why we came to think the way we do…perhaps a bit of autobiographical reflection from us?”

    Would it be okay with you that as you share some of these alleged “inner-Biblical contradictions and errors” that you take kindly to the rebuttals and refutations that will confirm your moniker of being a foolish Tar Heel?

    And let’s say after you’ve shared, um, 5 of these contradictions and errors, and you notice that inerrantists can supply reasonable argumentation that they are not the contradictions and errors that you allege, will you then repudiate your position of being an errantist and return to the fold as an inerrantist?

    If you agree, then give us the Big 5 of what you think are inner Biblical contradictions and errors that support your position of being an errantist.

  29. Reformed Sinner said,

    June 22, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    #25 foolish Tar Heel,

    “I continued noticing more and more inner-Biblical contradictions and errors, if you will. Beyond that, I not only continued noticing them, but experienced how paying attention to them (and not explaining them away) helped me read the texts of our Bible better and catch more of what the authors of the Bible were doing and saying. I found these details of the Bible helping me to more deeply edifying readings of Scripture, oddly enough.”

    Well, this paragraph has a number of issues.

    1) The problem is not how “edifying” any particular reading is, but how accurate it reflects God’s own revelation to Himself and His Word. Arminians find their interpretation of the Bible edifying, kudos Roman Catholics to their reading, and kudos the Mormons and their take of the Bible, and Jehovah Witnesses find their reading of the Bible edifying. Christians seek the truth of God, and let the truth of God set us free and edify us. We don’t choose how to read the Bible based on our own subjective edification.

    2) You mentioned the phrase “explaining them away” on suppose Biblical errors – unless you clarify your description I can only assumed the common usage of this phrase in the negative sense – i.e. simply shove it under the rug and barring any serious investigation and discussions on tough issues. This is a blatant stereotype on inerranists and one that is completely false. Every single “tough questions” or “problem passages” have been seriously dealt with in the orthodox tradition of the Church. You may disagree or dislike the answer we are providing, but to simply dismissed our scholarship because it differs from your own ideology is academic dishonesty and personal arrogance.

    3) You claimed you notice more and more inner-Biblical errors. The problem is for you to make that affirmation that you already presupposed the Bible has errors, and then you go and find these errors in the Bible that feeds your presupposition, and in turn rationalizes your struggle towards erranist position. Your transformation from inerranist –> erranist was a presuppositional paradigm shift, rather than the result of intra-Biblical studies. Just like a Christian’s believe and defense of God’s existence, is not that the Christian objectively studied the universe, the science, and the Bible, and declared to himself God exists so I will defend it. But there’s a paradigm shift (the work of the Holy Spirit) that motivates all my heart, soul, and mind to the defense of God’s existence, and see evidences for God everywhere. At the end of the day inerrancy and errancy of the Bible are not in themselves “proven” from the objective studies of Scripture, but rather a paradigm that one brings with him when he approaches Scripture.

    You might say: well, that’s circular logic, then who’s paradigm is right! Any ultimate claim to truth involves circular logic. And since the Bible claims for itself to be historical, truthful, and God’s breath, I don’t see how the Bible doesn’t presupposed inerrancy in of itsef. So yes, at the end of the day the erranists need to first discredit the Bible (it has errors!) to maintain the erranists position. With that mentality, it’s no surprise erranists have to feel offended, despises, and dismissive towards inerranists.

  30. Reed Here said,

    June 23, 2009 at 6:37 am

    Art:, no. 24: I’m more than happy to have a reasonable conversation with you. Is it all that unreasonable for me to say you’ve said nothing more than “amen” to Nathan’s mere assertion?

    I provided him (and you if you’ll care to read it) sufficient explanation for why I believe your conclusions about Matthew’s Zechariah-Jeremiah attribute necessarily rely on factors external to the Bible. I was not trying to put words, ot better yet, thoughts in your brain. I was looking at what must necessarily lead you to deny any plausible options that do not end in error. You certainly do not reach such a conclusion based on what the Bible says. Ergo, something external is in play.

    If I am just talking to myself with such considerations and comments – then it is either because I’m merely a moron, or you aren’t willing to stop and consider what I’ve said.

    You’ve treated me in past comments as if you were close to concluding I was nothing more than a moron, and not worth your time. Your usual pattern of behavior is to blow in here at Green Baggins, bloviate, assert your opponent does not know what he is talking about, and slam the door behind you as you storm out.

    I do not write this to embarass you brother. I do hope to shame you into considering that this pattern of behavior is not consistent with one who wants to have a conversation.

    I hate at the end of these comments affirming against you guys that my point still stands. Yet in that you continue to refuse to interact with it – for the sake of other readers at least – I will do so again.

    I’m rather tired of the “yes I have,” “no you haven’t,” nature of this conversation. Please, consider (you or Nathan) otherwise.

  31. Reed Here said,

    June 23, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Stephen (FTH), no. 25: thank you for the bio sketch. While I’m always willing to learn of a brother’s pilgrimage, you’ve not shared anything I do not already know from y’all.

    More to the point, I’m at a loss as to how you think this sketch mitigates the observations I’ve made. My own “journey from inerrancy to Inerrancy,” is almost exactly the same as yours, excepting where I ended up. In particular I noted that in all the challenges to inerrancy – not a single one could be proven to actually be an error without recourse to extra-biblical data.

    That single fact was sufficient for me to frame the question this way, “am I going to allow the fact that God himself is the author of Scripture trump any of the human-source difficulties, or not?”

    Again, the issue is when I’m faced with two choices, one which presupposes God has spoken inerrantly, and one which leaves the question at least open. It is because I believe God has spoken that I must believe his witness to inerrancy. I have no choice if I am to be consistent.

    I urge you to consider David Gadbois comment (no. 27) and Reformed Sinner’s ( no.29), as I think they provide good info. to help you look more closely in the mirror.

    Finally, with Truth United (no. 28), I’d be willing to engage in a back and forth on particular examples. In fact, I think I may take up Art’s Matthew-Zechariah-Jeremiah example as a test case to demonstrate to y’all the necessity to which y’all rely on extra-biblical evidence.

  32. Nathan M said,

    June 23, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Reed,

    Could you define what you mean by “extra-biblical evidence.” Your first paragraph noted that us young’uns were bothered by “secular sourced evidence.” I took this to mean literal documents or archaeological evidence from the ANE or 2nd Temple Judaism or the Hellenistic world, etc. Do you mean something other or more than this by “secular sourced evidence”/”extra-biblical evidence? Clarity on this point would help me understand the current discussion. Thanks.

  33. art said,

    June 23, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Reed: #30

    You said:

    “I was looking at what must necessarily lead you to deny any plausible options that do not end in error. You certainly do not reach such a conclusion based on what the Bible says. Ergo, something external is in play.”

    What lies behind this statement is the presupposition that nothing I say is ever correct, even if it has to do with my own premises and presuppositions. You certainly cannot reach this conclusion based on what I have said. Ergo, something external is in play.

  34. Nathan said,

    June 23, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Reed,

    The first paragraph of this post said that us young’uns were bothered by “secular sourced evidence” and so were lead astray into neo-errancy. By “secular sourced evidence” and “extra-biblical evidence” I understand you to refer to literary and/or archaeological evidence from the ANE, 2nd Judaism, or the Hellenistic world. My burden in responding to you here is not to convince you that inerrancy is correct, but to point out in contradiction to your statement that inner-biblical evidence was for me the most formative in coming to my view of Scripture. FTH has corroborated this from his own experience.

    Show me what “secular sourced evidence” was used in my argument in Who Ya Gonna Believe. I’m not asking you to identify what you think are my presuppositions, but only to identify if you can what was the nature of the evidence I appealed to. As I recall, it was all from the pages of Scripture. Prove me wrong by citing the secular source evidence that I appealed to. If you cannot, then your claim that we always appeal to “secular sourced evidence”/”extra biblical evidence” is refuted.

  35. June 23, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Pastor DePace,

    I noticed in today’s email from WTS book a new book from John H. Walton entitled “The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate.”

    Any guidance on its value, perhaps even its relevance to this debate?

    Full disclosure: I am rock solid on the inerrantist side.

    Thank you,

    –Eric

  36. June 23, 2009 at 11:34 am

    ReformedSinner, Reed, Gadbois, Truth…Divides, etc.,

    I think you all have helped clear up an important dynamic of these “discussions.” ReformedSinner even makes this explicit. For you all inerrancy is a presupposition bound up with being a Christian and the Spirit’s work (I am not saying you deny or question the faith of anyone who rejects inerrancy). It is not really a point open for discussion and challenge, but a presupposition that must be held in order even to have a place at the table. If we move this into the realm of hermeneutics and interacting with Biblical data, by definition our position must be wrong and, furthermore, it is not possible for us to adduce evidence from the Bible for our position since inerrancy is the only correct and acceptable presupposition. It determines what readings of the Bible are even possibly legitimate.

    Thus you know that, by definition, we must come to our views from “extra-Biblical” ideas and “sources.” Or, as David Gadbois so kindly puts it, what is really going on here is that we have adopted “infidel philosophical loyalties…in order to come to [our] position.”

    Why should we continue to offer the inner-Biblical examples for what we think motivated the changes in our views? You all have just told us that these are not really significant for what is going one here. To quote ReformedSinner, “At the end of the day inerrancy and errancy of the Bible are not in themselves ‘proven’ from the objective studies of Scripture, but rather a paradigm that one brings with him when he approaches Scripture.” Our paradigm and presuppositions are wrong and, again, by definition we cannot possibly offer acceptable evidence for our positions. Is this inherently uncharitable posture, at least on the intellectual level, really the way we should interact as brothers and sisters in Christ? You are right because your positions have to be right? We are wrong…wait for it…because our positions are necessarily wrong?

    Now, in the Spirit we should find a way forward, together. At least I think we should. I do not think we necessarily must exist in such an irreconcilable state, where the only way is one side just bowing to the other. I firmly believe the way of Christ and the Cross here somehow call us to a mutually edifying and enriching interaction, I just do not know what that will look like…at least partially because we have all been in polemical fight mode for so long. It just seems to come naturally, especially to us Reformed folk. At the same time, from my point of view the discussion dynamic you push (see above) renders impossible such a mutually submissive way-forward. Instead you theoretically and functionally position us outside the realm of discussion, such that only an adversarial posture is possible between your Christian, trusting, faithful, Holy-Spirit given, Scriptural presuppositions and paradigms and our (unfaithful) objectivist and “infidel philosophical loyalties.”

    This, I hope, helpfully sketches why we think (1) you do not really understand us and (2) that you are not really interested in a serious interaction and discussion. It seems you establish the field of discussion so that we must not only be wrong, but necessarily be wrong because of some fundamentally un-Christian aspect of us and our positions entailing irreconcilable differences. Is this the only CHRISTian way forward? I hope not, but, again, I struggle with envisioning what the Spirit’s call to us here will look like in practice. I hope this helps.

  37. Reformed Sinner said,

    June 23, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    #35, foolish Tar Heel,

    Since I have been quoted extensively allow me to elaborate.

    I take the inerrancy and errancy argument to be principally the same argument of “Does God exist” or “Does God not exist?” (Please only consider this a metaphor, I am not saying erranists are not Christians)

    The erranists, are like people that denied that God exists – you keep insisting that your interpretation of the “evidences” of the world, by and of itself, is enough to convince everybody that God doesn’t exists. There is just too much evidences to the contrary of God’s existence. For example the problem of evil – WE KNOW evil is not good, and God is good, since there is evil in the world, then God couldn’t exist. The problem of suffering – WE KNOW God is love, but suffering is not a gesture of love, God is helpless to our suffering state, so God can’t possibly exist. WE KNOW evolution is a proven workable credible scientific theory accepted by majority of the academics, and it is contrary to the Biblical Creation account, and therefore God didn’t create the universe the way the Bible says, therefore God doesn’t exist.

    You see the issue here? Every atheists think they bring to the table an open mind, a willingness to argue with Christians, and at the end they simply shake their heads at utter disbelief: how can Christians deny the PLAIN EVIDENCES against God’s existence? Why do all Christians have their head in the sand when clear evidences they can also observe should be enough to demonstrate to them that God couldn’t possibly exist, but the Christians simply “explain them away” and hide in their bubbles?

    Christians on the other hand are equally frustrated. Christians see evidences of God’s existence everywhere and anywhere, and is equally frustrated on how the unbelievers just can’t see the light.

    Now replace “God doesn’t exist” with errancy and “God exists” for inerrancy and that’s what I’m trying to express. (Again, please do not over read this, this is merely a metaphor, I do not claim to know people’s heart and know who’s saved or not.)

    That’s what I mean by each of us coming to the table with our presuppositional prejudice. Now I never say we can’t sit down and examine objectively the data before us (in this case the Bible) and have an informed intellectual discussion. However, we need to be aware of our presuppositional prejudice. I am freely admitting that when I come to the table my faith in the Bible’s clear revelation of itself to be inerrant informs my reading of the Bible to be inerrant. I am only pointing out that erranists should also recognize that your faith in the extra-Biblical challenges of the Bible to be a product of errancy, and this informs your reading of the Bible to be errant.

    I.e., when I see a problem passage my faith in inerrancy not only challenges me to study it, but come up with an answer that is satisfactory to the paradigm of inerrancy. Just like when a Christian got challenged to the problem of God’s existence (like the presence of evil and suffering), we do not quickly abandon the paradigm that God exists, but we study it and come up with an answer that is satisfactory to the paradigm of God’s existence, no matter how tough, how hard, and how unsatisfactory the answer sounds at the end of the day (till this day there’s no perfect satisfactory answer to the presence of evil. Does that mean God doesn’t exist after all? Hardly)

    Erranists on the other hand do the same thing. When you see a problem passage, you delight in the fact that it is another ammunition for you to use to attack inerrancy, and you do your best to expose the suppose errancy in those passages, and reject all other (even if they are academically sound, scholarly rich) explanations as simply “shoving it under the rug”. Yes, my challenge to erranists is that you are not objective and neutral at all, on the contrary, you are very subjective and bias in your data gathering, scholarly research, and information presentation. The very things that you despise in us (motivated by a set paradigm, confined in a system, refusal to easily accept viable alternatives) are the very same methods you use to despise us.

    Do we really need to dive into an elaborate discussion that there is no neutral objectivity in each of us, that we all have a system of thoughts on any and all topics that informs our approach, handling, manipulating, and presenting of our worldviews?

    One quick example to demonstrate this: during the Enns-Walke interaction in the WTJ there was a grammatical challenge Walke made to Enns of a particular OT word(s) (sorry, I’m away from home so I can’t go flip the pages, but readers of the articles know what I’m talking about) that even Enns admitted grammatically the natural reading supports Walke’s paradigm. But Enns still decides to take the tougher reading way approach, with no other justification at all, besides the fact that that tougher reading alternative supports his own paradigm. (Ironically that’s Enns challenge to Walke in his first response – that as brilliant as Walke is in his grammatical challenges to Enns that Walke, at the end of the day, is only reading the text off of his own personal theological paradigm. More ironically Enns seems to be doing the same thing in his refutation of Walke’s grammar with his own…)

  38. Reed Here said,

    June 23, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Rob. no. 26: thanks for your input. Nathan, I’d ask you to consider Rob’s suggestions in terms of our interaction. It is not my intention to mischaracterize and then demonize. I do not believe I am. I’ve offered some detailed responses which if you interact with you can either see whay I am not, or help me see where I am at least critiquing a mischaratization.

  39. Reed Here said,

    June 23, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Art, no. 33: that is simply an untruthful and unfair judgment on your part. I have not once begun with the presupposition that you are always in error. It is this kind of “chip on the shoulder” Art that stops you from responding reasonably to someone who is willing to be reasonable in return.

    I’ve made two comments now in which I draw out the evidence in your conclusion about Matthew’s error, to demonstrate that the pivotal factor in your decision necessarily involves extra-biblical data. It would be helpful in proving your point, or at the very least in advancing the debate, for you to actually interact with the substance of my comments.

    You do get this, right? Why the disrespectful unwillingness to respond in kind?

  40. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 23, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Foolish Tar Heel: “I hope this helps.”

    No, it really didn’t. Sorry. At least not for me anyways. Thought it was rather insulting and condescending at times.

    ‘If we move this into the realm of hermeneutics and interacting with Biblical data, by definition our position must be wrong and, furthermore, it is not possible for us to adduce evidence from the Bible for our position since inerrancy is the only correct and acceptable presupposition.”

