conservative Baptist leaders defend inerrancy at ETS: is this a parody?

conservative Baptist leaders defend inerrancy at ETS: is this a parody? January 11, 2014

A couple of days ago, posted an article “Inerrancy ‘drift’ festers in Christian academia.”  The piece reports on a panel discussion at the recent Evangelical Theological Society meeting in Baltimore featuring presidents from three Baptist school lamenting the failure of Evangelical institutions to maintain a strong view of inerrancy.

There are many ways of articulating such a view, but the quotes as captured in this piece read like an inerrantist parody of itself–as if they are aiming to trammel out every fear-driven cliche in the book.

  • Inerrancy is a “continental divide.”
  • “Inerrancy is not “one doctrine in a basket full of doctrines”  but “the doctrine that determines which basket full of doctrines you have.”
  • The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy “undergirds everything we do.”
  • “Special revelation, or the doctrine of Scripture, has to have preeminence.”
  • We we say about the Bible “affects how we do sociology; it affects how we do biology; it affects how we do psychology. If you don’t have that, then you’ll find in certain areas that you creep away from a biblical worldview because you’re not tied to a standard.”
  • Presidents of these institutions are not there to foster learning but “to enforce the doctrinal standard,” i.e.,  “minding the store” by carefully controlling who is on the faculty.
  • Human sexuality is “the driving issue” in all this, and weaker-minded leaders who do not uphold the “biblical” view are simply capitulating to constituencies; they are the “worst kind of poison” because they claim to be a Christian institution when in fact they are not.
  • Academic freedom is not “neutral” but “designed deliberately for the toleration of leftward views on the faculty of all sorts.”

It continues to be most disconcerting to see intellectual leaders seemingly wholly oblivious to the fact that plenty of Christians have functioned quite well for 2000 years, and continue to function today, without this stressful stranglehold on what these panelists (and the traditions they represent) mean by “inerrancy.”

They also seem to be working in complete isolation from reasoned criticisms of the positions they articulate here. There is no hope here of reasoned, learned, discourse. Only circling the wagon and protecting turf.

More importantly, the panelists also come close to the idolatry of Bible worship when they say that “the doctrine of Scripture has to have preeminence.” I understand they mean “preeminence” in the sense of the intellectual foundation of their system of doctrine, but I get extremely nervous when I hear Christian leaders–who are responsible for educating the next generation–saying things about the Bible they should be saying about Jesus. I wonder what Paul would say. (Actually, I don’t wonder.)

What I will say, though, is that the views expressed by the panelists in this article are logically consistent and at the end of the day necessary within a system that is self-consciously based on an inerrantist foundation, which is one of several points I made in my essay in the recently published Zondervan volume, Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy.

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  • mhelbert

    Peter, I try to avoid these discussions because, well, there never seems to be much fruit from them. However, I think you are giving these people too much credit by referring to them as “intellectual leaders.” They are not leading anywhere. If anything, they are hiding in their inerrantist foxholes telling everyone to keep their heads down.

    • peteenns

      I agree, but as presidents of academic institutions, they are by definition intellectual leaders. Whether they do that well is another thing.

    • Peter Anderson

      Well, I never said they were “intellectual leaders.” I’m not sure if you read my comment. Also, avoiding discussions because some seem fruitless seems a bit ironic for me if we’re trying to find academic freedom to explore.

      • mhelbert wasn’t talking to you. He was addressing Peter Enns, who called them “intellectual leaders”, not you. I don’t blame him for avoiding discussion. How can one “find academic freedom to explore” among administrators who believe that:

        Academic freedom is not “neutral” but “designed deliberately for the toleration of leftward views on the faculty of all sorts.”

        • Peter Anderson

          Well, Beau. I don’t know what you mean? I don’t mean you Beau_Quilter, I mean Beau, the guy right next to me named Beau who’s taking about irrenancy.

          • “irrenancy” – good one!

          • Peter Anderson

            As long as you know that was intentional–wink, wink

          • :^)

  • Peter Anderson

    Well, I have a few questions:

    1) How can one give preeminence to Jesus if one does not give preeminence to Scripture? If you can help me out on how one can include/exclude one without including/excluding the other, please offer some feedback. It seems the conservative argument wants scripture to have preeminence because when it is not, Jesus’ words, especially the “”difficult ones”, are left out, i.e. Jefferson Bible.

    2) If one can argue that one should not posit a preeminent doctrine of Scripture because it leads to “bibliolatry”, how does one offer worship and praise to the Holy Spirit, who’s considered the author of scripture, at least inspirationally? In other words, a division between scripture and Jesus may lead in creating to a dichotomy between Son and Spirit. Which, conservatives may see as more important that academic freedom at that point.

    Some thoughts: I would love to hear some feedback.

    • Michael Anderson

      One problem I have with Inerrancy, and more specifically the bibliolatry that arises from it, is the assumption that the Bible is the only way to know God. It is taking Sola Scriptura to the extreme–no other authorities are permitted except the Bible because the Bible is the only revelation of God to humanity. This is ridiculous on its very face as the Bible itself says there are means of revelation apart from the Bible, including general revelation (natural/scientific), experience (prophetic, for example), and reason (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul argues for the Resurrection of Jesus by reason instead of by Scripture).

      What was the whole point of the veil being torn in Matt/Mark if the only further relationship we have with God is now through the Bible? Isn’t that exactly where the Jews found themselves before Christ? They had a book to point them to God, but they were not permitted direct access. So what difference did Jesus actually make, if all we have today is just a different book?

    • Bev Mitchell


      You asked for feedback.

      (1) “How can one give preeminence to Jesus if one does not give preeminence to Scripture?” Or, How can one give preeminence to Scripture if one does not give preeminence to Jesus?” A better way to say it would be, why is it so hard to follow the old Baptist rule that Christians should read the Bible backwards? Incarnation, life of Christ, his death and Resurrection, his ascension and his sending of the Holy Spirit first. Scripture, read as story, points directly to Christ. When we accept this, Scripture must be read in an entirely new way rather than as a bunch of proof texts or a literal list of propositions. It’s sad to see fellows (they are always fellows) like this polishing their view of inerrancy, worrying over sex and indoctrinating rather than freeing and encouraging young minds. There are so many things that need rethinking and correction in the evangelical province of the Church that tower above these perennial concerns. One wonders what these folk read, or don’t read.

      (2) Not at all clear what you are getting at in this paragraph. Of course, the same Spirit who oversaw the entire production of Scripture (much more to that than writing) is present to help us understand and interpret Scripture. As far as I can see in reading fairly widely across Christian traditions, the Holy Spirit is not an inerrantist! Now, if we want something for these “intellectual leaders” to get their knickers in a twist about, how about the very weak understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity across evangelicalandia? How about our understanding of freedom in Christ in the sense that it is also freedom from the law (and legalism of all sorts)? How about the overwhelming evidence that Jesus (and the Old Testament) admonishes believers to have a very special, even central, concern for the poor, and an unusually keen heart for justice?

    • ajl


      You have asked a very thoughtful question. I don’t want to hijack the thread, so I will be terribly brief, and give only 2 examples: Luke and Peter.

      Luke had a chance to avow inerrancy when he started his gospel. Instead, he tells Theophilus that:

      1. Many have undertaken to write about Jesus
      2. He researched it carefully
      3. He decided to write something about

      so that Theophilus would know with certainty about Jesus. So, instead of claiming authority by saying “what I am writing was dictated by God”, Luke’s claim of authority is that “I am writing something that is well researched”.

      Peter too says that he did not cleverly invent stories. Again, if ever there was a time to claim inerrancy, this was it. But instead, Peter’s claim of authority is that he was an eyewitness.

      Does the fact that Luke gives a well researched writeup of what he heard, or that Peter does the best job he can to replicate what he saw with his own eyes, diminish the testimony about who Jesus was? I don’t think so. For some, this is problematic. But for me, the essence of who Jesus is remains.

      Also, here are two guys, writing about the same person, and being very consistent in their description of Him. In fact, I would argue that all 4 gospels are very consistent about the person of Jesus – yes, there are some inconsistencies about whether something happened on the way *to* Jerusalem or on the way *from* Jerusalem, but all 4 guys give a very consistent account of his character, love, sacrifice, morality, and saving work.

      That is why many of us who believe that while the Bible is not inerrant, it is sufficient for all we need.

      As for taking things out of the Bible you don’t like: sure, people do that. People do lots of things. Part of being a grown up in this world is being intellectually honest. If I want to cheat on my wife, sure, I can scratch out the verses on adultery. But, I think that says a lot more about me than about the Bible.

      I hope this brief response is helpful to getting your head around things. And know too, I do not have the final word on this either – I’m working out my faith like everyone else.

  • DonaldByronJohnson

    I will paraphrase their conclusions, “The sky is falling! You are not reading the Bible the way I want you to read the Bible! The sky is falling!”

  • Matt Lukowitz

    You have to love the slippery slope argument. What they fail to see (I did too) is that you have to assume that you have reached the peak to make the argument. The upshot being you get to look down on the rest. This is happening more and more as they get their fundies in a bunch. They think they see through the glass not dimly, but perfectly clear. They’ve reached the summit. But the slope has (at least) two sides. How do you know you haven’t slidden down the other side?

  • Seraphim

    From an Orthodox perspective, I have trouble even comprehending the debate- it seems like the inerrantists are simply asking the wrong questions. I have a high view of Scripture, but to talk about “inerrancy” of the original autographs (which nobody has) in the strange ways that the Chicago Statement does massively misses the point. The Bible is a witness to Jesus Christ. Our exegesis of the Bible should be in submission to Jesus Christ. But that often has very little to do with “authorial intent” or “historical-grammatical exegesis.” We in the Orthodox Church believe that the Holy Spirit can even inspire different versions of the same text.

  • Randy Hardman

    It is interesting that often times the doctrine of inerrancy is formulated within a Sola Scriptura appeal. Of course, Scripture should have pre-eminence as the primary theological norm (the norming norm to use Grenz and Franke’s term), but as Sparks has pointed out, often enough it turns out that ‘reason’ is the driving force, not Scripture itself. That is, the doctrine of Scriptural inerrancy is often put over Scripture itself. It’s one of the reasons why routinely I am challenged not by Scriptural citation (that usually comes in second or third) but by the philosophical tautology of 1) God cannot err; 2) Scripture is the Word of God; 3) Scripture cannot err.

    Of course there are a host of questions on that tautology, not least to what degree does this formulation make synonymous revelation in the Qu’ran or the Book of Morman and the Bible.

    Anyways, I’m starting to ramble…just find it interesting how often the appeal is not to ‘the Bible’ but rather to ‘the doctrine.’

    • Dan Jensen

      It is true that often people do argue in this circular manner and that is unfortunate, but if you would really research conservative evangelical scholars you will see that non-circular arguments are not only available, but there is an abundance of them and that the evidence in their favor is overwhelming. With that said, the reason this argument is so often stated and in a non-circular and legitimate way is because the other side constantly states that they believe the Bible is the word of God but then they turn around and expend all their energies in telling us that it is full of errors and that to believe otherwise is ridiculous and so at that point it is our job to point out how illogical it is to say that the Bible is God’s word and can at the same time have errors.

      • Actually, most liberal Christians don’t insist that the Bible is the word of God, They insist that Jesus is the Word of God. The logos of John chapter 1 is Jesus. It is the most transcendent use of the word “Word” in the Bible, and it has nothing to do with written manuscripts.

        • Dan Jensen

          With all respect, this just isn’t true. Most liberal Christians have asserted that the Bible is the word of God in some sense of the word. And the position that only Jesus is the full word of God is not the traditional liberal position but is more associated with Neo-Orthodoxy which also believes that the Bible is the word of God in a manner of speaking, but that it is so primarily as a witness and as one encounters God through the Scriptures (although that is a terribly overly simplified statement of what is actually a very nuanced position).

          And there is no reason from what you have said to me so far that I should believe that Jesus is the Logos. Most scholars, biblical or otherwise, believe that whoever wrote John was reflecting a much later and far more fanciful Christology and therefore his prologue is not to be trusted. Hence, why from your perspective should I believe that Jesus is the logos?

          • Andrew Dowling

            “believe that whoever wrote John was reflecting a much later and far more
            fanciful Christology and therefore his prologue is not to be trusted.”

            Actually this point shows a major issue with conservative evangelicalism. It is obsessed with historical accuracy. . much moreso than most liberal Christians. I can recognize John was written later than the other Gospels, shows a more developed Christology, attributes much of being said by Jesus that isn’t historical, and still appreciate its insights because the text has many layers and is much more mystical and nuanced than generally acknowledged. I think taking, for example, the “I Am” passages in John as literal statements said by a person in history robs them of their larger insight and power.

          • Dan Jensen

            Wow bro, you could not have missed the point I was trying to make to her more if you possibly tried and so I’m pretty over trying to talk to you.

          • Hi Dan

            I doubt we have any fundamental disagreements over whether liberal Christians use the phrase “word of God” to refer to the Bible. Some do; some do not. Not really my point. You are correct that John is a late gospel with even less reliability as a witness, but more craft in constructing theology. Liberal Christians would not disagree about this, but they also wouldn’t dismiss the theology of John out-of-hand, simply because it is late in the canon.

            No worries. I’m certainly not trying to convince you of the reliability of John 1. But now, I’m confused about your opinion. Do you not include the gospel of John in the doctrine of inerrancy?

          • Dan Jensen

            I am so genuinely not trying to get impatient, but it is very hard to respond to you when you tend to bounce all over and fail to really soak in what I am saying. My basic point is that when I brought up a number of texts you dismissed them because of the fact that many scholars believe that the books in which they are found are spurious, but then you turned around and said that actually Jesus is the word of God based on John 1:1. I was pointing out how illegitimate that is from your perspective because if texts can be dismissed based upon broad scholarly consensus then the logos doctrine must also be dismissed on the same grounds because most believe that the theology of John is fanciful. You are confusing liberal Bible scholars with Liberal Protestant theologians and they are not the same thing.

            So of course I believe John is in the canon, but my question is why do you personally hold to the theology of John when you reject the texts I gave based upon biblical scholarship?

          • Don’t lose patience with me; it’s just the comments section of a blog. And thanks for explaining about your John 1 comment. You were trying to be ironic.

            So you ask why do I “personally hold to the theology of John when [I] reject the texts [you] gave based on biblical scholarship?

            Well, I don’t hold to the theology of John (I was just describing Christians who do), and I didn’t reject the texts you gave, I rejected your contention that they support biblical inerrancy.

      • Randy Hardman


        Thanks for your response Dan. I should probably note that I actually was a conservative on this point for most of my adult life and was a thoroughgoing apologist (in the full sense of that term) for the doctrine. I know what the conservative scholars actually argue, for I was raised and trained by many of them. It was only later in graduate studies that I tested by inerrancy theology against the hard data…that is, I started not with a prescriptive approach but a descriptive one. At the end of the day, I realized that in order to hold to Scriptural inerrancy from a descriptive basis I would necessarily need to employ some very fanciful and creative explanations to hold the pieces together. And THIS is where I see things as ironic: for while inerrancy is a doctrine which attempts to preserve the Bible’s integrity, more often than not it’s an attempt to preserve creative conjecture. In other words, the “event” behind the Bible is often what is so necessary to Scriptural truth…but, the question I faced was, what IF…just what IF…John has Jesus die on a different day or what IF our creation accounts are really two, similar, but different accounts…or what IF our accounts disagree as to how many charioteers David killed.

        You see, Dan, it’s on this level that I can allow an honest investigation of Scripture without committing myself to some sort of hidden explanation behind our discrepancies (like Archer’s famous ‘lost decimal point’). Prior to this, as an inerrantist apologist, I routinely spent hours and hours–if not even days at points–trying to find some sort of “explanation” for a discrepancy. Often times I wondered, ‘if this thing is so inerrant, why is it that I have to strive so hard to preserve the inerrancy.’

        The point in all the above, Dan, is that I’m not treating the Bible as an epistemological source dependent on some (or a bunch of “overwhelming arguments”) to determine its veracity. If its primary purpose is soteriological, then that is easily seen in the lives of hundreds of millions, if not billions, throughout two millenia. That is what comes descriptively, what is obvious, what comes from the bottom up…interestingly, inerrancy is prescriptive, quite unobvious, and always from the top down.

