Sunday, August 22, 2010
What if you drew a picture of a man in a boat, and the man looked up at you and said, "I don't want to be in this boat. I want to be on land. Anyway, you don't even exist and I can do what I want because this picture is about me!"
She said, "I would erase him!"
I said, "I'm glad you're not God."
Friday, August 20, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
This is not a mere "modern" position. As we have seen, it is the position of Scripture itself. Augustine in the fifth century declared, "None of these (scriptural) authors has erred in any respect of writing." Infallibility4 is affirmed in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 1 and in the Belgic Confession, Article 7.
Shall we speak today of biblical "inerrancy?" The term does, to be sure, produce confusion in some circles. Some theologians have gone far astray from the dictionary meaning of "inerrant." James Orr, for example, defined "inerrant" as "hard and fast literality in minute matters of historical, geographical, and scientific detail."5 Well, if "inerrancy" requires literalism, then we should renounce inerrancy; for the Bible is not always to be interpreted literally. Certainly there are important questions of Bible interpretation that one bypasses if he accepts biblical inerrancy in this sense.
But we should remember that Orr's use of the term, and the similar uses of contemporary theologians, are distortions of its meaning. Perhaps those distortions have become so frequent today as to inhibit the usefulness of the term. For the time being, however, I would like to keep the term, and explain to people who question me that I am not using it in Orr's sense, but rather to confess the historic faith of the church.
We do have a problem here: Other things being equal, I would prefer to drop all extra-scriptural terms including "infallible" and "inerrant" and simply speak, as Scripture does, of God's Word being true. That's all we mean, after all, when we say Scripture is inerrant. But modern theologians won't let me do that. They redefine "truth" so that it refers to some big theological notion6 , and they will not permit me to use it as meaning "correctness" or "accuracy" or "reliability." So I try the word "infallible," a historical expression that, as I indicated in a footnote above, is actually a stronger term than "inerrancy." But again, modern theologians7 insist on redefining that word also, so that it actually says less than "inerrancy."
Now what is our alternative? Even "accuracy" and "reliability" have been distorted by theological pre-emption. "Correctness" seems too trivial to express what we want to say. So, although the term is overly technical and subject to some misunderstanding, I intend to keep the word "inerrant" as a description of God's Word, and I hope that my readers will do the same. The idea, of course, is more important than the word. If I can find better language that expresses the biblical doctrine to modern hearers, I will be happy to use that and drop "inerrancy." But at this moment, "inerrancy" has no adequate replacement. To drop the term in the present situation, then, can involve compromising the doctrine, and that we dare not do. God will not accept or tolerate negative human judgments concerning his holy Word. So I conclude: yes, the Bible is inerrant.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The BioLogos Foundation exists in order that the Church, especially the Evangelical Church, can come to peace with the scientific data which shows unequivocally that the universe is very old and that all of life, including humankind, has been created through a gradual process that has been taking place over the past few billion years. BioLogos exists to show that this fact (and it is a fact), need not, indeed must not, affect our relationship with God, which comes about through Jesus Christ, and is experienced by the power of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence. (Emphasis added)
Monday, August 16, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
This installment simply attempts to define the doctrine, and Jimenez has defined it well. To accomplish this, he cites the following quotations:
"If God cannot err, and the original text was breathed out by God, then it follows that the original text of the Bible is without error." ~Norman Geisler"Inspiration is the supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit, who through the different personalities and literary styles of the chosen human authors invested the very words of the original books of Holy Scripture, alone and in their entirety, as the very Word of God without error in all that they teach or imply (including history and science), and the Bible is thereby the infallible rule and final authority for faith and practice of all believers." ~Norman Geisler“There is one human characteristic the Bible does not have: errors.” ~Norman Geisler“inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact” ~Wayne Grudem
From all I’ve seen, I think you offer a good survey of the inerrantist position here. More could be said, or course, about the qualifications regarding genre, authorial intent, phenomenological language, acknowledged imprecision, etc. but you have correctly stated the core concept in my opinion. It’s always helpful to define terms.Another commenter gave a lengthy treatise describing his rejection of the doctrine. In it, he stated the following:
I think we have to determine the difference between the words fact and truth. I would say Scripture is fully true, but might not be error-free in its fact presentations.
