06
Mar
13

Biblical Inerrancy?


 I believe that scripture is the Holy Spirit inspired revelation that God has given to mankind of Himself and His purposes. But inerrant? What does that actually mean?

Inerrant is a theological word for which no one has ever been able to give me a convincing definition. The only person I’ve seen try said it means “authoritative”. I agree scripture is authoritative but I suspect the word “inerrant” means much more.

To me it seems to suggest “error free” – but THAT brings up a whole set of problems when different gospels give details of chronology that are sometimes contradictory. So which one is the “true”, error-free chronological account?

I’d say all are the truth – but none are necessarily “error-free” in their chronology. They are eyewitness accounts of what they heard and saw Jesus say and do – and as such display the characteristics of GENUINE eyewitness accounts affected by the perception and memory of the witness. To me that is evidence to their authenticity – if the accounts had been in 100% agreement it would have suggested the writers colluded to “get their story straight” before writing it down.

The usual claim about inerrancy is that scripture is “inerrant” in the original manuscripts. I suppose this proviso needed to be added when more and more translations were produced that had some differences from other translations – suggesting that translation has diluted the “inerrancy”.

The original manuscript claim has two main problems that I see:

1) We no longer have access to those originals so the claim can only be an assumption. No one in thousands of years has seen the “original manuscripts” to put them to the test. (And how would we test them anyway?)

2) Even if the original manuscripts can be accepted as “inerrant” we don’t have them to reference, so their inerrancy is of no use – we only have the later manuscripts that by inference are not as “inerrant” as the originals.

So what DOES inerrant mean and is the significance?

Are the “inerrancy” claims true? How does our understanding of “inerrancy” affect the way we read and understand scripture? How do Biblical inerrancy claims affect the way OTHERS (non-believers) perceive the Bible and the revelation given through sit? For example – when clear differences in accounts can be seen (as per gospels) doesn’t that provide them “ammunition” to discount other parts?

So who actually “wrote” scripture?

I don’t see scripture as being God’s “autobiography” where God is the writer through the use of human scribes. I see scripture more like an “authorised biography”, where men have been commissioned to write God’s “story” with God having final editorial control over the completed text.

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32 Responses to “Biblical Inerrancy?”


  1. March 6, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I think part of the problem, at least from my point of view, is that the Bible is sort of a “partnership” between God and the human beings who wrote the various books/letters, and so on. We have four different Gospel versions of more or less the same events, but they’re filtered through the memories and the personalities of the writers. If they were inspired by God, we don’t understand the mechanism involved. I don’t believe God simply whispered in their ears and they wrote down what He said.

    The other problem is that Christians depend on the Holy Spirit to interpret scripture for them/us. The problem here is if the Holy Spirit were whispering in all of our ears, all Bible-reading Christians (and I certainly hope all Christians read the Bible) should interpret the Bible the same way…

    …and we don’t.

  2. March 6, 2013 at 10:35 am

    James, I believe it is essential for us all to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us from scripture – but most people don’t. And that is why there are so many differences.
    People trust more in ministers who teach their denominational traditions instead of primarily addressing scripture. They USE scripture to support those traditions – even when it requires some very tricky intellectual gymnastics to get scripture to mean what they want it to mean. It comes through a chain of someone teaching others what he himself had been taught by his own teacher. Within this chain we learn mans’ ideas about what the bible says rather than what the bible ACTUALLY says.

    I have found that scripture is often much more straight froward than we’ve been led to believe. It mostly needs to be accepted instead of interpreted. If something doesn’t immediately seem clear it’s perhaps because we need to understand something else first – like needing to understand basic Arithmetic before we can hope to understand more complex mathematical ideas.

    Its when we try to run ahead of what we are ready to learn that we often turn to others, attmepting to take a spiritual short cut we can easily be led off track.

  3. March 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    The problem is, everybody believes their version of the Bible is confirmed by the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying you’re not right, just that people have a tough time separating what God is telling them from what they tell themselves.