        On your last point, I want to ask you to look a bit harder on what the non-inerrantists are saying. Sure, there are some more outspoken advocates of a non-inerrantist position (like Enns) and I understand their position–indeed, I am starting to write on it myself due to the numerous struggles I had and I watched others go through (where many people find a contradiction in Scripture and then give up Christianity all together!). I once asked an inerrantist friend whether the Bible would still be the Word of God if a contradiction could legitimately and fully be proven. His response: “No…it would all crumble.” And this is why I, and others, write about the dangers of inerrancy, because simply once one can be convinced of an error, the faith often tumbles like Jenga.

        But this is not the same as “expending all energies” trying to tell us that the Bible is “full” of errors. I, for example, am not an inerrantist but I also find the Bible to be remarkably accurate. I personally know dozens of scholars who fall exactly within this position…my guess is you would be surprised at some of the names which I think, because they argue for the historical reliability of the Bible, are often thrown in the camp of inerrancy, when they’re really not. But I think that goes to show that the “battle for the Bible” is really not as much of a “continental divide” as these theologians above would like to think. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, many of these scholars are not trying to wave the flag of errancy but, rather, broaden the conversation out to include higher biblical criticism and allow it to help us understand–and admit–more about the Bible than inerrancy allows.

        • Dan Jensen

          First and foremost, thanks so much for the respectful reply. That is something I have not received from everyone in this forum nor many other blogs like this one and I appreciate it very much.

          You touched on many things and I cannot address each one, but I will say that I am very aware of the very real problems with inerrancy. When I first started to study the Bible in-depth I was very troubled by these problems but the more I began to study the other academic subjects, especially history, I began to see that there are massive problems in every area of inquiry and we have to simply go with the best evidence. And the Bible simply doesn’t give us the option of denying inerrancy. As I have shown to others, too many passages make it clear that if a book is not prophetic then it shouldn’t be in the canon and if it is prophetic then it is inerrant because that is part and parcel to being prophetic. Hence, if any book of the Bible has errors it is not prophetic and should be excluded from the canon. This would not make the book worthless, but it would not possess any more inherent authority than any other book.

  • Dan Jensen

    First of all, we understand just how badly those on the other side not only want to disprove the doctrine of inerrancy itself, but also want to convince us that it is not nearly as important as we make it out to be, but it will never happen. The Bible is the word of God and not simply so in a manner that basically qualifies it away. Hence, every single one of the statements is not only perfectly legitimate, but is quite necessary given the rise of the radical emergent movement which is aggressively trying to convert conservative evangelicals to their viewpoint and in many cases with great success.

    Second, where in any of these statements do we see anything that even remotely advocates the worship of the Bible. Nowhere. Nowhere do we say that we should bow down to the Bible, sing worship songs to the Bible, pray to the Bible, etc. But yes, the primary way we have relationships with people is through verbal communication, whether it be spoken or written. And it is not different with God. God is the one we adore and worship and He of course is our ultimate authority, but He expresses Himself through His word and so it has to be taken with the utmost seriousness.

    Third, the historical arguments against inerrancy are so strained and so tired and worn out that I really wish people would stop with them. The position of the church has always been that the Bible is inerrant. And the doctrine is no more straining than any other doctrine as every doctrine comes with its difficulties and therefore if we are going to throw out inerrancy on those grounds we have to throw out all doctrine.

    • What arguments against inerrancy are strained and tired? This long book composed of numerous ancient texts woven together over centuries by numerous redactors has many errors. Why wouldn’t it?

      • Dan Jensen

        There are errors in the manuscripts, but what evidence do you have for errors in the originals? And if the originals are the word of God then by definition they cannot have errors and so that is why.

        • Why do you assume that the original manuscripts are the inerrant “word of God”. There is no outside evidence that they are, and they don’t claim to be.

          • Dan Jensen

            I don’t assume this, there is tons of outside evidence and the Bible repeatedly asserts that the Bible is inerrant regardless of the fact that it doesn’t use that exact term which is thoroughly irrelevant.

          • Really? You have “tons of outside evidence” that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God? That’s a pretty specific claim. I could accept something like outside evidence that a particular event in the Bible took place historically, perhaps, but outside evidence that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God? Got any examples?

            How does the Bible repeatedly assert that it is inerrant? I know of many passages that quote a few sentences or paragraphs, referred to as “the word of the Lord”, but I’m not aware of any passage that claims that the text of every manuscript in the Bible is either inerrant or the “word of God”. Got any examples?

          • Rick

            Getting away from the inerrancy and “word of God” terminology, do you see the Bible as inspired by God?

          • Tricky question. If John Dominic Crosson asked that question, and Al Mohler asked that question, they would mean two very different things. What do you mean by “inspired”?

          • But while I ask the question about what you mean by “inspired”, I’ll go ahead and answer you by saying that I doubt one can assign a generalized term like “inspired” to every manuscript of the bible uncategorically. The Bible isn’t a single thing. It is a collection of ancient writings; and the collection itself wasn’t determined until centuries after the last manuscript was composed.

          • Rick

            In regards to the definition, I am just trying to see where you stand, so I will be general and say: Inspired= God’s involvement in its message. God breathed.
            Also, does the fact that the canon was not officially set until the 4th Century invalidate the inspiration of the Bible as a whole?

          • No. For the reasons already stated.

            I wouldn’t say that the lateness of the establishment of the canon “invalidates” the inspiration. I would instead say that establishment of the canon doesn’t “validate” inspiration of the whole to begin with.

          • 4thegloryofgod

            To what is Paul referring to in 2 Timothy 3:16-17?

          • Paul (or whoever the real writer was) tells you in 2 Timothy 3:15: the sacred writings Timothy had known since childhood. This may refer to the Torah, but it cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, refer to the New Testament.

          • Andrew Dowling

            Well it could, but then one would have to accept the mainstream scholarly opinion that 2nd Timothy is a forgery that may have not even been written until close to the mid 2nd century. Which then kinda invalidates the point anyway.

          • Well, I was tactfully trying to use the term pseudepigrapha, but, of course, Ehrman’s evidence that pseudepigrapha were forgeries opens up a whole new can of worms.


          • Rick

            Beau is correct about the immediate context being about the Hebrew Scriptures. That is not to say, however, that the concept would not apply to the New Testament as they came to be seen as inspired.

          • … and therein lies the rub. If one is to see the entire New Testament as inspired, how did it “come to be seen as inspired”?

          • Bryan

            Herein lies the difficulty on the subject of inspiration: “as they came to be seen”. Maybe the entire subject of inspiration could be avoided if we ask this very simple question, “How did the Bible come to be?”

          • Rick

            I thought about that, but realized the time and distraction from the topic of the post made it best not to go in that direction.

          • Bryan

            I do not think we will ever know with absolute certainty since the passage does not tell us specifics. Some think that it was the Pentateuch or gospel of Mark.

          • Dan Jensen

            Hey so sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you, I got super busy with work and so I’m going to try to squeeze in a couple comments right now. But again, the case for inerrancy is vast and so I cannot give a full account of it here.

            Suffice it to say that as far as outside evidence is concerned there is ample historical evidence that Jesus existed, claimed to be God, proved that claim to be true, and asserted the inerrancy of Scripture. Therefore, inerrancy is true. As far as biblical references I can only give a few without commentary which of course is somewhat dangerous, but these will have to do for now: Exodus 4:14-17; 7:1-2; Deuteronomy 18:14-22; 31:9-29; Joshua 1:7-8; 24:25-26; Matthew 5:17-20; John 10:34-39; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21; and Revelation 22:18-19.

            If there is any temptation to point out that none of these passages use the term “inerrant” or spell out a fully fledged doctrine of inerrancy it must be remembered that this is the case with all doctrines of our faith. The Bible is not a theology textbook, it only provides the grounds and content for our doctrines and when these passages along with many others are taken to their clear logical conclusion inerrancy emerges beyond the shadow of a doubt. In fact, 2 Tim 3:16 is about as close to an explicit statement of any doctrine in the Bible.

          • Hi Dan

            As far as the “tons of outside evidence” that the Bible is inerrant, you still haven’t provided any. You are simply making assertions that this evidence exists without providing any. You’ve added further assertions about Jesus, some of which I agree with, some of which I don’t, but, again, without mentioning any of the outside evidence.

            You’ve made the most salient point for me, None of the scriptures you’ve cited have anything to do with the inerrancy of the Bible. Yes, I’m always tempted to state the truth. Now, I was quite surprised that you say that all the doctrines of our faith are not spelled out clearly in biblical scripture. MOST of the doctrines of Christian faith are spelled out quite clearly, thanks to writers like Paul – Paul is very good at spelling out doctrine. You’re right that most of the Bible is not written as “theology textbook”, but the New Testament epistles, and parts of the gospels, are chock full of theology, much of it quite explicitly stated.

            You’ve provided a variety of Biblical references, but most of them do not refer to biblical manuscripts, specifically. For example, they might refer to the words a prophet says, but it doesn’t always tell us which prophets, and which words, and certainly much of the Bible does not even purport itself to be the words of prophets. In point of fact the vast majority of the old testament references are references to the spoken word, not the written word. I doubt that Jesus is concerned with inerrancy in the gospel verses you provide, but even if he were, he is only talking about the torah, not every other manuscript in the Bible.

            The vast majority of historical/textual scholars of the New Testament agree that 2nd Peter is among the pseudepigrapha (not actually written by Peter) for many reasons, perhaps the most glaring of which is that 1st century fishermen from Galilee were illiterate speakers of Aramaic, not literate speakers of Greek. However, even if you credit the writer, we don’t know what the word “scripture” entails for him. Certainly he favored some of Paul’s writings, though we don’t know which ones, and we have no idea what he means by “other” scriptures.

            As for 2nd Timothy (which, like Peter, is considered pseudepigrapha by most scholars), the writer makes no reference to any particular “scripture”, though he certainly can’t mean the New Testament, because most of the New Testament hadn’t even been written yet! Contextually, he is talking about the “sacred writings” Timothy had known since childhood, presumably the Torah, so when apologists try to argue that 2nd Timothy 3:16 is referring to the inspiration of the New Testament, it is an egregious case of taking a biblical passage completely out of context.

            The fact that something might be called “scripture” or “prophecy” in a biblical text says very little about our modern creeds of inerrancy. Even then, when “scripture” is referenced, there is only a portion of the biblical text we can be sure that the writer is talking about, and this is vital, because there were many “prophecies”, “gospels”, “epistles” and other sacred writings floating about before and after the first century that were never included in the canon established by Christians centuries later.

          • Dan Jensen

            The idea that I am going to be able to give a solid defense of the vast amount of evidence for inerrancy on a comment thread is ridiculous. I have provided to you the basic historical case which you can certainly research yourself. And you are confusing canonical questions with the biblical case for inerrancy, those are two very separate questions and you cannot overlap them the way you do. If we are going to agree at the outset that the Bible is in some sense inspired and authoritative then when we look at its testimony it clearly points to inerrancy and those texts do indeed prove that. If you want to question all of them on canonical grounds that is a completely separate argument. Those texts demonstrate that we are not to accept any thing as having any more than a human authority if it is not prophetic. So if certain books of the Bible are not prophetic they should not be canonical. And if the books of the Bible are prophetic then they must be inerrant because as those passages make very clear to be prophetic is to have the very words of God spoken through you. How do those texts not establish that??

            And Paul never spells out any doctrine of the faith in a systematic fashion. Even Romans, which is the most systematic book in the Bible never spells out any doctrine in every detail, not even justification. I don’t know anyone who would honestly disagree with me on that point, conservative, moderate, neo-orthodox, or otherwise. Hence, given that fact, it is completely erroneous to demand of inerrancy what is never demanded of any other doctrine.

            As far as the historical evidence I gave you if you want something specific I would start with F.F. Bruce’s “Are the New Testament Documents Reliable?” Bruce is a first rate scholar and makes the historical case very, very clear. There are problems here and there with the book in my estimation and it alone certainly does not prove inerrancy, but again to ask that of me is quite a stretch.

          • Hi Dan,

            I didn’t ask you for a solid defense. I asked for an example of the “tons of outside evidence” of Biblical inerrancy. You haven’t provided any at all.

            You believe that Paul “never spells out any doctrine of the faith” and “don’t know anyone who would honestly disagree” with you?

            One thing to notice about the verses you listed. Almost none of them are self-referential. Most, in talking about prophetic speech, law, or scripture, are not referring to themselves.

            If you are positing the belief that the bible is inerrant, then it is you who have brought up the canon, not I. What is the bible, if not a canon of manuscripts established by Christians of the 4th century? Discussions of “inerrancy” always involve the canon – have you read much on this topic?

            Yes, I’m familiar with F.F. Bruce. If you were to list top biblical scholars around the world, you’ll find them on both sides of the “inerrancy” divide, but most do not subscribe to Bruce. In any case, it’s certainly not a matter that is easily settled.

          • Dan Jensen

            First of all, I hate every time I have to do this, but almost every time I comment on progressive blogs my knowledge on these subjects is questioned which is terribly frustrating because it is usually not long before I can tell that most of those commenting are quite ignorant of the issues. But I have two Masters degrees in theology and I am planning to pursue my PhD in theology very soon as well. So yes I have read plenty on these subjects. That in no way automatically makes me right or anything like that, but let us get past any notions that I am ignorant of these topics.

            Of course the two topics are very interrelated, but in a technical category sense they are always treated separately. You knew exactly what I was talking about when I said “Bible” (the traditional Protestant Bible) and the challenge was to present evidence that the Bible teaches inerrancy and I did that. You then tried to dodge that by arguing about the canon and that would have been ruled out of court in any higher theology class right away, trust me.

            I never said Paul does not spell out doctrine, you took me completely out of context there. I said he never does so in a systematic fashion. No knowledgeable theologian or scholar would disagree with me there, not Enns or anyone else, again, trust me.

            And you are the one who really seems to portray a lack of knowledge on many of these topics. The full and formal canon was not established until the fourth century (although even that is not entirely correct as the Apocrypha continued to be debated for centuries and individual texts are still debated to this day), but basic canons which essentially correspond to our current canon were present from the outset.

            And it really doesn’t matter if a number of scholars agree on something, that does not decide truth. There was at one time a scholarly consensus in the western world that women and other races were inferior, but they were wrong. This does not mean we can dismiss the knowledge and credentials of scholars, but when they advocate nonsense based on erroneous philosophical principles we must reject them.

            And Bruce is really not out of the mainstream on almost anything that he says, it is his interpretations of the data that many do not like. But that dislike stems from philosophical bias against miracles which are ruled out of court from the beginning and that is philosophical rubbish. The evidence in favor of the fact that Jesus existed, claimed to be God, proved that claim to be true, and believed in the OT which clearly teaches the inerrancy of Scripture is there whether you want to believe me or not. I gave you a reference and I can give you more if would be more specific about what area you want to focus on. But any piece of concrete evidence I give you will be rather meaningless apart from the whole picture and so to keep insisting on that is a just a distraction.

            I provided with an overview of the historical case which you can investigate as there is no way that I could begin to address that in a comment thread, many texts which do prove inerrancy despite the dodges, and in other comments I have spoken to the historical arguments about how inerrancy has always been the traditional understanding of the church. That is a lot of evidence for a comment thread. If we want to narrow down any one of these topics I could get more specific, but you would need to tell me where you would want me to start.

            As far as those texts not being self-referential, that utterly misses the point. The original challenge was to provide evidence that the Bible itself testifies to the doctrine of inerrancy and I did that. If you want to say that any book or passage is not canonical fine, I will argue that on other grounds. But if you accept the authority of just about any book of the Bible it presupposes the authority of the Pentateuch and the strongest passages on the subject come from that body of books and thus establish that the only inherently authoritative books for God’s people are those that are prophetic and if a book is prophetic it is inerrant. If you want to question the authority of the Pentateuch fine, I will argue that on other grounds, but that was not the challenge that was given to me and so to pretend that it was is just an attempt to get around the very clear texts that I presented.

          • Hi Dan

            I certainly never meant to imply that you were ignorant on these matters, but you must also forgive me if I don’t just “trust you”, on every point you make in this reply.

            I not sure what you’re implying when you say, “You knew exactly what I was talking about when I said ‘Bible'”. Yes, I did know what you meant – never implied that I didn’t. I don’t think I ONLY talked about canon issues when I discussed your arguments for inerrancy – I wasn’t trying to “dodge” anything.

