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Bible: Errant/Inerrancy Doesnt Do It

I’m having a hard time with all these posts on inerrancy. I guess in my challenges of inerrancy everyone thinks that I automatically default to the bible being errant. I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that either though. My theology, many of my beliefs, my God, my Saviour and even a majority of my posts on this website are based on and from the bible. My challenges against inerrancy aren’t because I’m trying to prove the bible as errant. That is why I am hesitant to give examples of contradictions (cause Andrew you’re right, just go to any website and Google and I could pop up hundreds). People seem to think that because I’m challenging inerrancy I’m disregarding everything about the bible and any faith based on a non-inerrant document is worthless.

I hinted at this a bit in my post about language. What if trying to label the bible as errant or inerrant it’s like trying to label an orange a dairy product or a meat product? What if inerrancy or not isn’t the question? What if we try so hard to pin these terms to the bible and we got so comfortable with them that we just think that it has to be them or the opposite? In other words, we get so comfortable with the term inerrancy and pinning it to the bible that any challenge against it we automatically assume they are arguing for the bible being errant. Of course we think the worst also. If it is errant it must be so errant that it is unable to produce any truth. This is furthest from what I’m trying to get at.

What if possibly the bible is errant and inerrant? As stupid and illogical as that sounds, the bible is full of paradox’s itself why can’t it be a paradox?

I think it is C.S. Lewis that said something along the lines that it is the devil’s favourite trick to get people to focus on one truth in exclusion for another. I’m not sure exactly where I land on this issue at all. I’m far from being able to make a decision. I just don’t see inerrancy as a logical conclusion for me. I don’t see the bible being errant as one either. Maybe it is in the middle somewhere, whatever that means or looks like. I’m not sure. Why do we have to give it one of these two terms? Terms that the bible itself doesn’t even use.

36 Comments

  • Hey Nate, I posted a resposne on my blog. http://thebrooks.blogspot.com

    Nathan, I am really confused. Earlier you explicitly stated the errancy position (from what I can remember). You said that the bible was riddled with hundreds of contradictions and that these were in the original autographs.

    In your second paragraph, I can really see McLarens influence. Unfortunately, its questions like those that infuriate me the most about McLaren. It will not do to just ask random questions. Perhaps you could show how labeling the bible as inerrant is like trying to label an orange as a dairy product? If not, I see no reason for considering it. For consider my questions: maybe George Bush is a Martian named Xangor. Maybe Paul Martin is a transvestite robot. Apart from evidence it would be foolish to even consider these possibilities. Random questions and suggestions will not do.

    In regards to the bible being inerrant and errant at the same time.thats ludicrous. A cannot be A and non-A at the same time. Perhaps you could answer this question: can a woman be both pregnant and not pregnant at the same time? Because thats the same sort of question.

    Where is the middle ground between inerrancy and errancy? Id like to see this even possibly stated.

  • Some comments from Keith’s site:

    John said…
    “A cannot be A and non-A at the same time.”

    Current understanding of physics would actually refute you.

    2:57 PM
    Matt said…
    That would be great if we were talking about something anywhere remotely related to physics. Keith I love reading your view because I laugh so hard ever time. I am working on my own concept but it is taking a while.

    3:23 PM
    John said…
    Everything is related to physics, it’s the most basic understanding of what reality even is.

    4:34 PM

  • nate: Check out some of NT Wright’s thoughts. i think it may help in this whole string of Bible posts.

    http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Bible_Authoritative.htm

  • Joe (and Nate),Wright’s comments are good usually, though he seems to intentionally skirt the question of inerrancy. He functions and works like an inerrantist for the most part, but he never wants to come out and say that it is inerrant (I think this is for “political” reasons mostly).

    Nate, calling the Bible inerrant makes a universal claim: the Bible contains no errors. Calling the Bible errants also makes a universal claim: the Bible contains errors. That does not mean, of course, that every statement in the Bible is an error. I don’t think anyone in existence, ever, would assert something so stupid as that. You are in the “Bible is errant” camp if you say there is even one error in it.

    Oh, and quantum mechanics and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle have not disproved the law of excluded middle.

  • You don’t need to disprove the law of the excluded middle when it has been misapplied to create a false dilemma, which is what you are arguing from.

