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Source: (consider it) Thread: biblical inerrancy
Goldfish Stew
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quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I guess my answer to this would be the same as the post above - these are the apostles, comissioned by Jesus, and different from us. Their teaching is what is now our NT, and so when they were wrestling with these issues, they were uniquely guided by God to work out these doctrines. And while the doctrines could not perhaps be worked out from the OT, they were an reasonable conclusion from what Jesus had taught - and the appostles knew what he had taught them and commissioned them to teach.

Fair enough.

However this debate is destined to go around in circles, because acceptance of any given case for either "non-inerrancy" or "inerrancy" is going to depend an awful lot on our presumptions on either position (apologies to all - including myself - for using the unhelpful terminology, but based on what has been posted we roughly understand what is meant by the terms don't we?)

So your explanations of the "gaps" or issues people see in inerrancy are adequate defence if you begin with the presumption of inerrancy. But they are inadequate if you begin with the presumption of non-inerrancy. And vice versa.

So satisfying me won't be quite enough here. [Razz]

Meanwhile I just hop from camp to camp to enjoy the view and play devil's advocate from time to time. [Angel] [Two face] [Devil]

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Atmospheric Skull

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quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Their teaching is what is now our NT, and so when they were wrestling with these issues, they were uniquely guided by God to work out these doctrines.

OK, I understand that you believe God guided them to infallibility on these matters. But where does the idea that this guidance was unique come from? What makes you believe that the insights of these men were more special than those of (say) the author of the Gospel of Thomas, or indeed your own?

[ 26. February 2004, 08:48: Message edited by: Godfather Avatar ]

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Ponty'n'pop
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Struggling with this...

Quoting from Fish Fish's post above

quote:
these are the apostles, comissioned by Jesus, and different from us.
Different from us in what way? Being commisioned by Jesus? Aren't we all called by Christ? Or were they somehow 'better placed' than us because of their proximity to the incarnate God, whereas we have the Holy Spirit? Don't get me wrong - we owe so much of our faith to the witness of the early church and the apostles in particular, but I don't see why we should regard their relationship with God in Trinity to be any more special than ours.

quote:
Their teaching is what is now our NT, and so when they were wrestling with these issues, they were uniquely guided by God to work out these doctrines.
Again, why were these people 'uniquely guided by God'? Isn't that a straight-jacketing of God? Can't God continue to guide his people in respect of doctrine?

Apologies if all these questions sound simplistically stupid, but I'm really struggling to understand the points being made.

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Chesterbelloc

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quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I don't see the church as sitting over the texts, in editorship, deciding which were in and which were out, and chopping the bits they didn't like. Rather, the church recognised the scriptures when they read them - their authority was apparent - their apostolic authoriship was their mark of authenticity - and also their consistency with the rest of scripture. When you compare the Biblical books with those which were rejected, these rejected texts massively contradict / teach different things about God etc.

So, in summary - the church recognised what was given rather than sitting over the text and editting it.

First, let me just say that if the authority of the books in question were so apparent to the Church at the time, it puzzles me that there was any need for the lengthy and complex process of Conciliar discernment that led to the formation of the Canon in the first place.

Remember, the Church had been on the go for hundreds of years before the Canon had been fixed, and for all that time had been living as the Body of Christ. The Church was not waiting to "get the message" about the Scriptures so it could start being the Church properly. The Church, using her discernment in the Spirit and her accumulated wisdom and experience of being the Church, tested the available writings against this background and discerned their authority accordingly. This is far from the subservient approach you, FF, imagine. In order to recognise that authority, the Church needed already to have known Christ's authority through the whole apostolic deposit and the Spirit's careful moulding - all of this before the determination of the Canon! The Church didn't need the Scriptures' authority for her life - Christ and the Spirit founded the Church directly - but the Scriptures needed the Church's seal so that their authority could be recognised.

quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
The Church herself is the continuation of the revelation of God to the world

Agreed. But in order for the church to operate within some God given boundaries, and knowing that people will err and stray unless they have some boundaries, God has given us the scriptures. If you abandon their authority, or water their authority down, then the church can drift into all sorts of heresy - as indeed it did pre-reformation.
This is just to assume that the Scriptures are the supreme and sole authority for the Church. I reject both those claims ( apart from anything else, they are both very late ideas, not significantly pre-dating the Protestant reformation), and refer you to my answer of some moments ago.
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
The doctrine of the Trinity as a "summary" of the texts is an idea that I admit to finding utterly bizarre!

Ok then - how did we get the doctrine of the trinity if not by formalising what is written in the scriptures?
By the careful process of discernment in the Spirit, and from her accumulated wisdom and experinece of being Christ's Body, using sacred scripture as one very important resource. I find it impossible to see how it could have been so dogmatically determined by proof texting, as you seem to suggest.

quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I am NOT saying the church is not invoved in interpreting the scriptures or forming doctrine. I am NOT saying the Spirit is not massively involved. But what I AM saying is that the Spirit has already spoken to us with authority, and so we can test what we think the Spirit may be saying to us today by comparing with what he has said in the past, becasue he does not change.

But you are already assuming that the Spirit has nothing to add to our understanding other that through what has been revealed in the Books! The Spirit does not change in that the Spirit does not contradict Itself, but the Spirit lives and speaks to the Church constantly as the Church needs to hear and learn - it's just not all repetition, you know! If the Spirit had said everything that was required in Scripture, there would be no need for continued discernment once we'd got the "plain" meaning of the Scriptures sorted out. The Spirit is not a voice or a message but a Person of the Godhead. Words alone, no matter how inspired, will not exhaust the message to the Church - the dialogue between God and the Church is a living personal one.

quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
The text is set as what? It's not a bus timetable. So the text is such that, even after all the Councils and centuries of controversies, we can't be sure we've got it right evwen yet? What kind of plain authoritative text is this?

The text isn't changing. Its set.
But the dialogue between the Church and her Lord is not "set". The Scriptures are just one interpretative tool for the discernment of God's life-giving Word.

Again, I repeat: if the Bible is the sort of plainly and supremely authoritative text you claim, why the honest and godly disagreement between His people, or the need for lengthy "interpretative" processes?

CB

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Fish Fish
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quote:
Originally posted by kiwigoldfish:
So your explanations of the "gaps" or issues people see in inerrancy are adequate defence if you begin with the presumption of inerrancy. But they are inadequate if you begin with the presumption of non-inerrancy. And vice versa.

Oh, I think you are absolutely right! My defence on the grounds of solutions to tricky passages being available doesn't cerry much weight if you don't beleive innerancy. But its added weight if

1. We acknowledge the vast majority of the text (written by many people over many centuries) is hugely consistant - I think this gives added weight to the argument

2. What Lep said above about no one in the Bible correcting previous bits - saying "oops, God didn't say this" or "the writer was wrong to say that".

