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Bible- Errors and Gods

I’ve had a few concerned people mention some things about my posts on the bible. Surprisingly the concern was the ‘contradictions’ part of my posts. You can read the entire church series here. I thought I would clarify a bit so people don’t think I’m discrediting the bible by saying it has errors.

The point of me saying that there are errors is to try and help tear people away from the preconceived belief (that most people would deny) that the bible is a god. Not to tear people from the bible itself. The reason I think the bible is a God is for a number of reasons.

1. The church calls the bible the ‘word of god’ and they also call Jesus the ‘word of god.’ Jesus is God. So they are putting the bible on the same level as Jesus himself in their language.

2. When you ask a church what their foundation of their church is built on. Almost all will tell you the scriptures. Unfortunately the bible itself doesn’t give itself that kind of pedestal. Christ is supposed to be the cornerstone of the church.

3. We encourage believers to base their lives and their ministries and their actions and beliefs on the bible when for some reason the bible’s message isn’t the bible itself but it is Christ alone.

4. If we are so set on the idea that the bible is errorless and we can’t see there being any other way out of it, then I think we have a problem if we have elevated the bible so high in our lives that we feel threatened when someone points out errors in the bible.

Now even those that approach me on my contradictions statement agree that for example that the sign on top of Jesus’ cross said something different in each cross. Now you can look at that and argue that well it’s not that big of a deal. You can look at that and argue that its not really an error, but God told each author to write what they did. Or finally you could look at the four different signs and realize that each sign is in fact different, not the same, and accept that as an error.

The point of pointing out errors is to eliminate the thought that the bible is a god. It can’t be a god if it has errors. Maybe by acknowledging that there is tension in the text will help us relax a bit when it comes to the signpost of the bible. If we didn’t depend so much on our bibles as our power, sword, strength, comfort, rock and foundation then I think we wouldn’t be that big of a deal to admit to errors in the text. However, we give the bible the position of a god, and that’s why so many people cringe when I call them errors.

62 Comments

  • Screw the freakin’ Bible! And what about that whole Jesus is Lord thing? In my relationship with the person Jesus, he shows me that he is not Lord (at least not the only one). Stupid Bible thumpers try to make me think that Jesus is not Buddha. Hello? Quit worshipping the Bible and realize that Jesus is in all things! It’s all from the freakin’ Roman redaction that makes it seem like Jesus was God or something. Hello? He was a man. A man! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that you can’t be both God and man. That’s why I prefer Buddhist literature to lead me to Jesus. No one should be scared of worshipping many gods. They are all Jesus — even in paganism. I wish more evangelicals could see the light of the bible not being free from error. Hey, it at least lets you have a lot more (as the supposed “holy scripture” says) “sensual indulgence.”

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, Nate. It’s good to see you’re on the right track at least….

  • Hey Brian.
    thanks for the post.
    Good to see they are teaching Sarcasm 101 at Biola.

  • Nate,

    I think the reason Christians have traditonally (since the very beginning, and back even farther to pre-Christian Jews) treated as “god” is because they thought it was God speaking. If God appeared and told you something audibly, would you raise your hand and tell him “I’m sorry God, you’re mistaken. It was 100 and 5 horses, not 100 and 4.” Not likely. Of course, if you don’t agree with this belief, then it might seem like the Bible has been treated as another god beside God… but that misses the point. It is God’s words, and hence has the authority and demands the respect that God Himself does.

  • Nathan,
    You say that your point was not to discredit the bible by saying it has
    errors in it. First off, I don’t see the errors. You mention the signs above
    the cross. Perhaps you could show how that is an outright contradiction? You do admit
    that you can argue that there is no error in the passage. I am curious to see why you wouldn’t want to argue in such a manner ?!?
    It seems obvious to me that errors arise either from ignorance or deceit. Clearly, God
    is not ignorant and he is not a deceiver. In lieu of that, His Word ought not to be charged with error.
    My problem with what you’ve written is that in trying to point out errors to discredit the belief that the bible is a god, it seems that you’ve inadverdently impugned the character of the one true God. If the bible is in any sense
    inspired by God and it contains “hundreds of errors,” I hardly see how such a God is
    worth worshipping. Perhaps He better get over His speech impediment first.

    Cheers,
    Brooks.

  • Hey Keith thanks for the message.
    By errors I mean that they don’t say the same thing for the same story.
    There is one story, one sign, but 4 versions of the sign. One of them is right, three of them are wrong. Or four of them were wrong, which means if they were wrong (not an accurate description of the sign) that they had an error.
    When on verse in 2 Sam 24:9 says 800, 000 men were found in Israel, and 1, 100, 000 men were found in 1 Chron 21:5. There are tons of other examples I could give if you really want them. My point is though, that they don’t say the same thing. When they don’t say the same thing that means they contradict. Now you could interpret and change things and make us all feel better by contextualizing the passages and explaining the authorial intent and I’m sure that somehow you could show how in fact by 800, 000 it either ‘doesn’t matter all that much’ or he actually meant 1, 100, 000.

    It seems obvious to you that errors arise by ignorance or deceit because you have accepted by faith that the bible is errorless, so of course you think that.

    My argument Keith is that the Bible is NOT GOD’S WORD.

    It’s interesting how humans who can be inspired by God at any given time can be full of errors at any given time also, its also amazing how people who are just full of error seem to be capable of bringing God’s purposes to pass, could the same not be true with the bible. Or are we so in need of a rock solid book so we can make rock solid doctrines so we can make sure that we are rock solid right. Won’t that just make us feel good.

  • Andrew I always appreciate and respect your insight and comments. Thank-you.

    I guess that’s just what I disagree with, I don’t think the Bible is God’s words. I think that God can be seen living and active working through the bible on every single page, but I don’t think he wrote it. There are even instances in the NT where Paul says, this isn’t God talking this is me talking.

    I have a hard time thinking its God talking when its obviously Paul introducing himself and Peter introducing himself.

    If it was God talking, why would there be any differences at all in the Old Testament numbers.

    Why is it such a big deal to look at the bible as God’s history book which has the redemptive story that we are part of in it, why do we need it to be God’s book of words to us that we can create all of our theologies and systems out of?

  • Nathan,
    A couple questions, if believe that the Bible has so many errors then why believe it at all? If there is no credit in ‘God’s word’ then how do you know what to believe? How do you have a relationship with God and how do you know who he is? How do you discern God from your thoughts or who you want him to be? How do you determine Truth? Against what standard do you measure things? I guess what i’m saying is, if you don’t have the Bible, you’re opening up yourself to making a religion of your own. One that has some roots in Christianity but one that is also entirely led by your ‘relationship’ with God and and how ‘you’ determine it. Ultimately i think you’re getting pulled into a very dangerous school of thought. I really hope you’re seeking some wise council on this and not just following your instincts.

    R.

  • Thanks Robynn.
    The answer to all of your questions is Christ.
    Yes, the Sunday school answer.
    And yes how do i know about Christ, through the Bible.

    But the answer being Christ or the answer being the bible is still extremly different.

    Interesting that our religions are based on the bible and not Jesus Christ, i think that’s probably why the church is so messed up in the first place.

  • Nate,

    I disagree with your views strongly here, but I respect your sincerity and your civility.

    With regards to those NT passages you’re referencing, where Paul says “I, not the Lord, say…”, he is talking about commandments given by Jesus directly while he was on earth and commandments Paul himself is giving.

    With regards to the human introductions with their own names: when Moses spoke to the people God’s very words (this is how it’s describe in the Torah, Moses repeated what God said), it didn’t mean they weren’t God’s words. I guess I don’t see the contradiction… I’d appreciate some more comment on this if you have some time…

    I understand what is motivating your concern with this, I think. The Bible is often used very poorly to justify abuse and needless division. This is true. But the thing is, this is not the fault of the Bible. People who believe what I do, at least the best candidates for my view anyway, don’t believe this just because they want an infallible source of theological axioms to fashion systematic theologies. They believe it because they first of all believe what the Bible says about itself.

    For example, read the letter of Hebrews and notice how the author treats OT scripture when he quotes it. He refers to many places where human authors are speaking (e.g. David) and says it is the Spirit speaking, or in some synonymous way refers to it as God’s words. This is my view in practice. I don’t think anyone has held your view of scripture until the modern age, and for that reason (not that one alone), I think we should be careful before we say this kind of thing about scripture.

    Again, I appreciate your sincerity. I’m thankful we can discuss this peacefully; as long as there is honest and loving dialogue, there is still hope for reaching the truth peacefully. I hope that will continue here…

  • Nathan,
    I would be interested to see what the church would look like with out the Bible after 2000 years. Somehow, i feel like it would be significantly more messed up. especially considering the crazy places it went WITH the bible before the reformation. (Thank goodness for the Bible to get things back to base). Anyway, i’d argue that the biggest reason the church is messed up today is because of sin and not because of the Bible. AND i totally feel like you glossed over my questions. i really want to know what your standard for Truth is without the Bible?
    R.

  • Hey Robynn.
    well the church would probably look like it did in the first century, they didn’t really have the bible then. Most letters were written half way through that century and it all wasn’t canonized till a few thousand years later. They seemed to survive, in fact we seem to want to model our churches after the church right after Christ.

    What is my standard for truth, I answered you. Jesus Christ.

  • Hey Andrew thanks.

    With me talking about Paul talking about himself, I wasn’t trying to say it was contradictory, I was just trying to say that it was odd that Paul would say that these are commands that HE is giving (when in fact we look at them as God’s commands).

    I can’t claim these as my solid views by any means, I’m way to under educated and so ignorant to so much to be able to have views to defend passionately by any means, but that’s why I post to try and tease out this intelligence and to try and better understand the subjects I talk about.

    It’s hard for me to put my trust in text I guess. The part I struggle with the most is trying to understand how Jesus viewed the text and the place that it held in his life. He never had the NT though, and I don’t know why we think we need to ADD it to God’s words with a New Testament. Who decides what goes in there anyway? Why should we just believe it?

    Again though, I don’t think that Jesus read the bible as his ultimate life source. I believe his personal relationship with God was that. Even when he was quoting scripture in the desert he said that man can’t live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. I don’t think he was talking about the rest of the OT, I think he was talking about a dynamic relationship with God that he had and that unless God nourished him, unless God made that bread fulfill him than it would be useless to just make bread.

    Taking the bible as God’s words has to be something that you take by faith wouldn’t you agree. Or is there some proof that I’m just unaware of? Cause it’s just not something that I think I can do.

  • I don’t really have the time to run through a survey of how Jesus uses the OT, but off the top of my head I would say:

    1. Jesus always seems to regard the historical statements of scripture as true. That includes ones today we would regard as fantastic (e.g. he seemed to believe literally in a global flood and the story of Jonah and the big fish), as well as seemingly less significant issues (e.g. he believed what the Bible said about the queen of the East (I think it was the East…) coming to visit Solomon). I never see Jesus once even hinting at the possibility that scripture might be wrong. Obviously I can’t argue my view from the fact that Jesus didn’t say something, but when we compare the silence with what he did say it adds a little weight.

    2. He made the comment once, in reference to being called God’s son (I think) that “the scripture cannot be broken”. He was arguing from a particular word that a particular Psalm used, and through that line in as a given (that is, he and his contemporaries would have totally agreed with this). If the unbreakability of scripture is brought up in reference to a particular word, then I think we need to consider what this implies.

    3. Jesus entire sense of his vocation was built out of his interpretation of scripture. You probably wouldn’t disagree with this, but again, this just adds to our understanding of his respect for scripture. He “discovered” the purpose of his life in reading God’s promises and acts in scripture.

    4. The one place where Jesus says something that be considered negative about scripture is in John where he says to the Pharisees “You search the scriptures for eternal life, but these speak of me”. This, of course, says nothing about any problems with the scriptures, but with the readers. Dull-witted interpreters are hardly a new phenomenon.

    5. Whenever Jesus quoted scripture he treated it with the utmost authority.

    That’s all I can think of off hand. Are all these things compatible with your view?

