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Getting Inerrancy Wrong

One of the greatest attacks on Scripture comes from those who misunderstand the doctrine of inerrancy. A couple of years ago this chart was brought to my attention. I did not think it was serious, but it really is. It is supposed to represent the thousands of contradictions in the Bible. However, all it really represents is that the person who created it has no idea what inspiriation and inerrancy mean, nor how to do basic interpretation of literature (ancient or modern).

Sadly, though, it is becoming increasingly clear (again) that even some of those who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture have different interpretations of what inerrancy means. I believe in inerrancy. But maybe not how others define it. I am not trying to redefine anything, but the fact is that when it comes to this issue, there is a spectrum of belief among those who confess the doctrine. I am sure there would be some out there who would see my view of inerrancy as a liberal compromise.

Inerrancy: the Biblical doctrine which says that Scripture, in the autographs (originals), when interpreted correctly, is true in all that it teaches and upon which it touches.

I remember when I was young and I first began to read the Gospels. I was rather confused about the repetition of the story of Christ. I was further confused that there seemed to be many places where the same event was told in different ways, using different words, and sometimes with different people involved. Whether it was Christ’s encounter with the demoniacs (Luke 18:27ff; Matthew 8:28ff) or the words written above the cross (Mark 15:26; John 19:19), there were differences. I noticed that differences of this type were a primary criticism to which skeptics would refer when attacking the reliability of Scripture and the truth of Christianity. This disturbed me. If the Bible was inspired, these differences should not be there. Isn’t the Bible inerrant? If it is, it cannot have discrepancies. How could God have gotten it wrong? As I sought answers, I found initial comfort in those who would explain these “discrepancies” in some very creative ways. Most would say that the parallel accounts that I was having problems with were not really parallel at all. They were different encounters altogether!

These explanations satisfied me at the time. I thus unknowingly adopted a strict view that I call “technically precise inerrancy.” This means that all the writers of Scripture, by virtue of their ultimate source of information (God), recorded everything precisely as it occurred. It also means that we attempt to take the Bible with an absolute literalism until forced to opt for another approach.

I later came to realize that this methodology was not only unnecessary but was actually birthed, I believe, out of a very gnostic view of Scripture. I was so emphasizing God’s role in the writing of Scripture that the role of man could not be found. Yet if God used man in writing Scripture, and Scripture was intended for man, then would God not have used a common means of communication that did not require technical precision in describing events?

To make a long story short, I moved toward a view I call “reasoned inerrancy.” “Reasoned inerrancy” is a definition which recognizes that the Scriptures must be understood according to the rules of interpretation governed by genre, historical accommodations, context, argument, and purpose. In other words, the modernistic need for things to be technically precise with regard to Scripture, ironically held by both ultra-conservatives and skeptics who seek to pick apart the Bible, is just that – a modern need that produces a warped apologetic and a faulty hermeneutic.

Let me further define the faulty presupposition of the “technically precise” view of inerrancy. The presupposition is this: All writers of Scripture, by virtue of divine inspiration and inerrancy, must have recorded everything in a technically precise way. I take issue with this presupposition. I do not believe that inspiration and inerrancy require technical precision. Why would it be so difficult to believe that the authors of Scripture would take liberties in their recording of the Gospel narrative? Does “taking liberties” in the way someone recounts an event mean that they are producing fabrications or lies? Can’t people tell the same story different ways and even nuance that story according to their purposes and still be accurate?

We would never place this type of restraint upon people today. The Gospel writers were simply telling the story of Christ as enthusiastic reporters of good news who were emotionally committed to the truths which they were reporting. This happens every day in our own news reporting system and we don’t hold those reporters’ feet to the fire of technical precision.

Let’s do a test. Let’s look at multiple accounts of one event. We will take three accounts of the recent staff meeting at Credo House and see how they fare.

Original statement from me during the staff meeting: “This year has been a tremendous year at Credo House. The place is full of young people hanging out, playing pool, and enjoying Saint Nicholases (double shot espresso, red velvet, with a hint of mint). Just today, I was telling a young couple about how to verify whether or not historical events of the past actually took place, then I applied that to the resurrection of Christ. I could see in their eyes the excitement and intrigue that our faith is really true! I am now going to try to get people to stand behind this ministry.”

My sister could report this to a donor to the Credo House in this way: “Michael just told us during a meeting that the ministry is accomplishing exactly what we hoped the Lord would do through it. People are believing more today than yesterday. But he says we need funding to keep this going.”

