Inerrancy and infallibility

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by A.Joseph, May 8, 2019.

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  1. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Just curious, sometimes I think the issue of Bible inerrancy is a distraction. I believe infallibility is a more vital testament to cling to. I would give leeway for inaccuracies related to minor details as we would expect with second-hand and eye witness accounts. The authors were inspired but not simply transcribers
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
  2. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Infallibility is a more powerful term. Inerrancy just means no errors. Infallibility means incapable of error.
     
  3. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yeah, but inerrancy places the apologist on the defensive, infallibility does not
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
  4. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Infallibility is the stronger word as I believe Sproul and others have stated. But that didn't stop those who effectively deny both, such as neo-orthodox types, from saying that they believed that the Bible was infallible but not inerrant. (At the same time, they essentially said that only certain parts are infallible.) So inerrancy became the battleground in the 70s.
     
  5. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm not sure that we should be structuring our theology around perceived usefulness in apologetics. It's a slippery slope that ultimately led, historically, to denial of the supernatural altogether.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  6. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Just for context, I’m seeing a lot of sloppy defenses of inerrancy that makes me cringe based on fairly insignificant details used to target the reliability of scripture. My thing is if one writer’s description truly contradicts another, and this may be a translation issue/error, does it matter? Does it effect credibility/infallibility? I say it does not . But there are scholars who argue on the skeptics terms. I wouldn’t even entertain it. I could provide examples, I’d have to look em up. Enns is big on this
     
  7. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    I don’t recommend structuring our theology around anything. I’m just wondering what our definition of inerrancy is and are we truly defending it
     
  8. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Inerrancy is more about God producing a perfect original text consistently with his character. Can God speak in error? No. He is perfect and overrules his servants to accomplish his purposes. So inerrancy is ordinarily applied to the original text at the moment of inspiration (it's more complicated in the compilation of works like Kings, Chronicles, or Proverbs, though the principle still applies to the finished product). That also means that despite the minor (usually inconsequential) errors that have crept in to the manuscript traditions, the original has been providentially preserved within all those manuscripts. Infallibility generally refers to the teaching of the Scriptures. There is much overlap, but still a distinction. Inerrancy focuses on the integrity of the text, infalliblity on the integrity of what the text teaches. From there you have to deal with the issues of interpretation where alleged contradictions are resolved.
     
  9. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    So the writers of scripture are essentially human recorders. In every context? I don’t know, maybe. I don’t have a problem with that being true, but does it have to be that way. I think infallibility is the key. He used flawed men to write down what is most vital for the faith. Maybe a slight inaccuracy is a translation issue... most probably, I’m fine with that too brother!
     
  10. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Did this text (quote by Jesus, no less), Dt.8:3, "Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live," in fact mean: "The portions of the prophetic ink-on-parchment that are actually of the Lord are what men live by; and the rest is filler?" What's the sifting tool?

    Prv.30:5, "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him." I guess, if some word doesn't resonate with my purity detector, it's safe to assume that one's not from God?

    Funny, how every time the liberals decide that certain words of Scripture (doctrine has no other container than the words themselves) are only relatively and culturally--not objectively and always--true (i.e. not from God, but from the fallible man, so sure but so wrong so long ago), that observation conveniently allows them to maintain whatever alternate teaching they're pushing for today.
     
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  11. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think Sam Storms helps us see through liberal attempts to muddy the waters, https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/how-inerrant-is-the-bible.html
    I agree with you about liberals like Enns, but we have nothing to fear and needn’t overreact
     
  12. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    The article is a good one. In #8 Storms makes this observation,
    Note his indication of "so called" language.

    You used the phrases "leeway for inaccuracies" and "slight inaccuracies," to express what you feel is (presumably) the right amount of wiggle-room for staking a position between Enns (for example) and dictation-theory. I don't think that's good language to be using, as to me it strikes as linguistic concession of an important defensive position. Opposing it is not overreaction, in my view.
     
  13. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    I actually agree with you, so maybe you can help me with a few things, I may just need a little straightening out but I’m mostly just being devils advocate
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  14. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    And then on the other hand they can be extremely literalistic and even theocratic when the Bible (usually some out of context and misapplied proof text) seems to be in line with whatever their agenda is this month.
     
  15. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Reviewing again #2, 8 & 9 really helped me... so I guess I convinced myself and I can confidently say inerrant.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  16. Charles Johnson

    Charles Johnson Puritan Board Freshman

    The term "inerrancy" may be relatively recent, but the concept is an essential, historic part of reformed orthodoxy. Countless historic authors defend the idea that any perceived contradictions in the Scriptures are apparent and not actual. One Puritan even wrote a volume claiming to reconcile every perceived contradiction in the volume of Scripture. I believe inerrancy to be an absolutely essential doctrine because any rejection of it turns orthodox epistemology on its head and makes man the judge of Scripture rather than Scripture the judge of man. Once the possibility of Scripture containing error is admitted, anything in it may be an error and man is left the task of determining what he will believe and what he won't.
     
