Quote of the Day (Denis Diderot)

“Doubts in the matter of religion, far from being acts of impiety, ought to be seen as good works, when they belong to a man who humbly recognizes his ignorance and is motivated by the fear of displeasing God by the abuse of reason.”

- Denis Diderot, Addition aux Pensées philosophiques, par. 1, in Diderot, Oeuvres Complète (1875), 1:158 (quoted by Philip Clayton).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14634090072071425408 Jim Moffitt

    Fear not. You are the gate – you, the gatekeeper..

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03232781356086767207 AIGBusted

    Hey James,I think you may enjoy my latest post on “Idiot America” http://aigbusted.blogspot.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12963476276106907984 Sabio Lantz

    Fear is not the most admirable of motivators but seems heavily employed by deities.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14245825667079220242 Rhology

    -…who humbly recognizes his ignorance and is motivated by the fear of displeasing God by the abuse of reason.-The 2nd half is well said. Interesting you’d post it as you consistently apply your inconsistent, humanistic standard to what God has already revealed about Himself, thus abusing reason which should rightfully be used in submission and service to God, in order to judge which parts you’ll accept and which you’ll reject. Peace,Rhology

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Rhology, I think readers of my blog are probably still waiting for you to explain how you reached the “conclusion” that the Bible is inerrant without using your reason. Presumably the process didn’t involve reading (the mind is involved), or arguments (the mind is involved), and so I can only guess that you presupposed this before reading the Bible. But where did that presupposition come from? How do you bypass reason so as to know what God desires for you to do with your reason? I think we’d all be grateful if, instead of belligerent criticism (followed by the word “peace” which ill fits as a conclusion to your comments), you would offer a positive alternative to the humble use of our fallible human reasoning capacity to make sense of the Bible that I advocate. What’s your alternative approach? Please share it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14245825667079220242 Rhology

    Hi Dr McGrath,Well, I sign off with “Peace” b/c the only true peace is found thru a full commitment to Jesus. And I wish that for all. It’s not b/c I’m angry with you or want to be mean and nasty. Please understand the challenges are not to be taken personally. I’m not saying I arrived at the conclusion sans reason, but in reading it before I had that presupposition, I was functionally (and unwittingly) borrowing from a biblical worldview, which is the only consistent worldview in which rationality is possible. There are inconsistent ones that properly ground intelligibility (like Islam or Judaism), but they are not internally consistent. The positive alternative I offer is this: make your fundamental presupposition that God is and that He speaks. He speaks in the Bible, and He does not garble, He does not make mistakes, He is not impotent, and you/we know virtually nothing about Him apart from this self-revelation. Show His Word the according respect – harmonise it where possible, just as you’d ask someone to do for your own writings; respect and take into acct the context; where you don’t understand or can’t harmonise the text, chalk it up to YOUR imperfection, YOUR limitations, YOUR small-mindedness, and bow before the living God, Whom you will not fully understand even after a trillion trillion years in Heaven (assuming you do actually repent of your sin before Christ, the Savior and Lord, and He graciously saves you). The alternative is your man-centered worldview, in which you are the final authority to decide where God spoke properly and where He didn’t. And the worst part is that you have no consistent standard you use in this judgment. That is actually part of the evidence that the proper presupposition is what I’ve laid out – rival worldviews are reduced to absurdity.So, hope that helps.Peace,Rhology

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    If you approached Islam and the Qur’an with the same generosity of spirit that you advocate for the Bible and Christianity, you might not find them “internally inconsistent”. Once again, you are failing to apply the Golden Rule.As for me, I kept doing what you recommend for a very long time – blaming the apparent discrepancies and other problems on my failure to understand. Eventually, I realized that in pretending they weren’t there, I was ignoring the Bible’s own voice, calling me to recognize it for what it is…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14245825667079220242 Rhology