    The issue of canonization is admittedly complex. We do see throughout the history of Israel that God gave additional covenant documents (which is what the scriptures are; if you want to talk more about this then perhaps I can do this on a different comment… this one is already getting pretty long) at important points in the history of the nation. It would make sense that he would do so when his greatest act and revelation came into history, Christ. The New Testament is God’s speech to go along with his act (God always gives both to His people; acts and the interpretation of His acts). I’m not going to get into the historical questions around canonization, though I think they are important. Suffice to say, I think God has revealed himself clearly enough in the NT and OT documents that the church recognized this immediately in history. Only a few documents were disputed, and eventually the were resolved too.

    I think perhaps we should discuss a bit more what is meant by a “dynamic relationship”. Evangelicals love to throw around this term “relationship” when it comes to God, but I wonder what is intended sometimes. They seem to mean by it and immediate (that is, unmediated) access to God. What kind of relationship would you have with a spouse, for example, if you never touched them or never spoke to them (with words or body language)? Why should this be different with God? Why can’t a dynamic relationship with God be mediated through actual words, or communion, or the church, etc.? I think Jesus lived and breathed scripture, and he heard God speak to Him (not only here, of course) in scripture.

    Taking the Bible as God’s word is by faith in a sense. But then, all beliefs in any kind of final, ultimate authority are by faith. No one can escape faith in epistemology (or life) eventually. Everybody has to do circular reasoning when they get down to their ultimate authority. Ask a rationalist to prove the laws of logic, and they will either have to argue with logic (circular) or else just say “this can’t be questioned” and end the discussion. This is the same for every worldview. Christians believe God and what He says as their ultimate authority. If people ask them to prove God is true, they can’t offer anything more certain than God’s own witness to Himself. What is more certain than the God Himself?

    I’ve written a lot more than I should have, but I hope that it will be of some value… thanks for the discussion Nate, I think this might be edifying for some…

  • In response to the contradictions:
    Nathan, your logic doesnt necessarily follow in both of the examples youve cited. You say that 2 Sam 24.9 and 1 Chron 21.5 dont say the same thing, therefore they contradict. Of course that doesnt necessarily follow at all. As Gleason Archer writes,
    “A possible solution may be found along these lines. So far as Israel (ie, the tribes north of Judah) is concerned, the 1 Chr figure includes all the available men of fighting age, whether battle seasoned or not. But from 2 Sam 24 we learn that Joab’s report gave a subtotal of “mighty men” (‘ish hayil), ie, battle-seasoned troops, consisting of 800,000 veterans. But in addition there may have been 300,000 more men of military age who served in the reserves but had not yet been involved in field combat. These two contingents would make up a total of 1,100,000 men — as 1 Chr reports them, with employing the term ‘ish hayil.”
    That seems like a plausible explanation. I really dont get your little bit about the signs either. I havent really looked into this, but lets say that the sign on the cross said something like, This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. If that is correct, then from my superficial glance at the texts, all 4 accounts can easily be harmonized. So much for the contradictions.
    Nathan from my perspective your views on Scripture have the potential to seriously undermine the faith. You claim your standard of truth is Christ and you concede that you know about Christ through the Bible. Yet you believe that the Bible is chock full of errors! Do you not see the problem with this? By weakening trust in that which attests to Christ, you are potentially weakening peoples trust in the person of Christ. And that should not be tolerated. I hope you see this.

    In love and in Christ,
    Keith.

  • Like i said before Keith.
    You can justify every example I give.

    Andrew thank-you for your posts.
    It gives me a whole other slew of things to think and ponder and pray about.

    I’m just having a hard time ‘needing’ a text that my faith is based in. Especially when there is so much crap that gets flung around about the text. When in a sense we never do interact with the text but only our interpretations of it. Christ when he summoned and commissioned the discples didn’t say read your bible every day. He said that we will receive power through the holy spirit to be his witnesses.

    I guess all 10 of my posts are my attempts to understand the bible the way it was meant to be read and not just accept it because everyone else does. It’s my attempts to get rid of misconceived views and not let historical views taint my current view but rather use them as lessons to better understand mine now.

    To be honest my view is a mess right now when it comes to the bible. I barely have a clue of where i land. I can’t right now come to the faith that the bible is God’s words to us. I’ve been critisized for that, but i don’t know what i’m supposed to do, that’s like critisizing someone for not being able to come to faith in Christ, a great evangelism technique.

    I don’t want to just assume ‘that oh i’ll come around and beleive what the good Christians beleive soon’ either, i just want to keep pressing, and seeking and trying to understand this wonder of a book.

  • A very disconcerting kettle of fish you’re cooking with here Nathan.

    The inerrancy of The Bible has been a rallying cry of the modern church for some time now, challenging it, can be… hazardous. Many many people honestly feel that it’s an EITHER OR situation. Either the Bible is the literal and inerrant WORD OF GOD or it’s worthless.

    In order to even dialogue about this issue, you need to present and persuade that there is a valid alternative. Although I was raised in it, I do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. I believe that God inspired men to write, and those men wrote their own words and from their own lives, but shared a message that was divinely inspired.
    I believe that other men, with prayerful and inspired guidance, collected the writings that were also inspired and called them “The Bible”

    What does this mean? What does it “look like”?
    Well, to me it means that the message that the Bible tells is holy, but it’s words are the constructs of men. Men like us and we can look at how they wrestled with God’s message and learn from it and discuss it and absorb it, without losing faith because we found out that Hezekiah wasn’t omniscient and transcribing the perfect knowledge of God.

    If anyone can show that the MESSAGE of the Bible is in error, then my faith will be in crisis, because it is built on the message that we learn in the Bible, but showing me that Luke and John wrote the same event 5 years later with slightly variant recollections and I’ll just smile and say of course, they were men writing those words, not God. Their message was inspired, not necessarily their every word choice.

    With this view, the Bible retains it’s central focal point as the best tool we have to know our God and our Saviour, it is fulfilled when we live it, not abolished; but God, and the work and message of Jesus retain the centre of our Faith and even our life.

    The Bible was never written to be our timeless Wikipedia, it was written to convey a message from our Creator to His creation.
    Focusing on the holiness and relevance of that message will strengthen people’s trust in the person of Christ, that’s how I feel.

  • This is some good discussion.

    I wanted to comment to Andrew:

    I liked what you said here (not that I didnt like anything else, I thought everything you said was good) but this part stuck out to me.

    Taking the Bible as God’s word is by faith in a sense. But then, all beliefs in any kind of final, ultimate authority are by faith. No one can escape faith in epistemology (or life) eventually. Everybody has to do circular reasoning when they get down to their ultimate authority

    I think youre on to something here. Each generation has to come to a conclusion on whats right or wrong, what to believe and what not to believe by faith. I think the notion Nathan is bringing up is why we believe the bible to be without blemish? If the bible doesnt give itself the credit of it then we must take it by faith that it is perfect? Isnt that just our belief? Everything we know is someone elses interpretation. The fact that I can read the bible in English shows me that someone has interpreted scripture so I have the chance to interoperate it for myself.

    I hear people all the time say God spoke to me or I felt his presence or I saw God at work. Isnt what happens with these comments I hear interpretations of what God did in that moment? What if what they told me wasnt perfect? Does that still knock the fact that God is working?

    I dont think Nathan reads the scriptures with the intension of I cant wait to find error. I think hes asking why it is we call it perfect. And I think the answer (although please tell me different if you dont agree) is by Faith. I have a PDF document entitled 101 Contradictions of the bible and I think its pretty solid. But again, its just another persons opinion on what he found with the literal text of the bible. In no way at all when going through these contradictions do I get the notion that God isnt perfect or how amazing God was/is. I look at the bible as a series of events when God interacted with his people and the scriptures are a written recording of what took place.

    Take TSN (The Sports Network) and The Score for example. They both report the same game and nothing they report about with game will have changed the outcome of what happened in the games they reported. But just because one reporter says something different in accordance to the other reporter doesnt make the game non-existent. They just interpreted the game incorrectly. And just because the game was misinterpreted doesnt mean that I am never going to strap on a pair of skates again because my faith in what the reporters said is corrupt.

    My comment to John Well you work next to me, so lets argue in our office and get everyone else involved.

  • John I think you nailed almost perfectly my ultimate dilemma with this website. You said “In order to even dialogue about this issue, you need to present and persuade that there is a valid alternative.”

    That’s my problem a lot of times i write posts. I don’t have alternatives in the back of my mind ready to post three days later. I do know that the two alternatives don’t work for me. It doesn’t work for me that the bible is this errorless wonder of text. It doesn’t work that the bible is a worthless document because it has errors.

    I come to this problem in a lot of my posts. I do’nt think I’m going to change though because i think that this rawness of not knowing what i’m going into will help me fall into the truth. Only asking questions (knowing the answer secretly) makes me like i’m some sort of all-knowing teacher, trying to teach my audience a lesson.

    Thank-you though Jon, because you vocalized exactly what I was doing without really knowing it. Hopefully this will help me and maybe others discover truth amungst all this dialogue.

  • I don’t think you necessarily need to change at all Nathan, I was more or less just trying to point out what happens.

    If you question the status quo, without offering anything in it’s place, you scare people and they subsquently feel like agreement, or even discussing with you means they have to turn their back on the status quo. Very scary for some indeed.

    So, continue your search and your questions, but be aware of how uncomfortable it may make those that are watching as you journey, not with an eye towards self-censorship or being dishonest, but how to process and deal with the kinds responses you’re highly likely to draw.

    Yours in Christ
    John

  • The Bible is fully inspired in all of its books, every word, every jot, and every tittle. The Scripture can’t be broken. Thats what I hold.

    My belief is rooted in the fundemental understanding of the nature of God…

    If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, He never “tries” anything. He never makes an attempt, in the sense that He gives it a go to see if it happens. No. Whatever God purposes to accomplish, He accomplishes. He knows all the facts and has the power to complete what He sets out to do.

    If God is capable of taking creatures who may be prone to error in other circumstances and guaranteeing the final product, then whatever he intends to be recorded will in fact get written down. The perfection of the text itself is rooted in the character of God. If God is involved in the process, He is not limited by man’s fallible contribution. God doesn’t “try.” He doesn’t “attempt.” He purposes to do something and then accomplishes it in virtue of His omniscience and omnipotence.

  • The ongoing discussion regarding inerrancy has caught my attention and I’ve been paying close attention to it.

    I don’t think that Nathan’s dismissal of Keith’s suggestion is fair. Personally I think it’s tenable. Moreover if it’s true that Keith can answer any so-called contradiction with some kinf of pat answer then it is also true that anyone can just pull “errors”, hundreds of them out of the Bible.

    Perhaps a better way to approach this discussion is to highlight the many implecations brought by Nate’s beliefs. We all agree that the Bible is only to be interpreted to the specificity to which it is intended. If the Bible has errors, what does this mean for Sola Scritura? Are we to accept any alleged error in scripture? How is it that we can’t just write off the parts of the Bible we don’t like, labelling them as errors?

    All questions that need to be answered.

  • my NT prof – a wonderful man – often spoke of ‘bibliolatry’ – worshiping the bible itself, instead of God. Of course there are errors/ambiguities in the bible. There are textual variants all over the place. Then there is the problem of translation. Consider the term ‘malekoi’ in the controversial 1 Cor 6:9. The word simply means ‘soft’ – here are a few of the ways it is translated: effeminate [KJV]; pervert [CEV]; homosexuals [RSV]; male prostitutes [NIV]; those who make women of themselves [Darby] ; guilty of homosexual perversion [NEB]; boy prostitutes [NAC-1987]; sissies [Jerusalem German ed.]; catamites [Jerusalem, 1966] (catamies refers to boys kept as sexual slaves); self-indulgent [New Jerusalem, 1985]. These are vastly different meanings. Which is right? Which is the inerrant Word? By soft does Paul mean the morally soft? Or soft-skinned? Soft-living? There is no definitive way to answer.
    Teaching that the Bible is inerrant is unbiblical – as unbiblical as teaching that the pope is. [btw my own leaning is that malekoi refers to boy sex slaves – and arsenokotai refers to those who keep/employ/abuse them -an indictment of the entire sex trade common in that culture.