    It’s funny. I actually feel the sting 180 degrees diametrically opposite of yours. I believe higher-criticism errantists, by definition of being higher critic errantists, maintain that inerrantists are wrong regarding Scripture’s truthfulness and trustworthiness, and that it’s not possible for US to adduce evidence from the Bible for our position since higher-criticism errancy is the only correct and acceptable presupposition.

    Why should we continue to offer the inner-Biblical examples for what we think motivated the changes in our views?”

    Maybe because you mentioned them first?

    Our paradigm and presuppositions are wrong and, again, by definition we cannot possibly offer acceptable evidence for our positions.

    The offer has already been made. Are you ducking and evading? Show us 5 inner biblical contradictions and errors (write them down all at the same time, don’t string it out) that you allege as being acceptable evidence for your proof that Scripture is errant. We will determine whether it is “acceptable” and whether it is then “evidence”. C’mon, what are you afraid of? Yes, it is entirely possible that you might feel embarrassed after what you present as “acceptable evidence” is CROSS-examined (pun intended), but so what? It’s only your pride that’s being taken down a notch plus if you have the right heart attitude, you might actually learn something of lasting value.

    At the same time, from my point of view the discussion dynamic you push (see above) renders impossible such a mutually submissive way-forward.”

    Nonsense and balderdash. Let us both be mutually submissive to the Authority and Inerrancy of Scripture.

    “This, I hope, helpfully sketches why we think (1) you do not really understand us and (2) that you are not really interested in a serious interaction and discussion.”

    Nonsense. Just look at the number of threads and the length of those threads that Reed has posted. He/we most certainly understand or try to understand you higher-criticical errantists, and there is much serious interaction and discussion.

    Your comment sounds like the plaintive, shrill, annoying whine of the GLBT crowd: “Oooooooooooo, you don’t really understand us. Because if you don’t agree with us, then that means you don’t understand us. And you don’t agree with us, so by definition you don’t understand us. Ooooooo, you’re such meanies. Waaaaa, waaaa, waaaaaa., ad nauseam infinitum.”

    Consider the possibility, Foolish Tar Heel, that we do understand you, and that we staunchly disagree with you. And not only that, but that what you advocate is damaging to the Body of Christ and as such, merits strong, unyielding opposition.

    So are you going to rise up to the challenge and present what you think are 5 devastating evidences for the Bible’s inner contradictions and errors so that we cross-examine them and provide rebuttals and refutations?

    Or are you going to weasel away? Are you that wedded to the Bible being errant?

  41. Reed Here said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Stephen, no. 36: I appreciate your irenic tone and intentions. Just a few responses to hopefully move us forward in that direction.

    1. You need to add one critical pivotal element to the inerrantist’s presuppositions. We believe inerrancy because:

    > God claims to be the author of the Bible, and
    > God claims the Bible reflects his perfect character, and
    > Particularly, the Bible claims it is without error.

    2. By definition this set of presuppositions are not objectifiable. They can be approximately proven. They cannot be 100% proven.

    3. The use of labels such as “infidel” may be nothing more than pejorative slams based on a mischaracterization – or – intentional hard language intended to startle someone into awareness. I believe David has intended the latter. To some degree, by definition, reliance on external data to judge the Bible is on its face reliance on infidel (or pagan, or unbelieving, or at least natural) philosophy. It is not intended as an insult, but a characterization that focuses the problem.

    4. I do recognize you believe we do not understand you. I’ve spent quite a bit of blog time demonstrating that I indeed am tracking with you. I mean no disrespect in this, but to date not a single one of you has stuck long enough in any of these discussions to reach an “agree to disagree” position. The usual response (you’ve been an exception) is to reach a point where y’all just can’t stand it anymore, insist we do not understand you, and slam the door on your way out.

    If you really believed we do not understand you, and you are committed to the kind of pastoral-ness we learned from Vern Poythress, I expect y’all would be more willing to bear with us. This would be particularly demonstrated in two ways: 1) not continually saying, you don’t understand and then leaving, and then 2) when you do comment, not relying (primarily) on assertion.

    5. When faced with two options: a particular appearance of error in the Bible is: a) not actually an error; or b) in some manner actually an error, what exclusive to the Bible itself forces you to choose option b? Look at it this way:

    > Inerrantists come to any appearance of error in the Bible with this presupposition: there cannot be error. This then forces us to investigate and explain the appearance in a particular way consistent with our non-error presuppositions.

    > Some of y’all neo-errantists come to an appearance of error and begin with the presupposition: maybe our definition of error is wrong. You then investigate to see if it maybe that contemporary standards are inappropriately being applied to the text.

    I think it will surprise you to know that most of us inerrantists, in principle, agree with you here. We do recognize valid examples of this interpretive error and rely on it to remove clouds of doubt from some appearances.

    The problem is that for some problems, some of y’all are willing to redefine “error” in ways we find irrational. I.e., you may affirm inerrancy, but not one that reasonably fits the rational definition of the word. My contention is that when you do so, it is not because the Bible alone required this, but because of some presupposition rooted in external data compelled this choice.

    Admittedly this category is the fluid one, where we can eliminate much debate. Frankly, as I’ve read some of y’alls blogs, I’m saddened to the degree you read us as some backwoods fundamentalists who are upset at the suggestion that the KJV is not the inspired word of God. We’re not as unsophisticated as y’all assume (without actual evidence I might add. I read one of you actually argue that we do not take into consideration the very WCF 1 point of this post. Talk about mischaracterization :P.)

    > Some of you (Art notably) have moved away from the inerrantist label and have willing proceeded to argue for a position that insists God knowingly uses error to communicate infallibly. For the life of me, I cannot wonder at why you do not see that this conclusion can only reached from reliance on factors external to the Bible.

    The Bible itself speaks against this. Not a single one of Art’s examples in his recent blogging requires him, on the exclusive basis of intra-biblical considerations, to conclude the Bible must in the case be an error. If the Bible is not telling Art he must reach such a conclusion, then what is? Clearly there is only one other option – extra-biblical data.

    Does that make sense? I really do want you to understand: 1) why I believe I am listening to y’all accurately, and 2) why I think this is a mirror y’all need to look into carefully.

  42. art said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Reed: #39

    My comment was making a point: you claim that I start with the presupposition that the Bible errs, whereas I don’t.

    I stated that you belief that I’m always in error, which is something that you did not say.

    Do you see how it would be unfair for me to continue saying that you really start with the presupposition that I’m in error when it is not something that you explicitly said nor believe?

    That’s what you are doing here to us.

  43. Reed Here said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Art, no I’m not doing that. Did you not on a previous thread state you have stopped using the term inerrancy? Did you not spell out you now are arguing for an adjusted definition of infallibility, one which includes God’s willing uses of man’s errors?

    Yes you did.

    I claim you start with the presupposition that the Bible can use error in an infallible manner. I claim that because you have said so. I’ve not made any argument beyond this.

    I am asking you to consider, when faced with two choices: an appearance of error in the Bible is a) not an error, or b) most certainly an error, why in some cases (not all, never used such absolute language) do you conclude (b)?Your answer to that question, at least as much as I’ve read of you, demonstrates that you do so, not because the Bible requires you to do so.

    So my follow up question is, what does require you to conclude error where the Bible does not? It can only be something outside the Bible itself.

    It is unfair for you to say what you’ve said of me because I’ve only argued from your own stated words. Your conclusion does not follow. Rather, you are not listening. Sorry.

  44. GLW Johnson said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    I can’t help but notice that there is a direct link to Peter Enns and his influence on our neo-errantists advocates-wait a minute didn’t this same group adamantly defend Enns while the WTS controversy was in full swing claiming that he was the target of a witch-hunt and that Enns in fact was being true to the Old Princeton/Westminster tradition on the subject of inerrancy?

  45. Nathan said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Still waiting for Reed to identify one piece of “secular source evidence” in my argument in Who Ya Gonna Believe. Since he hasn’t, I consider his claim that we ALWAYS have recourse to such evidence refuted. Until he does, I see no need to continue discussing here.

  46. Reed Here said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Nathan, no. 32 & 34: seems like duplicate comments, but I’ll let them stand.

    You are still operating on a mischaracterization of what I’ve said. You are using “evidence” in a narrow, scientific sense. You are assuming I am merely arguing that for each single example there is a particular set of ANE (or other extra biblical) material that has led you to the particular conclusion. To be sure in particular examples that is the case.

    Yet my post here, my comments to you here and previously are sufficient to demonstrate that you are inappropriately narrowing what I mean by reliance on extra-biblical evidence (or data, material, etc.) The foundational point in this is the issue of presuppositions. That is why I referred you to David’s and RS’s comments, as they are rightly noting it is not merely a case by case usage of extra-biblical materials, but presuppositions that are necessarily rooted in extra-biblical considerations.

    It would actually move our conversation forward if you would accept this broad usage of “evidence” or better, “data.”

    My repeated answers to your particular question (show me the evidence) are consistent with this understanding. The issue is, when faced with two choices: a) no error, b) error, you cannot show that you choose (b) because the Bible and only the Bible requires this of you. By default necessity then, you are relying on something extra-biblical to reach that conclusion.

    I’m, willing to try again with Ex 12 – Dt 16 if you are. I will tell you I disagree fundamentally with your characterization of what an inerrantist reading of these texts leads to, to wit a necessary contradiction. I think you are beginning with a faulty, unbiblical, inappropriately marginalized understanding of inerrancy. If you’re willing to engage under these conditions, please do so.

  47. Reed Here said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Eric, no. 35: I’ve not yet seen this book (haven’t received my WTS bookstore email.) I’m am in process of setting up an extended study of this whole subject. As I can, I’ll get back to you on this book.

  48. art said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Reed: #43

    A classic case of you completely missing the point.

    You said, “I claim you start with the presupposition that the Bible can use error in an infallible manner. I claim that because you have said so. I’ve not made any argument beyond this.

    No, no, and, again, no. I did not say that this was my presupposition (something that I have been attempting to get across to you for some time now). It is not my presupposition that God can use error in an infallible manner. That is my conclusion. I did not start there. I ended up there because of what Scripture itself says.

    So, yet again Reed, you are wrong. The sooner you realize this, the sooner the dialogue (if that is really what you are looking for) can begin in a healthy manner. If you continue to attempt to justify your obvious mistakes, then it is useless to continue conversing with you.

  49. Reed Here said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Nathan, no. 45: if you’ll look at the date stamp, you posted at 1:21; my response to your posts at 1:28. I was busy writing my response to you. Please also note that I have written numerous responses this past hour, not just to you.

    I’ll note again you have not yet responded to the “evidence” I did provide in previous posts.

    I’ll note again your continuing to use a mischaracterization of what I am saying to justify yourself.

    I’ll not finally that patience is a gift that can be acquired, along with humility.

    I’m willing to interact with you Nathan (see no. 46). Would you like to retract no. 45 and treat me like a brother? Or am I still a fair subject for your scorn?

  50. Reed Here said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Art, no. 48: you are wise enough to know that presuppositions build one upon the other.

    For the sake of discussion here, and a willingness to show my desire, I will abide by your, “it’s a conclusion. not a presupposition.”

    How about we take your Matthew-Jeremiah-Zechariah example of an error. What in this, exclusive to the intra-biblical witness, compels you to conclude that God has used Matthew’s error?

    See, I am even willing to recognize that you are not attributing Matthew’s error to God’s authorship.

    Do you want to talk or just blow me off some more?

  51. art said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Simple: Matthew cites Jeremiah and then quotes from Zechariah.

    That’s based on the Bible itself, not anything else or on any presupposition that I have before approaching the text.

  52. Reed Here said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    C’mon Art. It’s more than that. E.g., how do you discount that our contemporary citation standards are not inappropriately forcing on the text citation standards that were not the norm during Matthew’s writing?

    Even more Art. I’ve read your blog on this subject. I know what you’re going to say if you merely give it to me piecemeal. I assume both of us are busier than that.

    What in the Bible itself requires you to discount any possible explanations that conclude anything other than: Matthew is in error and God used it regardless?

    I’ll be off performing some pastoral duties for the next 7 or so hours. It is not the bankruptcy of my thoughts that will keep me away (contra Nathan’s assumption), but rather a committment to shepherding that God has lain upon me. I do care to talk Art. Thanks for joining me in amening the priorities God has given us.

  53. Sam Sutter said,

    June 23, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    It’s more than that. E.g., how do you discount that our contemporary citation standards are not inappropriately forcing on the text citation standards that were not the norm during Matthew’s writing?

    sounds like someone really need some secular external literature right now LOL

  54. GLW Johnson said,

    June 23, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    The legacy of Enns on display. I wonder where this is going to end up.

  55. art said,

    June 23, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Reed: #52

    You said: “What in the Bible itself requires you to discount any possible explanations that conclude anything other than: Matthew is in error and God used it regardless?

    Because the Bible, in the text of Matthew, cites Jeremiah and then quotes Zechariah.

  56. Samuel Conner said,

    June 23, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    I think that the argument against #55,

    “Because the Bible, in the text of Matthew, cites Jeremiah and then quotes Zechariah.”

    that it is not sound to impose contemporary citation standards on the Biblical authors is sensible, and there are other proposals to reconcile this.

    But if one grants, as I do, that it is not sound to impose present citation standards on the Biblical text, then would it not also be correct to
    say that it is not sound to impose contemporary standards of historical accuracy on the biblical text? What am I missing in making this extension?

    If the apparent mis-citation of Jeremiah is not an error because it would not have been considered an error by the standards of the author’s contemporaries, then does that not also apply to matters of historical fact? If, notionally, an author got an historical detail wrong by modern standards (and if that did happen, it would have happened within the context of God’s governance of the world and superintendence of the composition of the text — such an incident would be comprehended within the eternal decree) but by the standards of historical accuracy of the day, that was not false history, then would that not imply that we are wrong to charge the text with error?

    Or, to put it in other words, it is possible for the text to contain phenomena that by present standards would be considered errors, but that these do not compromise the doctrine of the text’s inerrancy. Is it possible to have this cake and eat it too?

    Trying to find some common ground here, but perhaps it’s impossible.

  57. GLW Johnson said,

    June 23, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Art
    According to you Matthew was not written by the apostle right? You accept at fact value the accepted authorship of many books of the Bible the views advanced by liberal higher criticism. This in turn is your ‘canon’ and yet you still claim to be some sort of ‘evangelical. Where did you learn this?

  58. art said,

    June 23, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    GLW: #56

    Where in the Bible does it say that Matthew wrote Matthew?

  59. GLW Johnson said,

    June 23, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Art
    So if the a book of the Bible does explictly claim to be written by the individual whose name is attached to it, i.e. Peter’s second epistle or Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians or the Pastorals-you accept that as true?

  60. art said,

    June 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    GLW: #58

    You didn’t answer my question.

  61. Reformed Sinner said,

    June 23, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    #57, Art,

    Donald Guthrie made a good argument for Matthew authorship. Again, this reinforces my point earlier. Your knowledge is informed by your ideology that the Bible is in error, or put it mildly you are convinced the higher criticism got it right, and you interpret the Bible based on that presupposition (higher criticism).

  62. art said,

    June 23, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Reformed Sinner: #60

    You didn’t answer the question either. Where, in the Bible does it say that Matthew was the author of Matthew?

  63. GLW Johnson said,

    June 23, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Art
    Actually you never addressed my first question to you-and you are dragging your feet on this as well.

  64. art said,

    June 23, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    GLW: #62

    I came to my conclusions about the authorship of Matthew the same way you did: extrabiblical evidence. That was my point in asking you where in the Bible it said that Matthew wrote Matthew.

  65. GLW Johnson said,

    June 23, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Art
    I ask you again -given your assertion about whether or not a book of the Bible ‘claims’ to be written by a named individual-if it does( or in the case of Genesis the NT specifically ascribes it to Moses) does that mean that it is in fact written by that person?

  66. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Foolish Tar Heel,

    So are you going to rise up to the challenge and present what you think are 5 devastating evidences for the Bible’s inner contradictions and errors so that we inerrantists can cross-examine them and hopefully provide sound rebuttals and refutations?

    Or are you going to weasel away? Are you that wedded to the Bible being errant?

    Are you still thinking about which 5 you want to present or do you decline the offer of a challenge?

  67. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 23, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    GLW Johnson: “The legacy of Enns on display. I wonder where this is going to end up.”

    Enns’s legacy is being shown for what it is. Where it’s going to end up? Hopefully, not infecting young, impressionable, undiscerning seminarians.