    The Qur’an says that the Bible is to be believed and followed, since it is the word of Allah. Says so multiple times. It also says that Christ was not crucified. Not just that He didn’t rise, but that He didn’t die like the Bible says.So, if the Qur’an is true, the Qur’an is false. If it’s false, it’s false. It’s really not that hard, to be honest. How do you hear the Bible’s voice and recognise it as the true voice of the Bible when the Bible is errant? The “voice of the Bible” you’re hearing could very well be errant, couldn’t it? How do you know?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    OK, so how come when someone takes two seemingly discordant texts from the Bible and makes the same argument, somehow it is suddenly less simple? You’ve just illustrated my point: you treat apparent contradictions in the Qur’an as clear evidence, and similar cases in the Bible as the fault of the fallible reader. But Muslims have answers to such objections that are neither more nor less plausible than the special pleading offered by Biblical inerrantists.I’m not sure what your second point is. If the evidence from the Bible for its own errancy is errant, then it is still errant, isn’t it? Or is this just another instance of you revealing your presupposition: God must have given you a way to be certain that what you believe is factually correct?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12399706958844399216 terri

    Rhology…your fundamental presupposition is not “that God is and that He speaks.”Your fundamental presupposition is “God must present an inerrant text of his speaking.”Many errantists(?) would grant that God is and that he speaks.Rhology…what do you do with simple contradictions you find in Scripture? For instance, Luke has the story of the “good thief” being promised Paradise for defending Jesus. Yet, Matthew and Mark both say very specifically that both robbers were insulting Jesus.Who got the story right? Were Matthew and Mark wrong? Did Luke embellish the Crucifixion story?How can you reconcile that from the texts?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14245825667079220242 Rhology

    A great example of very poor reasoning leading to claims of contradiction is terri’s comment.Easy, terri. It’s both. They were insulting Him at first, then one repented later. They were on the crosses for a while, you know.Errantists may believe that God speaks, but He doesn’t speak well. He just can’t make it past that barrier of almighty “it’s got to be perfectly understandable to me” human bar of judgment! So He’s really not all that powerful.Dr McGrath,I judge the Qur’an by the Bible, since the Bible is the communication of my presupposition. The Bible shoots the Qur’an down in any number of ways. AND the Qur’an shoots itself down, as I pointed out. Now reverse them – does the Qur’an shoot itself down? Yes. Does it shoot the Bible down? No, and yes. This hardly touches the issue of the absurdity and human-centeredness of the errancy position, but I’m humoring you. You claim Muslims have answers to this. What is it, beyond quoting Bart Ehrman that the Bible is corrupted? I’d be quite interested to know. If you don’t know, then will you admit that your assertion is empty, that Muslims have good answers? You asked:-If the evidence from the Bible for its own errancy is errant, then it is still errant, isn’t it? -Maybe, maybe not. What if the evidence you think you have that it’s errant is in fact errant? But more to the point, ever since I started commenting here, I’ve been asking you to describe the consistent standard you use in judging what parts of the Bible are errant and which are not. You’ve at least once suggested that I don’t follow a particular biblical command – Lk 14:33 as I recall. I simply used your own reasoning and concluded that Lk 14:33 is errant. Am I wrong? If so, how?Peace,Rhology

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12399706958844399216 terri

    RHology….I figured you would say something like that. The only problem is that you have to create a story outside of the text to explain it.Could your explanation work? Maybe…a very weak maybe. But…here’s the thing….assuming that Matthew and Mark wrote their gospels without the assumption that Luke would come along and clear things up….if all certain Christians had before them was either Mark or Matthew…their readers would never assume that one of the robbers defended Jesus.Your “harmonization” makes Matthew and Mark something other than what they are.Plus, it doesn’t make sense for your inerrancy argument. If Luke is correct, then Matthew and Mark were mistaken. They were very clear to point out that both robbers reviled Jesus. They could have said nothing about what the robbers said, and simply relayed the fact that Jesus was not crucified alone….as the gospel of John does.The fact that they didn’t is significant..

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12399706958844399216 terri

    What I mean by that last paragraph is that inerrancy believes that everything written down is direct from God. So when Matthew and Mark wrote what they did….it’s because that was God’s will, right? So if someone only had one of those gospels and believed, wrongly according to your explanation, that both robbers did insult Jesus, with no mention of a defense by either of them, then it’s God’s will that the reader be mistaken about what really happened.So God becomes a God who promotes error until someone happens to come across a gospel of Luke, and then they have God’s real “Word”.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14245825667079220242 Rhology