  • Ryan, I’m not sure I understand why you believe that your understanding of who God is means that every jot, word and title (what titles do you mean? the titles we find in our modern translations of The Bible??) is “fully inspired”.

    Certainly, if God had intended to provide for us a “fully inspired” and perfect book to understand how we walk out our Faith, He could have done so. What has led us to the conclusion that was even His intent though?

    If God intended that level of perfection, why does He leave so much for us to interpret? Why are some passages clear and others vague? Why did Jesus teach in a parable, then pull aside only His closest followers and explain the parable?

    To me, the evidence of scripture and even the teachings of Christ is that God WANTS us to discuss and engage each other and the Holy Spirit to grow and learn.

    Segueuing into Tom’s questions on what do we do with “errors” and what about Sola Sriptura? Well, we all know that the early church didn’t even have the NT to guide them, and they had serious questions on how the OT scripture fit into their Faith and the Faith of the gentiles they were discipling.

    Seems like the example they set comes with their answer, “It seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit…” They discussed what scriptures were relevant “now” in an atmosphere of seems to me to be prayer submission to the Spirit.
    So, we can’t just right off parts we dislike as errors, but we can examine and decide, with the guidance of the Spirit of God what our faith needs to look like today.

    God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
    But we’re not, so how we relate to that abiding unchanging God may change, not because God ever changed, but because WE did.

  • John. If the Bible is the word of God, and God can’t err, then His word can’t err. If his word cant err, then the Bible must be fully inspired.

    “What has led us to the conclusion that was even His intent though?”

    Look at it this way. If Jesus claims to be God, for example, as He did in the context of His culture, and then demonstrates through His life and actions that the claim quite possibly is true, or might probably be true, then when He identifies the Bible as the word of God (when he refers to the OT), it strikes me that we should believe him.

    sometimes Jesus refers to the text itself as “God said.” Sometimes He says “Scripture says” sometimes He says “Moses says” or whatever writer. But clearly, when you examine the words, in His mind those terms are interchangeable.

    So that would secure the authority of the Hebrew Bible. It would also seem to secure the authority of His words in the Gospels. If it appears that He transferred authority, in some sense, to His disciples in the upper room–where He said He would give His Spirit so that they would recall everything He wanted them to recall and would write down everything He wanted them to write down–that would appear to give advance authority to the things that His bona fide apostles were going to write and teach to the church.

    SOOO now I go to the Bible with good reason to believe it is not merely a book written by men about God and therefore would be subject to all of man’s errors. I approach it as a book given by God to men about Himself, even though men were involved in writing it down.

    If I have good reason to believe that this is a fair way of looking at it, then when I come to a possible apparent contradiction, since my evidence is on the side of being authoritative, what I’m going to look for is a way to resolve the contradiction.

    It does not follow that because the Bible may appear to us as having errors and vague passages that the Bible is not the fully inspired Word of God. Its simply a bad argument.

    “God WANTS us to discuss and engage each other and the Holy Spirit to grow and learn.”

    I totally agree with that. But it seems pretty clear to me that GOd wants us to agree on the fact that the Bible is his fully inspired word.

  • Ryan.

    A few things.

    Where does Jesus consider the bible the Word of God? It seems to me that when Jesus speaks of the Word of God, he is more referring to the message, the gospel or the kingdom, not scripture. I dont think you can prove that Jesus looked at the bible as the inerrant, infallible words of God.

    Where does it say that Jesus told the disciples that they would have authority to recall everything He wanted them to recall and would write down everything He wanted them to write down? And how do you justify text in the NT that we dont know the author of such as Hebrews?

    While it may not follow that because the Bible may appear to us as having errors and vague passages that the Bible is not the fully inspired Word of God it also does not follow that because you believe that the bible is the word of God that all your justifications are correct.

    But it seems pretty clear to me that God wants us to agree on the fact that the Bible is his fully inspired word. I dont see anywhere in all of scripture where its an issue of God needing us to agree on the inerrancy of scripture, not only dont I see it; it certainly doesnt seem very clear.

  • Ryan said,
    John. If the Bible is the word of God, and God can’t err, then His word can’t err. If his word cant err, then the Bible must be fully inspired.

    If the Bible is the Word of God thats a significant leap that we were all taught to make without thinking about it.
    What do we mean when we say that?
    Why do we say that?
    I can almost assure you that when you say the Bible is the Word of God and when I say it, we mean 2 similar, but distinctly different things.
    When I say it, I mean that the message that God wants to share with us, through His people, priests and prophets, Jews and Christians, is contained in the collected works of scripture we now call The Bible. I believe that message was fully inspired but Ive wrestled with it, and I dont see any reason to claim it was a dictation from on High. God didnt write the Bible. Men, men like us, inspired by the Spirit of God wrote. The traditional view that I was raised with, seems to me that it almost wants it to be a possession of men by the Spirit of God and the human vessel wrote the words almost without understanding. Its an interesting thought, but I dont see the support for it, nor the value in holding to it.

    Ryan said,
    Look at it this way. If Jesus claims to be God, for example, as He did in the context of His culture, and then demonstrates through His life and actions that the claim quite possibly is true, or might probably be true, then when He identifies the Bible as the word of God (when he refers to the OT), it strikes me that we should believe him.

    sometimes Jesus refers to the text itself as “God said.” Sometimes He says “Scripture says” sometimes He says “Moses says” or whatever writer. But clearly, when you examine the words, in His mind those terms are interchangeable.
    So that would secure the authority of the Hebrew Bible.

    Im missing something here Ryan, when did Jesus identify the Bible (OT) as The Word of God?
    Im also unsure where you see the clarity in Jesus mind that God said, Scripture says and Moses says are interchangeable. If Jesus says 3 different things, why are you interpreting that as if its one thing?

    Im curious as to why we as a Church are so comfortable making those kinds of claims. Given that you are defending the concept that every jot is authoritative, how do you take the authority then to make that claim?

    Ryan said,
    It would also seem to secure the authority of His words in the Gospels. If it appears that He transferred authority, in some sense, to His disciples in the upper room–where He said He would give His Spirit so that they would recall everything He wanted them to recall and would write down everything He wanted them to write down–that would appear to give advance authority to the things that His bona fide apostles were going to write and teach to the church.

    Im very much unclear what youre referring to here, but regardless; the majority of the NT and even the gospels were not written by men that were in that upper room to receive such advance authority even if it was dispensed then.

    Ryan said,
    It does not follow that because the Bible may appear to us as having errors and vague passages that the Bible is not the fully inspired Word of God. Its simply a bad argument.

    In fact, its a very strong argument. You can counter the argument by dispelling the contradictions and vagueness if something is flawed when the contradiction or vagueness is pointed out. If there exists even a single point of contradiction or Id even say vagueness, then the every jot is inspired and authoritative position is in grave danger from a logical point of view.

    And that precisely is why I personally believe that so much of our communities have turned away from the Bible and from God. They dont see the clarity that the Church was selling for so long.

    I know many of my brothers and sisters in Christ feel very threatened to even consider that perhaps the Bible isnt precisely what they were told to believe it was, their Faith has been built with that as a foundation, and I feel deeply for them, but I believe a greater number of souls have never been able to do the mental gymnastics to get there and need the Word of God to meet them where they are, and my belief is that was Gods intention with it from the beginning.

  • seems to be an ongoing conversation here – and i hate to intrude, but i’ve always been perplexed by the teaching that the Bible [i.e. the words of the text] IS the Word of God. I believe the words of scripture bear witness to the Word of God. When the Word became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood, it wasn’t the Bible that became flesh. It wasn”t even the words of Torah. When we say the bible is the word of God we are speaking in metaphors. When I say to folk in worship ‘you are the body of Christ’ it’s a metaphor, not positivistic fact. The kind of circle argument above leads us into the infallilbility of the church ie. The Word is Jesus Christ -if he is infallible and we are his body then we must be infallible too.

    The real issue here is fear. If we do not have the inerrancy/infallibility to stand on, will our faith fall. I can testify with everything inside me that it won’t, In fact, I believe it’ll grow. Mine did.

  • Nathan says:

    “Where does Jesus consider the bible the Word of God? It seems to me that when Jesus speaks of the Word of God, he is more referring to the message, the gospel or the kingdom, not scripture. I dont think you can prove that Jesus looked at the bible as the inerrant, infallible words of God.”

    we can see in the person of Jesus, His stamp of approval on virtually the entire Old Testament. He quotes from every section of the Hebrew Bible: the Pentateuch, the Wisdom Literature, the Poetry, the Prophets (both major and minor), the Historical material. He quotes them as if they were authoritative, from God Himself. Jesus quoted from 24 different Old Testament books I think all over the place in the Gospels. Check this Link. Or just search ‘jesus quotes old testament’ in google. What else would Jesus be considering the OT if not the Word Of God in regards to these quotes? see – Matthew 5:17,Matthew 11:13,Luke 16:16,John 1:45,Acts 13:15, Acts 24:14

    Jesus holds the OT as authoritative and he stands by it. The OT claims it is the word of God. SO Jesus believes that the OT is the Word of God.

    “Where does it say that Jesus told the disciples that they would have authority to recall everything He wanted them to recall and would write down everything He wanted them to write down? And how do you justify text in the NT that we dont know the author of such as Hebrews?”

    See John 14:15-31. Specifically verse 26. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” This is suggesting a transfer of authority I think. Id like to look into this more actually. Im not sure what your talking about in your second argument refering to an author in the NT being Hebrew?? The only time I mentioned Hebrew in my previous post was the Hebrew Bible meaning the OT (or so i thought).

    “While it may not follow that because the Bible may appear to us as having errors and vague passages that the Bible is not the fully inspired Word of God it also does not follow that because you believe that the bible is the word of God that all your justifications are correct.”

    I have good reason to believe the Bible is the Word of God in which it claims. The onus is on you to point out why my justifications are not correct.

    “I dont see anywhere in all of scripture where its an issue of God needing us to agree on the inerrancy of scripture, not only dont I see it; it certainly doesnt seem very clear.”

    Your right. God does not need us to agree, but Its important that we find out why we should believe in the Bible as the fully inspired Word of God or not. I meant to say something like: ALthough this is not essential doctrine, authority of Scripture is a functional necessity because without it none of the other truths could be affirmed or asserted with confidence.

    the Bible itself claims to be God’s word!. Now, of course, that doesn’t make it true, per se. We’ve got to go further than the mere claim. But it is significant that many who don’t believe in Christianity still respect the Bible. This book they respect makes this claim about itself over and over again, and if the book is worthy of respect, then certainly the claim is worthy of respect. It’s worthy of careful consideration.

    I think a better way to answer the question is to see whether the Bible has the mark of the supernatural–whether it has God’s “signature” on it–or not, or whether it simply seems to be a book just given by man, having all the marks of natural human beings, and the limitations thereof, and no sign of the supernatural. If It’s a book given by God to man(which I have reasoned for), not merely a book by man about God, then I think its safe to come to the conclusion Ive made.

    Dont worry John. I’ll get to your reply tomorrow :D

  • I feel like it’s too late for me to put in a comment now, as so much has passed in discussion and I really don’t want to end up writing dissertation length responses on Nate’s blog.

    One comment was made, and is still being discussed as to whether the Bible claims to be God’s word or perfect. I’m not sure any of the passages that use the phrase “God’s word” could be nailed down to be talking about scripture (including the OT and NT) completely. The 2 Tim passage (which I think is a stretch to interpret theopneustos as alluding to God’s breathing into Adam; a more logical background would be the references in the OT to God’s word and speech, both of which normally require breathing (hence the metaphor, I think)) seems to, by implication, do this. Paul likely would have had the OT in mind, but I don’t think Paul was limiting this statement to the OT. He was not discussing the contents of the Canon at all, but rather the nature of scripture, whatever the content of it might be. You can see as early as 2 Peter that the apostles recognized their own writings as scripture, so I think Paul easily could have included the NT writings in his statement by implication.

