Luke vs. the Inerrantists

The prologue to the Gospel of Luke is unique among the Gospels. Its author provides a prologue indicating something about his aims and methods.

This would have been a great opportunity to mention something like his receiving of divine revelation.

Instead, here is what he wrote:

Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

Think about the implications of this. Inerrantists, it turns out, are not claiming that the Bible’s authors were controlled by God to such a degree that what they wrote is perfectly accurate. Inerrantists are claiming that God made sure some things were accurate, did not prevent the Bible’s authors from describing their own work in such a way as to give the impression that they were researching, remembering, and writing as other human beings do, when allegedly something else was the case.

So who is telling the truth? Is Luke accurately depicting what he did when he wrote? Or was he in fact provided with supernatural revelation that gave him precise details with no errors?

And doesn’t this demonstrate that inerrancy is not about actual inerrancy, but about asserting that some things in the Bible are inerrant even if it means giving the impression that others are not? Isn’t inerrancy inherently self-contradictory?

As I have said before, sooner or later you have to choose between inerrancy and what the Bible actually says.


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  • TomS

    Can’t one argue that while Luke did his own investigation, his actions were under divine guidance to produce an inerrant result? There would be a problem if he had written that his method was the guarantee of the reliability of the result, but Luke does not say that.

    • James F. McGrath

      But that’s precisely it. He writes that he did what fallible human beings do to try to offer the best information we can. And yet according to inerrantists, despite the fact that he depicts himself doing what we would hope any human being would do in the circumstance, his product is somehow inerrant.

  • Lothar Lorraine

    Hello James, more sosphiticated inerrantists like William Lance Craig or Paul Copan would say that Luke did all these things but that God providentially organized everything interacting with his research so that the end-result would be inerrant.

    This example is interesting, but I fear you are only refuting the dumbest form of inerrancy out there.

    Lovely greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

  • dangjin

    So in other words, you are saying that God and the Holy Spirit are incapable of leading one through their research to the truth. That everything written in the Bible has to come from divine revelation in a miraculous method.

    You are very wrong and continue to try to find excuses to import your false beliefs into the biblical texts. You continue to show that you do not know or understand God or how things work with God.

    • James F. McGrath

      What a strange comment! Why not interact with what I wrote? If your view of the Bible is correct, why is discussing my argument and the evidence I point to in the Bible something that you would choose not to do?

  • Keika

    When I need to switch out a dying computer power unit with a new one, I make damn sure I check the manufacturer’s website to see if there is an addendum to the instruction manual which came with the new unit. It’s an almost certainty that some previous customers have fried their motherboards because of insufficient, inaccurate and faulty directions. If I were a computer expert I could shun the instructions all together, but I’m not an expert. And so I must look for higher answers. And it’s also why I come here to learn and enjoy the higher answers.