3. the nature of God and truth we've been discussing

So its a weak argument on its own. But added to the others, its a lot stronger I feel.

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Stoo

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quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
We acknowledge the vast majority of the text (written by many people over many centuries) is hugely consistant - I think this gives added weight to the argument

I have to confess, I don't quite understand this. Are you arguing that the broad agreement between the individual books of the Bible is a pointer to its inerrancy?

The reason I'm confused is that the Bible could have contained different texts, which weren't quite so consistant. The books of the Bible were chosen, at least in part, precisely because they were in agreement with each other, and not just with each other, but with the ideas of the compilers of the canon.

Or have I misread you?

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dyfrig
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Consistency of theme is hardly surprising in a collection of texts about God collected by a God-centred community who believed that it was important to preserve stuff about God. It's like saying a stamp collector consistently applied herself to Philately.

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
The Spirit does not change in that the Spirit does not contradict Itself, but the Spirit lives and speaks to the Church constantly as the Church needs to hear and learn - it's just not all repetition, you know!

While I'm not sure I agree with this (I don't know about FF, I suspect not) it is not the point if this discussion. The point is the one that you make. That the Spirit does not contradict what he has said before. The discussion we have been having is about whether errors in the Bible show that it does contradict itself (either because He made a mistake, or as most people seem to be saying, because He didn't inspire it effectively). No one is arguing here (I don't think) that He does not give more revelation (either in the NT or now) but simply whether there are errors based de facto on supposed contradictions.

Thus, while all this discussion wbout authority and interpretation is very interesting, I'm not REALLY sure if it helps us deal with the inerrancy issue. Am I being thick? Possibly.

Perhaps someone would like to do a post summing up this thread so far to see if I can follow... [Big Grin]

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I find it kind of ironic that you quote 1 Timothy 3:15 when the whole book is all about how the church can be riddled with false teachers - and thus far from the truth.

So Paul lied then when he said the church was the ground and pillar of the truth?

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Fish Fish
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quote:
Originally posted by Godfather Avatar:
OK, I understand that you believe God guided them to infallibility on these matters. But where does the idea that this guidance was unique come from? What makes you believe that the insights of these men were more special than those of (say) the author of the Gospel of Thomas, or indeed your own?

quote:
Originally posted by Ponty'n'pop:
Different from us in what way? Being commisioned by Jesus? Aren't we all called by Christ? Or were they somehow 'better placed' than us because of their proximity to the incarnate God, whereas we have the Holy Spirit? Don't get me wrong - we owe so much of our faith to the witness of the early church and the apostles in particular, but I don't see why we should regard their relationship with God in Trinity to be any more special than ours.

The apostles are different from us in being specially commissioned by the risen Jesus as his messengers - it seems they are different from us as disciples - So, they are specially blessed with the HS to accurately remember and record what Jesus said (John 14:26). And they speak authoritatively from God (2 Peter 3:2). So, they teach in a way that we do not.

quote:
Originally posted by Ponty'n'pop:
Again, why were these people 'uniquely guided by God'? Isn't that a straight-jacketing of God? Can't God continue to guide his people in respect of doctrine?

That seems to me what we are being told in the NT. But, of course God can still guide us - I've never denied that - but I will keep banging on about him giving us authoritative and innerant boundaries with which to guide us.


quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
First, let me just say that if the authority of the books in question were so apparent to the Church at the time, it puzzles me that there was any need for the lengthy and complex process of Conciliar discernment that led to the formation of the Canon in the first place.

Sorry - will have to place my hands up to ignorance about this church history. But, it still seems to me, that what we have in the NT today is the apostles teaching - and waht was rejected was seen to not be their teaching. Sorry to not know more on this!


quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
Again, I repeat: if the Bible is the sort of plainly and supremely authoritative text you claim, why the honest and godly disagreement between His people, or the need for lengthy "interpretative" processes?

CB

Part of the answer must be that "ignorant and unstable people distort [the scriptures] ...to their own destruction." (2Peter 3:16)! [Two face]

And, as Jesus said "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!" (Luke 24:25) - implying the scriptures are clear, but these people were unbeleiving.

The Bible claims to be clear - so even the Simple can be made wise - "The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple." (psalm 19:7)

So, if the Bible claims itself to be clear, perhaps the problem is not with the Bible, but with us sinful people who bring our own agendas to it.

(Sorry if this is controversial or anoying or just inadequate - I'm totally knackered!)

[ 26. February 2004, 21:40: Message edited by: Fish Fish ]

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Fish Fish
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quote:
Originally posted by Stoo:
I have to confess, I don't quite understand this. Are you arguing that the broad agreement between the individual books of the Bible is a pointer to its inerrancy?

Yes. But more than broad agreement - the consistant message of God's love and justice, the prophecies fulfilled, etc...


quote:
Originally posted by dyfrig:
Consistency of theme is hardly surprising in a collection of texts about God collected by a God-centred community who believed that it was important to preserve stuff about God. It's like saying a stamp collector consistently applied herself to Philately.

No - the consistance is much more than that. Wew could gather texts from many religions which talk about God, wut banging them together in the same book would not give us a consistant picture of God at all. So, I would suggest, you are way underestimating the consistancy of message in the Bible.

And since it was written by many people over many centuries, some of whom didn't know what others had written, I find its consitancy totally amazing.

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Fish Fish
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quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
I find it kind of ironic that you quote 1 Timothy 3:15 when the whole book is all about how the church can be riddled with false teachers - and thus far from the truth.

So Paul lied then when he said the church was the ground and pillar of the truth?
No - The fact that there are false teachers aplently teaching un-truth is clear evidence that Paul does not always believe every church is the ground and pillar of the truth. The church is the ground and pillar of the truth when it is basing its teaching on the truth - and Paul explains that is found in the apostles teaching etc...

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Stoo

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quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
And since it was written by many people over many centuries, some of whom didn't know what others had written, I find its consitancy totally amazing.

But the point is, the books were picked precisely because they were consistant. You might as well argue that it's amazing that all the plays in a Shakespearian anthology were written by Shakespeare.

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Josephine

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quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
What Lep said above about no one in the Bible correcting previous bits - saying "oops, God didn't say this" or "the writer was wrong to say that".

From Matthew 5:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' ,But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother, will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. ...

You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ...

You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. ...

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you ....

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
No - The fact that there are false teachers aplently teaching un-truth is clear evidence that Paul does not always believe every church is the ground and pillar of the truth.

This is your spin. This isn't what Paul said. You don't believe what Paul said. Hypocrite.

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Fish Fish
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quote:
Originally posted by Mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
No - The fact that there are false teachers aplently teaching un-truth is clear evidence that Paul does not always believe every church is the ground and pillar of the truth.