    There are also many many places where the words of Scripture (written by men, as everybody admits) are equated with God speaking. Ryan and I have already given examples of this. Read through the letter to the Hebrews and take note of how the writer uses OT scripture, how he refers to it. Paul calls the scriptures “the oracles of God”, which refer to words.

    As to whether or not the Bible claims to be perfect, I think the first thing we should ask is: does the bible claim God always speaks truth? I think all the Biblical writers who deal with God speaking and who deal with the Scriptures being God’s speech assumed that God could not lie or lack knowledge.

    Perhaps it would be helpful to define exactly what is meant by “error” when it to comes the doctrine of inerrancy. I think it is something like: a false assertion based on ignorance or deciet. Inerrancy has never claimed freedom from “error” if error is defined in the sense that a physicist or mathematician would define it, that of absolute precision. No normal human being uses this standard in language, and the scriptures were written by normal human beings. Saying that scripture is free from error also does not mean, as one person seemed to imply above, that there are no textual or interpretive difficulties. This is simply the product of textual transmission and human ignorance; it doesn’t really have anything to do with whether the words written by the Canonical writers were inerrant.

    Another thing I noticed: some people have been treating the classical view of inspiration and inerrancy as if it were necessariy a dictation theory of inspiration. This is simply false. Plenary verbal inspiration does not mean dictation.

    One last thought: in life, we should always take God’s communication to us (I’ll leave open for the moment what that is) over appearances. We walk by faith, not by sight, correct? This means we place epistemic priority on God’s communications over all phenomena. We doubt our own eyes before we doubt God’s words. This is the practice of faith. If this applies to our discussion, it means that the teaching of scripture about itself must override any apparent difficulties we encounter in reading scripture. This is simple obedience, I think.

  • Andrew said,
    One comment was made, and is still being discussed as to whether the Bible claims to be God’s word or perfect. I’m not sure any of the passages that use the phrase “God’s word” could be nailed down to be talking about scripture (including the OT and NT) completely. The 2 Tim passage (which I think is a stretch to interpret theopneustos as alluding to God’s breathing into Adam; a more logical background would be the references in the OT to God’s word and speech, both of which normally require breathing (hence the metaphor, I think)) seems to, by implication, do this. Paul likely would have had the OT in mind, but I don’t think Paul was limiting this statement to the OT. He was not discussing the contents of the Canon at all, but rather the nature of scripture, whatever the content of it might be. You can see as early as 2 Peter that the apostles recognized their own writings as scripture, so I think Paul easily could have included the NT writings in his statement by implication.

    Its clearly not referring to the NT canon, since it did not exist, and while you can try and stretch it to work there, that is not something to hang a doctrine on. Regardless, it really doesnt have any significant bearing on the discussion though, since I dont see anyone taking the position that scripture is NOT inspired.
    I believe scripture is inspired, I believe that Jesus, Paul, et al. believed that scripture was inspired, so corralling them and their use of and support of scripture is not truly pertinent since were not really discussing whether the Bible is inspired, but rather, what does that mean, and in particular, what does that mean to our Faith and how we walk it out.

    If someone IS taking the position that scripture is NOT inspired and not profitable for teaching etc. they can speak for themselves, but Im not in that camp, nor do I see Nathan in that camp. Although I dont presume to speak for him.

    Andrew said,
    There are also many many places where the words of Scripture (written by men, as everybody admits) are equated with God speaking. Ryan and I have already given examples of this. Read through the letter to the Hebrews and take note of how the writer uses OT scripture, how he refers to it. Paul calls the scriptures “the oracles of God”, which refer to words.

    I dont doubt that at certain points in time a prophet may have spoken with the words that he stated were the actual words God gave him to speak. It appears though, that when this happens, the author makes it clear to us with a Thus sayeth the Lord thy God etc to open the passage and warn us that this is something different. So why do we want to try and add that where the authors didnt?

    Andrew said,
    As to whether or not the Bible claims to be perfect, I think the first thing we should ask is: does the bible claim God always speaks truth? I think all the Biblical writers who deal with God speaking and who deal with the Scriptures being God’s speech assumed that God could not lie or lack knowledge.

    Im not understanding why you have this paragraph here. I dont believe youll get any argument re: God lacking knowledge or lying.

    Andrew said,
    Perhaps it would be helpful to define exactly what is meant by “error” when it to comes the doctrine of inerrancy. I think it is something like: a false assertion based on ignorance or deciet. Inerrancy has never claimed freedom from “error” if error is defined in the sense that a physicist or mathematician would define it, that of absolute precision. No normal human being uses this standard in language, and the scriptures were written by normal human beings. Saying that scripture is free from error also does not mean, as one person seemed to imply above, that there are no textual or interpretive difficulties. This is simply the product of textual transmission and human ignorance; it doesn’t really have anything to do with whether the words written by the Canonical writers were inerrant.

    OK, I think it would be very helpful to define what we mean by error, but Im not sure Im following your position.
    Are you saying then that Gods Word is inerrant, but that a physicist is more inerrant??
    If God is delivering to man a perfect and inerrant Word, then why are there textual and interpretive difficulties? Is the task too big for God? Of course not. You invoke human condition to explain it away, which is really not too different at all from saying that God is perfect, His message is perfect, but it comes to us via earthen vessels, flaws and all. When we allow the Spirit to guide us to the message, it is perfect. So we revere the Spirit, we revere God, but not necessarily the flawed vessels which we appreciate and love for bringing us to God.

    Andrew said,
    Another thing I noticed: some people have been treating the classical view of inspiration and inerrancy as if it were necessarily a dictation theory of inspiration. This is simply false. Plenary verbal inspiration does not mean dictation.

    Plenary verbal inspiration is a technical way to describe it, but how would it be different than dictation then? If every word and jot must be perfect and fully inspired and inerrant, how would dictation be any different?

    Andrew said,
    One last thought: in life, we should always take God’s communication to us (I’ll leave open for the moment what that is) over appearances. We walk by faith, not by sight, correct? This means we place epistemic priority on God’s communications over all phenomena. We doubt our own eyes before we doubt God’s words. This is the practice of faith. If this applies to our discussion, it means that the teaching of scripture about itself must override any apparent difficulties we encounter in reading scripture. This is simple obedience, I think.

    Thats entirely circular then Andrew. I walk by Faith in God. I dont doubt Gods words. But then you make a logical fallacy statement and make the leap that I ought to put that Faith in The Bibles words as if they are the literal words of God, but that is precisely the issue we are discussing.

  • Hello lads. As this comment section is getting extraordinarily long, I decided not to post here. I posted on my own blog – http://thebrooks.blogspot.com

  • “Its clearly not referring to the NT canon, since it did not exist, and while you can try and stretch it to work there, that is not something to hang a doctrine on.”

    My point isn’t that Paul necessarily had the NT letters in mind when he wrote this. My point is that Paul doesn’t seem to care at this point what the content of the canon is. His point is about the nature, not the content, of scripture. And that was my point.

    “Regardless, it really doesnt have any significant bearing on the discussion though, since I dont see anyone taking the position that scripture is NOT inspired.
    I believe scripture is inspired, I believe that Jesus, Paul, et al. believed that scripture was inspired, so corralling them and their use of and support of scripture is not truly pertinent since were not really discussing whether the Bible is inspired, but rather, what does that mean, and in particular, what does that mean to our Faith and how we walk it out.”

    True enough. My point is that some people try to avoid this passage applying by saying things like “well, how could this prove inerrancy if the NT wasn’t included” or “this doesn’t mean every word was inspired, just that it is inspired like Adam was ‘inspired'”. My point is that these responses are irrelevant.

    “I dont doubt that at certain points in time a prophet may have spoken with the words that he stated were the actual words God gave him to speak. It appears though, that when this happens, the author makes it clear to us with a Thus sayeth the Lord thy God etc to open the passage and warn us that this is something different. So why do we want to try and add that where the authors didnt?”

    This is simply false. The author of the letter to the Hebrews quotes Psalms of David, which through the Psalm make no mention of any “thus saith the Lord”. In fact they are all speaking TO God. And yet in Hebrews all the words David spoke are considered words of God.

    “Im not understanding why you have this paragraph here. I dont believe youll get any argument re: God lacking knowledge or lying.”

    Well, it goes to an implication of what is being said between us. My view (and I have substantiated this already) is that the words of scripture should be taken to be God’s words. If this is accepted as true (and I’m not saying that you do, just that given the evidence I’ve already presented, you should) then saying scripture has errors is tantamount to saying God speaks errors. This is where my paragraph comes in.

    “OK, I think it would be very helpful to define what we mean by error, but Im not sure Im following your position.
    Are you saying then that Gods Word is inerrant, but that a physicist is more inerrant??”

    No. I’m saying there are (at least) two different definitions of error in the human language. One is the one I provided, which is the one that has been intended by theologians (and the general meaning of error). The other is a technical one used by certain types of natural and mathematical scientists. Physicians statements about the natural universe might be more precise according to a certain standard of precision, but they are not more true according to the general meaning of error I gave.

    “If God is delivering to man a perfect and inerrant Word, then why are there textual and interpretive difficulties? Is the task too big for God? Of course not. You invoke human condition to explain it away, which is really not too different at all from saying that God is perfect, His message is perfect, but it comes to us via earthen vessels, flaws and all.”

    Sure. But you then apply this to mean that the message itself becomes flawed because the messengers are. I deny this application is valid. My point is that it was never claimed that inerrancy solves every problem of textual criticism or interpretation. That’s never what it was intended to do.

    “When we allow the Spirit to guide us to the message, it is perfect. So we revere the Spirit, we revere God, but not necessarily the flawed vessels which we appreciate and love for bringing us to God.”

    We don’t consider Paul, in his character and life, to be flawless. But when he speaks (or writes) as a prophet, He speaks God’s words. God IS flawless, and so are His words.

    “Plenary verbal inspiration is a technical way to describe it, but how would it be different than dictation then? If every word and jot must be perfect and fully inspired and inerrant, how would dictation be any different?”

    Because the former takes into account the humanness of the authors and their thought processes. It accepts that they came to write the things they did through “natural” means, the same way a normal person would write. It also affirms that God guided and directed these processes so that they wrote exactly what He intended. Dictation means that God just spoke words that the author then wrote down, in which case their thought processes would be irrelevant to interpretation and meaning.

    “Thats entirely circular then Andrew. I walk by Faith in God. I dont doubt Gods words. But then you make a logical fallacy statement and make the leap that I ought to put that Faith in The Bibles words as if they are the literal words of God, but that is precisely the issue we are discussing.”

    This is not a circular statement if you take into account the evidence I have already given to accept that these are the literal words of God. If this is the case, then it IS an issue of faith in God.

    I think for the sake of time, this will be my last post on this thread. Thanks for all your input and time, guys, and thanks for allowing this to continue Nate. Hope it does help somebody

  • This discussion needs to be turned into its own mini forum or something where replies are listed by title not the whole reply itself. If we continue going back and forth with multiple people its gonna get real messy :P

    Ill try and be brief in reply to John. I think we all have to agree that Its not going to be enough to dismiss the Bible as being the Word of God simply by noting that “man wrote it.” This, in itself, is not a liability.

    If men were inspired by God to write his word then God did write the Bible in a sense. He used men as instruments to speak for him. If you believe they were ‘fully inspired’ then you are forced to agree that it is God speaking through these men.

    Paul, for example, used emmanuensai. These were like secretaries. You use them to take dictation, and they write down what you tell them to write down, and then you send it on. Does it follow from the fact that they’re writing your words that they can’t be your words? No, not at all. Does it follow from the fact that they’re writing your words that they must get them wrong? No, that doesn’t follow either, even when you’re just talking about a human being.

