The Future of Inerrancy

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve gone through the ICBI statement and having done that now, I think it’s time that we really talked about the future of Inerrancy. Where do we see the doctrine going?

My commenter, Bryan, from last night says that there are further commentaries on the statement and more and more evangelicals explaining what is meant. There can be no denial of this and definitely, an exhaustive look at this point would be highly difficult. It would be like studying the Nicene Creed. Since it’s been written, there have been several works on it and on orthodox Christology. Creeds are meant to be simple statements that can be remembered, but they don’t really give arguments. That’s not their point.

ICBI is not really a creed however. It is a statement. Of course, we don’t expect it to be exhaustive. However, as I said at the start, this was put together in a 3-day period and should not be the final statement, just like Nicea was not the final statement on orthodox Christology. If anything, the Geisler/Licona debate has shown us that we need more.

I do have a concern that some people are going to avoid Inerrancy altogether. Some of them are not going to join societies now since they fear that they will be the next targets in a hunt. If you check the blogosphere, you can see that this is already going on.

Thus, while I have no doubt Geisler thinks he is saving Inerrancy for the next generation, I believe he is in fact killing it. It is not just Inerrancy that is being killed, but evangelicalism.

Now don’t misunderstand me on this. If the Bible is Inerrant, and I believe that it is, that will last regardless of what anyone does. If the Bible is Inerrant, it is inerrant whether we believe it or not. Thus, what Geisler is doing cannot make the Bible to be errant.

However, if it comes down to Inerrancy being the same as literalism, then you will find several people ready to say “No. I’m not an Inerrantist.” Say it enough over time and soon enough it will be commonplace so much so that people will just take it to mean that the Bible has errors.

How will this kill Evangelicalism? Just take a look at what’s going on in the blogosphere again. Evangelicalism is already taking hits as most atheists are seeing that Mike Licona is a real NT scholar, even though they disagree with his claims, and they do not see Geisler as one, which is true. Geisler’s degrees are in philosophy. They are not in New Testament studies. That’s nothing to disregard Geisler in that sense. However, is Geisler’s name really taken seriously in the world of NT scholarship as a sound authority? The answer is no. Mike Licona’s name is however.

So what does the unbelieving world see? A non-expert telling an expert that he needs to get in line with the party. It’s not about if Licona’s explanation is right or wrong. It’s about getting in line. Now yes, Geisler has given reasons for thinking Licona is wrong, but these reasons are not proving persuasive to NT scholars. Note that the people who have been siding with Geisler are not NT scholars. The people who have been siding with Licona quite often are.

The unbelieving world sees this and says “See? You can’t be objective in evangelicalism. You have to come in line with what the higher institutions say. Why should we trust the claim that the Bible is Inerrant when we know that people have to say that apparently in order to keep their jobs?”

To an extent, they’re right too.

So now Licona could come out and say “I believe the text is literal” and yet an atheist could say “We’ve seen the debate! We know why you are saying that! You’re saying it because you have to! If you deny that it is literal, then you’re going to be cast out by your crowd!” Fortunately, Licona has stuck by his position. He won’t say something unless he believes that it is true. IF he is convinced, he’ll change his mind. Charges of him denying Inerrancy and dehistoricizing the text do not work. You cannot dehistoricize a text that was not meant to be seen as literal and if it was not meant to be seen as literal, it is not a denial of Inerrancy to say that it is not literal. I’m not saying it is apocalyptic. I’m just saying that if Licona’s right, he’s not doing anything that is a denial of Inerrancy. Even if his view is wrong, he’s not denying Inerrancy as long as he’s convinced his view could very well be right.

In fact, if this is the way that Inerrancy is being guarded, then it makes Inerrancy look weak. Take for instance the creation-evolution debate. Those on the creationist side often point to how evolutionists can say they don’t want both theories taught in schools as cowardice on their part and that the ones who is open to seeing both sides is the one who is really sure of his view.

I think there’s some truth to that.

But this is what is going on here. It is saying that we will not allow this other view to be considered. It goes against the traditional view and we’re going to stick with the traditional view. It won’t matter about further studies in the New Testament or the social context. The evidence cannot say otherwise.

But if it does say otherwise, it’s not just Geisler with egg on his face. It’s evangelicalism and then, Christianity.

A better approach for Geisler would have been to tell Licona that he’s allowed to put forward his hypothesis, but if he wants to argue that claim, well there are some strong questions that he has to answer. That’s the way it should be for anyone challenging something that has generally always been understood a certain way. When you bring forward a new idea, it’s up to you to answer the claims and show why your answer is superior.

That only makes it more fun.

What would be the result? Licona would have to dig in his heels and work really hard in order to show his idea was probable and worthy of further research. Geisler sits back and asks the questions. If Licona’s view is true, then we are fortunate that we have a new way of looking at the NT and we can see what else we can study. If Geisler’s is true, well we know something that didn’t work and we have more information on the passage overall. Of course, it could always be the case that years down the road someone will resurrect the discussion again (Pardon the terrible pun) and look for more evidence that has been uncovered since the first debate.

This position holds that if one believes their side is true, they will not have any fear researching it. If all one cares about is truth, they also will not have any fear researching it. Why? Because truth is all that matters and truth is not decided a priori but a posteriori. If all you care about is truth and you research and find your view is wrong, that’s fine to you. You’ve done your homework and you’re better off than when you started.

The constant claims to recant only make this look like an Inquisition when it should be an inquiry. Also note some charges such as the idea that if one text is apocalyptic, then all will be, including 1 Corinthians 15 and the resurrection of Jesus.

It would have been nice if those making such a claim had noted that Licona wrote over 600 pages showing why the resurrection of Jesus is not apocalyptic. Thus, for him, not all resurrections are apocalyptic. He says the way to differentiate is by doing research.

As for 1 Cor. 15, that’s a resurrection at the final judgment and not in history. It’s not part of a narrative account of the NT then and would not be read as apocalyptic but rather as doctrine. Of course, there are apocalyptic themes with the final judgment, but that is not saying that there is no real final judgment. There are no doubt apocalyptic ideas connected with the resurrection, but that does not mean there is no resurrection.

It has been claimed that the enemies of Christ have been handed a powerful weapon. Indeed they have! That powerful weapon however is not from Licona. That powerful weapon is from the side that is telling Licona to recant. The powerful weapon is evidence that supposedly evangelicalism is against the investigation of evidence, free inquiry, and the pursuit of truth without begging the question.

This has also happened to one who is really still putting forward his foot in the scholarly world. He is new compared to others, and now the message is sent to others that they could be the next targets if they put forward a contrary idea. The message the unbelievers get then is “Evangelicals are not allowed to put forward contrary ideas, thus you cannot really say that their arguments are the ones they believe because of hard research. They believe them because they have to.”

What new scholar would want to be the target of a hunt by Geisler? Or Mohler? Or anyone else for that matter?

Of course, several of them would salivate over the chance of being challenged. Imagine putting forward a new resurrection hypothesis and being challenged by Gary Habermas. Imagine putting forward a new look at the Kalam argument and being challenged by William Lane Craig. Anyone in that position would be awfully nervous of course about facing such an expert, but would also be able to say “I’m doing enough to be taken seriously by this guy and if my argument can stand up to this, it is going somewhere!” It will be a welcome challenge.

The future of Inerrancy and evangelicalism should be based on a pursuit of truth and not living out of fear.

So what happens here? Our great hope can be that Geisler will finally offer an olive branch to Licona. Licona has already said that he would be ready to embrace him, forgive him, and be as if nothing happened. He should be willing to support a bright scholar making a powerful foray into the field of NT apologetics.

This must be an action that is done instead of something buried under the rug. There are still people noticing that the Ergun Caner debate may have ended, but they have not seen anything from Geisler on it even though he still has some questions to answer about his involvement in the issue. In the age of the internet, this becomes tougher and tougher. Some stories may be forgotten, but on the internet, once something is public, it is public. Once Geisler wrote an open letter, the genie was out of the bottle and was not going back in.