This is your spin. This isn't what Paul said. You don't believe what Paul said. Hypocrite.
Oh come on! You are proof texting - the very thing "innerantists" are accused of! Lets read what Paul says about the church in the context of the letter, and even the verses around it. Either he is completely schizophrenic in saying the church is the source of truth in one sentance and prone to error in another - or he was qualifying what he meant. Please lets read everything that he says rather than take it out of context.

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Fish Fish
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quote:
Originally posted by Stoo:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
And since it was written by many people over many centuries, some of whom didn't know what others had written, I find its consitancy totally amazing.

But the point is, the books were picked precisely because they were consistant. You might as well argue that it's amazing that all the plays in a Shakespearian anthology were written by Shakespeare.
No - they were picked because of their apostolic authorship.

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Fish Fish
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quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
What Lep said above about no one in the Bible correcting previous bits - saying "oops, God didn't say this" or "the writer was wrong to say that".

From Matthew 5:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' ,But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother, will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. ...

You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ...

At first glance it seems you have a good point. Jesus does seemt o be correcting the OT. However...

Quoting these 2 comands, Jesus does not correct them - he simply applies them more deeply.

quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. ...

This OT law was reigning in vengeance - restricting it to an eye for an eye. Jesus again takes the principle of reigning in vengeance, and applies it even more stringently. So he is not correcting it in the sense of "This is totally wrong" - rather (as above) "This is good, apply it more deeply"


quote:
Originally posted by josephine:
You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you ....

"Love your neighbour" is an OT quote, whuich again Jesus reinforces. "Hate your enemy" is not an OT quote - its a misquote, perhaps by the pharisees, excusing hatred and vengeance. So Jesus is not correcting the OT, but a misquotation.

Hope that helps.

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Stoo

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quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
No - they were picked because of their apostolic authorship.

And the Church Fathers who compiled the Bible confirmed the "apostleship" (I'm assuming you're talking both OT and NT authors here) of the authors how, exactly?

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Ponty'n'pop
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quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Ponty'n'pop:
Again, why were these people 'uniquely guided by God'? Isn't that a straight-jacketing of God? Can't God continue to guide his people in respect of doctrine?

To which Fish Fish replied:
That seems to me what we are being told in the NT. But, of course God can still guide us - I've never denied that - but I will keep banging on about him giving us authoritative and innerant boundaries with which to guide us.


But as others have said, this assumes that we have nothing more to learn beyond what has already been revealed, that God has nothing more to say to us, even though we are constantly seeking renewal in faith and witness.

Chesterbelloc sums this up eloquently above:
quote:
If the Spirit had said everything that was required in Scripture, there would be no need for continued discernment once we'd got the "plain" meaning of the Scriptures sorted out. The Spirit is not a voice or a message but a Person of the Godhead. Words alone, no matter how inspired, will not exhaust the message to the Church - the dialogue between God and the Church is a living personal one.

P'n'p

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Fish Fish
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quote:
Originally posted by Ponty'n'pop:
But as others have said, this assumes that we have nothing more to learn beyond what has already been revealed, that God has nothing more to say to us, even though we are constantly seeking renewal in faith and witness.

Chesterbelloc sums this up eloquently above:
quote:
If the Spirit had said everything that was required in Scripture, there would be no need for continued discernment once we'd got the "plain" meaning of the Scriptures sorted out. The Spirit is not a voice or a message but a Person of the Godhead. Words alone, no matter how inspired, will not exhaust the message to the Church - the dialogue between God and the Church is a living personal one.

P'n'p
No one is arguing that the Spirit can't guide or continue to reveal to us!!!

Read my quote again - But, of course God can still guide us - I've never denied that - but I will keep banging on about him giving us authoritative and innerant boundaries with which to guide us.

[ 27. February 2004, 08:07: Message edited by: Fish Fish ]

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AB
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quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Either he is completely schizophrenic in saying the church is the source of truth in one sentance and prone to error in another - or he was qualifying what he meant.

Woah there skippy. I've read this comparison with schizophrenia in another essay on innerrancy before and it really bothers me.

It's like HIDEOUSLY offensive to those who have suffered with or who have loved ones who suffer with it (as I do) as it in no-way represents the actual condition. Please, Fish Fish, never use that example again. [Mad]

Right, let's carry on.

AB

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Fish Fish
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quote:
Originally posted by AB:
quote:
Originally posted by Fish Fish:
Either he is completely schizophrenic in saying the church is the source of truth in one sentance and prone to error in another - or he was qualifying what he meant.

Woah there skippy. I've read this comparison with schizophrenia in another essay on innerrancy before and it really bothers me.

It's like HIDEOUSLY offensive to those who have suffered with or who have loved ones who suffer with it (as I do) as it in no-way represents the actual condition. Please, Fish Fish, never use that example again. [Mad]

Right, let's carry on.

AB

Sorry - terrible example. I totally retract that. [Hot and Hormonal]

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Leprechaun

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Well, what a wide range of issues we are discussing on this thread. We have moved right on to guidance now I see.

Is there ANY chance of ANYONE posting something to do with inerrancy any time soon? [Mad]

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AB
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No probs Fish Fish, and thanks.

AB

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Ponty'n'pop
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quote:
Originally posted by FF:

No one is arguing that the Spirit can't guide or continue to reveal to us!!!

Fish Fish, I did read your quote very carefully:

quote:
But, of course God can still guide us - I've never denied that - but I will keep banging on about him giving us authoritative and innerant boundaries with which to guide us.

What you seem to me to be saying is that the Spirit cannot reveal to us anything new, that everything that has to be said has already been said, that the boundaries have been fixed.

You are saying that - you, human, fallible, certainly not omnicient, are making that judgement, when God Almighty might (just might) have different ideas.

I don't mean to get hellish with this, but it seems to me that sometimes we are in danger of making the same mistakes that the ultra-religious of the first century made. They had a firm idea of what God had said and meant, and it had been written down. They had a clear notion of what the Messiah would be and would do, within the established boundaries. They held those beliefs firmly and sincerely, and could back them up with proof texts. And yet, for all that, they were missing the point.

God is too big to be put in boxes. We are too small to say 'the boundaries have been set'.

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Leprechaun

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quote:
PnP wrote:
God is too big to be put in boxes. We are too small to say 'the boundaries have been set'.

Ah, now I can see what this has to do with inerrancy. This is a character of God issue again - does God say things and then contradict himself? He says he doesn't. Our whole faith relies on Him not doing that.

That is why the Bible remains a solid guide, not because we are boxing God, but because he can be trusted to stick by what he says. That's just the way he is. As our discussion about application earlier showed, this really does not limit God to not doing things in new ways if he wants to, just not doing them in a way that is inconsistent with his trustworthy character. Which he wouldn't anyway.

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AB
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
This is a character of God issue again - does God say things and then contradict himself? He says he doesn't. Our whole faith relies on Him not doing that.