    So you can’t just say, Well, men wrote it, therefore it must be flawed, because that doesn’t follow. If the claim of the Bible itself is true, it doesn’t seem to be the case that if God is actually involved, He can’t get men to do and to write down what He wants them to.

    There’s nothing incoherent about the claim itself. There’s nothing self-refuting about the claim that men write the very words of God and that it is inerrant. So we’re going to dispatch those objections immediately because they’re not good objections.

    in direct response to what john said:
    1)Jesus identifies the OT as the Word of God when he quotes it and reveres it as athoritative. 2) I interpret those things as being interchangeable because of the context which he is using them. In each case I can identify that he is reffering to something that is one and the same. and 3) I dont need to take authority from anywhere to make a claim, I just need good reason to back it up or else the claim has its feet planted firmly in midair.

    just because the gospels were not written by the men in the upper room does not take away their authority that Jesus gave them to get what God wanted written.

    “every jot is inspired and authoritative position is in grave danger from a logical point of view.”

    No its not…read this.

  • Wow, thanks everyone for posting. I love this stuff. I love the internet. When everyone points out that the internet is this disgustingly filthy virtual world, here we are, speaking so passionately about the creator we admire the most.

    I dont think these discussions have weakened our faith (no matter which side you hold) and I love to see that other people have posted there own thoughts on there own blogs and the people that view there blogs are now getting a chance to voice.

    Amazing.

    I think this debate has and will continue forever (or until God makes us a new book and points out once and for all) but I think God would be smiling right now. I mean if this was back in the day, someone would have been slain by now. If anything, a question has arisen and our faith is being stretched (or re-enforced) and its awesome to see everyone speak so freely, declaring there own truth about God.
    I run to my computer quite frequently as of late to check this page out. Not because of the gossip or that someone might have through in a good punch line in but because people are speaking so passionately about how and what God means to them.

    Amazing! (Sorry Rob Bell for ripping off your style of writing)

    I know for a fact that if Nathan was to have a Lets talk Bible session at his apartment in Toronto, the only thing that would hinder us is distance and not the fact that we disagree.

    Since I know John and Nathan so well, I know that even if you sat at a table with them and discussed things and nothing was resolved (i.e no one admitted the others perspective to be more correct) you would leave the table with the utmost respect for them. So much so you would be thinking man, these guys are awesome, I wish them well instead of these people are out of there mind, someone needs to take them out.

    And thats what I love about debates. People are communicating. Now, this is my own thought but do you think God would rather us solve him and have one correct way to look at him or maybe have many views from many flavors doing the work of the kingdom (example respect, honor, serving, love) which I see so much of it going on lately.

    I love how everyone that has posted will leave this table and continue in there journey of servant hood with there own communities and feel even more passionately about doing so. I dont think anyone will leave this place with the mind set of the world is doomed; I cant believe people think like this, I have to get the real good news out there.

    So thanks everyone for making this a good place to get our debate on.
    Cheers.

  • Nate,

    I stand behind my original post. I do not think that anyone has refuted it yet.

    Here is an analysis of the argument:

    1) The Bible is not a god

    a) the Bible has errors
    b) a god should not have errors
    c) The Bible is not a god

    I think everyone agrees with the conclusion, but it’s premise a) that everyone is questioning. You have offered ABSOLUTELY no evidence for the premise. How about this?:

    a) the Bible claims that there is no god beside God
    b) the Bible is correct in its claims
    c) the Bible is not a god

    Wow, that seems a little easier.

    It certainly seems strange to go to bizarre lengths in arguing for 1.a) when you have no proof.

    Another thought:
    “The trees danced in the night sky as the wind ran by.”

    Now I could argue that the above statement is not a god on the basis of scientific fact that trees are unable to perform the physical function of dancing and that wind cannot run. From that I can draw the conclusion that the above statement has errors. Would that be very useful? I would be holding the statement up to a standard that is foreign to the purpose for which it was written. (It seems any “error” that can be found in the Bible dissipates in a similar fasion).

    Does anyone in the world suggest we should do that for the Bible? That is not what inerrancy holds (at least for non-crazy people).

    Now suppose that we consider the statement: “the Bible is not the word of God.” This statement is vague, so we’ll need unpack it. Let’s say we mean this:

    “The Bible is not accurate in all that it says.”

    Still we find that “says” is too vague. We could mean it in the sense that would place dancing trees under a scientific microscope. Let’s try this:

    “The Bible is not accurate in all that it INTENDS.”

    This seems to be what we’re discussing. I.e. the writers of Scripture may have (in some cases) actually intended to communicate one thing, but were inaccurate in what they intended to communicate. Alright, let’s accept this for the moment. Now let’s consider where the Bible is accurate:

    “The Bible is accurate in none of what it intends.”

    Here is an absurd belief that not even atheists accept, so let’s modify it:

    “The Bible is accurate in some of what it intends.”

    Alright, let’s work with this one. Now we have a claim where we are saying that the Bible is accurate some of the time but not all of the time. Now the question that rises is, “how do we know WHEN the Bible is accurate or inaccurate?” We need another standard to adjudicate between scriptural inaccuracy. Suppose we try science, or philosophy, or psychology. What we would find is that each of these disciplines have their own discrpancies and problems. Thus, in order to take one or some of them, we would need to do so BY FAITH. Now the question that arises is “are we better off taking these things by faith than the Bible itself?” (especially when we have failed to offer a single irresolvable error in the Bible).

    Now let’s suppose we try the more emergent method of finding an adjudicating standard:

    “My standard is Jesus.”

    Now that sounds very nice, in fact quite pious, but it is so horribly vague that we’ll have to unpack it to find out what it means.

    “My standard is the propositional communication that I directly have with the person Jesus Christ.”

    Well, this sounds quite lovely. It also means that you should begin to write your own scripture since you are clearly more inspired than the authors of the holy writ. Let’s try something else:

    “My standard is the love relationship I have with Jesus Christ.”

    Well this sounds even more lovely. In fact it almost sounds more pious to our postmodern ears. Out with the text, in with the feeling. It might even work wonders to sway Charismatics such as myself who place a high value on personal relationship with Jesus. However, we are trying to find a standard that can adjudicate concerning accurate or inaccurate propositions. Thus this statment says nothing concerning what we’re looking for. Let’s try the most lethal option:

    “My standard is Jesus, who is in heaven. One day I will go there and will have access to that standard. Until then, I’m not sure what’s right or wrong in the Bible.”

    Here is a statement that seems not only pious, but (to woo the ears of postmoderns) HUMBLE. Well let’s consider it. Now we admit that the Bible communicates some things about Jesus, so we have to ask, is the Jesus that the Bible talks about the Jesus that we’re talking about? If so then it seems we are doing an interesting thing with the propositions communicated in the Bible. We are accepting them as correct in describing the person Jesus Christ. But why would we do that? What is motivating us to accept certain propositions as correct? It seems this is the belief that is motivating that:

    “Generally speaking (though not 100% of the time) the Bible is accurate in what it communicates.”

    Here’s the huge problem with this statement: it has no backing. You need to take it by faith. You can’t find a scripture passage that supports it. If we deny that the Bible is correct 100% of the time on the basis that we don’t need to accept it scripturally or whatever, then it logically follows that we must also reject the “less than 100% but somewhere above 50%” thesis. Oh-oh, we’re on a slope and starting to slip down fast!

    Now, the question is where to we pull in the reins? We could say we’re closing shop at the “the Bible is correct most of the time” thesis. In order to do this (and I can’t think of any other way) we must do so BY FAITH. So we are digging in our heels in the by-faith ground, when we were so upset when the 100%-ers did that just a minute ago. Hmm… that seems unfair.

    We will end up using the same arguments as the 100%-ers in order to argue that the Bible is correct most of the time. We’ll say things like it was inspired by God, it was written by people who knew Jesus, etc. The problem is, those arguments all seem to blatantly favour the 100%-ers. If divine inspiration is efficacious for 90% correctness why on God’s green earth would it not be effective enough to achieve 100% correctness? If we accept that God is indeed inspiring men to write down something that accurately represents him, it seems horribly ad hoc that God would choose to give them 90% (or whatever other percent) correctness in their being inspired. If God is doing anything whatsoever in the writing of Scripture, does it not seem obviously consistent with his character to do the job in a God-way? It seems strange for a perfect God to write an imperfect scripture. And when your basis is of a “by faith” type, then you’ve got way more problems than the 100%-ers.

  • Andrew, thanks then for the conversation, by the way, you closing statement is still circular, because it only holds if the belief that it supports has already ben accepted. In itself, that’s ok, it’s just not a compelling reason to believe it to be so.
    I’m still pretty unclear what the standard of error is that you use, but perhaps that’s getting too tangental?

    Ryan,
    1) We all agree that Jesus quoted the OT Scriptures. That does not support any position put forth in this discussion any more than any other position.
    2) We’ll have to agree to disagree then.
    3) Then your authority is now your ability to reason, and The Bible. The Bible didn’t STATE those 3 things were equal, it seemed good to you that they are.
    I’m not even entirely disagreeing with your conclusion, just pointing out how you arrived at it.

    Ryan, you’re either misunderstanding or mis-representing my thoughts. I’m not saying at all that the Bible has flaws BECAUSE it was written by man. That’s an entirely different discussion, so the link you included wasn’t meaningful for me.
    Allow me to attempt to clarify, I see difficulites in the Bible taking it as an absolute, inerrant authority, I accept these difficulties by recognising that the Bible came to us via man and not directly from God, so we have the ability to review and discuss with ourselves and the Spirit of God and determine what “seems” good.

    The fundamental difference between both positions is, one sees man involved and assumes there must be errors, the other sees difficulties and accepts them as a part of the process given that man is involved.
    One is trying to prove that errors must exist, the other is simply a reason for accepting the issues as they arise.

    Here’s an easy example, should women be allowed to speak in churches?
    If we believe that the Bible is the inerrant WORD OF GOD and there is no discussion, then 1 Cor. 14:33-34 is pretty clear on the issue. God has spoken to us inerrantly, so we ask our ladies to please be quiet and only learn at home from their husbands??

    Ron, thanks for keeping us grounded and seeing each other as brothers and not opponents.

    Brian, I have no idea what point you think you made in your first post that needed to be refuted or I’d take a stab at it.
    You present logical arguments in your last post, but I don’t think you’ve captured the essence at all of what you’re arguing against, making it hard to either discuss with you or respond. You’ve done a good job of showing the flaws in positions that I don’t hold though.
    :)

  • Thanks for the clarification John. The point made about Jesus quoting the OT is that it gives evidence that Jesus viewed the OT as the authoritative Word of God (and we should do the same). If Jesus gave His imprimatur to the Hebrew Bible, and if Jesus is someone whose word we might be able to trust, then that gives us good reason to trust the authority of the Hebrew Bible.

    ” I see difficulites in the Bible taking it as an absolute, inerrant authority”

    I understand that we may run into difficulties, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be solved.

    “Bible came to us via man and not directly from God, so we have the ability to review and discuss with ourselves and the Spirit of God and determine what “seems” good.”

    I agree with this partially accept the beginning where you say the Bible came to us via man and not directly from God. That seems like a mistake to me because for previous reasons I have given, the Bible came to us directly from God through men. The idea that it came via man and not directly from God automatically suggests that the Bible is going to have some error and theres no way around it.

    “the other is simply a reason for accepting the issues as they arise.”

    so why can’t you accept the Bible as the inerrant word of God if you take this position?

    “If we believe that the Bible is the inerrant WORD OF GOD and there is no discussion, then 1 Cor. 14:33-34 is pretty clear on the issue.”

    The fact that the Bible is inerrant and the word of God does not allow us to disregard and ignore the rest of the Bible.

    If God says, “Thou shalt not kill” and we think it means you shouldn’t kill under any circumstances whatsoever, and then He says, “Kill, kill and kill some more,” in another circumstance in the same Bible, then we have to review what we thought we understood God to mean in the Sixth Commandment. That’s why we look more closely at the context and the Hebrew word and we realize that we should not wantonly take the life of an innocent person. But there are times when killing is justified and in fact commanded, at least in the theocracy.