    terri,I don't have to create anything. I just take what the text says and ask myself – how is it that both of these can be true? Your unbelieving and antagonistic approach, which I doubt you take with any other writing or form of communication, denies the benefit of the doubt to the author and assumes that you know better than the guy who was actually there, though I see no reason to grant that to you, the skeptic.There's nothing for Luke to "clear up", so I don't see your point. And if Luke is correct, there's plenty of room for M&M; to also be correct, as I already explained. The burden is on the skeptic to prove the contradiction, given all the qualifications I mentioned. If you really want to get technical, if the Bible is not inerrant, then that means that my position is wrong. However, my position does provide a basis to believe our cognitive faculties are reliable, that experience and evidence are good ways to make inductive inferences and discover truth, and that we can know sthg about God. Since that is the case, you need to prove an internal inconsistency by taking on all the presuppositions of my position and then argue for the contradiction and why it cannot possibly be sthg that is simply beyond human understanding or our current powers of discovering truth. You'll have to do better than the thieves example, though. A lot better.Once you did that, you'd need to provide an alternative worldview and then I'll do the same thing – conduct the internal critique for consistency. That's what I've been doing with Dr McGrath's worldview, but he's not been too helpful in that he won't answer basic questions about his theological epistemology. But you're welcome to try. You said:-So if someone only had one of those gospels and believed, wrongly according to your explanation, that both robbers did insult Jesus, with no mention of a defense by either of them, then it’s God’s will that the reader be mistaken about what really happened.-Correct. That happens all the time – so what?-So God becomes a God who promotes error-You’re not thinking things thru, terri. Apply this reasoning with any consistency and alluvasudden God is a God who promotes deception b/c He doesn’t step in immediately to correct any and all lies that anyone tells. He promotes rape b/c He doesn’t strike all rapists dead one second before they strike. He promotes error b/c He doesn’t immediately download all knowledge into every single person at birth. Etc. This is really untenable. For one thing, knowing that one thief repented is totally unimportant wrt to the Gospel, being saved from one’s sin. For another, God is in no way obligated to inform everyone who’s ever lived of the Gospel. He shares it with whom He wills. Peace,Rhology

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12399706958844399216 terri

    Rhology…you assume too much about me and what I believe, or think…but that’s neither here nor there. You always seem capable of finding a way to make your comments personal, condescending and insulting when you disagree with someone….I accept that as par for the course with you.When you are asking yourself about how the two stories could both be true….you are using a subjective method of internal speculation to come to your conclusion. I have no problem with that, but I wish that you would recognize that that is indeed what you are doing. You may think you’re answer is very correct, or likely….but your answer didn’t come from the inerrant word of God…it came from you.You can’t say with certainty that that’s what happened…and the only way you can have any feeling of certainty is to rely on your argument that God must provide an inerrant text, or else He isn’t a good God…so therefore both stories must be true and we are compelled to make things fit…..even if they don’t.This approach seems very close to what you criticize others for.Just as you don’t believe that God is not a good God because he doesn’t intervene in every evil situation….it’s possible to believe that just because the text isn’t inerrant that doesn’t reflect on God’s goodness.Do you not see how the very things you are arguing are exactly how people who don’t believe in inerrancy think about things? We come to conclusions about God based on what we believe about His character, not on the circumstances around us. I believe God is a good God, therefore I do not ascribe the actions of imperfect people to Him. If the Bible isn’t inerrant, it isn’t because God isn’t good any more than God isn’t good because people misunderstand Him or what He’s said.Also….last time I checked…Luke wasn’t an apostle and made no claim to being an eyewitness:1Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14245825667079220242 Rhology

    terri,I am sorry, it is not my intention to act condescendingly. At the same time, I do believe I’m right (just as you no doubt do), and my certainty may sound over the medium of blog comments like arrogance and nastiness. I am sorry for that.You said:-Just as you don’t believe that God is not a good God because he doesn’t intervene in every evil situation….it’s possible to believe that just because the text isn’t inerrant that doesn’t reflect on God’s goodness.-That has not been my argument, about God’s goodness. Rather, I’ve been arguing mostly from the consequences of this position for epistemology. To be honest, Eric Reitan has posted a very accurate rundown of my (and others’) arguments, so full kudos to him. Then you can see my response and that can go a long way to bringing anyone up to speed.-I do not ascribe the actions of imperfect people to Him-Good, then we agree and you have not overturned any of my responses to you. Peace,Rhology

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12399706958844399216 terri

    One more thing…what’s the difference between God allowing people to believe erroneously his perfect word, and him allowing an imperfect word to be understood?If God is not obligated to share His message with people who will perish without it, why is He obligated to give an inerrant text?What good is it if He doesn’t want everyone to know about it?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14245825667079220242 Rhology

