Why Biblical Inerrancy is Important — and Always Will Be

954634_bible (1)Forty years ago, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (hereafter LCMS) was in an uproar. Its Saint Louis seminary president, John Tietjen, was suspended in the January 20, 1974 meeting of the seminary’s Board of Control. On January 21st the majority of the seminary students declared a “moratorium” on classes and the majority of the faculty went on strike. This resulted in the well-known “walk-out” of most of the faculty and students on February 19th, viewed on broadcast television throughout the United States. Subsequently the majority of students and faculty formed the “Seminex” seminary, graduating its first class on May 24, 1974. Two years later, in December 1976, the “Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches” (AELC) was formed with 250 former LCMS congregations and with “Seminex” as its partner seminary and guiding light.

What was the issue in this intense church struggle? The doctrinal issue was expressed at the 1973 LCMS convention when it adopted Resolution 3-01, which included a resolved to accept “A Statement of Scriptural and Confessional Principles” (hereafter “1973 Statement”) as the expression of “the Synod’s position on current doctrinal issues.” What was the result of this struggle within the LCMS? The standard reference work by E.T. & M.B. Bachmann, Lutheran Churches in the World: A Handbook (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1989) states that by means of the departure of the Seminex faculty and the AELC, as well as the severing of fellowship with the ALC, the LCMS ’reclaimed its historic confessional stance on the doctrine of the authority of Scripture’ and reaffirmed its ban on the ordination of women to the pastoral office.(ibid., p. 607).

“Biblical inerrancy” was the most contested idea and term in this struggle. Biblical inerrancy was affirmed absolutely, with plenary range and without qualification, in the 1973 Statement, which declared: We therefore believe, teach, and confess that since the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God, they contain no errors or contradictions but that they are in all their parts and words the infallible truth. We hold that the opinion that Scripture contains errors is a violation of the sola scriptura, for it rests upon the acceptance of some norm or criterion of truth above the Scriptures. We recognize that there are apparent contradictions or discrepancies and problems which arise because of uncertainty over the original text. (see This We Believe: Selected Topics of Faith and Practice in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod[St Louis: The LCMS, n.d., p. 78]; also see online ).

Conservative Protestants in the United States recognized that the struggle within the LCMS was similar to their own struggles. In 1978, four years after the “walk-out,” the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy adopted the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy” (see Normal L. Geisler, Inerrancy [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979], 493-502; also see online ). The 1978 Chicago Statement has become a reference point for the definition of “biblical inerrancy” among conservative Protestants and Evangelicals. But then I have recently noticed—due to a number of books by Evangelical publishers, articles by Evangelical journals, and indications in Evangelical institutions–that the Chicago Statement and “biblical inerrancy” is being ignored, considered passé, even attacked. What does this mean?

I cannot answer what this means for conservative Protestants and Evangelicals in America, since I do not participate in their conferences, conventions, or societies. But I can answer the question of what a rejection of “biblical inerrancy” means. It means that the Christian who attacks “biblical inerrancy” has uncritically accepted the arguments of Liberal Protestants; or maybe in some cases, has actually apostasized from the faith. I recognize that there are many laypeople in mainline and Evangelical churches who don’t affirm “biblical inerrancy” because they have never been taught it, or they don’t understand its significance. They affirm and believe in the saving faith as expressed in the three Christian creeds, and so for that reason are bona fide Christians.

My concern is with all people who reject or attack “biblical inerrancy” when its meaning has been properly explained, e.g., in the 1973 Statement or the 1978 Chicago Statement. Such people are not bona fide Christians, but Liberals.

I don’t mean “liberal” in the way it is commonly used as an adjective. I mean “Liberal” in the sense of a comprehensive philosophy of life that may include religious components. This is the definition of “Liberal” employed by Dr. Gary Dorrien, the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary—New York and Professor of Religion at Columbia University. In his magisterial three-volume history of American Liberal Theology, Dorrien carefully defines the term “Liberal” in this way: Fundamentally [liberal theology] is the idea of a genuine Christianity not based on external authority. Liberal theology seeks to reinterpret the symbols of traditional Christianity in a way that creates a progressive religious alternative to atheistic rationalism and to theologies based on external authority (my emphases; see Gary Dorrien, The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion, 1805-1900 [Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001], xxiii).

Notice that Liberal theology is a third worldview, which Dorrien calls a “third way” between atheism and traditional Christianity (ibid., xxi). Liberal theology rejects external religious authority, i.e., it rejects the authority of the Pope, of Patriarchs, of creeds and confessions, of church councils, of church fathers, and especially of the Bible. In this respect, the 1973 Statement was absolutely brilliant when it declared: “We hold that the opinion that Scripture contains errors is a violation of the sola scriptura, for it rests upon the acceptance of some norm or criterion of truth above the Scriptures.” The norm or criterion of truth for Liberal theology is the internal authority of the religious-person’s own mind, informed by the preaching of the Liberal preacher and scholarship of the Liberal professor. So according to the Liberal perspective, whatever the religious-person finds offensive, or disagreeable, or contradictory, or problematic in the Bible must be an error and rejected by definition. The idea of “Biblical inerrancy” is thus not just an affirmation of the quality of the Bible, but is really a rejection of the fundamental principle of the Liberal worldview.

Because of this historic-and-contemporary conflict in worldviews, i.e., between a Christian faith based on the external authority of Scriptures and the Liberal faith based on an internal authority, “Biblical inerrancy” has become the homoousion of the 20th and 21st centuries. It will never cease to be a dividing line, until the one worldview or the other collapses. Those Protestant churches which affirm the external authority of Scripture cannot abandon “Biblical inerrancy,” as explained either by the 1973 Statement (for Lutherans) or the 1978 Chicago Statement (for Evangelicals), without thereby actually adopting the Liberal religious worldview in whole or in part. And such a worldview is not Christian.