But this is based on a very specific (and 'modern') take on truth, vis that it is only expressed through facts. God could remain consistent in expressing truth through a message that might be factually untrue or factually changing. This need not be an 'error' but simply a different way of communicating truth.

Say I'm describing a person to you, Lep. If you are very tall, I might describe the person as very short. If you were very short, I might describe the person as very tall. Both true, both false, yet both describing the same thing.

AB

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Ponty'n'pop
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Lep says:

quote:
Ah, now I can see what this has to do with inerrancy. This is a character of God issue again - does God say things and then contradict himself? He says he doesn't. Our whole faith relies on Him not doing that.

That is why the Bible remains a solid guide, not because we are boxing God, but because he can be trusted to stick by what he says.....

Glad you feel we're back on track. In response to this comment, I'd add two things.

Firstly, about God and contradiction. I would argue that because our relationship with God is a moving one, then God saying something which to our (imperfect) understanding appears contradictory is not necessarily so. Thus, for example, I argue that God approves of gay relationships founded in love. On the one hand, this may be contradicting God's dictate (given through Moses or Paul), on the other it is wholly consistent with the pattern (nay commandment) given by Jesus of approving of love wherever and whenever it is found. I underline that our understanding is imperfect but so too then is our ability to say that there is or is not contradiction.

Secondly, God can be trusted to stick by what he says, of course, but can he be trusted - no that expression is wrong - can we bind him to stick to what others said on his behalf. Can you bind him to stick to the wisdom you have received? I can't.

Neither can I bind God to the wisdom received by those who first spoke, wrote, selected, translated and for that matter, preached the Gospel of Christ. That's not to dismiss any of it; on the contrary, as we all agree, without the Bible our faith would be something different entirely. But I cannot raise the Bible to the same level of authority as God in the Trinity, so I must allow for the Spirit to guide and communicate if we have previously misunderstood something (eg on the right to call women to the priesthood).

(And I use the issue of gay relationships and ordination of women only as illustrations; I don't want to go further on those themes which are Dead Horses elsewhere).

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by Ponty'n'pop:

Firstly, about God and contradiction. I would argue that because our relationship with God is a moving one, then God saying something which to our (imperfect) understanding appears contradictory is not necessarily so. Thus, for example, I argue that God approves of gay relationships founded in love. On the one hand, this may be contradicting God's dictate (given through Moses or Paul), on the other it is wholly consistent with the pattern (nay commandment) given by Jesus of approving of love wherever and whenever it is found. I underline that our understanding is imperfect but so too then is our ability to say that there is or is not contradiction.

I'm nervous about commenting on the example you use for the dead horse reason. So I'll steer clear. But as, you rightly say, our ability to spot contradiction is so skewed, it seems to me that it doesn't make much sense to build a whole theology on the assumption that there are contradictions and that we can spot them, as "errancy" does. It assumes a level of intelligence and theological clarity on our part that the Bible writers did not have.

quote:

Secondly, God can be trusted to stick by what he says, of course, but can he be trusted - no that expression is wrong - can we bind him to stick to what others said on his behalf. Can you bind him to stick to the wisdom you have received? I can't.


As I have said before, and as you point out, the real issue is inspiration - if you don't believe in verbal inspiration there's no reason to accept inerrancy. I do believe God "inspired" the Bible writers in ways he does not do to me.

As for the old "the Bible isn't God" thing - yeah I see what you mean, but again as I've said before, to separate a person's words from them ie "I trust the person, but not the things they say" is nonsense. That's not meant to be patronising of your position at all, again it highlights that the difference is to do with the way in which we believe the Bible to be God breathed.
I am somewhat confused about your hermeneutic though. You seem to pass all parts of the Bible through a sift of Jesus' words - if they contradict his words they must be wrong. What gives you such faith that the writers of the Gospels were able to authoritatively and accurately record his words, but the writers of the OT and Paul might have been mistaken in passing on God's words? How do you decide which is an "errant" and which is an "inerrant" part? Not being obtuse, genuinely interested.

AB. Old chum.
We've been through this truth thing before haven't we? I do believe God can pass on truth in other ways, apart from factual truth. I do not believe he can or does pass on truth through factual error. This, to me, would be a dissemblance of the worst kind if that was his explanation of how his words can be true, while actually being false. Maybe I am a modernist in that. I think God is too then. [Big Grin]

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Jolly Jape
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Sorry, I've been away from the discussion for a bit, work and all that, you know [Roll Eyes] . Things have moved on a bit, and I've been somewhat remiss in answering some of the points with which I had earlier committed myself to deal. I don't want to take us back too much, but I do want to answer one point from Lep.

You wrote this
quote:
Truth leads us to relationship, rather than blocking us from it. In fact, I can only really get to know you, if you are telling me the truth about yourself.

I agree with the basic slant of this, as far as it goes. Of course, in denying inerrancy, I am not denying the truth of the Bible, no, really, I'm not, I'm just saying that in some places, some authors got it wrong. The question that this seems to posit for you is, why has an omnipotent God allowed such errors to go uncorrected. It was this impled question that I was seeking to address. If I could just deconstruct your scenario for a moment. You are right in saying that all constructive relationships rely on truth. Certainly, there is no future in a relationship based on a lie. However, the basis of our relationship with God is in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The bible is (or may be, for some, even most,) important, but it is not the basis, per se, of our relationship. Just bear with me, whilst I develop this. In a human relationship, whilst truth must always be present, it is not necessary, or even desireable, that it be totally revealed, at every stage in that relationship. A child will know that her mother loves her from birth, but won't understand, or even know that she is, say, a doctor, until much later on. Is she diminished by being unknowing of this truth? Not at all.

Or consider when that child grows up, and starts to become interested in finding a life partner. Is not the mystery, the quest to know more about a potential mate, a vital part in the growth of that relationship. She may well ask friends of her putative husband for background. Some may say one thing, some another, some may be positive, some negative, some accurate, some inaccurate. But it is when she meets him, gets to know him, that she knows the truth.

This is analogous to progressive revelation IMV. Of course, you may respond, you are not talking about additional information, but the replacement of faulty information with a different truth. So let us carry on further, with a scientific analogy, if I can.

Newton devised his laws of motion in the 17 century. For two hundred or so years, scientists were convinced that they described the way the world worked. Then came quantum mechanics. We now know that Newtons laws, whilst still having empirical validity on a macro scale, are an inadeqate way of describing physics. The point I am making is that Newton's laws were as good as it was possible to get in the 17C. He was a pretty bright guy, but had he been 10 times more clever, he could not have communicated quantum physics to his contemporaries. Why? Because they had not been prepared. Newton himself, in a very convenient quote, assigned his farsightedness to the acheivements of others, in his "on giants shoulders." Does this mean that Einstein was cleverer than Newton, or that we're superior to those Restoration types. No, it means that we are making use of the accumulated wisdom of those last 300 years.