  68. art said,

    June 23, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    GLW: You seem either incapable or unwilling to answer a question. Instead, you simply continue asking questions and then act slighted when someone does not answer your own questions.

    Lets do this in order. You asked a question, I asked a question, then you asked another question.

    I answered your first question. Please answer my question:

    Where, in the Bible, does it say that Matthew wrote Matthew?

  69. Gianni said,

    June 24, 2009 at 1:48 am

    Art, the answer of course is that the Bible doesn’t say Matthew wrote Matthew.

    Most of us here may believe that Matthew wrote Matthew, but we don’t believe it on the grounds that the Bible says he did. We believe many things for various reasons and with various degrees of certainty, depending on the cogency of the argument and on the reliability of the source.

    Specifically, nobody here bases ALL his beliefs exclusively on what the Bible says. The Bible is our ULTIMATE authority, not our ONLY authority. We believe that only the Bible is an infallible authority, but that doesn’t mean that Donald Guthrie has been wasting his time, and that we can throw away his books. Many things which are argued by a fallible but competent authority may make a lot of sense, and be quite persuasive. It helps if the fallible but competent authority believes that the Bible is HIS OWN ultimate authority. But how do you deal with a conflict of authorities? Something’s gotta give.

    All this means that nobody here believes Matthew wrote Mattthew with the same certainty with which we believe Paul wrote Ephesians and Peter wrote Second Peter. The authority behind these two beliefs is not the same. This is fully consistent with the classical inerrant position.

    Now, do you believe Paul wrote Ephesians? Do you believe Peter wrote Second Peter? Why?

  70. James Metzger said,

    June 24, 2009 at 6:06 am

    Gary, back in #56 I think the conversation was diverted from the issue of Matthew’s citing of Jeremiah and then quoting Zechariah to the debate about the authorship of the account, which is a side issue it appears we were all too willing to engage. Could you and others address this more critical issue to inerrancy of the citation? Thanks much.

  71. Reed Here said,

    June 24, 2009 at 6:20 am

    Samuel, no. 56: your observation would fall into the “middle ground” area I noted for Stephen (FTH), no. 41.

    And yes, that is a category which the orthodox inerrancy position recognizes as possible. This, however, would not be common ground, just not ground being argued over.

    I do not believe it applies to the example in view here.

  72. riorancho said,

    June 24, 2009 at 7:19 am

    James # 70

    It is not uncommon in the Bible, or even in ancient church writings, to take writings and ideas from two OT sources and summarize them under one allusion. For example, Mark 1:2 combines quotes from both Isaiah 40 and Mal. 3 yet only cites Isaiah as the source. That was common practice and not considered erroneous or sloppy. In Matt 27 Matthew is doing the same. Jeremiah speaks in chs. 19&32 of potters, purchasing a field with silver, renaming that field, and Israel’s judgment, and Matthew wants the reader to see how those verses also are fulfilled by Judas’ actions, and how the Zechariah passage even had prophecies preceding that passage. Our rules for quotations were not the same as theirs.

    The erranists would need to answer the question; how would the author of Matthew, who obviously knew his OT, make such an obvious mistake, and that “mistake” remain uncorrected by the majority of scribes?

  73. GLW Johnson said,

    June 24, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Gee, Art but if you go back and look at my first set of questions to you your response was to try and pull an old debater’s trick by answering a question with a question. My, oh my, but when I was a student at WTS they would let you get away with that kinda of stuff.

  74. Nathan said,

    June 24, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Reed, no. 46,

    “You are still operating on a mischaracterization of what I’ve said. You are using “evidence” in a narrow, scientific sense. You are assuming I am merely arguing that for each single example there is a particular set of ANE (or other extra biblical) material that has led you to the particular conclusion.”

    You go on to claim that what you are really talking about is presuppositions. The problem is, you never made this clear in your original post on this thread. I don’t think it was unreasonable for me to think that by “secular sourced evidence” you were referring to, well, secular sources, as in extra-biblical documents or archaeological data, etc. This, Reed, is not a “narrow” interpretation of what you originally said, but rather quite an obvious one. Am I the only one who thinks it bizarre to include supposed non-biblical presuppositions (I’m not conceding I operate with these, by the way) under the category of “secular sourced evidence?”

  75. June 24, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Pastor DePace,

    Here is the link to Walton’s “The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate” at WTS books.

    The ToC, Intro, and Chapter 1 are all up on PDF, which I read yesterday. I found it very interesting, but am not well-grounded enough to evaluate yet until I’ve read entire book.

    And no rush in your responding, at all. I just post this as an FYI.

  76. Reformed Sinner said,

    June 24, 2009 at 9:12 am

    #62 Art,

    Ok, I see, ok, I’ll bite. The Matthew itself didn’t say it’s written by Matthew, and yes, extra-Biblical evidence is involved to inform me that Matthew is written by Matthew. However, before you go into your victory dance a few thoughts are in mind.

    1) At the end of the day who wrote Matthew, humanly, doesn’t matter. My faith in Matthew as inerrant, infallible, and the perfect Word of God is because it is God breath and superintended by the Holy Spirit. On that basis alone I trust Matthew. Apostolic authorship, as nice as that sounds, is not the primary basis for our faith in Matthew, therefore, nor can it be a basis for our doubt in Matthew.

    2) Inerranists never argue for forbiddence of extra-Biblical information. This mindset is like people saying Van Til hates evidences. It’s simply not true. What we are arguing, since day 1, is that extra-Biblical sources assists, helps, but is never and should never be normative. I.e., it’s one thing to say, “yes, they found the ark of covenant, praise the LORD”, but another to say, “unless they find the ark of covenant I’m not going to believe it really existed, it could be just another ANE myth that the Israelites used to portrait the idea of the presence of God in some kind of sacred instrument.”

    So I’m not really sure what do you hope to accomplish in daring us to answer if Matthew wrote Matthew. Please advise

  77. art said,

    June 24, 2009 at 9:38 am

    GLW & Reformed Sinner:

    Here’s the point: GLW challenged my understanding of the authorship of Matthew. He did so with a spectrum of choices in mind, some which he considered conservative and some which he considered liberal. Whatever one comes to believe about the authorship of Matthew is based on extrabiblical (or ‘secular’ as Reed put it) evidence, as Reformed Sinner noted.  

    What that says to me is two things:

    1) All this ranting and raving about extrabiblical evidence is meaningless because you all use it as well. 

    2) The only use of extrabiblical evidence that you approve of is a use that is geared towards proving you pre-held, supposedly conservative assumptions. 

    That’s not scholarship nor is it intellectually honest. It’s inconsistent drivel. 

  78. James Metzger said,

    June 24, 2009 at 9:43 am

    A sample from John Walton, “The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate”, the beginning of Proposition I (p.16, from http://www.wtsbooks.com/pdf_files/9780830837045.pdf),

    “Our first proposition is that Genesis 1 is ancient cosmology. That is, it does not attempt to describe cosmology in modern terms or address modern questions. The Israelites received no revelation to update or modify their “scientific” understanding of the cosmos. They did not know that stars were suns; they did not know that the earth was spherical and moving through space; they did not know that the sun was much further away than the moon, or even further than the birds flying in the air. They believed that the sky was material (not vaporous), solid enough to support the residence of deity as well as to hold back waters. in these ways, and many others, they thought about the cosmos in much the same way that anyone in the ancient world thought, and not at all like anyone thinks today. And God did not think it important to revise their thinking.”

    From p.17,
    “Another problem with concordism is that it assumes that the text should be understood in reference to current scientific consensus, which would mean that it would neither correspond to last century’s scientific consensus nor to that which may develop in the next century. if God were intent on making his revelation correspond to science, we have to ask which science. We are well aware that science is dynamic rather than static. By its very nature science is in a constant state of flux. if we were to say that God’s revelation corresponds to “true science” we adopt an idea contrary to the very nature of science. What is accepted as true today, may not be accepted as true tomorrow, because what science provides is the best explanation of the data at the time. This “best explanation” is accepted by consensus, and often with a few detractors. Science moves forward as ideas are tested and new ones replace old ones. So if God aligned revelation with one particular science, it would have been unintelligible to people who lived prior to the time of that science, and it would be obsolete to those who live after that time. We gain nothing by bringing God’s revelation into accordance with today’s science. in contrast, it makes perfect sense that God communicated his revelation to his immediate audience in terms they understood.”

    Walton also wrote the NIVAC Genesis contribution. The sample pages are actually a quick read/intro to one of the issues that infallibilists/neo-inerrantists (a mouthful, but neo-errantists probably sets the wrong tone) and classic inerrantists have wrestled with on GB in previous threads, especially as ANE cosmology was an issue Enns raised in I&I.

  79. Reed Here said,

    June 24, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Nathan, no. 74: I’m saddened by your continued display of your desire to merely shout down your opponent.

    Again, the context of this post is in line with the previous posts I’ve made on inerrancy. Those posts demonstrate that your narrow, “show me the specific document, and do not bring up presuppositions again because they have nothing to do with what you’ve said,” is on the face of it wrong. Presuppositions have always been in view.

    Further, what helps form our presuppositions? I.e., we don’t come born with one set of fully formed presuppositions. They grow and develop through the ordinary process of data coming into our minds. There are only two sources of data: intra- and extra-biblical.

    What’s more, I’ve specifically answered what kinds of extra-biblical data necessarily inform your errantist conclusions (shout out to Art who insists it isn’t presuppositions but conclusions we’re dealing with). Your refuse to deal with those response because you thnk you can win brownie points or something by trying to force me to debate you on the trwisted grounds you’ve constructed.

    You seem intent on not reaching understanding with me, but in shutting me up. You seem intent on not be willing to engage, but in trying to find any means possible to claim victory. You seem intent, not on discovering the truth, but on destroying your opponent.

    Surely your efforts are not directed at destroying my position, for you won’t even interact with it. Shoot, all you had to do was say, “I’m sorry Reed, but it wasn’t that clear in what you posted that presuppositions were also in view. Let me respond to your particular point.”

    As it is Nathan, I’m following Paul’s advice about debating those who seem intent on destroying what Christ died for, rather than building it up. I will not discuss this particular subject again with you. I am very willing to let this drop and discuss this subject from the full definition I’ve provided. I think we might have some helpful interaction.

    Your behavior so far, epitomized by blowing me off with your “out’ta here, I win,” comment (see no. 45 & 46), is proof enough that you are at least behaving rashly. At worst, it suggests you are indeed a troubler of Israel. I’ll not conclude either. I would be remiss to a brother to not warn him.

  80. Reed Here said,

    June 24, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Art, no. 77: you’re not listening. I’m sincerely asking you to listen. There is no ranting/raving from this side. Without any rancor Art, please listen. Using the example of Matthew-Jeremiah-Zechariah:

    > Yes, both sides of the debate will interact with, be informed by, and necessarily use extra-biblical data. That is not the point. If you shut down at this point, you will not recognize the point I am trying to get you to see.

    > There are many different explanations for what is going on in this passage. On one end of the spectrum (which you apparently take) is that it is nothing more than a factual error. At the other end of the spectrum is that this is not an error at all (mere assertion, no explanation needed). There are many other explanations in between these, some more or less plausible. These explanations are all influenced/informed by extra-biblical considerations.

    > The critical question in this example is what leads one to choose the particular explanation they’ve chosen.

    I’m rather comfortable with the explanation outlined in no. 72. Yet the extra-biblical data that influences/informs this explanation is not the deciding factor for me. Rather, the deciding factor is the Bible’s own self-witness that it is inerrant. This effectively removes from consideration any explanation concluding error to any degree. (Stephen, FTH, you’ve got this part at least right about us inerrantists.)

    > Your syllogism is as follows:

    P1: Zechariah is the source of the quote,
    P2: Matthew said Jeremiah was,
    C: Therefore Matthew is wrong.

    My observation Art is that the conclusion does not necessarily follow from the premises. I maintain both these premises with you (more or less, I do see Jeremiah in play, although the words match more closely Zechariah.) Regardless, you cannot get to the conclusion without additional premises. I add the following premise:

    P3: The Bible claims inerrancy.

    You add a different P3. In fact, if you were to trace it out with me, I bet we’d identify a whole host of additional premises you are operating under. They key premise in view is the one which leads you to conclude: the Bible contains errors. It is that premise, in this example, which demonstrates by default, that your conclusion necessarily relies on extra-biblical data. This is because the Bible argues against that premise (see my P3.)

    You cannot conclude the Bible contains any error by exclusive recourse to intra-biblical data. You must go outside the Bible to do this. After reaching this key conclusion (i.e., the process y’all talk about, your journey to concluding, “the Bible must contain errors!”), you then operate under the control of this premise (presupposition) for all further investigation of the Bible’s errors. You find what you are preconditioned/presupposed to find.

    Again, the difference is not with regard to the appearance of errors. With y’all, any informed inerrantist has been on that part of the journey. The issue is when you come to that fork in the road, inerrancy vs. errancy, it is not the Bible itself, and nothing else that leads you to take the errancy path. Rather, it is the premise, led to by a host of extra-biblical considerations, which causes you to turn to the left hand instead of the right.

    P.S. I learned this at WTS. You didn’t?

  81. Reed Here said,

    June 24, 2009 at 10:26 am

    James, no. 78: in consideration of Barth (et.al.) being labeled “neo-orthodox,” I’ll agree that “neo-inerrantist” has a historical consistency to it. I’m still bothered by the fact that their version of inerrancy in incoherent. That, coupled with some of them acknowledging a rejection of the term “inerrancy” as no longer useful, leads me to use instead “neo-errantist.”

    I’m not as much concerned for offending them as I am for the sheep they are confusing. But, this is a quibble between us. I promise not to misunderstand or get offended when you use “neo-inerrantist.” (The “infalliblist” likewise acknowledges their intentions, but I think even further muddies the mouthful.)

  82. art said,

    June 24, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Reed said: “You cannot conclude the Bible contains any error by exclusive recourse to intra-biblical data.”

    Nathan and I have both given examples of how one can.

    You can keep denying it all day long and claiming that you know our premises or that something else must lie behind our viewpoints. But, again as I already pointed out, you would be wrong.

    If this is the posture you are going to take, then is it really worth discussing any longer? No matter what points we bring up, you simply fall back on “well the Bible claims it’s inerrant (which is not necessarily the case) therefore you are wrong.”

    That’s not a discussion. That’s called digging in one’s heals. And, to be honest, it’s why many of us choose not to engage you in this discussion. And it is why I no longer will either.

  83. Reed Here said,

    June 24, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Art, no. 82: (sigh), why must you always behave so contentiously? Please do not lay the blame at my feet. If my last comment was not irenic enough, we are reading different Bibles.

    I do not believe you or Nathan have provided any examples of “how one can.” You made one comment about Matthew-Jeremiah-Zechariah that merely begs the questions. My last post provided you with sufficient comment for your to understand why I believe that your response is insufficient.

    I am not the one digging in my heels. As to Nathan’s example – he is an example so far of what it looks like to not actually listen to what the other person is saying. (It is a common tactic of weak debating to turn the tables – you and Nathan need to stop trying to do this.)

    Please Art, respond reasonably. You said, “because Matthew says Jeremiah when it was actually Zechariah.”

    I respond, “and you know that is an error how?” I provided extended interaction for you to at least bear with me (if nothing else.)

    Your response here is, “see previous answer.” I’m not posturing; I’m asking for dialogue. What are you doing?

    If my goal were simply to write y’all off, I would not be spending the blog time interacting as I have. Once again, please respond in a Christlike manner. Interact with me, or politely decline. Quit the mischaracterizations of both position and person.

  84. GLW Johnson said,

    June 24, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Art
    DG Hart once said over at your blog( something that rings true based on your resorting to implying that you are conducting yourself in a ‘scholarly matter’ while we , other other hand, can only respond with ‘drivel’)-why is it Art that you start these food fights and then jump up quickly and leave the dinner table?

  85. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 24, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    GLW Johnson: “why is it Art that you start these food fights and then jump up quickly and leave the dinner table?”

    Hmmmmm, looks like Foolish Tar Heel has left the dinner table early also.

  86. Reformed Sinner said,

    June 24, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Art,

    Unfortunately this means God is no longer the object of our faith, but merely an object of our studies, i.e. submitting to our academic studies of the day. God is no longer the objection of our submission, but an object that submits to our microscopic dissimulation.