            You say “I never said Paul does not spell out doctrine, you took me completely out of context there. I said he never does so in a systematic fashion.” So “systematic fashion” is the edge that makes all theologians agree with you. I think you have a habit of overstating your case. Paul spells out doctrines far more clearly than “inerrancy” could ever be construed to be spelled out in biblical documents.

            I never accused you of ignorance, though you don’t seem to be above that sort of rhetoric – “And you are the one who really seems to portray a lack of knowledge on many of these topics.” I’m familiar with canon history, but thank you for your little summary.

            I wasn’t as dismissive of Bruce as you seem to be of other scholars. I was only making the point that the question of “inerrancy” does not carry scholarly consensus on either side.

            Now, you were quite careful to explain to me that I was conflating two issues by relating questions of canon to questions of inerrancy. But you are conflating historicity and inerrancy when you say “The evidence in favor of the fact that Jesus existed, claimed to be God, proved that claim to be true, and believed in the OT which clearly teaches the inerrancy of Scripture is there whether you want to believe me or not.” I’m not sure whether you’re referencing N.T. Wright’s tomes on resurrection or some other scholar’s work, but evidence of the historicity of Jesus is not at all the same thing as evidence of the inerrancy of the Bible. And to quote you, “No knowledgeable theologian or scholar would disagree with me there, not Enns or anyone else, again, trust me.”

            You also conflate authority with inerrancy in your last paragraph. I accept that there are passages that discuss the authority and inspiration of the words of prophets. I do not accept that these verses are about written manuscripts. And that even if you extend the context of such verses to include Old Testament prophets, such an extension has no bearing on the inerrancy of the New Testament.

            Listen, I’m not questioning that you haven’t read scholars who agree with you. So have I. But you can’t pretend that my rejection of inerrancy is not also embraced by numerous scholars. Your frustration with me is quite unwarranted.

          • Dan Jensen

            This will be my last post in this thread as I am very ready to move on. Hence, I will give you the last word and I also cannot respond to everything you touched upon but that should not be interpreted as me being unable to respond to anything.

            At one point you very clearly did imply my ignorance when you asked if I had even read very much on the history of the canon. And no I don’t at all expect you to just trust me, but sometimes when it comes to exceedingly detailed and complex topics all that can be said about them in a comment thread is that what people are saying is just not true and people should look into the matter for themselves.

            Yes, the systematic aspect is huge. The NT everywhere implies and presupposes inerrancy and all you and others can do to challenge this is to point out that the doctrine is never presented in a formal or systematic fashion and I made it clear that this is a ridiculous expectation.

            I’ve already said that in the final analysis the opinions of scholars do not determine truth. They should be considered, but they do not determine truth, so it matters not that you have some that support you and some that don’t. The point is what does the evidence say, not a scholar or scholars interpretation of that evidence which are usually based largely upon philosophical rather than purely historical assumptions.

            I was conflating nothing. I made it clear that I am not simply asserting some bland historicity of Jesus, but again, that the evidence proves and establishes that He existed, claimed to be God, proved that claim to be true, and believed in the authority of the OT. That proves that He is God and if God says that the OT is authoritative then it is in fact authoritative. If the OT teaches inerrancy, which it does as I have shown, then inerrancy is true. Hence, if the NT documents are prophetic they are inerrant, if they are not prophetic then they don’t belong in the canon and in fact to put them there would be blasphemous.

            I do have the right to be somewhat frustrated and impatient as you continually fail to really address the very basic points that I am making. Those OT texts do have a bearing on the NT for the reasons I have repeatedly stated, namely they prove that non-prophetic books do not belong in the canon and that prophetic books are inerrant. Hence, if at the outset someone says that they believe in the basic Protestant canon they cannot then turn around and deny inerrancy in any coherent fashion. If someone wants to question the Protestant canon, fine, but again, that is a separate canonical question that can be decided by the evidence.

            You presented two challenges to me and I addressed them both separately and at every point you have attempted to answer me by blending and confusing those challenges. If you wanted to only stick to canonical questions and establishing the inerrancy of the Bible on independent grounds, fine, we could have done that. But the second challenge was to provide evidence within the Bible itself that it teaches that Scripture (the question of what is Scripture [the Protestant Bible] and what is not [everything outside of the Protestant Bible] is already answered by implication by the very nature of the challenge) is inerrant and I gave you that evidence. To say that those texts do not directly address which books of the Bible are Scripture utterly and completely misses the point.

          • I’m sorry that you think I “fail to address the very basic points that [you] are making.” Unfortunately, I disagree. Putting aside questions of canon, the verses you have cited do not refer to prophetic literature or texts that include prophetic literature, they clearly refer to the spoken words of prophets. Therefore the verses you cite in no way support the inerrancy of the Bible. The Bible, as a text, is not the subject or context of the verses you have cited.

            You are returning to your other claim that there is “tons of outside evidence” for inerrancy, but are now qualifying that as evidence “that [Jesus] existed, claimed to be God, proved that claim to be true, and believed in the authority of the OT.”, but even with this qualification you can’t seem to cite any actual outside evidence. And even if you were to cite what scant evidence there is for Jesus’ existence outside the New Testament (such as Tacitus’s reference to the crucifixion), I can’t imagine what you would present as outside evidence that Jesus proved a claim to be God (much less “tons of outside evidence”).

          • Andrew Dowling

            “there is tons of outside evidence and the Bible repeatedly asserts that the Bible is inerrant”

            That is simply and categorically not true.

          • Dan Jensen

            Wow, fantastic argumentation, I’m truly impressed.

          • Andrew Dowling

            No fantastic argumentation needed. The Bible does not repeatedly call itself inerrant, nor is there outside evidence of the “original manuscripts” being inerrant, so the onus is on the person claiming the contrary.

          • Dan Jensen

            The traditional position of the church has always been inerrancy and so the onus is squarely on you guys. And for a comment section I have provided ample evidence, I cannot fully document the case for inerrancy here and to expect me to do so is absurd, plain and simple. But what I can do is tell people who are willing to listen that what is said on this website and others is not true and encourage them to research for themselves the case for inerrancy. This is not futile or a case of making empty assertions as has been repeatedly said to me because often lay people who have not studied the issue are often told that we believe this merely by “faith” without any evidence and are often shocked when people challenge them to actually look at the evidence, but again, I cannot present a full case here, this is a comment section.

        • Walter

          When God accommodates to an incorrect human point of view, is that an error of God or is he merely making sure we can understand him?

          • Dan Jensen

            God by His very nature can never accommodate Himself to anything incorrect, He corrects our misunderstandings.

          • Walter

            Well, he obviously did not correct the non-heliocentric ideas that the Israelites had; he did not correct the authors of Daniel and Revelations that the kingdom was very imminent

          • Dan Jensen

            It is Revelation, not Revelations. The fact that the Kingdom of God is imminent in that it can burst on the scene very soon at any given period of history in no way means that it has to literally come very soon; the point of the many “near” passages is to tell us to be ready. And any language that may seem heliocentric to us need not be taken so literally as the Hebrews wrote in a very poetic manner. There is no text in that regard that is so explicit that it has to be interpreted in a heliocentric fashion from a scientific perspective.

          • Walter

            Your understanding of Daniel / Revelation comes pretty close to my understanding. Your starting point is however quite different, I still would like to argue that those authors were wrong in picturing the coming of God’s kingdom imminently.
            In regards to the geocentric vs heliocentric: if I understand you correctly you want me to read all verses that point to a geocentric view as poetry, but probably you want me to read Genesis 1 as historical? Sorry, it just gets confusing.

          • Dan Jensen

            No, not necessarily. I am a conservative evangelical and not a fundamentalist and there is a vast difference despite those two camps despite how often the opposite is asserted. If Genesis warrants a poetic reading I’m all for it. But I’m just not convinced at present that this is the best reading of Genesis, but that is an exegetical argument that is worth having. But the texts on inerrancy are just too many and too clear despite what is so strenuously stated on the site.

          • Walter

            OK, fair enough answer.
            I myself see too many inconsistencies in the Bible to hold on to the traditional understanding of inerrancy, However, with all these inconsistencies, the Bible still has authority over us and we will need to find what God wanted to say when He accommodated. I think your explanation of the imminent coming of God’s kingdom in Daniel/Revelation is an excellent example of such thinking. Inconsistencies do not make the Bible worthless / without authority.

    • Chaprich

      No the position of the Church has always been that Scripture is inspired and authoritative in its witness to Jesus Christ. What early church fathers, mystics, Protestant reformers used the word “inerrant” or cognate to describe doctrine of Scripture? Inerrancy was not a concept until the fundamentalist/modernist controversy of the 1920’s.

      • Dan Jensen

        This simply is not true and it is so frustrating that this is so constantly asserted when it is so very easily refuted. Many theologians and Church Fathers did not use specific words that were later coined by church teachers who nonetheless taught the same doctrine. How many authorities used the term homoousious before it became predominant at Nicea? Almost none; in fact it was considered heretical by many because it was seen as to close to Sabellianism.

        So no the term “inerrant” wasn’t used but implicit (and by implicit I don’t mean a possible inference but an absolutely necessary inference) and explicit statements to the effect that the entire Bible is without error abound. In fact Aquinas makes passing references to this fact on a few occasions in the Summa without even expounding on it or defending it because it was so presupposed by the medieval church. The idea that the doctrine is a modern invention is simply rubbish, and I mean that with all respect. The denial of inerrancy is the absolute novelty and knowledgeable liberals have consistently admitted this. No one attempted to deny this doctrine while still trying to be a part of the mainstream church until the 1600’s and even then only be very few until the Enlightenment.

        • Chaprich

          I need examples with citations, generalizations will not do. I find it interesting that none of the ecumenical creeds make reference to doctrines of Scripture.

          • Dan Jensen

            First, there is nothing notable about it, confessions and creeds only deal with issues as they arise and during the times of the ecumenical creeds the inerrancy of Scripture was presupposed by all. Before NIcea, no creed directly asserted the deity of Christ; does this mean it was not believed or was not the position of the church before then? Such would be historically insane to assert.

            Second, I would be beyond thrilled to send this to you as I love showing to people just how revisionist the modern denial of inerrancy is, not because I love winning an argument or anything like that, but not only because it is so important but as a historian I hate all forms of historical revisionism (terrible grammar I know, but I’m rushing).

            However, such would need to be very long to do the task and so I would prefer to send that to you as a document attached to an email and we could have a much more fruitful and extensive discussion on the subject through email than a comment thread as well. My email is Please email me and let me know if this is what you want me to do and I will get that document to you as soon as I can. Thanks man.

          • Dan Jensen

            My offer still very much stands as this is one of the easiest things to defend.

          • Chaprich
          • Dan Jensen

            Awesome, I will get that to you by the end of the week. Thanks man.

    • Chris

      Let me fix that for you: “I’m scared of all these ideas because they’re different from what I am comfortable believing. Here are some groundless assertions about why you’re evil for not agreeing with me.”

      • Dan Jensen

        I was not raised in a Christian home and so I had no bias towards inerrancy when I was first saved. You know nothing about me and so to make personal accusations is quite wrong. So far on this site I’ve been called a liar, scared, a slanderer (calling people evil for not agreeing with me), and one who asserts things without proof. All quite ridiculous and unfair because I have never at any point attacked anyone personally which is quite ironic because so often the other side portrays my side as the judgmental ones.

        • Chris

          I’m sorry to have been overly hostile, but I am remarkably unsympathetic to your point of view after people adopting your views have attempted to destroy just about everything I love. Still, let me try to break down your post and why it brought out such a response.

          1) Who says the Bible is the revealed word of God? You? On what grounds? As far as I am concerned, the Bible is the testimony of humans, especially Jews and Christians, on how they relate to God.

          2) Supposing that the Bible is God’s word and that it is 100% true, then shouldn’t we be able to discern truth in other areas without worrying that it will contradict the Bible? After all, if the Bible is true, then it doesn’t matter what evidence you present; nothing will contradict it. The problem is that most new evidence *does* contradict such things.

          3) People use your stance to marginalize and mistreat thousands if not millions of Christians who are seeking a broader understanding of their faith. The primary means by which they do this is through fearmongering like that which you use in your last paragraph: “if we are going to throw out inerrancy on those grounds we have to throw out all doctrine.” What justifies this all-or-nothing outlook? It is simply inconceivable to you that there could be doctrine without inerrancy, but the simple fact is that there can be, because there is.

          • Dan Jensen

            Thank you for the much kinder response. We are not trying to destroy the things people love just for the sake of it in any sick sense. But just because you or I or anyone loves something does not thereby make it right and not in need of destruction.

            As to your points, I cannot here give a full defense of inerrancy as I have repeatedly said. The case is vast from a philosophical, biblical, theological, and historical point of view. All I can do is tell people that what is so often stated on this site isn’t true and that people should investigate things further for themselves and try to refute minor points here and there where possible. But no I don’t believe the Bible is the word of God just because.

            As to the second point, I am not afraid of things contradicting the Bible and so I’m not sure how you want me to respond to that.

            As to the third point, many Christians do bad things, but that in no way disproves the doctrines of Christians. And if by marginalization you simply mean that we draw a line in the sand when it comes to orthodoxy, then on that point we are simply following Christ and you will have to take that up with Him.

          • Chris

            So do my different (and very well-supported) beliefs make me “dangerous” enough that you should need to try to keep away from me the woman I love? It has happened TWICE, the second of which was thankfully not successful. Does it mean you should stab me in the back and betray my friendship? Does it mean you should kick me out of the community into which I poured my life?

            I mention these things because they happened. They happened to me, and they continue to happen to other people. They cost people jobs, families, friendships, and so forth. It is not just a few people who do bad things; it is a systematic problem within conceptions of religion that involve maintaining boundaries over seeking truth.

            I do not care to hear reasons for an “inerrant” Bible when its errors are clear to me: it’s demonstrably wrong about gays (they do not “trade what is natural”), it supports views hostile to women, the Old Testament supports slavery, etc. There is no sort of mental gymnastics you can do to get around a clear modus tollens argument (i.e. “If the Bible is inerrant, it will not have errors. The Bible has errors; therefore, it is not innerrant.”)

            All that said, it is still an important testament of the Jews and Christians who encountered God.

          • Dan Jensen

            Your belief that the Bible has errors and is a mere testament of Jews and Christians who encountered God is not well supported at all, in fact, the evidence is decidedly against it.

            I’m sorry that people have hurt you, including many Christians, but that is beside the point. Liberals and many others have hurt me and liberals often try to shove their views down our throats and so it goes both ways. Both sides should be more cautious, but at the end of the day we have to where the evidence leads us.

            And almost everything you said was very anthropocentric, but we should be theocentric. The Bible is not only concerned with basic ethics, it takes orthodoxy very, very seriously. I know on these blogs people like me are often accused of taking orthodoxy too seriously, but I honestly struggle as to whether or not I take it seriously enough. I think often I am too nice and too polite compared to the way in which the prophets, apostles, and godly people of old fought against error as we see in the Bible. Heresy and error are grave sins, not simply no big deal mistakes. Hence, if in certain instances these sins cost people that is God’s justice. We should never seek out to hurt people and we should never get any gleeful delight when seeing others suffer consequences, but at the same time, God does bring His consequences.

          • Chris

            I think you are meaning a different thing when you say “evidence” than I do. If you mean “many ancient people thought this way around the time of the founding/canonization/etc.,” then I simply don’t care. That’s not evidence; that’s just history.

            Evidence in this case is going to take the form of the ability of the Bible to make accurate predictions about that which it intends to teach. As such, since it attempts to teach morality in a number of areas, it is quite apparently not inerrant — for reasons such as its statements on gays, on slaveholding, treatment of other nations, treatment of women, etc.

          • Dan Jensen

            Nope, I mean real evidence and it is overwhelming and it does not appear you have looked into that evidence at all. History demonstrates that Christ claimed to be God, proved that claim to be true through His miracles, life, and teachings, and that He believed in the authority of the OT. From that we can then prove that the entire Bible is God’s word and thus inerrant.

            The Bible says that we are to love all people including homosexuals, but that homosexuality is wrong and that makes sense as God clearly created male and female to be distinguished and to come together in marriage for the purpose of love, fellowship, and procreation.