Comments

Why Biblical Inerrancy is Important — and Always Will Be — 202 Comments

  1. Gary :
    We should hold to the belief that all revelation ended at Pentecost.

    So the early Church Paul believed that Paul was not speaking the truth when he claimed to have received revelations, and we should believe that, also? Christ never revealed Himself to him?
    And yet, even though the early Church believed that these were untruthful claims on his part, the early Church accepted these claims into its Canon?
    That is a very interesting invention you have come up with, there …

  2. @Jim Pierce #50
    Rhetorical, but thank you for your reply. I think an important distinction needs to be made. I would not consider most of what Gary says is an “error” an error. An addition of the angel stirring the pool may be a clarification added later, but that does not mean it is an error. And it does not mean it is not true. An “error” would be a misspelled word or a misprinted vowel in Hebrew. Does that make sense? This was how it was presented to me in my synoptic gospel class when we talked about the ending to Mark 16. Was this part of the original text? Maybe, maybe not. Does it mean that it is not true? No. Does it mean it is not Gods Word? Not necessarily. All it means is that we don’t see evidence that it was part of what Mark originally wrote. Like you said, if we find an early text that does have it, big deal. If we don’t, big deal.

  3. @Rev. McCall #2

    I agree with you and I think you make excellent points. It could be that an angel did stir the pool, but just because a report of that truth is a later insertion doesn’t make the event any less factual, should it have occurred. IOW, just because the account is removed from the text doesn’t necessarily mean there was an “error” in the reporting of the event.

    What you are saying here makes good sense to me.

  4. Obviously something was happening at the pool – with or without the inserted explanation. Otherwise, why the urge to get in there? Why the frustration of the lame man that others would always get in before him?
    It seems that the insertion only makes explicit what was implicit in the text – or that to which the original testimony may somehow have been lost in the process.

  5. Revelation of NEW doctrine, not that Paul’s epistles were not inspired.

    Do you believe that Paul presents any new doctrines in his epistles that were not already existent in the Church since Pentecost?

  6. I believe that the writings of Paul cast light upon truths upon which the same light would not have been cast had the writings of Paul not cast that light upon them.

    I do believe that if any teaching can be said to be found in the writings of Paul that is not found elsewhere, this is nonehteless divine truth, entrusted as it has been to the Church of Christ through one of His chosen Prophets and Apostles via the Holy Spirit.

    I cannot think of any examples right now, and I do not consider this discussion important or interesting enough for me to take time to look into it.

    And I am fairly convinced that if I or anyone else were to present any examples of truths uniquely taught by Paul, it would only lead to an inane discussion as to whether or not light cast on truths taught elsewhere is really new doctrine or not, and whether or not new doctrine is only new light cast on old truths – as we all know, there are things no Scotsman would ever do – since any Scotsman who did would thereby cease to be a true Scotsman.

  7. @Jais H. Tinglund #4

    You are correct.

    But the example of the “angel stirring the pool” scribe-addition validates my point that all the stories, teachings, doctrines in the Bible are true and ARE the Word of God, but not every detail of minutia in our Bibles necessarily is.

    Somebody got the statistics for the Battle of Helam, and many other facts of minutia in the OT, wrong; and every manuscript of the OT that exists today that contains these accounts has retained these inaccurate statistics. Does that prove that God has not preserved his Word? No. It just means that God allowed human beings to make errors in minor details in the text, whether they happened centuries later during the process of copying the text, or even if it occurred as the original author was writing down the inspired Word. The errors in minutia do not affect our Faith, but they do PROVE that not every factual bit of minutia in the Bible is correct.

  8. @Rev. McCall #45

    If a Roman Catholic tells you that as a Lutheran you should believe in Purgatory and that Mary is the primary intercessor for our prayers, you can quote Scripture to them, but they will quote Scripture back (which they have twisted to agree with their false teaching) to say that the Bible does support it.

    A Baptist fundamentalist will show you extensive passages from Scripture that “prove” that salvation occurs only by an adult “making a decision for Christ”, that infants should not be baptized, and that the Lord’s Supper is only a memorial service.

    The liberal will show from the Bible how we should believe that the Creation story is an allegory, that Jonah was an allegory, how homosexuality was not really a sin, and that Jesus was not really bodily resurrected,.

    And the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses will use the Bible to “prove” their doctrines.

    You won’t win an argument with any of these people just by using the Bible. But ask these people to show you credible existence of their beliefs in the Early Church and they cannot. That is why the oral tradition of the Church is so important.

  9. @Gary #8
    What you appear to be failing to realize is that the details added are not wrong or incorrect just because they were possibly added later. It does not even mean they are “errors.” All it means is that someone earlier did not include it for whatever reason. Or maybe they did. How do we know that the angel account wasn’t in the original account and the oldest manuscript we have is actually the wrong one since it left it out? Later a scribe caught the omission and inserted it back into a later text. You just don’t know Gary. And that is where and why text criticism must stop at that point. All text criticism can properly say is that there are varients in the text. Period. To call it an error means that you somehow know what the original text actually was. If that is the case then you sir are more inspired than the writers of Scripture themselves.

  10. Gary :
    You won’t win an argument with any of these people just by using the Bible. But ask these people to show you credible existence of their beliefs in the Early Church and they cannot. That is why the oral tradition of the Church is so important.

    Gary,

    I don’t know if you realize it, but what you write is tantamount to a rejection of sola scriptura. Scripture alone is the rule and norm for our teachings, not “the oral tradition of the Church.”