  87. Reformed Sinner said,

    June 24, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    #77 Art,

    I do not see how you can call us inconsistent drivel for our use of evidences simply because we have a pre-commitment to inerrancy. I have already pointed out that your pre-commitment and mine are principially the same: yours is errancy, mine is inerrancy, and we both use and sort out data/information based on our pre-commitments. To think only you are the objective one studying Scripture, and we are not is academic arrogance. The very same way atheists scientists look down on Christian scientists and denied any good research can come out of Christians scientists because their pre-condition that God exists automatically means they cannot study science objectively.

  88. Reformed Sinner said,

    June 24, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    #78 James,

    One of the biggest misconception of inerranists on Genesis is that we (at least I) don’t think Genesis has to fit 21st century cosmology. But we believe Genesis 1 is a TRUTHFUL and ACCURATE description of creation and universe. There’s a big difference in the two. If the author fails to separate this major difference and argues as if all conservative inerranists believe Genesis 1 has to agree with 21st century cosmology, then that author is not worth reading in my humble opinion.

  89. Mike said,

    June 25, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    one of the things I find frustrating about these “conversations” is that biblical inerrancy is not an argument in the classic sense….it is a statement. With that being said these interactions always devolve into what we see here. there is no arguing against a statement based upon acceptance of a belief proposition.

  90. ReformedSinner said,

    June 25, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    #89 Mike,

    I see. Please help us with your definition of inerrancy in the “classic sense”

    Not sure if your’e addressing my points, but I am challenging the arrogance that errantists think they “objectively” derive their system while inerranists are hopelessly bounded by “tradition” or “confession” or whatever. You are right at the end of the day it is a statement: just like God exists is a statement and it’s not something we can prove. Inerrancy is not a statement out of mid-air, but rather a statement out of Biblical revelation. Just like God exists is a statement out of Biblical revelation.

    The problem that I do have is erranists think they can “think outside the box” of the Bible and think they have a legitimate claim to authority of Scripture based not on Scripture alone, but rather on extra-Biblical academic, evidences, and epistemology. While not acknowledging their own bias and pre-commitment to errancy.

    Mike – tell me, do you think errancy is not a statement? If not why not? Then why doesn’t inerrancy have the same benefit of doubt? These are easy questions.

  91. Reed Here said,

    June 26, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Mike, no. 89: uhhh … that’s not quite right. Inerrancy is a doctrine which summarizes the self-attesting witness of Scripture.

    As such, of course if can be argued against – all one needs to do is demonstrate that the textual support for the doctrine does not in fact teach the doctrine.

  92. Richard said,

    June 26, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Reed: Surely the step prior to interpreting the textual support for the doctrine is to first establish the text of that which is to be interpreted? That is, if you are claiming that the original autographs are inerrant you first need to demonstrate that the verse(s) you are appealing to was actually in the original autograph, i.e. you need to make sure that those verses that you believe teach inerrancy are actually from the original autographs and not corruptions.

  93. Mike said,

    June 26, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Merriam Webster defines an argument as “a coherent series of statements leading from a premise to a conclusion”. With inerrancy the premise is already the conclusion. In other words you already know where you have to land before you leave the station.

    I think most folks who are open to errancy are willing to land somewhere else not based on a forgone conclusion. With this inerrancy position I feel like one of the ones in the crowd shouting “the emperor has no clothes!”

  94. Reed Here said,

    June 26, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Richard, no. 91: I understand where you are coming from; I’ve tracked with all your arguments, and somewhat incessant banging this drum.

    No disrespect, but I find you position absolutely backrupt of intellectual integrity. You attack the integrity of the traditional position and then offer in its place an authority rooted in the testimony of the community of faith. You blithly ignore all the problems you introduce with this position.

    “What community of faith” is merely the beginning. You end up with no actual Word of God, except for what you personal choose to accept. You have spent so much time working out the philosophical implications that you have failed to see that you have become the tailor of the naked emperor.

    I do not need to fall into the trap you set for yourself and the unsuspecting. I have the sure testimony of God’s word itself.

    1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

    You need to deal with the fact that your faulty system does not enslave Peter, me, or anyone to playing the nefarious game with the word of God that you seem, with sincerity I admit, bent on playing.

    You are trapped Richard – trapped by your own intellect. You have no word of God because you are not satisfied with what God’s word claims for itself.

    I’ll remain content with the testimony of God in his word. If you do not recognize God’s word, please pray for the Spirit to illuminate you. Quit trying to trip up those of us who are not trapped.

  95. Richard said,

    June 26, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Reed: You refuse (or are unable) to demonstrate the authenticity of those verses upon which your position is founded, and yet you call my position “absolutely backrupt of intellectual integrity”. Hmmmm…

  96. Richard said,

    June 26, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Your choice of 1 Thessalonians 2:13 is somewhat odd in that the word refered to is the preached word and not something written; Joseph Ratzinger notes that “In the vision of the New Testament, then, the word is the word that is heard and, as such, preached, not a word that is read.”

  97. Reed Here said,

    June 26, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Mike, no. 93: I’ve heard this argument and understand why the neo-errantist believes it is fair and accurate. Hopefully I can offer some reasons why this is not so.

    1. No one, neither inerrnantist or neo-errantist, starts free from presuppositions, premises which shape how even the questions we ask are framed, let alone the way in which we use the Bible to answer these questions. I’ll assume for the sake of the rest of this post that both sides agree to to what is an “error.”

    2.The neo-errantist starts with the premise that: it is possible for the Bible to contain errors. This is not that the neo-errantist presupposes there are errors, but rather that this is possible.

    3. The inerrantist starts with the premise that: it is not possible for the Bible to contain errors.

    I think you will agree with me up to this point.

    Your observation is that the neo-errantist position, in allowing for the possibility of errors, has more integrity in that it does not begin with a limiting premise.

    The question you need to answer is why is the neo-errantist possibility premise a better premise (more accurate) than the inerrantist non-possibility premise. You are judging one better than the other without recognizing that both begin with premises that need to be validated.

    How do you know the neo-errantist possibility premise is more trustworthy?

    As you begin to work backwards through the premises you are operating under to make that judgment, you will see that in the end it will come down the question of valid testimony – whose testimony is most believable, most trustworthy? There are only two sources of testimony for any premise: God or man. Because God has led me to believe the whole set of Christian premise about the nature of the fall, its fatal noetic effects, the absolute inability of fallen man to known for sure anything, I have found the only sure testimony is God’s own testimony.

    See this Mike:

    > The neo-errantist relies, ultimately, in the testimony of men. I.e, God’s word does not state anywhere that God accommodates his communication to the use of error. This conclusion is the result of the observation of the biblical text, through the controlling influence of the premises rooted in man’s testimony.

    > The inerrantist relies on the testimony of God. I.e., God’s word expressly states that God does not accommodate his communication to the use of error. This conclusion rests on the premise that only God speaks trustworthily.

    It is fully inaccurate to say that inerrancy is different than neo-errancy, because of the use of premises. Both positions begin with critical premises. The question is which premises are valid.

  98. Reed Here said,

    June 26, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Richard: you’ve not proven your position is the truth. In fact, as you’ve eliminated anything other than the autonomous individual as the authority over Scripture, your’s is nothing more than a baselesss comment hoping to prove itself via it’s appearance of intelligence.

    As to you Ratzinger quote, I assume we’re talking about the Pope. So you place yourself under the authority of Rome? Better tell your pastor.

    Regardless, yes Paul’s preaching, now inscripturated. I know you know this. Please quit wasting time trying to make an arugment that holds no weight.

  99. Manlius said,

    June 26, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Reed: why the animus against poor Richard? I’ve been following this discussion, and it seems like Richard’s politeness continues to be met with personal attacks by you and others. So you don’t like his arguments. Fine. But why do you have to attack him so ruthlessly? He’s just another guy with an opinion. Challenge his points, not his integrity.

  100. ReformedSinner said,

    June 26, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    #93 Mike,

    Unfortunately it’s not the Emperor has no clothes, but the seeker has been blinded by his own autonomousness.

    The point, and I will say again, is simple. Inerrancy is not our foregone position that we forced onto Scripture, but we have demonstrated amply, from Scripture alone, that Scripture itself considers itself to be inerrant in its presentation of everything (history, facts, characters, stories, etc.)

    We have asked on here many times, please prove intra-Scripture, how Scripture DOES NOT present itself as inerrant, but rather, errant.

    Please do not confuse the debate here.

    My posts about presupposition is a challenge on a deeper level to these erranists’ arrogance that they think they are doing something objective, while inerranists are hopelessly subjective to tradition as if we can’t think or even if we can think our scholarship can be ignored or scoff at because we are subjective (in the erranists’ mind). I am merely pointing out both inerranists and erranists work off a predetermined presuppositional worldview. Erranists are just as gulity of precommitment if guilty is the right word.

    Now, that does not mean both of us have nothing to say to each other. Contrary, a debate is not just about winning, but about representing our worldviews to each other, and evaluate at the end of the day who’s worldview fits the world better. In this case, who’s worldview is more Biblical. So far I have to say I am very disappointed that erranists fail to present, from the Bible itself, that the Bible sees itself as an errant product.

  101. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 26, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Hi Richard,

    I do have some other thoughts about your approach, but it would take a bit of time to write them out. In the meantime I have asked for assistance from Steve Hays and his Triablogue readers and they have kindly replied. It came from this post called “The Bible of the Apostles”.

    Please see Andrew’s comments and Steve’s comments. To save you from clicking on the link, here’s their comments:

    Andrew: “1) His hypothetical about Paul’s epistles is just that, a hypothetical. That’s not a reason to believe such a thing happened. Textually speaking, as he admits, discovering the autographa of the NT is not as difficult as it is for the OT.

    2) As for the OT, basically it is a matter of debate. Some scholars will make the argument that they know which, e.g., version of Jeremiah was the urtext, and some will argue that no one can do that, etc.

    His statement 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),” is basically just an assertion without argument, on the exact matter of the debate. Not everyone will concede it is “unrealistic” to so argue.

    Similarly, his statement that “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,” begs the whole question of NT textual criticism. Textual critics argue they are able to distinguish original from accretions all the time.

    There’s no one argument that will answer all the textual issues, but that’s because of the nature of the issue: it’s an empirical/historical argument about specific and different texts, so each one has to be dealt with on a case by case basis. This fact doesn’t make it necessary that there is no urtext.”

    Steve Hays: “1.A case of an urtext would be Paul dictating a letter to his amanuensis. Paul would then look over the transcription to see if it was satisfactory. Might suggest some corrections. He’d also keep a copy for himself.

    2.If you assume a liberal view of Scripture, then various books of the Bible are composite productions which passed through many different hands. On that assumption, it’s more a question of which text represents the final text, the finalized edition.

    That, of course, is based on liberal assumptions.

    3.We can’t really generalize about vorlage of the LXX. That would vary from book to book.

    4.Whether we can distinguish the urtext from scribal editions is a different question than whether there ever was an urtext.

    5.There are often ways to distinguish scribal additions from the original. That’s the point of textual criticism.

    6.In some cases it’s possible that the author himself issued more than one edition. In the Book of Jeremiah, for example, there are references within the text itself to earlier collections of his oracles. He issued oracles at different times. So there’s an expanding collection over time.

    7.Your disputant is simply postulated an undetectable, editorial addition. The onus is hardly on you to disprove a postulate for which he furnishes zero evidence.

    8.The “community of faith” is vague. What does that even refer to?”

    Richard, since you like the game of tennis like me, while you did wrongfoot me, let’s think of ourselves playing doubles tennis. And while the ball you hit got past this tennis player playing at the net, my partner(s) playing baseline have got to your errant shot (pun intended!) and are now zinging a down-the-line shot over the net and over onto your side of the court!

    I’m watching my partners in grateful appreciation. I particularly appreciate Steve’s point in #7. Now it’s your turn to lunge and work up a sweat.

  102. Mike said,

    June 26, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Reed # 97 “The question you need to answer is why is the neo-errantist possibility premise a better premise (more accurate) than the inerrantist non-possibility premise. You are judging one better than the other without recognizing that both begin with premises that need to be validated.”

    You are correct…but I think the burden of proof lies more with those who claim inerrancy than it does with those who think otherwise. It is a different standard I will admit but not without merit.

  103. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 26, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Mike: “but I think the burden of proof lies more with those who claim inerrancy than it does with those who think otherwise. It is a different standard I will admit but not without merit.”

    No. Way.

    I still want to write up a longer response to Richard’s comments, but part of what I was going to write is that the burden of proof is upon the errantists.

    To try and dish off your responsibility upon the inerrantists is ridiculous.

    Although I will say, given that errantists have deliberately chosen such a lousy doctrinal position to advocate, I can easily see why they would want to shovel off responsibility for carrying the burden of proof. The errantist position is a loser (not to mention being wrong and that’s why it’s actually a loser), and so its proponents would naturally want to declaim their burden of proof. Who wouldn’t? They can’t budge the solid defense of the Doctrine of Inerrancy, so now the next tactic is to claim that inerrantists have the burden of proof.

  104. Richard said,

    June 27, 2009 at 3:40 am

    TUD: I posted a response at the link you provided.

  105. Richard said,

    June 27, 2009 at 3:54 am

    Reed: There is a great deal of heat in #98 but not much light. All I have asked is for you to demonstrate that the verses upon which you hang the doctrine of inerrancy are actually a part of the original autograph. This is not an attack on inerrancy, nor an attack on the faith of sincere believers who read this blog; it is simply a request for you to demonstrate to me that your argument works. You wish to convince me that inerrancy is correct, yet you fail to show that those verses you believe teach inerrancy are actually from the original autographs. This is hardly going to convince anyone that your argument is right.

  106. Reed Here said,

    June 27, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Richard, no. 105: no, not heat, but light – and you know much better than you are letting on as to why. Please do not behave in such a disingenuous manner in public.

    Your comment (snippet):

    You wish to convince me that inerrancy is correct,

    demonstrates that you have not engaged at all with the point of this thread. Please, go back and read the original post and you will see whay you are arguing against something I’ve never said nor pursued. (Maybe you might want to think about why you introduced this line of argument here, instead of leaving it where you were debating it with others.)

    You have demonstrated a continual unwillingness to engage the responses offered to you. (Manilus, you are quite not read up on the conversation with Richard. Your advice, while generally sound, does not apply here, as I have repeated responded to his arguments, as well as others.)

    With regard to the trap you think you’ve laid for me, I think you know my position. I’ve said such in so many words. I reject the position you have constructed for inerrancy, to wit that it is untenable if we have no autographs. I will not waste the time or space with you outlining the preservation argument. You have demonstrated by your unwillingness to deal with the works of inerrancy that you actually are not interested in learninng from one another (remember my pointed “will you” question a while back.)

    This is nothing more that another effort to sidetrack, to deflect, a disingenuous effort that yields nothing more that further argumentation – and no light yielding edification.

    Meanwhile, answer me, as you brought it up, does the current Pope’s writings represent a part of the “tradition” of the community of faith to which you ascribe the (delegated) authority to decide what is and what is not the word of God?

    Is he? If so, then why are you not in the RCC?

    If he is not, then why quote him? Do you regularly use as authorities those whose community of faith you do not acknowledge as authority? That is a characteristic consistent with dissembling.

    What gives Richard? Notice, I’ve dealt with your arguments. Now please, with the good intentions you propose to have in this discussion, respond back in kind.

    How do you live with the reality that you are your own authority on what the word of God is and is not?

    No more dissembling Richard; no more links that do not answer directly; no more challenging your oppenent on a secondary line of argument.

  107. Reed Here said,

    June 27, 2009 at 7:25 am

    Mike, no. 102: you are still missing that both positions begin with premises that then at least influence how they read Scripture. You cannot place the onus on inerrancy without also placing it on neo-errancy. This is merely intellectual integrity.

    Both position’s premises need to be validated. All you’ve concluded is that in your opinion one’s seems more valid than the other. Thus you are actually arguing in the way you accuse inerrantists – your merely making a statement.

    Seriously Mike – both sets of premises need to be validated. The answer to your concern will arise in that process.

  108. Manlius said,

    June 27, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Reed: Again, why the attacks on Richard? I don’t get it. He merely quotes the Pope and you assume he’s a papist? Wow. Again and again, you take umbrage at the slightest little thing Richard expresses. I don’t understand why you have to make it so personal.