    -what’s the difference between God allowing people to believe erroneously his perfect word, and him allowing an imperfect word to be understood?-What would be the mechanism by which God would make known which parts are errant and which are not? It’s one thing to ask how a fallible human fallibly (but sufficiently) understands an inerrant text and quite another when the text has problems. How would that work? Which parts are errant and how do you know? Be specific – 3 examples should suffice for now.-If God is not obligated to share His message with people who will perish without it, why is He obligated to give an inerrant text?-He’s not obligated to give any at all. But He has given a self-revelation; it’s up to you to do the heavy lifting in explaining why a perfect God would give an imperfect self-revelation.It’s good b/c it will bring Him glory in revealing His truth to the elect.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12399706958844399216 terri

    So then…would it be fair to say that you are an inerrantist because you are a Calvinist?Believing in a strong version of God’s Sovereignty in which God actively purposes for bad things to happen, and for some to live in ignorance and perish, isn’t imputing evil to a good God?I think that’s very interesting.God must provide an inerrant text…because He’s good and doesn’t want people to misunderstand Him….except for those people that He’s not interested in electing. Yet…if God chooses and does all the work in election, why would He need an inerrant text? The very act of His choosing would remove any need for someone to have an objective text by which to know Him. His elect would know Him because He wanted them to know Him….no matter what.Yet, if God must provide an inerrant text in order that people could have a reliable way to know Him….then He must want everyone to know Him, otherwise it wouldn’t have to be inerrant.Do you see how the Calvinism you’re advancing undercuts itself? You can say…God can do whatever He wants to do….as long as He does it in a way that makes sense to me. His sovereignty extends only as far as Calvinism is willing to let it extend.I would put forth that the reason Calvinism can be so self-contradictory…advancing a God who is good, but non-elects billions of people to suffer in Hell eternally, is directly tied to inerrancy.Instead of trying to sort through the themes of the many different authors of the various books of the Bible…it treats all of Scripture as if it were written down in one sitting, by one author…..with chapter and plot twists that don’t make much sense without appealing to inerrancy and some mystical preservation system which means that everything in it must be true…leading to all kinds of strange doctrines which don’t really jibe with the concept of a good God.On a side note….Do you know that what led Eve down the path of original sin in the story of the Garden of Eden wasn’t misunderstanding God’s word….or questioning God’s word. If you think about what happens in the story, the first step towards sin happened when Eve believes the serpent and doubts God’s goodness. She thinks He means to withhold something from her…to trick her somehow.If she had assumed God was good first and based all of her opinions and actions on that characteristic of God….the story would have ended differently.just a thought

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14245825667079220242 Rhology

    Hi terri,No, I only recently became a Calvinist, actually. Go back to what I said about making your own framework. On what basis, according to what standard, do you judge what you’ve said to be evil? How do you know what evil is outside of defining good as “that which is in accord with the character of the God of the Bible”?-God must provide an inerrant text…because He’s good and doesn’t want people to misunderstand Him….except for those people that He’s not interested in electing.-Strawman. This destroys the reasoning of the rest of your comment.-.if God chooses and does all the work in election, why would He need an inerrant text?-B/c He uses means to accomplish His plan. Anyway, I agree that that was part of what got Eve in trouble. She doubted God’s goodness, and she also submitted God’s command (ie, His Word) to her human, created reason. Hmm, let me put God in the dock and see if He comes out guilty or not-guilty. This is what the errantist does.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    I wonder whether the discussions about inerrancy will get anywhere unless we discuss concrete examples, like “Who bought the Field of Blood?” or “Did Jesus tell the disciples to go to Galilee or to stay in Jerusalem after the resurrection?”Rhology keeps accusing others of imposing an inappropriate approach on the Bible, while denying the accusation when it is levelled against him. I think the only way to make progress is to focus attention on the evidence from the Bible – a Bible which I might add nowhere promises, to my knowledge, to provide a complete coherent philosophy without any loose ends. But even if it did, the question must still be asked whether it succeeds in doing so. If not, more than one conclusion might possibly follow, including (but not limited to) 1: the Bible not being inspired, or 2: God having inspired a Bible while placing within it difficulties that would prevent those who study it carefully from turning it into an idol, and attributing to it the inerrancy that is the prerogative of God alone.[I can see it coming. Rhology's response will be "How do you know that is a divine prerogative if the Bible isn't inerrant?" The answer must inevitably be "I don't know with complete certainty", and it is the unwillingness to allow that humans might not be able to answer religious questions with more certainty than that which, it seems to me, is the driving force behind Rhology's dislike of the views I hold. But I can no longer put the cart before the horse. I can't assume that God must enable us to be certain, and then argue that the Bible must provide that certainty. Otherwise my presuppositions have greater authority than the Bible. I must investigate the Bible itself, and I would be happy to know how Rhology and other conservative Calvinists explain God having placed so many stumbling blocks in the Scripture that cause people who once believed in inerrancy to stop doing so.]