  11. I really feel this discussion is going nowhere, over nothing, and has for a long time.

    I suggest, Gary, that you start over:

    Forget the final conclusions you had drawn already at the beginning based on your faith in Bart Ehrman as an absolute inerrant authority as to which parts of Holy Scripture represent discrepancies or non-authentic material.

    Take your questions to somebody with significant insights in this area (by this recommendation I am referring those questions that are really questions, rather than judgements and lectures in disguise), not on this sight, but by reading the literature to which you have been referred. I would like to add to the list John Warwick Montgomery’s Tractacus Logico Theologicus – which, in spite of the title, is not written all in Latin.

    And then, and not until then: Draw your conclusions.

    In a forum like this it is very easy to become ensnared and entangled in a pattern of making things up as you go along – as well as in the premature conclusions to which you have already previously committed, while you were going along.

    And it easily ends up in a discussion that seems to be only about itself, and to exist only for its own sake.

    My thoughts.

  12. @Rev. McCall #10

    I never said that the account of the angel stirring the waters of the Pool of Bethesda is an error. All I’m saying is that if the oldest manuscripts do not have that addition to the story, then that addition is most likely NOT inspired, therefore there are words in our Bibles that God did not say.

    I do believe that the discrepancy in the account of the Battle of Helam is a true error. Some human being got his details confused. Either 700 charioteers were killed or 7,000…it cannot be both. An error was made. By faith, I do not believe that it was God who made the error, it was a human being. Possibly a scribe making one of the original copies, and even possibly the author of the book himself. Why must we teach our children that every detail of minutia in the Bible came straight out of the mouth of God. Why don’t we just admit that there are some errors in minor details but that these errors do not affect our doctrines or teachings?

    Here is another “discrepancy” between parallel texts. Is there an error or are both accounts correct?

    2 Samuel 24:9 (ESV)

    And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to the king: in Israel there were 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were 500,000.

    1 Chronicles 21:5 (ESV)

    And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to David. In all Israel there were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword, and in Judah 470,000 who drew the sword.

  13. @Jim Pierce #11

    “sola scriptura” does not mean that the printed Bible is our ONLY authority. That is the point I am making.

    “sola scriptura” means that the Holy Scriptures are the SUPREME authority for doctrine and practice in the Church. Popes and church councils do not have equal or superior authority. However, sola scriptura does NOT mean that every individual’s interpretation of the Holy Scriptures is the rule of the Church; that is the radical Protestant view, but that was not Luther’s view, nor is it Lutheran.

    The writings of the Early Fathers do not supersede Scriptura, but they can explain to us what the Scriptures mean.

  14. Sola is actually a Latin word that means “only”, or “solely”, or “alone”, rather than “mostly” or “primarily”, or “more than others but not all by itself”.

  15. Gary :
    However, sola scriptura does NOT mean that every individual’s interpretation of the Holy Scriptures is the rule of the Church…

    Your comment at this point is a red herring and can’t even be inferred from what I wrote.

    The following is how sola scriptura is presented in our Lutheran confession, Gary. Notice how writings such as the creeds are ‘witnesses’ to the truth of the Scripture? You had concluded in your former comment that the Scriptures weren’t enough in presenting the truth to the likes of Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. Hence, Scripture alone is not the only rule and norm, given your conclusion.

    “1 1. We believe, teach, and confess that the only rule and norm according to which all teachings, together with ‹all› teachers, should be evaluated and judged [2 Timothy 3:15–17] are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and New Testament alone. For it is written in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” St. Paul has written, “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).

    2 However, other writings by ancient or modern teachers—no matter whose name they bear—must not be regarded as equal to the Holy Scriptures. All of them are subject to the Scriptures [1 Corinthians 14:32]. Other writings should not be received in any other way or as anything more than witnesses that show how this ‹pure› doctrine of the prophets and apostles was preserved after the time of the apostles, and at what places.

    McCain, P. T. (Ed.). (2005). Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (p. 473). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. Ep. summary.”

  16. @Jim Pierce #16

    If you believe that “sola scriptura” gives every individual Christian the right to interpret Scripture as he deems appropriate, then you have not fully let go of your fundamentalist evangelical background, Jim.

    Martin Luther would never have read Scripture in that manner. He compared Scripture to what the Church Fathers had said, and then formulated his position, he didn’t just make up his own interpretation.

  17. Gary :
    @Jim Pierce #16
    If you believe that “sola scriptura” gives every individual Christian the right to interpret Scripture as he deems appropriate, then you have not fully let go of your fundamentalist evangelical background, Jim.
    Martin Luther would never have read Scripture in that manner. He compared Scripture to what the Church Fathers had said, and then formulated his position, he didn’t just make up his own interpretation.

    Gary,

    I already pointed out to you that your former statement, which is much like your latest “If you believe that “sola scriptura” gives every individual Christian the right to interpret Scripture as he deems appropriate,” is a red herring. It is completely irrelevant to the point being made.

    Furthermore, Luther didn’t draw his conclusions from the Scriptures + the Church Fathers. As far as Luther was concerned, Popes and councils could err and did at times. Rather, when you see Luther and our confessors citing the early fathers, they did so to show how these fathers attest to the truth of the Scriptures; the Scriptures being the sole authority of what teaching is true or not. Isn’t that what the quotation from the Epitome I provide is getting at?

  18. @Jim Pierce #18

    Do you believe that a new believer who is completely naïve to the Christian faith, has the ability to sit down with the Bible and understand everything he reads? Even the Apostle Peter said that some of Paul’s writings were difficult to understand, so how can someone who has never heard of the Trinity, ect., understand what the Scriptures mean if someone doesn’t tell him what the Church has always believed they mean?

