Friday, April 18, 2014

Is the Resurrection more important than inerrancy?

Which do you think is more important? The resurrection or inerrancy?
The scholars Geisler has gone after do uphold inerrancy. They just don't agree with his interpretation.
I think Geisler's position will end up creating more Ehrmans.
(For those who don't know, I believe Nick Peters is the son-in-law of Mike Licona.)
That's a good question, but a question that takes off in many different directions.
i) Let's begin with a bit of background. In the past, Norman Geisler went after Robert Gundry for denying the historicity of the nativity accounts in the Gospels, and Murray J. Harris for his view of the glorified body.
In fairness to Geisler, this was during the heyday of redaction criticism. As a new academic fad, redaction criticism was overused. Also, it wasn't just Geisler. John Warwick Montgomery was also an opponent of redaction criticism–or at least the way it was being deployed by scholars like Gundry and Grant Osborne.
ii) That said, redaction criticism can be used to defend the inerrancy of Scripture. For instance, it's useful in harmonizing the Gospels. Craig Blomberg skillfully deploys redaction criticism to defend the inerrancy of the Gospels. So both proponents and opponents can take the issue to mistaken extremes. 
iii) Murray J. Harris may well have had an inadequate view of the glorified body. It's been while since I've read him. However, a number of NT scholars and Christian apologists infer from what Paul says about the "spiritual body" as well as how the Risen Christ appears and disappears in Luke and John, that the glorified body can materialize or dematerialize at will. 
I don't think that's the best explanation, and I think it creates problems for a physical resurrection. However, it's not a liberal denial of the resurrection. It's not that Harris et al. think a physical resurrection is too miraculous or supernatural to be credible. Rather, he's basing his position on what he thinks the NT describes or implies about the nature of the glorified body. 
iv) Is the resurrection more important than inerrancy? Before we can answer that, we have to ask what makes the resurrection important. There are different ways of answering that question:
v) For instance, you might say the resurrection is important because belief in the resurrection is essential to saving faith. And you might say that makes it more important thatninerrancy if belief in inerrancy is inessential to saving faith.
However, that proves too much. For instance, one might say belief in justification is inessential to saving faith. Yet even if that's the case, justification is necessary to salvation. Only the justified will be saved. 
vi) Events are ontologically independent of the historical record, if any. Some incidents are recorded events, but most events go unreported. The occurrence of an event doesn't (causally) depend on a subsequent record of the event. It happened whether or not it's recorded. 
In that sense, the Resurrection is not contingent on an inerrant record of the Resurrection. In principle, it's not contingent on having any record of the Resurrection.
Again, though, that tends to prove too much. God planned the Resurrection with a view to recording that event for the benefit of posterity. In the plan of God, the Resurrection is coordinated with the record of the Resurrection. The Father wouldn't raise Jesus from the dead if he had no intention of publicizing the Resurrection. A Resurrection that no one remembered or knew about wouldn't serve God's purpose for the Resurrection.