To not give an olive branch would only be seen as pride. Already, one can see on Geisler’s facebook page and on the blogosphere that Geisler’s stock is dropping and people are losing respect fast. The way to gain that respect is to be able to bite the proverbial bullet. It needs to be realized that this debate has caused great harm to Licona, his family, to evangelicalism, and in the long term to Christianity.

We also need to take a look at ICBI again and see what we can do to refine it, and this time we need more than just pastors by and large. We need people who are actually skilled in criticism of the New Testament. We need everyone who is signing that document to be a verified scholar in the field. We need long debate over the issue.

One of the great fears is that this will be something that will eventually lead to belief in an old-earth or a young-earth being essential to Inerrancy, or belief in Preterism or Dispensationalism being essential to Inerrancy. Naturally, not everyone will be pleased, but these could be the people we don’t need to please as they’ve already equated their interpretation with Inerrancy.

I still think the simplest statement would be that the Bible is without error in all that it teaches. So what does it teach? Well Inerrancy can’t tell you that. That is for you to find out based on doing your study. Inerrancy just tells you that when you find out that that is what the Bible teaches, it is true. It is so true you can stake your eternal salvation on it.

And indeed you do.

So where do we go? That’s not for me to decide. That’s for others to decide who are witnessing this debate taking place and for those who are participating in it. Right now, both sides need to be moving towards reconciliation and both sides need to be reaching for that. This can be a chance for evangelicals to show that they are interested in truth. They are against witch hunts and arguing by force. Let us seek the truth and may not one side win out, but may truth simply win out, and rather than asking if the truth is on our side, let us see if we are on the side of truth.

We shall continue next time.

Article XIX

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Per our last post, we have not received a response from Pastor Tim and my posts mentioning my blog were deleted, although thankfully someone else has posted a link to my blog. We’ll just wait and see what happens. For tonight, we’ll continue with our look at the ICBI statement and see what we find in Article XIX, which reads as follows:

We affirm that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ.

We deny that such confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences both to the individual and to the Church.

Let’s get one thing clear, and fortunately I have not seen this being said in the Geisler/Licona debate, but this is not a salvation issue so if anyone thinks it is, they’re wrong. Also, I do not think that one can rightly accuse Licona of holding a watered-down version of Christianity. Licona has spoken out in favor of miracles a number of times and his book is in fact a monumental work establishing the reality of one miracle, the resurrection of Christ.

However, Inerrancy is important, but it is not an essential, and we must be careful to draw the line there. I have no doubt that there are several people out there who do not affirm Inerrancy who have a greater love for Jesus Christ than I do, and I do not doubt as well that I have much that I can learn from them when I read their opinions on the Scriptures.

It’s my belief that Inerrancy is a great help to us in that we can trust that whatever it is that we find that the Bible is teaching, we can be sure that that something is true. The question comes down to “Well what is the Bible teaching?” Inerrancy cannot tell you that. You cannot simply say that because someone has a different interpretation, then they are denying Inerrancy. Young-earthers have said this about old-earthers. Old-earthers have said it about young-earthers. All it does is get the debate emotionally charged with each side now not defending their view so much as defending the idea that they’re not going against Inerrancy and with one side thinking that if that view is shown to be false, then that person is shown to be violating Inerrancy. It doesn’t work that way.

How do we know what the Bible is Inerrant on? Well basically, we can say it is on everything, but we want to know what that everything is. What we must do is what we don’t usually want to do. We must study the text. We will have to work with it and let us not shriek at the mention of that term “Extra-biblical sources.” The Bible was not written in a vacuum. For instance, pick up your normal English Bible. Here are some facets that weren’t found in the originals.

The originals did not have English. They were written in Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew.

The originals did not always have names. Matthew’s gospel did not include his name on it.

The originals did not have chapters and verses.

The originals did not have capitals, punctuation, and lower-case letters as ours do.

So in essence, all of these are “extra-biblical” but we would not dream of throwing them out! (Although I have thought it would be nice to read a Bible without chapter and verse listing sometime)

Inerrancy is a truth, but it is not a weapon and sadly, it has been used like one, much like the word “liberal” has been and the word “Denial” or some variant thereof. Other words include “Midrash”, “Apocalyptic” and “Dehistoricizing.”

Thus, I have concluded my look at the ICBI statement. I don’t have too much trouble, but I do see a statement that needs to be refined. The statement is very basic and is open to many different views on who’s violating it and who isn’t. This is to be expected. We refine our doctrine as we go along in many ways.

Let us make it a point in this debate however to not throw out the baby with the bathwater. While we may not agree with a view of Inerrancy, that does not mean Inerrancy is itself wrong. I hope to blog on this in the near future.

We shall continue next time.

Pastor Tim’s Small Pop

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’m going to interrupt going through the ICBI statement tonight to look at a reply that I saw on the internet yesterday from Pastor Tim, who I believe I have written about before. If my memory is faulty right now, oh well. I started having some dialogue with Pastor Tim on the net early on when this started. Unfortunately, the mindset I see there is one I think is highly detrimental to the church. I will be commenting on his blog post and on some comments he’s made in response to notable thinkers who have shown up.

I’ve been upfront with a possible bias seeing as I am happily married to Mike’s daughter. However, there are numerous issues Mike and I disagree on biblically. Right off, I can think of two of them that are secondary doctrines. We have our own back and forth sometimes on some issues, but always in an agreeable fashion. If he was wrong, I would tell him I thought so. On the issue of if the text is describing a historical event or not, I’m not sure at this point. However, I am sure he is not violating Inerrancy.

Pastor Tim’s blog can be found here.

At the start, I see a problem as the well is being poisoned. I think in many ways I can relate to Sheldon Cooper of the Big Bang Theory. Some friends showed my wife and I two episodes and told us Sheldon was most like an Aspie, which is what my wife and I both are. (Aspie refers to someone with Asperger’s) I wonder about the “geeks” chasing after a Nobel Peace Prize however. (Most would like one in one of the sciences.) Pastor Tim say the geeks will accept any theory of truth to be accepted into the world of academia.

Which is obviously why we do what we do. Yep. Those of us who are the apologists aren’t interested in truth. We’re just going to accept whatever we can in order to be recognized. That explains why we’re so popular and Joel Osteen is so not.

It seems that absent from those who are against Mike is the bizarre idea to them that he could actually believe what he believes on the basis of evidence. Surely that can’t be it! He must be swayed by liberalism! He must have a hard time believing in miracles! He must just want to water the text down! Whatever the reason is, it can’t be evidence!

Or maybe it is.

Pastor Tim finds it amazing that Mike was allowed to give his talk targeting Geisler, but Geisler was not allowed to respond. How scholarly is that?

Okay. Who says Geisler wasn’t allowed to respond? Did Geisler or someone representing him submit a paper to be read? If so, then can we see evidence? If not, why should Mike be disqualified from giving his paper? I suppose if I gave one against Richard Dawkins that we’d have to call up Dawkins to give a counter-paper and if he was unavailable, well so much for mine.

These papers go public and it is quite fine to present it in this fashion. This was already a public issue because Geisler made it a public issue and once Pandora’s Box is opened, there’s no getting everything back in. By the way, if we’re talking about the right to speak, Geisler said in his response to the EPS paper that Mike has not restrained his family and friends from speaking online. If that’s a problem, then why not have the sword cut both ways and say that Pastor Tim should be honoring Geisler and not speaking about it online?

Or is it the case that those on Geisler’s side can speak but those of us with Mike cannot.

Pastor Tim says that Mike is approaching the text as if there are errors that need to be reconciled.

Question time everyone! What error has Mike said is in the text?

Answer: None.

This would be an error. Mike would have to say something like “We know Matthew recorded this incident as if it was a historical event, but it was not a historical event. Matthew is simply wrong. Therefore, I will say it’s apocalyptic to save Inerrancy.”

That’s not what is being said at all. Mike is not saying “I know the account is historical, but I deny its historicity.” At the start, Pastor Tim is begging the question. Of course if the account is historical then Mike is denying Inerrancy, but that is the question at issue. Is it historical? Keep in mind that others like William Lane Craig have taken the same stance, but strangely enough, there is no pressure on Craig, even though this has been pointed out to Geisler on his Facebook page.