  • ok you guys you have the wrong idea about inerrancy. The main problem with all of your points is that you are leaving out the original purpose of the bible. The term inerrancy is not referring to truths or falsities in the bible, it is a referance to what God is try to tell us through scripture. inerrancy means that there is no problems with what is being communicated through scripture to us about the way the world really is. Our relationship to God, each other and the earth and in that way the bible is definitley inerrant because if we call it errant we are saying that it does not convey to us what God originally designed it to say. calling it errant does not bring into question the intelligence of the human writers but the intelligence of an almighty God. So when dealing with the term inerrancy, remember what is is that the term is referring to, not the little truths about who killed who on what day but the broader truth that is told to us in the STORY of the bible.

  • Nick, inerrancy does have to do with the so-called little truths as well as the broader truth. See Andrews prior post.

    And John perhaps you could prove your point about the false dilemma.

  • John, I would love to see how physics can disprove the logical laws.
    So given your understanding of physics it’s possible for a woman to be both pregnant and not-pregnant? It’s possible that the scriptures are both inerrant and errant?

  • Sure Keith, the argument that it appears that you and Andrew are bringing forth is a simple bifurcation of our understanding of the Bible.
    You are supporting your concept of a verbal plenary inspired inerrant Bible by presenting the idea that any error in the text is an error by God (which also begs the question by its circular reasoning) and can’t exist.
    Also, when examineing what a lack of inerrancy implies, the views being presented insist on removing all value from the Bible.

    A False Dilemma of “The Bible is inerrant” else “The Bible is wrong and worthless” is created.

    There exists a wide range of middling positions that can be held. Nathan’s struggles shown by his writings put him somewhere in that middle ground, sorting out just where he is; but most of the discussion opposed to his thoughts deny the existenxce of that middle and attempt to put him squarely in the only other camp that some can imagine.

  • Nick.
    I kinda like where you are going with this. To be honest you sound quite liberal yourself with what you are saying.

    Maybe you can expand on this better for me.

    My only problem with what you are saying here is that I could say that about anything.

    Anything that God is trying to communicate through anything is inerrant. The truths that God is trying to C.S. Lewis books are inerrant. The truths that God are trying to communicate through my writings are inerrant. Of course I may get in the way and mess those up, but that certainly doesn’t change the truths. How does this then separate the bible from any other writings?

    And what do you mean by ‘god designed’ it?

    “Our relationship to God, each other and the earth and in that way the bible is definitley inerrant because if we call it errant we are saying that it does not convey to us what God originally designed it to say”

    This Nick is exactly what i’m trying to say. How can you call a relationship errant or inerrant? Those are two terms that have nothing to do with relationships. I wouldn’t say ever that my relationship with my family is errant. I would give it other terms, but inerrant or errant isn’t one of them. Which brings me down to my original dilemma. Why do we feel the need to apply terms like errant and inerrant to a story? I’ve never heard of this done before and it just doesn’t feel like it fits.

  • Keith. Paradox is almost the basis of Christ’s entire coming. I don’t understand why you limit it to the bible. I’m not even arguing nessacarily for it like I beleive it, but i don’t think we can disregard it because we can’t see it as logical.

    Perfect Mercy and Perfect Justice in God.
    Die to Live
    Give it All to Have Everything
    First shall be last
    Be born again
    Don’t Kill and the God commands Abraham to Kill Isaac

    All of these things barely made sense to the original hearer. Judaism has been struggling over the perfect justice/mercy idea for centuries. I’m not sure how you can just disregard it because to you it doesn’t seem logical. Keith all i’m trying to get at here is you to understand that there can be a middle ground somewhere, there has to be because i’m on it, i just am having a hard time explainging what its called.

  • “Sure Keith, the argument that it appears that you and Andrew are bringing forth is a simple bifurcation of our understanding of the Bible.
    You are supporting your concept of a verbal plenary inspired inerrant Bible by presenting the idea that any error in the text is an error by God (which also begs the question by its circular reasoning) and can’t exist.”

    Of course, the fact that it is fallaciously circular has already been called into question. It also wasn’t that narrow of a circle (no one argued this way: the Bible is God’s word because God’s word is the Bible. I quoted specific passages that witness to this belief about the Bible, making the circle less narrow).

    “Also, when examining what a lack of inerrancy implies, the views being presented insist on removing all value from the Bible.

    A False Dilemma of “The Bible is inerrant” else “The Bible is wrong and worthless” is created.”

    It’s not a false dilemma if one can show that the necessary consequence of the view, WHETHER THE ONE HOLDING IT WANTS THIS TO BE THE CASE OR NOT, result in the Bible’s being worthless.