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14245825667079220242 Rhology

    Concrete examples would be fine, keeping in mind the caveats I mentioned above. But let’s be clear here – another 3 or 4 like the 2 thieves example and a guy starts to have serious doubts about how serious the errantist really is. -2: God having inspired a Bible while placing within it difficulties that would prevent those who study it carefully from turning it into an idol, and attributing to it the inerrancy that is the prerogative of God alone.-I admit to confusion regarding why you think there is some big danger of turning the Bible into an idol. Could you please expound on that when you get a chance? Also, the inerrancy is indeed the prerogative of God alone. And…who inspired the Bible? -I can’t assume that God must enable us to be certain-Then why take any of the Bible as authoritative over you? Why play the pretending game?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12399706958844399216 terri

    Rhology…James gave you another example when he asked you who bought the Field of Blood?I think that you misunderstand where some of us are in our understanding of what Scripture is. When you ask how we can know it’s authoritative. I would say my answer is very close to what you wrote in the middle of this conversation–”For one thing, knowing that one thief repented is totally unimportant wrt to the Gospel, being saved from one’s sin”Just as you think the discrepancy, regardless of whether you think there is one or not, is unimportant to the overall message of Christ, I would say the same regarding instances where we are uncertain about the Bible’s authority or message.You can run it through the sieve of overall theme and consistency.I feel fairly confidently that Jesus was crucified with 2 robbers because every gospel records that. I am not certain about the “good thief’s” conversation in light of the other 3 gospels.I feel certain that Jesus existed and was crucified and rose again because of the many different recordings of the even in the gospels and epistles. Just because one doesn’t believe in inerrancy doesn’t mean one must disbelieve everything.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12399706958844399216 terri

    “event”…not even

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14245825667079220242 Rhology

    terri,Re: Field of Blood, see here, please. That’s 2 so far.Now, you said:-Just as you think the discrepancy, regardless of whether you think there is one or not, is unimportant to the overall message of Christ, I would say the same regarding instances where we are uncertain about the Bible’s authority or message.-One can only hope you usually handle Scr better than you’ve just handled my comment in context. When I said that, I was referring specifically to your question about when people only have one Gospel or one epistle or something of the Bible, not when they have the whole thing, not to respond to a question about an alleged contradiction.-I am not certain about the “good thief’s” conversation in light of the other 3 gospels.-So you judge it to be impossible or highly improbable that someone could be crucified and early on in the torment hurl insults at someone he finds a convenient scapegoat, but a few hours later once the reality of death has become much more present and the initial energy of agony has given way to the constant exhaustion in fighting for every breath repent of how nasty he was, do you? On biblical presuppositions, isn’t that precisely how God works His work of salvation in the sinful man? One moment he’s lost, in sin, an enemy of God, and the next by God’s power transformed into a man who loves Jesus and wants to serve? Come now, you have no good reason to doubt this account, but you resist its truth in stubborn rebellion, terri.-I feel certain that Jesus existed and was crucified and rose again because of the many different recordings of the even in the gospels and epistles.-I don’t. Those accts are errant. Prove me wrong.Peace,Rhology

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12399706958844399216 terri

    Rhology…I’ve actually read some of the arguments in the article to which you linked.It’s a perfect example of complicated mental gymnastics with no real basis in the actual text we have. It has as its foundation a speculative argument which must take the texts we actually have and make them say something that they actually don’t.This is common practice for inerrantists when they are confronted with something which doesn’t quite add up.Personally, I think the point is that there was a field of blood, somehow purchased with the money paid to Judas. The details of how and by whom it was purchased is not super-relevant. It is non-essential in its impact.I can believe in the general truth of it without being certain of the details.The crazy evasions and over the top explanations which rely almost completely on the parsing of one or two words are just too much.There is no such thing as textual simplicity in this type of approach. Nothing ever means what it seems to mean. If things don’t line up, it isn’t because there might be a mistake, but because there is some arcane, obscure wordplay that the average person would never be able to comprehend.Honestly…there isn’t any example you couldn’t look at and come up with some bizarre, complicated rationale for why it exists. I have nothing more to add at this point.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14245825667079220242 Rhology

