Inerrancy from the Peanut Gallery

galleryI had a commenter leave a few challenges against the doctrine of inerrancy under a recent post of mine. He asked in such a way that he comes across pious and reverent of God’s Word, but I believe he is insincere.

Knowing that many readers will encounter similar individuals, I thought I would offer my responses here on the front page of the blog. I won’t respond to everything, but here are some selected comments.

It might be helpful for you to define what you mean by “inerrancy”?

I thought I provided a clear enough definition in my posts, but if a formal definition is required, inerrancy would simply be “The Bible is without error.”

Knowing that my detractor will be far from satisfied with such a simplistic and easy definition, I will expand upon it a bit more by citing Wayne Grudem. He writes at great length on the attributes of Scripture in his systematic theology [chapters 2-8, 47-140], and sums up the doctrine of inerrancy by stating,

We will not at this point repeat the arguments concerning the authority of Scripture that were given in chapter 4. There it was argued that all the words in the Bible are God’s words, and that therefore to disbelieve or disobey any word in Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God. It was argued further that the Bible clearly teaches that God cannot lie or speak falsely (2 Samuel 7:28; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). Therefore, all words in Scripture are claimed to be completely true and without error in any part (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 12:6; 119:89, 96; Proverbs 30:5; Matthew 24:35). God’s words are, in fact, the ultimate standard of truth (John 17:17) [Grudem, 90].

The doctrine of inerrancy is brought into focus as we consider what the whole of Scripture teaches about itself. Inerrancy, then, does not exist as a stand alone doctrine, but is supported by the doctrine of inspiration and infallibility, doctrines affirmed throughout the entirety of the Bible. An inspired, or God breathed revelation, will be both infaillible and inerrant, because it reflects the character of the holy, truthful God who breathed out Scripture.

The Bible makes zero claims to inerrancy. Not one. Not for “the Bible,” not even for “scripture.” The claims to “inerrancy” are a human construct, not a biblical one. Not something “from God…” at least not in any direct manner. It is, at best, a belief reached using human reasoning, extrapolating the idea from (very little in) the Bible.

That is a typical claim by biblio-skeptics. Jack Rogers, who once fought against Harold Lindsell over the authority of Scripture, popularized the urban legend that the concept of inerrancy was an invention by Fundamentalists in the late 1800s and early 1900s when they were battling modernistic creep in the church.

But anyone who is just the wee bit familiar with church history knows that Christians have always believed in inerrancy because the Bible affirms it. The claim made by my detractor, that the Bible “makes zero claims to inerrancy,” causes me to wonder how much of the Bible he has actually read, or at least, paid attention to when he read it.

While it is true that the exact word “inerrancy” is not directly used in the Bible, the Bible presupposes the doctrine of inerrancy throughout its pages, and appeals to it as a final, infallible source of authority. Both Jews and Christians have historically affirmed that presupposition.

Time prevents me from fleshing this out in full, but to highlight a handful of significant truth:

The biblical writers, both in the OT and the NT, refer to the Bible as the “Word of God” or the “Word of the LORD,” and when speaking to the authority of Scripture, use such expressions as “it is written,” and “thus saith the Lord” hundreds of times. Also, the Scriptures are called “the law of the LORD,” “the testimony of the LORD,” “the commandments of the LORD,” and “the judgments of the LORD” throughout the Old Testament. In fact, Psalm 119, the longest Psalm that specifically exalts the authority of Scripture, describes the Bible multiple times by repeatedly using those descriptors and variations.

Coming to the NT, Jesus had an extremely high view of Scripture’s authority, infallibility, and inerrancy. He held the OT to be historically true, completely authoritative, and divinely inspired. He believed that the God of the OT was living, and the OT Scriptures were the teachings of the living God. When Jesus taught, it is clear He believed what Scripture said is what God Almighty had said.

Consider that Jesus treated the OT as genuine historical narrative, not allegory or moral tales. The Bible for Jesus recorded history that really happened in time and space. He refers to Abel (Luke 11:51), Noah (Matthew 24:37), Abraham (John 8:56), Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15; 11:23-24), Lot (Luke 17:28-32), Issac and Jacob (Matthew 8:11; Luke 13:28), the giving of manna (John 6:31, 49, 58), The serpent on the pole (John 3:14), David (Mark 2:25; 12:36; Luke 6:3-4; 20:42), Solomon (Matthew 6:29; Luke 11:31), Elijah (Luke 4:25-26), Elisha (Luke 4:27), Jonah (Matthew 12:39-41; Luke 11:29-32) and Zechariah (Luke 11:51).  In fact, in Luke 11:51, Jesus had a clear sense of the scope and unity of biblical history when He says, “From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.”

Moreover, Jesus repeatedly refers to Moses as the law giver, (Matthew 8:4; 19:8; Mark 1:44; 7:10; 10:5; 12:26; Luke 5:14; 20:37; John 5:46; 7:19) and the historicity of the OT events. Jesus even appeals to Genesis 1 and 2 as the authority on what God has said about marriage and divorce. Additionally, he speaks of Noah and the worldwide flood (Matthew 24:37), the divine destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 11:23-24), and notes the demise of Lot’s wife (Luke 17:26-32).

He also held high the infallible authority of the OT to correct the Pharisees and Sadducees when they attempted to challenge Him, appealed to the OT as a guide to ethics, refuted the devil by appealing to the OT, and when Christ appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Luke says that “beginning with Moses and all the prophets,” (Luke 24:25-47), He showed how all the OT Scripture pointed to and were fulfilled in Him. All of those conversations would be questionable, if not entirely in doubt, if Jesus did not believe the Bible was inerrant.

The NT writers also had an equal view of the OT being their supreme authority. Without having to recount the many citations of the OT found in the key epistles of the NT, it is clear that all the apostles recognized the Scriptures were sufficiently inerrant as they recounted history and ethics.  They were considered the “very words of God,” (Romans 3:2).

Take for example Paul’s well-known proclamation about the Scriptures in his second letter to Timothy where he writes, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If the Scriptures are errant, there is no point in appealing to them in the fashion that Paul did. An errant Scripture has no real authority to offer any meaningful correction or training in righteousness because it is constantly in doubt.

The Bible is a human compilation. Humans decided that this Protestant collection of 66 books are “as Scripture” for us and we hold them to be sacred texts.

Regrettably, that comment is typical of many churched individuals in our day, and demonstrates a profound ignorance of church history throughout many so-called evangelical congregations.

The key problem with the objection, and coming from a person who insists he loves the Bible and has read and studied it for decades, is how the divine element involved in the formation of Scripture is absent or intentionally removed out of the discussion. If the Bible is God-breathed, as I just noted above, then God’s fingerprints are on the development, collection, transmission, and even preservation of those documents that are Scripture. God would hardly breathe out Scripture, and then allow it to fall through the cracks of time, becoming corrupted and thus uncertain or lost.