  109. ReformedSinner said,

    June 27, 2009 at 10:04 am

    #102 Mike,

    Interesting. The burden of proof lies with inerrancy. Nevermind inerrancy is the orthodox position that can easily be trace back to Reformation, and in my opinion easily trace to apostolic tradition. The erranists themselves recognize the apostles assumed an inerrant Bible, but their point is God uses human errors and the Bible, as a result, is errand.

    Do you get it? Let me put it another way. The erranists (in this thread at least) argues this way: it doesn’t matter what the Bible says about itself, because the Bible is errand in the erranists’ mind, and thus, at the end of the day, the erranists are the ones that has the real truth and that only the academic scholarship that assumes errancy can truly tell the Church the real truths of the Bible.

    The erranists don’t even bother to reject the inerrancy teachings of the Bible anyway, their counter-argument is simply “they don’t know any better, but we know better.”

  110. Reed Here said,

    June 27, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Manilus, no.108: one man’s perspective seems right until another’s is considered.You’ve yet to consider mine. I’ve not taken offense at Richard’s comments nor given the same. I pointed out the full context under which Richard and I are communicating.

    I did not take umbrage to Richard’s quote of Ratzinger. I responded with questions and comments in keeping with his own argument concerning comunnity of faith, authority and tradition. You are quite wrong in not recognizing that I am not doing as you accuse, but rather doing as you suggest.

    You have ingored my prior asnwer to you, only to repeat your unfounded opinion again. It is this kind of tactic that is unhelpful for real discussion and debate. I would ask you again to show some integrity here, and not merely demonstrate that you are behaving like a shill.

    Please, make a substantive argument to the point of the thread or bow out.

  111. Manlius said,

    June 27, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    All I’ve tried to do is stick up for a guy who keeps being unjustly attacked. The fact that you can’t see that you’re quite over the line is a problem.

    Bowing out…

  112. Richard said,

    June 28, 2009 at 3:22 am

    Reed: I can assure Manlius that no offense was taken by your line of argument above. Personally I believe that Joseph Ratzinger has something to offer on this subject (as does Yves Congar) but why am I not RCC? I think Brevard Childs has the best response and I would make his words my own:

    The Roman Catholic insistence upon the decisive role of tradition in shaping the Christian Bible correctly recognized the role of the church’s actual use of its scripture both in proclamation and liturgy. The church’s practice of worship provided the context in which the biblical message was received, treasured, and transmitted. The church’s rule-of-faith, later expressed in creeds, did not seek to impose an alien ecclesiastical tradition upon the scriptures, but rather sought to preserve the unity of word and tradition as the Spirit continually enlivened the truth of the gospel from which the church lived. However, the danger of the Catholic position which emerged in the course of the church’s history lay in the temptation to render the Word captive to more easily adaptable human traditions, often in the name of piety. Any appeal solely to tradition or praxis apart from the critical norm exercised by the content of the biblical witness eventually runs counter to the essence of a Christian theology of canon.

    If we may now return to the inerrancy question; I have pushed you on the question of original autographs because that is where I believe your presentation of inerrancy breaks down, both in terms of a plurality of variagated final forms of biblical books and the logical problems with demonstrateing that those verses that ‘prove’ inerrancy were in the originals. That said if inerrancy means so much to you, one could argue for the inerrancy of each final forms and/or literary editions even where their text base differs. And on that bombshell…I shall bow out too.

  113. Reed Here said,

    June 28, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Richard: I find myself scratching my head at your bombshell. Not even quite a lady-finger.

    All you’ve done is show the consistency of your own flawed argument. Most of us saw where you were going quite some time ago. If this was your big “ta-da”, you should have shown us what was behind the curtain quite some time ago (and not waster so much time.) All you’ve done is replace one man-centered argument for inerrancy for another (although I’m still not sure about you and inerrancy.)

    Your quote of Ratzinger, and your denial of him (you’ve offered no clairifcation why you quote him) asnwers my question. He serves your effort at dissembling.

    As to your blowing up inerrancy – you;ve yet to deal with the biblical argument for it. If you care to do so, please come back. If you do, know I will be quite insistent that you deal directly with the subject at hand.

  114. Pete Myers said,

    June 28, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Hi all,

    I’m back from my conference.

    Has this discussion actually made any material progress so far, or are we still stuck on:

    “Inerrancy doesn’t work, because it requires the assumption of original autographs which never existed.”
    and
    “Inerrancy is true because God’s Word claims inerrancy for itself, which if requiring the existence of original autographs, proves their existence, as the Bible is our ultimate authority”

    ?

    For clarity several rounds of “But the Bible is our ultimate authority!” “No it’s not, because you’re not arguing from what the Bible says about itself, but from some external authority”… doesn’t count as “material progress” when answering this question.

  115. Richard said,

    June 28, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Pete: Hope the conference was refreshing. No “material progress” has been made. The last point I made was:

    if you are claiming that the original autographs are inerrant you first need to demonstrate that the verse(s) you are appealing to was/were actually in the original autograph, i.e. you need to make sure that those verses that you believe teach inerrancy are actually from the original autographs

  116. Reed Here said,

    June 28, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Richard, no. 115: you bowed out after you last “bombshell” (no. 112.) What gives? Are you back? Do you intend to respond to my responses to your interrogatory? Read no. 113 for a summary of why I believe you’ve been non-responsive responding.

    Summary again, inerrancy rests not on any case dependent upon man.This is because the Fall has placed us in a position where such “proof” is an impossibility. It is part of the judgment of God that man qua man will never be able to validate any argument concerning the nature of Scripture which resides in an ultimate sense of the authority of mn.

    Thus your characterization of inerrancy resting on the autographs (“original” is redundant) is by necessity ultimately flawed. Likewise your canon-community of faith-tradition argument is equally flawed. Neither can withstand the rigors of full examination whihc maintains the integrity of the truth.

    Are you or are you not Richard going to respond to this challenge? It is the point of this thread. You’ve beat around the bush enough. No more obfuscating, now expecting poor Pete to pick up where you left off, all the while your answer has been given, and you refuse to respond to the challenge back.

    Biblically inerrancy rests on the self-attesting nature of Scripture – God affirms both the origin and character of his word.

    Your position posits this function in the life of the “community of faith.” I recognize you claim that this is the Spirit’s witnesss to be sure. Yet you’ve made this canon-community-tradition so overwhelming as to make it ultimate, and the appeal to the Spirit nothing more than special pleading.

    I’ve given your position some benefit of the doubt and asked which community of faith? It appears your answer is to assert multiple communities, with multiple canons. and therefore multiple “words” of God.

    How far would you spread the community of faith mantle? The EO, RCC, Liberal Protestant, Mormon, Jehovah Witness? It seems, from your responses that at least the EO and the RCC are included.

    Further, on what objectifiable basis do you determine who to include and exclude? (We’ll ignore for the moment the problem of contradiction between even those communities of faith you include.)

    Richard, yoiu’ve not proven your point. You’ve mischaracterized, demolished the mischaracterization, and then ignored the challenges to your position. Step up to the plate now and show you are seriously interested in edifying and not merely bloviating.

  117. Pete Myers said,

    June 28, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Richard & Reed,

    Reed said:

    Richard, yoiu’ve not proven your point. You’ve mischaracterized, demolished the mischaracterization, and then ignored the challenges to your position.

    Richard, Reed is summarising very helpfully here what has been being said to you for weeks now.

    I think that several weeks of that lead me to now be simply saying to you: “repent”. There’s actually nothing intellectually left for the inerrantist side to prove. Your arguments have been demolished, with no attempt from you to engage with them for a while. That tells me, that, even if there is some amazingly clever proof that the classical, historical Christian view of the Bible is wrong – you don’t know what that clever proof is… which means that the time for persuasion is over, and you simply need to take it on the chin and repent brother.

    you first need to demonstrate that the verse(s) you are appealing to was/were actually in the original autograph

    Not until you prove the Moon is made of cheese first.

  118. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 28, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Richard, Mike, and any other errantists,

    Can you share with us your motives for arguing and advocating that the Bible, the Word of God is errant?

    To be transparent, I, um, reserve the right to believe that you are self-deceived in regards to your motives, but I’d like to ask you all anyways.

    Or if Reed can recall any of the various comments in past threads where errantists have shared their motives in promoting their view that Scripture teaches error.

  119. Reed Here said,

    June 28, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    TUD, no. 118: many have affirmed that the appearance of error, intra-biblical, is what initiated their quest. Others have admitted that the challenge of such things as secular science has also had its influence.

    In the end, I’m afraid they will find out that the onus of unbelief will still cast its shadow over their position. Only resting in His witness is their security and comfort.

  120. Pete Myers said,

    June 29, 2009 at 3:22 am

    118

    One big motivation appears to be:

    1) Given that the Bible contains errors
    2) Given that when evangelicals discover they were lied to about the Bible containing errors it damages their faith
    3) We should be honest about the Bible containing errors up front, and provide some robust explanation

    This is why Richard, and FTH describe their position as “pastoral”. Though obviously, the retort we’ve been making is:

    1) Given that the Bible commands us to believe that it doesn’t contain errors
    2) Given that the Bible doesn’t contain errors anyway
    3) Telling people to believe that the Bible contains errors is already, by it’s very nature, damaging people’s faith, because one core element of faith is whether I believe the truth of what God has said or not.

  121. GLW Johnson said,

    June 29, 2009 at 5:36 am

    So, given the neo-errantists claims that their position puts much more emphasis on being ‘Christ-centered’ as opposed to ours being focused on the Bible-a paper pope- shouldn’t future renditions of the Bible seek to capture these tremendous scholarly insights by having Jesus say in Matt 22: 29 ” You err , not knowing that the Scriptures err.”-I mean, after all we don’t want to lead the folks in the pews astray into believing some old fundamentalist notion that the Bible does not err- so let’s do all that we can to purge the very thought of inerrancy from the Bible-even if we have to tinker with the words of Christ to do so

  122. Reformed Sinner said,

    June 29, 2009 at 8:16 am

    What hurts me the most about their position is that they don’t really realize how damaging their (erranists) teachings are.

    1) What does the Gospel look like under their paradigm? If Creation, Adam/Eve, and the Fall are all just myths, what exactly is the Gospel saving us from? The Church has to rewrite Doctrine of Creation, Man, and Sin just for starters, and has to make tons of amendments in Doctrine of God, Soteriology, etc.

    2) How can pastors give powerful preachings when they, it seems like, have to constantly apologize for the Biblical “errors” or “errs” on these and that?

    3) Finally, I’m really appalled at their condescending attitude and their “My eyes are opened and yours are not” arrogance. I asked one of them once that how would you explain the erranist teaching to a common church member, and his answer on here was basically you can’t, it takes an academic genius to understand this stuff, and therefore he has no time to slowly educate the church members. They just have to take his words for it – and we are the high priests?

    At the end of the day the teaching of errantist, as brilliant as they may sound in the academic papers and books, will not be helpful to the Church, and in effect will be detrimental to the Church the way Liberalism pretty much destroyed the PCUSA.

  123. Richard said,

    June 29, 2009 at 11:42 am

    TUD: May I refer you to this.

  124. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Richard: now you are becoming a stereo-type. Are you deliberately ignoring me, or are you working one another bomb?

    On a previous thread I gave you a rather extensive response demonstrating that both history and its recording involve the sovereign function of God, and one cannot be separated from the other.

    Your response: let me think about it. You done thinking yet?

    Following that I asked you a rather straightforward question about your reliance on tradition, as it works in the community of faith, for authority of the Bible. This grew out of a previous particular question as to how you differentiate authority so that the autonomous individual is not the default (which seems to be the necessary end of your position.)

    You responded: what are you asking me to agree to? I wasn’t asking for agreement, but further clarification. Why haven’t you offered any.

    Last, here you suggest you dropped a bombshell on “my” inerrancy position.

    I’ve responded in depth, providing a simple and straightforward explanation of why you are wrong. I made not evasive comments, no obfuscating inferences to outside sources such as the Pope, just simple straightforward discussion; discussion which should be easy for you to blow up.

    Richard, this has gone on with you for too long, too deeply, too wide. I call on you to respond to my direct challenges. I’ve only outlined a brief example of your consistent evasiveness in this discussion.

    I accept your profession of faith. As a brother, I call on you to engage in an edifying manner. Quit providing responses that merely amount to endless debates about “myths, genealogies, etc.”

  125. Richard said,

    June 29, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Reed: I have a finite amount of time, some questions such a TUD’s are easy to answer and can be done so quickly. Your comments contain so many questions and assertions that an adequate reply would take up far too much of my finite time. So when I pose the question, “Shall I spend my time memorizing my verb charts or respond in depth to Reed who will not change his mind anyway?” the answer is fairly obvious and clear. In the hundreds of comments we have exchanged, my position has not changed, your position has not changed and too much of both our time has been wasted.

  126. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 29, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Richard: “I have a finite amount of time, some questions such a TUD’s are easy to answer and can be done so quickly.”

    Richard, is it easy for you to quickly answer my question about your motives or motivation in arguing that the Bible, the Word of God, is errant? I would like to hear what drives you in advocating and promoting errancy as a good thing.

  127. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Richard, no. 125: so how about backing off the hubris you’ve been demonstrating, assuming you’ve proven your point all the while I’m maintaining you haven’t actually addressed my point?

  128. Mike said,

    June 29, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    TU #118 “Can you share with us your motives for arguing and advocating that the Bible, the Word of God is errant?”

    As far as my own motives are concerned I would LOVE to believe in inerrancy…it would make things so much easier…but I can’t. My motives are to live without cognitive dissonance. That does not mean I have to have an answer for everything…but I cannot deny what I think is clear before me. If you believe that I “see” with limitations and filters and presuppositions…so be it.

    As far as I can tell, for inerrantists, the motivation seems clear to me. To me inerrancy is the basis for a faith that is a house of cards…and we all know what happens when one starts to pull on one of the bottom cards…I think for a lot of inerrantists, that is the real issue. Speaking personally I was OK with letting the house of cards fall (decontruction I think most people refer to it as) and rebuild without this as a foundation for faith.

    RS #109 “Nevermind inerrancy is the orthodox position that can easily be trace back to Reformation, and in my opinion easily trace to apostolic tradition.” I agree with you on this however knowledge is not static; it is dynamic. If you are asking me to accept a premodern view of the world while ignoring all that we have learned since then I can’t live with the dissonance that that creates.

  129. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Mike, no. 128: let this inerrantist offer you a different take on my motivation. Inerrancy is not the basis of my faith. Like you, that is Christ. My motivation in maintaining inerrancy is simple – I see the Bible teaching it. It is a matter of being consistent with the Bible’s own teaching.

    Let me also observe that you will not be able to avoid the cognitive dissonence. It still exists for you. It always will this side of eternity. It is a factor of the Fall – we can only see in part, know in part now. The cognitive dissonance you’ve silenced will be replaced by another, for in the end this flows from the continual challenge of unbelief.

    I don’t mean to be a downer, but resting where you are will only suffice to the degree you yourself are able to squelch the feedback. Christ’s answer to cognitive dissonance rests in no manner on the wisdom of man.

  130. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 29, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Mike: “My motives are to live without cognitive dissonance.”

    Thanks for the response Mike. I’d like to hear other errantists share their motives as well. Are their motives the same as Mike’s or do they have others?

    As an aside, I’d like to suggest that your cognitive dissonance is likely caused by a misunderstanding of what the Doctrine of Inerrancy affirms. You may be imputing or importing some baggage into your understanding of Inerrancy which then produced cognitive dissonance in you. Be careful of strawman caricatures.

    “To me inerrancy is the basis for a faith that is a house of cards…and we all know what happens when one starts to pull on one of the bottom cards…”

    Goodness gracious. I would actually assert the diametric, polar opposite of your statement. Take away the prefix “in” to produce this:

    “To me errancy is the basis for a faith that is a house of cards…and we all know what happens when one starts to pull on one of the bottom cards….”

  131. Reed Here said,

    June 29, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    TUD, no.O 130: As I read more and more neo-errantists blogs, documents, etc., I am more and more persuaded that this is critical to the debate:

    You may be imputing or importing some baggage into your understanding of Inerrancy which then produced cognitive dissonance in you.

    It appears that many of our friends are reacting to a very flat, literalistic view of inerrancy, a defective view which recognizes no nuancing, no flexibility of any kind. Thus, for example, the synoptic problem really is a problem. The defective view of inerrancy requires a rabid-harmonization of the texts, to eliminate all appearances of error.

    Whereas a more biblically based view of inerrancy is not so easily disturbed by appearances. It recognizes that reading into the text one’s presuppositions of how the text should read to avoid errors is exactly the wrong way to proceed.