Is it so different in the spiritual realm. Joshua could only understand what life had prepared him to understand. His experience limited what he could hear from God. Within his own experience, of near-eastern Bronze age tribal war-gods, he was being faithful in what he recorded, I guess. But the idea of a God who was absolute love, of someone like Jesus, would have been waaaay beyond his ability to imagine, let alone express.

I once read an article which summed up this situation very well, I think. The author compared God's revelation to us (meaning his ongoing revelation, through the Spirit, rather than the Bible) as being like the output of all the world's radio stations. They transmit regardless of whether anyone out there is listening or not (I'm not implying this is not personal communication; it is only an analogy). As he so eruditely put it, God is always "Godding". At various times, we switch on our radio. Sometimes it comes in loud and clear. Sometimes it breaks up, and we get only a partial reception. Sometimes, we have to upgrade our radio (intensify our prayer life?) to receive the fainter transmissions. We may even misunderstand completely the nature of a particular programme, but there's always another along to correct us in a moment. So maybe Joshua had a crystal set, and Jesus taught us how to tune in our DAB receivers. In all cases, it is relationship that is key. Without relationship, the bible really is not fit for purpose. It is because that relationship is possible, that it can make us "wise unto salvation".

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Ponty'n'pop
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Replying to Leprachaun again

quote:
But as, you rightly say, our ability to spot contradiction is so skewed, it seems to me that it doesn't make much sense to build a whole theology on the assumption that there are contradictions and that we can spot them, as "errancy" does. It assumes a level of intelligence and theological clarity on our part that the Bible writers did not have.
a) I'm not building a whole theology on an assumption that there are contradictions; my theology (if it's mine) is built around the belief that God makes scripture relevant for today and in that, the relationship between God, scripture and the Church is forever changing (even if God doesn't change...)
b) Similarly, I don't think it assumes either intelligence or theological clarity (you mean more advanced?) that Biblical writers did not have. It assumes that they are different, framed by context, and personally, I think it is daft to argue otherwise.

You then ask

quote:
You seem to pass all parts of the Bible through a sift of Jesus' words - if they contradict his words they must be wrong. What gives you such faith that the writers of the Gospels were able to authoritatively and accurately record his words, but the writers of the OT and Paul might have been mistaken in passing on God's words?
Oh, there's nothing in particular which gives the Gospel writers greater authority. I suppose it's a fairly undeveloped part of my hermeneutic (learn a new word every day...) but if called to account for why I personally give more weight to the words that Jesus said (or should that be 'reported to have said'? [Smile] ) then it can be nothing other than my own personal, private experience of God, which, thus far at least has been primarily supported by Christ's teaching of love and acceptance rather than, er.., some of the less tolerant examples of behaviour which the Bible provides and in parts even advocates.

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"....creeping around a cow shed at 2 o'clock in the morning. That doesn't sound very wise to me"

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Jolly Jape
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Sorry to double post, couple of other things:

This isn't intended to be a cheap shot, believe me, but
quote:
But as, you rightly say, our ability to spot contradiction is so skewed, it seems to me that it doesn't make much sense to build a whole theology on the assumption that there are contradictions and that we can spot them, as "errancy" does.
seems to me to put the cart before the horse. I would have thought that the default theology of the Christian church is not inerrancy, but the Orthodox Position (TM). It is rather that inerrantist position seeks to build a theology based on inerrancy. As evidence for this, I suggest that it is unture that non-inerrancy (rather than errancy, which I accept as shorthand, but does rather give the impression that it is the possible errors, rather than the possibility of errors, which become important ) requires:-

a)Errors, which it does not. It merely acknowledges that such errors are possible, and gives a way of handling them. Non inerrancy does not fall to pieces should the Bible prove to be completely error free. The reverse, however, is not true.

b) The ability to spot them. I think it is a bit of a caricature to imagine all us non-inerrantists going through the bible with a fine tooth comb looking for errors with which to confront our inerrantist co-religionists. I think it is quite clear from the content of this thread, which has been mercifully short of references to pi or pictures of Jesus astride a pair of young equines, that non-inerrantists are seeking to understand how inconsistances can be dealt with when they do arise (not saying, of course, that inerrantists are not trying to do the same). For me, I don't welcome such inconsistances, but they don't trouble me, because I have a means of dealing with them that I find less convoluted and semantic than those commonly employed by some inerrantists.

quote:
It assumes a level of intelligence and theological clarity on our part that the Bible writers did not have.
I have tried to address this in my, unfortunately rambling and lengthy, previous post.

quote:
I do not believe he can or does pass on truth through factual error. This, to me, would be a dissemblance of the worst kind if that was his explanation of how his words can be true, while actually being false.
That brings us back to the question of to what extent the Bible is God's word, and to what extent it is the words of the human author. There is also the question of genre, and how we understand it. For example, is a historical book, (say, Ruth) historical in the modern sense of the word, or is it a book trying to show how
1) David's family had a history of dealing with God
2) Faithfulness is good
3) God accepts Gentiles who have a heart for him,
etc etc.

Not saying that Ruth is unhistorical, just pointing out that God's agenda, the author's agend, and our agenda may not necessarily coincide, and thus I feel that your above statement is a bit sweeping. I can think of plenty of ways in which something which is factually incorrect, or something which is factually correct but incorrectly reported, could be used by God to express truth.

Which brings us on to a question to which I would like someone on the inerrantist side to respond, viz, what do you understand by verbal inspiration. Does it imply the human author choosing every original word according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Does it mean the author is conscious that he is writing an inspired text. I have never believed either of these to be so, and had always assumed that, apart from a few die-hard literalists, my view was shared by most christians. I thought they wrote what they wrote, and that over time the community (Church Fathers or OT eldership) discerned that, yes, this person wrote what they wrote beccause God had touched them in the writing.

Is this what you guys out there think? If it isn't, then is this the root of the inerrancy/non-inerrancy debate?

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Jolly Jape
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Oh, one further point. Lep, you wrote:
quote:
What gives you such faith that the writers of the Gospels were able to authoritatively and accurately record his words, but the writers of the OT and Paul might have been mistaken in passing on God's words?

Guess it's because I have a relationship with Jesus, but I don't have one with Paul or Samuel [Two face]

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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Divine Outlaw
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quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
That brings us back to the question of to what extent the Bible is God's word, and to what extent it is the words of the human author.

I think this is a false dichotomy. If, as Christians, we believe that Jesus was truly God and truly human, then there is at least one case in which the words of (a) human being are also God's words. Yet, even, in the case of Jesus those words were mediated by the imprecisions of human langauge, socially and historically conditioned - dare I say, factually inaccurate and imperfect, in somce instances. Far from being failings, these point to the necessarily analogical relationship between divinity and humanity, and the social and historical mediation of God in history. Could this understanding of the Incarnate Word help our view of the Scriptural Word?