            Slavery is always presented in the Bible as only permissible as a punishment and is therefore perfectly reasonable. The Bible calls the nations to be blessed by God and when God cursed nations it was only after hundreds of years of horrible brutality. You should actually read what some of those nations were actually like before you presumptuously judge God’s wisdom.

            The Bible presents women as completely equal to men, but that there are differences between the sexes that should be maintained and that is in accord with common sense.

            Hence, you have in no way disproved inerrancy.

          • Chris

            Point me to this “evidence” you speak of. This sounds a lot like “Case for Christ” or perhaps “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” or some other such apologetic nonsense (the entire field of apologetics is nonsense). Care to point me to any of this “evidence”?

            If you accept that the gospels are a historical record, then of course there is “evidence” that Jesus “claimed to be God, proved that claim to be true through His miracles, life, and teachings,” etc. But it’s not a historical record. That’s the fatal assumption of the apologists you follow.

            Anyhow, there’s no real discussion here; the case is solved. There is no such thing as inerrancy. The only thing that remains is a series of people insisting that it exists without any real proof. And surely there is much pietistic sentiment around it, hence its longevity.

          • Dan Jensen

            You can dismiss inerrancy, apologetics, and the historicity of the gospels all you want, but that means absolutely nothing. There is not a single reputable scholar that would dismiss the gospels as historical documents in a complete manner, thus showing your near complete ignorance of the topic, which in turn demonstrates your arrogance in making such dogmatic statements when you do not actually know what you’re talking about.

            As far as the evidence is concerned, the gospels give numerous signs that the authors were taking great pains to be historically accurate and if you had any knowledge of historiography and historical analysis you would understand this. The gospels do not portray the Apostles in a very favorable light despite the fact that the Apostles were heroes in the early church. The gospels do not display a fanciful tone, even with all of the miracle stories. There is great variation between them. In Mark, we have a reference to someone running away naked, which again seems rather odd to include if one is simply prattling out mythology. Jesus often comes off harsh and difficult to understand. The places described are generally considered to be accurate by most scholars. And women are said to be the ones who first came to Christ’s tomb and believed in His resurrection.

            All of these factors point strongly in the direction that the authors were trying their best to be accurate writers as they described the ministry of Christ. Most scholars don’t dispute this fact, but simply believe that their genuine beliefs were tainted by oral tradition and other factors. Most dismiss the miracles not on historical grounds but on philosophical grounds, grounds which I would strongly challenge.

            Because of these factors almost all scholars agree, even the most liberal and skeptical, that Jesus existed, that He claimed to be the Jewish Messiah, that He accepted the authority of the OT, that He was an extremely dynamic and controversial figure, that He did things that certainly seemed to be miraculous, that He was crucified by the Romans, and that something happened after His death that led many to believe He had been resurrected. These are the historical facts my friend.

            From this we can conclude that either Jesus was indeed the Messiah, or that He was deluded, or that He was a blatant liar. The problem with the latter two positions is that Jesus said and did things that in no way seem to be the actions of a liar or someone who was not all there. Even liberal scholars have a very high view of Jesus for the most part based on what is almost universally accepted about Him. Furthermore, even if we were for the sake of argument to accept the latest and most skeptical dates for the gospels, that would still put Mark at the very least within the first century which would still be in the lifetime of many who saw and heard Christ. And this would put Q even earlier than that. Hence, it is inexplicable that he (or the author of Q) would be so bold as to put so many incredible stories about Christ in his gospel if they were complete myths. Too many people could discredit them. And if Mark (or the author of Q) was just blatantly lying why would he include so many other things that would not be favorable to his case for Jesus? If it is argued that Mark and/or the author of Q were not lying but were simply re-telling the miracle stories which they genuinely believed in that had been passed down earlier in the church, this only puts the miracle stories earlier in church history making their legendary character all the more difficult to explain.

            The most notable problem with the dismissal of Christ’s miracles is in regard to the resurrection. The idea that the early church just completely made this up is simply untenable and almost no scholar believes this. It could have too easily been discredited and there is little to no evidence that it was discredited as is the case with Joseph Smith’s many fanciful claims for example. Hence, a number of skeptical theories have been advanced which simply do not add up at all. In fact, most read like the many lame conspiracy theories that are found all over the internet today in regard to just about every ridiculous subject under the sun.

            The four most prominent theories are the conspiracy theory, the swoon theory, the hallucination theory, and the wrong tomb theory. The conspiracy theory states that either the body was moved by the authorities, the body was stolen by the Apostles, that Jesus faked His death, or something along these lines. But this theory has never been able to remotely show how any of this caused anyone involved in the conspiracy any gain. And many versions of it do not explain why the early church not only said that Jesus was gone, but that He had been visibly seen by many.

            The swoon theory is perhaps the most absurd. Even if Christ had survived He would have been covered in wounds and barely able to walk if at all. The idea that anyone would have believed that He had been gloriously raised from the dead is actually quite laughable.

            The hallucination theory does not take into account the fact that the gospels consistently state that Jesus was not immediately recognizable. This hardly seems like something that the gospel authors would make up as it comes off as a rather confusing and bizarre point in the gospels and can only be understood after some theological reflection. And when people hallucinate about lost loved ones they do not in the main see them in an unrecognizable state.

            The wrong tomb theory is about as absurd as the swoon theory. The women were not stupid and even if they had gone to the wrong tomb that does not explain the many appearances of Christ.

            At every point the only plausible explanation is that Christ was truly raised from the dead and that He performed bona fide miracles which authenticated His claim to being the Jewish Messiah. Hence, He was and is the Jewish Messiah. A close examination of the OT demonstrates that the Messiah would be God in the flesh. Therefore, if Jesus claimed to be the Jewish Messiah and accepted the authority of the OT, His claim to Messiahship was an implicit claim to deity even if it is argued that He didn’t understand this implicit claim. But Christ’s words, actions, miracles, and resurrection all prove that He fully understood what He was saying and that He proved His claims to be true. Hence, He was and is God. If He is God then the authority of the OT must be accepted. The OT teaches inerrancy, therefore inerrancy is true.

            I do not fully accept the apologists that you cite and you should not assume anything about me given your limited knowledge of me. Both of those apologists are evidentialists and do not discuss the philosophical side to the apologetic case for Christianity enough. But once the philosophical side is discussed the case is filled out and becomes unassailable.

            I know that I wrote a lot, but I only scratched the surface here. If you or anyone else wants to point out how ridiculous it is for me to write so much in a comment thread, something that is often done when I comment on blogs, all I can say is that I have said repeatedly that I cannot fully address these issues in such a format, but that doesn’t mean I cannot point out when people are saying things that simply are not true. But because I have been so pressed on this point I felt I had no choice.

          • Chris

            Where did I dismiss the miracles of Christ as not existing? Or where did I say the gospels are totally devoid of history? I said they’re not historical documents, but they have history in them. They are each a different take on existing traditions in order to argue a particular theological point.

            It would do you well to forget everything an apologist has ever told you. It makes you unnecessarily confident about things that simply aren’t true. Anyhow, I’ve no interest in refitting a long string of apologetic nonsense and boundary-drawing, so you can take your arguments elsewhere to someone who cares.

          • Dan Jensen

            You should honestly listen to yourself bro. I should forget everything any apologist ever told me because it is all nonsense simply because you dogmatically say so. That my friend is the nonsense. And I never accept anything anyone says in a complete sense simply because he or she says it. I am critical of all presentations.

            I never said you dismissed the miracles of Christ, so don’t misrepresent me. But you asked for the evidence and the miracles play a crucial role in that evidence and so they were discussed. As far as dismissing the historicity of the gospels, I am sorry if I misread you there, but anyone can read the second paragraph of your previous comment and see how misleading it was.

            There is no question that each gospel author had a specific theological agenda, but the fact is that they all present the same Jesus and that they give us a faithful historical record of His ministry. To say that the gospels are not historical documents is one of the most blatant cases of pointing out the obvious that I’ve ever seen. In the ancient world they did not write historical documents in the manner that historians do today. So of course they are not stinking historical documents!!! But if we applied that reasoning to the ancient world we could never gain any history from that period. You clearly understand this and so you admit that the gospels do have history in them. But you seem oblivious to the fact that this is a huge admission along with the admission that Christ did in fact perform miracles. Once those two things are conceded the foundation for my case is laid and the rest follows as a matter of course.

            If there is anything that is historical it is that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. If Jesus claimed to be the Messiah and proved this claim to be true through His miracles then He is in fact God and all that He says must be believed. And what is also historical if anything at all can be considered historical from the gospels is that Jesus accepted the authority of the OT. Hence, the OT must be accepted as to its basic teachings. One of those basic teachings is inerrancy. Hence, Jesus believed in inerrancy and thus inerrancy is true. Period. End of story. You can dismiss this line of logic as just a string of apologetic nonsense, but that in no way takes away from the case.

            As far as boundary-drawing, you are drawing boundary lines just as much as I am. We all do that unless we have no convictions at all. Your first comment to me drew a very strong boundary line in the sand. So stop with the hypocritical and unfair statements. You can say you don’t care all you want and if you don’t respond, fine, I will move on, but I think you care a great deal. If you didn’t care you would not have responded to me in the first place. I think you just don’t like the consequences of the argument and felt confident that I would be unable to defend myself. When that didn’t turn out to be the case you decided to mock and run. But that’s fine, your actions essentially prove my points.

            At the end of the day it seems to me that it is you who is unwilling to look at the evidence regardless of where it leads because it is uncomfortable. So allow me to help you out and summarize what I think you are basically trying to say:

            “I’m scared of all these ideas because they’re different from what I am comfortable believing. Here are some groundless assertions about why you’re evil for not agreeing with me.”

          • Andrew Dowling

            “If Jesus claimed to be the Messiah and proved this claim to be true through His miracles then He is in fact God”

            You just flunked Judaism 101. The Messiah was never equated to God. And it’s a matter of great debate among scholars whether Jesus even declared himself the Messiah. He certainly never says it in a public setting in the earliest Gospel Mark.

            “And what is also historical if anything at all can be considered historical from the gospels is that Jesus accepted the authority of the OT.”

            The modern evangelical concept of “the inerrant authority of the OT” didn’t exist in Jesus’s time. For starters, the Scriptures were transmitted primarily through oral sharing and not reading a text. In addition, different schools of Jewish thought debated frequently what the Scriptures meant, and the differences could be significant. Just look at some of the differences between the House of Hillel and Beit Shammai.

            “One of those basic teachings is inerrancy. Hence, Jesus believed in inerrancy and thus inerrancy is true.”

            This is just all sorts of incorrect. No, no, and no.

          • Dan Jensen

            Your inability to follow a very simple, straightforward argument is somewhat staggering and I’m genuinely not trying to be rude or harsh. I never ever said that Judaism believed that the Messiah would be God, I’m quite aware that it did not and that is precisely why Jesus was despised and given over to crucifixion. I said that the OT makes it clear that the Messiah would be God; the fact that Judaism had so badly strayed from the OT was a point that Jesus constantly pounded home.

            And you are being terribly misleading about Christ’s claim to Messiahship and you know it. The debate is over whether or not He made that claim explicitly. Yes, there are many scholars who assert that He did not make it explicitly, but that His words and actions did implicitly make the claim and in a comment thread I was simply summarizing that point.

            And the doctrine of inerrancy was absolutely the doctrine of Judaism at the time of Christ, and many liberals have admitted that. But even if it wasn’t, that in no way affects my case as what the OT clearly teaches and what Judaism taught are by no means the same thing.

            And the fact that there were many different schools of interpretation within Judaism at the time of Christ is also thoroughly irrelevant to this discussion. Again, there was a basic canon that was almost universally accepted within Judaism at the time of Christ and it is clear that Christ accepted that canon. And even if the case is attempted that there was no uniform canon, there simply is no debate that all Jews at that time accepted the Pentateuch and that Christ also accepted the Pentateuch. And inerrancy can be derived from the Pentateuch alone. The fact that Judaism badly interpreted much of the Pentateuch along with a great deal of the OT is on them and Jesus made that very clear to them.

            So no, no, no, it is you that is all sorts of incorrect and the doctrine of inerrancy is left untouched by your many attempts to knock it down.

          • Andrew Dowling

            “I said that the OT makes it clear that the Messiah would be God”

            Ugh, but it doesn’t

            “but that His words and actions did implicitly make the claim”

            Having the power to work miracles and forgive sins showed one was an emissary of the divine, but not God.

            “And the doctrine of inerrancy was absolutely the doctrine of Judaism at the time of Christ, and many liberals have admitted that”

            Again, no it wasn’t and who are these “liberals” who admit it? No scholar of any note whatsoever will say 2nd Temple Jews held a view of inerrancy of Scripture.

            I don’t know where you are getting your information from . . an apologist website, your youth pastor, whatever, but it’s simply inaccurate. Read non-apologetic scholarship and open your eyes.

          • Dan Jensen

            First of all, I have two Master’s degrees, one from the University of Aberdeen in theology, one of the best theological institutes in the world. I will also be starting my PhD soon. I have spent hours upon hours reading material from conservative, moderate, and liberal (sometimes extremely liberal) theologians, historians, and scholars for the past thirteen years. So you can take all the patronizing nonsense and knock it off. And if you are as well read as you say you would think that you could work your way through basic argumentation without constant misrepresentation and insults, but so far you have shown an absolute inability to do this.

            I am not some mindless drone fundamentalist. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home and when I first came to faith I had little to no bias in any particular theological direction. And I didn’t simply follow the first schools of thought that were presented to me either. I first started attending a mega-church with Dispensational/Baptist theology and I am now a conservative Presbyterian. I then went to Bible college at a Pentecostal school and was very open to what they had to say, but in the end I was unconvinced. For a time I became very interested in Roman Catholicism because of its claims to antiquity which for a time I found very convincing, but in the end there were just too many problems. I followed the evidence where it took me. And there are countless problems with my theological school of thought, but my years of academic training have taught me that there is no position without its problems and that this is simply part of this fallen world. But we have to go where the evidence is definitive even with all of its very real attendant problems.

            So no I am not some naive fundamentalist teenager receiving his information from his youth pastor and I think if you had read my posts you would know that this is the case. And I find it so ironic that on liberal to semi-liberal blogs I am always having to state my credentials, something I rarely have to do on other blogs because the stereotype is always that as a conservative evangelical I must be stupid, uneducated, and basically a mindless follower. But then I usually thoroughly refute the other side to the point that people usually just get really angry. I have been banned from two websites even though I was always respectful.

            Even on this website there was one commenter that made sweeping statements and assumptions about me until I told him that I would email him a full rebuttal refuting his claims which I did and the rebuttal was so thorough and damning that the only thing he could say in response was thanks, I’ve heard nothing more and that was probably about a week ago.

            I cannot continue with these super long comments as they are just unable to bear the burden of addressing so many complex issues, but if you want me to address any specific topic in more depth over email I would be happy to do so. You can email me at

            The one thing I will do is address one of your sweeping statements so as to show anyone reading this comment how easily you can be refuted as to one of your key points which will suffice to show that despite the very bold claims that are so often made by liberals or semi-liberals in this forum that it is nevertheless almost always these people who are the ones that almost solely read those from their own perspective.

            You said that no scholar of note has ever said that ancient Judaism held to inerrancy, which simply isn’t true. As proof of this I point to Bruce Vawter who was a first rate scholar. If you want to dismiss him fine, but those reading this comment can research him to see that he was indeed an excellent scholar and that while he was not the most liberal guy out there, he was certainly liberal from a conservative evangelical perspective and he denied the doctrine of inerrancy. Despite this denial he stated categorically that, “It would be pointless to call into question that biblical inerrancy in a rather absolute form was a common persuasion from the beginning of Christian times, and from Jewish times before that. For both the Fathers and the rabbis generally, the ascription of any error to the Bible was unthinkable.”

          • Dan, generally the many PHD’s who interact on this blog don’t feel the need to parade their academic credentials around every time someone disagrees with them. Even when the disagreements are vehement.

          • Dan Jensen

            Anyone who knows me will tell you that I care very little about degrees. I got mine as tools, not for bragging rights, and I in no way believe they are absolutely mandatory for engaging in intellectual debate. My wife didn’t even graduate from high school, but she is one of the most well read and self-educated people I know.