Pastor Tim also talks about how leading apologists have had followings by lowly and ignorant pastors. Let me say something about that here.

There is NO excuse for a pastor to be ignorant.

If you are an ignorant pastor, you either wise up, or you give the pulpit over to someone more capable.

Now not every pastor is meant to be a professional apologist any more than they’re meant to be a professional counselor. However, every pastor should have some basic training in apologetics and in counseling and in any other area of ministry. He should also be able to have a point man he can refer to on these issues. In my current church here, we have plenty of apologists and our pastor studies the subject. In my old church, I was the main one who studied and would have been the go-to guy for apologetics. In that case, the pastor could do his work and if a question came up, he could send someone to me to answer it. I’d have no problem with such a relationship because one pastor cannot do anything.

A pastor is supposed to be a man of knowledge however and in our age, having zeal is often seen as a replacement, while Paul bemoaned his people who had zeal but not in accordance with knowledge. I don’t care how passionate you feel about Christianity. That does not give you the right to stand in a pulpit if you don’t have real knowledge about what you’re talking about. The pastor should be seeking to constantly learn and educate himself for the feeding of his flock. After all, if you’re ignorant, chances are they’ll be ignorant as well and when they evangelize, they’ll be presenting ignorance to a skeptical world.

It won’t end well.

Speaking about these apologists, Pastor Tim says the following:

They should answer, for the world, the following question. Do they truly embrace inerrancy or are they merely mouthing the words because of the political coverage and name recognition it has given them?

For me, I truly do embrace Inerrancy. The problem is, this won’t be enough for Pastor Tim when he knows I’m open to Mike’s view. This is what amazes me about these guys. They seem to know authorial intent. They know exactly what Matthew meant. They know exactly what all the framers of ICBI meant. They even know exactly what I mean when I say I embrace Inerrancy and somehow it means that I don’t embrace Inerrancy despite what I say to the contrary. Pastor Tim however tops this all with this line:

Make no mistake about it, these apologists have made a huge income off of the evangelical world and much of that income has come out of the Southern Baptist Convention. The books, speaking conferences, and other events that move these names among us funds these apologists in their world-wide travels. Just follow any of the apologists listed on the above linked blog on Facebook or Twitter and one will see world locations through their camera lens.

Well I have been secret about it, but my wife and I did not vacation at Ocean Isle Beach on our honeymoon. Instead, Mike fired up his private jet for us and flew us off to a five-star hotel in Aruba where we spent a week together. Right now, we’re back at the mansion and I just berated a servant for not serving my morning breakfast properly.

Forget anything I’ve said about just having a part-time job in this economy and needing to even have government aid to make it seeing as my old job just let me go a few months before my wedding. (To be assuring however, it looks like a really great job is coming up. It’s practically a sure thing. It’ll just take a couple of months.)

If there’s big money going on in all of this, please tell me where it is? I can assure Pastor Tim that the Liconas are not living in luxury. Neither are the Habermases, the Craigs, etc. I did not enter this field wanting to make money. In fact, my wife and I have it a point that we never want to be rich. We want to be comfortable and have enough to be able to make it and enjoy ourselves some every now and then, but we don’t want wealth.

For myself, I haven’t got a penny from Southern Baptist Conventions as well. I can also say that when an apologist like Craig does a tour like Reasonable Faith that is in another country, there is much fundraising that takes place because it does cost money to fly someone over and have them speak and to give them food and a place to stay. The apologists don’t have the bank account on their own.

As for Pastor Tim’s last sentence about seeing world locations through the camera lens, I have looked and looked at this sentence and I have no idea what it is he is trying to say. At any rate, this whole paragraph is a great smear on all apologists saying that we are just in this for the money and we don’t care about truth. Many of us have been working to bridge the gap between the world of apologetics and the world of the lay person and show the lay person that apologetics is for them. They too can partake of the fruits of the academy.

Posts like this make it all the harder as Pastor Tim seems to encourage that divide.

Pastor Tim refers to the writing of Max Andrews linked to in the blog as scholarly arrogance at its best. In what way? What has Andrews said that is arrogant? Pastor Tim then says that Andrews says concerning that if the account is historical or not, that he takes the agnostic position and then decides to tie him in with Thomas Huxley who was an agnostic.

Agnostic about the existence of God! Not about a particular issue.

Is it wrong Pastor Tim to answer a question with “I don’t know.”?

One of my favorite TV series has been Monk. I can imagine introducing Pastor Tim to the series and getting near to the end of an episode. “Well Pastor Tim. Who do you think did the crime. Monk’s figured it out. Have you?”

“No. I don’t know who did it.”

“You don’t know! You agnostic! How dare you take a position of unbelief!”

Or could I say that if Pastor Tim is wanting to go with tradition, “Well Pastor Tim, here you are a Southern Baptist and you’re saying that we need to go with what tradition has said. Are you sure you’re not a Roman Catholic?” (I mean no insult to my Catholic friends in that but just going on how generally I see that the two groups don’t get along.)

Pastor Tim goes on to say this:

Here is the issue in a nutshell. The “method” these leading evangelical apologists take is a method of “demonstrable proof” from a text that calls us to faith. Wonder what would have happened if Jesus would have taken this position when the pharisees approached him? He would have never referenced Jonah.

Pastor Tim. The Koran also calls us to trust that Muhammad is a prophet. Do you have faith? Faith is not blind belief. It is trust in what has been shown to be reliable and it is shown to be reliable by demonstration. If your position is true, then you should seek to destroy any evidence of Christianity. That will after all lead to more faith. The disciples ought not to have preached the empty tomb. They should have just said “Despite any evidence to the contrary, don’t bother looking. The tomb is empty! Just trust us! Now convert!”

In fact, this is why Jesus referenced Jonah. He was giving the Pharisees demonstrable proof. He had done many signs in the miracles but he was saying that he would perform the ultimate demonstrable proof of who he was when he rose again from the dead.

The methodology being protected by leading apologists associated with the Evangelical Philosophical Society (Wm. Lane Craig Gary Habermas, Max Andrews, Paul Copan) is a methodology that subjugates the historical text of Holy Writ to secular Greco-Roman literature.

No. This is not being subjugated. It’s just saying the Bible was not written in a vacuum. Paul had Greco-Roman rhetoric in his letters. That’s demonstrable. The gospels are in the genre of Greco-Roman biographies. That’s demonstrable. If Pastor Tim has ever given a sermon using powerpoint, then he should understand this. The gospel writers used a medium familiar to their readers.

There is nothing wrong with extra-biblical sources being used. For instance, consider how Paul says we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, the Bema. Okay. That sounds interesting. Then you find out that we’ve found the Bema that Paul spoke about that Gallio sat on and what a large and imposing figure it was. This was no ordinary throne! All of a sudden, our understanding of Bema is improved, but this is because we have something extra-biblical.

Consider when we have the Samaritans say that we know that Jesus truly is the Savior of the World. That’s really good to hear. Then, we learn from extra-biblical sources that that was said of Caesar. All of a sudden, we know that the Samaritans are setting Jesus in contrast to Caesar.

Let’s not forget the wealth of information we have now on Second Temple Judaism and how that helps us to understand the text all the more. I’ve given just a couple of examples, but several more could be given.

That, friends is not inerrancy.

Really? How come? There’s no reason for this statement given. It’s just given. Pastor Tim doesn’t argue he. He merely asserts it and thinks that that settles the issue. Why is it that as soon as we use extra-biblical sources, we are violating Inerrancy?

Anyone that accepts Licona’s methodology is advocating a text full of errors and only those with a proper understanding can spot those errors.

Blech! What’s with this water?! It’s got poison in it!

I accept Licona’s methodology and I deny that the text is full of errors. I do affirm a proper understanding however can help reconcile “supposed errors.” What can Pastor Tim say to this however? “No. You believe the text is full of errors!” I’ve said that I don’t. How could it be that Pastor Tim knows more about what I mean by what I say than I do? Now it could be that I am wrong and the text is full of errors, but I cannot be wrong in that I know that I believe the text is not full of errors. My belief can be wrong, but I cannot be wrong in knowing I believe that.