One of my baristas could have described the same event to a friend this way: “Today at our staff meeting we learned something ground-breaking about how historical events can be verified! Michael was talking to people at the Credo House about this today. He says that we can verify whether the Gospels are without error.”

Both gave a summation of my speech which focused on the elements that they needed in order to accomplish their purpose. My barista did not need to talk about the funding of the ministry, so that was left out. As well, he embellished a bit when he quoted me as saying we can verify that the Gospels are without error. I did not originally say that. However, I would not say that he spoke untruthfully. He knows me well enough to know I believe in the total truthfulness of Scripture. Therefore, he knows that “the Gospels are without error” is a correct implication of what I was saying. As well, was this groundbreaking news? From his perspective, it was. But from the perspective of others who have been involved in this issue, it is nothing new.

My sister, who is calling donors, chooses to focus on the implications of what I said with regard to the mission of the Credo House. But she also included her interpretation of what I meant when I said, “I am now going to try to get people to stand behind this ministry.” She turned that into, “we need funding to keep this going.” This is perfectly understandable, considering her audience.

The point is that both my sister and my barista accurately represented what I said at the staff meeting. But they both put it in their own words and chose what they wanted to include and what they wanted to leave out to suit their purposes.

This is the same when it comes to Scripture. We must allow the biblical authors this right. We must allow them to have a particular purpose in writing. We must allow for this type of freehanded, nuanced, yet altogether accurate (inerrant) method of recounting the events. This liberty is part of inspiration. We believe that the Bible is a product that involves 100% man’s input and 100% God’s, don’t we? If we don’t, then we might as well take man out of the picture altogether and admit we hold to mechanical dictation (that God simply used the human authors’ hands in writing the Scripture, not their heads – this is sometimes called biblical docetism). If mechanical dictation is true, then we should not care who the authors were writing to and we certainly should not care why they were writing, since their motives do not influence the interpretation.

Some may accuse me of adopting “redaction criticism.” Redaction criticism is the critical method of study that assumes the Gospel writers changed the events surrounding the life of Christ to fit their purpose. I do understand that people have taken redaction criticism too far. Some have gone to the point of denying the truthfulness of the message, based upon the expediency of the moment. This is not what I am doing or suggesting. I am just giving the authors liberty to write an accurate account of the events, while not having to be technically precise with the wording, structure, or what they choose to include or leave out.

Scholars refer to these issues by discussing the difference between ipsissima verba (the very words) and ipsissima vox (the very voice). Did the writers record the very words of Christ or the spirit of truth that his words represent? I would say any inductive approach to arriving at a correct hermeneutic demands the latter. Only if we deduce that our theology of inspiration demands a strict level of preciseness within Scripture in order to be true will we adopt the former. I believe I have demonstrated that this is not only altogether unnecessary and naive, but misleading and dangerous.

Do I believe in inerrancy? If you mean “technically precise inerrancy,” the answer is no. But if you mean “reasoned inerrancy” that holds to an authorial intent hermeneutical method which includes ipsissima vox, then the answer is yes.

By the way, this is nothing new. It is simply how the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy defines the subject. I only wish that skeptics like those who produce these charts would at least attempt to avoid creating straw man arguments. Then again, it would not be much of a poster if they did not! However, I do think we need to give them the benefit of the doubt and know that they may be like some of my ultra-conservative friends in believing that inerrancy demands technical precision. This is getting inerrancy wrong.

I look forward to your comments.

65 Responses to “Getting Inerrancy Wrong”

  1. I find it very interesting to consider that Christ left no written texts behind. I believe it was usual for Rabbi’s to leave behind a written corpus when approaching the end of their life – and Christ knew when his time was up – so why didn’t he leave some undoubtedly inerrant text behind? Maybe because it had already been demonstrated that inerrant text, some even written by the finger of God (e.g: the 10 commandments) still didn’t have the affect that we might expect. And in some ways such a text becomes counter productive because it encourages many people to become ‘legalistic’ – as the Jews had become. Possibly because it’s infeasible to cover all possible contexts to situations resulting in eventually a necessary reformation along the lines of ‘Man wasn’t made for the Sabbath’ etc. People rest on ‘but this is what the inerrant text says – so it must be right!’ rather than thinking for themselves and actually starting to conform to the examples of compassion and justice that Jesus demonstrated.