    Nick and Nate:
    “The term inerrancy is not referring to truths or falsities in the bible, it is a referance to what God is try to tell us through scripture. “

    Stories are strings of propositions. If you assert (and everyone here seems to want to asser this) that God is trying, primarily, to tell a story with scripture (I think this is overly narrow, but I’ll assume it for argument), then you are by definition saying God is trying to convey factual, propositionally repeatable, claims to us. These can either be true or false. Inerrancy applies to these claims. Is the story a true story or a cunningly devised fable?

    “Keith all i’m trying to get at here is you to understand that there can be a middle ground somewhere, there has to be because i’m on it, i just am having a hard time explainging what its called. “

    Of course there are people who claim to be on the middle ground. I think Keith’s point is that the consequences of the not-inerrant view necessarily end in one place. They may claim to be different, but the road leads to the same destination.

  • ok, you all need to read a book by Nicholas Wolterstorff called “Divine Discourse” this is a discussion of Gods revelation to us and is applicable to the discussion of inerrancy. In responce to Andrew i think that to call a story overly narrow is a very big problem. the whole idea of the Bible as a story is so we can have a broader picture of the bible. This idea of bible as story is actually the generally accepted view of biblical scholars around the world. Truths and Falsities i agree are propostitions made which are either deemed true or false but what you are appealing to is ‘proof texting’ again you are taking the little paradoxes like the stories of rape and pillage in the old testament and claiming the inconsitency with the ‘loving God’ of the new testament. To properly understand all the ‘little texts’ we must put them in the context of the broader story.

    Nate:
    I do not believe you understand where you stand so for you to say you are on the middle ground is not quite accurate. undecided might be a better term. Also, the paradox of Abraham as well as all the paradoxes of Christianity must be seen in the context of STORY. The bible is not a set of principles to live by or a set of truths to prove Gods existence, it is the revelation of God and to term it inerrant means that it has revealed to us perfectly how we are to understand God and it gives us the perfect picture of the state of the world. it is essential that we quit pointing to proof texts for inerrancy and look at the story and if it accuratley paints the picture of God and his relationship to us.

  • Andrew, showing a different argument that is even more obviously circular does nothing to improve the circular argument being presented.
    A circle is a circle, some arguments are more obviously circular and some less so but it is always fallacious.

    Regardless of the use of a caps lock or not, the conclusion of there being only two points of opposing views has not been shown.

  • “Andrew, showing a different argument that is even more obviously circular does nothing to improve the circular argument being presented.
    A circle is a circle, some arguments are more obviously circular and some less so but it is always fallacious.”

    I discussed the permissibility of circularity when it comes to ultimate authorities in epistemology in a prior comment. Unless you have a response to that, I don’t see how my kind of circularity is fallacious.

    “Regardless of the use of a caps lock or not, the conclusion of there being only two points of opposing views has not been shown. ”

    This has all been said before:
    If God lies or is ignorant, we are all screwed. If the Bible is God’s word, and contains errors, God is either lying or ignorant. The Bible is God’s word (have you responded to my comments about how the epistle to the Hebrews treates scripture? No one has as far as I’ve followed this discussion). Therefore, if the Bible has errors, we are all screwed.

    You don’t like the third premise and the conclusion, but you’ve not established it is false.

  • Nick:
    I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say. My point was that saying the Bible is “basically” a story is too narrow. The Bible is not just a story. It is also Law, Wisdom, Promise, etc. It also contains all of these things, among others.

  • Andrew said,
    I discussed the permissibility of circularity when it comes to ultimate authorities in epistemology in a prior comment. Unless you have a response to that, I don’t see how my kind of circularity is fallacious.

    I have no idea what youre referring to, must have missed it, can you link me?

    Andrew said,
    This has all been said before: If God lies or is ignorant, we are all screwed.

    Sure.

    Andrew said,
    If the Bible is God’s word, and contains errors, God is either lying or ignorant.

    You need to qualify if the Bible is Gods Word but Ill take as given that you mean, If the Bible is a literal inerrant text delivered from God to man in a perfect form
    The problem with using this as a premise is that is precisely the topic under discussion. You are begging the question.

    Andrew said,
    The Bible is God’s word

    Again, you claim this with out qualifying or supporting this. Its very easy to get away with in Christian culture because as Christians, we do believe that the Bible is the word of God. The problem is that you have a particular definition of what that precisely means, and while we are discussing the very topic, you claim this as a premise.
    This puts you firmly on fallacious ground. From a logical argument perspective at least. Please be aware that Im not drawing any judgements on your faith or character when I say that. You may be accepting that on Faith, and thats fine, but its not a compelling reason to challenge Nathans thought process, nor does it hold up in a logical argument.