    SO when we look at 1 Cor. 14:33-34 we can take the same approach. So if someone asks “should woman speak in Church?” I will respond “It depends on the context of the situation”. see how that works? i don’t know the scripture that supports woman speaking in church, but IM pretty sure theres something. check out this article on Stand To Reason, it talks a fair bit about the issue I think.

  • Ok, after Keiths questions he wants to understand why I cant see the bible as inerrant.

    There are a number of reasons.

    1. Im not exactly sure what we are calling inerrant. Is it the original manuscripts (which dont exist to us)? Is it the English KJV bible? Can we point directly to a certain manuscript? Well, no because the way the bible came together is by using thousands of manuscripts and majority wins. When we say inerrant we like to point to our KJV or NASB and hold it up and say this is the WORD OF GOD. Unfortunately that specific text has been through so much translation, taken from its original language and the way we understand that is far from the way it was intended (which is why its so great to take Greek and Hebrew classes). If I was to hold to any inerrant view I think it would be a useless Endeavour because I would hold that the original manuscripts were inerrant which we dont have.
    2. An example. When Matthew quotes Isaiah about Jesus being born from a virgin he is actually quoting the Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT). The original word in Hebrew doesnt necessarily mean virgin but means getting pregnant after having sex for the first time (or something like that). We only know this now because we can see the Septuagint and the Hebrew Scriptures and we can see Matthews error. As far as Im concerned Matthew made an error because the Septuagint made an error and thats what he quoted. Oops.
    3. For the last 3 months Ive been doing an intense study on war and sex in the Hebrew bible. Im having an extremely hard time reconciling the God of the OT scriptures with Christ of the NT ones. Im having a hard time understanding how a nation that is told to be a blessing to other nations is then commanded to slaughter them, women and children and all. Im not saying just because I have difficulties it makes it untrue, but I hope you can at least better see where Im coming from.
    4. I dont understand how we can accept books that we dont even know the author as the inerrant Word of God, more specifically NT texts rather than OT ones.
    5. This isnt a reason why I dont think its inerrant, but it is a reason why I will challenge people in it. Inerrancy seems to breed arrogance. It gives people a sense of power and pride that results in misunderstandings and bad hermeneutics. Im sick of people using the Bible to support their own theologies and rules and regulations. Its been used to justify war and cruel slavery. Thats not a reason to disregard inerrancy but I think its a good one to challenge people on their view on exactly what inerrancy is.
    6. I dont understand the need to believe in inerrancy. Just because one can say that there are no errors and can attempt to justify errors that show up doesnt make it anymore inerrant than me saying that the bible has errors and me repeatedly showing examples makes it errant. I dont think that inerrancy is fundamental nor as important as we think it is. Anyone who thinks its all that important I doubt they understand any other view because they are probably already labeled the person a heretic. Why is it so important to believe inerrancy? Does it make my faith weaker to not believe in it? No, I think it makes it stronger (whatever strong and weak may mean, probably a different post.
    7. The bible is full of unexplainable tensions (like war, murders, opposite stories (creation, the flood), seeing God after being said you cant see him and live, number differences, story differences, contradicting genealogies etc.) someone who believes in inerrancy HAS to reconcile every single one. To be honest most reconciliations are long shots in the dark but they dont care because if its possible they believe it because the bible is inerrant. Inerrancy becomes the foundation of reconciling errors. When if you dont believe in inerrancy you just accept the bible as it is. You accept the tensions in the text. Its ok. What does someone who believes in inerrancy do with tension; they explain it. When maybe the point of it is to be an error. Maybe God wanted errors because constantly trying to understand these tensions helps us know more about ourselves and our creator. Only maybe.

    I stayed away from examples for the most part, because that is just not my point whatsoever. We cant solve this by going through example after example and you justifying each one. I will continue to find more tension and you would continue to study and research to come up with some kind of answer. I will nod and say oh that was a good explanation and it probably just wont resonate with me. But it will with you, and thats ok because you believe in inerrancy, and I dont. Even Davis in philosophy based every single argument on contradictions in the bible based on the argument that.
    1. the bible is inerrant and without error
    2. it seems we have run into an error
    3. there HAS to be an answer or explanation because the bible is inerrant
    I cant do it like that. It doesnt make sense for me or my faith to accept inerrancy. Does this mean I disregard the bible as useless or redundant? Nope. Does this mean that the bible is not a good tool anymore to understand who Christ is? Nope. I love the bible and I think it is full of truth and it helps reveal Christ and Gods redemptive story. Without it wed have some serious problems understanding our history. We wouldnt. I will continue to teach from it and study it. I will continue to encourage people to read it and memorize it and better understand it. I just cant come to the conclusion that is inerrant.

  • You don’t have “tons” of examples. You’re a liar.

  • anon,

    I’m sure Nate, just like anyone, could google a ton of atheist websites that have lists like “101 irifutible bibble contradixions”.

  • Ryan, we are so much closer in our views than I think youre aware of.
    :)

    Ryan said,
    Thanks for the clarification John. The point made about Jesus quoting the OT is that it gives evidence that Jesus viewed the OT as the authoritative Word of God (and we should do the same). If Jesus gave His imprimatur to the Hebrew Bible and if Jesus is someone whose word we might be able to trust, then that gives us good reason to trust the authority of the Hebrew Bible.

    I love that Jesus quoted and supported OT scripture, I also love how he expounded and expanded on it. I agree fully with your observation, just not your conclusion that this somehow supports a view of scripture as inerrant.

    I see Jesus quoting the words, then digging beyond them, to the MESSAGE and putting it into the lives of the people in his time. Jesus seemed quite fond of You have heard it said but I say to you To me, I see that Jesus affirms the message and its source, but doesnt seem interested at all in whether the original words were perfect and inerrant, he re-teaches the message, because that is what is True, not the words.

    Ryan said,
    I agree with this partially accept the beginning where you say the Bible came to us via man and not directly from God. That seems like a mistake to me because for previous reasons I have given, the Bible came to us directly from God through men

    You just said the exact same thing as I did, but you substituted the word through for via.
    We are really agreeing here on what the thing is, just not what the thing means

    Ryan quoted John and said,
    “the other is simply a reason for accepting the issues as they arise.”

    so why can’t you accept the Bible as the inerrant word of God if you take this position?

    Your question here confuses me a bit.
    I accept the issues and inerrancies as opposed to attempting to try to explain why they might not exist.
    Perhaps we had a disconnect here.

    Ryan said,
    If God says, “Thou shalt not kill” and we think it means you shouldn’t kill under any circumstances whatsoever, and then He says, “Kill, kill and kill some more,” in another circumstance in the same Bible, then we have to review what we thought we understood God to mean in the Sixth Commandment. That’s why we look more closely at the context and the Hebrew word and we realize that we should not wantonly take the life of an innocent person. But there are times when killing is justified and in fact commanded, at least in the theocracy.

    Yes, in some instances, it is very valuable to re-visit how we initially interpreted/translated a passage. The commandment prohibiting killing seems to actually be about murder, which is different than say Capitol Punishment or taking a life in war.
    That does not mean though that such an explanation exists for a different issue.

    Ryan said,
    SO when we look at 1 Cor. 14:33-34 we can take the same approach. So if someone asks “should woman speak in Church?” I will respond “It depends on the context of the situation”. see how that works? i don’t know the scripture that supports woman speaking in church, but IM pretty sure theres something. check out this article on Stand To Reason, it talks a fair bit about the issue I think.

    Yes, I see how that works, it works exactly how Ive been suggesting. :)
    We examine the context and we bind or loose issues such as this.
    You can be pretty sure theres something to explain it away Ryan, but the passage is rather clear.
    In fact, even I Tim. 2:11-15 referenced in your Stand to Reason link reinforces the concept of women learning in silence. The discussion on that site attempts to work out whether it means man/woman or husband/wife, but at the end of the day, the restriction against women speaking in Church is now stronger, if youre going with the Inerrant Word of God approach. So, anytime you hear a woman in church, its in contradiction of the Inerrant Word of God.

    That would be an issue for me, if I subscribed to the view that youre asking me to.

  • sorry I’ve been dealing with some crap latly but I really wanna stay involved in this Blog.

    “I love that Jesus quoted and supported OT scripture, I also love how he expounded and expanded on it. I agree fully with your observation, just not your conclusion that this somehow supports a view of scripture as inerrant.”

    i love how he expounded and expanded as well. why do you think my conclusion is wrong? If you believe he affirms the message and the source I understand that as meaning you believe in its inerrancy because when Jesus makes such an affirmation he is showing his trust in every word. In every instance he never questions it. Would he have to quote the entire OT for you to believe that ‘God inspired’ men did not err? sure he never said “The Bible is inerrant”. But say you asked him, how do you think he would respond? Hes already approved of the majority of the OT. Why is that not a good reason to come to my conclusion? He was given opportunity to show us the parts that were wrong and clear up any possible confusion and yet he never mentions any such case ever. Ultimately though, does it even matter? Jesus had a job to do and proving the Bible inerrant in the way we understand it didn’t seem to be a main priority on his list as you say. More and more I feel like this focus we’ve had on inerrancy/errancy is the tail and not the dog as Nathan started to express as well. Nevertheless Ive learned a great deal by simply defending my position . Thank you all so much for the time youve put in your replies. I think this about wraps it up for me on this issue (for now. Im still reading what other people have to say about it ofcourse but Id rather spend my time on other more important things).

    “In fact, even I Tim. 2:11-15 referenced in your Stand to Reason link reinforces the concept of women learning in silence. The discussion on that site attempts to work out whether it means man/woman or husband/wife, but at the end of the day, the restriction against women speaking in Church is now stronger,”

    not really if we accept Greg’s translation. Greg makes this comment…“I think the point is not that she never speaks, but that she is the one who is in the position of being taught as opposed to being in the position of the teacher. The word “teach” here is not in the aorist tense. In other words, an aorist tense means a single point in time action rather than a continuous action. So, it isn’t saying that a woman cannot have a moment where she can tell something to her husband, it’s that the woman should not be the teacher over her husband, but that the woman is actually under the teaching authority of her husband. He is the head of the household, spiritually speaking. That’s really what it amounts to.”

    I Tim. 2:11-15 doesn’t seem specific enough to interpret it as meaning woman cannot speak in church. Thats taking it too far.

  • Ryan, you equate Jesus quoting scripture with Jesus affirming scripture’s inerrancy.
    I don’t.
    I don’t see any reason to do so.
    You ask me to speculate as to how Jesus would answer a question on inerrancy, which isn’t a meaningful exercise if we’re trying to establish a doctrine such as inerrancy, but if I were to speculate, it seems to me that Jesus felt comfortable adding to and adjusting the meaning of scripture. This would lead me to speculate that if it was truly meant to be a “inerrant” Word of God, Jesus wouldn’t have felt that need.
    Of course, that is mere speculation on my part, and isn’t worth basing a doctrine on, just as I don’t feel your speculation is either convincing or something to build on.

    As for Greg’s translation, I’m never comfortable with a translation that attempts to circumvent what the text clearly states.
    I’m not uncomfortable with Greg’s conclusion, but between 1 Cor. 14:33-34 and I Tim. 2:11-15, it seems to me that with a view of inerrancy, it is clear that women are not to speak at all in church. It does not refer to teaching, in fact, it rather clearly says that if a woman wishes to LEARN, let her learn at home.

    If that’s the inerrant Word from God, and God does not make errors, then trying to wiggle out of it is dishonest.

    If though, that’s the teaching of Paul in a 1st century culture, I believe that we have the authority to examine what was the goal? and how does that look today? and loose Paul’s yoke in this instance.

    Anyway, I have enjoyed discussing with you Ryan, and I think you’re correct, there are bigger and more important issues than this, God Bless you as you persue them.

  • Umm, where exactly did Jesus change the meaning of scripture?

