Inerrancy: A Thought Inspired by David P. Himes

First, a warning. I’m on narcotics. Really. I’m trying to pass a kidney stone, and I’ll be stoned until it happens.

I hate narcotics. I get no buzz, only nausea, but it beats the torture that is a kidney stone.

I say this to say that I am not responsible for my own opinions. Necessarily. It could be the drugs.

David wrote,

John 5:39-40 NIV 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Sometimes I feel we miss the point of Scriptures.  According to Jesus, we think we’ll find eternal life in Scripture, but, in fact, we’ll only find eternal life in Jesus.

There is obviously a difference.

David,

Thanks for pointing out this passages. Jesus plainly draws a distinction between the Scriptures and himself. We can’t ignore the passage.

Someone might argue that Jesus’ teaching in this passage applied to the three years of his ministry only, but if so, why did John choose to include that teaching in his book? John edited the book, choosing materials —

(John 20:29-1 NIV) 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

I think that we should take John seriously enough to consider that he reported John 5:39-40 to explain the nature of faith. It’s faith in Jesus, not faith in the Scriptures, even though the Scriptures speak of Jesus.

(John 5:44-47 ESV) 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

On the other hand, Jesus also points out that we if believe the Old Testament (the “Scriptures” of his audience), we must believe Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah.

To me, these passages connect with and contrast to our relationship with the Scriptures under the new covenant. Now, God writes his laws on our hearts and in our minds —

(Heb 8:10-11 ESV) 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

Our usual approach to the Scriptures is very humanistic. We study. We learn the evidences. We conclude the Scriptures are inerrant. We come to faith. It’s all very man-centered, whereas the Scriptures present our relationship to the Word quite differently.

(2Co 3:3-1 ESV) 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?

The Law of Moses — which testifies about Jesus and is, of course, inspired — kills. But Paul’s converts are written, not with ink, but “with the Spirit of the living God … on tablets of human hearts.”

Who is the primary actor? God. Where does he act? In the human heart.

And so Paul boldly contrasts the Spirit’s work in the hearts of Christians with the work of the Scriptures unaided by the Spirit. By themselves, without the Spirit, the Scriptures kill. Do you doubt me? Read Romans 7 and 8 again. It’s God’s gift of the Spirit that rescues us from our inability to obey God’s Word.

(Rom 8:1-4 ESV) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,  4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Returning to 2 Corinthians 3 —

9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory.

Paul can even refer to the Law of Moses as “the ministry of condemnation”! Why? Because it didn’t bring the Spirit!

10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

“Glory” refers to the presence of God. God was present through the tabernacle, but the new covenant provides a much greater presence of God — through the Spirit.

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

God’s presence within us is greater than his presence among the Israelites in the tabernacle. And this glory — the Spirit — transforms us into the image of the Lord — we are returned to the image of God in which we were first created! And this is the work of God: “this comes from the Lord.”

Paul teaches the same thing in Philippians —

(Phi 2:12-13 ESV) 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

While v. 12 plainly says we must choose to work with God, it is ultimately God who works in us to be the people he wants.

(Heb 8:10-11 ESV)  10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

The author of Hebrews also teaches that under the new covenant, God himself will write his laws on our hearts and in our minds. This is different from the Law of Moses, and so involves a change different in kind from studying and trying our best to obey. Indeed, if God himself writes on our hearts and in our minds, through the Spirit, how dare we conclude that the Spirit’s work is trivial?

And, of course, God writes on some badly flawed material. Our hearts and minds are broken, and while God is busy repairing the damage, they remain imperfect and so his Word is not perfectly recorded — just as we fail to perfectly comprehend his written Word. But it’s still his Word that he writes.

We could continue with a more thorough study of Romans 8 and other passages, but this should be enough to show that our relationship with Jesus and God is about much more than the Scriptures. The Jews had the Scriptures, considered them inerrant, and were (on the whole) damned. They rejected Jesus and, as a result, did not receive the Spirit.

