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Comments on Biblical Inerrancy ArticlesDecember 26, 2013
I don't want to over simplify, but here is my take on this issue. The Bible is inerrant with regard to the intended message of the original author. So by the gospel author's canons of history writing there is no error. The error comes when we inappropriately require ancient authors to conform to our standards of precision (versus accuracy). They were entirely accurate, but not precise in our sense. We also do not take authorial intent seriously enough. For example, was the Chronicler an inept harmonizer, or was there theological meaning in his idealized presentation of David? I believe he is presenting not the David of history, but the David of his Messianic hopes: a worship and prayer leader centered in the second temple. I think you see where I am going with this brief sketch. Indeed, inerrancy is not what some may have intended in the 70s battle for the Bible. Still, the Scritures, correctly understood (salvation-historically) cannot be broken. Well anyway, there is my seed thought.
- Craig K., Pastor and University Religious Instructor
In our teaching of interpretation, we don't give enough time to progressive revelation. So that we have a full revelation in Christ, Isaiah not only did not know the Trinity, but only a foggy view of after life; David even less; Moses even less...
...we have a discipleship problem: how to move thinking believers from a Sunday School understanding to a more precise and clear perspective without causing them to doubt their faith? This is a huge problem. There are significant pressures on students to "universalize" ("all will be saved") or simply duck under a rock. I have seen some simply lose their faith under a combination of "New Atheist" rhetoric and what should be a more nuanced understanding of Scripture. In those settings, students hear "Prof X doesn't believe in innerrancy" as "Prof. X doesn't believe the Scriptures are true." I prefer to give them a precise term of what the Scripture does claim for itself: inspired by God and truly accurate with respect to what the original author was intending to communicate.
- Craig K.
My very first course in a seminary setting was textual criticism. I was hooked on the subject. Thus this article spiked my curiosity. I found the content to be well written and researched. However, I'm not sure I understand the importance of the argument especially when how many times the rooster crows is the example of "error". Really? In that first seminary course I was introduced to Constantin Von Tischendorf. His discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus utterly amazed me. I'm amazed by the mere possession of a copy of the scriptures. Are there problematic text variations? Sure. However I don't get the energy level of the article. The rooster crowed. One writer records one crow. Another records two crows. So? That is a barometer of "truth?" - "Both cannot be true." Sure they can. Depends on the source of the information. One author's source said once. Another twice. I just think too much is made of this. The message is clear. "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" That is the life-giving Good News! That is where all believers find the foundation for their faith. The text doesn't save. The Logos incarnate saves to the uttermost those who are lost. I believe we have common ground there.
- Charles, Pastor
I have read this again, maybe for the 4th or 5th time. Thanks for this. All of these points needed to be made. Lord forgive us and protect us from becoming worshippers of "text." Rather, make us worshippers of who the text reveals. (I can hear the wails of the Baptist apologists screaming in my ear saying "we only know for certain because the TEXT is certain"...this debate will never end until Jesus reappears in person.)...
I also got to revisit the following revelation...I looked it up for myself, not because I don't believe you, but because having this thought fully settled in any believer's mind allows that person to retell the teaching with personal passion...
Now we see through a glass in enigma... - 1 Cor. 13:12
This may be the single greatest point of understanding you have ever taught me about understanding the nature of things now vs. things as they will be. If it's NOT the greatest point, it is certainly in the top 3. You should hammer this point of understanding wherever you can to as MANY as you can all the days of your life. (if I am a case in point, I think you do this already)
The idea we will always have to accept is a certain level of "riddle" or "mystery" (enigma) in Theology is clear. Paul is clear in telling us nothing is as clear as we wish it to be on this side of eternity. I think I can see the desire to be "crystal clear" on all matters concerning the things of God is just not possible at this time. The notion of a single Human Being thinking he has arrived at full understanding of all mystery is hubris.
The desire of humans to arrive at perfectly clear perceptions concerning eternal things is somehow corrupt (wanting to answer EVERY uncertainty). I think I am coming to the point you have reached already, which I think is: "I am going to HAVE to be content with some level of mystery concerning what I know about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." I don't really see anybody has a choice in this matter. The more I think about it, the more comfortable I become knowing I CAN'T know all that can be known. If I did, wouldn't that make ME God? It appears receiving a mystery by trusting another with the outcome of the mystery is what is called for here. I'm thinking this is what "faith" means in this context...faith and trust appear to be synonymous.
Bottom line...you have helped me trust a person, not a "text". That is no small thing. I appreciate that about you. - Steve
[The reader quotes my comments regarding 1 Cor 13:12...] Paul uses "en enigmati" which can easily be translated "in enigma," then offers:
As an Orthodox Christian I really appreciate that you pointed this out. Western Christians and many Protestants in particular, especially those who hold to strict inerrancy, have lost the concept of mystery. To us in the Eastern Church it is a vital part of theology and walking with God. I feel like the inerrantists' approach to Scripture and theology is similar to that of a lawyer (insert Calvin-was-a-lawyer-joke-here) in the context of a court room. He may be talking about something important, but it's as if this approach thinks that all of the entire spiritual life is in this courtroom when in fact there is an entire world outside of it to be explored and experienced. - Luke S.
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