    And, we should be careful using the “it’s cultural, therefore not normative” argument. The whole gospel is in some sense a product and an instance of culture. Where do we draw the line at saying cultural things are not authoritative when the author has not explicitly or implicitly stated that this is something ONLY for his culture?

  • Hmm, I’ve noticed a flaw with my first question, but I’d appreciate an answer anyway…

  • Sure, I think the first is fairly broad and obvious.
    “You have heard it said do not commit adultery, but I say to you that if you lust in your heart…”
    Expansion of murder to include hating your brother.
    Man was made for the Sabbath not the Sabbath for man.
    Moses granted grounds for divorce and Jesus sets out His own thoughts on it.
    The Law called for an adulterous woman to be stoned and Jesus went an entirely different route of mercy.
    etc.
    Those are quick from the top of my head. I’m sure we could list many more if we looked for it.

    Absolutely Andrew, we should be VERY careful we don’t write off something that God is saying as nothing more than cultural. Any such line would have to be very carefully drawn based on Spirit directed study and prayer.

    We do have a precedent though in Acts when the Apostles determine what if any of the scripture the influx of Gentiles should be taught to keep.
    We also have Peter’s vision regarding the loosing of the kosher restriction.
    Both a clear change of behaviouor from scripture led not only by Jesus, but the early Church leaders.

  • “That’s a convenient way to understand and describe what is happening (I mean that as a positive, no sarcasm) but it still means that their understanding couldn’t have been that their scripture was a perfect rendering of God’s words for all time.”

    But no one ever thought this. Not even the most inerrantist of Christians believes this. The entirety of Chrsitianity is predicated on the belief in progressive revelation, and inerrancy was designed specifically to avoid contradicting this doctrine. Inerrancy does not require that every passage in scripture can be read as God’s timeless command divorced from questions of its context (whether in the passage or in the canon or in salvation-history). It never has. It simply means that what the Bible intends to say (and the Bible’s intention/meaning is conditioned by its context, as all language is) is true. That’s it.

    “They clearly felt the freedom to examine the intent and apply it to their era. I believe this is a natural result of God working through men and women and reaching a people where they live.”

    Who has ever argued against this?

    “I don’t believe this makes the Bible full of errors, but I believe it means that if I do see something that appears inconsistent, it doesn’t have any impact on my faith, because I’m not going in expecting Inerrant Perfection.”

    Inconsistent with what?

    “Why is this worth considering or even discussing?
    For me, it is because I’ve seen many walk away from a life of faith because they couldn’t reconcile their experience to this doctrine, I’ve known many more that found this to be a serious stumbling block to entering into Faith, so it makes me ask the question, why do we have this doctrine? Why do we shout down anyone that tries to make scripture relevant by telling them they are questioning God Himself and playing with hellfire?”

    And I’ve heard of many people who have destroyed themselves because they denied the essence of this doctrine, that what the Bible says is true. I could come up with sob-stories and anecdotes if you like, but I don’t think this proves anything in comparison to whether or not this is true. And of course, I’m certainly not opposed to anyone making scripture relevant, unless “relevant” is defined to mean “with modern corrections to the original text”. This isn’t “relevant”; the old word for this is “perverted”.

    “I still affirm the Bible is true.”

    Completely?

  • Of course this was never considered a matter of “this is an error we have to correct” by Jesus or the Apostles, but more like “this is a scriptural principle that was always intended to be timebound to a certain era of salvation history, and now that the next era has come we have to change how we apply it”. This means nothing when it comes to errors.

  • That’s a convenient way to understand and describe what is happening (I mean that as a positive, no sarcasm) but it still means that their understanding couldn’t have been that their scripture was a perfect rendering of God’s words for all time.

    They clearly felt the freedom to examine the intent and apply it to their era. I believe this is a natural result of God working through men and women and reaching a people where they live. I don’t believe this makes the Bible full of errors, but I believe it means that if I do see something that appears inconsistent, it doesn’t have any impact on my faith, because I’m not going in expecting Inerrant Perfection.

    Why is this worth considering or even discussing?
    For me, it is because I’ve seen many walk away from a life of faith because they couldn’t reconcile their experience to this doctrine, I’ve known many more that found this to be a serious stumbling block to entering into Faith, so it makes me ask the question, why do we have this doctrine? Why do we shout down anyone that tries to make scripture relevant by telling them they are questioning God Himself and playing with hellfire?

    When I allow myself to ask those questions, I don’t see anything compelling me to hold that doctrine and I see an example set by Jesus and the Apostles that we the freedom to question and seek.

    I still affirm the Bible is true. It is not a work of fiction, it was not concocted to prop up a new religion. It was written by people inspired and living in a relationship with God and with Jesus. God speaks His message through it and all of it is good and can teach us.
    I affirm all of that without needing an inerrancy clause or needing to demand anyone believe my interpretation of scripture or else somehow be calling God a liar.

  • I must say, John and Andrew, I like where this conversation is going, because it seems that

    1. we are coming to a different understanding of inerrancy as i have ever understood it (even if its what you Andrew have beleived all along)

    2. i feel like something is getting accomplished and that we are actually centering in on where the disagreement is, because i think if we do that we can then get to that point and from there its pretty much deciding one way or the other, no solid ‘proof’ either way. But it’s that point that i would like to see gotten to.

  • Nate, I’m glad this is helping.

    I’m curious, what have you always thought inerrancy to mean if it’s not what I’m saying? I think I have an idea, but I’m curious still.

    It’s a shame that the church is not doing very much careful teaching anymore. We seem to be a mile wide and an inch deep when it comes to difficult issues. How sad.

  • Well, i thought inerrancy meant ‘perfect’ without error. That any seemingly contradiction can quickly be passed off as just misunderstanding, because well the bible doesn’t contradict itself because its errorless. To take something like that by faith i can understand and accept that, but people treated it like it was ‘obvious’ that the bible should be treated without error. But i look at manuscripts and there is obvious differences in the thousands of manuscripts for all the books. There are additions in some, subtractions and so much stuff that we can’t understand. But it seemed to me that to the inerranist they say we just need to take the english translations of the bible as perfect without error in absolutely anything. They would say this, most, being completley ignroant to the process that the bible went through to even be the bible.

    I attack the term because of how its been used i guess. I can’t accept inerrancy to mean without flaw in what it says, because it just doesn’t seem like the right kind of term to apply to the bible considering absolutely everything that has gone on to have it where it is today.

    “It simply means that what the Bible intends to say (and the Bible’s intention/meaning is conditioned by its context, as all language is) is true.” When you say this, that changes things a bit. It still is hard for me to wrap my head around because well, I doubt that the writers intended to affect people the way it affects them all over the world, but to bring God into the picture, he knew all along, everything that the bible has been or has said, he knew how it would be interpreted (right or wrong) and seems to constantly be bringing truth from its pages.

    Maybe this is my ‘postmodern’ twist on things, but inerrancy is such a difficult term for me to latch on to because of its absoluteness and because of what people do with absoluteness. I think these are valid reasons not to want to associate myself with these terms. By calling something inerrant, there is a tendancy to think that our interpretations are inerrant, this is seen with almost every one that i dialogue with over issues, this makes it next to impossible to talk with them because of course they are quoting from the inerrany word of god.

    It just doesn’t make sense to me to call something with so many complications and so spread out over time and so widespread in our collections of manuscripts inerrant in a way that means 100% absolutely without any kind of flaw in it. I guess i beleive in inerrancy it just depends on what levels.

    If you mean inerrant on the level of that the bible transmits the message that God intended it to portray, than yes i beleive that fully. But if we mean inerrant that humans were unable to make an error in the process of writing, putting it together, copying and everything else that went to it, then i don’t think a beleif like that is needed, let alone can be proved or am i comfortable with.

    That’s why i’m enjoying this conversation so much, because i think i’m starting to realize that there are levels of inerrancy and we all sort of fall on them and what they mean and what they mean to the Christian. This conversation is helping me understand the levels and where i may fit.

  • “But if we mean inerrant that humans were unable to make an error in the process of writing, putting it together, copying and everything else that went to it, then i don’t think a beleif like that is needed, let alone can be proved or am i comfortable with.”

    Well, fwiw, I don’t assert that the copying/transmission was errorless. It’s true, some people do do that, but that’s really about inerrancy, that’s about defending the Textus Receptus as the only reliable textual tradition.

    “If you mean inerrant on the level of that the bible transmits the message that God intended it to portray, than yes i beleive that fully.”

    I do, but I think perhaps God intended to tell a more detailed story than you might. Otherwise we really aren’t in any disagreement.

  • Above comment should have read “that’s not really about…”

    “Maybe this is my ‘postmodern’ twist on things, but inerrancy is such a difficult term for me to latch on to because of its absoluteness and because of what people do with absoluteness. I think these are valid reasons not to want to associate myself with these terms.”

    I see your concern. Perhaps my lack of hesitancy in using the word inerrant comes from a) I know the intent of using the word is actually quite helpful, b) I tend to care less about saying things offensive to unbelievers if the things are warranted by scripture. Scripture does condemn arrogance, but arrogance does not necessarily have anything to do with whether one is making absolute or relative claims. “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One”. This is a pretty absolute, unflinching claim.

    “By calling something inerrant, there is a tendancy to think that our interpretations are inerrant, this is seen with almost every one that i dialogue with over issues, this makes it next to impossible to talk with them because of course they are quoting from the inerrany word of god.”

    You have hit on a real problem with Protestants. I totally agree that this is a serious issue. But the issue is, as you have pointed out, not the doctrine, but people’s sloppy reasoning, laziness, and arrogance. It is not with the doctrine itself, which can be used for beneficial purposes. Our response to these kinds of people should not be “The Bible is not true at x or y”, but “You are an contentious, divisive, and arrogant person if you cannot accept correction. May God have mercy on your soul for abusing His word.”

  • With that being said
    How can the doctrine of inerrancy be beneficial in a way that just erasing it can’t?

  • Let me have a little time with this one; I’d like to give a good answer.

  • I think that the real question is not whether inerrancy is beneficial. The real question is whether it is true. In order to answer the truth question one has to know what the doctrine is. The first step to understanding the doctrine is to understand what the church has historically believed about the Bible. Inerrancy was never a doctrine placed all on its own. It flowed from a particular understanding of the Biblical text and its function in our lives.

    Throughout the history of the Bible and the church, the Bible was treated as a divine-human book. It was fully human, because it was written by regular human authors using their abilities normally. However, is was also a divine book authored by God himself through those human authors. Just like the incarnation, the Bible was viewed as a fully human and fully divine book.

    Because it was fully divine, a simple formula explained what this meant: “What the Bible says, God says.” Therefore, one ought to obey the voice of God, which is Scripture. The Bible is inerrant, because God is not ignorant or a liar.

    Now the inerrancy of Scripture was understood to apply only to the original manuscripts, because the inspiration was understood to apply only to them. Nonetheless, one also believed that God had preserved his words so that the message was intact and the interpretation of it was available.

    The belief that I am explaining was present throughout the entire age of the church, through the Old Testament and was only questioned during the Enlightenment and later. Furthermore, this witness was present across all denominations and branches of the church. In no branch was this ever treated as a minor issue. (And yes, Calvin and Luther did believe in inerrancy.)

  • If something is not beneficial.
    Then what’s the point.
    Why do we even care if it holds no relevance?
    I’d rather have beliefs that are beneficial rather than useless information.
    That is why we are talking about it being beneficial or not, because if its not, I’d probably leave the conversation, because I just don’t care.

    I know one would argue it is beneficial if they believe it is God’s inerrant word, and that’s fine, but I think the beneficial argument still needs to be there and brought forward.

    The history he helpful for understanding what inerrancy is, I think you are right and that we need to have a firm grasp on what that is before we can argue for or against it. But despite what history may believe or disbelieve those are the exact things that we are questioning and deconstructing to better understand where we stand on the bible.

  • Note: Sorry for how long this is!