In contemporary evangelical jargon, it’s about a “relationship.” More precisely, it’s about God Almighty working within us to shape us into his image, despite our brokenness and failings. It’s therefore not about the perfection of our systematic theology or epistemology. It’s about submitting to God’s work in us.

The Scriptures are, of course, a huge part of how God shapes us — but so is the church that surrounds us, our friends in Christ, our prayer life, our ministry experience — it’s the whole of our Christianity, which is much, much bigger than our time spent in the Word.

Yes, if we have a low view of the Scriptures we will struggle with our faith in Jesus. Absolutely! But the same is true if we have a low view of the Spirit’s work in our lives. And if we have a low view of the importance of the church and if we have a low view of the importance of prayer and if we have a low view of the need to be personally involved in ministering to others.

(Mat 25:40 ESV) 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

It’s in serving others that we come face to face with Jesus!

This is not at all to diminish the Scriptures, because I learned all this from the Scriptures. Rather, it’s to remove the Scriptures from the temple as an object to be worshiped, and to return Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to the temple, so that we worship as we should — instructed by the Spirit, through the Scriptures, but not just through the Scriptures.

And when we think like this, our Christianity becomes much more Christ focused and much less focused on our brilliant intellect and studies. It becomes more about being a servant than mastering the four theories explaining why the order of the cursing of the fig tree doesn’t threaten our faith. And it makes our relationship with Jesus a relationship with a living person who loves us and communicates with us, not just a book.

Our faith in therefore matured, from a faith built on the perfection of the Scriptures to a faith built on a lived relationship with a person who loves me.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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26 Responses to Inerrancy: A Thought Inspired by David P. Himes

  1. Thanks for getting us back on track!
    Jerry

  2. Alan says:

    Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
    Gal 5:23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    Love, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, self-control, and the rest are fruits of the Spirit — things the Holy Spirit produces within us. And yet:

    2Pe 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;
    2Pe 1:6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;
    2Pe 1:7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

    So we are not passive recipients of these fruits. We are called to make every effort.

    Therefore, Jay, when you say

    The author of Hebrews also teaches that under the new covenant, God himself will write his laws on our hearts and in our minds. This is different from the Law of Moses, and so involves a change different in kind from studying and trying our best to obey.

    I think you present a false dichotomy. It’s not either-or, but both-and.

    I’m sure your medications are to blame. Sorry to hear of your struggles (again!). I’ve said a prayer for you. Please be better soon.

  3. CyclingDude says:

    What Jerry said….

    Alan,

    I don’t see any false dichotomy, unless maybe you believe that someone would actually consider the possibility that you can passively add the fruit of the Spirit characteritics to your faith. You would have to completely separate yourself from all human experience to believe that. I suspect Jay never considered anyone would come to such a conclusion. I think the point is we no longer focus on obedience to legal commands, as typified by the OT law. Our focus is adding or increasing, within our personality, those characteristics which make us more like Jesus. The goal of our faith is not attempting to please God through obedience. The goal is metamorphosis.

  4. JMF says:

    *Random thoughts forthcoming —

    I honestly don’t get faith.

    So…

    I am supposed to have faith in God (whom I haven’t seen)…but you say I can see Him though nature, Scripture, etc. Perhaps I decide to credit things to Buddha instead.

    Then you say, “God/Jesus are historically accurate and backed up by fail-proof Scripture…Buddha is not.”

    And so I am back to needing my intellect to discern who God is…

    I find the concept of faith highly unfair. Then again, I recall a lesson on God not being fair. :) I dunno, sometimes this all seems like one giant Pascal’s Wager to me.

    Rant over. And no, I’m not even on narcotics. :) And I have no idea if my thoughts relate to this post. But it is what I’ve been thinking about all week in regards to the inerrancy threads.

  5. Alabama John says:

    Jay,

    Have you drank 2 ozs of Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with 2 ozs of honey? Some use olive oil instead of honey.
    Great cure for stones both kidney and gall.
    Eases, then stops the pain pretty quick too.