    Andrew said,
    (have you responded to my comments about how the epistle to the Hebrews treats scripture? No one has as far as I’ve followed this discussion).

    I dont recall you making any unique point from Hebrews, but Ill go back and find that and post my thoughts directly on that issue if youd like. While were on the topic of unanswered comments, any thoughts to append to the monster thread where at the end I discussed whether women can speak in church with Ryan?

    Andrew said,
    Therefore, if the Bible has errors, we are all screwed.

    We are only screwed if the previous premises have been accepted, and they havent been. You link errors in the Bible directly to God, I link them directly to man. Since I accept that man can make errors, even under the best of circumstances; I dont see how were screwed.

    Andrew said,
    You don’t like the third premise and the conclusion, but you’ve not established it is false.

    Thats not how a logical argument works.
    You have not established your premises as true, that burden is not on me. Ive pointed out the flaws in your premises, so your conclusion is inconclusive.

  • LOL. Andrew I think this is the first time you and me have been on the same side. Usually it’s the old molinism/calvinism rag. This is more fun. :)

  • I’m so glad i took critical reasoning and these conversations make sense to me.

  • An answer by Brian McLaren on Inerrancy.
    Now i know some of you don’t like him, and to be honest i never really knew his view at all on inerrancy, but i just stumbled across this reading some stuff. He is saying the same thing that i’ve been trying to say.

    Quote:#1
    First, Im quite certain youve never heard me say that the Bible is full of errors or anything like that. You may be referring to the fact that I dont like to use the term inerrancy but there are a number of reasons for that. Heres one problem I have with the term: when people claim inerrancy for the Bible, they often dont realize they also imply that they have access to the Bible free of any interpretation, and sometimes they seem to imply that their interpretations are inerrant. My concern is not with faults in the Bible, but rather with flaws in the way we interpret the Bible. I agree God can do anything, and so theres no reason to exclude miracles. I firmly believe that with God, all things are possible.

    Quote#2:
    I am most comfortable using the language of the Bible to talk about the Bible. I tend not to use words like “inerrant” because these words are part of a modern Enlightenment philosophical system called “foundationalism.” Because Evangelicalism was born in a foundationalist environment, these words are very important even sacred – to traditional Evangelicals. Out of respect for foundationalism and those for whom it provides the intellectual framework for faith, I dont want to ever speak against these words or deny them. But I don’t use these foundationalist terms normally because my ministry setting is more postmodern, which is post-foundationalist. To use these words in my setting would actually decrease people’s respect for the Bible, and would cause an obstacle to the gospel.

  • I posted my response to John and Nate on my website: http://thebrooks.blogspot.com

    It’s kind of longish. Its below also.

    John:
    It’s clear to me through your posts that you accept the validity of logical laws. That’s why you’re attacking Andrew’s reasoning as being circular. A couple of points:
    1) This is curious since earlier you’ve said that current physics has refuted the law of the excluded middle…curious.

    2) In terms of circularity – I have a question for you. Let us say that you are a rationalist of sorts and believe that human reason is the ultimate standard for apprehending truth (say, a scientist). How can you argue for that position w/o indulging in a circular argument? Indeed, when it comes to ultimate standards, how can anyone not be broadly circular? John, what is your ultimate standard for apprehending truth? Please answer that.

    See here and the post from 11/28/05.

    Nate:
    1) It would be helpful to distinguish between mysteries and contradictions. For example, the Trinity is a mystery but not a contradiction. That is, it goes beyond truth, not against it. We might not ultimately be able to explain it in a nice syllogism, but it’s not a contradiction. Given this, it’s fine to say that mysteries are included in the faith.

    2) But, if I understand what you are espousing correctly (maybe the bible is inerrant and errant at the same time) – that is not a mystery that is an outright contradiction. A text cannot be inerrant and errant at the same time. As mentioned before a woman cannot be pregnant and not-pregnant at the same time. Nate, given what you’ve written you’re an errantist. I realize you may not like that, but you are. You’ve clearly stated that there are hundreds of errors not only in the copies we have, but in the original manuscripts. It’s beyond me how you don’t see this.