  4. March 6, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    HI James,
    That is where fellowship and interaction with other believers is vital. We help to keep each other in check.

    I see three important aspects to learning and understanding truth.

    1) Scripture. It is the foundational revelation given by God. It shows us God in relationship with man from his original creation to the new creation. It helps us to know and recognise God through the Divine attributes and actions shown to us in scripture.

    2) The Holy Spirit, the inspirer of scripture and the teacher that Jesus promised who would teach us all things. Seek and expect Him to teach before seeking the ideas of man. But I’m not casting aside the input of other because we need:

    3) Fellowship/interaction/counsel with Spirit led believers. This helps to determine what is of ourselves and what IS of the Holy Spirit. If all are genuinely learning from the Spirit we won’t be learning contradictory things.

    Regarding the third of those above, whenever I think I’ve received a new or deeper understanding of something from scripture I “put it aside” until I receive either confirmation of its validity – or correction of my misunderstanding. That confirmation/correction has always come through someone else – either in discussion with a believing friend or through a book, a sermon or similar means from someone I don’t know personally. I have found this DOES happen, often from unexpected sources.

    Of course all of these work together – its not necessarily a step 1, step two, step three progression. Scripture ALSO helps us the determine whether it is the Holy Spirit wee are hearing from. In pentecostal and charismatic circles there have been some very weird ideas and practices being spread around – all attributed to the Holy Spirit, and yet – the spirit behind it seems to have very little resemblance to the HOLY Spirit of scripture.

    However the USUAL way of things with Christians is to take the easy way out and seek out other sources first before going to scripture for ourselves.
    Before seeking the Spirit’s help in understanding many will read with the bible in one hand and a favourite commentary in the other – or worse, will rely on a “study bible” full of someone else’s interpretations through which it will ultimately be difficult to recall what was scripture and what was study notes.

  5. March 6, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    Read scripture daily: check.
    Fellowship/counsel: check.
    Holy Spirit: Subjective experience that’s difficult to independently verify.

    I’m very fortunate to not only attend a church that provides good fellowship and study, but I have the unique opportunity of meeting for a one on one discussion with the head Pastor for an hour to discuss our perspectives on scripture. He lived in Israel for fifteen years, is fluent in Biblical Hebrew and Greek, and is very attached to the Jewish people and to Israel. Because of my own unique background and perspectives, we have a lot to share with each other that might not normally make sense in a wider circle of Christians.

    But I’ve always had trouble saying things like, “And then the Holy Spirit told me such and thus…” as if God had actually spoken to me with an audible voice whilst having coffee with me in the morning. I have had what I would consider unique and sometimes unexplanable insights and experiences that I can only attribute to God, but I want to be careful not to become arrogantly presumptuous. There are times when blogging that my missives seem to almost write themselves, but again, I won’t want to say that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through my keyboarding as if it was an undeniable fact.

    If I’m going to err, I want to err on the side of caution. That’s one of the reasons I particularly appreciate my conversations with my Pastor, since he is highly knowledgable, very level-headed, and in touch with God. I also have a friend, who I meet every other Sunday afternoon for coffee, who is a wonderful resource. He’s been a Christian for forty years. The gentleman suffers from ALS, which is terminal, and he is remarkably close to God in many ways.

    As far as talking to the Holy Spirit is concerned, and especially in understanding what the Spirit is saying, I can only someday aspire to what these two men demonstrate in their walk of faith.

  6. March 7, 2013 at 1:40 am

    One of the fascinating aspects of the inspiration of Scripture is that lots of wrong statements are made that are inspired! For example, Job’s friends. We know Job’s friends were wrong because God said to them, “you have not spoken right things about me.” 1 Corinthians 3:19 quotes Eliphaz, one of Job’s friends! That is an amazing fact! Perhaps even when the Bible is “wrong” it’s still “right!”