    Much of the dissonance flows from appearances, not actuality. Assuming a defective view of inerrancy leads to giving that dissonance a credibility it does not deserve. Rejecting inerrancy does not eliminate the dissonance. It merely replaces it with a deafening silence as the Bible’s authority as God’s word is stilfled.

  132. Richard said,

    June 29, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    TUD: I am not arguing that the Bible, the Word of God, is errant. I am arguing that the argument advanced by those inerrantists I have come across fails on a number of levels which means I cannot accept their presentation of inerrancy. Further, if you accept that the Bible as we have it is errant, which you do as you confess it’s not the exact text of the divine originals, you are in no different a place than the errantist. Ultimately I suggest that the modern presentation of the doctrine of inerrancy fails to do full justice to where we are at in terms of scholarship in terms of how the bible was composed, cf. Torah and Canon, and the dynamic relationship between tradent, text and community.

  133. Pete Myers said,

    June 29, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    if you accept that the Bible as we have it is errant, which you do as you confess it’s not the exact text of the divine originals, you are in no different a place than the errantist.

    This argument is flawed, Richard.

    I’m sorry, but I haven’t got time to explain why.

  134. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 29, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Richard: “I am not arguing that the Bible, the Word of God, is errant.”

    Sure seems like it. Because you’re definitely not arguing that the Bible is inerrant either.

    “I am arguing that the argument advanced by those inerrantists I have come across fails on a number of levels which means I cannot accept their presentation of inerrancy.”

    Since you declare that you’re not arguing that the Bible is errant, and you also declare that you find the arguments advanced by inerrantists are defective in their presentation, then I happily invite you to make an argument that the Bible is inerrant using a presentation that you believe doesn’t fail on a number of levels.

    Further, since you’re not arguing that the Bible is errant (a claim that I find hard to believe), I want to commend you for stating that. Because you do realize that with your references to tradent, text, and community, the burden of proof rests with the errantists.

  135. Pete Myers said,

    June 29, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    #134,

    Let me nip this in the bud now.

    Richard you’ve said this in #132

    I am not arguing that the Bible, the Word of God, is errant.

    And yet here you said

    No, I do not agree with inerrancy as it has been classically defined for the very simple reason that the classical definition fails at the most basic of places, its starting point for it assumes an original text for which there is no evidence and the data which we do possess implies a contrary position.

    Let’s just be totally clear that Richard has gone on and on and on that there are no “originals”. So if he’s now trying to affirm inerrancy, then the differences go beyond minor points about how to argue for it. Richard believes there are no identifiable original autographs for scripture.

    Just to make this absolutely clear, Richard firmly nailed his colours to the errancy mast a while ago (emphasis mine):

    Pete, let’s take a step back to the UCCf statement:

    “The Bible, as originally given, is the inspired and infallible Word of God. It is the supreme authority in all matters of belief and behaviour.”

    Question; What, according to this statement, is “the inspired and infallible Word of God”?
    Answer; The Bible as it was originally given.

    Now, if by this is meant the final form of each book and by infallible we mean something other than inerrant (cf. Chicago Statement definitions) then I can agree with it.

    But if by “as it was originally given” it means the “original autographs” then I can’t.

    Of course the UCCF statement does not clarify its terms, and does not mention inerrancy.

    You say I am missing the point, well am I correct that the classical definition of inerrancy ran along the lines of “The original autographs are inerrant”?

  136. Samuel Conner said,

    June 30, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Re: 131, I think that this is a direction that is worth pursuing. And it seems to me that there is plenty of diversity among inerrantists, so that the unnuanced view that Reed describes as less-biblically-based is not hard to find in the churches. Who are the neo-inerrantists reacting to?

    I suspect that for at least some neo-inerrantists, one stumbling block is the widespread (and historically precedented) view that the Scriptures teach the material creation of the cosmos in 144 hours. If I am remembering a prior post rightly, that view has been endorsed here and characterized as an elephant in the room that ought to be faced. It could be argue that this is a stumbling block only if one assigns undue authority to extrabiblical sources (modern understandings of the meaning of the evidences of natural history, in this case). From my perspective, the problem is not in the teaching of this view from the text, but in what some brothers do in attempting to harmonize natural history with the teaching, which (it seems to me) at least at times results in the affirmations regarding extrabiblical matters that are demonstrably not true, but that are presented as true on the merits of the inerrancy of the text (on the theory, seemingly, that the evidences of natural history must be interpreted this way or else the text is errant).

    Which brings me to John Walton’s book, “The Lost World of Genesis One”, that was mentioned a while back. I would be interested to know what the OT scholars here think of his proposal. But perhaps this is sufficiently off-topic that it should not be responded to here.

  137. Richard said,

    June 30, 2009 at 11:12 am

    TUD: My point in #132 is to clarify what motivates me, that is to say my starting statement is not “Oy everyone! The Bible is errant! Let me explain why…” rather “Ok, in response to your question about whether I accept inerrancy or not let me explain why I find Wayne Grudem’s argument in favour of it to fail”.
    Do you see the difference? I don’t set out to demonstrate the Bible is errant, I set out to attempt to show the weakness with the modern defence of the doctrine.

  138. Pete Myers said,

    June 30, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I don’t set out to demonstrate the Bible is errant, I set out to attempt to show the weakness with the modern defence of the doctrine.

    Why then are you so reluctant to engage with what that modern argument actually is?

    Reed’s comment to you in #127 marks the consistent thing that has been said to you for weeks:

    Richard, no. 125: so how about backing off the hubris you’ve been demonstrating, assuming you’ve proven your point all the while I’m maintaining you haven’t actually addressed my point?

    You don’t come off as someone keen to engage with the modern defence of the doctrine, rather you come off as someone who sees things from your particular angle and perspective very clearly (it’s all about the existence of original autographs), all the while failing to address the arguments for why your perspective is flawed, and address the actual inerrantist position being put forward.

    (and my constant insistance on you reading Grudem is a demonstration of this. Grudem is the lightest, briefest, most simplistic presentation of the inerrancy argument you could read – and yet you fail to engage with that properly – which calls into question your grasp of the inerrancy position, no matter your ability to point out it’s weaknesses)

  139. Todd said,

    June 30, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Samuel # 136

    This quote I think provides a Reformed response to your question

    “The meaning of “day” in Gen 1 has been debated in the church at least since the days of Augustine. The literary form of the passage in its relation to other scriptures is important for its interpretation. Responsible Reformed theologians have differed as to whether Gen 1 teaches a young earth or allows for an old earth. While one of these interpretations must be mistaken, we believe that either position can be held by faithful Reformed people.”
    (J. Gresham Machen, “The Christian View of Man,” pg. 115)

  140. Richard said,

    June 30, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Pete: If we may wrap things up here; all I would add is to say the following – you have often called into question my grasp of the inerrancy position and that is fair enough, the problem is this; in my opinion the inerrancy position does not deal adequately with my objections, and whether you believe they are valid concerns or not you have (in my assessment) simply dismissed them as being irrelevant and ignored them. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not asking for a violin and hanky.

    I concur, Grudem is the lightest, briefest, most simplistic presentation of the inerrancy argument you could read…that is the problem.

  141. Reed Here said,

    June 30, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Richard: wrapping you up here – gadflying is a hobby that serves little purpose in the life of the Church.

    Close with this problem and you may have something valuable to add to the discussion: how does one get around the inherent errancy and fallibility of any view (including your own) of the nature of Scripture’s relation to God that rests on man-centered premises?

    The biblical argument for inerrancy does not commit this error.

    (P.S. ever wonder why I spent little time interacting with your tradent-autograph observations? I actually agree with some – not al – yet these are completely beside the point.)

  142. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    June 30, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Richard: “I don’t set out to demonstrate the Bible is errant, I set out to attempt to show the weakness with the modern defence of the doctrine.”

    I understand. But since you declare that you’re not arguing that the Bible is errant, I would like to repeat my earlier request:

    “I happily invite you to make an argument that the Bible is inerrant using a presentation [which] you believe doesn’t fail on a number of levels.”

    I.e., if you think the “modern” defence is weak, then show me what you consider to be a superior argument in support of inerrancy.

  143. Richard said,

    July 1, 2009 at 6:25 am

    TUD: Strictly speaking there is no inverse relationship between inerrany and the alternative I suggest, i.e. if my solution to the problems with inerrancy are wrong that does not prove inerrancy is correct and vice versa.

    But take Grudem’s rebuttal (here) to the argument concerning the mustard seed, Jesus said it is the smalles seed we know is isn’t is this an error? Grudem argues no it isn’t because in the cultural setting Jesus said that it was the smallest seed to the agricultural audience hence the statement is true in its context. Personally I agree with Grudem, and I agree with a lot of what Grudem says in these lectures. But, and here comes the rub, I see no difference with saying that truth is contextual (Grudem’s argument) and applying his logic to Paul’s argument in Rom. 5 which many evangelicals say assumes that Adam was historical. Now I believe he was but if Jesus’ statement is wrong but true in that context owing to the thought patterns of his hearers that are culturally conditioned then Paul’s argument may assume an historical Adam but this may me wrong but true in that context owing to the thought patterns of his hearers that are culturally conditioned. I am sure that Grudem would agree that “The interpreter [of scripture] must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another.”

    Once this is accepted, the whole errancy/inerrancy dichotomy become, IMO, irrelevant.

    Reed: I would reject that every view is inherently errant and fallible, rather all view are potentially errant and fallible.

  144. Reed Here said,

    July 1, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Richard: you once again have evaded my point. Please answer directly or merely respond, “I don’t know.”

  145. Richard said,

    July 1, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Reed: No opinion is inherently errant, all are open to being errant. The question is which opinion deals with the evidence at hand the best. In terms of your question, I am at a loss to really see what you are saying.

  146. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    July 1, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Richard: “Strictly speaking there is no inverse relationship between inerrany and the alternative I suggest, i.e. if my solution to the problems with inerrancy are wrong that does not prove inerrancy is correct and vice versa.”

    Strictly speaking, I grant that. HOWEVER, I’d still like to see your solution to what you allege are the problems with inerrancy.

  147. Reed Here said,

    July 1, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Richard, no. 145: you say:

    I am at a loss to really see what you are saying.

    I appreciate that. My own understanding of inerrancy was immensely helped by this point, yet it took some looking outside my own position before it clicked. Let’s start more broadly than inerrancy, as this principle is actually essential to inspiration and infallibility as well. Consider this as a starting point:

    P1: Most commonly, arguments for the nature of Scripture’s relationship to God rest on opinions of man.
    P2: Man’s opinion has as its authority man.
    C1: Therefore any argument based on man’s opinion has as its authority man.

    I am not seeking to speak pejoratively or prejudicially against any particular argument. This syllogism applies equally to arguments for and against inspiration/inerrancy/infallibility. It is merely the nature of existence in view here. Hopefully there is no argument against this conclusion.

    Assuming not, to build on this syllogism, consider the following:

    P3: Man is prone to error and fallible.
    C2: Therefore any man based argument for Scripture’s relationship to God may be erroneous/fallible.

    I admit that the additional premise here is not acceptable to those outside the Christian faith. Hopefully you will agree with verses such as Jer 17:9 that this premise is necessary for consistency with belief in Christ.

    Note that the conclusion does not say that all man based arguments are flawed, merely that they may be. The critical issue here is the question that arises out of this necessary conclusion – how does one validly differentiate between that which is truth and that which is error?

    This leads to the next argument:

    P4: Man is unable to validate that his own opinions are free of error/fallibility without recourse to an authority outside of himself.
    P5: The only authority outside man is God.
    C3: Therefore only God can speak inerrantly/infallibly about the nature of Scripture’s relationship to God.

    Premise 4 is again a necessary conclusion from what Scripture teaches (cf., again Jer 17:9.) The noetic effects of the Fall have left man, not without the ability to know the truth, but rather to know for sure he knows the truth.

    Admittedly this premise does not mean all is meaningless (contra ? Nietzsche.) God’s mercy (common grace) does allow man to operate temporally in an effective manner. Still, even in this man’s grasp of truth is always an approximation, an exponential curve that never quite reaches full truth. (E.g., a mere physical example, ask any engineer and construction manager to explain why field measurements can never exactly match blueprint specs.)

    Premise 5 should as well be a given for the Christian. Assuming so, Conclusion 3 should be obvious. We can make all the arguments we want for the nature of Scripture, arguments that rest on rational-temporal considerations (i.e., the stuff of Creation.) Yet all such arguments are only as good as their authority. Since man is an errant/fallible authority, all such arguments may or may not be true (or to degrees.) The real problem is we cannot know for sure.

    Therefore, all such arguments are open to valid de-constructive criticism.

    This applies to the inerrancy argument you seem to be critiquing. This equally applies to your tradent-canon-community argument for the nature of Scripture’s relationship to God.

    This is not to say that everything in either argument is therefore error. As I’ve noted previously to you, I accept some of your tradent arguments, in that I believe they offer a trustworthy approximation of truth. As well, I’m very accepting of some of the particular passage-related explanations of the neo-errantists. Again, given the use of what rational abilities we have, these seem to me trustworthy approximations of truth.

    Yet I cannot rest my conviction on the nature of Scripture’s relationship with God upon such man-centered arguments – for they may be wrong!

    The only safe and secure basis for concluding anything about the nature of Scripture’s relationship to God is God’s own testimony. This is what is meant by the phrase self-attesting.

    I admit this is classical circular argumentation. (Are you familiar with Van Til’s insight that necessarily all arguments are circular in that they are bound by presuppositions?) Yet this is what the Fall has brought us to. We have no other options.

    This is why I urged you to go back and re-read the original post. If you are interested in debating this post here, I think there might be some profit. If not, oh well. :P :)

  148. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    July 1, 2009 at 11:54 am

    A slight revision to my previous comment to Richard:

    “HOWEVER, I’d still like to see your solution to what you allege are the problems with the modern defense of inerrancy. Particularly since you claim “I am not arguing that the Bible, the Word of God, is errant.””

    ————–

    If I could sum up Reed’s command in #147, it would be this: “Yet the truth of Scripture stands in judgment of men; never do men stand in judgment of it.”

    Inerrantists hold to Scripture over man while errantists hold to man over Scripture.

  149. Reed Here said,

    July 1, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    TUD: yep, it does come down to this, does it not?

    I will readily admit that neo-errantists will call your conclusion foul. They affirm that all they are merely doing is seeking to describe how Scripture presents itself, i.e., completely consistent with a self-attesting approach. I recognize and admit their sincerity behind this appeal.

    I nevertheless believe they are in error making such an appeal. Again, it comes down to fundamental presuppositions. For the neo-errantist, it works like this:

    P1: the Bible appears to have errors.
    P2: evidence external to the Bible, suggests that at least some of these appearances must be concluded to be in fact errors.
    C: therefore the Bible is not inerrant.

    I’ve yet to see an argument from the neo-errantist that breaks this syllogism. They will deny it – but they always fail to prove their denial is valid.

    Note as well, that when confronted with the “self-attesting” argument in terms of verses that appear to teach inerrancy, the force of this prior argument serves as the presupposition which leads to an exegetical conclusion that such passages do not in fact teach inerrancy.

    Maybe some straightforward exegetical arguing, beginning free of either inerrancy or errancy presuppositions, might lead to some helpful insights.

  150. Richard said,

    July 1, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Reed: Thank you for #147, in answer to your questions I am familiar with CVT, moreso with Bahnsen. I understand the presup stuff, what does confuse me is the phrase “Scripture’s relationship to God”, could you unpack that or rephrase?

    I would still suggest that the inerrantist argument breaks down in the implications of “The only safe and secure basis for concluding anything about the nature of Scripture’s relationship to God is God’s own testimony.” Now I agree, however what is God’s own testimony? You know where I am going, i.e. God’s own testimony (in your eyes) are, ultimately, the original autographs.

    But the problem is a little more complex, let’s assume you can demonstrate that those verses that you base inerrancy upon are in these original autographs you then need an authoritative interpreter.

    Ultimately, I must confess that I find your presentation of the case to drive me closer to the solution of Nietzsche. Thankfully I hold to a high ecclessiology which is not factored into your formula above, i.e. I disagree with “P5: The only authority outside man is God.”

    TUD: To say that “Inerrantists hold to Scripture over man while errantists hold to man over Scripture” doesn’t really get us anywhere. I assume your Bible has 66 books, why? Ultimately it were men that decided which books were to be in the canon and which were not.