  • Some more interesting quotes from Myron B. Penner:

    So even if the Bible is inerrant, it is possible we may never be able even to access the ways in which it is inerrant (i.e., obtain inerrant truths from it), let alone prove the Bible to be such. This in no way means that inerrancy is irrelevant to exegesis and just biblical interpretation in general, but it greatly reduces its relevance for the hermeneutic enterpriseand does so in a way that falsifies a great deal of what I suspect many evangelicals take to be the gist of the doctrine of inerrancy (e.g., to produce absolute truths). Second, inerrancy treats the text of Scripture as if the goals and intentions of its author(s) are the same as those of a modern theologian or philosopher. Modern philosophers reified propositional truth as the only form of truthful asseveration because propositions, as they conceived them, enjoy the luxury of being objective, abstract and universal. As defined in modernity, propositions (roughly) are whatever is expressed by a declarative sentence and therefore express what is open to public evaluation and translatable in the declarative sentences of any natural language. When evangelicals fixate on inerrancy as an attempt to shore up the truthfulness and authority of Scripture we do so because we explicitly or implicitly buy into these assumptions about truth and language and expect that Scripture itself assumes these things. However, as already referred to above, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 describes Scripture as useful for a variety of purposes.

    The above point naturally leads to the issue of hermeneutics, which is the third area of an evangelical doctrine of Scripture I want to emphasize as needing revision in light of the postmodern critiques of modernity. A postmodern view of Scripture has no problem acknowledging that whatever is affirmed in Scripture is wholly and completely true. Insofar as inerrancy is an attempt to preserve the truthfulness of God and His speech, I applaud it and whole-heartedly agree with it. Inerrancy isnt wrong, so much as it is wrong-headed. The key issue, though, has to do with what Scripture, taken as a whole and in any given piece, is actually affirming. Postmodern questions about inerrancy concern, on the one hand, our access to these inerrant truths, and on the other hand, the form and content these truths take. In other words, postmodern evangelicals will affirm that the hermeneutical task in regards to Scripture is interminable for at least three reasons: 1) because of the continually evolving socio-cultural and personal contexts in which we read Scripture and in which God speaks to us through Scripture; 2) because the intentions of God expressed in His scriptural speech-acts are, in keeping with His being, potentially inexhaustible; but also, 3) because the conceptual-linguistic form of Gods revelation to us in Scripture means that we can never lock down its meaning in one exclusive set of timeless propositional truths.

    Here is the link

  • Keith:

    Good point on mysteries, however i think you are just picking and choosing what you want to be a mystery and what you want to be a contradiction based on your preconceived beleifs. How can you say God is three but one isn’t a contradiction but a mystery and then turn around and say the bible is errant and inerrant and say that its an outright contradiction?

    I’m not even trying to validate this as my beleif, i hope that’s understood, i’m just trying to help you see that in our faith of Christ much is a mystery and you can’t just brush it off because you’ve already come to a predetermined decision in this conversation.

    My problem with all of this is that i’m trying to get away from the entire errant and inerrant language and you keep dragging us back there even to a point of calling me an erranist. Maybe i battled the inerrant beleif wrong by saying there is errors, maybe i should have approached it a different way. My point isn’t to argue for errancy. My point in all of this is trying to figure out why we use these terms in the first place and why we think it is so neccesary.

  • “I have no idea what youre referring to, must have missed it, can you link me?”

    I’m not sure where it is off hand. It’s in the 40 comment post.

    “You need to qualify if the Bible is Gods Word but Ill take as given that you mean, If the Bible is a literal inerrant text delivered from God to man in a perfect form
    The problem with using this as a premise is that is precisely the topic under discussion. You are begging the question.”

    Forgive me. In the original post that started all this Nathan equated calling the Bible the Word of God with inerrancy, so I have been following that. Here’s my definition of inerrancy/the Bible as “God’s word”: everything the Bible says is true.

    “Again, you claim this with out qualifying or supporting this.”

    That’s completely false. You have missed my points about Hebrews, as you admit in the next comment you make. It’s unfair to say “I haven’t read your argument for this, therefore you didn’t make one and you’re begging the question”.

    “Its very easy to get away with in Christian culture because as Christians, we do believe that the Bible is the word of God. The problem is that you have a particular definition of what that precisely means, and while we are discussing the very topic, you claim this as a premise.”

    I’ve also defended this.

    “This puts you firmly on fallacious ground. From a logical argument perspective at least.”

    Again, if you ignore the argument I gave.

    “Please be aware that Im not drawing any judgements on your faith or character when I say that. You may be accepting that on Faith, and thats fine, but its not a compelling reason to challenge Nathans thought process, nor does it hold up in a logical argument.”

    I never made this argument.