The objection merely fixates upon the fact men were involved with identifying the books that form the canon of both the OT and the NT. Yet it is seen in the very pages of Scripture that while men were the instruments in proclaiming and then documenting the Word of God that became what we know as Scripture, God’s Spirit was always involved in the process of its writing, and then its identification, and eventual transmission.

God wanted to communicate with His redeemed people, and He specifically brought them to be a “people of the book.” That is true both in the OT as well as in the NT. Paul says for example in Romans 3:2, that Israel was entrusted with the oracles of God. An entire scribal class within the tribe of Levi was developed that maintained the writings of the OT. The Levitical priests were to read and teach the Scripture to the people.

While the formation of the NT may had been slightly different, the Christians in the early church were also a people of the book, and they began gathering the writing of men they knew were apostles. Within the first century, Christians were collecting the writings of Paul, the four Gospels, as well as other epistles, and circulating them among the various churches where groups of Christians would also copy those letters. Those collections became identified as the beginnings of what is today our NT.

There has been much written on the subject of the canon, but I am not surprised that my detractor seems oblivious to those studies, because he has such a low view of the doctrine of infallibility. Those who are interested, will benefit greatly from Michael Kruger, who is probably one of the leading authorities on the development of the canon. As an introduction for those wishing to have a better grasp answering objections about the canon of Scripture, Dr. Kruger has written a series of ten articles addressing misconceptions about the NT canon. Those who wish to dig deeper into this topic will greatly benefit from his book, Canon Revisited.

Moving to one final response,

I had written in this post the following statement,

durstGod safeguards the transmission of His written revelation through the thousands of copies handwritten by His people, both during the time of the OT and the time of the NT.

My detractor, writing in rebuttal stated, Can we agree that this is an unsupported human opinion, not a fact, and not in any way at all directly biblical?

It is not entirely clear what he believes is “unsupported human opinion.” Is it my assertion about God safeguarding the transmission of His revelation? Is my detractor now saying God doesn’t, or is perhaps powerless to, safeguard the transmission of His revelation? Or is it that he doesn’t believe God did it through the means of thousands of copies handwritten by His people?

I would firmly maintain that God most definitely has the ability to safeguard the transmission of His revelation. I mean, if we acknowledge that God is our sovereign creator, sustainer, and savior, He most certainly has the power to keep His divine revelation as contained in the pages of Scripture in the hands of His people down through the course of history.

Additionally, I further maintain that God used the means of His people to faithfully copy His revelation during the time of the OT and NT. And, as anyone knows who has the least bit of familiarity with textual criticism, the people of God who made those faithful copies did a remarkable job – dare I even say “miraculous” like there was a divine hand directing the process. The copying was so complete and well-done that even with the numerous, but inconsequential, textual variants, we can know with 100% accuracy what God originally stated.

Now does that mean there are no variants that are problematic and are debated among Christians over the centuries. Of course not. But it does show what I originally asserted: God has safeguarded the transmission of His revelation as it is contained in Scripture, and He has done so faithfully over the course of many years with the use of people copying thousands of manuscripts.

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24 thoughts on “Inerrancy from the Peanut Gallery

  1. I sometimes want to apply the whole “the Bible doesn’t directly mention” line to the “I want Christianity without the theology” crowd’s favorite hobby horse doctrines and turn their arguments against them. Guess what other English words aren’t in the Bible?

    Equality.
    Environmentalism.
    Compassion
    Humanitarianism
    etc.

    Then again, many eventually DO go there and just become full on liberals or outright atheists, though they still hang on to their “I stole this from the Bible” morality, for some reason. It’s as if the law of God were written on their…oh wait. That’s in the Bible too!

    Doh!

  2. Thank you, Fred, for the many thoughts in response to my questions. Even if they are not direct answers to the questions being asked, you have offered a great deal of opinion and I appreciate the effort. There is a lot to wade through here, so first, a few preliminary points.

    1. You said…

    I had a commenter leave a few challenges against the doctrine of inerrancy under a recent post of mine. He asked in such a way that he comes across pious and reverent of God’s Word, but I believe he is insincere.

    Beginning this response with an ad hom attack about my motives does not bode well for respectful conversation, brother. You may doubt my intelligence, you may doubt my conclusions, I am but a poor sinner, an imperfect human with imperfect conclusions. I beg your grace and patience if I display any lack of intelligence.

    However, my sincerity is profound and you have no reason to doubt it. I am exactly who I say I am: Dan Trabue, 52, of Louisville, KY, raised at Victory Memorial Baptist Church on Southern Pkway for the first 22 years of my life – a very traditional, conservative Southern Baptist congregation that taught me the Bible, taught me to love the Bible and taught me to take it seriously. Saved at the age of ten in a church revival, rededicated my life to Jesus in a more adult manner at the age of 16 at a retreat at a Baptist Camp called Ridgecrest.

    Married for 30 years, faithful to my wife, loving to my two children, currently attending Jeff St Baptist Community at Liberty in downtown Louisville, KY. This is what many would call a more progressive and “anabaptist-y” Christian congregation and I’m there because that is where my faith journey has led me, as I read the Bible I love, took it seriously as I was taught and reached this point in my life through sincerely following Jesus.

    Am I able to be mistaken? Oh yes, dear brothers, I am a flawed and imperfect human being entirely capable of being mistaken. Am I insincere? Of course not, and nothing I have said should have given you cause to think that. And, as noted, an attack on my supposed motives (based NOT on you knowing me at all, but on a few words in a few weeks’ worth of conversation) is just an ad hom fallacy, a distraction from the questions at hand.

    So, please, dear brother Fred, let’s stick to the topics and be respectful and grace-full as we converse.

    Agreed?

    In Christ,

    Dan

  3. 2. You said…

    I thought I provided a clear enough definition in my posts, but if a formal definition is required, inerrancy would simply be “The Bible is without error.”

    And I am fine with that definition, as far as it goes. But it does immediately beg a question.

    Here, I read Genesis and find it clearly to have been written in a mythic genre style. And, since understanding genre and literary tropes is an important first step to understanding Scripture which we love and take seriously, I take note of that.

    You read Genesis, on the other hand, and find it to be, in your opinion, written in a literally factual historic style, like what we’d find in more modern histories.

    Now, supposing that Genesis is “without error,” we immediately have a problem with human interpretation. Both interpretations (reached with sincere human reasoning on both our parts) can’t be factually correct. So, the very first problem with referring to any text as “inerrant,” is that it actually depends on the human interpretation is without error. Even if a text is “inerrant,” it’s only inerrant insofar as the human interpretation of the text is without error.

    I would imagine we could agree on this much, yes?

    3. A follow up question, then, is immediately begged: Whose interpretation is correct? Based on what authority? Do we objectively know with authoritative confidence what the intent was of the author or if the author was correct in his/her intent? Says who/based on what authority?