vii) Some Biblical events are more intrinsically important than others. If the Exodus never happened, that would falsify Judaism. But if the census of Quirinius never happened, that would not falsify Christianity. In that respect, Bible history has some flexibility. 
viii) The theological significance of an event like the Resurrection may not be evident apart from an authoritative interpretation of the event. NT writers are interpreters as well as reporters. The importance of the Resurrection is bound up with the significance of the Resurrection. And that implicates inerrancy.
ix) Geisler tends to blur the distinction between inerrancy and historicity. But these are often distinct issues. 
x) Yet inerrancy and historicity are sometimes intertwined. It's a hermeneutical issue as well as a factual issue. It depends on your theory of meaning. If authorial intent is an essential component of meaning, then whether or not a Bible narrator intended to report a real-world event is directly germane to the historicity (or not) of the account. To that extent, historicity can't be neatly separated from inerrancy.
xi) Inerrancy is important in part because it goes straight to our source of information. We lack direct knowledge of many things stated in Scripture. Not just past events, but future events, or undetectable events like the afterlife. Absent inerrancy, we don't know which Biblical statements are true or false. 
xii) But there is, if anything, a deeper issue. There's a cause/effect relationship between inspiration and inerrancy. Just as the Resurrection is a divine event, the process of revelation and/or inspiration is a divine event. Just as the Resurrection bears witness to God's activity in the world, so does inspiration or revelation. 
Take prophecy. Prophecy involves three presuppositions: (a) God knows the future; (b) God controls the future; (c) God sometimes discloses the future. 
If, however, you consider prophecies to be fallible, then that reflects back on the nature and existence of God. Likewise, if you think some or all Biblical "prophecies" are really vaticinia ex eventu, then that likewise reflects back on the nature and existence of God. 
Perhaps God is finite in knowledge and power. Perhaps God is the Creator of a closed-system. He doesn't break in.  Perhaps God doesn't exist.
Denying the inspiration of Scripture can have far-reaching theological consequences. 
Inspiration and revelation presuppose the existence of a God who's active in the world. Who communicates to and through humans (as well as angels). If we deny inspiration, then God isn't active in the world in that respect. Is God's silence an indication that he's uninvolved? Is God's silence an indication that there is no God to communicate with us in the first place? So inerrancy can indeed be as important as the Resurrection. 
xiii) Likewise, denying inerrancy nearly erases the distinction between true and false prophecy. Yet Scripture is deeply invested in that distinction. 
xiv) As a Calvinist, I admit that my views on inspiration are influenced by my views on predestination and providence. God is intimately involved in everything that happens. Once again, take prophecy. God is in a position to predict the future because he makes it happen. He has a plan, and he executes his plan. Directly or indirectly, he causes what he predicts. 
xv) Some Christian apologists think we need a back-up plan in case inerrancy fails. A safety-net to break the fall in case a Christian loses faith in the inerrancy of Scripture. We need to stake out a middle ground between inerrancy and apostasy. 
Their contingency plan is to view the Bible as an uninspired historical record. A historical record needn't be inerrant to be informative or reliable. 
For some professing Christians, this is more than just a fallback position. This is their actual position. They approach Scripture simply as historians. They have no doctrine of inspiration or revelation. 
There's a sense in which that might be better than apostasy. At least for them. But even if that's the case, what's better for some individuals isn't necessarily a good policy for the church. At best, it just means that is preferable to the dire alternative of all-out apostasy.
xvi) At the same time, there's a deceptive security in this profession of faith. When you deny inspiration or revelation, and simply approach the Bible as a set of historical documents (some of which are less historical than others), that's a secularizing outlook. At best, Scripture is a historical witness to what God does rather than what God says. A God who is somehow active in (or behind) certain redemptive events, but inactive in communicating to and through certain individuals. But is that dichotomy plausible? 
xvii) I don't think creating more Bart Ehrmans is necessarily a bad thing. Separating light from darkness (Jn 3:19-21) can purify the church. To the extent, however, that inerrancy is a make-or-break issue, we need to make reasonably sure that truth is what is driving some folks away from the faith. I think scholars like Bock, Blomberg, and Poythress are much better models than Geisler when it comes to general harmonistic strategies. 


  1. To me it is like asking the question, what is more important the brain or the heart?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. On the contrary, the resurrection is clearly more important than inerrancy. You can get to the resurrection just on the basis of the Bible being at least as reliable a historical document as any other from antiquity. Once you get to the resurrection, you can get to the deity of Christ, which gets you to inerrancy because 1) Jesus believed the OT was the word of God and 2) since He was God, the writings of His commissioned apostles would be as authoritative as those of the prophets (that is, the prophets were sent by God in heaven while the apostles were sent by God on earth). On the other hand, if you try to start with inerrancy, you are immediately drawn into arguments about minor issues which seem to contradict.

    Therefore, if you seek inerrancy, you may not get either, but if you seek resurrection, you'll surely come forth with both.