  151. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    July 1, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    “HOWEVER, I’d still like to see your solution to what you allege are the problems with the modern defense of inerrancy. Particularly since you claim “I am not arguing that the Bible, the Word of God, is errant.””

    Richard, again I ask you, if you have so much against the “modern” defense of inerrancy while yet claiming that you are not arguing that the Bible is errant, how would you then personally construct a defense of the doctrine of inerrancy?

    I’d really like to hear it.

  152. Richard said,

    July 1, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    TUD: I don’t believe in inerrancy, why would I want to construct a defense of the doctrine of inerrancy? I think your wires are crossed. Now back to the canon, can you prove that your canon is correct from the Bible alone?

  153. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    July 1, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Richard: “I don’t believe in inerrancy, why would I want to construct a defense of the doctrine of inerrancy?”

    Because you said that you are not arguing that the Bible, the Word of God, is errant.

    So if you don’t believe in inerrancy AND simultaneously you say you are not arguing that the Bible is errant, ….

    then what are you talking about? or arguing about?

    Because to put it mildly and most charitably, you’re being rather incoherent.

  154. Reed Here said,

    July 1, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Richard, no. 150:

    “Scripture’s relationship with God”- my attempt at a smmary statement that identifies the nature of the discussion before us. It is not sufficient to discuss it merely as inerrancy vs. errancy. The more fundamental and determinative topic is the nature of Scripture, in terms of its relationship with God, particularly the orthodox trinity of concepts: inspiration/inerrancy/infallibility.

    Don’t look for anything other than a simple shorthand attempt in such relationship.

  155. Richard said,

    July 1, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I explained in #s132 & 137 that my goal is not to argue that the Bible is errant but rather my emphasis is upon the problems with the inerrantist argument.

  156. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    July 1, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Richard: “I explained in #s132 & 137 that my goal is not to argue that the Bible is errant but rather my emphasis is upon the problems with the inerrantist argument.

    Richard, you are committing the Distinction without a Difference fallacy.

    Richard, you are indeed arguing that the Bible, the Word of God, is errant. Whether you want to be honest about it or not.

    Reed and any other inerrantists, have any of you been taken in by Richard’s Distinction without a Difference fallacy? If so, I hope that you are no longer taken in.

  157. Reed Here said,

    July 1, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Richard, no. 150: “God’s own testimony”; yes, I know where you are going and I actually track with why you go there. I.e., following the argument you’ve been developing here, but what, or better, where is God’s own testimony to be found, in some supposed now non-existent autographs, or (as I understand your position) is it to be found in the confluence of canon-&-community?

    This is one of the reasons why I asked you to go back and read the original post here, as it does address such a topic. Will you agree that an argument based merely on now non-existent autographs is problematic, and yet not therefore proven to be false? (I suspect you will agree with my approximation argument, and not conclude falsity is proven, but rather in your view high likely.)

    I would ask you to consider that on the same presuppositional basis, so is your position problematic, not proven false, yet highly likely so. This is not because it does not offer insights that actully do help (I refer you to the high degree of agreement you and Dr. White reached. The reason you did not hear objections from the rest of us is because we agree with y’alls agreement.) Rather it is because it shares the same faulty presupposition that the inerrancy argument you are arguing against does – error/fallible prone man is it’s authority.

    In the end there is only one way around the problems with any of these positions. The inerrancy argument for autographs is not the determinative basis for the position. Rather it is an offering of a reasonable response to the issue of the appearance of errors. It does not particular answer for all appearances, but it does suffice in principle in general.

    The determinative basis is God’s own witness.

  158. Reed Here said,

    July 1, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Richard, no. 150: yes, I understand your appeal to the Authority of the Church (this is the tradition argument I tried to get you to interact with.)

    I was hoping you would recognize that this too is a delegated authority. While I do not recognize it’s authority in the undifferentiated manner you’ve presented here (again, we might have some interesting overlap), I do recognize this is a valid authority.

    Do you not recognize that this is a delegated authority, given to it by God? Thus, as our confession recognizes, the Church in exercising this authority can and has erred (WCF 31.3.) This is why the Church’s authority is a help, but not a rule (Eph 2:20; Acts 17:11; 1Co 2:5; 2Co 1:24; cf. Isa 8:19-20; Mt 15:9.) By saying it is not a rule, we are saying it is not a final or ultimate authority.

    Surely you agree with this. Surely you are not saying that the Church is in itself a final, unchallengable authority? Surely you see that your reliance on this authority itself necessarily relies on the self-attesting of Scripture (Mt 16:19), and thus itself is yet another support for the self-attesting basis for inerrancy.

    You’re still in the same ocean floating with a life-preserver of questionable quality :-)

  159. Reed Here said,

    July 1, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Richard, no. 150: as to your potential amening of Nietzsche, outside of the system of belief presented in Scripture, in many ways I find his philosophy the most consistent of all systems of unbelief.

    That makes him good at saying what isn’t. He is still not trustworthy voice for determining what is.

    Again, how can we know that what we know truly is so? Man’s opinions are untrustworthy. Has God spoken trustworthily or not? Let us not rest on an “amen” that requires trust in any opinion of man, but soley in God’s own witness.

    SDG

  160. Reed Here said,

    July 1, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    TUD, no. 156: thanks! No, not taken in; distracted, detoured, occassionally befuddled, but by God’s grace, not taken in.

    Still, please develop your point a little more fully.

  161. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    July 1, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Reed, #160.

    I don’t know how to make the point any more fully, other than to repeat it:

    “Richard, you are indeed arguing that the Bible, the Word of God, is errant.”

    Google “Distinction without a Difference” fallacy if you’re unsure of what this fallacy is.

  162. Richard said,

    July 1, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Reed: You ask me a question and provide the answer! :-) One big problem with the TC issue is the assertion, I’ve heard Grudem say this, that we know 99.9% of what the originals said. Of course this is technically incorrect, as Tov points out there is no way of knowing the text of the Urtext (assuming one existed). Say we found an old fragment containing 1 Jn 5:7, does that prove that the originals contained it? Of course not! It is technically impossible to reconstruct the Urtext hence any argument that is going to reply upon them is inherently flawed. Of course I would go further and suggest the very concept of an Urtext is flawed but lets not rehash old ground. My argument for this though is not the authority of man rather it’s the hard evidence we have in our hands, or potentially could if I had enough money and clout to have access to the materials. Hence there is a categorical difference between what it is we are arguing from; my argument is evidence-based whilst yours isn’t. Hence I don’t accept that the flaws you note apply in this case.

    I certainly concur that many appearances of error in scripture have reasonable responses, you will of course note that I have resisted pointing out where I think that the scripture is wrong on something. Of course I am helped in the fact that I believe the literary solution solves most, if not all, apparent errors.

    Out of interest, what would you say counts as an error in scripture? Fill in the blank, “If scripture said…then it would be in error”. I would be interested to see what you think an error would look like.

  163. Richard said,

    July 1, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Reed: Yes I accept it is delegated authority. The problem I do see with your saying that the Church in exercising this authority can and has erred because this then throws us out to Nietzsche. That is, you accept the witness of the Church to the Canon, i.e. you believe the WCF is correct is saying the canon is 66 books and no more. The problem is that this may be wrong! The Church may have erred. How can you test this? Against the Bible? It doesn’t speak on this issue. What about the confession itself? The Church may have erred in what it said there et cetera. If however we accept that the Spirit works through the Church leading it into all truth then we can circumvent this problem. Further I don’t think that an appeal to Mt 16:19 is an argument in favour of inerrancy, rather it is an appeal to an event that Mt 16:19 records, i.e. the Church exercise the authority found in Mt 16:19 prior to Mt 16:19 having been recorded.

    I also don’t accept your “all or nothing” (I wish I could recall how to spell the dutch as it has a nice ring to it) take on trustworthiness, in that whilst mens opinions must be tested against something that something need not always be God. I don’t need God to tell me that 1 + 1 = 2. That is mathematically verifiable outside of God.

  164. Richard said,

    July 1, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    TUD: There is a difference, that of emphasis.

  165. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    July 1, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Richard, please just stop. You’re only fooling yourself. You are indeed arguing that the Bible, the Divinely Inspired Word of God, is errant. At least be honest with yourself, if not with others.

    Richard: “I don’t need God to tell me that 1 + 1 = 2. That is mathematically verifiable outside of God.”

    I thought you said you read Bahnsen and Van Til.

  166. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    July 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Richard,

    You mention that you hold to a high ecclesiology. How high? Catholic? Eastern Orthodox? Anglican?

  167. Reed Here said,

    July 1, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Richard, no. 162:

    Hence there is a categorical difference between what it is we are arguing from; my argument is evidence-based whilst yours isn’t. Hence I don’t accept that the flaws you note apply in this case.

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Beyond this, you non-acceptance of the flaws I affirm is not based on my need for autographs vs. your lack of need for them. You seem to keep missing the point (I hope this is all you are doing, not merely refusing to deal with it.)

    Please, deal with the substance of my challenge. Your position rests on an error-prone authority, just as much as the defective inerrancy view you’ve constructed and are arguing against.

    As to what constitutes error, feel free to go back over the series of posts I’ve made here. Spending time dealing with this is just another rabbit trail of pointless value at this stage of the discussion.

  168. Reed Here said,

    July 1, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Richard, no. 163: the reference to Mt 16:19 was not in support of inerrancy. Rather it was offered as support for your church-authority argument.

    Aside from that –

    If however we accept that the Spirit works through the Church leading it into all truth then we can circumvent this problem.

    does not resolve the “how do we know what we know truly is so” dilemma. Again, the nature of any authority outside God’s is that it is error/fallible-prone, and therefore is not ultimately trustworthy.

    Your reference to mathematics does, as TUD suggests, infer that you might benefit from some more close study of Van Til’s thought. From whence does the math flow? God of course. You cannot know mathematics apart from revelation from God (general in this case.)

    Have you ever seen the algebraic proofs used to demonstrate that 1= 2? The dilemma is that the proofs are accuratley applied, yet the result is invalid. This is an example of what I mean by approximation of truth, and the ultimate untrustworthiness of any argument which determinatively rests upon man as authority.

    You cannot escape this Richard. You’ve merely refused to close with the necesssary inferences of your position.

  169. Reed Here said,

    July 1, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Richard: try this – you affirm (snippet):

    that the Spirit works through the Church leading it into all truth

    1. Does the Spirit speak inerrantly or infalliblyt (take your pick) through the Church?
    2. What has happened to the Spirit’s witness in which branches of the Church demonstrably contradict one another as to what the Spirit’s witness actually is?
    3. What kind of inerrancy or infallibility does this leave you with?

    I think dealing with such questions as these will demonstrate that your position is fraught with the same kinds of defeating dilemmas as the self-constructed inerrancy position against which you are arguing.

  170. Pete Myers said,

    July 1, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    #140, Richard,

    Only just looked at this thread again for a few days. In response to this:

    and whether you believe they are valid concerns or not you have (in my assessment) simply dismissed them as being irrelevant and ignored them

    1 – You don’t win any points for trying to level the same criticism that other people have been making at you.
    2 – I haven’t just “dismissed” your position. I have given you – at great length – extensive argument that undermines the presuppositions of your assertions against inerrancy… all of which you have ignored. To now say that I haven’t given any argument, and have simply dismissed your concerns simply demonstrates that you have ignored my critique of your position!

    This comment…

    I concur, Grudem is the lightest, briefest, most simplistic presentation of the inerrancy argument you could read…that is the problem.

    …is demonstrable of the way you totally fail to address the points being made to you head on over and over again. I have argued that you haven’t addressed the inerrancy position, because your critique doesn’t even seem to reflect an understanding of Grudem’s presentation of it (which is a fairly low-key couple of pages affair).

    But, again, no attempt to actually engage with that point, just some cryptic answer where you allude to something that you haven’t demonstrated in the slightest, nor is it even clear what you’re talking about.

    All I have to do is glance above, and at #167, Reed is still having to say this to you:

    Please, deal with the substance of my challenge. Your position rests on an error-prone authority, just as much as the defective inerrancy view you’ve constructed and are arguing against.

    Reed’s having to say to you – again:
    1) You’re not actually dealing with the point I’m making.
    2) You’re not actually engaging with the position I hold to.

    How many times does this have to be said before you take it seriously? You treat this conversation like some kind of game, Richard. This is serious, this is a serious issue.

  171. rfwhite said,

    July 1, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Richard: what are your criteria for accepting a text as autographic?

  172. Richard said,

    July 2, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Dr. White: This is indeed an important consideration, at the most fundamental level however one could never authoritatively determine what text is autographic. Tov notes that, at best, any suggestion of an Urtext is hypothetical. There simply is no way of determining which text was original. More fundamental, should this be our goal? Is the task of textual criticism really to recover the (hypothetical) Urtext? What are we classing as an Urtext? Should we not be attempting to recover the reading of the final form of the text? What then of plural final forms. I know we have gone back to where we were three weeks ago, as far as I recall these issues were never addressed. Do you believe that the existence of a single Urtext can be maintained in the face of the evidence from Qumran which casts severe doubt over that? It is not a problem is you have better things to do!

    Pete: When you get some time read through the following:

    1. The Integrity of the Biblical Canon in Light of Its Historical Development
    2. Questions of Canon Viewed through the Dead Sea Scrolls
    3. The Notion and Definition of Canon
    4. Introduction

    It will help you see the far larger context (I hope).

    Reed: I certainly accept my alternative position needs work, my doubts over inerrancy remain.

  173. rfwhite said,

    July 2, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Richard: So, in light of your answer to my question and the fact that you deny the existence of autographa, it is really not profitable to this discussion for you to insist on a demonstration that this or that verse was autographic. The answer to the question only has meaning to you and Pete if you both grant that the goal of text criticism is to recover the autographs. Since, then, you’re not going to affirm that such is the goal of text criticism, let’s try to move forward on common ground. The verses in question are in the text as received by the church. What do those verses teach about Scripture? Perhaps affirmations and denials would help.

  174. Reed Here said,

    July 2, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Richard, no. 172: hi-jacking Dr. White’s key observations here (no. 173, amen!) …

    So, I’ll take your admission that your position needs work as at least a de facto acknowledgement of my appeal to the essentiality of the self-attesting nature of Scripture. (No onus against your position is intended, or even necessary – it will work fine for arriving where God wants us.)

    Starting from Dr. White’s point, one which you tacitly affirm in your own appeal to Scripture, what do these verses teach about Scripture? Affirmations and denials would make it simple.

  175. Richard said,

    July 3, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Dr White: I agree that common ground needs to be sought. The line of argument that Pete takes rests upon specific verses, yet the logic of what he argues by necessity demands that those specific verses be located in the autographs. This is where, I think, his argument breaks down. In terms of how we interpret these verses is also important as you yourself allude to above.

    If we start with John 17:17 as that has been the lynch pin of Pete’s argument. Accepting that this verse is in the text as received by the church. For Pete the big issue is that it states, “your word is truth”. Immediately there are two question, what does it mean by “word” and what by “truth”? I find St. John to be very dynamic in his use of language, contextually we see in verse 14 Jesus saying “I have given them Your word”. The same problem persists, what specifically is “word” here refering to? Pete would have us believe that it refers to the original autographs, but is this the case?

    Calvin notes that

    “for the word here denotes the doctrine of the Gospel, which the apostles had already heard from the mouth of their Master, and which they were afterwards to preach to others. In this sense Paul says that the Church has been cleansed with the washing of water by the word of life (Eph. 5:26). True, it is God alone who sanctifies; but as the Gospel is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth, (Romans 1:16) whoever departs from the Gospel as the means must become more and more filthy and polluted.”

    For Calvin the Bible is not in view here. Interesting are the comments of St. Augustine,

    “what else did He mean by the words before us, “Sanctify them in the truth,” but, Sanctify them in me? Finally, He proceeds, and doing so fails not to suggest the same with increasing clearness: “Thy speech (sermo) is truth.” What else did He mean than “I am the truth”? For the Greek Gospel has λόγος, which is also the word that is found in the passage where it is said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And that Word at least we know to be the only begotten Son of God, which “was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” Hence also there might have been put here as it actually has been put in certain copies, “Thy Word is truth;” just as in some copies that other passage is written, “In the beginning was the speech.” But in the Greek without any variation it is λόγος in both cases. The Father therefore sanctifies in the truth, that is, in His own Word, in His Only begotten, His own heirs and His (the Son’s) co-heirs.”