    Now, my answer to this question is that we obviously don’t/can’t know authoritatively. We can’t ask the author(s) to verify and there is no one authority to go to to receive confirmation.

    Now, certainly, you and I both will pray for God’s guidance, seek to understand the text and the context, the language and the customs, etc, but ultimately, as a simple point of fact, it comes down to two human opinions. This is just a fact.

    Agreed?

    Now, having said that, just that we have two unprovable human opinions on an interpretation does not make them equally valid. It’s entirely possible for two people to sincerely read a text, sincerely reach different conclusions, but one of them is just hard to accept as a rational conclusion.

    For instance, two people could read Jesus’ command to pluck your eye out if it offends you. One person recognizes that Jesus is clearly speaking figuratively, using hyperbole to make a point. The other person insists we must take the Bible literally, and especially Jesus’ commands literally and believes that we should literally pluck our eyes out if they cause us to lust or otherwise sin. Just because the two sincerely reach their opinions using their reasoning does not make them equally valid or rational.

    Agreed?

    But the point I’m making here is an important one and that is that our human opinions about unprovable topics/interpretations ARE our human opinions and they are unprovable, even if one interpretation seems more likely than the other. There is no authoritative source to go to in order to verify the intent of the author.

    Agreed?

    I’ll stop there for now, give you a chance to respond.

    Dan

  4. Mennoknight…

    Guess what other English words aren’t in the Bible?

    Equality.
    Environmentalism.
    Compassion
    Humanitarianism

    Agreed, Menno, they aren’t in the Bible. But we work for these things, regardless. You know why I and my tribe do so? Because they are right ideals to work towards. And how do we know they are right? Because they promote that which is good, noble, pure, loving, healthy, whole, sustainable, just, etc.

    My point, Menno (may I call you Menno?) is that we strive for moral ideals NOT because there is some line in the Bible saying this is good or that is bad, but because they are right. They promote good, oppose harm.

    My point is that treating the Bible as a rulebook for 21st century living is not rational or biblical. The Bible is a book of Truths, not a history, science or rule book. Could we agree on that?

    Are you a mennonite, by the way?

    Peace, brother,

    Dan

  5. A great many Rabbis that write about evolution accept that , see no conflict as Genesis is the beginning of the history of the Hebrew people not the beginning of the world or universe. Ancient people were just too advanced in physical science, mathematics and astronomy to take Genesis literally. Perhaps the history parts have validity but the 7 days stuff is nonsense. However, this should not diminish Genesis for its spiritual value, theological value and unique Hebrew identity.
    The NT letters of Paul may be argued theologically but his words as recorded are true and accurate as to what he preached and a record of his travels. The intent of Paul is very clear.

    Does Jesus speak figuratively or literally? Literally when quoting Torah or referring to Moses and prophets but His message expressed quite regularly in parables . Then he had to explained them to the people allegorically. Of course there should be not question as to the intent of Jesus and the validity of the spirit of His teaching. Science and religion are on two different planes in the first place and they do not intersect. There should be no expectation that science and religion are parallel or congruent. However, the Bible is a valuable reference for archaeology and cultural anthropology and history and charitable living.

  6. While waiting for you to respond to my first comments and questions, I’ll go ahead and move to more of the meat of the question of inerrancy claims. You cite Grudem who says…

    We will not at this point repeat the arguments concerning the authority of Scripture that were given in chapter 4. There it was argued that all the words in the Bible are God’s words, and that therefore to disbelieve or disobey any word in Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.

    Grudem here begins with a leap of logic with no support (or rather, supposedly he offered support in his “chapter 4…”, but it’s not provided here). He states “all the words in the Bible are God’s words.” Literally speaking, this is just not the case, according to the Bible, taken literally.

    Luke tells us that HE wrote Luke and Acts. Paul tells us that HE wrote his epistles. David and others’ are the authors of the Psalms, and on it goes. These words are, therefore, literally – according to the text – the words of the given authors, not God’s words.

    Now, perhaps he made a case for this claim that you don’t provide, but I’m just stating a fact: That at this point, all we have are literally the words of the given human authors. I will take a step further and assure you that no where does God say or do the authors themselves say that “these are God’s Words…” (well, I guess with the exception of stories where God is quoted, but the story itself is being relayed by a human in their words).

    I would suppose what Grudem (and perhaps you) are suggesting that there is a verse in the Bible that says “all scripture is God-breathed/inspired, and useful for teaching, correction, etc…” and from there you are making the leap to say “And IF God inspired it, then that’s the same as saying it’s God’s Words…”

    Is that what you’re/he is doing?

    If so, can we agree that this is not what the text is saying, but rather a human extrapolation? That you are saying, “IF it is inspired by God, then it seems to ME that this is tantamount to these words being God’s words, in MY opinion…” Is that not a more fair and accurate way of putting it?

    Continuing with Grudem’s human opinions…

    It was argued further that the Bible clearly teaches that God cannot lie or speak falsely…

    A point I don’t disagree with…

    Therefore, all words in Scripture are claimed to be completely true and without error in any part… God’s words are, in fact, the ultimate standard of truth…

    Except, as I have established, these are clearly the words of human authors, not God. Taking the Bible literally, that is. And human authors CAN be in error (not that I’m arguing that they are in error at this point, just noting reality… that humans can be in error.)

    Further, we would have to get into questions about what it means to be “true and without error…” I would argue that a myth passing on fantastic stories depicting creation ideas or origin ideas IS true and without error, IF you take it as a myth. It is only when you insist that a story about loading up groupings of all the animals of the earth on a boat, or that a flood literally covered the entire earth land mass with water, etc… when you insist these mythic stories must be taken as literal scientific history that you run into errors. But it is the human interpretation that makes it not true or with error, not the myth itself.

    Can we agree with that, at least in principle? That myths, like parables or other fictitious/figurative writings are not, in and of themselves, “false and with error” simply by nature of being figurative writing?

    Okay, I’ll take a break again.

    Respectfully,

    Dan

  7. Even on the Christian grace and respect question? I have had no need to call you names or question your Christianity or refer to your comments flippantly (“peanut gallery” etc), nor have I had to engage in ad hom attacks, I’ve tried very hard to just respectfully ask you questions and make comments on your positions, not on you, my beloved brother in Christ.

    Can I expect the same decent treatment as I’m striving to offer? If not, well, okay, I’ll strive to remain polite and rational and direct in my comments regardless, but I think the whole endeavor could be a much more joyous and delightful exchange if we approach it from a point of respect and grace.

    Just a suggestion.

    Dan

  8. You state…

    The doctrine of inerrancy is brought into focus as we consider what the whole of Scripture teaches about itself. Inerrancy, then, does not exist as a stand alone doctrine, but is supported by the doctrine of inspiration and infallibility, doctrines affirmed throughout the entirety of the Bible.