  6. Grizz says:

    Jay,

    Why not take a few days off util you pass the kidney stones? Just a suggestion. Or you could ask someone to guest write for a few days if you feel obligated.

    JMF,

    What do you think lies at the heart of your crisis of faith? Is it the inerrancy question alone? Just seems like there is more to it from over here.

    Praying for you both,
    Jay – for life and quality of life,
    JMF – for God to grow your faith/trust in this time of questions, (which is the best time, sometimes),

    Grizz

  7. Alan says:

    CyclingDude wrote:

    I don’t see any false dichotomy, unless maybe you believe that someone would actually consider the possibility that you can passively add the fruit of the Spirit characteritics to your faith.

    I was responding to Jay’s statement that our approach in Christianity is “involves a change different in kind from studying and trying our best to obey.” It certainly sounds like he said we no longer need to study and try our best to obey — because God writes his laws on our hearts. I believe the Holy Spirit is the instrument used to write the laws on our hearts. But we are still called to make every effort. So in Christianity, we have both: the power of the Holy Spirit, plus making every effort ourselves. Both-and, not either-or.

  8. Kirk says:

    In response to Alan and CyclingDude, the topic of your discussion is something I have recently been working through myself. Trying to understand the balance between my efforts and work of God and the Spirit. Coming from a conservative background within the church, I’ve always stood on the platform of being in the Word in order to do my best to obey it. This is how I’ve always explained being “led by the Spirit” or “living by the Spirit”. That is, I study the Word, which was given by inspiration of the Spirit, see what it says to do, and then do it. And voila, I’m living by the Spirit.

    However, I’ve been questioning that view lately. This morning, I finished reading Francis Chan’s book “Forgotten God”. In it, he discusses how Christian churches have come to rely less and less on the Holy Spirit and instead we rely on our own abilities to do the work of God. I’m not one who believes in the direct empowerment and miracle working, such as we see taking place in the scriptures, and Chan wasn’t pushing this idea in his book. What he was suggesting is for us to stop focusing so much on doing and instead focus more on being. Chan suggests that if we do this, then the “doing” part will happen, but on a greater level. In speaking of the fruit of the Spirit developing in our lives, he says,

    “Despite our inability to change ourselves in this way, to simply become more peaceful or more joyful, we expend a great deal of effort trying. We focus on what God wants us to DO and forget the kind of people God wants us to BE”.

    This really summed up how I have been feeling lately. I’ve been so focused over the years of what God wants me to do (or to not do) that I’ve ignored who He wants me to be. A read through Hebrews 11 will show a list of people who were non-miraculously led by the Spirit and had a tremendous amount of faith. Truth be told, my faith is nowhere near any of theirs and I believe the problem is that I have been trying to fulfill my checklist of easy TO-DOs rather than trusting in the Spirit to get me through the really challenging things. Like slaying a fully weaponized and armored giant, that’s 4 times my size, with a primitive weapon in my hand. Me, I would’ve been running the other way along with the rest of the Israelite army. I’m now striving to trust more in the Spirit’s power in order to step out on faith and do things that I otherwise would be terrified to do.

    So, I see it as a two way street. God, the Spirit, and Jesus are all there waiting and willing to help me do amazing things in the Kingdom. Things that I otherwise view as impossible for me to do. But, nothing is going to happen until I step out on faith and start moving.

  9. Kirk says:

    By the way, how do you guys insert these nice looking quote blocks?

  10. Alan says:

    By the way, how do you guys insert these nice looking quote blocks?

    <blockquote> quoted text goes here </blockquote>

    Hopefully that will display correctly.

  11. When I wrote Jay, I also cited another passage which seems applicable here: John 6:28-29 (NIV)

    28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

    29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

    Notice, that the works of God are not studying scripture, not doing good works, not following the right rules … the work of God is to believe in Jesus.