    I think in the end, when the Bible claims itself to be truth (They word is truth) we cannot ascribe falseness to it. The real burden comes on us who must interpret and apply it correctly, as the guy who takes from his storehouse old and new and knows how to apply it correctly, which is only done by complete dependence on the Spirit. The inerrancy of Scripture does not imply all we need is the Scripture (Sola Scriptura), what we truly need is to be indwelt with the Spirit and be partakers of the divine nature so we can be renewed in our minds and faithfully let Scripture teach, correct, reprove adn instruct us by His power.

    In other words, inerrancy isn’t an attribute of the Bible, as many use it, but an attribute of God. Since the Bible, the Word (John 1:1) is God, the Word must be inerrant–free from error. This does not mean, however, that my KJV, ESV, NAS, etc. is inerrant.

    But that’s just my theory!

  7. March 7, 2013 at 5:59 am

    Dear brothers: a primary question all serious Christians must think on ! Thank you for addressing it. And thank you both for the many excellent points made here as to the “partnership” God entered into with His chosen writers; and even more, His partnership with us in interpreting His word.

    Thank you both for these many excellent insights toward the latter !

    A related consideration, bearing on the original topic of inerrancy, may be the question of transmission. It seems the “original manuscripts” argument always has to take into account variant readings: which necessarily raises historical questions about the original manuscripts’ transmission among men.

    Jeremiah 1:11 may be relevant: that His “watching over His word to perform it” would seem to include His sovereignty over the transmission process, so that we have His word as He INTENDS it. Or are there problems in that (possibly simplistic) view ?

    In Jesus, Steve

  8. March 7, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Hi James,
    I’m not one to go around saying “The Holy Spirit told me this” or “the Holy Spirit showed me that”… although I know a lot of people are more than willing to give God credit for their own weird and not so wonderful ideas.

    When I read scripture I’ll occasionally see something totally new that I’d never noticed or thought of before. These “realisations” can be so unexpected and seem to go against the flow of what I previously understood. Maybe these times are the Holy Spirit giving me insight – but how can I know for sure? There was no audible voice no burning bush…

    But that is where patience comes into it – waiting for some kind of confirmation from an independent source. This may come in discussion with trusted believers, it may come through reading or in a sermon we hear. If it WAS the Holy Spirit He will give confirmation in some way.

    The usual way people seem to learn is to listen to a sermon, read a book – then check the teaching against scripture. Often the unfortunate practice is to rely only on the proof texts given by the “teacher” with little regard for context.

    I see things work better the other way around. Do your own study of scripture – and have your understanding confirmed (or corrected) by others.

    Tim

  9. March 7, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Jeff,
    My issue with the term “inerrant”: it is a “theological term, not biblical, that doesn’t seem to have definite and concise definition. This is demonstrated in the following example of the increasingly convoluted theology associated with the idea of “inerrancy”.

    It seems the simple Truth gets lost somewhere as people try to establish their own (extra-biblical) ideas of HOW and in what way scripture is inspired. Personally I don’t see why we can’t stick with biblical claims regarding the nature of scripture instead of trying to improve on what scripture has said.

    bible.org/seriespage/bible-inerrant-word-god

    A Definition of Inerrancy
    The word inerrancy means “freedom from error or untruths.” Synonyms inlcude “certainty, assuredness, objective certainty, infallibility.” But doesn’t the concept of inspiration automatically imply inerrancy? So we might ask the question, “Why this section on the inerrancy of the Bible?” Ryrie has an excellent explanation in answer to this question.
    Formerly all that was necessary to affirm one’s belief in full inspiration was the statement, “I believe in the inspiration of the Bible.” But when some did not extend inspiration to the words of the text it became necessary to say, “I believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible.” To counter the teaching that not all parts of the Bible were inspired, one had to say, “I believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible.” Then because some did not want to ascribe total accuracy to the Bible, it was necessary to say, “I believe in the verbal, plenary, infallible, inerrant inspiration of the Bible.” But then “infallible” and “inerrant” began to be limited to matters of faith only rather than also embracing all that the Bible records (including historical facts, genealogies, accounts of Creation, etc.), so it became necessary to add the concept of “unlimited inerrancy.” Each addition to the basic statement arose because of an erroneous teaching.