    I would disagree. I do not find these doctrines in the Bible at all. Since they are not directly mentioned and these doctrines are something you are claiming are there, the burden is on you to provide some support for the claim, not on me to show you all the places where it doesn’t make that claim (which is everywhere).

    I will have to wait (as I have for years now, since I recognized this human tradition as being unbiblical) for some evidence to be provided to support the claim.

    You continue…

    An inspired, or God breathed revelation, will be both infaillible and inerrant, because it reflects the character of the holy, truthful God who breathed out Scripture.

    Again, an unsupported claim.

    For one thing, you’re now introducing the notion of an “infallible” Bible, which has always struck me as even more rationally and biblically tenuous than an “inerrant” bible. Infallible is defined in the Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms as, “The Bible is completely trustworthy as a guide to salvation and the life of faith and will not fail to accomplish its purpose…”

    The bible “will not fail…”?? That makes it sound as if the bible is a living thing instead of a collection of texts. Texts are texts and are there to be read. Humans, fallible as we are, are always capable of failing to understand things aright, so it is not a rational claim that the Bible “won’t fail” to “accomplish its purpose…” So, “will not fail” is rationally and biblically problematic (biblically because the Bible makes no such claims).

    For a second problem, “to accomplish its purpose…” What IS the purpose of “the Bible…” Has the Bible told us this? No. Has God? No. Have the authors? In some cases. Luke, for instance, claims that he’s writing so as to provide a record of Jesus’ story, and the story of the early church. In that regards, Luke has succeeded in recording these stories. But is that what “the purpose of the Bible is…”? The bible makes no such claims.

    Again, the problem here is the treatment of the Bible as if it were a god or a living thing itself, rather than text. That’s something to be cautioned against, lest we make a little god of the bible, or try to.

    So, you have a claim that “inspired” writings will be “infallible…” – and we can see the problems with that. Perhaps you need to offer you definition of infallible, if it’s different than the one I procured. And you further off that “inspired” words will be “inerrant…” but what do you mean by that?

    Do you mean that a parable will not have errors in it? That parables will not be fictional? That any and all stories WILL be literal history? If so, why so? I believe you are bringing into “inerrant” more than just what the word brings, and thus, there will be problems.

    So that you understand, let me repeat what I’ve said before: I’m not arguing, so much, that the texts of the Bible are “errant” or that they contain errors so much as I am that “inerrant” is not a proper word for the Bible.

    To the degree that the 66 books of the Bible are inspired (as I believe them to be), that inspiration means that we can learn about God and God’s Ways in it. We can learn about the stories, failures and successes of ancient peoples in their walk with God. But GOD is the inerrant One. God’s Ways are right and good and perfect.

    Texts that talk about God are only as “inerrant” as our interpretations/understanding of God are correct.

    So to make a claim like, “Jonah’s story is inerrant,” is 1. Not something the story claims for itself and 2. all dependent upon how we interpret it and whether we interpret it aright.

    IF, as I believe to be likely, Jonah’s story is more figurative than literal AND if it turns out that I’m correct and God tells me that over coffee with Jonah, then it will turn out that my understanding was correct, but not so much that the text was “errant.”

    Are you understanding my point here? If not, ask me a question so I can clarify. Otherwise, can we agree on that point?

    Respectfully,

    Dan

  9. Continuing, I had said…

    The Bible makes zero claims to inerrancy. Not one. Not for “the Bible,” not even for “scripture.” The claims to “inerrancy” are a human construct, not a biblical one. Not something “from God…” at least not in any direct manner. It is, at best, a belief reached using human reasoning, extrapolating the idea from (very little in) the Bible.

    And you responded…

    That is a typical claim by biblio-skeptics…

    Regardless of whether or not it’s a “typical” claim by “biblio-skeptics,” can we agree that the claim is fundamentally factual?

    The bible does not make a single claim to inerrancy or infallibility about some potential future collection of books to be called “the Bible.” Nor does it imply it using other terms. Not one time.

    As a point of fact.

    Further, it IS something that humans, using their reasoning, have extrapolated out from the bible, not something that is directly in the bible’s pages.

    As a point of fact.

    Agreed?

    That’s not to denigrate the human theories of “inerrancy” or “infallibilty.” It is just to accurately characterize them AS human theories, not something God has told us directly or even indirectly.

    The problem with elevating human theories about God to “facts” or equivalent to the Bible is that it places too much confidence in human brilliance and risks the problem of “adding to” God’s Word something that God has not said. It runs the risk, in other words, of blasphemy, when we conflate our human opinions with God’s word.

    Can we agree?

    Look, I’m not opposed at all to humans using their reasoning to extrapolate ideas out of biblical text. While the Bible never condemns slavery or forced marriages or killing children in wartime, I think we can very safely extrapolate out the IDEALs that it is wrong to kill children in war, to own another human being, to force someone into marriage. I think, given the stories in the Bible and understandings of God gleaned from those stories, that we can extrapolate out these ideas/ideals as being important to God’s nature/God’s Way.

    But I am clear that it is MY human extrapolation/opinion, not a given “fact” about God. There is a danger, it seems to me, in conflating our ideas with God’s Word. Do you agree on that principle, at least?

    More later…

    Dan

  10. Continuing, you say…

    While it is true that the exact word “inerrancy” is not directly used in the Bible, the Bible presupposes the doctrine of inerrancy throughout its pages, and appeals to it as a final, infallible source of authority…

    Support for this? I ask… you continue…

    The biblical writers, both in the OT and the NT, refer to the Bible as the “Word of God” or the “Word of the LORD,”

    As a point of fact, the bible never refers to “the Bible…” There are passages where some specific (OT) scripture is referred to as the Word of God, but never does any place refer to “the Bible” in any sense at all, not to the 66 books of the protestant Bible.

    As a point of fact. Agreed?

    For instance, Proverbs 30 says…

    Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

    But this is speaking of God’s WAYS, God’s Will, what God wants. Not the 66.

    Or Jesus, in Matthew 15, says…

    But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

    But that was to specific OT texts, not the 66.

    A further question in this vein would be: So, even when there are texts within the books of the Bible that refer to OT texts, or Hebrew Scripture, as the Word of God, does that mean that they are assigning some weight to the books that contain it, or is the weight assigned TO GOD, to God’s WAYS.

    We must not confuse the text with God’s Way. The bible is NOT a god, it is inspired by God, we believe, but it is not a god itself. I know you agree with this, but I think it’s worth making clear.

    My point stands: The Bible never speaks of “the bible.” Ever. So, where you say that biblical writers refer to “the Bible” as the word of God, this is factually mistaken. Agreed?

    More…

  11. You continue…

    Coming to the NT, Jesus had an extremely high view of Scripture’s authority, infallibility, and inerrancy.