    -wordplay that the average person would never be able to comprehend.-Oh, I didn’t realise that inerrant suddenly was defined as “harmonisable by the average person, every time, w/o exception”. You have displayed no argument to rebut the fatal flaws your position has, yet you are so committed to your position that you flatly refuse to be consistent and give the benefit of the doubt to the biblical authors, even though you do that with everyone else you read and talk to. It’s a pity and it’s sad to see.Peace,Rhology

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14245825667079220242 Rhology

    I’d add that I understand the article I linked to and I’m no great intellect. The problem here is effort and desire, not intellectual capacity.

  • Anonymous

    “I wonder whether the discussions about inerrancy will get anywhere unless we discuss concrete examples, like “Who bought the Field of Blood?” or “Did Jesus tell the disciples to go to Galilee or to stay in Jerusalem after the resurrection?”James, the reason why we have not sighted specifics is because we did so in the past. In your discussion on Triablogue you failed to grapple with the answers given toward your made up problems with Christ’s ascension. The Galilee problem can be answered satisfactorily, but James, we all know that you do not want the Bible to be right. So, I will give you the same answer that you play back at inerrantist: “You just see errors were you want to see them, and no amount of evidence could persuade you to the contrary”, and that is fine, but don’t act like your position is more reasonable, because I have seen you make claims, get answered, and then not respond when the questions show your position to be built on quick sand.Like you, I am tired of the inerrancy debate. There is no reason to speak to people who already have their mind made up. With that I resign my commenting.Rhology, I think you need to stop casting your pearls to the swine, so to speak. I think that you have better things to do than “argue” here. It is funny that most of the Atheist who comment on your blog, are more repectful of your beliefs than certain liberal/moderate protestants. Let the dead bury their dead.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Anonymous, I generally don’t interact at length with people who do not share their name and yet call me by my first name as though we are friends – and yet chastize me for being insufficiently respectful while not be respectful themselves.I have no desire for the Bible to be wrong. In fact, using the methods of historical investigation, I would emphatically say that it is often right. The problem is that inerrantists don’t find even the most “benefit of the doubt” historian’s approach acceptable, because it still acknowledges that some things are at best unproven and at worst unlikely in light of the evidence.I am aware that, if one is determined to, one can create complicated harmonizations between accounts, and if one really wishes with all one’s heart to believe that the Bible is inerrant, then one will always find a way of doing so. But those of us who are determined to take the evidence the Bible itself presents seriously when asking historical questions and engaging in historical research must take seriously the tensions between accounts. And I am quite certain that, if Rhology were a Muslim, he would make just as convincing a case for the Qur’an’s inerrancy while pointing out the inconsistencies in the Bible. That, more than anything else, is the problem: not that there is convoluted harmonizing, but that there is convoluted harmonizing that could be applied to any and all sources with the result that their inerrancy is maintained, and yet that “benefit of the doubt” is only given to the Bible, and when the question is posed as to why, the answer that is given is from the Bible itself.I wonder how the tone of this conversation might change if you attempted to grapple with the fact that those whom you denigrate feel that they are paying the Bible far more respect than you are, and when we talk to the “Triablogue crowd”, we genuinely feel like we are the ones casting our pearls before swine. How do you account for the impression being equally strong on the other side of the fence (if not stronger) that your presuppositions are preventing you from seeing the obvious?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08152752731441620075 George

    The Bible is errant, and it provides a way to compensate for that fact.The Bible twice declares that it is errant. The first declaration is Matthew 13:33 which reads, "Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." The second declaration is Luke 13:21 which reads, "It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened."The Bible thrice mentions a way to compensate for the errancy. The first mention was at Deuteronomy 19:15 which reads, "One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established." The second was at Matthew 18:16 which reads, "But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." The third mention was at 2 Corinthians 13:1 which reads, "This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." Their commonality, which is the way to remove the leaven, reads, "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established."


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