Looking at the comments, I agree with the commenter who said Pastor Tim spoke like one who had not done research. When I dialogued with him back earlier when this all started, I was convinced that he had not even read Mike’s book on the topic. I seriously doubt he has at this point, but he’s prepared to tell his congregation that it denies Inerrancy. He might not have said that in the pulpit, but he has said it on his blog.

Unfortunately, it looks like several or showing up and telling Pastor Tim that he’s wrong on this, but he’s unable to accept any correction. It is as if Geisler has spoken and the case is closed. There is something to sticking to one’s guns of course, but when there are many people more educated than you being as gentle as they can telling you, you really need to think through these issues because you’re just not engaging with the argument, you should listen.

Francis Beckwith made a fine point to Pastor Tim about a reading of Exodus 33 with a literalist bent in that it would produce God with a body. This argument was not responded to at all by Pastor Tim.

It’s also pointed out that Geisler is wanting to take the case to ETS, even though Geisler left ETS years ago due to its not having a strong stance on doctrine. (All of a sudden, the organization suits his purposes however) Beckwith also points out that while Pastor Tim thought a scholarly exchange should take place, on his own blog, he opposed the meeting between Geisler and Mike at SEBTS.

Tim’s response?

Second, let me move to my claim. You are correct, I do not know that Dr. Geisler was asked to respond. As, one commenter has stated Dr. Geisler is not a member of ETS. However, what I do know is that Dr. Al Mohler takes the same position as Dr. Geisler and he was never mentioned in Dr. Licona’s paper in any shape or form concerning his position. The only mention of Dr. Mohler was Dr. Licona’s attempt to show a divide in young earthers and old earth proponents. If Dr. Licona’s position is so “orthodox” then why, pray tell, does one that advocates orthodoxy in every paragraph he writes and speak express in writing that it is not inerrancy?

Why does Mohler say this? Because Mohler believes it, but Mohler is wrong. I have shown that in my own reply to Mohler here. Are we to say that Mohler is infallable? It is as if there is some kind of group think going on here. Furthermore, why should Mike respond to Mohler who just made one post and that was it? The main one who’s gone after him is Geisler.

Third, Dr. Geisler did refuse to accept the invitation to SEBTS. However, Dr. Mohler did as well. The reason I expressed he did not need to be on such a panel, is very clear. My position is that inerrancy is best seen among those the people in the pew. Those in the pew understand inerrancy and will spot someone that does not advocate in a “New York minute”. Scholars are working from a “collegial” perspective. Thus, no scholar desires to go against another scholar’s position. Dr. Geisler and Dr. Mohler are two of the few scholars that will publicly speak out on this issue. This debate does not need to be covered over by scholarly language and hidden away in the towers of academia. Inerrancy is not an academic position it is a position that the people in the pew hold the pastors in the pulpits responsible to maintain.

So Geisler did not need to go because there was no need since this should be shown to the person sitting in the pew, but when it came to EPS, where there were no persons sitting in the pew, Geisler did need to have a chance to respond. What? Can anyone make any sense out of this? Is it not more likely that Beckwith has pointed out a contradiction?

Dr. Geisler and Dr. Mohler are two of the few scholars that will publicly speak out on the issue?

Well I suppose so since it seems that those who speak out in favor of Mike become the next targets of the machine, get disinvited to conferences, and lose their jobs. Could it be some scholars don’t speak out because they do want to provide for their families like Pastor Tim does?

And do note that there were several who spoke out in favor of Licona in a petition he had. These were all disregarded. Geisler and Mohler are not NT scholars. The ones who signed the petition are. What is it that Geisler and Mohler know that the leading NT scholars do not know? What is it that Pastor Tim knows that the leading NT scholars do not know?

The person in the pew is also the one that while supposedly can spot the denial of Inerrancy, will sadly in our day and age have no response to what someone like Bart Ehrman says, unless that response is fideism, that is, believing without evidence. If that is the case, Ehrman shuts them down for any effective evangelism. My stance is the person in the pew needs to be more educated and interacting with the scholarly world. Pastor Tim moves us in the direction of fideism.

In response to Peter Grice, Pastor Tim says:

First, you say;
“Apologists affirm and defend Inspiration
Why? The Bible says it is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16) and it says “In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God” (John 1:1) it also tells us “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), and it says ” he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). There is no need to affirm or defend what God has said.

One does not know where to begin with this really. The Bible says it is inspired by God. So does the Book of Mormon. So does the Koran. Would Pastor Tim accept that from the Mormon or the Muslim? Then, Pastor Tim moves on to John 1:1 and John 1:14.

This is the point where I want to start screaming.

John 1:1 and John 1:14 when saying the Word do not mean the Bible. They are talking about Jesus. I hope Pastor Tim knows that, but it is hard to get that impression from reading this. When we bring that over to John 14:9, I wonder that has to do with the price of tea in China.

I wonder what Pastor Tim would do when a skeptic approached him about the events that happened when a great man died according to Virgil.

“Well those are not historical.”

“Why not?”

“They just didn’t happen.”

“But the event in the Bible did?”


“Why did those in the Bible happen but not those in Virgil?”

“Because the Bible is historical.”

“How do you know this?”

“Because it says so.”

“How do you know that’s true?”

“Because it’s the Word of God?”

“How do you know that?”

“It says so.”

“But the Book of Mormon and the Koran say the same.”

“They’re not stating the truth.”

“How do you know?”

“Because they disagree with the Bible.”

This is entirely circular in how it goes. If the Bible is inspired, and I believe it is, one should be able to demonstrate it. Otherwise, they’re holding to a double-theory of truth. You remember that theory don’t you? It’s the very one that Geisler condemned in an open-letter. If the Bible is true to reality, open investigation by a skeptic should be able to come to that conclusion. Of course, there are reasons some don’t, and we can help counter those, but the Bible will be able to have contact with reality if it is true.

Pastor Tim says one should not think the Bible needs defending. Why should someone think that? One can think of the Spurgeon quote where he’d sooner defend a lion than the Bible. Well Spurgeon was wrong. The Bible will not defend itself. That’s not it’s place. If you believe in the Bible, you will want to defend it and honor it in the face of those who seek to deny it and you will want to do so with the best of arguments.

Pastor Tim also says:

However, it seems that apologists stopped realizing that an unbeliever will not accept any argument of faith without the “spirit of God” drawing him. The apologist will never convince an unbelieving world God exists. The apologist will never convince an unbelieving world the Bible is God’s Word. Those are the tasks of the Holy Spirit.

By himself, the apologist will not convince the unbeliever. That is true. However, the apologist should not claim to do this by himself. Of course, the Holy Spirit is there, but the Holy Spirit can also use a good argument. In fact, we should give the Holy Spirit the best that we have and that includes our best arguments. We should not come to the unbeliever completely ignorant and expect the Holy Spirit to make up for our laziness.

You seem to be presuming there is hidden meaning within the text that have to be teased out through the “scholarly” process. It is once again another way of saying there is “truer truth”. Or as I put it in the OP a “canon within a canon”. Certainly no one intends to presume that God is bound to anything. However, neither does God give us a text that has hidden meanings for us to ponder and only those with enough scholarly insight can find the full meaning of the text. That, my brother, is a form of gnosticism if not full blown gnosticism.

And here we have yet another example of “The Bible was written for 21st century Americans.” Oh there are a number of things that are plain in the Bible. There are a number that are not. We have Pastor Tim appealing often to the pew-sitter. Okay. Which one do I go to?

Do I go to the Presbyterian church where they will talk about how the Bible teaches Calvinism?

Do I go to the SBC one that has the Bible clearly teaching dispensationalism?

Do I go to the Pentecostal one with the Bible clearly teaching that charismatic gifts are today?

What about the one that has an Arminian statement of faith? Is that one getting what the Bible is clearly teaching?

What about the one that holds to an old-earth interpretation? Hugh Ross is a pastor of a church after all.