The greatest example, of which even inerrantists (is that a word) would agree, is the idea that parables are not fact. They teach truth, no doubt. But they are not factual stories. It is a fact that Jesus told parables. But the parables, in themselves, are not fact. But they are truth.
And I think this is where modern Christians get mixed up. So we must note such a difference when we read in 2 Samuel 7:16 the report of Nathan’s prophecy to David – And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. And then read what 1 Chronicles 17:14 reports – but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.
From a factual standpoint, one or both could be wrong. But the truth is communicated in both accounts . . .
This reasoning is absurd. First, regarding the parables, inerrancy is not the least bit threatened by an acknowledgement that parables are fictional stories. Inerrancy recognizes the use of literary genres within the Bible, and in fact demands that we interpret them accordingly. It calls us to interpret parables as parables and doesn't demand more from the text than Jesus Himself meant to put into it.
The commenter goes on to cross hermeneutical lines and apply parable logic to historical narratives. But the genre-specific rules of interpretation cannot be transferred in this way. We have to treat historical narrative as historical narrative. Dealing with parallel accounts of a historical event can be challenging, but not so challenging that we have to pretend the actual history is false or irrelevant. In the two texts, God Himself is quoted as speaking "for real," at a specific time and place in history, to a specific person, about specific events, through the prophet Nathan (who was a real historical person). It's not a parable, and it can't be treated like a parable. The two accounts may appear to contradict, but neither account can be "wrong" in any way. It is likely that Nathan the prophet uttered both statements, but each writer, guided by the Holy Spirit, included the particular statement that was most suitable to his purpose (this is a common phenomenon in Scripture - and such omissions are not errors). It is certain that the apparent contradiction between the two accounts was intentionally placed there by the Holy Spirit - the Breather of Scripture - in order to get our attention. In a very real sense, which the Holy Spirit surely wants us to recognize, the throne of Solomon is a continuation of the throne of David. The house and kingdom of David are ultimately the house an d kingdom of God, through which He will send His own Son. Problem solved, inerrancy held intact. This is a classic example of a textual paradox, which is neither contradictory nor erroneous.
Not only does the commenter's approach dismantle precious Biblical Truth and erode the authority of Scripture by its erroneous assertions, it also misses the beautiful and edifying POINT of the texts it butchers. May God keep us from fallaciously rationalizing away inerrancy in this manner. We can recognize that there are Bible difficulties without conceding that there are Bible errors. Instead of affirming errors, we should seek explanations that are consistent with the character of the Book.
Jimenez's next post in the series will attempt to trace the historical origins of the doctrine of inerrancy. While I do not expect to agree with his ultimate conclusions, and I will probably argue against them vigorously, I hope to enjoy a good education along the way.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are called to show the reality of their discipleship by humbly and faithfully obeying God's written Word. To stray from Scripture in faith or conduct is disloyalty to our Master. Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority.
The following Statement affirms this inerrancy of Scripture afresh, making clear our understanding of it and warning against its denial. We are persuaded that to deny it is to set aside the witness of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit and to refuse that submission to the claims of God's own Word which marks true Christian faith. We see it as our timely duty to make this affirmation in the face of current lapses from the truth of inerrancy among our fellow Christians and misunderstandings of this doctrine in the world at large.
We offer this Statement in a spirit, not of contention, but of humility and love, which we purpose by God's grace to maintain in any future dialogue arising out of what we have said. We gladly acknowledge that many who deny the inerrancy of Scripture do not display the consequences of this denial in the rest of their belief and behavior, and we are conscious that we who confess this doctrine often deny it in life by failing to bring our thoughts and deeds, our traditions and habits, into true subjection to the divine Word.