    Luther read the Scriptures through the LENSES of the Church Fathers. The Church Fathers possessed the oral tradition of the Scriptures along with the meaning of Holy Scriptures before the oral Word was ever written down.

  19. @Gary #19

    Gary,

    My point is dealing with your earlier claim that the Scriptures are insufficient for pointing out the truth to some such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and thus we need to have Church tradition, i.e. that is why it is “so important.”

    I read your earlier appeal to Church tradition as a means at shoring up deficiencies you see with the authority of Scripture because of your view that the Scriptures we hold in our hands today do contain errors. After all, that is the context of your earlier statement.

    I most certainly am not claiming that it is every man for himself when it comes to teaching. There are far too many Scriptures that tell us we should remain faithful to the teachings of the apostles and that God has appointed pastors to instruct us in the truth of God’s Holy Word, for me to ignore them. BUT, that is besides the point.

    I hope that helps.

  20. @Jim Pierce #20

    I have a hunch that our positions are really not that far apart.

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t use Scripture when talking to JW’s, Mormons, Baptists, and evangelicals. What I am saying that if we each argue our positions solely from the Bible, the debate will almost always end in a “draw”.

    Once you start telling any of these people that no one in the Early Church believed their doctrines, they suddenly clam up and then blurt out, “We hold ONLY to the Bible as our authority for doctrine. You Lutherans are just pope-less Catholics holding onto tradition and the Church Fathers.”

    We MUST appeal to the EARLY Church Fathers, who received from the apostles the oral tradition of the Word with its meaning, prior to any written document, to understand what our Bibles, which are inerrant in ALL matters of Faith and practice, mean.

    We cannot just depend on our modern interpretation of the Bible. If that were the case, the Great Commission would have read like this:

    Go out into all the world, baptize all nations, hand them a Bible, then move on to the next town.

    Converts must be taught what the Scriptures mean, and we can only do that from the oral tradition handed down from the early Church. A Bible-naïve person, new to Christianity, cannot sit down and understand the doctrines of the Faith simply by reading the Bible, regardless of his intelligence.

    The Baptists and evangelicals may believe that God will speak to the new convert in an inner voice and reveal all the truths of Scriptures to him if he “really trusts in the Lord”, but that is not orthodox Christian, including Lutheran, teaching.

  21. @Gary #21

    Gary,

    You’re engaging straw men and not the issue raised. Perhaps I haven’t been clear, but I don’t see a need to belabor the point any further.

    You’ve been given some sound advice and good resources. I hope you find the books recommended to you helpful.

  22. @Jim Pierce #22

    “My point is dealing with your earlier claim that the Scriptures are insufficient for pointing out the truth.”

    I never said that. I said that Scripture is insufficient for winning a (theological) debate with any of them.

  23. @Jim Pierce #22

    “I read your earlier appeal to Church tradition as a means at shoring up deficiencies you see with the authority of Scripture because of your view that the Scriptures we hold in our hands today do contain errors.”

    I never said that either.

    I said that we orthodox Lutherans should not be signing statements with the fundamentalist evangelicals, such as the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, which states that there are NO errors on historical matters or in any factual details in our Bibles.

    That is blatant nonsense.

    I showed you above TWO errors in historical facts (minutia, but still facts of history) and I can show you more. However, these errors in minutia due not affect in any way, shape, or form the doctrines, practice, or teachings of the orthodox Christian Faith. The message of God’s Word is inerrant, but not every historical statistic from battles which occurred thousands of years ago.

    The Bible cannot be used as a history book, as the evangelicals insist. You would never purchase a history book with all the discrepancies in facts as those in the Bible, so why are you holding the Bible up as an infallible history book??

    The Bible is inerrant for the purpose for which it was written. It was not written to be a college level history book, therefore the errors in historical data do NOT make the Word of God errant. The Word of God is inerrant.

  24. @Jim Pierce #22

    “There are far too many Scriptures that tell us we should remain faithful to the teachings of the apostles and that God has appointed pastors to instruct us in the truth of God’s Holy Word, for me to ignore them.”

    That is exactly my point, so therefore it is not a red herring.

    How did your pastors learn to understand the meaning of Scripture? Did each one of them sit down with a Bible one day and one week later they understood all the doctrines of the Faith? Of course not. They were taught by THEIR pastors, who were taught by THEIR pastors, etc., etc., until we get back to the early Church Fathers who were taught by the disciples of the apostles, who were taught by the apostles, who were taught by Jesus Christ. It is this unbroken chain of teaching the oral Word that we must look to, not our individual interpretation of our printed Bible.

  25. Gary :
    How did your pastors learn to understand the meaning of Scripture? Did each one of them sit down with a Bible one day and one week later they understood all the doctrines of the Faith? Of course not. They were taught by THEIR pastors, who were taught by THEIR pastors, etc., etc., until we get back to the early Church Fathers who were taught by the disciples of the apostles, who were taught by the apostles, who were taught by Jesus Christ. It is this unbroken chain of teaching the oral Word that we must look to, not our individual interpretation of our printed Bible.

    Actually not.
    Our Pastors were taught by Seminary Professors, who had studied Holy Scripture intensely, and were and are still doing that continuously, and who took their students through Holy Scripture and taught them to interpret Scripture with Scripture, and to analyse in context, and to recognise key terms and phrases and concepts, etc., etc.

  26. @Jais H. Tinglund #26

    Wrong.

    Even your professors had to learn the meaning of Scriptures…from someone else. They did not sit down with the Bible, completely naïve in the doctrines of the orthodox Christian faith, and come up with the Trinity, Baptismal Regeneration, etc.. And they for sure would not have known that it is scriptural to baptize infants.