    1. The Resurrection does not entail the deity of Christ. Typically, the NT says the Father raised Jesus from the dead.

    2. i) There are theological moderates to believe in the Resurrection, but don't believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.

      ii) Moreover, both inspiration and the Resurrection involve God's activity in the world. But if someone denies God's activity vis-a-vis inspiration, then's less reason to affirm God's activity vis-a-vis a resurrection.

    3. That His resurrection gets you to His deity is as obvious as Rom 10:9. Remember: the apostles did not preach merely that He was raised, but that He was "raised according to the Scriptures." And, as I said above, you only need the Scriptures to be historically reliable documents to get to this point. Once you realize that He's Lord, inerrancy of Scripture flows naturally from this realization because He considered the Scriptures to be the word of God.

      On the other hand, if you require a person to believe in inerrancy first or simultaneously, you are adding to the word of God in Rom 10:9.

      By the way, the biggest problem with the doctrine of inerrancy is that it allows the emphasis to be put in the wrong place. The doctrine ought to be that the Scriptures are the word of God. When you announce "inerrancy," you invite skeptics and doubters to look for errors. However, when you announce the word of God, you keep the focus where it ought to be. Inerrancy is a necessary aspect of the Scriptures being the word of God - but it is not the central point.

      As for theological moderates, they are simply being logically inconsistent. To put it more bluntly, they are calling Him "Lord, Lord" without doing what He says.

    4. Maybe I'm just being dense, but how is Romans 10:9 "obvious" as to how you can arrive at Jesus' deity by taking the scriptures as less than what they claim to be? Strange things happen, even by "scientific" standards, in the sense that they seem strange but nonetheless have (in principle) a naturalistic explanation. It's certainly not "obvious" to the nonbelievers I run into. If I was an unbeliever, I would just make sure my responses conform with my more fundamental beliefs, the ones that would deny *any* actions in the world by an alleged divine being (resurrection, inspiration, or otherwise).

      On that note, I don't see how not viewing the resurrection as "obviously" more important would entail adding to God's word. On the contrary, I see no reason that a dead man raising from the dead has any *theological* meaning apart from the truths of scripture - the very truths that tend to be so offensive to the unbeliever. I think there are few unbelievers who would dare treat such a "magical" and "morally offensive" and "pagan borrowing" and "____(fill in the blank)_____" book as "historically reliable," especially in light of your statement that, "the apostles did not preach merely that He was raised, but that He was 'raised according to the scriptures.'"

      Also, if "inerrancy is a necessary aspect of scriptures being the word of God" and something that will be embraced by any Christian who is "being logically [consistent]," then at best this just seems to push off the inevitable a few moments. That is, the unbelievers will just object to inerrancy a few moments later than they would have otherwise. If the issue is not giving them more things to object to, then who cares? Isn't it obvious that the gospel will be foolishness to those who cannot understand spiritual matters apart from the work of the Spirit? Maybe you would dissect the historical matters of the gospel from the spiritual and offensive matters of the gospel, but the two go hand-in-hand, so it seems. A resurrection without a divine purpose seems rather meaningless.

      That being said, I certainly have no issues presenting an argument for the resurrection to unbelievers, or numerous other arguments for that matter - all the while patiently waiting for the Spirit to grant new eyes and new fundamental beliefs.

    5. Also, there are plenty of options available for avoiding a resurrection conclusion, just as there are plenty of options available for avoiding an inerrancy conclusion. (For the record I find "inerrancy" to be a weaker claim than "infallibility" and thus less "offensive" even though I think that former would entail the latter in this case.)

      For instance (in regards to taking the scriptures as historically reliable in conjunction with viewing the resurrection as "according to the scriptures") an unbeliever need only challenge the dates of the OT writings or the ambiguity of the prophecies. Write them off as hyperbolic, coincidental, whatever. Especially in light of many unbelievers overriding commitment to naturalism.

      Now that I'm thinking about it, it would seem that there is more to even the word "scriptures" than merely writing, at least by my understanding of authorial intent. But I need to get to church.