  17. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Ok, I understand. Thanks for that thoughtful and important response. I will definitely be more appreciative of the fact that the Bible is inerrant and perfect. I figured as long as I know the Bible to be true it could be a little off on insignificant details that didn’t have any impact on the validity of essential history, truth, and theology. I know guys like Enns tries to make an errancy case x 100 and run with it in an attempt to present the Bible as unreliable, which I scoff at, but I’m understanding why we need to stand our ground on the Bible being wholly 100% inerrant.

    There are many snares and distractions thrown our way but I feel a little foolish for not having more reverence for this doctrine.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  18. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    A. Joseph,
    AFAIC, it depends on what you find "problematic." I say: if it's problematic, it isn't Scripture. It literally isn't, as far as you are concerned; it's the opposite of Scripture.

    Scripture has the attributes that are listed in WCF 1:1. Scripture is authoritative and reliable, and in tight relationship to each other. It's reliable because it's authoritative, and it's authoritative because it's reliable. God is both authoritative and reliable. I may have some decision to make as to the text, the lettering, and maybe even sometimes which text; but whether it is the Voice of the Lord isn't in question. "My sheep hear my voice." Truthfully, there's not much meaningful uncertainty about text-integrity (scholarly consensus and all); but only in the meaning of what we do have.

    So, if we have two parallel passages in Ki. and Chr., and the numeric values concerning the same event are wildly disparate, the question shouldn't be: "which one is, or is more, "true and the Word of God," and which one isn't; but what could God have meant by offering the reader two, obvious alternative expressions? There are different proposals for resolution to the apparent dilemma (discussed on the PB recently), but even two that are not compatible with each other may each be founded on a robust doctrine of inerrancy/infallibility (all besides the ones that jettison those attributes in part or whole to satisfy some other ultimate commitment).
     
  19. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    I shared this thread with my dad who is also interested in the topic. He does believe in biblical infallibility and inerrancy, BTW. He informed me: "I just read it all. Did you know that Pete Enns was one of my roommates in college?"

    It's a small world...
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
  20. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Interesting, I find people like him somewhat fascinating. Why does he even bother? No hell, pro-SSM, low view of Jesus, etc. What is he holding to? Trashing the validity of scripture has become his niche ... ?

    Maybe he will one day come around???
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
  21. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Ultimately, yes, they are human recorders in every context. They were God's mouthpieces and wrote down every jot and tittle as God intended it to be written. That does not mean that they were in a passive trance-like state and had no control over their hands as they wrote the original manuscripts. Sometimes God said "write this down". Other times he spoke through them as preachers, who wrote down the words later. Sometimes he worked through redactors compiling and explaining as a comprehensive whole (i.e. Kings, Proverbs). Their minds and wills were intact as they worked, and yet they were still "carried along by the Holy Spirit" the whole time, so that every word of the finished product was inspired by God and owned as his Word. This also allows us to better interpret Scripture too. We can acknowledge the historical context and style of an author, knowing that God was speaking through him without error into a specific situation as he wrote.
     
  22. Connor Longaphie

    Connor Longaphie Puritan Board Freshman

    But if you say the Bible is incapable of error would not your opponent then say, then why are there alleged errors? and thus bring you immediately back to inerrancy debate anyway to defend infallibility? because if something is not inerrant it is not and cannot be infallible.
     
  23. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    The inspiring is incapable of errors. That does not apply to aspects of the mss tradition.
     
  24. Connor Longaphie

    Connor Longaphie Puritan Board Freshman

    I never brought up transmission i I was speaking of what is infallible and inerrant
     
  25. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    That was my presumption, but I was mistaken. There are no legit errors.
     
  26. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    But on the basis of transmission someone can explain the existing errata while maintaining infallibility at the level of inspiration.
     
  27. Apologist4Him

    Apologist4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    Biblical inerrancy was practically a non-issue until Biblical criticism both lower and higher became more prevalent. In other fields like Science, theories Darwinian evolution became popularized, along with the influences of Ludwig, Marx, and Nietzsche on philosophical thought. The synthesis of these into Christian thought, led to strong reactions from Christian leaders as can be read in the precise and carefully written Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. Throughout the history of the Church, statements, creeds, and confessions often came as a result of heresies which arose and opposed the central tenants of Christianity. In the case of inerrancy, criticism and skepticism along with the philosophical influences on theology popularized neo-orthodoxy, which brought about the need for the CSBI.
     
  28. Connor Longaphie

    Connor Longaphie Puritan Board Freshman


    If you can't then your textual tradition is trash and can't put any faith into your so called scriptures. If we stand on God's Word we stand on a sure thing. But if we can't find God's Words then we don't have it do we? Best have it then
     
  29. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I am not sure anyone disagrees with that. My point was that we not extend inerrancy to the medieval scribes who are copying the mss.
     
  30. Connor Longaphie

    Connor Longaphie Puritan Board Freshman

    I absolutely agree
     
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