    Read more: http://revivalspeak.freeforums.net/thread/101/biblical-inerrancy#ixzz2MnXRbUsd

  10. March 7, 2013 at 8:13 am

    I hear ya. My comments were more of an abstraction than a help! Just thoughts that entered the head.

    Using words that are not in the Bible gets tricky because we do end up believing in our words rather than God’s. And, as you point out, we continue to define things to death until we are so far removed from anything that words hardly mean anything any more. Sticking with what it says is a good rule. Thanks for the Ryrie quote and link. good stuff

  11. March 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I personally think ever increasing lists of theological labels cause more confusion than edification. So I prefer to stick with what scripture says about its own authority.

    The bible was written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; recording their experiences with God in their own words.

    They also recorded God’s words when He spoke to them.
    Scripture as a whole was not dictated by God (though some parts were).
    Scripture is the revelation of God through His interaction with mankind, showing us His nature and His purposes through real life situations. God doesn’t merely tell us what He’s like and what He’s doing; He DEMONSTRATES it all through His relationships with His creation, man in particular.

    This interaction between God and man is also demonstrated in the nature of scripture itself – man recording divine revelation.

    I see it is no coincidence that Jesus, fully God and fully man is called The Word of God. I see scripture has similar characteristics – God’s word written by man. A Word with both Divine and human input but all in submission to God (just as Jesus only spoke and acted in submission to God).

  12. 12 Marleen
    March 8, 2013 at 2:39 am

    http://royblizzard.hubpages.com/hub/Maranatha-Challenging-a-Textual-Error
    I don’t necessarily agree with his eventual translation here,
    but the effort to evaluate the matter is interesting.

    Quote: …. [A] “Church” document called the Didache… is part of the Apostolic Fathers’ collection and is used by many denominations as a basis for much of what they believe. This collection of writings is thought by some (but not me) to have been authored by those who had close personal contact with the Apostles.

    However, this phrase [in I Corinthians, 16:22] has been transliterated into Greek letters and into English rather than translated. It is not proper to assume that just because the phrase is used once in the New Testament, meaning one thing, that in turn, we should use the same meaning again 100 years later in the Didache, especially since the given meaning in the New Testament is obviously not clear. This is reverse reasoning and it is not trustworthy.

    This should lead one to ask the question; “Is there a reason this word has only been transliterated,” but instead, we get comments and conjectures from various commentaries and Bible versions such as the New American Bible like this:

    “As understood, here, (“O Lord, come!”), it is a prayer for the early return of Christ. If the Aramaic words are divided differently, (Maran atha, “Our Lord has come”) it becomes a creedal declaration. The former interpretation is supported by what appears to be a Greek equivalent of this acclamation in Book of Revelation 22:20, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”

    The only thing that is clear about this is that in Revelation 22, the wording is not the same as in 1 Corinthians and Revelations 22:20 is just simple Greek….

    [The author of this article goes through Calvinist and other examples (including Christian speculation on what Jewish people did).]
    ….

    If anything, this errant usage should help to prove that the Didache is not a 1st century work of the Jewish believers, but is, in fact, a latter Greek work written when the 1st century meaning of the Hebrew usage had already been forgotten and the real followers of Jesus knew nothing of the theology of the Didache. End quote
    { To be clear, this statement is not meant to indicate that “real” followers of Jesus would be by definition Jewish (except that the very earliest ones were and many thereafter were Jews too until Constantine said that would not be allowed and became hateful toward Jews); true believers don’t have to be Jews (but they also shouldn’t reject Jews like that emperor demanded). The statement is basically three different statements in one:
    Didache not Jewish,
    Didache later and Greek and removed from earliest understanding of Jesus,
    Didache not only removed from earliest understanding but also not representative of true faith.
    That’s his point of view. What matters to me most is the fact we should not engage in “reverse reasoning” or circular “logic” (that being so whether the writers of the Didache were faithful followers of Jesus or not). }

    The above has to do with
    ideas involving original manuscripts.