    Evangelicals may think that is possible to sit down with the Bible alone and learn all there is to know about the Faith, due to their belief in an “inner voice”, but not Lutherans.

    You said, “interpret Scripture with Scripture”. That is the mantra of the Evangelicals!

    “We don’t need the early Church Fathers!” they say. “We can read and understand the Bible all by ourselves…with the inner guidance of the Holy Spirit, who tells us that WE are right.”

    And look how well the evangelicals are doing with “Scripture interprets Scripture”: their doctrine looks nothing like that of the early Church.

  27. This is just getting sillier and sillier.

    Claiming that it is “wrong” that our Pastors were taught by Seminary Professors, who had studied Holy Scripture intensely, – that is just silly.

    Claiming that no one could possibly learn from Holy Scripture itself such Biblical truths as God being one God as well as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Baptismal Regeneration, and infant Baptism – even though Holy Scripture so clearly teaches these thing, and even though it has actually happened – silly.

    To claim that it is Lutheran belief that no one could ever learn Biblical truth from Holy Scripture – silly.

    To introduce an “inner voice” as necessarily implied in the Lutheran belief that one can in fact learn Biblical truth from Holy Scripture – silly.

    I repeat my recommendation: Learn before you lecture!

    For to lecture out of ignorance is just, well – silly.

  28. Gary :
    You said, “interpret Scripture with Scripture”. That is the mantra of the Evangelicals!

    Actually, the principle is of Lutheran origin – as is commonly known.

    I shall reiterate my recommendation: Learn before you lecture!

  29. @Jais H. Tinglund #28

    You are behaving like a fundamentalist, my brother. Did I say that your PASTORS were not taught by Seminary Professors or did I say that the PROFESSORS had to learn from someone else??

    Instead of engaging me, you seem to be spoiling for a fight.

    “To claim that it is Lutheran belief that no one could ever learn Biblical truth from Holy Scripture.” Did I say that?? No. One can certainly learn Biblical truth, but not all our doctrines, just by sitting down with the Bible.

    Unless you change your tone, I am not interested in engaging you further.

  30. We can close our eyes and cover our ears, but the evidence is there…a lot of it. We need to face these facts: the Bible DOES have historical errors and other errors in factual minutia. The Bible is NOT historically inerrant, as the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy states, to which the LCMS is a signator.

    Here is another “discrepancy” between parallel texts. Is there an error or are both accounts correct?

    2 Samuel 24:9 (ESV):

    And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to the king: in Israel there were 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were 500,000.

    1 Chronicles 21:5 (ESV):

    And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to David. In all Israel there were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword, and in Judah 470,000 who drew the sword.

  31. Gary :
    Did I say that your PASTORS were not taught by Seminary Professors or did I say that the PROFESSORS had to learn from someone else??

    Both.

    Gary
    Instead of engaging me, you seem to be spoiling for a fight.

    Actually, I am, as I believe I have indicated previously, pretty tired of this silliness.

    Gary :
    “To claim that it is Lutheran belief that no one could ever learn Biblical truth from Holy Scripture.” Did I say that?? No. One can certainly learn Biblical truth, but not all our doctrines, just by sitting down with the Bible.

    Yes, you said that. And now you have said it again.
    One can indeed learn what Holy Scripture teaches from Holy Scripture itself. And Lutherans do believe that.

    Gary :Unless you change your tone, I am not interested in engaging you further.

    Sounds good. I will take that as a promise. I do wish you would extend that favour to others also, though, that they may be partakers with me in this benefit so graciously bestowed upon me.

  32. Is one of these parallel passages below in error or is there a clever explanation to harmonize them?

    1 Kings 4:26 (ESV)
    Solomon also had 40,000[a] stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen.

    Footnotes:
    a. 1 Kings 4:26 Hebrew; one Hebrew manuscript (see 2 Chron. 9:25 and Septuagint of 1 Kings 10:26) 4,000

    2 Chronicles 9:25 (ESV)

    And Solomon had 4,000 stalls for horses and chariots, and 12,000 horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem.

    1 Kings 10:26 (ESV

    And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem.

  33. I have studied, my friends, just maybe not the theologians whom you prefer that I study. From AC Piepkorn, LCMS theologian of the 1970’s:

    A second reason for ceasing formally to reaffirm our formal commitment to the inerrancy of the Sacred Scriptures is its ultimate theological irrelevance. A little noticed footnote in the doctoral, dissertation of Robert Preus points out that “the dogmaticians use the same arguments and proof texts for the inerrancy of Scripture as for its inspiration.” 30 This statement, quite correct for the later dogmaticians like Abraham Calovius (1612-1686), whom Preus instances as an example, illustrates two points: (1) the thesis that the Sacred Scriptures are “free of error (errore expertes)” is for the dogmaticians basically a negative way of affirming inspiration; (2) this thesis implies a situation which Quenstedt sketches in these words: “Not only the canonical books of the sacred volume themselves, but even the letters, points, and words of the original text survive without any corruption, that is, the Hebrew text of the O{1d] T'[estament]. . . and also the Greek text of the N [ew] T[estament] … have been preserved by the divine providence complete and uncorrupted.” 31

    This is a position which modern textual criticism renders untenable. As this has become more and more apparent, the claim of inerrancy has increasingly been posited only of the “originals”. The original documents are inaccessible and irrecoverable, however. The ascription of inerrancy to these documents is therefore an irrelevant and ultimately superfluous predication which says nothing more than that inspiration is the act of the Holy Spirit and that God is truthful. For copies – which is all that we have to appeal to today – we can at most claim a relative, a derived, a virtual inerrancy. But “inerrant” -like other adjectives compounded with a negative prefix – implies a perfect logical dichotomy that has no middle term. It confronts us with the same kind of absolute antithesis as complete- incomplete, perfect-imperfect, commensurable- incommensurable, demonstrable- indemonstrable, exact-inexact, accurate-inaccurate, organic-inorganic. Thus by inference it compels us to say less about the Sacred Scriptures as we actually have them than we as Lutherans want to be able to say about them.