    6. Karl,

      Rom 10:9 does not merely call for a confession that Jesus is alive; it calls for a confession that He is "Lord." This is not a term that pious 1st-century Jews threw around loosely.

    7. Right. So, how can a secular starting point lead one to affirm the deity of Christ in a non-accidental way. In a way that arrived at that conclusion appropriately.

    8. I believe Mike is some sort of unitarian modalist, so he can't believe the Father raised Jesus from the dead.

    9. Mike,

      i) Rom 10:9 doesn't say Jesus is Lord because he was raised from the dead. Rather, it makes two independent claims about Jesus.

      ii) Moreover, your appeal is viciously circular. Since, at this preliminary stage of your argument, you don't grant the inspiration of Scripture, you can't treat the truth of Rom 10:9 as a given. You're not appealing directly to the event of the Resurrection. Rather, your quoting Scripture to prove your point. A Scriptural claim about the Resurrection. But since the inspiration of Scripture is not a given at this preliminary stage of your argument, your appeal assumes what it needs to prove.

    10. steve,

      i) Jesus wasn't raised to be alive and then in some separate independent act designated to be Lord. He was raised to be Lord.

      ii) Rom 10:9 is a summation of what the Scriptures declare to be true about Jesus. There is nothing circular about a) the Scriptures are historically reliable, 2) they say Jesus was raised to be Lord, 3) I believe therefore that Jesus is Lord, 4) since Jesus believes the Scriptures to be the word of God, so do I. The argument only becomes circular if you make inerrancy as important as the resurrection.

    11. steve,

      Certainly it was the Father who raised Jesus from the dead. No one else could have!

    12. Karl,

      There is nothing secular about saying that the Scriptures are historically reliable. It's simply an aspect of inspiration that the unregenerate can understand.

    13. @Mike Gantt

      "Certainly it was the Father who raised Jesus from the dead. No one else could have!"

      So Jesus and the Holy Spirit don't count? For example:

      "Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.'" (John 2:19)

      "'For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.'" (John 10:17-18)

      "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." (Rom 8:11)

    14. At the same time, Mike Gantt dodges what Steve said. What matters isn't what Mike happens to believe, for Mike could be inconsistent in his own beliefs. Rather, what matters is what Mike's position commits him to believing or disbelieving. If it's true Mike is a unitarian modalist, then how could the Father have raised Jesus from the dead?

    15. Mike Gantt

      "Jesus wasn't raised to be alive and then in some separate independent act designated to be Lord. He was raised to be Lord."

      i) You're rearranging Rom 10:9 into a cause/effect relation. The text itself doesn't do that. It doesn't say the Resurrection proves the Lordship of Christ or the Lordship of Christ proves the Resurrection.

      Rather, it states two articles of faith which are necessary to make a saving profession of faith.

      ii) What does your statement even mean? You make it sound like an adoptionist Christology in which Jesus became Lord as a result of the Resurrection.

      "ii) Rom 10:9 is a summation of what the Scriptures declare to be true about Jesus. There is nothing circular about a) the Scriptures are historically reliable, 2) they say Jesus was raised to be Lord..."

      i) Positing the *general* historical reliability of Scripture doesn't presume the accuracy of any *particular* claim. The very fact that at this stage of the argument you don't presuppose the inerrancy of Scripture means any particular statement of Scripture could be mistaken.

      ii) The claim that Jesus is Lord is a theological claim, not a historical claim. It's not like claiming that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

  4. Hi Steve.

    You are correct about my relationship to Mike. That's put me at the forefront of the Geisler controversy.

    So then, some points to say at the start.

    I am an inerrantist. In fact, so is Mike and so Craig Blomberg and I appreciate the defenses I've seen of Mike at least on here. Whether the same has applied to Blomberg or not I don't know. I do not hesitate to say Geisler is totally out of line. I agree with C. Michael Patton that Geisler should have written twenty letters of recommendation for Mike's book before writing one letter of condemnation. I consider it a shame to want to cast doubt on a whole volume dedicated to proving the foundation of the faith because of disagreement on secondary issues.