    Andrew said,
    (have you responded to my comments about how the epistle to the Hebrews treats scripture? No one has as far as I’ve followed this discussion).

    “I dont recall you making any unique point from Hebrews, but Ill go back and find that and post my thoughts directly on that issue if youd like. While were on the topic of unanswered comments, any thoughts to append to the monster thread where at the end I discussed whether women can speak in church with Ryan?”

    Sure, my interpretation is that it means women can’t teach or rule in church. Women clearly were allowed to prophesy, and I think by extension we know they could be in corporate prayers and sing. But they may not teach, and certainly may not question the teacher in the middle of a sermon.

    “We are only screwed if the previous premises have been accepted, and they havent been. You link errors in the Bible directly to God, I link them directly to man. Since I accept that man can make errors, even under the best of circumstances; I dont see how were screwed.”

    This is just answering with an assertion

    “Thats not how a logical argument works.
    You have not established your premises as true, that burden is not on me.”

    But I have made arguments. You’ve just missed them. That’s not my fault.

    Nathan:

    Instead of responding to those quotes in depth, because I’m about to write 5 pages on Aquinas, I’ll just answer this way: it is not a sufficient, or even respectful, argument against any idea to just label it and base one’s rejection on that. I didn’t read all the quotes thoroughly, but I saw people many times equate inerrancy with modernism, foundationalism, etc. The view of inerrancy predates modernism. I just read the entire City of God by Augustine this summer and he operates by the exact same principle I do: everything scripture asserts is true. He predates modernism and foundationalism by several centuries.

  • I think it would be helpful to take these links and read them so you guys understand what you are talking to eachother about.

    Click here to download all of Andrew’s comments.
    Click here to download all of John’s comments.

    I tried to gather up just thoughts on what you guys thought about the subject instead of little things. Btw. You guys have written a friggin lot of stuff. Thanks for your conversations, its really helping me and a lot of others out.

  • Keith said,
    John:
    It’s clear to me through your posts that you accept the validity of logical laws. That’s why you’re attacking Andrew’s reasoning as being circular.

    Hi Keith, I wouldnt categorically deny that, but I would point out that Im engaging Andrew where and how hes entering the discussion. I think that this forum would likely be a better place to share and discuss on a more casual level, but Im equally comfortable with a logical debate. It offers a certain amount of clarity and short hand to use concepts such as a premise and conclusion, excluding the middle ground, begging the question, etc. but I suspect that it will tend to lose people that dont have experience with a Critical Reasoning format as Nate comments he has thankfully studied.

    Rather than saying I accept the validity of logical laws, I would categorize myself as, I enjoy the laws of logic.

    Keith said,
    A couple of points:
    1) This is curious since earlier you’ve said that current physics has refuted the law of the excluded middle…curious.

    Thats actually adding a few words to my mouth, and I think that Ive already shown my mouth is full of enough words so far. ;)
    Physics hasnt refuted the law of the excluded middle, but it has demonstrated that it is certainly not the absolute we once believed it to be. Regardless, the real issue is that the law of the excluded middle was misapplied in this instance, and that possibility has been known for as long as weve known of it. As fun as a Quantum Physics tangent would be, that doesnt bring any real value here, I was making an off the cuff remark with a slight smile/smirk, not attempting to drive home a crucial point.

    Keith said,
    2) In terms of circularity – I have a question for you. Let us say that you are a rationalist of sorts and believe that human reason is the ultimate standard for apprehending truth (say, a scientist). How can you argue for that position w/o indulging in a circular argument?

    Lets say Im not.

    Keith said,
    Indeed, when it comes to ultimate standards, how can anyone not be broadly circular?

    At that point, you recognise that you are making an assumption. If that assumption is not shared, then the discussion ends immediately. Most views ultimately go back to some initial assumption, if that assumption is challenged, you cant move forward. Either you respectfully agree to disagree or you continue until one or the other can accept the assumption, perhaps as merely a possibility, if not certainly true.

    Keith said,
    John, what is your ultimate standard for apprehending truth? Please answer that.

    Ah, a question with meat to it.
    My ultimate Standard? Easy.
    God

    Im going to make a presumption regarding the obvious next question, how do we know that standard?
    I believe there are 2 ways, the Bible and a subjective relationship and discourse with the Spirit of God that employs the gifts of reasoning, insight and understanding that God created within us.
    I hold neither as an absolute, I reserve that for God alone.