  2. how do we know that this type of inerrancy is true?

    (reasoned inerrancy)

  3. Really appreciate what you said about the “technically precise view of inerrancy.” More people need to understand that.

  4. C. Michael P.,

    Very nice mate! In seeking to open the door into this grand subject of one of Holy Scripture’s mysteries, we are profoundly on holy ground! But I agree with you myself, that this simply cannot be pressed into a neat compartmental, technical doctrine. So a ‘reasoned inerrancy’ is a very nice way to express this great mystery!

  5. Michael, what I don’t understand is how your “reasoned inerrancy” differs from… plain vanilla “inerrancy.”

    I mean, it seems to me that’s all there in the Chicago statement. What you may be saying is some of what we might call a “folk theology” understanding of inerrancy is not what you hold.

    Inerrancy is a different concept from literalism, though, yes, this may be popularly confused.

    I realize you are more than a little exercised over the Licona situation, and I think it is true that “inerrancy” is not the right name for the problem illustrated by the kind of approach that has led to his difficulty.

    There is something amiss though, I submit, and it needs a definition and a name. Yes, the present conflict is deplorable, but that is another issue.

  6. CMP,

    Perhaps some need to see the theological issue of Ippissima vox – “the very voice”. Here is a link, I hope this is okay to post Michael?

    http://www.theopedia.com/Ipsissima_vox

  7. Here is a quote by William Temple. Anglican and one time Archbishop of Canterbury (1942-44). I myself cannot follow Temple everywhere, but seeking to make the Holy Scripture seen more in both the Logos and the Rhema is much needed!

    “The synoptists may give us something more like a perfect photograph; St. John gives us the more perfect portrait… the mind of Jesus Himself was what the fourth gospel disclosed, but… the disciples were at first unable to enter into this, partly because of its novelty, and partly because of the associations attaching to the terminology in which it was necessary that the Lord should express Himself. Let the synoptists repeat for us as closely as they can the very words he spoke; but let St John tune our ears to hear them.” -William Temple

  8. Marv,

    You are exactly right. There is nothing special about what I have written here. Most certainly the CBSI does not hold to verba. I hope that this is a good expression of CSBI.

    However, most people start the way I did, confused when there was not technically precise accuracy expressed by the Gospel writers. I just felt that this was a good teaching moments on the heels of this weeks controversy. But you will notice, I did not even use the word apocalyptic on purpose! Don’t want emotional biases making associations and tilting the scales one way or another on this.

  9. @Marv,

    Just a friendly question, but have you read any Barth and his CD on this subject of the Holy Scripture? And also John Frame is good reading on this subject. :)

  10. Boz,

    I don’t think I can say I “know” this is true in an absolute sense just like I cannot say I know you exist in the absolute sense :)

    However, due to common sense mixed in with a good deal of literary knowledge of the day, we can be reasonably certain. The most unnatural way to approach this subject would be to attempt to argue for a technically precise model. When such an assumption is made, the weight is on the shoulders of the advocate of technically precise view in my opinion.

    Interestingly, once we adopt a “reasoned inerrancy” approach, silly charts like this go out the door. http://www.project-reason.org/gallery3/image/105/

  11. Thanks for the thoughts! I’m starting to wonder why one would commit to inerrnacy if it means broadening the term and watering it down to the point it doesn’t really say anything. The “reasoned inerrancy” is simply a hermeneutic and says nothing about the truthfulness of the text. NO- an embellished story is not an accurate one. It may have truth in it but it is not completely accurate. If you believe that the writers took “liberties” with the text, with respect to its propositional content, fine- but I humbly disagree that this is any form of inerrancy that doesn’t rob the word of its general meaning. Thanks again!

  12. Heretic! Recant or burn in hell! Or at least that is how some will soon react to this post.

    I find it strange that I grew up in a fundamentalist environment and yet I don’t recall any of the horror stories of fundamentalism occuring around me. Maybe the laid back attitude of California in the 70’s mellowed out the congregations.

    The churches I attended were pastored by Biola/Talbot grads or Bob Jones/Grace Brethern yet I would say that they all held to a reasoned inerrancy view. I wish I appreciated what I had more while I was attending those churches.

    I graduated from Biola in 1980 and even Dispensationalism wasn’t crammed down my throat. It was the only thing taught but those that held a different view weren’t comdemned as heretics. One professor left because he disagreed with the school’s position on scripture, but in the class I took from him he taught the party line and his views and let us decide.