    Hi Nathan,

    I hope what I write hear isnt too repetitive of whats already been said before because I didnt read all of the comments (I only read like 30! You get quite a response!). From what I did read I dont think anyone has adequately responded to this post because I dont think theyve responded to all the points youve made. I think theyve focused on defending inerrancy (or errancy) of the Bible instead.
    Firstly, you write, The point of me saying that there are errors is to try and help tear people away from the preconceived belief (that most people would deny) that the bible is a god. Unless Im misunderstanding you it seems that the first issue you point out is that people believe that the Bible is actually a god (if you are purposely exaggerating the position youre speaking of let me know because it doesnt appear that thats what youre intending). My response to this would be: (1) Ive never heard that position before; (2) those who hold the view of inerrancy do not believe that the Bible is a god; (3) to believe that the Bible is a god is heretical; (4) no one believes in this position anyway. So really what youre reacting against is a view that no one holds and that all advocates of inerrancy would agree with you on.
    Notice then that when you write, The point of me saying that there are errors is to try and help tear people away from the preconceived belief (that most people would deny) that the bible is a god, really you are arguing against a position no one holds. I presume when you write, The reason I think the bible is a God is for a number of reasons, that the is was a typo and should have read is not.
    As for your first reason for why you believe the Bible is not a God you write, 1. The church calls the bible the word of god and they also call Jesus the word of god. Jesus is God. So they are putting the bible on the same level as Jesus himself in their language. It seems quite clear that you do not understand how John was using word of God to describe Jesus. The OT presents 3 major ways in which the word functions: creation, redemption, and revelation. John describes Jesus as the Logos because He is Creator and Redeemer as well as the full revelation of God. This is the only, truly suitable title that describes His office (that is why John employs it).
    In addition, your logic really is not good here. Word of God does not mean God. It refers only to something authored by God, not to God Himself. To say that something is authored by God does not mean that the object is therefore God. No one does, or has ever, or would ever claim that the Bible or the Word of God is God Himself or another god. The inerrancy view merely affirms that because the Scriptures are Gods word (or his voice) they, therefore, cannot have error (i.e. infallible) and do not have error (i.e. inerrant). This reasoning is quite clear because God cannot speak falsely and it is blasphemous to think otherwise. I am not accusing you of committing a form of blasphemy here because in order for you to be doing that you would have hold that the Bible has errors AND is the Word of God. Because youre argument is to say that the Bible is not the Word of God you do not have this severe a problem by saying that the Bible has errors.
    Concerning the last sentence of your first reason (see above) you are accusing inerrancy advocates of putting the Scriptures on the same level as Jesus by them saying that the Scriptures are the word of God. The problem with this accusation is that you do not understand how the authors of Scripture, the Jews, or the Church have used this phrase. The Church did not take the phrase that was used to describe Christ and apply it to the Scriptures; rather it was the reverse. As I noted earlier, John employed the Logos language, which was used to describe the Scriptures and prophetic speech, and was used for more than a thousand years to do so. Therefore, your accusation does not hold up.
    Concerning your second reason, you claim that Scripture does not present itself as being the foundation for the Church. Have you not read that the Bereans searched the Scriptures to discern the teachings of Paul? It was through this means that they came to know that Jesus was the Christ. Why would they use the Scriptures as the measure if they were not the voice of God, which Jews would never have questioned. It is also written,

    Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to you (1 Peter 1:23-25).

    Here we see that the believers (i.e. the Church) are born and formed by the word of God. Clearly you cannot say that the word of God here is not foundational for the Church. You will likely responded, But Christ is the foundation for the Church. I agree that Christ is the foundation for the Church, but Christ is the full revelation of God and it is the revelation of God that is the foundation for the Church. You cannot separate the Scriptures and Christ in this manner as if one is opposed to the other or as if one is exclusive of the other; for both are the revelation of God and both are the foundation of the Church. Thus it is in the Scriptures that we are confronted with Christ because the Scriptures reveal God, and Christ is God. We would not know Christ if we did not have the Scriptures and we would not know Christ if the Scriptures were not the revelation of God. For even Christ proclaimed that the Scriptures (as He says, the Law, Prophets, and the Writings (or Psalms) i.e. the whole OT) testifies of Him.
    Concerning your third reason, can you clarify what you wrote because it doesnt make sense? Also for your fourth reason, I think you should clarify what you mean further. However, my response to what I do understand about the fourth reason is that people who hold the view of inerrancy do not feel threatened when people to things that they think are errors in Scripture. This is because they know that there are no actual errors in Scripture because God cannot lie or speak falsely. Thus they either are unafraid because the supposed error was an elementary issue that really are not difficult issues to address (for which I would include all of the examples you have mentioned) or they are more difficult issues to do with manuscript issues (which the average person does not know how to answer), but knows that there are answers. They would see it quite similarly to people showing supposed inconsistencies with Christ being both human and divine. Some issues that people raise concerning Christ are elementary and some more difficult, but all can be answered nonetheless.
    Actually, I find it interesting that you would think that by elevating something (namely the Bible) to an exalted position would make the person feel threatened if someone tried to show contradictions or inconsistencies with the exalted object. The problem with arguing this way is that in order for you to affirm this reasoning you would have to affirm that this reasoning would apply to other object that we exalt as welleven God Himself. Therefore, your fourth reason does not hold.
    Finally you write, The point of pointing out errors is to eliminate the thought that the bible is a god. You also conclude with this statement, we give the bible the position of a god, and thats why so many people cringe when I call them errors. These are both false claims because no one believes that the Bible is a god, as I have explained, which means that this post is really based on a misunderstanding of the inerrancy position and of the advocates of inerrancy. Furthermore, you say, If we didnt depend so much on our bibles as our power, sword, strength, comfort, rock and foundation then I think [it] wouldnt be that big of a deal to admit to errors in the text. Since the Scriptures are the very voice of God it would be a matter of unfaithfulness and rebellion against God to not rely on them as you have described here.

  • Hey Greg, thanks for the reply, I don’t know how many people are following this still, but I thought I’d send a short reply anyway.

    A lot of what you said and based your arguments on is that I’m trying to argue that people actually ‘hold the view’ that the bible is a god. I know that no one would say ‘the bible is a god’ and that was not my point whatsoever, sorry if it came across that way. I was trying to say that the bible has been elevated to the same position as God has in how we talk about it and treat it. Andrew mentioned that it’s probably because people think that the bible is God speaking which is probably why the close distinction. What I’m trying to argue or at least point to is that we have elevated our bible to a god or an idol (biblidoltry) in our beliefs and lives. Whether we admit to the belief or not. People will not hold that position but they certainly live it.

    Good argument against my argument on the John parallels, I don’t fully understand where I stand on this, but I was trying to show how our wording of different things now, this present day, seems to reflect this way of living.

    Jesus = God
    Jesus = Word of God
    Bible = Word of God
    Bible = God

    As our language works this present day, that is an accurate and valid argument, wouldnt you agree? I’m not saying that people believe this once again, I’m just showing how our language defies our beliefs.

    I would have to disagree that the bible is the only way to know Christ.

    You said
    ” Have you not read that the Bereans searched the Scriptures to discern the teachings of Paul? It was through this means that they came to know that Jesus was the Christ. Why would they use the Scriptures as the measure if they were not the voice of God, which Jews would never have questioned.”

    That is a giant leap in your claim. There are MANY reasons why they would use scriptures to find Christ rather than what you concluded to. Also, this doesn’t segregate even closely to the scriptures being the only way to find our about God either. God can use a talking ass to reveal Christ just as well if not better than the scriptures.

    You said
    ” You cannot separate the Scriptures and Christ in this manner as if one is opposed to the other or as if one is exclusive of the other; for both are the revelation of God and both are the foundation of the Church.”

    That sounds like you are putting Christ and Scripture on the same level. You are proving by your arguments the exact point that I’m making. People put the bible at the same level as Jesus Christ. They POINT to Christ, they are not on the same level. They POINT to the revelation, they are not the revelation.

    Thanks for the comment Gregg, looking forward to more convo.

  • Hi Matthew, some excellent posts youve made, Ive had a break from this discussion but would love to jump back in.

    Matthew said,
    I think that the real question is not whether inerrancy is beneficial. The real question is whether it is true. In order to answer the truth question one has to know what the doctrine is. The first step to understanding the doctrine is to understand what the church has historically believed about the Bible. Inerrancy was never a doctrine placed all on its own. It flowed from a particular understanding of the Biblical text and its function in our lives.

    You make an excellent point regarding the question of whether inerrancy is true as opposed to whether it is beneficial and you go on to sum up quite nicely where it flows from, but if you are truly making the point that the key question is the true issue, how do you support this? Or is it purely a Faith issue for you that you feel is necessary to accept the Bible?

    Matthew said,
    Firstly, you write, The point of me saying that there are errors is to try and help tear people away from the preconceived belief (that most people would deny) that the bible is a god. Unless Im misunderstanding you it seems that the first issue you point out is that people believe that the Bible is actually a god (if you are purposely exaggerating the position youre speaking of let me know because it doesnt appear that thats what youre intending). My response to this would be: (1) Ive never heard that position before; (2) those who hold the view of inerrancy do not believe that the Bible is a god; (3) to believe that the Bible is a god is heretical; (4) no one believes in this position anyway. So really what youre reacting against is a view that no one holds and that all advocates of inerrancy would agree with you on.

    I think Nate covered this in his response, but reading this, I couldnt help but recall how Christianity has in more modern times told the world how it serves the god of money. No one would ever agree that they actually consider money their god and I believe its in that vein that Nate makes the reference to the Bible being a god.

    Matthew said,
    It seems quite clear that you do not understand how John was using word of God to describe Jesus. The OT presents 3 major ways in which the word functions: creation, redemption, and revelation. John describes Jesus as the Logos because He is Creator and Redeemer as well as the full revelation of God. This is the only, truly suitable title that describes His office (that is why John employs it).

    Concerning the last sentence of your first reason (see above) you are accusing inerrancy advocates of putting the Scriptures on the same level as Jesus by them saying that the Scriptures are the word of God. The problem with this accusation is that you do not understand how the authors of Scripture, the Jews, or the Church have used this phrase. The Church did not take the phrase that was used to describe Christ and apply it to the Scriptures; rather it was the reverse. As I noted earlier, John employed the Logos language, which was used to describe the Scriptures and prophetic speech, and was used for more than a thousand years to do so.

    I joined up 2 of your paragraphs on the same topic. The only time we see the Logos language in scripture though is in application to Jesus as far as I recall. Where do you see it being first applied to scripture?

    Matthew said,
    The inerrancy view merely affirms that because the Scriptures are Gods word (or his voice) they, therefore, cannot have error (i.e. infallible) and do not have error (i.e. inerrant). This reasoning is quite clear because God cannot speak falsely and it is blasphemous to think otherwise.

    Thats not reasoning at all though, its entirely circular. Thats accepting that doctrine on faith.

    Matthew said,
    Concerning your second reason, you claim that Scripture does not present itself as being the foundation for the Church. Have you not read that the Bereans searched the Scriptures to discern the teachings of Paul? It was through this means that they came to know that Jesus was the Christ. Why would they use the Scriptures as the measure if they were not the voice of God, which Jews would never have questioned.

    Is it necessary to have an inerrancy claim for Scriptures to have been and continue to be a valuable tool?
    I could be reading into your words, but Im curious, would you hold to the belief then that if the Scriptures are NOT inerrant, then they are utterly useless? I ask because that seems to be the fear of many, if not most that argue its cause.

    Matthew said,
    It is also written,

    Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever. And this word is the good news that was preached to you (1 Peter 1:23-25).

    Here we see that the believers (i.e. the Church) are born and formed by the word of God. Clearly you cannot say that the word of God here is not foundational for the Church.

    Why do you assume that this passage refers to scripture?
    Peter says that this word is the good news that was preached to you. Since he clearly isnt referring to OT scriptures now, and the NT isnt written, let alone canonized, how can you apply this to the Bible?

  • OOPS!!!!

    I accidentally had Greg and Matthew as the same person!!

    Sorry guys! I didn’t pay close enough attention to who qwas posting.

    :(

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