  • Nate:
    1) Clearly the Trinity isn’t a contradiction. I think it was Augustine who noted that a distinction must be made between person and essence/substance. If I said the Trinity is 3 person’s and 1 person at the same time, that is an outright contradiction – and Christian theism ought to be rejected as a result. But orthodoxy has always affirmed that the Trinity is 3 persons, 1 essence. Therefore it isn’t a contradiction.
    As per Andrew’s post, to assert that the bible is inerrant and errant at the same time is a clear contradiction.

    John:
    1) The discussion does not need to end when assumptions are recognized as not being shared. A transcendental critique can be employed to show the other person that his/her assumptions are internally contradictory, for example. Your assumption can then be offered as a plausible alternative.
    2) Your own views seem to be just as broadly circular as Andrew’s. You affirm that your ultimate standards are the bible and a subjective relationship with the Spirit. I’d like to see you argue for these standards w/o employing a circular argument.

  • Keith,
    1. Perhaps my point was less than clear, by “end the discussion”, I meant that the discussion can’t progress until those assumptions have been dealt with, in pretty much the same fashion you state, pointing out the internal issues of the assumption or accepting the assumption as plausible. I don’t see any significant disagreement between us there.

    2. That is NOT what I affirmed as my ultimate standard. I affirmed it as God. I hold that as a significant difference. I won’t argue for the standards you are asking me to, with or without circular reasoning because I don’t believe either to be standards. They are useful tools to know the standard, which is God.

    Andrew, not ignoring your post buddy, but to do justice to its answer will take a bit more time.

  • Although I don’t share Keith’s rather scholastic approach to the Trinity and his rationalistic/majesterial affirmation of the Trinity; if you believe what you’ve said about the Trinty than you’re a modalist. While each person of the Trinity is God, each person is Himself and not the other, as the orthodox formulation goes.

  • Sorry about that John. I misread you there.

  • So my defending the Trinity against the charge of being a logical contradiction is “scholastic,” “rationalistic,” and “magisterial” ?
    These are mighty big words.

  • Keith,

    You’ve missed the Strikefootian bent to my comment.

    Tom

  • Wow I can’t believe all the words that have been laid down, to try to prove the Bible as errant or inerrant.
    It all boils down to one ever pressing issue.
    Whether or not you BELIEVE in the Word of God or not.
    Thats really what it all comes down to.
    And if you have the slitest thought that it may be errant then which part, who are you to say which part.
    Did you write the ancient Holy scriptures, so as to beable to explain them, how dare you.
    I truly fear for you because your faith is then based on nothing, and you have nothing for your salvation to hang on to.
    Because if you doubt anything, then all is in question.
    Like I said before it’s ALL we been given, a whisper of what God wants to say to us, so don’t water it down or try to explain it away to your soul’s destruction.
    I just read about 20 of the comments.
    I guess it’s just basic blah blah blah. Just a bunch of wanta be scholars who can explain away the existance of man, if given enough time.
    Be careful guys be very careful, where your going with this doctrine of demons.

  • Brady,
    All through out this blah blah blah has been a discussion about Errant and Inerrancy about the bible.

    You say youre scared? I get scared when people make comments like Did you write the ancient Holy scriptures, so as to be able to explain them, how dare you. Or Be careful guys be very careful, where youre going with this doctrine of demons.

    How dare we what? Have a discussion about the words in the bible and what they mean to us? Or is any discussion about the ancient Holy Scriptures being viewed as demonic.

    You say I truly fear for you because your faith is then based on nothing, and you have nothing for your salvation to hang on to.

    Maybe you need to read more of the posts but everyone is discussing about their faith and base in Christ and not the Errant/Inerrant words of the bible.

  • Brady said:
    “Did you write the ancient Holy scriptures, so as to beable to explain them, how dare you.”

    i dare explain them because of the priesthood of believers and the fact that we have been given the ability/right to do so.

    “I truly fear for you because your faith is then based on nothing, and you have nothing for your salvation to hang on to.”

    i don’t know about anyone else, but my faith is based solely on Jesus Christ. He saved me, not the Bible. The Bible is a tool through which I know God, His redemption, and my Saviour, Jesus more. So I’ll hang onto Jesus, even if it turns up that there are errors in the Bible.

    them’s my 2 cents.
    good discussion everyone.

  • Hi Andrew, hope your 5 pager on Aquinas went well, I promised to get back to you and it took a bit to find the time, but I have.