    Here’s a thought that might be relavant here. What if Moses was using the written records of his ancestors that Noah had preserved when he was writing? That would explain JEPD since he would simply lift passages from those early works especially considering the rarity of writing materials. Is it so farfetched to think that Adam could write and would have left some written records that Noah felt should be preserved but edited? Wouldn’t this be reasonable? Isn’t it reasonable to think that many of the writers of the Bible would use any and all of the sources available to them be they written or oral and so as to conserve writing supplies would simply write them as they were written or spoken? That would account for passages in books that seem out of place. It would be like one of us quoting an 18th century book without attribution or modernizing the language. It would obviously not be our words but it would be difficult to find the source if it were being read say 1,000 years from now.

    Maybe I am too willing to allow people to hold their own views even if I think they are wrong. All you can do is present facts, your conclusions and why you reached them. If the other person doesn’t agree then you may want to add the consequences they might suffer but beyond that there is not much more you can do.

  13. I updated the intro and conclusion to try to steer this post in a more productive direction and show the broader implications!

  14. So why can’t the Gospels be a combination of Vox and Verba? Some of the authors were eyewitnesses, others were writing from the stories of others. If God wanted the exact words written down then why not just one writer taking dictation? Why even bother with a writer, just end the world and be done with the lot of us. I’m sure each of you here has a favorite Gospel because it touches the way you think.

    On the subject of what is a lie, for that is in essence what we would call an errant Bible, I like to recall a story from my college days.

    During one, one week Bible conference I heard three different speakers recount the same first hand experience. Based on the details of the story it was impossible for all three to have had that same first-hand experience. As far as I am concerned they were lying, but then again I tend to be freer with that word than most. But what exactly is a lie? Does it require malicious intent? Is good story telling lying? How boring the Bible would be without embellishment. Would anyone read Revelation if it was written in a non-symbolic fashion? They’d skip over it faster than Chronicles.

    If the noun (fact) is accurate does it matter what adjectives are used? Does adding adjectives make the sentence a lie? Does telling the story my way make it a lie? Does what I am writing have any relevance to the discussion? Good night.

  15. The bible is true in what it affirms and denies, not what it misses out. Highlighting different aspects of an event is not and has never been synonymous with errancy.

    Accuracy is not the same as precision. Imprecision is the usual way people communicate and is not considered errant, or dishonest.

    At least some change is made to Jesus’ words by virtue of them being recorded in a different language to which they were spoken. The point of language is the meaning, the same meaning can be given with different words.

  16. Great post! I recently tried to express similar notions in a recent discussion. You did a much better job at it than I. We should not worship the Bible but instead the subject of its content.

  17. Michael, Fr. Robert,

    Michael,
    I think what concerns me most is that in the forth paragraph you quote Mark 19:19 as if it were scripture. (I am joking.)

    Good post.
    I love Genre criticism because I really do think the authors knew what they were doing, and they do it skillfully.
    This is off topic… you mentioned in the comments of another post “While the doctrine of sola fide is a very important part of the Gospel, people are saved by faith alone, not by a belief in the doctrine of faith alone.” Can you blog about that or send me an email? (AaronfrankWalton@gmail.com) I think I would agree with you, but I want to understand what you are saying for sure.

    Fr. Robert,
    Last Winter I started reading Frame’s Doctrine of the Word of God; it is the first of anything he has written that I have read. I was kinda disappointed by what he read, I actually think he makes a better argument for Karl Barth’s view of the Word (thus, I stopped reading Frame and started reading an introduction to Barth and found that I agreed with him). Do you recommend reading what Barth has to say in the Church Dogmatics on the topic? If so, any particular sections?

  18. Correction: “By what he wrote” and “he makes a better argument for Karl… than he makes for his own position”

    Michael,
    Is there someone I can write to about updating the “edit” plugin? :P That is the only way it will get fixed.

  19. Aaron. Maybe I will write on it.

    See if you can edit your comments now.

  20. Stephen Motyer compares the four Gospels to four photographs of a huge oak tree, taken from north, south, east, and west. He says that at first glance they look like photos of four different trees, because it is a 3D object represented by four 2D pictures taken at 90 degrees to each other. It’s hard to tell how the branches all fit together to make one tree. But as you study the four photos carefully, you can gradually build up a mental 3D image of the whole tree.