Or do I go to one that holds to a young-earth view?

What about one that has a preterist approach to eschatology?

What about one that holds to eternal security?

Or do I go with one that denies eternal security?

Which person in the pew do I go to? They all affirm inerrancy, but they all disagree on what the text means.

You know, that text that is so clear that we don’t need the scholarly world to understand it.

I think in reality that the text is NOT clear on several matters and for that we need hard study. We actually need to dig into the text and wrestle with it. We need to avail ourselves of the biblical languages. (By the way, those languages are not taught in the Bible. You have to go outside the Bible to know what those words mean.) We need to learn the social context of the Bible. We need archaeology and philosophy and history. We need to look at the world and say “If the Bible is true, whatever I learn can help me in my understanding of the Bible,” and then have at it.

It seems Pastor Tim’s approach is afraid of higher learning as it will some how dilute the teachings of the Bible. As one who values higher learning, I have no fear of it. I have spent some time recently reading on an issue for instance in biblical doctrine that I disagree with. I regularly read books by the cults and by atheists because I want to know what their arguments are. It’s great to go into a library and/or bookstore and get what you want without fear.

Pastor Tim also says:

Further is the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, a statement that Dr. Licona has affirmed to be part of the ETS. You say we should not be insistent on the “literal-historical narrative”. However, ETS affirms something different in Article XVII than your statement;
“We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatical-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.
We deny the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.”

Actually Pastor, that’s article XVIII, and it is one I wrote about here. Once again, we find this idea of just trot out the ICBI statement and that settles everything.

Apparently, all of the scholars that side with Licona did not know about that article, even though two of them were signers!

Pastor Tim later says:

Paul penned his words to the Corinthians approximately 55AD. Matthew penned his words to this circulatory letter approximately 60AD.

Question Pastor Tim. How do you know when Paul wrote Corinthians? Does the letter itself contain a date? How do you know that Matthew wrote the book of Matthew? Do you see his name anywhere in that book? I don’t. Please don’t dare tell us that you’re using…GASP!…


Why yes. Yes you are, and you’re using extra-biblical material to increase your understanding of the text. We do the exact same thing, but when we do it, you have a problem with it.

Another case of “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Would one not agree that Paul was the most “well read” among the two? With that being the case then a question glares us in the face. Why did Paul not make such a reference in his defense of the resurrection when he wrote about it in 1 Corinthians? Is Dr. Licona calling the account that Paul points to in 1 Corinthians into question as well? Paul never referenced this “myth” that Dr. Licona has suddenly found. Paul would have been the one to bring this out as he is the basis for using extra-biblical information and making it a part of the Holy Writ under the inspiration of God. Thus, since Paul did not call into question this “poetry” Dr. Licona has found and attributes to Matthew’s intent, I believe I am well within the “Denial” statement of The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy Article XVII.

Okay Pastor Tim. Why did Paul also not include a defense of the virgin birth? Why did he not include a defense of Christ doing miracles? I believe I have a simple answer for your question here.

Paul is speaking about the eschatological judgment at the end. Little resurrections here and there in the middle would not matter. The question is “Will we all be resurrected at the end?” Paul’s basis for this is the resurrection of Christ as the firstfruits. (To which Paul Copan raises the point that if Christ is the firstfruits, how could it be that those resurrected saints would have glorified bodies prior to Christ?) Since we are identified as being in Christ (And not in resurrected saints) then we will also be raised with Christ and raised as He was.

He would not bring up the Matthew 27 incident any more than he would bring up Lazarus because it was completely irrelevant. Furthermore, this would have been part of the oral Jesus tradition and Paul would not have needed to reference it.

Finally, Mike has not referred to this as a myth. He’s referred to it as apocalyptic. Myth and apocalyptic writings are not the same thing.

Now I did post on Pastor Tim’s blog yesterday that I would be posting this today. He has not put that comment up. I doubt he will. (It would kind of be like how we have evidence that Geisler has deleted or had deleted disagreeing posts from his Facebook page.) Hopefully this will get around somehow.

I urge Pastor Tim to reconsider what he’s doing right now. I have no doubt that he really thinks he’s fighting for Inerrancy, and in a sense he is, but the bigger picture is being missed.

As it is right now, many young minds are saying they don’t want to join the ETS and some are saying “Well if this is what believing in Inerrancy entails, then so much for Inerrancy.” Inerrancy is being presented as something weak that cannot stand up to scrutiny so one must simply silence the opposition.

Do not dare present ideas that go against our tradition. You will not be accepted. In order to get to play all the reindeer games, you must walk the line with us, and if you do not walk the line, then you must recant or you will be shunned from the community.

Which will lead people in the end to believe that the Bible has many errors.

In fact, Stephen Bedard, another internet blogger, wrote recently that an atheist wrote something in the local paper showing how this conflict shows that the Bible isn’t true. Do a web search for “Geisler” and “Licona” and you can see what the atheist world is saying about the conflict. It’s becoming apparent to them that if Geisler’s case wins the day, it means you cannot be objective and be an evangelical scholar.

Now by Geisler’s case, I do not mean just that the event is historical. Geisler could be entirely right in that. I mean the way that he has presented his case and the methodology that he has used in dealing with an opponent. Many other Christians are calling for Geisler to let this go and make amends to Mike. The scholarly world, the evangelical world, the Christian world, and the whole of the world are not being benefited by this.

Let us also remember what Mike has said. If Geisler apologized to him, he would welcome him with open arms and put it all behind him.

I’d love to see that happen, but at this point, I am skeptical of that. (I just hope Pastor Tim will not now say I’m endorsing skepticism since I stated that position) I do think this is starting to come to a close, but will it be a wound that gets properly healed, or will it be a scar that remains for a long time on evangelicalism?

We shall see.

Article XVIII

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our look at the topic of Inerrancy and I believe of all the articles we have looked at, this one is likely to be the one most relevant to the Geisler-Licona situation. Article XVIII reads as follows:

We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historicaI exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.

We deny the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizlng, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.

At the start, I wonder about the idea of “Scripture interprets Scripture.” A text is an instrumental means in this case but it is used by a person to interpret another text. One Scripture can help explain another Scripture but it cannot per se interpret that Scripture. Interpretation takes place in the mind and the text of Scripture has no mind. Of course the author of Scripture does, but the author is not the one interpreting here.

Also, do we exclude sources outside of Scripture? This is problematic as it assumes Scripture is written in a vacuum. Scripture at times points to other sources, unfortunately ones we don’t have, such as the Book of Jashar. It is apparent that whoever wrote 1 and 2 Kings used other sources as he frequently states when he says “Are not all the acts of X recorded in Y?”

Besides, unless we read Greek and Hebrew, we do have to rely on other sources. The words used came from somewhere. When Paul wrote his epistles, he did not have a big list of acceptable Greek words to use when writing Scripture. He used the language he knew. Of course, there were words he did create, but there were several he didn’t and it’s just fine to study other ancient literature to see what they meant.

It was claimed for a time, and still is by several, that the creation account in Genesis was a rip-off of other creation accounts and the same could be said of the flood. I do not hold this, but this does not mean they were not an influence. Could it be that the way to study Genesis could involve studying other creation accounts and seeing how the ancients used them? Perhaps, shock of shocks, we could get more out of Genesis not by studying modern science, but by studying ancient writings like Genesis! Maybe Genesis was written not to describe a scientific account but a more functional account.

Okay. So what about Geisler’s situation with Licona about dehistoricizing the text?

The problem is it assumes the text is historical to begin with. Now maybe it is. I’m open to that. It cannot be assumed however.

Licona regularly brings out that events that we would deem miraculous in nature often happened when great kings died in other writings of the time. Let us consider the following from Licona’s paper:

In what is certain poetic literature, Virgil reports sixteen
phenomena that occurred after Caesar’s death: prolonged darkness, dogs and
birds acted unusually, Etna erupted, fighting in the heavens was heard (a detail
that we saw has a parallel in the portents reported by Josephus prior to the
destruction of the temple), the Alps shook near Germany, a powerful voice was
heard in the groves, pale phantoms were seen at dusk, cattle spoke, streams
stood still, the earth opened up, ivory idols wept and bronze idols were sweating
in the shrines, dark intestines appeared outside of animals in their stalls, blood
trickled in springs, wolves howled, lightning appeared in a cloudless sky, and a
bright comet was seen.