    Neither Calvin nor Augustine found a reference to the Bible in Jn. 17:17.

  176. rfwhite said,

    July 3, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Richard: Bear with me, but I’m not sure from your response that you got my point in 173, probably because I didn’t express it well enough. It appears to me that your analysis of the logic of Pete’s argument simply presupposes that the text is not autographic. That claim, that characterization, however, is what your theory tells you: it is a product of your theory of text criticism, which denies the goal of text criticism is to recover the autographic text. That claim is a theoretical critique; it is not, however, a material critique for the simple reason that, even on the terms of your theory of text criticism, the text under consideration is not in question. To put all of this another way, there is no way for Pete to answer your question to your satisfaction because the burden rests with Pete to prove the text’s autographic character, which you don’t accept a priori. Pete could turn around and say the burden of proof is on you to prove that the text is not autographic, but there’s no use in that retort because it is axiomatic for you that the text is not autographic. You and Pete are at an impasse on that point, but the impasse is theoretical, not material, which to say that the impasse is not a matter of what is actually in the text. The text as text is the same, on Pete’s theory or yours.

    As for John 17.17, I don’t read Pete as claiming that the Bible is in view in John 17. He is claiming that that which is the word of God is in view. On other grounds, Pete and you have agreed that the Bible is the word of God. So his claim is that the Bible, as an instantiation of the word of God, is also truth, with the entailments of truth applying also. Maybe I’ve got it wrong; if so, Pete can correct us.

  177. Richard said,

    July 3, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Dr White: I see what you are saying. I don’t think I am assuming or presupposing that the text is not autographic, my starting point in my critique of Pete’s point is that if we accept the existence of an original autograph we simply cannot assume that any verse belongs to it, that would have to be demonstrated prior to any exegesis / interpretation could take place. The weakness, as I see it, is that Pete could be building his argument for inerrancy upon texts that may never have been in the autographs. One the text critical side there is no actual way of determining whether verse x or y were in the autographs / Urtext (cf. Tov). Of course we agree that these verses are in the texts available and belong on our NT, I don’t think however that Pete’s acceptance of it is consistent.

    In terms of Jn. 17:17 I agree, that is how I read Pete. My point is simply that calling the Bible the word of God is our term rather than Scripture’s. When it talks of the word it refers either to Jesus or the preached word hence one shouldn’t fall afoul of anachronism and read our term back into the lips of Jesus. We need to establish what “word” and “truth” means in that context in St. John, I am not 100 per cent convinced that when St. John reported Jesus’ words as “Thy word is truth” he had in view the historical reliability of the Old Testament.

  178. rfwhite said,

    July 3, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Richard: when you assert that “there is no actual way of determining whether verse x or y were in the autographs,” you make my point. Thanks!

  179. Richard said,

    July 3, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Dr White: My pleasure! ;-)

    What do you make of this? -> “The Shorter and Longer Texts of Ezekiel: The Implications of the Manuscript Finds from Masada and Qumran” by Hector Patmore.

    The second-century CE Papyrus 967 contains a Greek version of Ezekiel that is significantly shorter than the Masoretic text. It has been argued that this shorter text reflected an earlier version of the Hebrew that was later expanded to form the text now found in the Masoretic text. Although the manuscript finds of Ezekiel from Qumran and Masada are scant, enough data are available to demonstrate a broadly proto-Masoretic text, which contains sections absent in the pre-Hexaplaric Greek versions. As these finds predate the earliest Greek witness (Papyrus 967) by over 200 years, the conclusion that the shorter text had been expanded becomes seriously questionable. This article argues that the available data are better explained by the conclusion that two different texts of Ezekiel must have been in circulation concurrently for a prolonged period of time and that the historical precedence of either text cannot be established legitimately.

  180. rfwhite said,

    July 3, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Richard: We went down this path before on another post and string. If we chew that cud twice, we’ll get the same result. I’ll just say that, if inerrantists need to update their analysis of the history of the canon, noninerrantists need to work on providing a theology of the canon.

  181. Richard said,

    July 4, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Dr. White: Would you accept Muller’s assessment of the differences between the Protestant orthodox and Hodge/Warfield approach found here?

  182. rfwhite said,

    July 4, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Richard: as you’d appreciate, to accept or reject Muller’s assessment would required that it be considered in its context and in dialogue with the assessment of others. Certainly, a distinction between the work of God relative to apographa and autographa has to be made, as even, for example, the WCF and Warfield recognize.

  183. GLW Johnson said,

    July 7, 2009 at 5:42 am

    Ricjhard
    I addressed this very same appeal to Muller a few weeks ago and you did not respond. You are guilty of reading into Muller something that is not there-it is called ‘cherry picking’- and you have done it more than once with the sources that you appeal to for support.

  184. Richard said,

    July 7, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Gary: I think Muller’s comments are pretty self explanatory.

  185. Reformed Sinner said,

    July 7, 2009 at 11:04 am

    #183, 184:

    Gary, looks like you need to retype or re-refer back to your post about Muller and how Richard has misread him, but obviously Richard either missed that post (I hope) or chose to ignore it and refuse to interact with it.

  186. Richard said,

    July 7, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    RS: Gary’s comment was:

    Muller’s remarks do nothing for your position. He is only drawing out the point that the Protestant orthodox insisted that to claim that errors in the scribal copies,the ‘apographa’, is hardly proof: the claim must be proven of the original ‘autographa’. Muller is in fact arguing that the doctrine of inerrancy preceded Old Princeton -even though the form advanced by Hodge and Warfield put more stock in insisting that the original text -and not copies constituted the inspired work of the writers who were the human instructments of the Holy Spirit-and not the scribes that made copies.

    Now read this.

  187. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    July 7, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Fellow inerrancy interlocutors,

    What do you think of this A Possible Error in the Bible blog post and thread?

    You’ll notice comments by an Aaron Rathburn who also comments on GreenBaggins on this subject.

  188. Reformed Sinner said,

    July 7, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    #187,

    Thanks for the blog. Once again I’m disappointed by the stereotype towards the inerranists – we are only inerranists because of our deductive theological framework. We have shown here alone many times Scripture’s own take on itself being truthful and factual. What doesn’t anybody listen to Scripture’s own cries but assumes the worst in inerranists is truly beyond me.

    I missed the times when people approach a book, any book, and simply take in what the author and the books are trying to say and evaluate the contents accordingly. Erranists, however, approach the Bible with a negative critical view that it is full of errors, and before we can even read it with any intellectual and moral values we need to first correct these errors. I am wondering out loud just who has a predetermined a priori notion towards Scripture.

    Second, as for Mark 2:26 once again it’s the erranists that forces the Bible to either be 100% perfect according to their standard, and not allow any flexibility in human language that we grant each other everyday in this world in all and any cultures, at the end, ironically, erranists wanted an all or nothing solution, and no surprise, the result is nothing (i.e. since the Bible isn’t the way the erranists imagined it would be, the bible must be in error)

    Ok, Mark 2:26. yeah yeah, samuel says Ahimelech but Mark says Abiathar, geez, we have an error, case close, slam dunk, go home inerranists. Not quite.

    Mark says (or Jesus says) Abiathar the high priest, why? Simple, it’s acceptable way of communication that highlights an important historical event with famous person and the famous title associated with that person, even if that title is earned much later. I remember when the media was reporting how GWBush avoided serving in Vietname the headline regularly reads “President” Bush even when describing events that are before the time he was President.

    I’m sorry but Mark 2.26, as much a big deal as erranists make this to be, is really not that big of a deal when you really read the Bible the way it is written, God’s Word in HUMAN forms. Ironically, erranists refuse to accept that and would rather call them errors.

  189. Todd said,

    July 7, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    To add to Reformed Sinner’s post, we have the same dynamic in Luke 3:2 where both Annas and his son-in-law Caiaphas are called high priests. Often while the older one held the official office, the younger served in that compacity for all practical purposes, thus both receiving the titles. Same thing likely occuring with Abiathar and Ahimelech. With such a large Bible full of historical information, this is a really a smoking gun?

    Todd

  190. Ron Henzel said,

    July 7, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Regarding comment #187: the “A Possible Error in the Bible?” article is an unfortunately clumsy and sadly ill-informed treatment of inerrancy. The author appears to be a young man, and so perhaps he can be excused for not having participated in the inerrancy debates of the late-’70s and early-’80s. But the fact that he does not show any awareness of the fact that inerrantists hold that their view of Scripture is far more than a deduction from what Scripture teaches about the nature of God, but rather is based squarely on what Scripture teaches about itself makes me wonder to what extent his ignorance is shared by others of his generation. The fact that this could be true of someone who writes, “I believe in inerrancy,” is appalling.

  191. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    July 7, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Ron,

    Here’s another post by C. Michael Patton that explains his position on inerrancy a bit further: My Definite Stance on Inerrancy.

  192. Ron Henzel said,

    July 8, 2009 at 5:16 am

    Truth Unites,

    I’m not sure what the author is doing in the article to which you linked in comment 191. I have to admit, my first reaction to it was that it’s like reading a first semester, first year Bible college student’s paper on a topic that he has just started learning about. He has now grown out of a “Gnostic view of Scripture” that (per his description) meets the criteria of both the dictation theory of inspiration as well as Enlightenment standards of scientific precision in recording historical facts? While I’m glad he shed his previous view, I would like to think that he would not have made such an infelicitous comparison had he done a little digging to discover that the Gnostics had their own scriptures, and his characterization of their view of inspiration is inconsistent with the manner in which they handled canonical Scripture. I have never seen a place in Gnostic scholarship where their view of either canon (theirs or the true one) was ever spelled out. He is simply making up caricatures on the fly here.

    On the other hand, he seems to be acquainted with the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, since he cited it in a blog post back in 2007. The question that arises in my mind then is why he doesn’t simply save himself a lot of time and some of his readers potential confusion by actually citing it and interacting with it. Has he read the whole thing? Is he aware that he is treading on a well-beaten path?

    As for his most recent article: why he settles on Mark 2:26 as being the most challenging text for inerrancy is quite beyond me. It seems obvious that given the sparseness of the phrase ἐπὶ Ἀβιαθὰρ ἀρχιερέως, the issue rises and falls entirely based on translation.

  193. GLW Johnson said,

    July 8, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Richard
    I can only conclude that you are unable-or completely unwilling- to see anything but your own preconcieved notions in practically everything you read.

  194. Cally said,

    August 10, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Dear Reed,

    I apologize I haven’t had time to dialog on this blog, but wanted to give you an idea about the inerrancy/errancy debate. I have a book called:

    An Introduction to Error Analysis the Study of Uncertainties in Physical Measurements by John R. Taylor

    I thought if you could read it and change some of the words in it it might help this debate. I realize you may not understand how this relates and may delete this message for it, but please pray about it.

    You see scientists are extremely busy people too and are hardly ever home and he simply wrote in the inside:

    To My Wife

    I hope you will understand someday how this relates. I’ll change the first sentence into more of a theological bent for it has helped me understand your position somewhat:

    Here is what the first sentence in the book has written:

    All measurements, however careful and scientific, are subject to some uncertainties.

    Here is how I apply it to my faith:

    All biblical text, however carefully and wonderfully written to the highest extent of the law meaning without errors are subject to some uncertainties.

    I need to go…..too much to do.

    Thanks for starting this debate it has helped me find some answers to some questions I have had in my head for a long time.

    Good luck on finding your answers as well.

    Cally

  195. Paige Britton said,

    August 11, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Hey, Cally,
    if you don’t mind me commenting on your note to Reed, I just thought you might adjust your application of the scientist’s quote a little, and then it would be a better reflection of what Christians do when they read and interpret the biblical text (whether they are lay people like you and me, or pastors, or scholars).

    Since it’s the “measurement” that is “subject to some uncertainties,” we need to say that our measurement, or interpretation, of the biblical text is subject to some uncertainties, not the text itself. (Though we have to be clear that we mean “the text” in its original form, not translations, which are interpretations. More about that below.)

    Sometimes the uncertainties of our “measurements” are pretty significant, because we are separated by time and language from the original meaning of the text (that’s when you get the footnote that says “the exact meaning of this term in Hebrew is uncertain”). But even though there are gaps in vocabulary here and there, this kind of “big” uncertainty doesn’t interfere with our knowing the big and important truths of God’s character and actions, or the gospel of Jesus.

    Sometimes the uncertainties come because a word or phrase or passage might be taken in one or two ways, and other Scriptures that seem more clear must be brought in to help explain things. (This is where you get debates over things like infant baptism or the meaning of the “head covering” in 1 Cor. 11.) It can be hard to judge between the arguments presented on the different sides of these issues, but increasing our knowledge of the Bible and also of the major theological systems within Christianity can help us get an idea of which people are arguing with the best understanding.

    Sometimes the uncertainties come because we are foolish or irreverent or determined to do our own thing, despite what God’s Word says. I guess you know the solution to that kind of uncertainty!

    Even though I say that translations themselves are interpretations, and therefore subject to some uncertainty, this doesn’t mean that we can’t know God or his gospel or his will for our lives from the Scriptures. He has chosen to communicate his revelation to us in human language, and his word will accomplish its work. But all of us — lay people, pastors, and scholars — need to hold our “measurements” (our interpretations and doctrines) with a degree of humility and teachableness, always seeking to reevaluate our conclusions and listen to other arguments. (Note that this does NOT mean we are always to expect to CHANGE our conclusions every other day — only that we keep looking to see that we have done our homework in the right spirit and haven’t overlooked anything.)

    Sometimes, by the way, especially as we are at the beginning of learning the Scriptures for ourselves, we are not going to be able to choose between different interpretations, because it’s just too confusing! At this point the best thing to do is to set aside a matter till we have more information (which in some cases will only come when we are with the Lord in heaven!), or, if it seems important, lean on the teaching of trustworthy pastors & scholars.

    Remember that if we can’t confess that the text itself is inerrant, we can’t be confident that God has really communicated to us, and we will begin to pick and choose which parts we are going to take seriously and which parts we are going to ignore. You can guess how that turns out!

    I want to invite you to read a little more about this in an article that I wrote for people like you and me, who are probably not seminary students or professors, but who have to cope with the competing interpretations we hear from different Christian sources. You can find it at the website of the World Reformed Fellowship, which has a lot of articles on a lot of topics that might interest you.

    Go to http://www.wrfnet.org, and click on the line “More Current Issues.” Then you will see a list of titles of articles. Look down the list for “Protestantism’s Dangerous Idea.” If you can’t find it, write me here and I’ll try to direct you better.

    Blessings!
    Paige B.

  196. Reformed Sinner said,

    August 11, 2009 at 10:03 am

    #194 Cally,

    Once again I read in your husband’s answer a misconception about inerrant Bible. Inerrancy doesn’t mean the Bible’s measurements are perfect when perfect is defined as the exact Nth possible decimal number. Inerrancy means the Bible is without error in everything it teaches and itself assumes to be true, and doesn’t purposely use error just to make it easier to accept for ancient human beings.

    So the Bible will have no problem using common human techniques such as round numbers, etc. That doesn’t mean the Bible is in error when it isn’t perfect the way we modern 21st century humans define mathematical perfection.

    Remember in math class back in elementary school: round up 3.5 – answer = 4, CORRECT!

  197. Reed Here said,

    August 11, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Cally, #194: not having time to read what you asked, let me ask you to accept both Paige’s insight (#195) and Dr. White’s (#196) as helpful responses to your query.

    Thanks!

  198. Reformed Sinner said,

    August 11, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Am I known as Dr. White now… :)

  199. Reed Here said,

    August 12, 2009 at 6:27 am

    RS: Ooops! Hopefully you’ll take that as a compliment. :)

  200. rfwhite said,

    August 12, 2009 at 7:47 am

    RS & Reed: I resemble that remark. Uh, wait … :-)

  201. Cally said,

    August 23, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks for your response! I’ll need to mull over it later as I have gotten behind at work and home and need to catch up with that first.

    Paige I did read over your response and appreciate the ability to bring it home for me. I work quite a bit with science and math and understand the uncertainties found within both.

    The bible as well has uncertainties, but not errors. It is foundational to life, therefore more applicable to living a very vibrant existence! I view the bible more like calculus even though we approach the text we will never fully understand it.

    I think there is a verse or two about not understanding the Creator. And in the end the main goal of the text is to love others and God. If we lose that ability than there is no reason to debate something that may destroy peoples’ lives.

    I hope you have a good day!


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