    Below, I’m reposting most of your (Onesimus) last statement.

    I agree.

    “Scripture as a whole was not dictated by God (though some parts were).
    Scripture is the revelation of God through His interaction with mankind, showing us His nature and His purposes through real life situations. God doesn’t merely tell us what He’s like and what He’s doing; He DEMONSTRATES it all through His relationships with His creation, man in particular.

    “This interaction between God and man is also demonstrated in the nature of scripture itself – man recording divine revelation.

    “I see it is no coincidence that Jesus, fully God and fully man is called The Word of God. I see scripture has similar characteristics – God’s word written by man. A Word with both Divine and human input but all in submission to God (just as Jesus only spoke and acted in submission to God).”

    Excellent discussion all.

  13. March 12, 2013 at 12:52 am

    Without inerrancy, how do you determine what parts of the Bible are true or false? Dies it matter? I believe it does. Deny inerrancy and you’ll place yourself or someone else as the judge of Scripture. You become the basis for truth and your evil heart will always rebel against God and His authority (Gen 3:1-7; Romans 3:10-18). We must preach the absolute truth of the Bible (John 17:17) as Jesus did (John 10:35).

  14. March 12, 2013 at 7:28 am

    I believe in the absolute TRUTH of the Bible, but I can do so without resorting to man made ideas and terminology. And I can do so in a way that accomodates differences in “facts” presented in scripture such as variations of chronology in the gospel accounts.

    And the claims of inerrancy are focused on the original manuscripts – documents we no longer have access to and as such any claimed “inerrancy” is lost, so where does holding to ideas of inerrancy leave us today without those “inerrant” originals?

    The Truth of scripture is in the revelation it gives of God and His relationship with mankind. It SHOWS us God and how He relates to mankind… and yet man has turned scripture into something else: a doctrinal text book of facts about God and man.

    As part of that the Bible has been redefined and categorised in “theological” language. Instead of accepting scripture according to its own terms and terminology, man has projected his own conditions upon it.
    Instead of a living Word revealing God by His Spirit (a Spirit alive and active today in the reading and not only in its writing), the Bible has been turned into a theologically defined document interpreted according to a preferred theological mindset with man setting the agenda via chosen traditions.

  15. March 12, 2013 at 7:34 am

    If God is true and He cannot lie, how can His Word also be true and yet lie? I am not saying you say this but this is where rejection of inerrancy leads. Inerrancy is based on logic. It is based on the texts of Scripture that affirm the Bible as truthful. If we believe that God wrote the Bible then we must believe that He is both truthful and He knows all things which would imply that all that it says about Himself, His salvation, history, science, etc. would likewise be truthful. In order to reject inerrancy, I believe we must reject that God does not lie nor that He is all-knowing.

    BTW, if we had the original texts, they would be become tools of idolatry. We all know this. Further, we have over 6,000 Greek texts with 99% accuracy. How is that a Greek text in New York City and another Greek text in Jerusalem be nearly the same despite a gap of a 500 years between them? I myself once viewed a Greek manuscript of 1 Corinthians dated from around 500 AD. It was the same as my Greek NT that I had in my hand that day that I brought along to compare it with. That is the providence of a sovereign God who preserves His Word.

  16. March 12, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Agreed God does not lie.
    But God did not write the Bible and He did not dictate the Bible. And the “lie” statement implies that differences in perception and memory (which DO feature in scripture) are “lies”.

    God delegated the task of writing scripture to man so that God could be revealed to mankind both from HIS point of view (when “God says”…) and from man’s experience of God. The latter allows room for things like differences of chronology in the gospels.

    Yes the idea of “inerrancy” is based on logic – man’s logic relying on man’s intellectual biases. Man liking to have everything figured out in a neat and precise way.

    Ironically, I find that “logic” actually argues against the “inerrancy” view considering the scriptures DO have inconsistancies that don’t reconcile with the idea of “inerrancy”. Again I refer to the most obvious: the differences between the gospel accounts which PERFECTLY display the reality of eyewitness accounts, supporting the authenticity of the gospels but undermining the “inerrancy” viewpoint. The gospels therefore have the stamp of truthful accounts, more than they would if all of the “facts” were in total agreement.