    Also, in my apologetics endeavors, I am very careful with when I deal with Bible contradictions. I will normally address some for other Christians, but too often many atheists have this idea that "If I find one contradiction in the Bible, I can throw the whole thing out." That's a terrible way of doing history and would require we pretty much scrap all of ancient history. I ask that they just at the start treat the Bible like any other document. Of course, I hope that they would come to see its divine inspiration and Inerrancy, but I am fine with them starting where they are.

    If we answer contradictions all day, it becomes a game of stump the Bible scholar. I want to go straight to the history of the event and I use more than just Mike's minimal facts approach. I also use J.P. Holding's Impossible Faith approach which I actually find more persuasive.

    Yet I do not deny for a moment that resurrection is the more important belief. If Inerrancy is false, well I have to change my view of Scripture, but not my view of who Jesus is or if Christianity is true. If the resurrection is false, my entire worldview is changed. Now if I stand up in a pulpit some Sunday as a guest speaker, I will be assuming Inerrancy, but if a passage has some possible "contradiction" with another passage or different historical interpretations, I will try to seriously discuss those as well.

    Unfortunately, events like Geisler's going after scholars, now especially in his newest book, will only damage evangelicalism and I've seen several people use this as an excuse to go after Christianity to say we can't get along and to say that evangelical institutions require you to believe X so there's no objectivity. Nonsense in many ways, but it just means another hurdle is created.

    By the way, I'm not sold on Mike's view of Matthew 27 either, but that's one reason I'm also having that be my thesis in working on my Master's in NT. The position I stand by is let scholarship do its work and if a view is true, the evidence will back it.

    I hope that clarifies my position more.

    1. "too often many atheists have this idea that "If I find one contradiction in the Bible, I can throw the whole thing out."

      And where do they get this idea? From the Geisler's of the world shouting "Inerrancy!" The word itself literally dares someone to find an error. Why would we lead people into temptation when we know that there are difficulties in the texts? We can live with the difficulties because "we know whom we have believed." Those without faith or weak in faith need to have their faith strengthened in the Lord. Then they will be able to trust Him as we do - no matter what difficulty in the texts may be presented to them.

      Keep fighting the good fight, Nick. Keep majoring on the majors, as you and your father-in-law are doing.

    2. Mike G and Nick,

      I think it's a bit naive to think you can sell the faith to someone on the basis of rejecting inerrancy and then think they'll sign up for it later. It also strikes me as a misguided way to approach evangelism. The list of things one has to believe in order to be saved is actually very small. One doesn't have to believe in Hell, that homosexuality is sin, or--I would argue--in things like the trinity or that the god of the OT is the same as the NT. Take my mom for example. For most of her Christian life she operated with a sort of modalist view of God. She wouldn't have known what a modalist was or been able to spell out the difference between modalism and trinitarianism. It wasn't till much later in life, after reading a book by John Murray, that she came to understand the Trinity and she embraced in a sort of "Oh, that's a more clear distinction way." Was that the moment my mom was saved? I don't think so. It seems she was saved, but had never had a clear presentation of the trinity.

      Yet I've had more than one atheist tell me that the Christian concept of God is contradictory because of the doctrine of the Trinity. So, I'm curious, Nick and Mike G, would you guys all tell an such atheists not to concern themselves at this point with whether God is triune, hell is real, homosexuality is sin, the god of the OT is the same as the NT, etc. etc. And then would you really think you can sell the "convert" on these points later? Why would anyone sign up for all that extra baggage if you've already sold them on a "It doesn't really matter" pitch? You're creating converts on the basis of a take-what-you-like,-leave-what-you-don't-so-long-as-you-meet-the-bare-minimum attitude. These are people who will more likely mold the faith to their liking than accept the faith once delivered to the saints.