    Your source? I would ask. You respond/offer…

    He held the OT to be historically true, completely authoritative, and divinely inspired. He believed that the God of the OT was living, and the OT Scriptures were the teachings of the living God. When Jesus taught, it is clear He believed what Scripture said is what God Almighty had said.

    That is a claim. “Jesus held the OT to be historically true.” but you offer no support for it. You go on to cite Jesus citing OT stories as “proof” that he thought they must be taken as historically true, but that is not evidence in and of itself. As I have noted repeatedly, I refer to the story of Jonah, of Adam and Eve or other stories and I never issue a caveat, “My referring to these stories is not an indication that I hold them to be literally factual…” The fact is, the mere citation of a passage is not evidence in support of your claim.

    Consider: Jesus in appearing to the disciples after his death in Luke 24 says…

    Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.

    Does the fact that Jesus refers to ghosts indicate that “This MUST mean that Jesus believes in ghosts…!!”? No, of course it doesn’t. The mere mentioning of a story or a idea is not an automatic indicator that one takes it literally.

    Can you agree to that reality (and it IS a reality because I do it, Jesus did it, many people do mention stories without a caveat in the real world)?

    Now, I will also note that Jesus’ mentioning these stories is also not an indication that we must think he did NOT take them literally, just that the mention in and of itself flatly is not a support for your claim. Factually, there is no objective, authoritative support for your claim.

    If you have authoritative support (ie, something more than “Me and everyone who agrees with me thinks it’s true…”), by all means present it. If you don’t, then have the decency to say so, so that we can agree we’re on the same page when it comes to reality.

    More later…

    Dan

  12. Pingback: Presuppositional Apologetics’ Round up: Third week of April 2015 | The Domain for Truth

  13. Fred…

    When Jesus taught, it is clear He believed what Scripture said is what God Almighty had said.

    One of the things that Jesus taught (when the Pharisees were attempting to use Scripture to condemn Jesus’ disciples for working on the sabbath) was…

    Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath…”

    I think this verse is a key verse to understanding Jesus’ approach to Scripture. Here, Jesus is clearly (to me, anyway) pointing out the futility of using the OT as a graceless rule book or rulings book to lift verses out to say, “Ah, look! No working on the sabbath! You’re working on the sabbath, therefore, you guys are BAD!” That is not the point of scripture or OT rules, Jesus is saying.

    And here he is pointing to Grace. It is all about the grace, to paraphrase the pop song. No, no, NO! A thousand times, NO! Don’t use the scriptures, the OT rules given to ancient Israel as a litmus test to determine who is good and bad. These rules were given to HELP, not condemn! The sabbath rule was made for humanity, not humanity made to gracelessly and mindlessly follow slavishly!

    When the woman was caught in adultery, the OT law was clear: Stone her. Jesus said, NO. It’s all about grace. “Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus told her. That rule was NOT there to give the self-righteous an opportunity to stone dirty “sinners…” The rule was in place to preserve, to help, to lift up. Grace. Grace. Grace.

    So, yes, Jesus does refer to Scripture oftentimes, so do I. Scripture, its stories and lessons are beautiful, wonderful, powerful, sometimes scary and worrisome, but always challenging!

    But he does not endorse a cherry picking, rule-following view of Scripture. Scripture as rule book for modern America, or even ancient Nazarene/Jerusalem, he does not endorse. Ever. Oftentimes when he is using Scripture, he is using it to demonstrate to the Scriptural rule-followers that they need to lighten up. Throwing their error back in their face, so to speak. But the point is always Grace.

    Fred…

    Moreover, Jesus repeatedly refers to Moses as the law giver…

    Me, too.

    and the historicity of the OT events.

    No, he does not. That is, he does not say, “And here’s the story of Jonah. You know, it is historically factual, right? I’m God and I know…” Ever. He refers to ancient stories without claiming definitively what his opinion is of their historicity. Ever. That is a mistaken claim on your part.

    Agreed?

    One last thing and then I’ll stop, as that will cover the main points about inerrancy. You said…

    If the Scriptures are errant, there is no point in appealing to them in the fashion that Paul did.

    1. As I have clarified, I am NOT saying that Scriptures are “errant.”

    Do you understand that this is not my position?

    2. My point is that “inerrant” or “infallible” are just not appropriate terms to use for texts, in this context. That an opinion or interpretation about the text MUST come first before we can talk about the factual accuracy of the interpretation. And the interpretation may or may not be “errant,” but the text is just text, waiting to be read/understood.

    Do you understand that this is my position?

    3. So, if someone says “Genesis 1 is a literally factual history of the beginnings of the universe…” that is AN INTERPRETATION of the text. And science would say that this interpretation is factually mistaken (if they mean that the world was created 6,000 years ago in six days, etc). What it GOD’S opinion/knowledge of the events? Well, we have no way of authoritatively knowing, but as it seems that scientifically, the claim is factually mistaken, and God is not contradicting reality (it’s God’s reality, after all), one would presume God would agree with reality.

    BUT, maybe science is mistaken and God holds another view of it… that it actually was created 6,000 years ago in six days, etc. But we have no authoritative way of knowing that because we can’t ask God.

    So, the person who claims a literal Genesis or the person who claims a figurative/mythic Genesis are both offering their interpretations. To say that Genesis is “inerrant” would all depend on the factual accuracy of the interpretations of the text. It would appear that the literal Genesis claim, then, is “errant,” but not Genesis itself.

    Do you understand what I’m saying?

    4. Finally, of course there is reason to appeal to Scriptures even if you don’t take them to be “inerrant…” There are magnificent stories of God and God’s people therein. Whether a given text is actually figurative or literal is not relevant to the great Truths found in the story.

    Again, this claim is simply factually mistaken.

    Okay, I’ll leave it to you, now, Fred.

    Respectfully,

    Dan Trabue

  14. Beginning this response with an ad hom attack about my motives does not bode well for respectful conversation, brother. You may doubt my intelligence, you may doubt my conclusions, I am but a poor sinner, an imperfect human with imperfect conclusions. I beg your grace and patience if I display any lack of intelligence.

    I’ll be blunt. Nothing in the interactions we have had the last few weeks responding to your comments under other posts gives me the impression you are sincere in what you claim about your commitment to the Bible. You assert otherwise, but you take what really amounts to a proctologist’s view of the Bible, trying to nit-pick apart what is mistakenly perceived as errors or problems. If anything, your comments show a profound lack of respect for Scripture. It is the same kind of carping skepticism I find with first year community college apostates who claimed to have been raised Christians, never were told the “truth” about the Bible and now feign an expertise in the errors of Scripture. You present arguments that come from the typical atheist 101 playbook.

    So you will have to excuse me if I don’t take you seriously. Pointing out that insincerity and commenting upon it is hardly an ad hom fallacy. Do you even know what that means?

    Here, I read Genesis and find it clearly to have been written in a mythic genre style. And, since understanding genre and literary tropes is an important first step to understanding Scripture which we love and take seriously, I take note of that.