            As I said in the comment itself if you had bothered to read it carefully, on most of the blogs I peruse I never have to bring up my credentials because my knowledge is rarely questioned and mocked. People for the most part actually stick to the substance of my arguments. But when I comment on liberal to semi-liberal blogs I am repeatedly mocked and told that I need to study more when in point of fact when we begin to dig deeper it often becomes clear to both parties that I have studied more than my accusers and that either they have misunderstood me or really didn’t know what they were talking about.

          • I’m sure you felt “mocked”; and you’re clearly not above doling out the same sort of mocking tone yourself as when you intimated that I had not “bothered to read it carefully”.

            I did read your comment carefully, and my response still stands. Parading your degrees (as you’ve already done twice on this post) does little to bolster your arguments.

          • Dan Jensen

            I have never ever mocked anyone on this forum or any other, but yes I will be firm when it is required and I never fault others for being firm with me when they feel that it is required. I was not mocking you, but I was making a valid point that the idea that I was parading my degrees is ridiculous and I defended that sufficiently whether or not you accept that defense.

            And I didn’t feel mocked, I was mocked and I have been insulted on a few occasions in this forum. But I’m very used to that by now. But stating my credentials is often necessary because so often I can barely get anywhere with people in these forums because they will just constantly berate me with statements such as, “you really need to actually read and study more instead of just believing what people have told you.” And the sad truth is that it works. People almost always back off, listen more carefully to what I have to say, and we can then begin to have more solid debates.

            And I have to ask why are so quick to come after me. Why didn’t you scold Mr. Dowling as he was being very condescending? In these forums I often point out to my allies that sometimes they argue in illegitimate ways. But I hardly ever see the other side do the same. I’m telling you, whether you want to hear this or not, the notion that conservative evangelicals are ignorant is so ingrained within the Liberal Protestant, Neo-Orthodox, and Progressive Christian worlds that it almost becomes a dogma. And I will challenge that dogma at all times even if it means I have to point to my degrees which is something I never enjoy doing.

            And look at our interaction. You at one point did assume that I hadn’t studied canonical issues. Why did you assume that? Would you have assumed that if I wasn’t a conservative evangelical? I’m sorry, but I highly, highly doubt it. So me pointing out my credentials and then correcting some of what you said about the canon greatly evened the playing field and forced you to not be so dismissive. That is why they were pointed out. It, unfortunately, often serves a very much needed purpose.

          • Sorry, but I see no difference between your online behavior and that of most anyone else on this forum. What you call condescension and assumption of ignorance, is just as well displayed by you in statements like this one:

            “There is not a single reputable scholar that would dismiss the gospels as historical documents in a complete manner, thus showing your near complete ignorance of the topic, which in turn demonstrates your arrogance in making such dogmatic statements when you do not actually know what you’re talking about.”

            You follow this statement with an argument for inerrancy that grossly overstates what “liberal” and “skeptical” scholars would agree to, and sets up a serious of complete strawman arguments to knock down. I’m afraid that citing your credentials does nothing to make me “back off”.

          • And I just have to smile at statements like this:

            “So me pointing out my credentials and then correcting some of what you said about the canon greatly evened the playing field and forced you to not be so dismissive.”

            In your imagination, perhaps. Nothing I said required “correction”, your overblown generalizations about what “scholars” concede, and what theology courses allow, only lead me to wonder how much you paid attention at school.

          • Dan Jensen

            First and foremost, I do wish to sincerely apologize if I have been too aggressive towards you. In retrospect you have been very respectful towards me and so that wasn’t cool of me and I ask for your forgiveness.

            I do ask that you understand that I have to have somewhat of an edge on these blogs because people really do bring so many assumptions in addressing me without really giving me a fair shake. I know you think that is in my head, but I think if you would take a step back and look at some of the things that were said to me you would see my point. That Andrew guy started out the gate by calling me a liar. That is totally uncool and that statement was eventually erased. Either he erased it or Enns erased it or someone else who monitors the blog erased it. But clearly I wasn’t the only one who realized it was out of bounds. And Chris started right out the gate by saying some extremely condescending comments for which he apologized later and I of course accepted his apology. So I really don’t think the comparison is fair. But I do admit that I was too edgy with you as I was just in that mode and that wasn’t cool.

            And please take this with respect as I really would like the tone of our discussion to take a different path as I think you are capable of it and I probably won’t be talking to Andrew anymore unless he emails me directly, but you did say some things about the canon which were not entirely accurate and that were somewhat misleading and I did point that out and at the time you seemed responsive. And I think you were being more dismissive than you realized by assuming so early on that I had not studied the canon very much. And I am sorry if I said it too harshly, but you really did present two separate challenges, but when I tried to answer each one you just kept trying to combine them.

            I never at any point presented any straw man arguments, but I am willing to admit that I got going too fast and probably didn’t clarify enough about the issue of Christ’s self-consciousness in regard to His Messianic claims. But my basic point still stands. It is impossible to conclude from the gospels’ witness that Christ did not see Himself as the Messiah and almost all conservative and moderate scholars not only concede this point, but ably defend it.

            And many liberal scholars believe that Jesus never made this explicit, but that He said and did things that indicated that He believed Himself to be the Messiah. I’m sure you are familiar with the Messianic Secret school of thought. And yes there are many liberal scholars that are somewhat gray on the question, but that nevertheless admit beyond doubt that Christ did certain things that most others readily see as actions that clearly reveal His Messianic consciousness.

            Yes there are fringe liberal scholars such as the Jesus Seminar that admit almost nothing traditional, but I just don’t take them that seriously and more and more neither do most other scholars. So in a broad sense, and that is usually all that can be asked for in scholarship, there is pretty close to a consensus that Christ claimed or at least understood Himself to be the Messiah.

            But my case does not solely rely on that. Leaving the liberal scholars aside, the evidence in favor of the basic historicity of the Bible is there and so the substance of their witness should be accepted regardless of what the liberal scholars say and when that witness is accepted it is impossible to deny the fact that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah.

            Now I know that I said I would give you the last word and I probably should have stuck to that, but I got some responses from Andrew and Chris that I felt I had to address, but now I honestly wish that I had stuck to my word. But because I re-opened the box I did look at your last comment to me from our previous discussion. And I think you are misunderstanding what I mean about outside evidence and I apologize if I didn’t clarify that properly, but you have to understand that while I have not been chastised for it here yet, I am often told that I write too much for comments and so I was trying to be as brief as possible.

            But with all of that said, I didn’t mean that the Bible was not a crucial part of the evidence. I simply meant outside of the Bible in the sense of not arguing from the Bible in a circular manner. But since the Bible is the very book in question it of course is central to the evidence. But my point is that when applying the basic standards of historiography and historical analysis to the gospels, it becomes readily apparent that they are quite accurate historically. So yes, the testimony of Tacitus and others is of course very valuable, but no it is not at all the only thing I am using. If the gospels are basically accurate then we can conclude that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, gave overwhelming evidence to back up His claim, and that He accepted the authority of the OT.

            Furthermore, it is immensely significant from a historical point of view that in Jewish tradition for the most part the miracles of Christ are not denied. He is usually only referred to as a magician or sorcerer which can hardly explain away the things Jesus said and did. This is all remarkable and is one of the key reasons that Jesus is the only founder of a major religion who had bona fide miracles attributed to Him within the same generation as His life. These are not just vain assertions, they are the historical facts.

            Yes, some liberal scholars dismiss them outright, but if they applied the same standards to other areas of history there would be hardly any history left. But most of these liberal historians don’t even deny these facts, they simply say that we cannot believe that Christ performed miracles despite the strong evidence because miracles are beyond the scope of history, but that is a purely philosophical claim, one that is completely unfounded.

            Now as far as the passages are concerned, I would really ask you to go back and review them. They absolutely have reference to written prophetic material. They make it clear that we are not to accept anything from anyone on the basis of pure authority unless it comes from a proven prophet. Clearly the Book of the Law of Moses was written material and clearly the only reason it was accepted was because it was indeed written by Moses. Then Joshua added to that book and the only reason he had the authority to do so is because he also was a proven prophet. Hence all other subsequent books must have had that same authority. And the passages make it very clear that prophets were the mouthpieces of God.

            Now if you want to challenge Mosaic authorship or anything along those lines that would be a separate question that I would be happy to address. But if the challenge is to prove that the Bible itself teaches its own inerrancy then I have ably demonstrated that from those texts.

            Now there may be some misunderstanding on both of our parts about what was meant by the Bible itself teaches its own inerrancy and again I apologize if the confusion is my fault. After listening more carefully I think maybe you are thinking that I meant that the Bible itself says that the books of the Bible are inerrant and of course it does not. But I meant it more in the sense that if for the sake of argument the traditional Christian position is granted that the Bible is the authoritative text for the church, does it teach the doctrine of inerrancy if that presupposition is granted. And I have proven that it does.

            If you would like to keep the conversation going I would be happy to do so, but it would have to be over email as these comments simply cannot bear the weight of these very complex subjects. You can email me at If you respond by comment I won’t read it, not because I am at all trying to ignore you, but only because of the reason just stated. God bless!!

          • I’m not really interested in a private email conversation with you, and since you won’t be reading any further comments by me, I won’t bother providing one.

          • Chris

            So again let me apologize for my tone. I get somewhat upset by conversations like this and can quickly lose my temper.

            That said, I have no interest in refitting you. Apologetics is a broken and corrupt discipline, and if I were to demonstrate the falsehood of one argument, another would take its place. I do not argue about apologetics anymore except at a meta level.

            The problem is that apologetics is not empirical. I can demonstrate numerous ways in which the Bible is false, even in what it intends to teach, but such things are not within the realm of discussion for apologists who subscribe to a sort of weird religious rationalism where all first principles stem from a proper interpretation of the Biblical text.

            Without grounding oneself in empiricism, the way opens to endless different beliefs. What tends to happen is that different schools pop up and start rivalries, and what passes for scholarship in such cases is almost nothing more than the endless qualification of a determined set of beliefs in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

            That’s why I don’t bother arguing your points. Your epistemology is broken, so it makes little sense to refute you when it will do no good.

          • Dan Jensen

            Apology accepted and appreciated. But sound apologetics is both rational and empirical, and I have given you a tremendous amount of evidence on both fronts. So again simply asserting something dogmatically

            (such as my epistemology is broken) proves nothing. I do not believe that first principles stem from the Bible, in fact I fight against such irrational forms of apologetics tooth and nail all the time precisely because they are so problematic from an epistemological vantage point.

  • rvs

    When I hear the phrase “the biblical view of human sexuality,” or some such, I often think of Solomon, but I digress. Might not the system of doctrine–in fact–be the real idol, if we are to talk of idolatry?

    I am enjoying 5 Views on Biblical Inerrancy, by the way, a helpful resource. What concerns me most about some of the remarks above is the tone, because it sounds like a prelude to the type of hermeneutical bullying that too often happens in evangelical circles.

  • The preeminence of Christ ought to be a rallying point for everyone involved in this debate. It’s not apparent to me, however, that either you or they are being emphatic about doing that.

  • sanctusivo

    After all, didn’t Jesus go to the Cross for literalistic hermeneutics?

  • 4thegloryofgod

    To what is Paul referring to 2 Timothy 3:16?

    • Ajl

      Certainly not the New Testament – it wasn’t written yet. It was most likely not the Hebrew Scriptures because most everyone used the Septuagint. And if it was the Septuagint, do you think it also included Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, or Tobit?

      Nor did Paul say anything of those writings were inherent anyway.

      But, they are definitely profitable for teaching rebuking correcting and training in righteousness. Paul testified to the fact that whatever scriptures Timothy had in his hands had great use. But he did not say they were perfect and without any error.

      • 4thegloryofgod

        You haven’t answered the question. Read the context fore and aft and answer the question.

        • Ajl

          Well, you asked about 3:16, so I focused on that. But, in terms of context, here goes:

          The world will be getting worse. People will love money, themselves, arrogant, etc. I think you and I would agree with that. Nothing here about inerrancy.

          Also,there will be major hypocrites, who have an appearance of godliness but deny its power. There are even those who would prey on e weak. Also, there are people who oppose the truth. still nothing about inerrancy.

          Now, Timothy should know better than that. After all, he followed Paul’s teachings. He also learned much from his mother and grandmother wo read him the scripture. Paul of course had flaws (he said so himself). But, his teachings were still sufficient to present Jesus. Once again, nothing about inerrancy.

          Then see my comment above.

          The scriptures Timothy had were sufficient for life, godliness, and salvation (see my comments below about Luke). But they dont have to be scientifically, historically inerrant. They still tell the wonderful story about Jesus to let me know I need a savior.

          There are many progressive theologians who want a way to say there is no God. There always will be. But, there are many god fearing Christians who are trying to make sense of scripture, Jesus, and faith in light of modern scholarship. I am that way, and Peter is that way.

          • rvs

            Thanks for this excellent dialogue.

          • Sam Smeaton

            *mic drop*

        • Andrew Dowling

          Yes he did, just wasn’t the answer you wanted.

  • WBC

    When the unnamed prophet of 1 Kings 13 first saw the lion coming toward him, he regretted that he hadn’t kept “a stressful stranglehold on what these panelists (and the traditions they represent) mean by ‘inerrancy.'” For this man, inerrancy was a “continental divide” between life and death.

    But go ahead, laugh at him! He’s a “parody,” somebody to mock, just like these absurd baptists. The original readers of Scripture must have been like simple-minded children, but now in 2014 we are like adults towering over them, and so we need not take God’s Word as inerrant as God required them to do.

    Of course, on the other hand, there were some back then too, way back in Bible times, who thought that they had outgrown such a pedantic, childish, and impossibly ridiculous view of what stood written on a scroll as Holy Scripture. “To whom would He teach knowledge?” they asked with all their friends. “And to whom would He interpret the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just taken from the breast? For He says, ‘Order on order, order on order, line on line, line on line, a little here, a little there,'” God’s response: “So the word of the Lord to them will be, order on order, order on order, line on line, line on line, a little here, a little there” that they may go and stumble backward, be broken, snared, and taken captive” (Isa 28).

  • James

    Lots of views of authority in the evangelical camp and on the fringes. I too am nervous when groups err in the direction of bibliolatry–revelation more ‘word’ centered than God centered. I’m also nervous when folk over-emphasis the bible as human composition. I’m reading Mark. He did not view Jesus an ordinary person, in fact, the whole point of his witness is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God–his words and works confirming his identity and purpose. The (upside down) Kingdom is at hand, repent and believe the Good News! There is something divine going on in the narrative and it speaks to divine-human relation and its authority base. We are all over the map comprehending all this (in fast-changing times) but hopefully developing a more healthy synergy.

  • Bev Mitchell

    Just remembered this comment posted on Pete’s blog back in August on a related subject. In light of the discussion here this week just thought it might help to post it again.

    Truth is a person

    For a Christian, truth should be a person not a proposition. When we underestimate the Incarnation, turn Christ into a proposition and downplay the Holy Spirit, we tend to overemphasize and overestimate propositions, look for proofs, depend too much on confessional statements, use Scripture as a mine for proof texts and generally act religiously.

    Christianity is more of a journey than a religion. It acknowledges way, truth and life as a person, the Son of God – God himself. It also acknowledges a human lostness that can only be overcome by life in the Spirit. It’s not a matter of finding the truth and hanging on against all opposition. Rather its a matter of releasing ourselves to be in truth, in Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit.

    The propositions we often hold so dear are only as good as our minds, only as permanent as the relentless march of knowledge. Scripture is not a written in stone collection of words but a story of people who were being taught by God to be in him not about him. We are to enter into Scripture with the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit who instructed all those who had something to do with its development in the first place. Spirit was before the written word; the living word is eternal. It’s the Spirit of the Word that is our goal not the letter. And the Word, like truth and life and way is a person. This is also the way to freedom.

  • kenhowes

    The inerrancy of Scripture is a formal principle, not a material principle. It is the way we approach things. There are two opposite errors here. One is to discard it as our formal principle. When we do that, we lose the sense of it as the authoritative declaration of God’s Word to us, His Law and Gospel. It becomes just another ancient book that’s nice for understanding how the early Church thought but that can’t be looked to as essential truth. That’s how modern liberal Christians deny or obfuscate the Creation; it’s how they treat with contempt the injunctions of both testaments against homosexuality. After all, they’re modern, enlightened intellectuals; Moses and Paul are just a 15th-century BC Hebrew and a 1st century AD Pharisee convert to Christianity expressing their prejudices.