      Mike G said "Those without faith or weak in faith need to have their faith strengthened in the Lord." Is that the path people usually take: start off rejecting doctrines like inerrancy etc. and then as they grow they become more conservative? Or is the liberalizing trend more common?

      Nick said "If Inerrancy is false, well I have to change my view of Scripture, but not my view of who Jesus is or if Christianity is true." If your view of Jesus or Christianity is based on Scripture, how can you be so sure?

      Nick said: "If the resurrection is false, my entire worldview is changed." That sounds heroic, but why should I believe that? Why can't we come up with the same sort of save-the-phenomena approach we do with inerrancy? I'm being honest, I'd like to see an argument that says God had to physically raise Jesus from the dead or my whole worldview changes. Give me your argument and I'll show you how it doesn't make that big of a difference.

      Nick said: "Unfortunately, events like Geisler's going after scholars, now especially in his newest book, will only damage evangelicalism and I've seen several people use this as an excuse to go after Christianity to say we can't get along and to say that evangelical institutions require you to believe X so there's no objectivity."

      Why wouldn't you just point out to them that this inference is just as silly as the thinking "if I found a contradiction, I can jettison the whole thing" inference? Aren't you making too big a deal out of this? Maybe you making such a big deal out of Geisler's going after scholars will itself damage evangelicalism, because now atheists will capitalize on your discord and point out that we can't even decide what's important so we shouldn't be taken as reliable on other matters either. How do we know the resurrection is so important if we can't agree on these other things? Nick, the great damager of evangelicalism?

    3. Hi Nick,

      Thanks for your expansion. And thanks to Steve for his input above.

      I think that my original question has been reasonably answered- that Geisler has NOT "put inerrancy on too high of a pedestal".

      And while I agree with your original comment that Geisler has merely gone after "their interpretations"- the same may be said of the interpretations of Boyd (the context of Steve's post), Pinnock and Sanders in that Open Theism scuffle at ETS. They too claimed to be inerrantists at that hearing (I was at that hearing).

      Do we then grant those nice folks a pass because Open Theism is merely a "secondary issue" as you suggest?

      Geisler may indeed be overreacting on this issue- but this begs the operative question, "Where does interpretation stop and errancy begin?"
      Does it only begin when these nice folks 'fess up' to errancy?
      Surely it must begin before then on some issues.

      For example-

      How would Paul possibly toss someone out of church for "having his father's wife" if this was just some O.T. "interpretation"? Would it be merely for 'having his father's wife at the very same time that his father was married to her' according to a looser interpretation?

      Would Geisler be justified in tossing someone out of the ETS midst merely for "having his father's wife"?

      Indeed, those are tough questions and I thank you for considering them with me.
      I wish you well in your thesis, Nick.

  5. I find it humorous that Geisler finds it unacceptable that Job or Jonah could be parables of a sort, but he has no problem with Ergun Caner rewriting his entire life story as if it were a parable of a Moslem who finds Christianity.

  6. remingtonscove,

    There's a world of difference between not majoring on inerrancy and rejecting it. You're acting like the two are the same thing.

    1. Mike G.

      "Majoring on inerrancy" is a slogan. It's undefined. We're talking about a context in which someone, an atheist, rejects inerrancy. Right?

    2. I agree with Mike. We're not saying to reject Inerrancy. Not at all. We're saying it's not essential and the way you can know what Jesus did can also be done just by historical research. You can treat the Bible like any other historical document and still come to the conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead. In fact, that's the best conclusion one can come up with.

      None of us come to Jesus with perfect doctrine. If someone wants to come to Jesus and says "I'm convinced Jesus is the God-man who died and rose again, but I'm not sold that Jonah was in the belly of a big fish for the time he was" I'm not going to tell them to wait. They need to come now.

    3. Nick, then my response to you is the same as Mike G. You're the one who brought in the context of an atheist who rejects inerrancy. I don't have any problem with what you say until you get to this point: "If someone wants to come to Jesus and says ... I'm not going to tell them to wait. They need to come now."