    At the end of your comment you mention “a sovereign God who preserves His Word” – but apparently he only did that in Greek (and Hebrew for OT) and not in English or other languages. Surely an unfortunate oversight considering the majority of the world doesn’t read ancient Greek and Hebrew.

  17. March 12, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    But your underlining basis is that God is truthful but how do you know this apart from His Word? Furthermore, if you trust that what He said about Himself is truthful, why not all of it?

    In regard to HIs preservation of the text. We must bear in mind that Hebrew was the language of His chosen people and then Greek (by the way He chose common Greek and not the technical Greek of say Plato) which was nearly a universal language in the time of the NT. In His divine providence we then can take both languages and translate them into numerous other languages. This is brilliant on God’s part since it allows multiple translations and we have all have a common text to refer back to which is inerrant.

    I believe you are using a presupposition that can only be used by those who hold to the divine inerrancy of Scripture. If Scripture is true then it is true. If Scripture is false then it is false. You cannot have a book that is partly true and partly false and yet claim that what it says about God is true or about salvation. You would be assuming then that the Bible is infallible on issues that you want it to be rather than saying that it is true altogether.

  18. March 13, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Roy I am not disputing the Truth of God’s word. I am objecting to the use of unbiblical and unhelpful theological descriptions that create expectations of scripture that it was never intended to fulfil.

    What does “inerrant” actually mean?

    The closest agreement seems to be that it means “without error”. But what does “without error” mean in relationship to scripture? Does it mean that every “fact” and every record of events is is absolutely true with no room for contradiction?

    If that is the case we have a problem – there are some CLEAR contradictions in scripture. Time and again I’ve mentioned the chronological discrepancies between the gospels. That in itself causes serious problems for the “inerrancy” viewpoint. But those discrepancies are either brushed under the carpet as if THAT will make them go away; or people will try convoluted textual gymnastics to make it all fit together – creating a kind of scriptural Groundhog Day where the same event happens multiple times.

    ALL of scripture is TRUTH – but it is not and was never intended to be a theological collection of facts. It is a revelation of God, given to man and recorded by man according to his own experience of relationship with God, NOT through Divine dictation (though parts were dictated by God).

    In the case of the gospels the same things were experienced by different men and they were recalled and recorded sometimes differently, but providing an accurate record of the timing of events wasn’t the intended point. The gospels were never intended to be an accurate “inerrant” record of what happened when; they were intended as eyewitness reports of what people heard and saw Jesus say and do. They were NOT God’s infallible viewpoint, dictated to the writers – they were man’s viewpoint. MAN’S experience of the life of Jesus – whether personal as in the case of Matthew and John, or the collated experiences of others as in the gospels of Luke and (possibly) Mark.

    Regarding the preservation of the “inerrant” text in Hebrew and Greek: would God not be capable of preserving the “inerrancy” in the numerous other common languages that the average person can understand or was he restricted to those original languages?
    Or could it be a case of a theological priesthood conditioning the average man to be dependent upon THEM. That we need to rely on that theological priesthood to interpret scripture for us because only THEY have the access to the most “inerrant” bible versions in languages that we, the average believer, don’t understand?

  19. March 13, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Roy you asked:
    “your underlining basis is that God is truthful but how do you know this apart from His Word?”

    I know God is truthful the same way you know it – by faith and experience: otherwise the reason for accepting His truthfulness becomes an unsatisfactory circular argument.

    We believe He is truthful because scripture tells us He is and we believe scripture is truthful because HE is truthful. An argument like that doesn’t stand up anywhere.

    For both of these conditions (the truthfulness of God AND the truthfulness of His word) we are relying on the same witness – but what if that witness (God) ISN’T truthful? if we only have HIS word for it we could not be sure – but we have more than that.