    Again, since the original documents are inaccessible and apparently irrecoverable, the ascription of inerrancy to these documents is in the last analysis practically irrelevant.

    “The Sacred Scriptures are the Word of God” is a maximum statement; we cannot say more than this by affirming that the irrecoverable original documents of the Sacred Scriptures were inerrant. For these reasons, it would seem that we ought to cease affirming the inerrancy of something that practically does not exist. It is to be doubted if the distinction between the inerrancy of the Sacred Scriptures as we have them and the inerrancy of the irrecoverable original documents is one which a layman appreciates. What is significant is that the lone statement which calls the Old Testament {tE6JtvcuaLo~ (2 Tim. 3:16) is made with reference not to autographs nor apparently even to apographs, but in the context (since Lois and Eunice are Greek names of Jewish women and Timothy had not been circumcised prior to Acts 16: 3) presumably with reference to the Septuagint Version.

    To repeat: Our better information in the field of textual criticism and textual history makes many of the now naïve-seeming oversimplifications of the 16th and 17th centuries untenable. We may still marvel reverently and gratefully – as we should – at the providence of God that has preserved so many witnesses to the New Testament text which enable us to recreate the presumptive original with such a high degree of probability, and that has disclosed so many new and unexpected witnesses to the Old Testament text in our own time. But we can no longer affirm the doctrine of the incorruptibility of the transmitted text with the enthusiasm or the scope with which the 17th century felt itself free to do so.

  34. When I was first confronted with all these errors in the Bible I was sick to my stomach. I was depressed. I questioned my faith. But instead of sticking my head in the sand and pretending that they do not exist or abandoning my faith, I faced them, and now my faith is stronger than ever.

    I believe in the inerrancy of God and his Word by faith alone, not because I can use my reason, logic, and Seminary education to “prove” that the Bible or the existing manuscripts are without error. Isn’t that what Christianity is all about…child-like faith? If the truths of Christianity can be proven from simply reading the Scriptures, then the educated elite of Jewish society would have accepted Christ as the Messiah. They didn’t. Why? They obviously did not have faith.

    I know that the information I have presented is upsetting. “Biblical inerrancy” as defined in the Chicago Statement has been the security blanket that all conservative Protestant Christians have grown up with. “The Bible tells me so.” “If its in the Bible it has to be right, no matter if its doctrine, practice, history or archaeology.”

    To have our security blanket ripped away from us is very upsetting. But it must be done! It must be done before we teach our children the same simplistic nonsense, and this nonsense, when brought into the light of scrutiny by their educated peers or professors, drives our children away from the Faith.

    We believe in God and the inerrancy of his MESSAGE, not the inerrancy of every historical date and fact of minutia in a written book.

    If you want to see more of these historical errors, I will copy another section from Piepkorn below and you can look them up for yourself.

  35. Deborah sings a song (Judg. 5: 1) apparently written about her (v. 7). We have synchronistic problems connected with the death of Baasha (1 Kings 16: 6-8 and 2 Chron.16: 1) and the accession of Hoshea (2 Kings 15:30 and 17: 1). The 20- year-long reign of Pekah in 2 Kings IS.: 27, which 1 Kings 15:32 and 16:1 also imply, cannot be reconciled with the Assyrian synchronisms.

    We have another synchronistic problem in the dates of Hezekiah’s reign posed by 2 Kings 18: 1 when. compared with 15:30; 18:2; 20:6.

    We have variant accounts of events “in what appear to be different sources within the sacred record. Cases in point are the creation accounts of. Gen. 1: 1-2: 4 a, and of 2:4 b-3 :24; the twofold origin given for the names Beersheba (Gen. 21: 30, 31 and 26:32-38) and Bethel (Gen.28:18, 19 and 35 : 15 ); the two callings of Moses and Aaron (Ex. 3:1-6:1′ and 6:2-7:7); the location of Gen. 11 after Gen. 10 (compare especially 10: 5,20,31 with 11: 1 and 10:21-31 with 11:10-32); the different versions of the Decalog; the problem of reconciling the report of 1 Sam. 16: 18:•23 with I•Sam.17:32-.38 and the conversation between Saul and David of 1 Sam. 17: 55 to 58; the two references to the Goliath of Gath the shaft. of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam (1 Sam. 17: 4, 7, 49-51′; 2 Sam. 21: 18-22; see also 1 Chron. 20:5); and the number of children borne by Saul’s daughter Michal (2 Sam. 6:23 and 21:8).

    Deuteronomy 10: 1-7 raises the problems of the maker of the ark of the covenant when compared with Ex. 37:1, of the date of the deposit of the second set of the tables of Law in ‘the ark when compared with Ex. 19: 1 and 40: 17, 20, the itinerary of Israel when compared with Num. 33:3 to 39, and the time and place of Aaron’s c.!~ath when compared with Num. 20: 1, 22’to 29; 33:38; and Deut. 32:50.’. The preceding is not intended to provide an exhaustive, but merely a representative, list of problems. Every serious student of the Sacred Scriptures is aware of these and many other difficulties.

    Admittedly, it is possible to explain some or all of the cited difficulties to one’s own satisfaction. But that they are genuine difficulties remains a fact attested by the volume of effort that Christian exegetes and systematicians have expended in endeavoring to account for them from the days of the primitive church on.