    I’m not saying that study is wrong or good works are wrong, but rather I’m trying to encourage us to put first things first … if we truly believe Jesus is who we say he is, then it changes everything we do after that.

    There is a fundamental principle here, which we need not to lose sight of.

    The point of John 5:39-40, in my view, is to remind us that we should be using scripture to find Jesus … not to find rules.

  12. Alan says:

    The point of John 5:39-40, in my view, is to remind us that we should be using scripture to find Jesus … not to find rules.

    True… but the purpose of the scriptures go beyond just being converted to Jesus. They also talk about how to live once you have been converted.

    Remember, God created us in his image, but we fell into sin. God sent Jesus to redeem us. Redeeming us involves not only paying the penalty for sin but also lifting us out of sin. There are many aspects of that. We need to learn to shun evil and to do righteousness. We need to learn to love like God loves. In short, we need to be restored to the image of God. There’s a lot to be learned. We’re farther from the goal than we might imagine.

  13. Alan wrote:

    We need to learn to shun evil and to do righteousness. We need to learn to love like God loves. In short, we need to be restored to the image of God.

    In other words, we need to become like Jesus who is the exact image of the Father according to Hebrews 1:1-3.

    I totally agree with your conclusion, but “being converted to Jesus” is more than starting the journey; it is also walking with Jesus each step of the way. I appreciate that you are stressing this daily walk with Him.

    Jerry

  14. abasnar says:

    Jesus plainly draws a distinction between the Scriptures and himself.

    It’s NOT a distinction, Jay! Christ is the WORD of God, His LOGOS, ratio, mind! The whole written word of God is full of Christ, because He IS the Word. The scribes and pharisees missed it, because they did not grasp this mystery!

    So there is no distinction between the Scriptures and Christ, but rather there is identity!

    And this – think about it – has a lot to do with the inerrancy … of Christ!

    Alexander

  15. Alexander,
    I agree, Jesus is the Word … obviously, from John 1. However, the logos is not a reference to the Text. It is a reference to the substance of the knowledge of God.

    There is a distinction between the Scriptures and Christ. Even Jesus noted the distinction in John 5:39-40. While the Text may include all we need to know about God and Jesus … there is also no doubt that there is more to know about God and Jesus than what can be understood or even contained in the pages of the Text.

  16. Alabama John says:

    David, How I agree with you.

    For most of my life I explained and taught that scripture John 6:29 to mean if you BELIEVE, then you will (by NE) OBEY and right to listing the points I thought should be obeyed. Those points are what we in the church of Christ disagree on so. Believe is never to stand alone.

    How to get our brothers and sisters to simply read the verse for what it says.

  17. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Alan,

    I also wrote,

    While v. 12 [of Phil 2:12-13] plainly says we must choose to work with God, it is ultimately God who works in us to be the people he wants.

    Is it both-and? Of course. But both-and has to be correctly understood.

    The “fruit of the Spirit” refers to the natural outgrowth the Spirit. A tree produces fruit because it is a tree of the kind that produces fruit. It’s not an act of will so much as the nature of the tree. (Stick with me.)

    If I’m a Christian and not producing fruit, it’s not that I’m passive. Rather, I’m actively resisting the work of the Spirit in my life. I’m at war with God — which is very far from passive. (And it’s not a good place to be.)

    But if the Spirit is effectively transforming me, I’m working hard to be transformed. I’m not passive here at all, because God is changing my mind and my heart so that my will will be conformed to his will. I’ll want what God wants!

    Yes, I’ll work hard, be disciplined, and struggle to become the man God wants me to be — but it’s the work of God in me that makes me want to be pleasing to him so much that I overcome my fleshly desires and allow the Spirit to work in me.

    So, in being transformed, I’m very active — but it’s an activity from a heart with God’s law written on it.

    (Phi 2:12-13 ESV) 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

    “For” translates gar, which precedes an explanation of what goes before. The fact that God is working in me explains why I must work out my own salvation. I don’t work out my salvation in order to receive the Spirit. No, I have the Spirit and so I work with the Spirit, who is changing my will. I work hard because God loves me so much he’ll help that work be productive and cause the work to be transforming.

