Inerrancy vs. the Bible

Inerrancy vs. the Bible May 27, 2018

I shared in a recent blog post a quote from an earlier post of mine about inerrancy, and I thought that it might perhaps be worth turning into a meme.

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  • jekylldoc

    Well, it’s an interesting proposition, worth giving some thought to. In the end, though, I don’t think doctrines and practices of inerrancy are about protecting anti-Biblical authority claims. Would you settle for “extrabiblical” authority claims? But even that is a flawed analysis, because it begs the question of why we should care that they are extrabiblical. Instead, I think inerrancy is about protecting “universal priesthood of believers” by trying to base authority in the church and in our lives on exegesis that the average person can easily grasp. That doesn’t save it from failing, of course.

  • Chuck Johnson

    So James F. Mcgrath is the one who truly knows and can tell us what the Bible actually says ?
    What a miraculous revelation !
    Now, all of our doubts, confusion and worries can be resolved !

    • Phil Ledgerwood

      Not sure how you got that from the quote.

      • Chuck Johnson

        It’s simple logic.
        You (or Mcgrath) can’t know what misrepresenting the Bible is unless you or Mcgrath know what the true meaning of the Bible is.

        Our planet is full of experts who can tell us the “True Meaning” of the Bible, each interpretation being different.
        Haven’t you heard, it’s a battle of words and most of them are lies.

        • This is simply bizarre. As with any collection of texts from a distant time and place, there are things that are clear, things that are completely uncertain, and a whole range in between. Talking about the Bible as though it were one book by one author with one meaning that is either clear or unclear reflects a terrible misunderstanding of what the Bible is…

          • Chuck Johnson

            That’s right.
            And there are many who are ready to treat the Bible as a rubber stamp for their beliefs and their prejudices.

            You know how to complain when other people do this, but you seem to be blind to your own usage of the Bible this way.

          • Where have I treated the Bible as a rubber stamp for my beliefs? You seem to have completely misunderstood everything I have ever written here on this blog…

          • Chuck Johnson

            Where have I treated the Bible as a rubber stamp for my beliefs?

            You treated the Bible as a rubber stamp for your beliefs right in this Blog with the meme that you wrote.
            You have declared that you know “what the Bible actually says” and that those other folks are trying to prove their “extrabiblical doctrine”.

            In truth, the Bible can be (and has been) used to prove just about any notion that might occur to someone.

          • Wow, I am amazed not only by how bizarre your attempt to distort what I wrote is, but also how you could possibly think that anyone else who reads what you wrote would find it plausible. If someone were opposing claims that the Qur’an or the US Constitution is inerrant, and in doing so draws attention to things found in these texts that are at odds with such claims, is that individual using the text in question as a rubber stamp for their beliefs?!

            You also sound like one of those extreme pseudo-postmodernists who claims that any claim to knowledge, even a probabilistic one with very strong evidence to support it, is in principle inappropriate. I do not find that stance plausible. Certainly there are points in any text where meaning is ambiguous, but I think that there are clear enough examples of errors in the Bible, and clear enough expressions of human fallibility on the part of authors of texts included in the Bible, that any ambiguity of some of them needn’t detract from my point.

          • Chuck Johnson

            You also sound like one of those extreme pseudo-postmodernists who claims that any claim to knowledge, even a probabilistic one with very strong evidence to support it, is in principle inappropriate.-James

            Not at all.
            But I do assert that any claim to knowledge always turns out to be knowledge that is less than perfect.
            This is described in this piece by Isaac Asimov:

            https://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/relativityofwrong.htm

          • Chuck Johnson

            So you think that the Bible is not inerrant.
            That’s good.

            Then, how much miraculous God-given knowledge and wisdom do you think is in the Bible ?
            I am an atheist, and I believe that the Bible contains no miraculous wisdom.
            It’s just a chronicle and collection of stories written thousands of years ago by our ancestors.

            But do you think that the Bible is authenticated in a supernatural way?

          • The Bible is a collection of human writings, frequently articulating human views about the divine.

            Seriously, have you mistaken me for someone else?