    But there is indeed an opposite error, that of turning it into a material principle. At that point, it is too easy to fall into proof-texting that ignores the actual meaning of what we read. The Bible is the declaration–and the fully authoritative declaration–of the Word. But the Word is not the Bible. The Word is Christ, the Word who was with God and was God. Luther had it right when he said that a correct reading of the Scripture is “was Christum treibt”–what promotes Christ.

    I would not be so dismissive of those Baptist leaders. I have, myself, seen increasing numbers of supposedly evangelical scholars suggesting that what appears in Scripture did not really happen or was not really said. It is disconcerting to read the words of Bultmann or Spong from the pens of men who claim to be evangelicals. Most infamously, there are numerous evangelical scholars now saying that the Sermon on the Mount never happened–that it is a collage of saying from different sermons, or, worse, it is something cobbled together by the evangelists for “kerygmatic purposes”–what might less flatteringly be called a pious lie. If you are serious about inerrancy–if you are not simply paying lip service to it–you must believe that Jesus said everything ascribed to Him in the Gospel. You must believe that the same Jesus Christ who was crucified on Calvary truly rose from the grave, appeared to the disciples at Emmaus, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and on the Mount of Olives, and literally ascended. The idea of Scripture containing pious lies is consonant neither with the doctrine of inerrancy nor with claiming the designation of “evangelical”.

    • Sam Smeaton

      As Dr. Enns pointed out in a past blog post *John Calvin* questioned whether the sermon on the mount was an actual historical event. So, it becomes clear once again that evangelical thought can blind people to the real history of thought in the church. The ilk of “inerrancy” we are discussing needs a lot of critique and rebuttal, and we can start with the history of church thought.

      • kenhowes

        St. Matthew wrote that it occurred; therefore, it occurred. If Calvin disagreed, then Calvin was wrong. The history of thought in the church includes both truth and error. Greater men than Calvin have erred; but the Scripture has not erred. When Scripture says one thing but the history of thought in the church says another, then it is the history of thought that needs critique and rebuttal.

        • Granth

          Is the attribution of that Gospel to Matthew, member of the Twelve, itself part of inerrant Scripture? How can one know that the apostle Matthew himself was the author?

          Otherwise put: does it matter for inerrancy whether ‘Matthew ‘ is really Matthew’s?

  • dangjin1

    if the Bible is not inerrant who is qualified to say which passages are in error and which are not?

    No human is perfect enough to make such declarations and God does not make mistakes so obviously the problem lies with those who do not want to believe the Bible.

    • Chris

      People have figured out true things long before anyone ever even considered compiling the Bible. So… no. Your statement does not stand.

      • dangjin1

        my statement still stands

    • ajl

      If the Bible IS inerrant, who is qualified to interpret it correctly? Whether you hold to errancy or inerrancy, your still run into the same problem.

      Inerrantists abuse the privilege of having the scriptures, and so do errantists. Similarly, inerranists try to persuade people to love Jesus by interpreting what the scriptures mean, and erranists do the same.

      Part of being a grown up in the real world is that we have to make choices. Whatever grid you use to look at scripture, you have to be intellectually and morally honest in how you do that.

      So I guess the answer is: you do. I do. We all do. But at the end of the day, we have to look at the person of Jesus, revealed in the gospels and ask “does my interpretation honor who Jesus is?”

      • Andrew Dowling

        “We all do. But at the end of the day, we have to look at the person of
        Jesus, revealed in the gospels and ask “does my interpretation honor who
        Jesus is?” ”

        Bingo. The answer to the question posed is complex yet also deceptively simple.

        • I might add: to me it is beyond question that the picture we get of Jesus in the Gospels is partly historical and partly the creative development of followers at least one or two steps removed. We can probably never “unmix” the aspects. Thus knowing the “real Jesus” is not a reachable goal. But there can be (and to me still is) value in taking that picture seriously; using it as a model, as a focal point for discussions, etc. But inviolable “systematic” or “thematic” (from the OT) theology, such as substitutionary atonement theory? A useful “end times” concept? Hardly.

      • dangjin1

        The Bible says to follow the spirit of truth. john 14:16-18 & 16: 12-14.
        The Holy Spirit is qualified to bring the truth of the Bible to the people,

        • ajl

          you are correct – the Holy Spirit is qualified to bring the truth of the Bible to the people. But, that doesn’t mean that the Bible is inerrant.

          The Bible reveals the truth about Jesus, the Holy Spirit helps me to understand that truth, so in that way, you and I agree that the truth of the Bible is brought to me by the Holy Spirit. Although I am sure you see it differently because you believe that the Holy Spirit gave us an inerrant Bible via its human authors.

          Now, the question is: can’t God give us an inerrant Bible. The answer is: yes, he can. But, it doesn’t appear to me that he did that. With the holy spirit as a guide, Christians believe we can use these truthful words (I said truthful, not inerrant) to transform our lives.

          The reason I have taken the perspective that I have is because I just could not make inerrancy work within my worldview. However, I take no elitist attitude to think that people who view the Bible as inerrant are somehow theologically inferior. When the rubber hits the road in a cancer diagnosis, or the death of a child, the God of all comfort can speak just as easily to me as to a person who holds an inerrant view of Scripture. In fact, He can reach out just as dramatically and provide comfort and redemption to a person who believes the Earth is flat and stands firmly fixed in space.

          The scriptures reveal Jesus: in Christian charity, both you and I should affirm and uphold the believer who wants to trust in him and depend upon him for our lives.

          • dangjin1

            Think of the ramifications of what you are saying. You cannot cherry pick and say those verses with which you benefit from (John 3:16 and others) are inerrant while those you disagree with are not.

            You are setting yourself up as the Judge of the Bible and you are not qualified to do that. God gave us an inerrant Bible, if he didn’t then how could he be God? He would be a trickster = to the devil.

            You cannot have it both ways nor can you open the doors for false teaching to enter the Bible just because you want to disobey God and follow after the secular teaching that appeals to you.

            Look at it from the other side. What kind of testimony would you have to unbelievers if they continually hear you say, this part of the bible is valid but that other part is not. They would not believe your claim that you follow God or believe his words.

            So why should they?

          • Bev Mitchell


            You avoid the obvious reality that God chose to work through people to bring us the Bible. Those people were not super spiritual folk who understood God perfectly. Consider the evidence of Scripture itself. Those folks were just like us in so many ways. Guided by the Holy Spirit to be sure, but not always great followers of the Spirit.

            Here is another way to look at it that might help. We come to Christ by the faith provided by the Holy Spirit “so that none may boast”. If the Bible were 100% perspicuous, crystal clear, we would be able to say that our perfect understanding of Scripture is all we need as a guide. The Holy Spirit could go work on his golf game. But it is not (not even close), we cannot, and He does not leave us, or the Church, untutored. In fact, for what we truly understand from Scripture we only have Him to thank – “so that none may boast”. Inerrancy as a belief is well designed to cover for “my interpretation, or the interpretation of my group, is perfect”. This often seems to go along with fear of uncertainty, as if God was standing ready to punish us for being wrong on some point or other. As ajl said above, in the end none of this would matter much if it wasn’t messing up so many young people who are often pushed by folks like these educators to choose between faith and additional ways of knowing. These additional ways of knowing cannot contradict Scripture but they sure can, and should, challenge our reading of Scripture. If we are too set in our preferred readings, the Holy Spirit will have trouble getting our attention re the points where we need some adjustments.

          • dangjin1

            First, you do not know what you are talking about. Second, your insulting God’s writers just provides the evidence that you do not.

          • Bev Mitchell

            Well, on your first point, you may be on to something dangjin1, at least my wife has expressed a similar opinion on occasion. Should you wish to further pursue the real matters under discussion, I recommend Roger Olson’s 2009 book “Questions to All Your Answers”.

          • Dean

            These kinds of responses are hilarious. No one believes the ENTIRE Bible and no one believes every word is correct, no one, not even the inerrantists and certainly not dangjin. Case in point, one made by Bart Ehrman, which I think is a pretty elegant. The four gospels are factually inconsistent in several places. Did Judas hang himself or did his entrails spill out? You can say he was hung and then his body dropped and his entrails spilled out, but that is not what either tradition says, it is an altogether new one. What day was the Last Supper? Who discovered the empty tomb? Who was inside the tomb when it was discovered? The point is, you can create a new story that tries to reconcile the inconsistencies, but that’s a new story, it’s clearly not the same story or stories told in the Bible, it’s wholly man-made.

            Also, if God was so concerned about inerrency in the original manuscripts, why didn’t he supernaturally preserve them? Everyone agrees there are errors in transmission, if God bothered to make them perfect in their original form, why didn’t God bother to keep them that way?

          • dangjin1

            speak for yourself only. not me! Quoting a known agnostic/unbeliever is not helping your cause. How do you know he didn’t? You don’t believe God anyways.

          • Dean

            Dangjin, there are many books that describe in great detail the
            discrepancies and contradictions in the Bible, even among the canonical
            Gospels. You can open your own Bible and identify them yourself. If you
            think I’m attacking your faith, you are sorely mistaken as I am
            Evangelical Christian and I do believe the Bible is the word of God. But for you to discount what is clearly
            in front of your face is not faith, it’s ignorance, it’s not something to be proud of and certainly not something you should wear as a badge of honor. Maybe I shouldn’t have referenced a bogeyman such as Bart Erhman, but unless you address his arguments directly, you will inevitably come across as foolish as folks like Erhman want people to believe Christians to be. Do you understand what I am saying?

          • dangjin1

            You are nothing if you believe there are contradictions and discrepancies in the Bible

          • Bryan

            Please refer to the aforementioned Deuteronomy 18 reference if you believe this.

          • dangjin1

            do you know what the word ‘contradiction’ means? Nothing in the Bible contradicts itself.

          • Bryan

            Yes I do and the bible contradicts itself in many many many places. I have provided examples in Deut. 18, Joseph story in Genesis as well as Magi acct. in the NT. You simply cannot offer a better explanation. You are better equipped to simply give the same default answers. For many on this blog, there is absolutely to need to reconcile ‘contradictions’ with belief in God. Please provide a ‘better’ explanation of the text, for the examples cited above.

          • dangjin1

            I could offer an explanation but I can already see you would not accept one. It is simpler just to save my energy and time and just give you a blanket statement until you are ready to listen with an open-mind.

          • Bryan

            Good point. Clearly you are so open minded.

          • dangjin1

            I do not have to be open-minded. I found the truth with the Jesus and part of that truth is that Genesis 1 is correct, the Bible is inerrant and those who disagree with the Bible are saying that the God they claim to follow lied and they (and the unbelieving world) have the right to correct him.

            That doesn’t make him much of a God does it?

          • Bryan

            Can you tell me “specifically” where the bible makes this alleged claim of infallibility?

          • dangjin1

            Ruight after you show me where it says it isn’t. I would suggest you do a word study on the the word ‘lie’, and see how God speaks against it.

            You can’t say the Bible was written by humans and they lied for that would be doing an end run around the issue as we know from reading the Bible that all scripture was inspired by God etc. and God does not lie.

          • Bryan

            So let me get this straight. You are vehemently arguing for infallibility and you cannot suggest even one scripture which for you is so self-evident. I cannot, nor could anyone else, show you where the bible makes the claim that it is not inerrant because it is not a monolithic text that speaks on behalf of other texts.

            I do not follow the “lying” argument whatsoever. What I am interested in is your statement, “as we know from reading the Bible that all scripture was inspired by God.” It is this “as we all know” statement which has my attention. No, we do not all know, so please educate me here a little and provide a scripture which suggests that the entire bible is infallible.

          • dangjin1

            I didn’t say I couldn’t. I am waiting for you to show me where it says it is infallible. You like twisting people’s words.

            You are just looking for an excuse to say that the Bible is not divinely written in order to import your own faulty beliefs into its pages and justify your rejection of God’s word.

          • Bryan

            At this point, I have to say that you appear to be delusional. Please get some help. Your answers are unbelievably bizarre. Why would I show you where the bible makes the claim of infallibility if I am saying that it is not infallible?? Have you lost it? I would never show you this because I am not making the claim for infallibility and therefore would not lie about such a thing.

            Here you are crusading up and down this blog for infallibility and yet you cannot even offer one scripture to support your position for which you are attempting to posit!!!! I have offered examples in this blog of “contradictions” and yet you refuse to respond to them because basically “I wouldn’t listen anyway” and if I ask you to support your position, you refuse and ask me to support it for you!

            You have not demonstrated in any persuasive manner that your position is valid. You build up straw men repeatedly, accuse people of not being Christian because they do not agree with you, appeal to same default answers (God’s word=infallible) and then reply with statements about something as left-field to the topic as Buck Rogers in the 21st century!

          • dangjin1

            Your personal attacks just remove your credibility and cause me to ignore what you say. If you do not have infallibility, you do not have salvation. You are not qualified to determine where the errors are or aren’t. You can’t say what benefits you is true and what you do not like isn’t.

            It is that simple. Since God is perfect, doesn’t sin then it stands to reason that his word is infallible and without error..

            The rest of your accusations will also be ignore. Suffice it to say once you say God is wrong and the unbelieving worl dis right you are no longer believing God.

          • Bryan

            Thank you for this fine example of a non-personal attack. From now on I
            will seek you for advice so that I may know who is a Christian and who is not.
            Also, I am now going to attempt to convert all my fellow inerrantists to
            inerrancy because you have brought me the most compelling of arguments
            composed of extraordinary textual validation: “God cannot lie”. Why
            didn’t I think of such a profound answer as this? I shall ponder this
            all the days of my life.

          • dangjin1

            Sarcasm doesn’t help you either. If you think God lies, or that God allows man to trump his word, then you have a deeper problem than just being sarcastic.

            Where are your qualifications that allows you to say God erred in the Bible? Where is your evidence that the Bible is solely a human book? Present your credentials that qualifies you to be able to tell the difference between God’s writing and man’s? Then state why you are right and the other scholars are wrong?

            Either you do not know or you do not care about the can of worms you have opened up by your position.

          • Bryan

            *Yawn* I have provided plenty of evidence. You just do not like the answers. I never ever ever ever said that God erred. Cf. straw man argument. Again, incoherent is the next step in this process. I never said that the bible was, in your words, and I quote (you), please see above, “solely” a human book. I said that the bible was written in “co” operation with humans; meaning that God used people, e.g. Paul, Moses, Peter, John, etc. to assist. I have never indicated that the bible is “solely” a human book. As for the difference between God’s writing and “man’s” writing, as you say, this is a false dichotomy. I have stated why I am right on numerous occasions, again, you do not offer a sound rebuttal to the material I name. As for this alleged can of worms…yawn…

          • Dean


          • Bryan

            I have read numerous posts you have written and you do not demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. I think Bev Mitchell gave a good reply. Here is one simple (no trick intended) question: How did the Bible come together as “the book”?

            Maybe if you attempt to answer this question, you will see just how difficult the subject of inspiration really is and why so many learn to live in between the tensions.

          • dangjin1

            there is no difficulty with inspiration With God nothing is impossible. If you do not believe that then you have no hope.

          • Bryan

            Nobody is saying that they do not believe in inspiration, just the particular “kind” of inspiration you do. Did you ever figure out the question asked earlier, “Where did your bible come from?”

          • dangjin1

            in other words you want the freedom to change the Bible to say what you want it to say instead of humbling yourself and obeying it. You want to be master of the Bible and its content.

          • Bryan

            1) This is a non-sequitur. Apparently you read an unmediated bible that is completely free of any filter. No interpretation is needed; all you need to do is just read and the answer makes itself known without the firing of neurons.
            2) Again, tell me where you got your bible and then we can talk about inspiration.

          • ajl

            all parts of the Bible are valid, in the sense that they give a testimony about God. However, they are not historically or scientifically inerrant. Using the example I gave about adultery, sure, I could say “I really like John 3:16, but this adultery thing, nah, I don’t agree with that – I’m going to cheat on my wife”. That would be inconsistent with the spirit of scripture. I am still not off the hook from proper interpretation and intellectual honesty in how I approach God’s comments. However, you are correct that this opens the door to people being able to pick and choose. Well, so did free will. That is always going to exist.