    Thus, Paul sometimes speaks of the Spirit’s work in the passive voice —

    (Rom 12:2 ESV) 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

    “Be transformed” refers to what the Spirit does in our hearts (as Paul had explained back in c. 8). The Spirit transforms me. I don’t transform me. But the fact that Paul issues a command means I have to submit to the Spirit. The Spirit doesn’t overwhelm my free will. The command is necessary. So is my obedience to it.

    But when I obey the command, I do so with God helping me through the Spirit to obey the command. My submission to the Spirit is with the help of God.

    (Rom 8:5-7 ESV) 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

    If we set our minds on the Spirit, we will be led by the Spirit and thereby empowered to submit to God’s law. Thus, when we actively submit, we do it with God’s help. The Helper helps.

    In short, we are always active — either in actively resisting the Spirit or in actively cooperating with the Spirit. But when we actively cooperate, even that cooperation is helped and empowered by the work of the Spirit in our lives.

    Regarding 2 Peter 1:5-7, notice the preceding verses —

    (2Pe 1:3-5 ESV) 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,

    Why do we “make every effort” to gain these virtues? Because God has shared his “divine nature” and “granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” These virtues have been given to us by God’s grace, if only we’ll claim them.

    But we don’t claim them by merely asking. We claim them by making every effort — hard work, for sure – but work that is motivated by God’s own nature in us. We want to undertake the work necessary to gain these virtues because God is busy writing his will on our hearts.

    We are active, but so is God. Yes, Peter needed to remind his readers to do these things, because our natural condition is one of being at war with God. To stop fighting God and instead cooperate with God requires a change of attitude and thought patterns.

    (Rom 12:2 ESV) 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

    Thanks very much for your prayers. The stones passed last night shortly before 9:36.

    But we are promised help even in doing that.

  18. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Ala John,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I have a long list of home remedies from friends and wasn’t looking forward to having to try some of them. Fortunately, the stones passed last night.

  19. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Grizz,

    What’s better for pain management than chatting about God’s word with people who love God’s word like I do?

    Better to stay busy than to watch TV and feel sorry for myself.

  20. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Kirk,

    Good thoughts. You know, we are all bad to overlook that many instructions about what kind of people to be in preference to the commands about what to do. The fruit of the Spirt are qualities of character rather than a to do list.

    No, I’m not creating a dichotomy between being and doing. It’s just that to be transformed, our character must change — but so must our behavior. Being and doing are synergistic — and it takes both.

  21. Royce Ogle says:

    Jay,

    Your most recent reply addressed to Alan is excellent.

    Royce

  22. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    JMF,

    You have my sympathy and empathy. It’s hard to respond as your comments are so abbreviated, but I’ll give it a try and you should, please, tell me if I’m not making sense.

    1. I teach Christian evidences routinely at my church. I’ve never built the case for Christ on inerrancy — and that’s not because of doubt but because it’s simply not a needed step in the logical chain — and in a college church, inerrancy creates more problems than it solves in terms of making the case. I mean, I don’t want to be lured into spending most of the quarter wrestling with who wrote John.

    It’s enough to demonstrate the reliability of the Scriptures, which is easily done. And from there, it’s easy to introduce to the students to Jesus. Long before a student arrives at faith in Jesus or accepts the inspiration of the Scriptures, the student can understand that the Jesus of history claimed not only to be the Messiah of prophesy but God. There are countless passages where this is claimed or strongly implied to a Jewish audience. It’s no surprise so many wanted him dead for blasphemy!

    We then turn to the argument of C. S. Lewis that a man who claims to be God is either Lord, liar, or lunatic. It’s a good argument.

    And then we come to the resurrection. For some reason, the disciples concluded that their Messiah, who claimed to be God in the flesh, really was God in the flesh despite being crucified. Nothing explains that as well as an actual resurrection.