  36. Go read through the article again. It’s fascinating. I believe what Gary is espousing is exactly the definition given by Pr. Noland of a “Liberal.”

    Eerily Gary echoes Pr. Noland’s statement of how the Liberal thinks: “So according to the Liberal perspective, whatever the religious-person finds offensive, or disagreeable, or contradictory, or problematic in the Bible must be an error and rejected by definition.” Gary finds something problematic in the Scriptures and so immediately he labels it an error and rejects it.

    When Pastor Noland quotes, ““We hold that the opinion that Scripture contains errors is a violation of the sola scriptura, for it rests upon the acceptance of some norm or criterion of truth above the Scriptures.” Gary says the exact opposite and holds to a criterion above Scripture, i.e. the oral tradition of the faith (whatever that is).

    Pr. Noland says, “The norm or criterion of truth for Liberal theology is the internal authority of the religious-person’s own mind, informed by the preaching of the Liberal preacher and scholarship of the Liberal professor.” As Gary has stated, his basic approach to the Bible has been informed by the liberal book he read written by a liberal teacher and he has in his own mind come up with his own way to norm Scripture and its “errors.”

    Silly, but dangerous and a bit crazy too. Thus we have remarkably (or perhaps not so remarkably) arrived at exactly the point Pr. Noland predicts in his article: “It (Biblical inerrancy) will never cease to be a dividing line, until the one worldview or the other collapses.”

  37. … says the Emperor after having exposed his supposedly admiring subjects to his nakedness over several days and more than a hundred and a half comments.

    I think Rev. McCall’s latest comment sums it all up very well, and concludes very accurately, and at an approriate juncture, and would deserve to be the last word.

    The rest is silence – or silliness, more silliness.

  38. @Gary #34
    Again, since the original documents are inaccessible and apparently irrecoverable, the ascription of inerrancy to these documents is in the last analysis practically irrelevant.

    The Dead Sea Scroll have verified the essential accuracy of Scripture. Why would you assume that if something even older is found, it would change our understanding of God’s gift of salvation?

    Since you claim to believe that gift is not marred by the “differences” someone has pointed out to you [you might wonder about their agenda!] perhaps it would be wise to spend your time studying the Scripture with an intention of “making yourself wise to salvation”, instead of increasing doubt in yourself and others!

  39. Great points, Gary. Thanks for working through this on here even though you didn’t get a lot of helpful feedback.
    I think if I’ve understood you correctly, you’re stating the exact opposite of the position Rev. McCall attributes to you in #37, i.e. the liberal perspective. I also read the Piepkorn article you’ve been citing. Very interesting—certainly not in line with much of what you hear from the LCMS today.

  40. “gary” is an agent of Satan and keeps asking the same two questions in that are always used to get people to doubt and mistrust God’s Word:

    (1) “Did God really say that?”

    (2) “What is truth?”

    The motivation behind “gary’s” questions is the same old original sin: unbelief

    “Gary” prefers not to hear God’s Word so that he can be his own god and determine what is “good and evil” for himself; he can pick and choose which laws he wants as valid and what promises he thinks to be useful for him. He needs no Gospel or Christ as, since he sits above them (the Word; Christ is the word made flesh), he makes his own law which he thinks he fulfills in himself.

    In other words, “Gary” trusts himself and his judgement and works above all other things – including Christ and the Gospel.

    “Gary” is deliberately promoting doubt and uncertainty to promote works righteousness. Works righteousness is the default position of the natural man and unbeliever because human reason always says “Certainly, if there is a God, he is bound to respect by efforts to be more pious, holy, loving, charitable, etc then the fellow next to me.”

    Usually, the “Gary’s” of this world have a specific worldly agenda (usually some form of utopian humanism/legalism to “fix” the world by the law; sometimes God’s but usually their own made up law) they wish to enact that a portion of the scripture as clearly understood stands in their way. So to get around the clarity of specific scripture passage, they must take a wrecking ball to the whole thing. The logical result of which is either unbelief or belief in yourself as your own “god”.

    “Gary” clearly articulates the ELCA position almost exactly as I have read it and heard it from numerous of their clergy and scholars, so I suspect he is something of an ELCA “troll” in this regard as he repeatedly ad nauseum the same tired talking points. I suspect his wishes to sway wavering Lutherans to stay in this apostate church by justifying their deliberate promotion of doubt, uncertainty and unbelief.

    Notice how in the endless thousands of words spewed by “Gary” that Christ and the Cross are very rarely, if ever, mentioned?

    “Gary” would do well to remember the most important lesson that Christ (and Luther) taught us about Holy Scripture: All of it speaks of me.

    If he would keep that in mind and let himself be guided by the Holy Spirit (the spirit of truth) instead of the spirit of the Anti-Christ (human reason) then perhaps he would not be finding so many “errors” to use to justify his sin (unbelief).

  41. @RJ #44
    I am not sure at all about the malicious motives you ascribe to “Gary”, there. His motives could be so many others.

    It could very well be that “Gary” is more confused than anything, frustrated, and unfamiliar with the idea of receiving theological instruction and spiritual guidance – perhaps because little of either has been made available to him.

    Whatever else “Gary”‘s motives might be, first and foremost they are his own. And that makes it very problematic for the rest of us to try to speculate our way in to charting them in detail and put a construction on them of the accuracy of which we could in any way have anything in any way remotely resembling certainty.

    And I am not really sure, either, that it would be all that appropriate for us to judge about “Gary”‘s motives.

    I regret that those who put greater efforts than I did myself into trying to help “Gary” were unable to get through to him – as they obviously were.
    And I hope that “Gary” finds a way through whatever it is that he is going through, and that he will eventually find rest trusting in the truth of God.
    I should probably pray that he will ….