    I am curious of your understanding of Hebrew. The text is historical narrative, not “mythical” whatever that means. It is not just my opinion that Genesis is literal, factual history, because anyone with a familiarity with the language knows it is literal, factual history. Just like Exodus, the book of Joshua, even moving into the Gospels and Acts. For you to say otherwise displays a profound ignorance on the subject. The things you raise have been soundly answered in numerous sources. Have you bothered to look at any? Why or why not?

    If you are inclined, here is a readily accessible article going into why Genesis is historical narrative, http://www.dbts.edu/journals/2000/McCabe.pdf

    Also, an acquaintance of mine will have a newly published commentary on the first 11 chapters of Genesis that refutes the notion of “myth” http://creation.com/books/the-genesis-account/

    A follow up question, then, is immediately begged: Whose interpretation is correct? Based on what authority? Do we objectively know with authoritative confidence what the intent was of the author or if the author was correct in his/her intent? Says who/based on what authority?

    Why do you think we can’t know authoritatively? Where’d you get that idea? That’s absurd. If you believe such a radical subjective view of history, then no one can believe or know anything about the historical past beyond video and audio. How do we know George Washington was really president? How do we know Guttenberg invented the printing press? How do we know about what happened during the Crusades? How can we know who Julius Caesar was?

    I believe God created men to communicate because God wanted to reveal Himself to men. The normal use of language, grammar, exegesis that is hardwired in all human beings is how we know. We know what the author of Genesis meant to convey because Moses told us, Jesus told us, and Paul told us by the way they appeal to the book as real history that imparts information. It isn’t just a matter of my opinion or your opinion. There is one thing God is communicating. Ultimately you either believe what God has told us about his word (some of what I mentioned in the post) or you don’t. You seem to fall on the doubt side of things. By the way, doubt is sin.

    Now, having said that, just that we have two unprovable human opinions on an interpretation does not make them equally valid. It’s entirely possible for two people to sincerely read a text, sincerely reach different conclusions, but one of them is just hard to accept as a rational conclusion.

    No we don’t have two unprovable human opinions. That’s stupid. If you sincerely read the text, you apply what you know to be true about everyday communication with the use of grammar, syntax, exegesis. There is no hidden mystery that is unknowable. That is ridiculous. Figurative language is the Bible is taken in the same way figurative language is taken today. If someone tells you it is raining cats and dogs, you don’t think it is literally raining cats and dogs.

    What I see is that you are intentionally attempting to find absurdities where none exist. It is the same ridiculous approach to the Bible the Rachel Held Evans takes. Whereas you claim you are sincere, you are really mocking God. Agreed?

    Luke tells us that HE wrote Luke and Acts. Paul tells us that HE wrote his epistles. David and others’ are the authors of the Psalms, and on it goes. These words are, therefore, literally – according to the text – the words of the given authors, not God’s words.

    Seriously? You have no concept of the apostolic witness? The fact that Jesus told the apostles they will be a witness for him and that he would give them what to say? Funny how the early church, within the first century, the church of God that was indwelt by the Holy Spirit, believed the books written by those men were more than just their words, but that they were the mouth piece for God who spoke through them as they canon was established.

    If so, can we agree that this is not what the text is saying, but rather a human extrapolation? That you are saying, “IF it is inspired by God, then it seems to ME that this is tantamount to these words being God’s words, in MY opinion…” Is that not a more fair and accurate way of putting it?

    That is exactly what Paul is saying. If God breathed out Scripture, then the Scripture bears the imprint of God upon it. It is more than just a human book. But it speaks fallibly to who God is and is without error. And though you claim you don’t disagree that God can lie, you do in fact believe that when you strip Scripture of its divine quality and merely assign it human value that can be cherry picked and ignored for your convenience.

    Can we agree with that, at least in principle? That myths, like parables or other fictitious/figurative writings are not, in and of themselves, “false and with error” simply by nature of being figurative writing?

    With this comment, you display your ignorance of the Bible. I thought you said you studied it for years? Parables are not myths, myths are not parables, and I have no clue how you are defining figurative. Seeing that Genesis is clearly historical narrative, it can’t be myth or allegory, so hence it really happened just as it is recorded. If modern scientism conflicts with the clear historical record of Genesis, well it is the human opinions interpreting the science that are wrong, not the history that Genesis is conveying.

    I would disagree. I do not find these doctrines in the Bible at all. Since they are not directly mentioned and these doctrines are something you are claiming are there, the burden is on you to provide some support for the claim, not on me to show you all the places where it doesn’t make that claim (which is everywhere).

    I supplied a lot of support. Did you not bother to read it or consider what I wrote. If Jesus appeals to those examples I listed (and they are just a small portion), Jesus obviously trusted those truths. So my claim, as you call it, is soundly grounded in what it was Jesus said and taught. Of course, you probably doubt what he said seeing that the Gospels were written by mere men who may have gotten things wrong. That of course also puts you in league with atheists, apostates, and Muslims who raise the exact same arguments against Christianity.

    The bible “will not fail…”?? That makes it sound as if the bible is a living thing instead of a collection of texts.

    That is because the Bible is a living thing. As Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edge sword, and piercing as far as the divisions of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

    For a second problem, “to accomplish its purpose…” What IS the purpose of “the Bible…

    I just quoted to you from Hebrews 4:12. Is that one purpose of Scripture?

    So that you understand, let me repeat what I’ve said before: I’m not arguing, so much, that the texts of the Bible are “errant” or that they contain errors so much as I am that “inerrant” is not a proper word for the Bible.

    Do you not understand the contradiction in your comment here? You have repeated a number times that the Bible is of human origin, that it is unreliable, that it is open to any number of interpretations, and that no one can know for sure about anything regarding the Bible. Of course you are arguing it is errant and that it contains error. I am telling you that inerrant is the proper word for the Bible because like I have pointed out numerous times and you have failed to interact with, the Bible is tied directly to God’s character, because His spirit inspired the men who He chose to write it. Hence, it is God breathed in that God divinely and providentially directed its production at the hands of his divinely inspired prophets and apostles.

    IF, as I believe to be likely, Jonah’s story is more figurative than literal AND if it turns out that I’m correct and God tells me that over coffee with Jonah, then it will turn out that my understanding was correct, but not so much that the text was “errant.”

    Here’s a case in point. Why do you conclude the Jonah story to be figurative? Nothing in the recorded events even hints at it. Is it because you can’t believe God miraculously created a fish to swallow Jonah? Is that were you are hung up? Jesus cited it as real history and tied it to his Resurrection after three days? Do you believe Christ’s Resurrection was figurative and not literal like the Jonah story?

    The bible does not make a single claim to inerrancy or infallibility about some potential future collection of books to be called “the Bible.” Nor does it imply it using other terms. Not one time.