    None of this requires inerrancy. On the other hand, it does require a measure of faith — faith that the Gospel writers didn’t make all this up. N. T. Wright and many others have argued that the inconsistencies in the Gospels are typical of eyewitness accounts. If this was all a fraud, then conspirators would have told the exact same story.

    Even if we resolve all the inconsistencies, you’d think conspirators wouldn’t have created even apparent contradictions that could be used against them. The only reason they’d allow apparent inconsistencies is if they were so convinced that they were telling the truth, there was no need to compare notes and get their stories “straight.” The accounts are largely independent — even if they share some common material.

    This line of teaching doesn’t lead to a Pascal’s wager, but to faith, when buttressed by other teachings, I’ll get to. I don’t quote odds and I’m not a fan of Pascal’s approach. And inerrancy is not necessary to the arguments made.

    2. You have to compare stories. Compare the story of a God who so loves the world that he dies on a cross to bring salvation to the claims of any other religion. Compare the Christian view of man as made in God’s image but fallen to any other worldview, and you find that Christianity fits the facts far better than any other.

    3. The Bible repeatedly claims that the Creation tells us about God.

    Creation from nothing
    God exists outside of time

    As I’ve said before, I don’t accept young-earth creationism. Indeed, I find the image of God written all over the ancient history of the universe — especially the inability of science to explain the just-right conditions of the universe to support intelligent life. This is such an astonishing fact that many philosophers and scientists spend considerable energies seeking to deal with the extreme improbability that the universe would support life anywhere.

    (Rom 1:20 ESV) 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse

    (Psa 19:1-6 ESV) The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, 5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

    The Psalmist got it right.

    I love reading science because I see God proclaimed in everything from quantum mechanics, to DNA, to the shape of the universe. (I really love teaching this material.)

    4. To me, the ultimate proof of the validity of the Christian faith is the result of Christianity in history. And I’m glad to do a few classes on how Christianity — when true to its principles — transforms the world for good.

    But in my congregation, I can also point to members who’ve been transformed, even people who were rescued from addiction, who literally went from eating out of dumpsters to recovery from addiction to employed, self-supporting members of society — by the power of Jesus.

    The greatest evidence for faith is Christianity lived. The greatest barrier to faith is Christianity not lived.

    5. The biggest objection to Christianity I have to deal with is the injustice of God not saving everyone. And the answer depends, of course, on defining “justice” and getting past a view of hell that is indeed very unjust.

    Once we see God as just, we should be amazed at how he can save anyone? And when our hearts protest that some are damned, well, that’s the Holy Spirit in us crying that the church and its members aren’t doing more to spread the gospel. Because God is not satisfied with mere justice. Our dissatisfaction with so many being lost in the world — even though damnation is certainly just — shows the extent to which God’s image has been restored in us. We protest because we feel as God feels.

  23. abasnar says:

    @ David

    I don’t think it is very wise to make this distiction an a debate on th inerrance of scripture. The same qualities of “Word” that applies to Christ, also apply to the sriptures.

    Some examples:

    Christ said we have to eat his flesh, He is the bread of life.
    But He also said we live from every Word of God (quoting scripture, meaning scripture).

    Christ lives forever and won’t pass away, and He said about His words that they won’t pass away either (those written words).

    Christ so identified with they scriptures, that He said “they speak of me” – law, prophets, psalems all are full of Christ. You can actually find Him on almost every page of the OT, either in an explicit prophecy or by a type or shadow of which He is the body.

    When we in a debate as ours now make a distinction in order to be “free” to say that the scriptures contain errors, but keep an “inerrant” Christ, we dream of “hot ice-cream”. hen we say the scriptures contain errors, we take away from the inerrancy of Christ, because the same Logos that inspired the Scriptures – mark that: the same Logos – became flesh.

    To make that better understood, some quotes from the ECF:

    Athenagoras: The Son of God is the Logos of the Father, in idea and in operation. For all things were made after the pattern of Him and by him – the Father and the Son being one. The Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son, in oneness an power of spirit. The Understanding and Reason of the Father is the Son of God.