            I can also say “I don’t think that God stopped the Earth from rotating. I believe that is an embellishment of the story” – in fact, if you read Joshua, it was a story that was spoken of in the book of Jasper, which is no longer in existence. The fact that Jesus turned over the tables in the temple at the beginning of one gospel and the end of another gospel isn’t really a problem – it was how the authors of those gospels decided to create the narrative they were trying to communicate. That’s why Matthew has a lot of things for Jewish people, and Mark does not. They were not trying to write NY Times style narratives.

            As for “God gave us an inerrant Bible, if he didn’t then how could he be God?”

            I didn’t realize how little it takes to dismantle God. God did not give us a lot of perfect things: perfect pastors, perfect bodies, perfect knowledge, perfect weather. So, why do we have a perfect Bible? But, at the same time, God, through his providence made sure we had a scripture that is sufficient to know about Jesus that leads to salvation.

            Finally, my testimony to unbelievers is that I am a sinner as they are, but have found hope in God, and power in his spirit. Look at my life I would say, see what I was in my former life, and see the kind of life that Christ gives me now.

          • dangjin1

            Provide the evidence for it being an embellishment. You can’t and that is your unbelief and doubt speaking. The Bible says nothing is impossible for God so if you say that is an embellishment then you are saying the Bible is not telling the truth in one or the other or both spots.

            You are saying God lied or let lies exist in his holy word which makes the Bible unholy and means sin exists in God and his word which is contrary to the teachings of the Bible.

            The book of Jasper has nothing to do with the whole event and the event being mentioned in it doesn’t mean God didn’t do it. Many biblical events are mentioned in non-biblical human written books but that doesn’t mean those events aren’t true and God didn’t act.

            The moment you say God lied or allowed a lie in his holy word you have just made every part suspicious. You have NO proof that the sun standing still didn’t take place which means you cannot call it an embellishment

            You also weren’t there and modern science cannot make that determination because it has no way to say God didn’t do it.

          • ajl

            Well of course I don’t have any proof the sun didn’t stand still – you don’t have any proof that it did. Neither one of us were there. We are both operating under a faith proposition. By faith you believe that God directed the writers of the Bible to get every word correct. By faith I believe that God has given us the scriptures that he wanted us to have – and that those scriptures are sufficient for salvation.

            I am curious dangjin1, before I continue to engage in a conversation with you, do you believe that I am a born again believer who is forgiven by God, or do you believe that my stand on inerrancy makes me a heretic and not part of the family of God.

          • dangjin1

            Yes I do. I have the Bible and it is evidence. So far you haven’t made a case for being a true christian.

          • ajl

            Thank you for clearing up your theology for me and everyone else on this blog. I trust that others will use your post as a guide to determine whether it is worth their effort to engage you in conversation.

          • dangjin1

            Being snarky isn’t a Christian trait.

          • Dean

            I thought folks that disagreed with you weren’t Christians. Make up your mind! Lol!

          • JWBS

            In I KINGS CHAPTER 7 God says the circumference of the temple pool is 30 with a diameter of 10 giving a value of pi for 3.0000. The correct value is 3.1419… By your logic, God lied, hence the entire Bible is a pack of lies.

          • dangjin1

            your lack of details undermines your point.

            please provide the verses and actual words you are referring to.

          • AHH

            There are many good arguments against the modern “inerrancy” doctrine, but this isn’t one of them.
            People use approximate “round” numbers all the time; it isn’t an “error” in any reasonable sense that my Drivers License says I weigh 160 when at the moment if might be 163.27.

          • Bryan

            Do you not set yourself up as a Judge on the other side of this? We are always evaluating/judging this material to the best of our abilities. This is what makes us human.

            What we should do is submit ourselves to the Eastern Orthodox canon of scripture with all of its “apocryphal material”, after all, they established this long before protestantism came about and removed them. After all, you shouldn’t go cherry picking.

          • dangjin1

            No. I haven’t judged anyone. Learn the meaning of the word before swinging it around like someone swinging a cat by the tail.

          • Bryan

            I did not say you were judging “anyone”. I was referring to judging/evaluating the biblical text. Please learn the meaning of “context” and “coherent” argument “before swinging it around like someone swinging a cat by the tail.”

          • dangjin1

            You did not say that but thanks for editing your words after the fact in order to try and insult.

          • Bryan

            I do not have rights to edit anything on this blog. Just scroll up and you can read our entire blog discussion, free of editing.

          • Bev Mitchell


            Speaking of words and their meaning – in addition to my suggestion for further reading (somewhere above) you may find the following two word searches helpful.

            irony – do this in the full Oxford English if possible. There you will find wonderful examples such as:

            “1502 tr. Ordynarye of Crysten Men (de Worde) iv. xxii. sig. ff.iii, Suche synne is named yronie, not that the whiche is of grammare, by the whiche a man sayth one and gyueth to vnderstonde the contrary.”

            freedom – here I recommend using the site (it’s free). You will get 24 hits, all very informative. One great one among many is:

            “[ Freedom in Christ ] It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
            Galatians 5:1-3 (in Context) Galatians 5 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations”

          • Andrew Dowling

            “No. I haven’t judged anyone”

            Hahahaha, thank you for that laugh.

        • Bryan

          The “Bible” does not say this but the gospel of John, which you have quoted, does.

          • dangjin1

            Since John is part of the Bible, the Bible does say it.

          • Bryan

            This is seriously flawed. The content of this particular passage in the gospel of John does not speak for the bible in its entirety. In other words, it does not speak with one voice.

            Deuteronomy 18 lists prohibitions against divination with the word “nahash” listed among them. This same word is used in Genesis to describe a practice that Joseph used. The text does not offer a negative description. Also, the word for “seer” is listed as a prohibition yet Samuel clearly is recognized as this.

            And if these two are not enough, the Magi (that is magicians) in the birth narratives of Christ are also described positively as “wise”. How then do I say, as you do, that the Bible “speaks” with one voice? Is it for this or against this? Better yet, there are multiple views here.

          • dangjin1

            I think you confuse reporting and recording with speaking. Yes actually it does because we need the Holy Spirit to understand ALL of the Bible not just the book of John.

          • Bryan

            1) I was speaking figuratively here and 2) you should offer a better conclusion to the passages cited if you disagree rather than this bizarre conclusion. That is a hermeneutical circle. How can one ever understand the bible if one does not have the Holy Spirit?

          • dangjin1

            That is the point. If you do not have the Holy Spirit leading you to the truth, you are not going to get there. Unbelievers will not get the truth because they can’t get the Holy Spirit. It is hard to say for those who claim to be Christian yet throw out much of the Bible because they do not believe it.

            They may have been led by the HS yet rejected the truth once shown it. Since they reject the truth of Genesis that is not bizarre or far-fetched.

          • Bryan

            Therefore, according to you, an unbeliever will never discover the “truth” in the bible because they do not have the Holy Spirit. Hmm…I wonder what Augustine would say to that. Again, how did your bible come together? This statement, “They may have been led by the HS yet rejected the truth once shown it” is circular reasoning.

          • dangjin1

            I do not care what Augustine has to say–he wasn’t God or Jesus and his words are not infallible.

          • Klasie Kraalogies

            So, were the Councils of the church who determined which books are canonical infallible? If so, what is the basis of your claim? If not, that is a problem for infallibility.

          • dangjin1

            What you do not understand, and I will quote the late Bruce Metzger and paraphrase a bit to save space, is ‘the biblical books were already authoritative and the church already knew which books were of God and which were not. The biblical books did not get their authority from being placed on a list, they were put together because they were already authoritative..

            In other words, the councils had nothing to do with determining which books belonged in the Bible, God had already made the biblical books authoritative, infallible, and inerrant and the councils just threw out the bad books and kept the good ones.

            The councils were just the mechanisms God used to put the scriptures together in one volume.They did not have to be infallible.

          • Funny, that you should find a quote from Bruce Metzger useful for your purpose. Though Metzger believed in a kind of biblical “authority”, Metzger most definitely did not believe the bible was inerrant. In fact Metzger accepted, as most biblical scholars do, that several New Testament books are pseudepigraphal; they were not written by the apostles (mostly Peter and Paul) that they claim as their writers.

            So, sorry, your “in other words” does not in any coherent way, represent Metzger’s views. And since your statements are untrustworthy in this matter, one must wonder if any of your statements can be trusted.

          • dangjin1

            When Metzger was right, he was right. You can’t top the truth and he was correct on the biblical canon in that quote. I did not use Metzger as an infallible source, just quoted one part of his words which told the truth

            So Metzger was wrong about inerrancy, I didn’t quote those words and he would be wrong on the pseudepigraphal works.

            My statements are not untrustworthy, that is you trying to find a way to avoid the truth that you are wrong and God is right.

          • No, dangjin, you are not God, and you dishonestly implied that Metzger supported inerrancy.

          • dangjin1

            really? I thought I used the word ‘authoritative’ and made no mention of inerrancy. We were also talking about the councils not inerrancy so don’t make a switch in the middle of a discussion

          • Dangjin, you claim you “made no mention of inerrancy”? Read your own words – you quoted Metzger, then said,

            “IN OTHER WORDS, the councils had nothing to do with determining which books belonged in the Bible, God had already made the biblical books authoritative, INFALLIBLE, and INERRANT and the councils just threw out the bad books and kept the good ones.”

            But Metzger never argued and didn’t believe that the books were INFALLIBLE and INERRANT, and by your own admission, you knew that.

          • dangjin1

            Again, I never said Metzger argued for inerrancy. I was quoting him in response to your council remark.

          • That’s why you misrepresented Metzger. You ignore authorities like Metzger when they disagree with you, and quote them only when you think they agree with your opinion. You use scholars only when it is convenient for you. .

          • Bryan

            This statement, “The councils were just the mechanisms God used to put the scriptures together in one volume” is pure conjecture. There is absolutely positively no way to demonstrate with absolute certainty that this is without doubt the way God acted. Your theory is certainly not infallible.

            I would love to know the context of which you are taking Metzger out of. When you say “the biblical books were already authoritative and the church already knew which books were of God and which were not”, what century are you referring? If you are citing this as early then I am clearly at odds in understanding why Constantine ordered Eusebius to establish criteria for a closed canon when the church merged with the state if the “biblical books”, as you suggest, were already known.

          • dangjin1

            “The councils were just the mechanisms God used to put the scriptures together in one volume” is pure conjecture.

            really? Prove it

            Constantine had nothing to do with establishing the Bible. He may have made the order but the biblical books were already scripture long before Constantine lived. You do not understand, the biblical books were not some late 1st century or 2nd century creation. They were starting to be written not long after Jesus rose again.

          • Bryan

            Dangjin1, I cannot even begin to tell you just how far off you are in many regards. Constantine had everything to do with establishing the bible. And no, they were not “biblical books” as you suggest because there was no “biblical” canon yet. If there was a canon (that is, an official collection of “scriptures” bound in a codex), Constantine would have had absolutely no need to authorize Eusebius to establish one in the 4th century. Hence, if there already was a biblical canon, a) there is no record of Constantine rejecting it so that b) it could be replaced with another because there was no biblical canon in existence!! If you are referring to the “scriptural texts” existing before Constantine, then yes, you are correct but you cannot refer to them as “biblical” because there was no “biblical” canon!!!

            Also, I hate to burst your bubble but yes some of the “scriptures” were late 1st century (John; 90 c.e.) or early 2nd century (2 Peter?;120 c.e.). Again, they cannot be referred to as “biblical” because their was no “bible”, for instance, when John was written. And no, they were written long after the resurrection. In terms of the gospels, Mark (the earliest) is believed to have been written 30 years after! Is this a short duration of time to you? And of course John’s gospel would be 60 years after the resurrection!! Thessalonians was written around 50 which makes it 20 years after.These are not good examples of ” not long after Jesus rose again”, as you suggest.

          • dangjin1

            A. I am not off as the scriptures were well known long before Constantine took office. Just because som elater people didn’t accept a few of the now canonical books doesn’t mean they weren’t already scripture.

            B. I can use the term ‘biblical books’ as it is a modern reference to those books we now have in the canon.

            C. Except for John, your datings are off. But it doesn’t matter, as when God had someone write it, it was still inspired and scripture. You cannot give me the lack of memory argument for that would mean you think God was incapable of writing his own word. Humans didn’t write the Bible, God did.

          • Bryan

            A. I am not in disagreement with you. The scriptures were well known before Constantine came to power. The initial selection of a final closed “biblical” canon did not include some of the texts that protestants read today. Therefore, see cherry-picking argument above.

            B. You absolutely positively unequivocally cannot use the term “biblical” to describe those “scriptures” floating around the Mediterranean region because, again, there was no “bible”. Keep in mind, as I am sure you know, “bible” is Latin for “book”. Again there was not an official closed canon before Constantine came to power. If there were a book, after he allegedly converted to Christianity, he would have absorbed it rather than send Eusebius to do the footwork of tracing back whatever was official to the apostles.

            C. Dates are debatable. Scholars disagree on some these. The point is that they were not written right after the resurrection as you suggested. As for your statement that God wrote the bible, unless God has a name such as John, Paul, Mark, or Theophilus, as Luke suggests, then I am clearly led to believe that God used “people” in cooperation with him to write the scriptures.

          • dangjin1

            Because of point C I am going to ignore what you said as you want the Bible to be a human book so you can avoid the teachings, commands and events you do not like.

            There was no ‘in co-operation’ about it. Undermining God’s word that way just ruins salvation. You are not qualified to say what is or isn’t true when it comes to the Bible.

          • Bryan

            No, the bible is both/and, that is, a human and divine text; not one or the other. Just as Christ was both human and divine so is our bible. If you make it to be solely divine, as you do, then it becomes docetic, only divine. Unless God wrote it with quill in hand, on parchment, because we all know about the numerous stories pertaining to God making the parchment materials and/or skinning the goats/sheep and writing on vellum!

          • dangjin1


          • Bryan


          • Andrew Dowling

            Tell that to the many churches who considered the Shephered of Hermas and Apocalypse of Peter canonical and who considered Revelation and 11 Peter, among others now in the Bible, to be spurious. . . .

          • dangjin1

            People have freedom of choice and if they make a wrong choice then they will be misled. You have a choice and if you choose wrongly then you too will be misled.

            Obey God with your choices and go for the truth not what deceived secular scientists claim.

          • Bryan

            You should care. His conversion experience is quite famous in theological circles. He converted to Christianity 1) as an unbeliever who 2) read the bible and believed. He did not have the Holy Spirit before reading Romans but after.

          • dangjin1

            How do you know that he was not led by the Holy Spirit? It is the Holy Spirit who brings conviction and brings people to repentance

            The problem with Augustine is that he doesn’t trump God and his words do not replace God’s will or words. If Augustine says something that leads people away from the truth then those words are to be ignored and dismissed.

            Just like Billy Graham’s words are to be dismissed if they are wrong..

          • Bryan

            I have never met a person in my life who could not follow or coherently offer a rebuttal.

          • Bryan

            Do you recognize a tautology when you see it? Again, “where did you get your bible?”

          • dangjin1

            Aren’t you tired of asking that question yet? There is only one source for the Bible–God and one does not have to be a scholar to translate it, they have to be following the Holy Spirit to get it right.

            Just because a scholar translates greek mss. doesn’t mean he got it right.

          • Bryan

            No, I haven’t grown tired from asking a question which you could very well answer but can’t. It precedes the difficulty of the infallibility issue.

        • Lamont Cranston

          The Holy Spirit is telling me you don’t jack shit about the bible.

          • dangjin1

            So the Holy Spirit is telling you to insult and use bad words. I would double check whom you are listening to .

    • Bryan

      Who is qualified? Biblical scholars who do it all the time. If you read the apparatus at the bottom of a New Testament Greek Bible, included is a grading system A, B or C for manuscripts which offer several different versions of the same passage. They do not evaluate them based on their “inerrantness” but according to various criteria. All of it done with human wisdom and no record of the Holy Spirit descending to give them the “inerrant” version to print.

      • dangjin1

        Where in the Bible does it say to take the bible scholars word over God’s? As I pointed out, there is no instruction to follow Biblical scholars. The instruction was to follow the Holy Spirit to the truth.