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
I can think of plenty of ways in which something which is factually incorrect, or something which is factually correct but incorrectly reported, could be used by God to express truth.

And, indeed, the Bible contains many examples of exactly this sort or "errant" accounts nevertheless expressing truth - presumably in the manner God intends.

For example, Jesus (and several others) routinely used parables. The truth of a parable isn't dependant on whether a man travelling to Jericho was set upon by thieves and cared for by a Samaritan (as a random example).

Likewise, if the intent of a historical passage is to teach something other than history then the truth conveyed by that passage is true irrespective of how accurately it describes the historical events.

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Jolly Jape
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Thanks D O-D.

I agree absolutely with what you say, but I was really fishing to see what inerrantists felt about the precise words used by biblical writers (not so much Jesus, as those who recorded him, John, Paul, Peter and the writers of the Old Testament. Do they feel their words were, in some way, "dictated" by the Spirit, and do they believe that they were aware of that process at the time of writing.

quote:
Far from being failings, these point to the necessarily analogical relationship between divinity and humanity, and the social and historical mediation of God in history. Could this understanding of the Incarnate Word help our view of the Scriptural Word?
That's my view also, but I could never have phrased it so eloquently [Overused]

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To those who have never seen the flow and ebb of God's grace in their lives, it means nothing. To those who have seen it, even fleetingly, even only once - it is life itself. (Adeodatus)

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Papio

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quote:
From Fish Fish

So total appologies to Papio and Josephine for my mistake.

I cannot speak for Josephine, but it's fine so far as I am concerned. [Smile] I sometimes phrase things badly as well. [Eek!]

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Josephine

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Likewise for me.

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mousethief

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Kudos to Jolly Jape for a pair of posts which, while long, are well worth reading. [Overused] I don't agree with 100% of what you say, but I am working from a methodology (if that's not too highfalutin' a word) that is very similar to your way of approaching the whole question.

Somebody said something about semantics -- I wonder if really we don't have a key here to understanding part of the problem. When we find an obvious contradiction or inaccuracy in scripture -- pi being rounded off to 3, or the same group of people being counted in two different places and coming up with different numbers, to give a couple of quick-and-dirty examples, one group will say "this is an error but that doesn't bug us" and work with it in their way. The other group, having an abhorration to the word "error", will use some other word, but "work around" the innacuracy/contradiction in much the same way.

I wonder if it would be useful to set aside the word "error" and its derivatives (including the ever-so-unfortunate "inerrancy") and look instead on the ways we use to work around apparent contradictions/inaccuracies in the text(s).

Just a thought.

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Leprechaun

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Thanks echoed to JJ for his thoughtful, interesting and erudite posts.

This is all really helpful for understanding other people's positions, but I hasn't shifted my conviction I am afraid. Let me just to reply to a number of points in turn:

1) The stuff in your "first post" about the different ways revelation progressed. I can see your point. But again I can find no internal evidence in the Bible that later Bible writers or Jesus himself meant us to treat the earlier Bible writers as having a "badly tuned" radio to God's voice. Just the opposite in fact, as in terms of weight, the NT writers certainly seem to be constantly encourage a reference to the earlier Scriptures as a reliable contact point and measure of the truth. If there was any hint that the earlier Scriptures were to be regarded as unreliable (rather than just incomplete) then I could begin to have some sympathy with your point of view.
To me JJ it seems that your approach is posited on the conclusion you draw that the God of the OT particlularly in passages like the Joshua one (or presumably Sodom and Gomorrah, or the descriptions of God's punishment in the minor prophets etc) are incompatible with the later revelation of Jesus. As I said in one of my previous posts I have grave struggles with this too. But I can find no evidence that any of the Bible writers themsleves came to this conclusion. Not even a hint. (I've said in previous posts why I'm not convinced about the Matthew 5 examples, which seem to be the main point of reference in this regard) To me, then, trusting as I do that the Bible writers were in some way "inspired" in a way that I am not (more on that later) , I find it best to submit my concluding to their approach, which never casts doubts on the reality of the events in the OT as far as I can see.
This is why I don't agree with MT - I think there is a qualitative difference between the 2 approaches.
Could I also point out (again not meant to be a cheap shot) that the "errancy" (bad word I know) approach could be, on your reasoning just as much a product of our culture as Joshua's approach was to listening to God. So we, western libertarians that we are find the "cheapness of life" expressed in some passages unacceptable so we seek a way round it. Considering that this is our cultural conditioning, I find that "we find it illogical" argument unconvincing.
The question then, comes down to whether Jesus really does give us cause to doubt the veracity of other Scriptures, and as I have said I am yet to be convinced that he does. Until someone shows me that he does, then I will remain convinced that supposed contradictions are fault with me than with the text.

2) DOD's post - again I see what you mean, but I can see again no internal evidence that we are to regard Jesus representation of God to us as faulted or stained by his humanity, rather he was God revealing himself to us in a human for so we could understand. Aside from the hermeneutical problem your view leaves us with (which things were human and which were from God) I would have thought the NT writers would give us some indication of this. To be honest your post was a bit over my head (bear of little brain) so I may be oversimplifiying.

3) The factual incorrect expressing truth thing. Hmmm, the parable thing is a good example. What God could possibly want to have been expressing about himself by fabricating the stories in Joshua remains slightly beyond me! [Razz]
No really, I do see your point, but I don't see that a God who expects us to bank on his honesty would put his name to words that describe events as real which did not happen. I don't find the "internal witness" argument convincing either, because it seems to me that the Bible is constantly warning us about the deceitfulness of our hearts, and their inability to tell us the truth contrasted to the reliability of God's words to reveal the truth, to cut through our sinful self deception.

3) Which brings us on to JJ's question about inspiration.
quote:
Which brings us on to a question to which I would like someone on the inerrantist side to respond, viz, what do you understand by verbal inspiration. Does it imply the human author choosing every original word according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Does it mean the author is conscious that he is writing an inspired text. I have never believed either of these to be so, and had always assumed that, apart from a few die-hard literalists, my view was shared by most christians. I thought they wrote what they wrote, and that over time the community (Church Fathers or OT eldership) discerned that, yes, this person wrote what they wrote beccause God had touched them in the writing.

Hmm, I think neither of these views (surprisingly). It seems to me that the Bible gives us very little clue of the mechanics of how God inspired it. Occasioanlly we get an insight (Daniels' dreams and John in Revelation, Peter's description of prephecy in 2 Peter) but the true answer to this is the cop-out I don't know. What I think it does say is that
- the words can be relied on as God's words or promises
- practically speaking, the words are to be treated this way, with God's authority and importantly for this debate as an expression of God's character
I certainly take a stronger view than the one you express of it being recognised that God had touched the writers, rather the church recognised God's authoratative voice through the Scriptures. I don't buy the Orthodox position that the church then has authority over the Scriptures (hope I've got that right, orthodox correct me if wrong please!), because it seems to me the church recognised the inspiration of some texts because they acknowledged their own obedience to them was required. One way I heard it explained that I found helpful was that the church was like a child turning round and recognising its mother when it got to an age of self awareness. certainly it seems to me that the model the Bible itself give us is that God's words formed the church, rather than the other way round.