    I really don’t get you. You keep repeating “support” and I gave you a ton of information that demonstrates that the Bible does claim inerrancy and infallibility and you ignore them? Why did the biblical writers appeal to the authority of Scripture as being inerrant and infallible if it really isn’t?

    Does the fact that Jesus refers to ghosts indicate that “This MUST mean that Jesus believes in ghosts…!!”? No, of course it doesn’t. The mere mentioning of a story or a idea is not an automatic indicator that one takes it literally.

    Are you for real? Jesus never referred to ghosts. That is your bad translation. He is talking specifically about the non-physical component of man. His spirit compared to flesh. He is telling the apostles that what they see was both a physical person and a spirit, not just the spirit. You are grasping at straws and making stuff up if you think this is some proof against your wrong headed views of “literalism.”

    As I have clarified, I am NOT saying that Scriptures are “errant.”

    As a matter of fact, you are. If you dismiss it as just a good book of fables and moral tales, yes, you are saying it is errant. Fables and tales are not meant to be without error. The Bible is, because it is God’s Word speaking to us.

    I gonna stop there. I have already expended a lot of time with your comments that I really do not have. I will be blunt once more. I truly fear for your salvation. I realize you say you are saved, but nothing I have seen in any of our interactions demonstrates that to me. The contempt that you have for Scripture is appalling and frankly quite dangerous. No one who names Christ as his Lord and savior will argued against the written word like he is an internet atheist, yet everything I have read from you smacks of that rank skepticism I hear from angry ex-Fundamentalists who now live a life of apostasy away from God.

    I realize you have all this pious sounding rhetoric, but you could genuinely have deceived yourself in to thinking that your walking the aisle and praying a prayer made you a Christian, when in fact it has not. A Christian does not argue against God’s Word and make a virtue out of subjectivity and uncertainty. A real Christian believes in faith upon what God has revealed and abstains from cherry picking passages and nit picking passages that may make one uncomfortable or inconveniences what he or she has made to be “true” in his or her heart.

  15. Fred, thank you for your many thoughts. If I may offer a couple of quick responses. First, to the matter of dialog…

    So you will have to excuse me if I don’t take you seriously. Pointing out that insincerity and commenting upon it is hardly an ad hom fallacy. Do you even know what that means?

    Yes, it means an “attack on the person.” In logic, if someone attacks the person, belittling their intelligence, attacking their integrity or otherwise demeaning the “opponent” when the attack has nothing to do with the argument being made, it is an ad hom fallacy.

    My claim was that I see no reason to take Genesis literally, for instance, or that the Bible does not teach inerrancy, that this is a human interpretation of biblical texts, not anything from the Bible directly. These arguments do not hinge on “is Dan being sincere?” thus, your attack is, by definition, an ad hom attack. It is a distraction, having nothing to do with the arguments being made. And because of your demonstrated fallacy, here we are spending many words talking about me rather than my arguments.

    See how that distracts from the points actually being made?

    Along these lines, you keep suggesting in various ways that you rather loathe or find distasteful being bothered to answer my questions. Is that the case? If so, why?

    I mean, I have a blog. I am always very grateful and glad to have someone visit and engage in conversation, especially when they do so respectfully (and hopefully we can agree that I have been very respectful in our dialog… it certainly has been my intent). If they ask many questions – even if it’s because they disagree with me – I am always prepared to give an answer, to the best of my ability to do so. And I do so gladly, not begrudgingly.

    It seems that you have really just hated talking to me, answering my questions (or not). Why is that?

    If I had to guess, I would guess maybe you went into blogging to express your opinions, but not really to want to defend them? Is that it?

    For me, I am always glad to defend my positions, even if the questions are difficult to answer. It sharpens my mind and clears my thinking. If you’d rather I not “bother” you with my questions and points, I am glad to go away, I guess I just don’t get that impatient attitude that many conservatives (and liberals, I’m sure) seem to have when it comes to disagreement.

    To keep it short, let me just raise a question or two in response to your comments.

    For my part, I DO understand the difficulty of a sprawling conversation… keeping track of various threads of thought and points made. So, let me just deal with one point you made, for now…

    ~Dan

  16. I had said…

    Here, I read Genesis and find it clearly to have been written in a mythic genre style. And, since understanding genre and literary tropes is an important first step to understanding Scripture which we love and take seriously, I take note of that.

    And you responded…

    I am curious of your understanding of Hebrew. The text is historical narrative, not “mythical” whatever that means. It is not just my opinion that Genesis is literal, factual history, because anyone with a familiarity with the language knows it is literal, factual history.

    Oh? You are able to speak for all of Jewish and Christian believers?

    As a point of fact, many Jewish and Christian scholars disagree with your opinion, and have for centuries.

    “In the Middle Ages, Saadia Gaon argued that a biblical passage should not be interpreted literally if that made a passage mean something contrary to the senses or reason (or, as we would say, science; Emunot ve-Deot, chapter 7). Maimonides applied this principle to theories about creation. He held that if the eternity of the universe (what we would call the Steady State theory) could be proven by logic (science) then the biblical passages speaking about creation at a point in time could and should be interpreted figuratively in a way that is compatible with the eternity of the universe.”

    http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/genesis-as-allegory/

    So, your claim that “anyone with a familiarity with the language knows it is literal, factual history” is quite simply, false, Fred.

    Can you agree that you misspoke here?

    Or do you think the great Jewish philosopher/theologian, Maimonides was unfamiliar with Hebrew? Are you familiar with Maimonides, that he is “one of Judaism’s most important theologians and legal experts…,” “the foremost intellectual figure of medieval Judaism…”?

    This is the problem with these sorts of sweeping generalizations. If you say “ANYONE who is familiar ‘knows’ differently…” then all I have to do to disprove your claim is present one exception. There are, of course, multitudes of exceptions.

    I repeat: Your claim has been proven factually false. Let’s admit your mistake and move on.

    In Christ,

    Dan

  17. Fred, these things are not as cut and dried as you would like to make them out to be. John Frame would disagree with you on inerrancy. Norman Geisler would disagree with your position on the interpretation of Genesis. Even if you don’t agree with these men on everything they teach, they are solid Biblical scholars. Your arrogant dismissal of views that disagree with your own isn’t very helpful.

  18. One more thing, where you said…

    I will be blunt once more. I truly fear for your salvation. I realize you say you are saved, but nothing I have seen in any of our interactions demonstrates that to me.

    I have been respectful, loving, polite, compassionate, truthful, forthcoming, contrite when I’ve made a mistake. What in any of that is indicative, to you, of not being saved?

    I think, if you’ll allow me a guess, what you probably mean is that I disagree with you and the traditionalists on some important issues to you and that, to you, makes you question whether I’m sincere and saved.