    But reconciling the apparent discrepancies like this still misses the point. Those four photos of the tree were not taken to provide a brain-teaser, but because the tree is beautiful and the photographer wanted us to admire it.

    Similarly each Gospel paints its own individual portrait of Jesus. Each Gospel writer was looking at Jesus from his own particluar perspective and so each one selected, arranged, and re-told the story in a way that drew out whatever significance he wanted to emphasize. Puttting all four Gospels together gives a fully-orbed, all-round portrait of Jesus, with what looks at first glance like a few discrepancies in some minor details. These ‘contradictions’ are not genuine stumbling blocks for sceptics – they may just be a smokescreen which sceptics hide behind to legitimize their unbelief.

    The early church accepted all four Gospels as authoritative, even though those Christians were fully aware of the variations between the Gospels. When Tatian amalgamated the four Gospels into a single harmonized narrative (the Diatessaron) which tried to smooth out all the conflicting statements, it never really caught on in the early church, and the four individual Gospels prevailed.

  21. This is the difference between divine inspiration and divine dictation. Inspiration leaves a role and importance for the author. With dictation, the author is nothing more than a scribe who writes what he is told. There is almost no way to read the various books in the bible and assume that the author thinks he has no role and is simply writing down what God is telling him (though you might make an argument for that from revelation). Even the OT prophets are writing their own words, even though they are reporting divine prophecies.

  22. When this chart first came out, Justin Holcomb did a couple of posts over at The Resurgence, and also linked to a great chart of Biblical cross-referencing:

    Article 1: http://theresurgence.com/2010/11/12/why-fast-company-sam-harris-need-to-do-their-homework
    Article 2: http://theresurgence.com/2010/11/15/the-bible-is-very-consistent
    Chart: http://www.chrisharrison.net/index.php/Visualizations/BibleViz

  23. Just curious, CMP, how you would tie your mention of “technically precise view of inerrancy” to what the Chicago statement says about science in Article XII. I frequently see this “technical precision” used in Bible-science arguments. Does it apply?
    Also, I think you mentioned that there are parts of the Chicago statement that you have reservations over or disagree with. Care to share?

  24. @Aaron: First, I love to read Barth, I consider him a modern Church Father, but like all Church Fathers.. he is not infallible, and does make mistakes. I mean we all have feet of clay!. But if you have the CD of Barth, the very first volume is: The Doctrine of the Word of God, and volume 2 the same (1.2). This is simply a must read for the theological student and pastor! I would also read, in volume two..1, 2, p. 122 and The Mystery of Revelation!

  25. “nuance: a subtle difference or distinction in expression, meaning, response, etc.”

    Saying they nuanced it may be the best term but if it can mean a ‘difference in meaning’ I’m concerned how that may be processed. Overall I agree with you, I think. I appreciate your definition in the article, but I’m a regular dude talking to regular dudes and it’s a little fuzzy for my brain.

    I find your summary statement after your illustration more helpful in grasping the central concept, however I have trouble with ‘their purposes’ which seems at first read to overemphasize the human element, as if the writers purpose is ultimate rather than penultimate (wow, I’m suprised I even heard of that word).

    how about ”the writers have accurately represented what Jesus said and did as they both put it in their own words and chose what they wanted to include and leave out to suit GOD’s purposes in commuicating the particular truth(s) about Himself He wished to reveal through their account”.

    Just saying I’d like a concise, succinct couple sentences that layman can grab the core of innerancy.

  26. Btw, I think we all need to thank CMP, for taking the time and courage to seek to share his thoughts here on this most profound theological subject! It takes guts to jump into this doctrine and issue: Inerrancy, especially on an open blog! And with all the heat of late, etc. Thanks Michael! And I will again share my basic adherence with him on the doctrine of ‘Ippissima vox’ -“the very voice”! Here again we are on holy ground, and must tread lightly, but surely! For God is God, and the Word, both incarnate (Logos) and the rhema!

    And just a quick personal note, I am an Anglican, but a conservative one, and also somewhat Reformed. I say somewhat, for even here I am overwhelmed by God’s great mystery! But I love and read Calvin also! Just clearing the air, and setting some markers. :)

  27. *Ipissima vox / sorry mates I am a poor typer! That’s more than once I have hung that p!