The paper can be found here:

Now Geisler could accept that all of these are historical. That is his prerogative if he wishes to do so. However, let us suppose that he does not. Can Licona accuse him of dehistoricizing the text? No. He knows that the text is not meant to be seen as historical. Yet what will be the reason for saying it has to be historical in the Bible?

If we say, “It is because it is in the Bible” then we are simply begging the question. How will that be to a watchful world that thinks the way that conservative Christian scholars do biblical studies is to say “Well if the Bible says it, then it’s true.” This will be apparent especially when the case comes of supposed gods like Mithras and Horus and Dionysus who “die and resurrect.” Are they just not accepted because they’re not Bible?

Such argumentation will die the death of a thousand qualifications, especially if we tell people that they can study the Bible to see that it’s true and they can say “Well it says the exact same thing that is said about Mithras. Why do you believe the Bible instead?” “Because the Bible is historical.” “How do you know? “Because it’s the Bible.”

Note that this does not rule out the event being historical. It could be that these events that did not really happen at the death of an emperor were written as stories to give honor to the emperor, and yet when the Son of God dies, God makes some stories a reality to up the ante in favor of the honor of His Son. That is entirely possible.

The point is that frankly, we don’t have enough evidence for dogmatism either way. I consider Licona’s suggestion an area worthy of further research. We should study it more and I am sure that if Licona’s view is found to be faulty upon research, he will be the first one to abandon it. Let us study the suggestion however before deciding an answer.

“But the text is written as a narrative!” The same could be said for the accounts of the deaths of the Roman emperors. Also, despite whether one thinks Licona is right or wrong, does anyone really think that Licona is just blindly missing all these details that seem like a narrative? Looking over blog chats on this, it seems people actually think he is so foolish that he has not noticed that.

Also, this is not about belief in miracles, especially since Licona wrote a whole chapter on defending that historians can believe in miracles and allow them in their work and the whole book itself is to explain one miracle, the resurrection of Christ from the dead!

“Couldn’t someone say Christ’s resurrection is not historical?” Absolutely. But to do so, they must provide an explanation to all the counter-evidence Licona gives in the book. There is far more for that than for the Matthew 27 event. The problem is so many people are interpreting this as an all-or-nothing game. If Matthew 27 does not describe a historical event, then why can it not be that none of it is historical? This is the mindset we see in fundy atheists also.

“How do we know what’s what?” This is where we have to use a method not really familiar to a lot of Christians today called “Studying the text.” We actually just don’t sit down, pray, and expect the Holy Spirit to tell us everything that people spend years of scholarly research trying to figure out.

In looking at this whole situation, I’d like to present the argument in a way that shows why Licona is not denying Inerrancy. Look at this argument.

Matthew wrote the text and intended it to be historical.
Licona takes it as historical.
Licona is not denying Inerrancy.

No one has a problem with this one. It makes sense. Now let’s look at it this way.

Matthew wrote the text and intended it to be historical.
Licona takes it as apocalyptic.
Licona is denying Inerrancy.

Some people seem to think that this is what is going on, but the conclusion does not follow. Think of how many passages have people denying Inerrancy then.

Is Matthew 24 intended to be read in a Futurist or Preterist sense today?

Is Genesis to describe an old-earth or a young-earth?

Does Romans 9 describe a Calvinistic work or an Arminian one?

Does Hebrews 10 say salvation can be lost or not?

We could go on and on and on. There can be no doubt all of us have some wrong interpretations of the Bible. When that happens, we do not get the message the author intended. That does not mean we are ascribing error to the author. It means we are failing to understand the material. The problem is not with the material, but with us.

This is actually what needs to be the case for the above argument to work.

Matthew wrote the text and intended it to be historical.
Licona knows this, but says that the text is not historical.
Licona is denying Inerrancy.

In this case, then yes, Licona would be denying Inerrancy. He is ascribing error to Matthew at that point and Geisler wins the day. The reality is that Licona knows about Geisler’s reasons and does not find them sufficient. If someone does, so what? They have to be sufficient in Licona’s mind for him to be denying Inerrancy.

Also, just posting the ICBI statement will not work as some think. Regularly, it seems that on the net, someone will post the ICBI statement and think that settles it. To begin with, it doesn’t as this still assumes that Licona is dehistoricizing what is historical. Second, one can go against ICBI and still support Inerrancy. It is my understanding that Henry Morris would not sign the document since it allowed for old-earth views to be considered within Inerrancy. Does anyone want to state that Morris did not hold to Inerrancy? (And note by his standards that Geisler would be denying Inerrancy)

This also means the framers argument would be invalid. (Not to mention that Moreland and Yamauchi both say Licona is not denying Inerrancy) It assumes that ICBI is the final word on Inerrancy and to deny ICBI is to deny Inerrancy. Now by and large, I have no problem with ICBI, but I do have a problem with equating it with Inerrancy. People affirmed Inerrancy and knew what it meant before ICBI, much like they did the Deity of Christ before Nicea.

What needs to happen now? This whole thing needs to be buried. I would like to point out that Licona is not speaking the words of recanting, as Geisler and Mohler as well are. Instead, this is what Licona has said:

If Geisler were to apologize, I would embrace him and forget the entire matter. Nothing more need be said and we can all move on.

Right now on Geisler’s page, there is a call for this to go on and I applaud all those who are saying such. This has not been good for evangelicalism and it is time for it to come to an end with the realization that Licona is not denying Inerrancy.

We shall continue next time.

Article XVII

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Things are looking quite good here since Mike Licona gave his talk at EPS as the evangelical world seems to be in agreement with him. Not necessarily in the sense that his interpretation is correct, but that it is within the realm of orthodoxy and within the realm of Inerrancy. I pray several more evangelicals will stand up now and let this be known.

For our purposes however, we are going to continue our study tonight looking at Article XVII which reads as follows:

We affirm that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the Scriptures, assuring believers of the truthfulness of God’s written Word.

We deny that this witness of the Holy Spirit operates in isolation from or against Scripture.

Okay. Now this is one that I do wonder about as it is something I do not see taking place in Scripture. Notice when I say that I question this, it does not mean I question Inerrancy. I think one could consistently not accept the ICBI statement and at the same time still accept Inerrancy.

My concern with this is that this is something way too subjective for my tastes. Exactly how is it that one knows this is the Holy Spirit telling them this instead of their own wish fulfillment? Now yes, I do believe the Scriptures are true, but I think a Christian can want the Scripture to be true, have no good reason to think that it is, get a feeling about it, and lo and behold, that’s the Holy Spirit.

A lot of us have a problem with the song that says “It can’t be wrong when it feels so right” and the thinking of “If it feels good, do it.” However, when it comes to Christianity, we don’t often do better. “This feels really good! It must be the Holy Spirit at work!”

Keep in mind the Holy Spirit could also lead us to sorrow and repentance. Does anyone think it feels good to know you’ve done something you shouldn’t have?

This is also a problem with marriage I think in our culture. We can base too much on the feeling of being in love when that feeling will die and what’s left? Hard work. Our society does not really value hard work so what happens? We give up until we get that feeling again.

Furthermore, I hate to say it but atheists have a point when they talk about how people in a church can’t agree on a vote. Is it the case that the Holy Spirit can’t make up His mind? No. I think it’s more of a case that the Holy Spirit expects us to use ours but we expect Him to choose for us by little “clues” we think are biblical, such as feeling.

“But I don’t have any reasons for believing the Bible is Scripture. Isn’t my feeling good enough?” Sure. Until you have to talk to Mormons and you have to tell them why your feeling supposedly trumps their feeling. You have no evidence. They have no evidence. You both have a feeling. Why should they trust yours over theirs?