    We have His DEMONSTRATED relationship with mankind throughout history as revealed in both scripture and man’s experience. We see what happens in the world, we see what man is like, we see how man can be changed through an encounter with God through Jesus and we can see how scripture explains all of those things and shows us the reason behind them.

    We don’t only have God’s word to convince us of His truthfulness – we also have the word of man recorded AS scripture, detailing how those men have found God to be truthful and true to His Word.

    That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ

  20. March 14, 2013 at 12:32 am

    Let us suppose that God were talking to you face to face. We would expect Him to be truthful, holy, and clear. Further, whatever He would say to us, we would believe and obey because God has spoken.

    This is the same as Scripture. When Scripture speaks, God speaks (Romans 3:2). All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We believe that the men who wrote the Bible were inspired by God and moved on by His Spirit to write the words of God (2 Peter 1:16-21). When Scripture speaks, God speaks. God is truthful (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2) and His Word is truthful (John 17:17). Scripture reveals itself as truthful. Psalm 119:160 says, “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.”

    We know that God is truth and that He is holy and that He is good because of the revelation of Himself in Scripture. We could not learn that from our experience or from creation (Romans 1:18-32). God’s Word reveals God and His salvation and this is the primary way that we know God. No doubt, once we know God from Scripture we can learn to walk in His ways and obey Him (1 John 2:3-6).

  21. March 14, 2013 at 12:35 am

    What contradictions in the Gospels? If you read the New York Times, the New York Post and the Boston Globe about the Yankees/Red Sox game, will they not all take various approaches to the story? Would we conclude they were wrong?

    You have four Gospels. Four different men writing about the same story. Four different viewpoints. Yet all equally inspired by God.

  22. March 14, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Exaclty – four different viewpoints inspired by God but not written by God. All written by men to express what they perceived and recalled – not necesarily recalling all events in the same order.
    Variations of chronology cannot all be “without error” (inerrant).

    I’ve been through this over and over in my original post and in the replies I’ve given previously.

  23. March 14, 2013 at 7:23 am

    @The Seeking Disciple: Differences in the Gospels. Read the different Gospel versions of the crucifixion and then try to determine the day that Christ died (no, they don’t all say “Friday,” especially if you realize that a “Sabbath” can be from Friday at Sundown to Saturday at Sundown *and* Passover Sundown to Sundown.

    That doesn’t make the Bible “wrong” or God a “liar,” but it does mean that the Bible was written as a sort of “partnership” between God and human beings, and God’s inspiration is being filtered through human thoughts, feelings, memories, and everything else.

  24. March 14, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Yes James,
    God inspired, Spirit led men, wrote of THEIR relationship with God.

    As John wrote:

    That which was from the beginning, which we have heard , which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ

    And Peter and John said:

    “…we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

    And as Paul was told:

    “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard

  25. March 14, 2013 at 11:56 am

    So if they wrote in chronological order then you would say that they were inerrant? I don’t understand your point. Where are their errors?

  26. March 14, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Roy it’s a matter of when things happened. What order they are described as happening. The order of events are not always the same.

    “Inerrancy” would require that the timing of each event was always reported consistently in each of the gospels that recorded it; but each writer recorded them according to their own memory of when they happened.

    I have no problem with that because I recognise the gospels as eye witness accounts of events and the variations in perception and/or memory add authenticity to those accounts. It is what happens when a group of people all write their memories of things they’ve jointly experienced.

    But this characteristic of the eye witness accounts DOES present a problem for the “inerrancy” claims. All it takes is one factual “error” to undermine the “inerrancy” stance so let’s look at one simple example:

    Which did Jesus share first at the last supper? The Bread or the wine?
    It depends which gospel you read.

    Of course that discrepancy makes no great theological significance – UNLESS the theology INSISTS in the “inerrancy” of scripture.

  27. March 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    How so? I hold to the inerrancy of the Bible. It is without errors. Simply because you have four different points of view of the same event does not constitute an error. An error would be, for example, the NY Times saying the Yankees beat the Red Sox 7-2 but the Boston Globe says the Yankees beat the Red Sox 4-2. One is wrong. Yet this is not the case with the NT writers. Name one error that they committed?