  28. I say just make it simple. Whatever the Bible teaches is true.

  29. “Technically precise inerrancy” is not truly and consistently held by anybody. A simple argument would be the words spoken by people as recorded in the Bible. Did every single person who’s words are recorded in the Old Testament speak Hebrew? Surely not! Therefor their words were translated to be recorded into Hebrew. No linguist would argue that a translation is technically identical in meaning to the original language. However, we do believe that the Hebrew represents a true and real message of what was said.

  30. Btw, I did want to mention that great Anglican John Wenham (1913-1996), who a signer of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, was also one that believed in the so-called conditional immortality of the soul, or what we call today as Annihilationism. I say this not to demean the man at all, just to show that there were differences in those who signed the draft, on other biblical and theological issues. And also, as do I do myself, John Wenham believed in the so-called Augustinian Hypothesis, that Matthew wrote the Gospel of Matthew first, and to the Jews or Hebrews (perhaps in Hebrew or Aramaic, first), and Mark wrote to the Gentiles, with the help of St. Peter’s life and thought. This idea remains or was a position of many of the Church Fathers.

  31. Fr. Robert
    Thank you for the recommendation. I hope to read in CD soon.

    This probably isn’t the place to discuss the issue… but in brief I heard a lecture regarding Papias’s testimony to the Synoptic Problem (Papias says in the 2nd century that Matthew wrote in Hebrew and that Mark got his information from Peter and did not write it chonologically.); however, Papias’s testimony, as the speaker argued, and I think rightly, that as early and important as Papias was, he was extremely unreliable: (see the Fragments of Papias 18, there he explains how Judas really died.)

    What it does show though is that he saw the Gospels as authoritative and needing to be defended.

  32. Aaron, (I have a grown nephew named Aaron) :)

    Also on a secondary note (but still right in this subject), let me recommend David Wenham’s just fine book: Paul, Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity? (Eerdmans) It is such a timely book in our day, on such issues. And yes, he stands squarely on the unity of Jesus (Gospels) and the Pauline traditions. That American scholar E. Earle Ellis (RIP) called Wenham’s book: “a virtual theology of Christ and his apostle.” I would make this a must read myself, at least for serious students! And all of us theolog’s are serious students…and unto the end! ;)

  33. This was interesting reading as well as the comments. I did notice one factor left out in the discussion: The Holy Spirit.

    2 Peter 1:20-21  But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

  34. Well since the Holy Spirit is God, HE can’t really be left out, but He can certainly somewhat become unknown or diminished personally, or even theologically assumed, in a wrong manner. The latter is perhaps the great problem here in some mechanical or system of terminology. I am speaking of course of the verba position foremost.

  35. Inerrancy: the Biblical doctrine that says that the Scripture, in the autographs (originals), when interpreted correctly, is true in all that it teaches and upon which it touches.

    I wouldn’t add “when interpreted correctly”. Scripture is “inerrant” whether our interpretation is correct or not. The only thing “errant” is a faulty interpretation.

    • Tim, I understand what you are saying but the qualification is the same purpose as when we is the same as when we say “in the autographs”. Wrongly interpreted Scripture is not inerrant any more than wrongly transcribed Scripture. However it is a small point that I am more than willing to concede so long as people know what I am talking about.

  36. I am so happy to be liberated from the notion that we NEED an inerrant book, as the Moslems NEED an inerrant book. We don’t.

    The Word isn’t merely blots of ink on pages. It is Living and Active. In the preaching and teaching of Jesus and the gospel…and in Baptism and Holy Communion.

    Look at Jesus himself. Fully God and yet fully man. Ther finite contains the infinite. That’s the rinciple that applies to the bible, as it does the poor words of the preacher, and ordinary bread and wine.

    Thanks for allowing me to share that with you.

  37. I think you are right in this: we don’t need an inerrant book. However I don’t believe we NEED an inerrant book but I believe we have one. There is a difference in saying we need one and then having to explain through that lense and saying we don’t need one but I believe we have one.

  38. I certainly believe the message is inerrant. But there is no way that the words, every jot and tittle are.

    But they don’t have to be. I think it makes God into a much smaller god to think that He needs a perfect text to help His perfect Word.

    “In the beginning was the Bible. And the Bible was with God, and the Bible was God.” See what I mean?

    That the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost…OR the Upper Room does not matter to the overall message. That Scripture differs on who showed up to the empty tomb first does not matter to the message. That there are differing accounts of the flood story does not shake my faith one iota. If anything it strengthens my faith!