  42. I do not doubt that “gary” and all the rest of us need prayers and God’s assistance to have faith….

    I think you are reading too much into what I said if you think my comments about “gary” were some kind of personal pyscho-analytical profile of him personally or some kind of judgement about who he actually places his trust in (God or Self) as you, I or any one else does not know.

    Rather, I was attempting to make a general commentary about the thought process of the “old Adam” or we sinners in general in that we must always tear down the word of God in order to be our own God and make ourselves righteous according to the law by our own hand.

    The defensive attack of the old Adam and Satan must always begin by tearing down god’s word. Once that is achieved and doubt/uncertainty sets in, then trust is placed in self and the law.

    I am sorry if my rhetoric was unduly harsh, but after reading dozens of post by “gary” presenting the same sophomoric questions repetitively my patience was worn thin – sometime you have to say enough and move on. “Gary” can continue to resist the truth of God’s word or he can end his resistance and realize that the Truth and that God has choosen to keep some things in his word unexplained to human reason. It is evident from his volume of rhetoric that his resistance high right now but I trust that God’s word of Law and Gospel will do its work in him in the end as it promises too.

    For any offense I caused you in my blunt rhetoric, I beg your and God forgiveness.

  43. I want to thank those of you who were extremely patient with me–and even those who weren’t–in helping me deal with the issue of Biblical Inerrancy.

    Some of you may have thought that I was just trying to stir up a controversy, but far from it. I was quickly sinking in absolute despair and trying to find some way to salvage my orthodox Christian faith. Why? My long held belief that God had preserved every word of Holy Scriptures to this very day seemed to have been shredded to pieces by the “revelations” of a couple of atheists.

    It seemed to me, that I had just had the foundation of my faith pulled out from under me. I felt lost. My educated brain was fighting my orthodox heart, and it seemed that logic and reason were going to override child-like faith.

    However, I am now at peace with this issue. I have decided to deal with this issue in the traditional Lutheran manner: Believe what God says even when it defies reason and logic. Accept paradoxes. I accept Biblical Inerrancy as a paradox. I posted the following statement on another blog:

    I have come to the conclusion that squabbling over a few insignificant statistical discrepancies in the OT, a few insignificant discrepancies in minor details in the NT, and the mostly insignificant scribe alterations in both Testaments is not worth constantly questioning my Bible as if it were an unreliable source for the inerrant Word of God.

    Therefore, my final position is this: God’s Word is inerrant. The Bible is God’s Word.

    If anyone wants to go off into the weeds on this issue in the future, my answer will be: “No, thanks. I’ve already studied this issue and I am comfortable with my position. I am not interested in debating it.”

    Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and patience.

    Gary

  44. “I have come to the conclusion that squabbling over a few insignificant statistical discrepancies in the OT, a few insignificant discrepancies in minor details in the NT, and the mostly insignificant scribe alterations in both Testaments is not worth constantly questioning my Bible as if it were an unreliable source for the inerrant Word of God.

    Therefore, my final position is this: God’s Word is inerrant. The Bible is God’s Word.”

    First of all, sincere apologies for resurrecting (d’oh) this long-dead thread. I had recalled following it with genuine interest at the time that it was running hot (re; “live”), and recent interaction with “Gary” on his own blog had led me to stomp through this elephant grass once again.

    For those that haven’t kept up, “Gary” has now firmly entrenched himself within the camp that Christianity is just another cult, filled to the brim with zealous adherents set only upon making converts and disowning/shunning former members. Additionally, he has taken to accusing others who posted here as being everything from insincere to downright hostile (even though, as a re-read here shows, he had accused others of spoiling for a fight while himself rolling up his sleeves and readying his own uppercuts). My exhaustive recounting of these posts shows tension, yes, but also apology and charity…which sounds a lot like real life and a lot less like the one-sided flame-war that he has attempted to paint the picture of with his own meanderings in cyberspace.

    Now identifying as “recovering from Christian fundamentalism,” it would appear that the main focus of his blog is to cut and paste several resources that corroborate many of the points that he was initially trying to make here. Not content to cease and desist with that, however, he has gone further into that compost pile, cutting and pasting with gusto about anything and everything that sets itself above the knowledge of God (and God’s revealed Word).

    It’s been an agonizing engagement, watching as “Gary” fell to a “red-letter-only” follower of Jesus, then discarding even that which Christ Himself said within Scripture. The realization that this was, perhaps, what he was looking for during the entirety of this debate gives me not even a smidgen of self-motivated sarcastic pleasure. Rather, it simply works to remind me that scoffers will continue to spring up (as weeds among the grains), and that such deserve nothing less than our prayers (if not our full attention when they continue to poke the hornet’s nest under a guise of honest inquiry).

    Though he most certainly deems it as useless as anything else that he has now convinced himself that he ought to reject (and would no doubt find such a distinction condescending and insincere)…please remember him in your own prayers, as surely as I have mine.

  45. @Gary #7
    The original autographs do not exist. Thus, any claim of how well they match what we have in the Bible today, is of no account can only be asserted by faith (the use of ‘flawed’ human rationality. The same rationality that Luther et al apply (law and gospel for one). There are many errors in the Bible we have, though some apologists construct Rube Goldberg arguments to force it not to be. (Judas death: hanging or belly splitting open; funds for the field) because it simply must, must I tell you, not have error. Infallibility is a presumption, a bias, a finger in the dike. Even Luther was willing to toss a few books that didn’t fit in with his approach. The universe is not 6-10,000 years old. To insist that poetic language of Gen. 1 and 2 must to be taken literally is against logic, science, and against reality. Yet that is where inerrancy leads.

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