      That per se is problematic. Not because it's problematic to come to Jesus with imperfect doctrine, but because the person who supposedly wants to come to God is evidencing disbelief in God's revelation. If they believe Jesus is the God-man why would they possibly have a problem with Jonah? If they believe Jesus is the God-man, why wouldn't they believe what Jesus said about Jonah?

      Here is what I would say to such a person: I'm glad you believe Jesus is the God-man. Even the devils believe and tremble. What you need is to place your trust in Jesus and if you can't trust him with things like Jonah, why would you trust him with your soul? If you think you're ready to embark on a life of submission to God, that means you need to be ready to submit to whatever is revealed.

      etc. There is more to parse out here, but I certainly wouldn't say "Sure, whatever, reject Jonah if you need to in order to trust Jesus." Such a person evidences that they have trust issues, even if they say they believe Jesus rose from the dead. Remember that we are told in the gospel of John that many believed in Jesus' name (2:23), but Jesus didn't entrust himself to them (2:24). We need to have *some* discernment in people who say they are ready to trust in Jesus. If they say they are ready to trust one part of God's word (God raised Jesus from the dead--something that can't be strictly demonstrated from history) we need to probe why it is that they have a stiff neck when it comes to more mundane parts. There could be a serious issue there. Our commission is to create disciples, not mere converts who get in on mere Christianity, with apologies to Lewis.

      Think of people who call themselves Roman Catholics but stand against Roman Catholic teaching when it comes to issues like homosexuality, abortion, and women priests. Their rejection of these teachings calls into question whatever they may *say* they believe about Catholicism. Likewise, if someone rejects God's word it calls into question their claim to be ready to embrace God.

    4. Also, Nick, I notice you didn't respond to my other examples. What about things like homosexuality and the Trinity. You don't have to have perfect doctrine in these areas either, do you? So if someone said "I'm convinced Jesus is the God-man who died and rose again, but I'm not sold that Jesus and God are distinct persons." Would you say "Fine, just don't wait. Come now!"?

    5. Well Remington, I think anyone who comes to Christ will in some sense see the Scriptures as authoritative. I think it's also why many are moving away from Inerrancy, since Geisler has pretty much married that to ICBI, and are wanting to stick with infallibility.

      Now do I think the Trinity is an essential? Yes. Why? Because if the Trinity is not true, Christianity cannot be true. I also think it's the best teaching of the Scriptures. Does that mean you treat them as inerrant? You can, but it will not necessarily have to be that way. One could treat them conceivably as a greater authority. With the Pauline epistles, we can at least see a record of the beliefs of the early church. A narrative teaching is not the same as an epistle.

      As for homosexuality, my arguments against homosexuality that I use are ones not rooted in the Bible which I think is consistent since Romans 1 says that this is part of the natural law. I could link to my interview of Robert Gagnon on this.

      As it stands, I am actively visiting my in-laws at the moment and spending less time online so this is the only answer I can give for now.

  7. remingtonscove,

    No, I'm talking about building the faith of the saints. Atheists are only relevant to this issue because they can plant doubt in the minds of new or weak believers.

    1. Nick raised the issue of an atheist who rejects inerrancy. You chimed in on that comment. Furthermore, don't you have in mind saints who reject inerrancy? And isn't your advice to them to simply focus on what they do believe in? In other words, its an implicit concession of inerrancy.

  8. Of course, given Mike Gantt's universalism, it ultimately doesn't matter whether or how new or weak believers are affected by atheists. In the end, everyone will be saved.

    The truth is there's a world of difference between going to heaven or going to hell. But Mike Gantt is acting like the two are the same thing.

  9. In response to Ron.

    I know Blomberg well and I know Mike Licona especially personally. Both are members of ETS and both affirm Inerrancy. Do open theists say they're Inerrantists? They do. I believe them if they say they are. I just think their interpretation is hideously wrong. Inerrancy of the text does not lead to Inerrancy of interpretation. I think Jehovah's Witnesses really believe the Bible is without error. Their problem is hermeneutic.