    After all, how much faith does one really need if every joy and tittle are without error and the book floated down from Heaven with a bow tied around it. One wouldn’t need any faith at all. The Bible says it and that settles it. Like the Koran.

  39. If St. Paul could write and say this to the Corinthians:

    “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Cor. 3:2-3, ESV)

    Such is the so-called Mystical Body of Christ, in the Apostolic Foundation to the Church of Christ itself! Again, this is both incarnational and kerygmatic.

  40. Good point, Fr. Robert.

    By the way, which translation of the ‘perfect and inerrant Bible did St. Paul use?

  41. Aye for the most part the Septuagint, and also some free Hebrew texts, from the OT, etc. And we should note that 2 Tim. 3:16 is really the OT Sacred writings or scripture.

  42. I find it odd that St. Paul was responsible for creating so many converts WITHOUT the aid of a New Testament.

    He must have had some ‘special juice’ that rest of us poor slobs today do not have.

  43. Apostleship, and especially Saul/Paul’s was a gift of God, and he simpy became the great Envoy of Grace. There was none like St. Paul: a divine force of human and godly energy! (2 Cor. 12: 12)

  44. If there were original, inerrant manuscripts, and God wanted (needed) this perfect Bible to convey His Word…then why didn’t He preserve them?

    There never were any “perfect” manuscripts…just manuscripts that spoke of a perfect God.

    And that has been good enough for all these years.

    Even the different Bibles that Protestants, Catholics, and the Orthodox use, have been good enough to create faith in the millions that have used them over the centuries.

    Thanks. G’nite.

  45. Once again, I agree to an extent. Of course we don’t have to have them anymore than we have to have the book of third John. But just because we don’t have to have them does not make the doctrine of inerrancy false. However the doctrine of inerrancy should cause us to be all the more dilegent in textual criticism! Important, yes. Essential, no.

  46. CMP: I am so glad that I have heard someone that is an American Evangelical and conservative, that holds to the Ipsissima vox – “the very voice”, yourself! Much like myself also. The other two Americans I have read are Grant Osborne (I think Osborne is an American? But no matter), and Darrell Bock, both such solid Christian theolog’s. I am close to Bock’s PD also, anyway. But I love your idea of “reasoned” inerrancy, great stuff! This will really help other Christian pastors and teachers/theolog’s, etc., of this I am certain!

  47. I have been trying to work out a clear explanation for non-linguists why the two Chicago Statements (1979,1982) have problems related to the code model of communication. Article VI and VII

    ARTICLE VI
    We affirm that the Bible expresses God’s truth in propositional statements, and we declare that Biblical truth is both objective and absolute.

    ARTICLE VII
    We affirm that the meaning expressed in each Biblical text is single, definite and fixed.

    Both statements run into serious problems when working with a framework like cognitive linguistics or relevance theory

    D. J. Weber has this to say:

    “We have been led to think of ‘meanings’ much like fixed objects out in some Platonic space, out there with integers and other things, discrete objects that we can manipulate symbolically, ones we can grasp and stuff into a text.” A Tale of Two Translation Theories, David J. Weber, Journal of Translation, Volume 1, Number 2, page 64.

    This is way too involved to explain in a comment, but there are a number of reasons why a perfectly orthodox linguist and/or bible translation professional would have to hold her nose while signing the Chicago Statement(s). Fortunately most bible translation professionals will never be confronted with this dilemma.

  48. Yes, indeed the so-called Chicago Statements on both Inerrancy and Hermeneutics have some problemtatic spots, for certain! And note Geisler wrote the second.

  49. Things are a bit blurry since I’ve read several of Patton’s posts on inerrancy so I’m not sure where the following goes.

    One thought that I’ve always had is “Why do we have ‘The Bible’?” It is 66 or so books. Why do we not publish them separately? Or at least view them separately like we would any other 66 books we’ve read? Yes, they all go together, but we don’t call the entire encyclopedia errant if there is a typo.

    Another thought is on the chapter and verse breakdown. How many more people might just pick up a book (of the Bible) and read it if there weren’t all those extra markings? In general they are interesting.

    Finally, my view on the Bible has been, since college when I watched firsthand as one of the Lockman teams translated for the NASB, that if you pick up any “prayerfully” done translation and read it, you would be able to find salvation and live a life pleasing to God. And that God would provide correction if needed. (This is the first time I’ve put that in writing. It needs some definition and some refinement. But I hope you get the drift.)

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