    But the very worst you could accuse me of is being mistaken. I am honestly seeking God, honestly seeking the Right, honestly striving to understand the Bible, honestly working to promote God’s Ways. Now, if you are correct about “inerrancy” or the literal nature of Genesis (for instance) and I am mistaken, then it is an honest mistake and thank God, we are not saved by our perfect knowledge. In the same way, I fully recognize that if YOU are mistaken about those topics (as I am confident that you are) and I am correct, that this is just an honest mistake on your part and not an indication of a loss of salvation (or that you were never saved to begin with).

    Can you agree to that?

    I’m pretty sure that you would agree that if it turns out YOU are mistaken, that you’ll thankfully fall on God’s grace and I will celebrate that grace with you, even though I think you are sometimes quite mistaken. What I don’t understand is that my more conservative family do not tend to extend that same grace to others that they are glad to claim for themselves. Wouldn’t it make more sense to rest in Grace?

    So, when you say that you’re concerned about my salvation, it makes me wonder if you ascribe to an orthodox view of Christianity. You do affirm salvation by Grace, right? Through faith in Jesus, yes? NOT by our works, nor by our understanding or knowledge. So, if someone “gets” something incorrectly, that is a failure of understanding and we are not condemned by a failure to understand, agreed? Because that would be a salvation by works fallacy/heresy.

    In orthodox Christianity, we affirm that salvation is when we, sinners that we are, realize our sin, confess to and repent of that sin and accept Jesus as our Lord, and we are saved by God’s grace, NOT by our works, our knowledge or wisdom. Thank God.

    So, given that I’ve confessed/confess my sins, admitted my need for a savior, repented of my sins and trust Jesus/God’s grace for my salvation, on what basis would you be concerned that I’m not saved? Because I disagree with you about human tenets of some faith traditions? I just don’t get it.

    Also, when you say…

    The contempt that you have for Scripture is appalling and frankly quite dangerous. No one who names Christ as his Lord and savior will argued against the written word like he is an internet atheist, yet everything I have read from you smacks of that rank skepticism…

    …your problem is that you are conflating your opinions with God’s Word, it would seem. I absolutely am not contemptuous of Scripture, that is a falsehood from hell. THAT false claim is appalling and dangerous, because it is indicative of someone who can’t separate their opinions from God’s Word, as if you think when someone disagrees with you, they are disagreeing with God.

    I am not skeptical of God, nor of the Bible. I am skeptical of human opinions… in this case, I am skeptical of YOUR opinions. And I am skeptical because they have so little that is solid about them, biblically or rationally. But that I disagree with you human opinions and am skeptical of your ideas is not the same as being a skeptic.

    Or if it is, then you are a rank skeptic, because you disagree with my ideas. Do you see the rational problem you have there? The inconsistent reasoning?

    So, Fred, do you affirm salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus? Or do you add “One has to agree with me about ‘inerrancy,’ about ‘infallibility,’ about the genre of Genesis?” and other works or knowledge based hoops one must get “right” (in your opinion)?

    If you are adding to salvation a list of human works, then brother, my salvation is not the one you should be concerned with.

    In Christ,

    Dan

  19. One more, in the same vein. Where you said…

    I realize you have all this pious sounding rhetoric, but you could genuinely have deceived yourself in to thinking that your walking the aisle and praying a prayer made you a Christian, when in fact it has not.

    So, here’s what I’ve done, Fred. You tell me:

    1. I recognize that humans have a sinful nature. We all sin. Me included.
    2. I recognize that I need salvation from my sin.
    3. I recognize that God offers salvation by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus. That God so loved the world that God is not willing for any to perish, so he offers us the opportunity of salvation, if we just accept God’s grace through faith in Jesus, the risen from the dead son of God.
    4. I’ve repented of my sin and asked Jesus to be Lord of my life.
    5. God, in God’s grace, has saved me/is saving me.
    6. God, by God’s grace, is helping me to walk in the steps of Jesus, who is my Lord and Master.

    What, in any of that, have I done “wrong,” in your opinion?

    What, in any of what I said is “pious-sounding,” but not actually pious (defined “devout, God-fearing, spiritual, prayerful, dedicated, etc)?

    Fred…

    A Christian does not argue against God’s Word and make a virtue out of subjectivity and uncertainty

    I am NOT arguing against God’s Word when I disagree with your opinions. In this case, I suspect that you have misunderstood God’s Word and am arguing IN FAVOR of God’s Word (as best I understand it) and against Fred’s opinions. Do you understand the difference?

    And, as a point of fact, I am fairly confident in my positions. I wouldn’t bring them up if I weren’t. I think my opinions are rational, moral and align with a right understanding of the Bible. BUT, I am humble enough to recognize that my opinons ARE my opinions and I DO think, in my opinion, that humility is a good thing for us to embrace.

    So, I am not especially uncertain, nor am I making a virtue out of uncertainty. But humility IS a virtue, according to the Bible and just good moral reasoning.

    Do you see where you’ve made your errors?

    In Christ,

    Dan

  20. Steve writes,
    Fred, these things are not as cut and dried as you would like to make them out to be.

    I happen to believe they are much more cut and dried than you would happen to admit.

    John Frame would disagree with you on inerrancy.

    I am sort of at a loss as to why you linked that article. I am arguing in exactly the same way Frame is. In fact the article you link contradicts the point you are attempting to make with it here. I guess you think his discussion of “literalism” some how debunks my position, but of course, Frame doesn’t really define his understanding of literalism. If he has in mind the strawman version where if we appeal to a literal reading of Scripture then we are going to fall into the Amelia Bedelia trap, he’d be wrong. If he means literalism in that the Bible is take literally in it’s normative use of language, then we agree.

    Norman Geisler would disagree with your position on the interpretation of Genesis.

    Well, Norman Geisler has a number of theological problems, the least of which being his latent Roman Catholicism that underlies his apologetics. But I can easily make a case as to why he is fatally inconsistent with his take on inerrance along the matters of Genesis.

    Your arrogant dismissal of views that disagree with your own isn’t very helpful.

    I am just going to assume that you haven’t read over with any depth the comments that Dan is leaving, unless of course you adhere to some oddball postmodern neo-orthodox perspective of the Christian faith. Certainly you would side with Fosdick over and against Machen?

  21. Regarding John Frame. Yes, I was referring to his comment regarding literalism. I would put you in the same category of literalist as James Orr which Frame rejects. Which is why I said things aren’t as cut and dried as you’d like to believe.

    Say what you want about Geisler. He’s still a well respected theologian in evangelical circles.

    I actually like Machen. I’m surprised you bring him up. Neither he, nor his mentor, Warfield, would support your interpretation of Genesis 1. I also like Karl Barth and Peter End for what it’s worth.

    I should probably cut you some slack. I did not read all of Dan’s comments. I got turned off after the first paragraph or so. I just didn’t like the snarky way you handled it. But it’s your blog and your prerogative.

    Cheers

  22. One more thing. Norman Geisler was also one of the authors of the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, just in case you’ve forgotten.

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