Instead, you could go to your local library and/or bookstore and start getting books on the Bible and learn about why people believe it to be Scripture. Why do they think it is inerrant? Feel free to read those also on why some people don’t think it’s Scripture and don’t think it’s inerrant.

Once you have that evidence, it could most certainly lead to some very good feelings. It’s not necessary, but it can. This position is not against feelings. It is against having feelings take the lead in matters. God gave us emotions and we should take advantage of them, but emotions tell us more about us than they do external reality.

Now does the Spirit play any role in Scripture? I think He does, and that role is conviction. I think the Holy Spirit convicts us via the natural law written on our hearts. In being convicted, we are prepared to come to the Messiah. This could be a feeling. It could not be. Not all people operate the same emotionally.

So I do have a statement in ICBI I disagree with, but I cannot say I disagree with Inerrancy.

We shall continue next time.

Article XVI

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Lately, we’ve been going through the ICBI statement on biblical Inerrancy. If you have not heard it yet, I recommend also going to RisenJesus.come and listen to Mike Licona’s talk on Inerrancy at EPS, as his situation with Geisler is what sparked all of this. For now, we’re going to take a look at article XVI of the statement.

We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy has been integral to the Church’s faith throughout its history.

We deny that inerrancy is a doctrine invented by Scholastic Protestantism, or is a reactionary position postulated in response to negative higher criticism.

Okay. This is one that I will not be able to comment so much on seeing as I am not an authority on church history. From what I have read in the Fathers, they do accept the Inerrancy of Scripture and its authority. When I look in church history, I see nothing but respect for the Scriptures among Christians.

So for the sake of argument, I will assume that the statements here are true and discuss what kind of difference it makes. For the purposes of what has been debated lately, Inerrancy has been integral, but that does not mean that every interpretation has been integral.

Of course, there are some positions that I do believe are more important than others. If someone has a different interpretation on say, the parable of the pearl in Matthew, well that’s interesting and we should study it. However, if there is someone who says that they believe the doctrine of the Trinity needs to be called into question, they’re free to put forward the idea, but they will need to make an incredibly strong case in order to show that.

There have been various ideas in Christian history on how to interpret the text and we need to realize that. We dare not act like our interpretation of a text is the final word of the matter. We should always have a faith that is seeking understanding. For myself, my position on a number of secondary issues has changed over time because of being open to evidence.

As for apologetics, there have been changes there as well. I do not hold to the same arguments that I used to and some I defended strongly in the past I don’t defend as strongly any more because I do not find them as convincing. As has been said, while we hold the Scriptures are Inerrant, we are not to think of our interpretations as Inerrant. The Scriptures are the final authority and we are not.

In conclusion, I do agree with this statement however. It does not show Inerrancy is true, although I think that it is, but it is important that if the position is historical, we do not need to abandon it lightly. While we should always be open to going where the evidence leads, we need to remember that if a position is highly contradictory to what we’ve held before, we will generally want a higher degree of evidence.

We shall continue next time.

Article XV

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’re going to be continuing our look at biblical Inerrancy today and sometime on the day of this writing Mike Licona will be giving his talk on this topic at EPS and it will be a great one! For now, let’s go to the ICBI statement and take a look at Article XV:

We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy is grounded in the teaching of the Bible about inspiration.

We deny that Jesus’ teaching about Scripture may be dismissed by appeals to accommodation or to any natural limitation of His humanity.

Accommodation is a teaching that Jesus did not really believe what the Jews around him did, but he acted in accordance with what they believed while all the while he knew better. Thus, even if Jesus did not believe in Inerrancy, he acted as if Inerrancy was true for the sake of the Jews.

Now to be sure, some ideas could be on a limitation of humanity, but not all. Did Jesus have to in some sense study like the rest of us? Yes. We find before he made a decision also like choosing the twelve apostles, he prayed about it. Chances are Jesus went through an education process like any Jewish boy would in his time.

The striking reality about Jesus however is that he often was willing to easily go against the establishment when he believed that they were clearly in the wrong. For instance, in Matthew 15, he did not hesitate to say that all foods were clean. This does not mean that he opposed the dietary laws as dietary laws in Leviticus. Instead, he was saying that righteousness does not come about that way. The age of the old purity code was coming to an end. It was time for the new purity code to begin that would be purity of heart more than purity of diet, and one’s diet could not affect that.

When someone was interpreting Scripture wrong, Jesus said so. When the Sadducees confronted him, he pointed to Scripture to show that they were wrong. In fact, he told them that the reason for their error was that they did not know the Scriptures or the power of God. He told His opponents that the Scriptures they studied spoke of Him and yet they did not come to Him. Not only is He indicting them on lack of study, He’s saying that even prior to the cross, there is enough information from his ministry and miracles to know that He is the Messiah and they should come to Him.

When we see Jesus speaking about Scripture, we find Him speaking of it in the highest regard saying that it is written and that the Scriptures cannot be broken and that He must fulfill the Scriptures. It is hard to imagine that one like Jesus would acquiesce on some points but did not hesitate on the very points that led to his crucifixion.

I affirm then at the end that I too agree with this. However, I do not believe in Inerrancy simply because the Bible claims that it comes from God, but that it claims it and shows it. Self-testimony is part of evidence that must be taken into account. It is insufficient to prove the divine origins of Scripture by saying that the Bible says so. That is circular reasoning. The confirmation is found in that it proves to be such by study, which is again another post.

We shall continue next time.

Article XIV

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Today, I’d like to continue our look at the doctrine of Inerrancy and we’ll be doing that by looking at Article XIV of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. This article reads as follows:

We affirm the unity and internal consistency of Scripture.

We deny that alleged errors and discrepancies that have not yet been resolved vitiate the truth claims of the Bible.

Once again, there isn’t much here that could be disagreed with. If there’s been a problem with the statement I’ve seen so far, it’s that it’s really simple. Of course, that can be good at times as one can just state what one believes and find who does and doesn’t support it, but when it comes to finer matters, it becomes difficult.

The idea of biblical contradictions is often construed as if the Christian is having cognitive dissonance and if they find something that is an apparent contradiction, there is no need to look further. Just stop right there and do not do anything. If you seek to resolve the contradiction, then you are just trying to deny that which is right in front of your face.

To begin with, I think there is a great deal of the Bible that is not plain. Thus, when someone tells you that they are going with the “plain” meaning or the “clear” meaning of the text, be on your guard. It could simply mean that which is plain or clear to a 21st century American. Is that the way it would have been seen at the time of the writing of the part of the Bible you are reading?

If there is something that is an apparent contradiction, is it wrong to give the benefit of the doubt to the Bible? No. In fact, I think this should be done with any book. If you think there is a contradiction in the Book of Mormon or the Koran, by all means feel free to ask about it, but if it can be explained well, then leave it at that. Don’t just press the issue because you think you found something. If the Book of Mormon and Koran are false, as I believe they are, then you will be able to demonstrate that on other grounds.

In doing so, you are not being consistent. This is also not the case just for religious books. If you think Aristotle contradicted himself between what he said in the Politics and what he said in the Nichomachean Ethics, then study it. Aristotle was a smart guy after all so he deserves the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it’s the case that he changed his mind. Maybe you’re misunderstanding. You don’t just want to immediately say “Well he didn’t know what he was talking about.” Wrestle with the text. Good hermeneutics applies not just to the Bible but to any ancient work.

Now I do believe that contradictions by and large have been resolved and numerous ones could be presented for dialogue. Suppose one hasn’t. Based on the track record I’ve seen in the Bible, I think it is fair to give the benefit of the doubt. Even if one is not resolved, this would not render the whole Bible false. Even if the text was errant, which it is not, Christianity would still be true.

We shall continue next time.

Article XIII

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’re looking at Biblical Inerrancy right now and at the moment, it looks like the waters are churning and the sharks are seeking to devour. Let us hope that soon some sanity will be regained and this will all end. Until then, I do think a study on Inerrancy has been beneficial and tonight, I plan to look at article XIII. It reads as follows:

We affirm the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.

We deny that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.