1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God's witness to Himself.
2. Holy Scripture, being God's own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God's instruction, in all that it affirms: obeyed, as God's command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God's pledge, in all that it promises.
3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture's divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God's acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God's saving grace in individual lives.
5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible's own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.
By authenticating each other's authority, Christ and Scripture coalesce into a single fount of authority. The Biblically-interpreted Christ and the Christ-centered, Christ-proclaiming Bible are from this standpoint one. As from the fact of inspiration we infer that what Scripture says, God says, so from the revealed relation between Jesus Christ and Scripture we may equally declare that what Scripture says, Christ says.lnfallible signifies the quality of neither misleading nor being misled and so safeguards in categorical terms the truth that Holy Scripture is a sure, safe, and reliable rule and guide in all matters.Similarly, inerrant signifies the quality of being free from all falsehood or mistake and so safeguards the truth that Holy Scripture is entirely true and trustworthy in all its assertions.The truthfulness of Scripture is not negated by the appearance in it of irregularities of grammar or spelling, phenomenal descriptions of nature, reports of false statements (e.g., the lies of Satan), or seeming discrepancies between one passage and another. It is not right to set the so-called "phenomena" of Scripture against the teaching of Scripture about itself. Apparent inconsistencies should not be ignored. Solution of them, where this can be convincingly achieved, will encourage our faith, and where for the present no convincing solution is at hand we shall significantly honor God by trusting His assurance that His Word is true, despite these appearances, and by maintaining our confidence that one day they will be seen to have been illusions.Since the Renaissance, and more particularly since the Enlightenment, world-views have been developed which involve skepticism about basic Christian tenets. Such are the agnosticism which denies that God is knowable, the rationalism which denies that He is incomprehensible, the idealism which denies that He is transcendent, and the existentialism which denies rationality in His relationships with us. When these un- and anti-biblical principles seep into men's theologies at [a] presuppositional level, as today they frequently do, faithful interpretation of Holy Scripture becomes impossible.Since the Renaissance, and more particularly since the Enlightenment, world-views have been developed which involve skepticism about basic Christian tenets. Such are the agnosticism which denies that God is knowable, the rationalism which denies that He is incomprehensible, the idealism which denies that He is transcendent, and the existentialism which denies rationality in His relationships with us. When these un- and anti-biblical principles seep into men's theologies at [a] presuppositional level, as today they frequently do, faithful interpretation of Holy Scripture becomes impossible.In our affirmation of the authority of Scripture as involving its total truth, we are consciously standing with Christ and His apostles, indeed with the whole Bible and with the main stream of Church history from the first days until very recently. We are concerned at the casual, inadvertent, and seemingly thoughtless way in which a belief of such far-reaching importance has been given up by so many in our day.We are conscious too that great and grave confusion results from ceasing to maintain the total truth of the Bible whose authority one professes to acknowledge. The result of taking this step is that the Bible which God gave loses its authority, and what has authority instead is a Bible reduced in content according to the demands of one's critical reasonings and in principle reducible still further once one has started. This means that at bottom independent reason now has authority, as opposed to Scriptural teaching. If this is not seen and if for the time being basic evangelical doctrines are still held, persons denying the full truth of Scripture may claim an evangelical identity while methodologically they have moved away from the evangelical principle of knowledge to an unstable subjectivism, and will find it hard not to move further.We affirm that what Scripture says, God says. May He be glorified. Amen and Amen.
Monday, August 09, 2010
I recently posted links to Dr. James Anderson's article, I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution, which is a partial-refutation/review of a book by the same title. The book was written by Denis Lamoreaux as an attempt to harmonize belief in Scripture with faith in biological evolution.
The stakes are high. These are gospel issues. Lamoureux may well be correct about what it takes to accept evolution, as he defines it; but if he is, then precisely because I love Jesus, I cannot accept evolution. Fortunately, his scientific arguments put me under little pressure to do so."