That last bit is a short answer to a very big question, so I'm sure more will be required. But JJ I do think that this is the basic point of contention as to why inerrancy makes sense to some and not others - it boils down to what inspiration is...

Thanks all for getting this far in this mammoth post!
L.

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Divine Outlaw
Gin-soaked boy
# 2252

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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:


2) DOD's post - again I see what you mean, but I can see again no internal evidence that we are to regard Jesus representation of God to us as faulted or stained by his humanity, rather he was God revealing himself to us in a human for so we could understand. Aside from the hermeneutical problem your view leaves us with (which things were human and which were from God) I would have thought the NT writers would give us some indication of this. To be honest your post was a bit over my head (bear of little brain) so I may be oversimplifiying.


Not faulted or stained no! But mediated. The only way God, or anyone else, can talk to us is to use an accepted system of signs, shared understandings and conventional meanings. The only way God as a, human being, can talk to us is as a human being with social/ historical conditioning and common assumptions of his time. We need to escape from the (gnostic) idea of pure revelation, unsullied by history and society, whether in our approach to Christ or to the Bible. What is of God/ what is of humanity is a false dichotomy, certainly with regard to Christ, but 'what is of enduring value/ what are we to derive from this' is a fair question. I would say it is answered by shared reading within the community of faith, in the context of Tradition, praying for the guidance of the Spirit. As we mull over the scriptures within the Church we develop convictions about what is important. And yes, we disagree - but, in a sense, that is a sign that the tradition is still alive.

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by Divine Outlaw-Dwarf:

The only way God as a, human being, can talk to us is as a human being with social/ historical conditioning and common assumptions of his time.

I don't think I disagree with this as a general principle. The discussion is about error - so if you are saying that because communicated through a particular place and time, that means some of the record was mistaken , then I disagree.
If you are saying that God left the common assumptions of the time in the text, unchallenged as part of the revelation, then again I disagree, because what would that be apart from a taint of our humanity? And actually God seemed pretty determined to challenge the popular assumptions about himself, and that includes Jesus too!
But as far as understanding the text, and understanding the context in which it was spoken, and appreciating the views of church history on it, you will find those who hold to inerrancy amongst the most committed to these things.

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AB
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# 4060

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Lep,

#1 And what was Jesus if not 'tainted' by our humanity? Why can't scriptures be so natured? Can they be considered, like Jesus (and thus in character with God's revelation) 100% man and 100% from God?

#2 Sorry to keep harping on about truth - but your stumbling block is that it's not in God's character to be 'untrue' thus there can be no errors. Yet this is entirely based on a system that says that truth cannot be expressed through flawed, imperfect means. Thus if the Bible is "the very perfect word of God" then any erring fact is seen to be in contradiction to his nature, and thus cannot be in error because it is "the very perfect word of God". If however, it is God's truth expressed through potentially flawed human means, then any erring fact is not in contradiction to God's character, since the error is ours, not God's - yet God's truth lives on in spite.

So, the character of God argument cannot successfully be used outside of it's prior assumptions, vis about inspiration.

So it comes down to how we have made our decision of inspiration, and whether we are willing to examine that assumption.

AB

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Leprechaun

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# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Lep,

#1 And what was Jesus if not 'tainted' by our humanity? Why can't scriptures be so natured? Can they be considered, like Jesus (and thus in character with God's revelation) 100% man and 100% from God?

This was my point I think. Jesus was 100% man and yet an accurate perfect revelation of God. This is exactly what I am claiming for the Scriptures. The argument that an analogy with Christ allows for error in the Scriptures assumes that Christ was not able to represent God's perfection to us. It was that with which I was disagreeing.
quote:

#2 Sorry to keep harping on about truth - but your stumbling block is that it's not in God's character to be 'untrue' thus there can be no errors. Yet this is entirely based on a system that says that truth cannot be expressed through flawed, imperfect means.

No, that truth cannot be properly expressed through something that makes a claim to be historically true, but is in fact not. (well some truth may be expressed through this, but it would be wrong to say that it is de facto true) And that, if there was any reason why we should view God's earlier revelation of himself in the Bible as flawed he would have
a) told us this and
b) not harped on at length about how disobedient his people had been to his earlier revelation of himself.

quote:

So it comes down to how we have made our decision of inspiration, and whether we are willing to examine that assumption.


Agreed. [Smile]
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AB
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# 4060

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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
The argument that an analogy with Christ allows for error in the Scriptures assumes that Christ was not able to represent God's perfection to us. It was that with which I was disagreeing.

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep, not my point. My point was that humanity is flawed, just by taking on our skin, by walking our world, he was taking on all of our crappiness - yet through all of that showed God's nature. God gave up part of his 'perfection' to share with us our humanity - why not also with the Bible too? If the Bible contains errors, it only reflects badly on God if he was responsible for them - and that is an assumption that I don't make.

quote:
No, that truth cannot be properly expressed through something that makes a claim to be historically true, but is in fact not. (well some truth may be expressed through this, but it would be wrong to say that it is de facto true) And that, if there was any reason why we should view God's earlier revelation of himself in the Bible as flawed he would have
a) told us this and
b) not harped on at length about how disobedient his people had been to his earlier revelation of himself.

Oh come on Lep - of course truth can be expressed through flawed reports, if you free yourself from the requirements that it has to be only expressed through facts. Is the message of Jonah deminished if you don't take it that he was literally in the belly of a fish? Is the message of Genesis deminished if you don't believe there actually was a talking snake? Is the message of Joshua deminshed if you don't believe God commanded a bloody genocide?

Why would Jesus have to point out the historical problems with the OT to his contemporaries who had no call to disbelieve anything there at the time? It's in no way proof that there isn't errors in the OT, all it is proof of is that there was no recorded explanation of such to 1st century jews. And also, if truth need not be damaged by errors in the text, why point it out?

Of course God has a pop at his disobedient people, but that is in no way based on anything with or without errors. They had a nailed down covenant that they repeatedly broke - again I'm baffled as to how you think it's relevant to inerrancy? Why should an historical bias in the recording of the events of the jews mean that the Law was invalid?

AB

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"This is all that I've known for certain, that God is love. Even if I have been mistaken on this or that point: God is nevertheless love."
- Søren Kierkegaard

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Leprechaun

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# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by AB:
Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep, not my point.

Right. Well I think it was DOD's point to which, you will find, I was originally responding.
quote:

My point was that humanity is flawed, just by taking on our skin, by walking our world, he was taking on all of our crappiness - yet through all of that showed God's nature. God gave up part of his 'perfection' to share with us our humanity - why not also with the Bible too?

