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April 28, 2009



I find his contrasting "conservative inerrantists" with "biblical scholarship" insulting, as if there is no way to be an "inerrantist" and do "biblical scholarship." That is a huge slap in the face to the men and women teaching at some of our finest seminaries and Christian universities, those who have dedicated their lives to doing responsible biblical scholarship, and who just so happen to be inerrantists, as well.

As to your question, the writers of the New Testament seemed to feel as though at least some of the writers of the Old Testament were inspired; and not just inspired, but were mouthpieces for the Holy Spirit. If they were mouthpieces for the Holy Spirit, then does that not also suggest that what they wrote was without error (as God cannot lie), and, therefore...well...inerrant?

I understand that this does not cover the New Testament, and does not completely answer your question, but there is a principle we find here which, when considered, does not make inerrancy as unreasonable a position to hold as you (and others) make it seem.

Acts 1:16: "Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas..."

Hebrews 1:1: "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways..."

Hebrews 3:7: "Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says.." (then a citation from the Psalms).

2 Timothy 3:16: "All Scripture is inspired by God..."


I did not catch the "conservative inerrantist"/"biblical scholarship" thing before you mentioned it. I agree with you, it could have been nuanced much better than it was.

I also agree with you that it seems to me that the NT writers saw the Hebrew Bible as inspired. I think where the discussion needs to be careful and more discerning is in dealing with terms like "inspiration" and "inerrancy." I think we can easily slip into an a priori assumption without critically addressing the texts themselves.

Yes, the prophets were "mouthpieces." but does that nomenclature mean their writings were received by dictation? If that is indeed the idea, then we have to wrestle with the variations in the text of Jeremiah found at Qumran - one being more closely to what we have in the Masoretic text and the other showing some deviation.

I think the other question you raise in regards to God's character and the nature of the text is a good one. The problem is that it might not be quite that simple. The scriptures do show variations that cannot be explained away by simply harmonization, but show a differing in theology and ideology. These need to be accounted for, which I do not see done very well by people who hold to strict inerrancy.

One question, can we import the character of God fully to the text? If so, are we then in a sense running the risk of setting up the scriptures as a god?

I'm also not saying that inerrancy is an unreasonable position. I am saying that in it's current state, as popular set forth, is a tenuous position that needs to wrestle more with textual evidence.

Derek Rishmawy

The Scriptures are the inspired, authoratative Word of God. Practically, I basically go for "infallible in matters of faith and practice." By that I mean that I think that the Biblical and if the Gospels and the narratives botch some chronologies or have a few factual errors, I don't sweat it. We don't have the autographs themselves anyways. But, I do take the "infallible" part seriously. So, I don't think Paul got it wrong when he testifies that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself." I also don't try to second-guess him when he lays down certain moral prescriptions for say, some king of controversial sexual behavior I might want to say is okay because of current socio-political pressures, or because I think I'm a better judge of what God's feelings on the matter are. No, I don't think I can do that. Why? Because even though when I read Romans, I can tell quite easily that these are the words of Paul the Apostle, I am also convinced that somehow, (in a mysterious way), it is not Paul alone saying them. It is also God. Paul is the one who has been "authorized" to speak for God, so to speak. He has received the commission, not myself, and so when I trust his words, I trust that God has made a good choice.

Of course, I know you have to take into account context, genre, literary form, etc., but I do think the final Canonical form with the theology presented within the text is the authorititative "Word of God" for us today. God is not only the (co)-Author of the individual texts, but is rather the "Author" of the Canon as a whole. This takes into account even the "differing" theologies and ideologies presented within the Scriptures by placing them as the many voices/characters playing their part within the over-all Theo-Drama we find in the Final Form of the Scriptures. The basic final form of the Scriptures, read canonically, function as God's authoritative Word which he uses to instruct, correct, call, challenge, encourage, etc. his Church. I think that a framework like this can account for the trustworthiness of the text for us today even while acknowledging the complexities within it.

As for your allusion to the charge of bibliolatry ("can we import the character of God fully to the text?"): I don't think its a matter of "importing" it. I think it is rather acknowledging the text as the work of God which inevitably has his character. (Though not necessarily all of his attributes. The text is not a 4th hypostasis.) When I receive a letter from my girlfriend, written by her or by someone she commissioned to write it, I take as it as "sharing" in her character, so to speak, since it is the result of her will and intent. I wish I could expand at this point, but I've written enough already.

Blessings Mike.

PS. I want to, again, plug Kevin J. VanHoozer's work "The Drama of Doctrine" which you can buy here: http://www.amazon.com/Drama-Doctrine-Canonical-Linguistic-Approach-Christian/dp/0664223273/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241394090&sr=8-2

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