    I might be reading between the lines to something that isn’t there, but our exchange seems to have gotten a bit terse. I always find it unfortunate when the first impressions of people are focused on what the disagree on rather than what may be volumes full of agreement, but it’s an almost unavoidable issue for Internet based discussions.
    I just wanted to say that I appreciate your discussion and your obvious passion for God that shows in your posts regardless of how much they line up with what I might post.
    With that said, onward…

    Andrew said,
    I discussed the permissibility of circularity when it comes to ultimate authorities in epistemology in a prior comment. Unless you have a response to that, I don’t see how my kind of circularity is fallacious.

    I found what you said and here it is for easy reference,

    Andrew said,
    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?

    OK, the problem Andrew, is were past Ultimate Authority. Introducing it now as you propose a logical argument with a premise and a conclusion just doesnt work, thats why I said it was fallacious. Forgive me if Ive misunderstood your position all along, but I had assumed that you were presenting the view that there are convincing reasons to believe that the Bible is the words of God AFTER we have decided were on the same page that God is the Ultimate Authority. One of the points that Nate began with is that the Bible doesnt refer to itself in this fashion. The topic of inerrancy doesnt come up in scripture, nor has God ever given witness that the Bible is in His words, so your appeal to God Himself for certainty doesnt hold.

    Regardless, if youre telling me you accept on Faith that the Bible is the words of God, I can fully appreciate and respect that, but it is incompatible with forming a logical argument on the topic.

    If you wish to share why your Faith is strengthened by the inerrancy view, we can both share from Faith and experience and no one has grounds to challenge. Its only when one view is presented as the only authoritative and acceptable view that we need to travel the path weve been on.

    Andrew said,
    Forgive me. In the original post that started all this Nathan equated calling the Bible the Word of God with inerrancy, so I have been following that. Here’s my definition of inerrancy/the Bible as “God’s word”: everything the Bible says is true.

    Sorry if that read as nit picky Andrew, I did understand your intent and was just trying to establish where we were in that discussion. Nates choice of wording isnt precisely what I would have used, and you began your discussion on this topic with him.

    Andrew said,
    That’s completely false. You have missed my points about Hebrews, as you admit in the next comment you make. It’s unfair to say “I haven’t read your argument for this, therefore you didn’t make one and you’re begging the question”.

    Its not completely false. You may feel that you have previously supported the premise, but the premise is still essentially the same as the question. This isnt a case of you being wrong, its a case of a poorly presented argument.

    Responding to your point re: Hebrews.
    In order to ensure I was fresh, I read your thoughts and read through Hebrews with an eye to seeing your point. The fact that the author of Hebrews quotes OT scripture and sees God speaking through it is not peculiar to the view of inerrancy. If we were to discuss whether the OT was in fact scripture or whether it could possibly have anything to speak to us (Im not sure if you have, but Ive encountered Christians that felt as though the Bible started at Matthew) then I would agree that you make a strong argument that the OT is valid, all scripture being valid for teaching etc. but thats not the discussion were having.

    I do understand how you interpret Hebrews, and can accept it, but it I dont see it as anything like a proof or evidence to support your premise.

    John said,
    “This puts you firmly on fallacious ground. From a logical argument perspective at least.”

    Andrew responded,
    Again, if you ignore the argument I gave.

    OK, without ignoring your argument, youre still on fallacious ground.

    John said,
    “Please be aware that Im not drawing any judgements on your faith or character when I say that. You may be accepting that on Faith, and thats fine, but its not a compelling reason to challenge Nathans thought process, nor does it hold up in a logical argument.”

    Andrew responded,
    I never made this argument.

    Actually, you did. Its the part you asked me to go back to the 40+ post thread and its the same part I quoted at the top of this post. Theres nothing wrong with that position.

    Andrew said,
    Sure, my interpretation is that it means women can’t teach or rule in church. Women clearly were allowed to prophesy, and I think by extension we know they could be in corporate prayers and sing. But they may not teach, and certainly may not question the teacher in the middle of a sermon.

    How do you arrive at that interpretation?
    The passages arent even mentioning women ruling or teaching, they are referring to how women learn, it admonishes them to learn silently in church and ask their questions at home.

    I dont have any issue with your interpretation Andrew, but I dont see how you arrive at it without the ability to question the scripture as written.

    John said,
    “We are only screwed if the previous premises have been accepted, and they havent been. You link errors in the Bible directly to God, I link them directly to man. Since I accept that man can make errors, even under the best of circumstances; I dont see how were screwed.”

    Andrew responded,
    This is just answering with an assertion.

    Yes, in fact it is, but since Im answering an assertion, were good there. :)

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