Ab, again I say I don't disagree with this. Of course God expressing himself in a way which we understand is always going to have to accomodate himself to our small minds and finite brains. But I actually think this backs up my position more than yours. If God was able to do this in Christ while still accurately representing himself, then why not in the Bible? Just because God was accomodating himself to us does not necessarily or even by extrapolation imply errors in this revelation.
quote:

If the Bible contains errors, it only reflects badly on God if he was responsible for them - and that is an assumption that I don't make.

As you rightly said in your last post this is an issue of understanding inspiration, which we have been circling around for a while. I would say I'm not sure that God gives us any indication in the other texts that these were not his words, and that he is not responsible for revealing them (quite the opposite in fact) so that will remain my default position unless I can find indications in the text to the contrary.
quote:

Oh come on Lep - of course truth can be expressed through flawed reports, if you free yourself from the requirements that it has to be only expressed through facts. Is the message of Jonah deminished if you don't take it that he was literally in the belly of a fish?

Er...yes. Sort of undermines Jesus' parallel with the resurrection as a real event doesn't it?
quote:

Is the message of Genesis deminished if you don't believe there actually was a talking snake?
Is the message of Joshua deminshed if you don't believe God commanded a bloody genocide?

Ah, I see what you are getting at now. I think the issue with Genesis and Joshua are probably issues of genre - does it purport to be an historical fact? I'm not sure Genesis does completely, and there is certainly symbolism mixed in with the reality. The Bible itself also gives us reason to believe that the snake is symbolic of the Devil as he is pictured as a snake elsewhere.

With Joshua we have a record of God speaking into the life of his historical people, an event which he later reminds them of as real example of his faithfulness. To say that that factual instance of God speaking is an error of historical record is entirely different from saying that some of Genesis is symbolic.


quote:

Why would Jesus have to point out the historical problems with the OT to his contemporaries who had no call to disbelieve anything there at the time?

Because according to your own earlier argument Jesus was revealing a God entirely different in character to the God of Joshua that these people believed in. That seems to be your starting point for assuming mistakes in Joshua. If Jesus was assuming these real mistakes which were so at odds with the real God, and he was doing his best to reveal God to us I would certainly have expected him to point out human errors in earlier revelation, rather than backing them up (as he does in the Jonah example), and it seems, treating the whole thing as authoritative and faultless in Matthew 5.

quote:

Of course God has a pop at his disobedient people, but that is in no way based on anything with or without errors. They had a nailed down covenant that they repeatedly broke - again I'm baffled as to how you think it's relevant to inerrancy?

My assumption, and again, it may not be one you share, I don't know, is that if God was holding the people so firmly to obedience to the law and the prophets he would have been kind and just enough to point out to them the bits that were not from him so they wouldn't be castigated for disobeying and disbelieving those parts. Those events and laws which you seem to be so quick to write off as mistaken or irrelevant, it seems to me the minor prophets would have been appalled at that approach as would Jesus himself.

I don't really like "what if" arguments - Like "what if the Bible has errors, wwouldn't it also say this" but as I said in an earlier post I think assuming errors in God's revelation because there are things we can't process about God's character actually raises far more problems about God's consistency and reliability than it solves.

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Jolly Jape
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# 3296

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Lep, you wrote:
quote:
If God was able to do this in Christ while still accurately representing himself, then why not in the Bible? Just because God was accomodating himself to us does not necessarily or even by extrapolation imply errors in this revelation.

No one has suggested that it did. I think that there is a difference of approach here. ISTM that you are arguing from a philosophical position that deduces infallibility to be true, because the alternative is not acceptable to you . You believe that it attacks the basis of the faith, the trustworthiness of God, etc.

I, on the other hand, and I guess AB and others, come to this from a completely different direction. We examine the text, and find things in it that, if present in any other text, would be regarded as errors, mistakes, inconsistancies, whatever. We conclude from this that it is possible that the scriptures could contain errors.

We see no reason why the errors in source material should detract from God's character. In fact, the errors that the Bible may (or may not) contain are in no way necessary to this approach, they merely catalyse the process. If I can say this clearly, I would probably still reject inerrancy even if I was convinced that the Bible, in fact, had no errors in it. I would do so because I find no evidence from the Scriptures that Jesus, or any of the writers of the scriptures, regarded their work as inerrant, in the way that we commonly use the word.

That Jesus quoted the bible does not mean that he necessarily had a view of it that we would recognise as inerrant. He was much more concerned, ISTM with the inner meaning than the historical truth. We believe in the resurrection because He is risen, not because Jonah (to use an example which, I guess we would both think of as being an OT parable, rather than history) was spewed out of a great fish after three days, even if Jesus himself used the example to get the point across. That he did so tells us very little about what he thought of the passage, except that he knew it would be familiar to his listeners.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Joshua's going to rear his head again isn't he?

The problem I have with putting my inability to accept the genocides as God-ordained as mere cultural conditioning, is that as far as I can see, this means that:

(a) Genocide isn't really wrong - it's just our modern liberal society that thinks it is.

Therefore:

(b) Pol Pot's and Al Qaeada's actions are not inherently evil, and it's only we Western liberals who (wrongly) have a problem with it.

This is a point I cannot get to. I cannot find a way of seeing genocide as anything other than inherently evil - ergo, God would not command it.

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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quote:
Originally posted by Jolly Jape:
Lep, you wrote:
quote:
If God was able to do this in Christ while still accurately representing himself, then why not in the Bible? Just because God was accomodating himself to us does not necessarily or even by extrapolation imply errors in this revelation.

No one has suggested that it did.

I think AB did actually
quote:

"What was Jesus if not tainted by our humanity"

Maybe I misunderstood.
quote:

I think that there is a difference of approach here. ISTM that you are arguing from a philosophical position that deduces infallibility to be true, because the alternative is not acceptable to you . You believe that it attacks the basis of the faith, the trustworthiness of God, etc.

We see no reason why the errors in source material should detract from God's character.

I agree with this. My point is that the Bible necessarily requires a different approach than other texts because it claims to be the revelation of true honest and trustworthy God. If you don't accept that, that is your call,but I don't think anyone is disputing that. As I have said many times, what and how people reveal things about themselves shows something about them. If God does this inaccurately, and even moreso does not correct previous errors that were brought into the text by human intervention, then what does that say about Him?

quote:

That he did so tells us very little about what he thought of the passage, except that he knew it would be familiar to his listeners.

I'm afraid on this particular text, I entirely disagree. Jesus, if quoting in this way something he knew to be untrue is both
1) allowing us to think the resurrection might not be true
2) is lying when he says that the men of Nineveh will condemn "this generation" because they didn't in reality repent at Jonah's preaching.

His point relies on the story having actually happened.

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