    Irenaeus: Among the Greeks there is one definition of logos which means “the üprinciple that thinks.” There is also another definition that means “the instrument by means of which thought is expessed.” … But God is all Mind and all Word. So He speaks exactly what He thinks.

    Lactantius: The Greeks speak of Him, more appropriately than we (Romans) do as the “Word” or “Speech”. For Logos means both speech and reason. And He is both the Voice and the Wisdom of God.

    Do we still marvel at God’s creation? Everything – the seen and unseen universe – He created by His Logos – i.e. through Christ – but also through His Wisdom (Prov 8 – a fine example for identification of God’s Wisdom and Christ). God makes it clear to everyone that we are not able to make better suggestions for His creation in Job and Isaiah and other texts.

    The same Logos inspired the scriptures, that’s why Logos is also used the written word of God (Heb 4:12), it is a living word therefore. God’s mind and wisdom expressed and clothed in human language – such as Christ is God’s mind and wisdom in human flesh. Both are divine, both are holy, both are living, both are inerrant.

    I ask myself whoe these people are that try to make the scriptures look like a book full of major or meven minor errors that we can’t trust in every detail, and how they respond to Paul:

    Rom 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
    Rom 11:34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
    Rom 11:35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
    Rom 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

    Because if we claim to see errors in the scriptures, we are de-facto correcting God, claiming to be a able to make a better job that He did, or at least we are saying: “He should have listened to us.”

    Not that you, David, have this attitude (I hope not) – but this is the spirit I recognize behind all critics of the Bible. And therefore I flee from it and want to have nothing to do with it. But maybe you and others are not aware who is influencig your theology …

    Alexander

  24. Alexander
    You’re a very thoughtful guy and always make well thought out points.

    And we have nuanced disagreement. I think this is a relevant point when talking about inerrancy, because the very word, inerrancy, suggests a certain view of the Text. And identifying our expectations of what the Text provides influences our understanding and interpretation of the Text.

    In the NT, the phrase “Word of God” cannot be a reference to the NT itself; obviously, since the NT did not exist at the time. Thayer’s allows for the translation as “revelation of God”, which I think would be much better.

    And it points out that what we are seeking is the revelation from God, not just written words on a page.

    Romans 2:14 points out that the Gentiles “by their nature” follow the Law, even though they don’t know the Law. One point that can be taken from that passage is that people can learn things about God outside the Text (that creates some risk if are not confident of our own faith, and if we are limited in our view of God by the Text).

    There is a sense in which this thought crosses over into the debate over the “indwelling of the Spirit.”

    The Text leads us to the revelation of God.

    For example, is the story of creation intended to be a literally blow-by-blow account of God’s creation, or is it intended to highlight that, however he did it, creation was at the hand of God?

    Even if someone could prove the falseness of the first premise about Genesis 1, it would not threaten my faith, because the second premise remains true.

    You wrote:

    The same Logos inspired the scriptures, that’s why Logos is also used the written word of God (Heb 4:12), it is a living word therefore. God’s mind and wisdom expressed and clothed in human language – such as Christ is God’s mind and wisdom in human flesh. Both are divine, both are holy, both are living, both are inerrant.

    That’s a terrific paragraph. At least, I think so, because it’s the very point I’m making. The Text is a derivative of the revelation of God … but they are not synonyms.

    Personally, I’ve never found anything in the Text, which I would acknowledge as an “error.” So, in that sense, I believe the Text is inerrant. But, at the same time, I don’t believe the point of the Text is to be “inerrant.” The point of the Text is to direct us to find the revelation of God … who is Jesus and how he loved us.

  25. abasnar says:

    OK, I think we agree – according to the last paragraph – and that’s very beautiful :-)

    Alexander

    P.S.: Belief in the inerrancy of scripture is not a requirement for fellowship or baptism; in our congregation it is only a requirement for being a teacher.

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