        • Bryan

          You asked the question: “who is qualified to say which passages are in error and which are not?” and I replied, Biblical Scholars. Now, they are not necessarily looking for “inerrant” passages but they are assessing passages according to particular criteria. That is, which will stay in and which are most likely transmission errors. Again, this is done according to human wisdom and not some supernatural event.

          The problem with your perspective is ahistorical in nature. You do not take into account a long and complex history which is peppered with a lot of uncertainty. You seem to view the bible holistically, as though it was always together in one piece. I appeal to Biblical Scholars because they play a large part in deciding what you are currently reading today.

          • dangjin1

            Biblical scholars are NOT qualified. That would be tantamount to to using the censorship the RC Church used when it said only priests could tell the lowly masses what the Bible said.

            Bible scholars are not immune from sin and corruption and they are not immune from having false teachers in their midst. If they say the Bible is wrong then they are saying God is wrong and that is very wrong.

            You can’t say that humans wrote it for then you would be saying we have no divine teaching and everyone is free to live as they please.

            There is no moral standard either so all you have done is introduced anarchy into the church. No one is following God’s word but they are doing what the Israelites did when they were continuously punished in the OT–doing what was right in their own eyes.

            Basically you just removed God from the picture and set yourselves up as judge and jury of what is or isn’t God’s word, That is arrogance and a haughty spirit.

          • Bryan

            Bad analogy. Modern day Biblical Scholars do not possess an authority equal to the state which was once present in the RC church. And yes, everything you read in your english bible translation is the result of painstaking work from Biblical Scholars. You engage in theoretical/philosophical ideology and have not engaged the very difficult issues that come about in the actual Hebrew and Greek texts.

            Your default answer has been to appeal to inerrancy ad infinitum. I get that. I really do. I can tell by what you are stating over and over and over again that 1) you do not know where your bible comes from and 2) you have never read a Hebrew or Greek text in your life. Rather than run away from this, take a language class at your local college and begin to bear the burden textual issues which you ignore because you cannot answer.

          • dangjin1

            You seem to equate biblical scholars with God and that is your first mistake.You cannot tell anything and you do not know what took place in MY life.

            Your insults and personal attacks just ruins any credibility you thought you had.You obviously do not get it because you still think the Bible is not inerrant and is still a human book.

          • Bryan

            I have never equated biblical scholars with God, therefore, it is not my mistake. I only mean to bring something to the table which you are not, that is, offering gratitude to the many people who have worked to bring us the bible. You are right, I do not know what took place in your life (not sure what you mean) if you mean every single facet. I don’t.

            What I am saying with clarity is that you have never labored a day in your life, reading both Greek and Hebrew variants or potential redactions. At the end of the day there can be a lot of uncertainty here and the burden to come up with the right answer can also be difficult. If you had some knowledge on these subjects you would have answered them but instead you appeal to the same standard answers, “the bible is inerrant”, “you don’t get it” or “the bible is the Word of God”.

            Also, the bible is a human book in collaboration with God. As far as I know, Moses, Paul, John, etc. were all humans. You seem to suggest they were demi-gods. Again, as I have stated in numerous other posts, “Who compiled your bible? Who put it together?” Please tell.

            You have jumped midstream in the “inerrancy” issue without even knowing how your bible was compiled. If you really want to get your hands dirty, then find this out and then let’s discuss the inerrancy issue. The “Bible” as a collective whole does not make claims to inerrancy as you suggest.

            Systematic theologians will write books on this topic because wading through Hebrew and Greek texts is not a high priority in this field, therefore, their conclusions are often flawed. When a biblical scholar writes a book on inerrancy, i.e. Pete Enns, they lose their jobs for telling the truth.

          • dangjin1

            you keep saying what i have done yet I do not know you nor do I recall ever talking to you about what I have done. please stop it because you are making yourself look foolish.

            You are wrong.

          • Bryan

            Again, maybe this is the sixth or seventh time I have asked, “Where did you get your bible?”

          • dangjin1

            The biblical scholar does not play any role in what I read.

    • Jim

      If you get a chance, read the link I posted above an let me know what you think:

  • I understand the difficulty of change, especially for institutions, but it sounds like these leaders are just putting off inevitable and appropriate changes.

    • They are one of the main cause of militant atheism.

      • Indeed, as Jefferson noted in even his day, 200 years ago.

        “Indeed I think that every Christian sect gives a great handle to Atheism by their general dogma that, without a revelation, there would not be sufficient proof of the being of a god.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823

        • I had a conversation with a very agrressive anti-theist (who is most likely a former fundamentalist) and this was truly depressing.

          Fundamentalism is destroying Christianity, making it look utterly absurd.

          Otherwise, I find that you are a pretty interesting fellow, maybe we could correspond together (my email is ) and you would be most welcome to comment on my blog if you find interesting posts there.
          Skyping would be another option.

          Lovely greetings from Europe.

  • I think that belief in inerrancy leads inevitably to an intellectual disaster and makes our faith look really foolish.

    This leads otherwise decent apologists to use all possible tricks to defend atrocious beliefs, such as God’s God’s righteousness in ordering soldiers to kill babies while at the same time considering abortion as murder.

    However shocking it might sound to the ears of a conservative Protestant, I do not view the Biblical Canon as being necessarily more inspired than books outstide the Canon

    In other words, I don’t see any reason to suppose that Christian books written between 400 A.C. and today are less inspired than the books of the NT. with respect to both the theological reflection and the report of God’s action in the world.

    • ajl

      I would only nuance your statement by referring to proximity to the event. Peter counts himself as a witness to the events. Luke talks about how he has researched everything from the witnesses. So, while I can write a very good historical narrative of Teddy Roosevelt, there is something to be said about those who knew him, who saw the twinkle in his eye during a joyous moment, and the veins in his neck when he was angry – they have a better understanding than I do.

      In that regard, when John is writing his gospel, he is also remembering many other things Jesus said and did (for which all the books could not contain), and that is helping to shape the story he is telling. He leaves a lot of those events out, obviously, but they certainly factor in to his narrative. C.S. Lewis wrote great things, but he did not draw on a conversation with Jesus earlier in life.

      • I agree with you said about historical proximity.
        I believe that the Gospels are more fundamental not because they were more inspired and inerrant but because they were much closer to the events.

        However I don’t believe that the apostle Paul was more inspired than the Church fathers or C.S. Lewis

        • ajl

          Maybe not more inspired, but more authoritative – again, given proximity. Imagine all the time he spent with the apostles.

          You also have to deal with his vision of Jesus – you either believe him or not. That too would make him more authoritative.

          • Andrew Dowling

            Actually Paul emphasizes the brevity of his time with the apostles and how his outlook of Jesus comes from divine revelation and not (at least primarily) apostolic teaching.

          • As Andrew D. says, Paul makes a point about very LITTLE contact with the Apostles. Even Acts, which generally ties him to the apostles much more than his letters indicate, shows very little contact. Note on his last visit, “Luke” indicates that they knew only by reports what Paul’s real teachings were and were testing him.

            Yes, Paul surely seems to have had powerful, motivating visions of Jesus (or who/what he took as Jesus). And I believe him in that. However, as with other people’s visions, I don’t take them as particularly authoritative… visions are generally mysterious on various levels and not producing reliable kinds of specific information… they seem to have another purpose. If Paul was unique in his experience of visions, I’ve not been able to find reasons to believe that; nor to take his visionary impressions and interpretations as authoritative dogmas or such. Same with his allegorical and general interpretations of Heb. Scripture.

          • And whoever wrote the three conflicting accounts of the imposter Paul’s dubious conversion experience could not even keep the stories straight.

            “Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Corypheus, and first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.” ~Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson’s Works, Vol. ii., p. 217)

      • Assuming of course that the Gospel of John and the Epistles of Peter were actually written by apostles. Most scholars argue that they were not. Luke’s primary “witness” seems to be the writer of Mark, since 47% of his narrative is copied from Mark verbatim.

  • Al Cruise

    The Bible was created out of the human mind. There is no historical or scientific evidence of anything on planet earth that is in written form, art work, stone carving, etc. that it has not come from a human source. Two more common examples of divine intervention are, the Ten Commandment tablets and the Mormon Golden Plates, no physical evidence of their existence has ever been found. That puts them in a myth category. Every known artifact has come from and been created by the human mind. That puts us all as equals, and if you want to argue that the writers of the Bible had direct communication with God, prove it that it was different back then than it is today. There was no way of recording audio back then so the chances of the Bible being accurate in every sentence are zero.

    • Bryan

      “no physical evidence of their existence has ever been found.” This is an argument from silence.

      • Al Cruise

        It’s truth and you know it. Your arguments are based on an appeal to ignorance.

        • Bryan

          Al, I have not used any argument “s”. I have only pointed out that you are using a logical fallacy. I agree with you that they have not been found, however, it is still an argument from silence to conclude a mythical category due to the fact that as of the present day they have not been found. Ironically, you are appealing to ignorance if we define ignorance as simply “not knowing”, i.e. “I do not know where they are therefore they do not exist.”

          Your argument develops as follows: we do not know where the ten commandments are therefore, they never existed. Numbers 21 mentions “The Book of the Wars of Yahweh”. This material has never been found and is assumed to be forever lost, however, that does not mean it never existed or will not be found.

          I have no problem dealing with mythical elements in this story, however, your conclusion is more of a non-sequitur. Many here would not conclude that the writer “s” of the bible had direct communication with God. This will not work. But in this “particular” passage, Moses claims to have direct communication with God. This is most likely where the mythical element comes in: Hammurabi law code, which makes similar pronouncements, was created long before Moses. Could Moses have come down from Sinai with the ten commandments? It is likely so. Perhaps just not the exact way (as moderns read it) it was portrayed.

          • Al Cruise

            What about the Golden Plates Joseph Smith found in a box on a hill, that form the faith of 15 million people?

          • Bryan

            In all honesty, I really do not know much about this.

          • Andrew Dowling

            Well, there probably were actual plates. Smith forged the whole thing, but you can’t say the plates were wholly mythical.

          • Al Cruise

            My post is about claims of divine intervention in the Bible that people claim as true. You say Smith forged the whole thing, on what grounds do you make this claim? How are Smith’s claims of divine intervention a forgery and those made by the writers of the Bible the inerrant truth?

          • Andrew Dowling

            First off, you’re assuming I affirm inerrancy (I don’t). 2ndly, you seem to posit that if there’s no physical evidence of something thousands of years old, it’s a myth. Which is kind of ridiculous. I think its extremely plausible that at some point in time a Jewish holy man, perhaps named Moses or something else, scrolled down moral laws on some tablets. Whether there were actual tablets has nothing to do with whether they were dictated by the Jewish Yahweh. For items like that in bronze age antiquity the honest scholarly answer would be to say it could be a story or there could be some sort of historical basis to it, but communal stories like that often have some historical roots. As to the Mormon tablets, I find it much more plausible that Smith forged tablets that others saw (thus their witness to it) rather than he somehow managed to get a bunch of people to have some sort of estatic experience in which they thought they saw some golden tablets. If opiates were native to Utah than maybe I’d have a different opinion.

          • Al Cruise

            I take it that what your saying is, you believe what came from the Jewish Yahweh is inerrant truth, and what the Mormons believe is heresy. Both stories were created in the human mind and then written or spoke out . As stories got repeated they were embellished. How information came into the world has been well studied and everything has come from a human source. You hide behind the fact that there isn’t an accurate archive from the period of the old testament to cross check things, so you can make claims about myths that they are true, similar claims today cannot be made because of science, and sane observation. Example, many of your kind make claims about the end of the world, Harold Camping for example, they make these claims on their belief of bible inerrancy only to watch their claim become heresy. You believe the same as him and are the same as him.

          • Andrew Dowling

            Al, what about “I don’t affirm inerrancy” do you not understand? You are so one-sided in your dogmatism you can’t even see the forest of my argument through the trees. I agree the OT stories were often exaggerated, and I agree the story of Moses and the 10 Commandments “could” be completely myth, but any cultural anthropologist will tell you (and archaeology confirms this) that communal stories about origins and tribal history often have historical cores, and there’s no reason to think the story of Moses and the Exodus doesn’t either.

          • Bryan

            Al, I think this is a pretty unfair assessment to assume as you suggest, “many of your kind” (not good to essentialize) belong in the same category as Harold Camping or make claims to inerrancy. Many readers of this blog would never say that and as one of those readers, I do not care for a futuristic reading of Revelation as Camping loonily suggested a return date nor do I subscribe to inerrancy. It is not a dealbreaker to still believe in God and yet hold these positions.

          • Al Cruise

            I think it’s a pretty unfair thing to say” if opiates were native to Utah I’d have a different opinion”. I’m not Mormon, and I believe their story is a myth. Which I think Andrew agrees with. But he won’t say the same about the Bible. I say they are both same, created in the human mind. As for Harold Camping , what he did and said was the direct result of believing in myths. You can see it to a lesser degree with the likes of Driscoll, Piper, Robertson, and these people have large followings and to a much greater degree in places like Westboro Baptist, their power and actions comes from the belief in myths. Every Sunday morning the belief in myths will be reinforced over the pulpit and in sunday school. If you don’t subscribe to inerrancy you and Andrew should be vocal in having it removed from all of Christian evangelism.

          • Bryan

            I really do not know how we could remove it from “all” evangelism but the fundagelicals who write in on this blog about the “self-evident” facts of inerrancy, I will certainly address.

    • rvs

      The real situation of man in the cosmos is not
      solely “historical.” –Mircea Eliade

    • Mark

      Love you, Al. I couldn’t have said it any better. And remember folks, we didn’t even have a bible until some men formed a council and voted on what was in and what was out. Just think about where we might be if Revelations had not made the final cut.

  • Defending inerrancy is like getting in to an argument that your nation’s army is invincible. The winning must happen on the battlefield, not in a debate. Imagine if after Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, that a government convention was held to decide who really won the battle. Scripture is sharper than any sword, but it is powerless to free the soul who insists that human consensus and opinion are decisive.

    • Al Cruise

      Your post is an excellent example of ” the soul who insists that human consensus and opinion are decisive”.

      • How so? I don’t claim to have won any argument, I’m just saying that arguing about it is a waste of time.

        • Klasie Kraalogies

          And that, in itself, is an argument.

          • Remember the Monty Python Argument Sketch?
            “I’m here for an argument.” “No you’re not.” “Yes I am”
            This thread has turned into a similar parody, but in reverse. “I don’t want to argue” “Yes you do” “No I don’t”. It’s really rather funny.

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          did al read you right? maybe he is dyslexic? no offence to al but i am and i often reverse things. it’s a hallmark of dyslexics! Al seems to be grinding away maniacly at something. I wonder what are al’s triggers? There is more here than meets the eye I think!

      • Bryan

        As a matter of fact, you too are on one side of the human consensus and opinion which assumes to be decisive.

    • louismoreaugottschalk

      exactly! i found this blog today b/c i am following up on some research. good to see a familiar face!

  • Jim

    This is a bit off topic, but what sayest thou? (I thought great job DW)

    Inerrantly yours,

  • The “inerrant” crowd has their own methods of explaining away the plain meaning of verses they don’t like. It gets comical after while. For example, a direct command like “sell all you have and give to the poor” is summarily neutralized by claiming Jesus was speaking only to the rich man, as if the Bible was written for only the voyeuristic pleasures of the reader. But then try to apply that very same “context of audience” to epistles specifically addressed to other people, and listen for the howls of objection.

    Everybody chops and cuts and massages the Bible into what they want it to be for them. One of the few honest guys was Thomas Jefferson with his Jefferson Bible, who took a razor blade to the parts he considered “corruptions.” It’s my favorite version.

    With all the contradictory viewpoints presented in the Bible, what passages one emphasizes and understates becomes a mirror of oneself, a Rorschach blot test, defining one’s personality characteristics.

    • louismoreaugottschalk

      …or one’s cult associates/associations!

  • Gene Stecher

    I grew up Evangelical United Brethren, and that group had a slightly different twist on inerrancy. Their pastors were taught to teach the congregations that “the Bible contains all things necessary for salvation.” So we may assume that within the Bible some things had to be equal but not all things had to be equal. I’ve grown into the position that the Bible contains many things necessary for life, which makes it a source of material for great conversation. A major disappointment is that so few value the joy of the conversation.