People. Let’s start with that first affirmation. Inerrancy is about the truthfulness of Scripture. Well what is the specific content of that truthfulness? Inerrancy cannot tell you that. Inerrancy cannot tell you the what that is Inerrant. Inerrancy only tells you that the what is Inerrant. This seems to be something that’s been missing in all of this. If a person believes that the Bible teaches X and therefore, X is true, they are not violating Inerrancy. We can question their interpretation, but not whether or not they affirm or deny Inerrancy.

When we come with our view of the passage and say “This is my interpretation of the passage” we must be clear that’s what it is. It is our interpretation. Our interpretation is not inerrant. We could be understanding the text wrong and in that case, we need to be open to correction.

“But some of these views have been held for centuries!”

Granted they have, and that can place a weightier burden on the person who is making the claim, but that does not make the claim false. The way we determine if a claim is true or not is not by waving around Inerrancy like it’s a weapon, but by doing something unique. It’s called “Examining the claim.”

If someone thinks the claim is wrong, that is not enough. It is not even enough to argue it. Otherwise, we might as well say there are no good reasons to believe in Christianity because there are non-Christians. Before atheists get excited with that, we could just as easily say there are no good reasons to be an atheist because theists exist. It is not enough to say “Here are my arguments, therefore the other side is wrong.”

You can say you’ve given good reasons for the other side to think they’re wrong and they could most certainly be wrong, but if they do not find your reasons convincing, then you must look at why. In the current debate, because Geisler lists reasons for thinking the text is historical and therefore Licona is wrong, it does not follow that Licona is violating Inerrancy.

Well why does Licona hold that stance? It would be good for some people to actually read his material and figure it out rather than the comments I see on the Christianity Today article such as “He’s wanting to deny a miracle” or “He’s having a crisis of faith.”

Yes. Licona wrote a book demonstrating the greatest miracle of all only because he does not believe in a miracle of that power. He just obviously believes that it’s ridiculous to think God could raise a mass of dead people like that. Obviously if God could not raise the dead, then Matthew 27 if historical could not be an act of God, but if He can, then the possibility is there but not the actuality. Licona has written a whole book to demonstrate that God can raise the dead in at least one instance. He has even in his debate with Patterson pointed to a miracle of people coming out of comas suddenly due to prayer. Yes. He obviously has something against miracles.

Well it’s just a crisis of faith.

Over what? This is someone who took on the leading scholars in liberal thought head-on on their own terms and I must say having read his book, he wins the fight. He regularly enters into debates and excels at them. It seems people who make these statements seem to rule out one possibility.

Licona holds the position because of historical research.

Now he could be wrong in the position still, no doubt. That does not mean that he holds his position for wrong reasons. At what point then is he violating Inerrancy? It is at the point when he can look at the arguments and say something like “Okay. You all have convinced me. Matthew did intend to have the resurrection of the saints be seen as a historical event. I see my arguments do not work in this regard. However, I just believe Matthew was wrong in this regard and the event did not happen.”

That is when Licona is denying Inerrancy and not a moment before. In order to deny Inerrancy, he must believe that the Bible is wrong in what it teaches. How can he be denying Inerrancy if he says “The Bible teaches X, therefore I believe X.”? Granted, that does not mean he believes Inerrancy full throttle, but it is a necessary condition to believing Inerrancy. One can say the Bible teaches Jesus existed, and I believe Jesus existed, but that does not make one an Inerrantist. An atheist could say that and they are not an Inerrantist. An Inerrantist though cannot say “The Bible teaches X, and I believe in non-X.”

So what is it that the Bible teaches that is true? That is found in the area of research. That’s not just historical research but literary research as well. It will require much study, yes, but let us roll up our sleeves and do it. When someone comes with a contrary interpretation, before we raise the alarm about a threat to the church, let us instead say “Okay. That’s an interesting take. I’m skeptical of it now, but I’m willing to examine it.”

After that, we can also say “Is this interpretation, if true, in line with Christian orthodoxy?” For instance, let’s suppose someone came forward with an interpretation of Scripture that denied the Trinity. If we do believe we have the truth on our side and that the Bible does teach the Trinity, well we can examine the argument in its strongest form without fear.

The second question is also important for the issue of which beliefs are in line with orthodoxy. Fortunately, as far as I know, no one has questioned Licona’s salvation in the professional field because of his view, and I hope all would realize that that would be entirely out of line. The raising of the saints is not something that all of Christianity hangs on. (I mean the one in Matthew 27. I do believe that for Christianity to be true, that must include a future physical resurrection) We can then say to someone who has such a view “We believe you are in line with Inerrancy. We just think you’re wrong.”

If only such a position had been taken at the start. As one looking at this debate most every day, (I grant I do have the bias of being married to Licona’s daughter as always) I have often thought how much better it would be if Licona had had this time to spend preparing for debates and doing research on the resurrection rather than have to answer constant charges that kept him from further ministry.

Just as sad now is that the skeptical world is writing about this debate now also and telling us that this is what evangelicalism is like. You’re not allowed to follow evidence where it leads. You have to tow the line and don’t you dare go against the system. Don’t offer contrary opinions!

And frankly, who can blame them for thinking that?

Why should they look at us and think that we are people who are willing to follow the evidence where it leads when we are ruling out conclusions not liked from the start? Can we honestly tell them that we believe that a full look at an issue will lead to Christianity being true if they think we have stacked the deck in advance? When I meet someone skeptical, I tell them without question to please read the best they can on both sides. I have no fear. If you believe your view is true, you can walk into a bookstore and buy any book without fear.

Wouldn’t it be great to learn this?

As for the latter part of the article, I think this one is highly important as well. How many skeptics have said that the Bible doesn’t get the definition of pi right? How many have made statements about astronomical phenomena not realizing that the Bible speaks in observational language instead of technical language. The Bible has hyperbole when it tells us we are to hate our families to be a disciple of Christ.

At any rate, today’s has been long, but I have been reading on the controversy and this controversy is why I’m doing this study. It is so much simpler than we really think it is. May we restore some sanity to this and restore our witness to the world.

We shall continue next time.

Article XII

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, as we continue our look at biblical Inerrancy, we probably will get into some controversial stuff as we look at article XII which I do have some concerns with. Let’s take a look at what it says first.

We affirm that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

Now I will say that I do agree that Scripture is Inerrant in all that it teaches. However, I wonder about the last point. Could it be the case for instance that science could ever overturn a Scriptural teaching? If the historic belief is that God wrote two books, then we need not fear anything whatsoever in science. Hence, my opinion on scientific matters is simply that we should let the investigations go where they may. Of course, if we are scientists, we can participate in them, but if we believe the Bible is true, we need not fear any scientific conclusion. Naturally, I am aware that that does not mean conclusions by scientists necessarily. Science might show that macroevolution took place. It cannot show that there was no God driving macroevolution.

Would that mean that we’d have to rethink a lot of our interpretations? Yes it would, and we should be open to doing such. The whole Galileo issue might have turned out better had we taken a position like that. Today, I think the creation/evolution debate would turn out better if we did that. I have no problem with using extrabiblical evidence to help us in our understanding of the Bible. If we say “Well the Bible obviously isn’t teaching that because this evidence seems quite clear and is otherwise” then we can look more at what it is teaching. For instance, I’ve been impressed lately with the work of John Waldon on The Lost World of Genesis 1.

It could be I am misunderstanding the article, but I want us to be sure that if we do the science right and we do the biblical interpretation right, we will find truth in both cases. If macroevolution is not true, no need to fear science. True science working will eventually figure that out. If it is true, there’s no need to fear that for if we believe the Bible is true, then we will need to say “Maybe we were understanding this wrong” and start to seek a different interpretation. Does this violate Inerrancy? Not at all. We’re still saying that what the Bible says is absolutely true. We’re just saying that we were wrong on what it said.

So if the idea is that science cannot overturn the Bible, I agree. If it means however, that we ignore what is said in other fields outside of the Bible, I don’t agree. I say we should be fearless truth seekers wherever we go and we should rest assured that when we find something true in any field, it won’t disagree with Scripture.

We shall continue next time.