    Further, how can you say that you hold to the “truthfulness” of God’s Word while denying that it is all truth? Doesn’t that seem a bit odd.

  28. March 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Roy, how can you say there are no errors? I’ll repeat here something I’ve just added to my last comment (it seems while you were posting your latest comment).

    Which did Jesus share first at the last supper? The Bread or the wine?
    It depends which gospel you read. Compare Matthew and Mark with Luke.

    Of course that discrepancy is minor and makes no great theological significance – UNLESS the theology INSISTS on the “inerrancy” of scripture.

    And another one:
    When did Jesus cleanse the temple? Before or after He entered Jerusalem on the donkey?

    Matt, Mark and Luke report it immediately after.
    John records it a LONG time before.

    IN these two cases there are clear differences in chronology and both versions can’t be right – both versions can’t be without error. But does it realy matter? Does it change the importance of what the writers are REALLY sharing?
    NO – unless we insist there is no discrepancy so that a belief in “inerrancy” can be maintained.

  29. March 15, 2013 at 12:30 am

    But would it be a discrepancy or just, as you have stated, a difference in chronological order? I see no error. If I asked you, “How old are you?” and you say that you are such and such, well you are off. With each second you get older. Yet I would not accuse you of error. I would say that you are speaking in normal talk. You are assuming that inerrancy must mean perfect without distinction. Yet the Bible uses normal speech as we do and is not chronological. John, as you point out, is clearly not. Yet I still see no errors. I see stories a bit different here and there but I see no errors. You are seeing errors. I see differences but not errors.

    BTW, I have heard the same arguments from Mormons. I think it is sad that Mormons and those who deny inerrancy use the same arguments. Why not just humbly accept the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God and live it?

  30. March 15, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Clearly you are very flexible with your definitions if you think those differences of chronology for the same event can be accepted as “inerrant” and that they aren’t discrepancies.
    At least one of the alternatives given is in error, both can’t be true.

    I accept the bible as being God’s Spirit inspired Word, written by men as a revelation of God’s relation with mankind (and vice versa) – but I do not accept that the terms “inerrant” and “infallible” are appropriate labels to apply to scripture. They are more a hindrance than a help when discrepancies are there for anyone to see.

  31. March 15, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Again though brother, if you accept that God inspired His Word (2 Peter 1:21) and He is truthful (Titus 1:2), then how could there possibly be errors? If the Spirit of God wrote the Bible through men (2 Timothy 3:16-17) then the Bible doesn’t just contain some words of God but IS the Word of God. In fact, Scripture calls itself this over and over again (Hebrews 4:12).

    Simply because you have various events not in chronological order or different viewpoints of the same event does not constitute error. Newspapers do this every single day and yet we don’t often accuse them of error unless they misreport the story.

    I know you are tired of me filling your comment box on this issue but I have sadly seen so many people who first denied the inerrancy and infallibility of the Word of God and this led to what Spurgeon called “the downgrade” in which they begin to abandon other doctrines as well. In the end, I have had friends abandon the faith. Why? Because when you set yourself in the authority to judge Scripture, you’ll begin to ignore many commands and will become selective in what you believe is the Word of God. In the end, you’ll set aside Scripture for experience or you’ll reject Christianity altogether. The Bible is the Word of God whether we acknowledge it or not because it comes from God Himself (Isaiah 55:11). Since God is true and holy, His Word is true and holy in all that it says.

    I will let you have the last say on this and will not fill your comment box anymore. Thanks for the conversation. I do pray that you’ll cling to the Word.

  32. March 15, 2013 at 8:09 am

    Roy, I have seen far too many people “proving” the non-existence of God through reference to the clear discrepancies in scripture. They can do that because of the false expectations created by the “inerrancy” claims.

    They are clearly not as flexible with their standards as the Christians insisting on “inerrancy” seem to be.

    I see those anti-God “proofs” are built on a false premise that was created and fed by the “inerrancy” view.


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