    Upon what ground could we toss someone out of ETS? SImple. We could throw them out on Christian character. If they want to try to interpret a text to justify their behavior, let them try. The reply to them is not to say "The Bible is Inerrant!" The reply is "Your interpretation is wrong and here's why."

    Saying the text is inerrant does not tell us the proper message of the text. It only tells us that that message will be true when it's properly understood. Is Mike Licona's idea on Matthew true? There's only one way to really find out. Study the text.

    When Inerrancy is used as a bludgeon, it ends up that we avoid really looking at the text, which is what I thought we were all supposed to do.

  10. Multiple choice question:

    When we read the book of Acts, we can summarize the message that the apostles went about preaching as

    a. "Believe in inerrancy so that you can believe that Jesus is Lord!"
    b. "Believe simultaneously in inerrancy and that Jesus is Lord!"
    c. "Believe in inerrancy lest your belief that Jesus is Lord be in vain!"
    d. "Believe that Jesus is Lord according to the Scriptures!"

    The correct answer, of course, is d.

    The moral of the story? Don't bury the lead!

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  12. Initially the author was talking about inerrancy. But then came this: "Denying the inspiration of Scripture can have far-reaching theological consequences."

    For some people, believing in inerrancy is the same as believing in inspiration. And this definitely, absolutely will create more Bart Ehrmans. Because now, as soon as they start to doubt inerrancy, they will think that perhaps the Bible isn't even inspired.

    An unintentional insight from the author perhaps, but an important one!

  13. @Mike G:

    “There is nothing secular about saying that the Scriptures are historically reliable.”

    You’re asking them to lower the bar to that level – the level of being “at least as reliable a historical document as any other from antiquity.” That’s not Jesus’ view of scripture per your own admission. So, you’re asking them to be unlike Jesus and like the “logically inconsistent” theological moderates that you mentioned, and then (I assume) you tell them they must repent and believe on the authority of God’s word.

    Aren’t loving God with all our heart, not having idols, repenting & believing, and doing all things to God’s glory standards that the unbeliever fails to meet and is culpable for? If having Jesus’ view of scripture is also something that should be embraced by all, then why encourage the unbeliever to arrive at the truth by means of transgression?

    Would you say that if an apparently neutral view of scripture is permissible for the unbeliever, that it is it also permissible for the believer who ought to know better? Is there a legitimate neutral view? A middle-ground between being for Christ and being against Christ?

    “He was raised to be Lord.”

    An allegedly dead man not remaining in that condition is an effect in the world. Your statement above is an interpretative testimony regarding the cause and purpose of the effect.

    Parallel this with my telling someone that, “God told me that demons pushed trees over on my house in order to kill me.” A person can take me as a reliable eyewitness and conclude that trees fell on my house without caring a bit about the alleged cause and purpose of the new location of the trees. In fact, most people would probably superimpose their own theory for their partial acceptance of my testimony.

    I present a system, a package, a worldview – one that holds God’s word as the supreme authority (which, if I’m not being “logically inconsistent,” will lead me to inerrancy). (It’s not as if many unbelievers I run into are unaware of the whole package anyway.) They usually know the deal, and they hate it.

    Anyway, this is all to say that I don’t think that taking the bible as merely an historically reliable text can get you to Jesus’ view of scripture. I think that believing either in the resurrection (according to scriptures) or in inerrancy both require the same change in worldview, namely, the change that comes through regeneration.

    I grant that someone may not explicitly embrace the view of inerrancy that you or I might profess until down the road, but I think the necessary framework is in place for that confession should the appropriate teaching come along. Not much different then how I view believing Jews who were already justified by faith during the early years of the church but embraced Jesus *later on* after the appropriate teaching concerning Jesus. They were unaware of him as he has revealed himself, yet were justified by faith like Abraham already. They had the necessary groundwork in place to embrace Jesus upon hearing about him accurately.

    Hopefully I understand you correctly.