          • Chuck Johnson

            “If someone were opposing claims that the Qur’an or the US Constitution is inerrant, and in doing so draws attention to things found in these texts that are at odds with such claims, is that individual using the text in question as a rubber stamp for their beliefs?!”

            But in a blog revolving around Christianity, no such question would come up.
            What indisputable teachings are in the Bible ? – – – Are there any (in your view) ?

            In other words, in your view, is the Bible inerrant in some places, but in error in other places ?

          • Of course not. Have you literally ignored everything I have written on this topic?!

        • Phil Ledgerwood

          I think, if you’ve read James’ other articles about this subject, he isn’t claiming a higher doctrinal understanding than inerrantists. He’s saying they have a doctrine of inerrancy that doesn’t seem to hold up to the actual text we find in the Bible; not that the Bible teaches a different doctrine.

          Because of this, the inerrantist project has to work really hard to paddle upstream with biblical text to make it fit into a doctrine of inerrancy that, by necessity, can’t come from the Bible.

          So, James isn’t saying, “These people teach Doctrine A, but Doctrine B is actually correct and those Doctrine A people are just ignoring what the Bible says,” although that is a very common thing people say. James is saying, “These people teach Doctrine A, but the biblical texts do not seem to conform to what Doctrine A insists they must be by nature, so people who hold Doctrine A have to do a lot of selective interpretation, ignoring, etc. to make Doctrine A an accurate description of the texts we have.”

          An analogy might be if someone believed that the canon of the Bible was a revelation from God given to the early church. You could rightly point out that you could only believe this doctrine by ignoring quite a bit of both textual and historical data. You could also rightly point out that this doctrine does not and cannot come from the Bible. It doesn’t mean you’re pitting your biblical interpretation against someone else’s.

          • Chuck Johnson

            It doesn’t mean you’re pitting your biblical interpretation against someone else’s.-Phil

            James is clearly pitting his biblical interpretation against other interpretations.
            That’s what his meme in this essay is all about.

            Those people have “extrabiblical doctrines”, but James knows what the Bible “actually says”.

            Anyone who asserts that someone has “extrabiblical doctrines” is arguing about meanings in the Bible.

          • Phil Ledgerwood

            If I believed that automobiles are human beings, would you say that was an extrabiblical doctrine? If so, would calling that out mean that we were arguing over doctrinal differences?

  • Al Cruise

    Great post. Things like antisemitism, misogyny [ often called complementarism ] , racism, greed in capitalism [sometimes called prosperity Gospel], systemic poverty, [often called reducing taxes and giving tax breaks to the rich ] all have their roots and justification through Biblical inerrancy.

  • soter phile

    Did Jesus ever say the Bible was inerrant? Nope. However…
    He acknowledged the human authors while simultaneously calling it the “Word of God” (Mk.7:13).
    He constantly quoted the OT – even while dying on the cross.
    He said not the least pen stroke would disappear from the law – which he came to fulfill, not abolish.
    He said all of the Scriptures point to him.

    But hey, if you want to attack ‘inerrancy’ as a modern term – have at it.
    Just recognize how much MORE problematic Christ’s view of the Scriptures is for *your* espoused views.

    • So you’re saying that, when it suited him, Jesus referred to the Law as the “Word of God,” and when it suited him, he said that “Moses permitted…”?

      • soter phile

        Funny how you didn’t address any of the substantive points I made but jumped to what you regard as an exception. That sadly appears to be endemic to your hermeneutic for Scripture as well.

        Note well:
        a) Jesus raises Moses standard – he doesn’t jettison Moses… (though I guess you’re up for worshipping a self-contradictory god?)
        b) you seem to want to then use a mistaken notion (your belief that Jesus disregards Moses by raising the standard for divorce) to justify your desire to disregard *anything* you don’t like in Scripture

        • I am still not sure how to best respond to this comment, but I feel that some response is called for. Jesus raises Moses’ standard, and I agree with Harold Kushner when he says that the biblical authors offer us ideals that they themselves at times fall short of. I don’t see where I am disregarding things that I don’t like. I am typically seeking to be more inclusive and more just than some of the biblical authors appear to have been, not less. And so your comment seems an attempt to offer insult in place of a genuine wrestling with the implications of what Jesus said.