Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Inerrency of Scripture

I do not believe that, from one cover to the other, there is any mistake in it of any sort whatever, either upon natural or physical science, or upon history or anything whatever. I am prepared to believe whatever it says, and to take it believing it to be the Word of God; for if it is not all true, it is not worth one solitary penny to me. It may be to the man who is so wise that he can pick out the true from the false; but I am such a fool that I could not do that. If I do not have a guide there that is infallible, I would as soon guide myself, for I shall have to do so after all; I shall have to be correcting the blunders of my guide perpetually, but I am not qualified to do that, and so I am worse off than if I had not any guide at all. Sit thou down, Reason, and let Faith rise up.

-C. H. Spurgeon


Whateverman said...

So - the Earth being "fixed in the Heavens", as in unmoving and perhaps at the center of it all. This isn't "a mistake"?

Honestly, my biggest complaint with the Bible is not in what it says, but in how people interpret it. I've never met a Christian who, when claiming to believe every word of it as factually true, doesn't at some point ignore or "creatively interpret" scripture.

Robert Tewart said...

The bible isn't meant to be a science text book. I supposed we could do a Hebrew word study and go from there, but the bible can be read plainly.

You might "fix" your eyes on a piece of art, but that doesn't mean that your eye ceases to focus and adjust. You might also "fix" your thoughts on a particular subject but not be thinking about or distracted by another thought.

The earth has been firmly fixed by God's mighty hand. It is secure and absolutely stable until a time when He sees fit to allow otherwise.

Hopefully, this brings a little more perspective to the matter. Thanks for your comments!

Buddy King said...

Hi Robert,

A co-worker and I were just having this discussion today. I see that the title of the post is "Inerrancy of Scripture"; however, the text of the post uses language like "no mistake" and "infalliable". The question is, "is the Word of God we have today really inerrant?" I believe the message is infalliable, but surely the "copies" that we have today contain human errors, right? So, is it correct to say that scripture is "inerrant"? I have said that it is many times, but my co-worker says that is not a true statement. He is good with "infalliable", but not with "inerrant".


Whateverman said...

Hi Robert. I wasn't questioning the Bible, per se. I was casting doubt upon Spurgeon's quote:

"I do not believe that, from one cover to the other, there is any mistake in it of any sort whatever, either upon natural or physical science, or upon history or anything whatever".

According to Mr. Spurgeon, regardless of whether the Bible is a science book or not, it makes no mistakes about whatever it says about the natural world. And yet the Earth is clearly not fixed in the heavens.

I'm not taking you to task for something he says. However, you did quote him - did you do this because you agree with him? Or did you do this because you liked the quote?

In any case, holding to the inerrancy of scripture when parts of it, clearly, are errant, is difficult for me to understand.

How does he (or anyone for that matter) resolve the

Robert Tewart said...

Hey Buddy. I think that we can rest assured that God is fully capable of preserving his Word just fine for His purposes. It's when we get down into splitting hairs about definitions that we come up with arguments like this.

2 Timothy 3:16 says "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;"

Isaiah 40:8 says "The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever."

If we want to talk about minor changes in grammar or spelling, I guess an argument could be made there, but the truth found in the message and purpose of the bible is certainly without error.

I hope this helps. Thanks for your comments!

Robert Tewart said...

Whateverman. I think in context, Spurgeon is commenting on the content and truth of scripture. Changes in punctuation and the sort don't figure in. The Hebrew language doesn't have any vowels. Does that mean that our translated english old testament has been changed or cannot have been considered inerrant? Neither do the original manuscripts contain numbered chapters and verses yet today's bible does for reference sake.

Buddy King said...

For me, I think it's a matter of semantics. I think it's impossible for the "copies" we have to be inerrant, but I do believe the bible is infalliable, no doubt. Unless we are reading the very original writing that were written by the author, how could there not be errors. Then again, as you stated - God is perfectly capable of perserving His word.

Whateverman said...

Your comments are eminently sensible, Robert. It's obvious that we need to consider the translation of the work hen trying to understand what's written. However, Spurgeon's quote is in no way mistranslated. He states, explicitly, that no part of the Bible if mistaken.

You seem to be trying to steer my interpretation towards "he didn't mean what he said literally" - is this what you mean? I'm guessing the answer is no.

Which brings me back to my original point: how do you, as a believer, square absolutist statements like Spurgeon's against the need to read the Bible in the context of how it was written and translated?

Spurgeon's comment, as it is written, is clearly wrong. The Bible errantly states (four times) the Earth as fixed in the heavens - and this belief is echoed by scholars from 0-1500BC (roughly). However, we need only look to the recent Indonesian tsunami to show that this planet's shape and behavior are changed by relatively insignificant events (re. earthquakes).

How can Spurgeon claim the inerrancy of scripture when we know for a fact that the Earth is not fixed in the heavens?

Whateverman said...

Your opinions are sensible too, Buddy. I think it's unrealistic to hold the KJ Bible to be literally true as it's written.

I'm not questioning that there are larger, valid themes in the Bible which are untouched by errors in translation/interpretation. I'm merely trying to square Spurgeon's quote against the need for context (when reading the Bible), and am having trouble.

PS. sorry for the late day spam. have a good evening everyone...

Robert Tewart said...

Whateverman. I think I addressed the idea of "fixed" in an earlier comment, so I won't re-state that. As for Spurgeon's quote....

"I do not believe that, from one cover to the other, there is any mistake in it of any sort whatever, either upon natural or physical science, or upon history or anything whatever."

Isn't it clear that he is commenting on science, ideas, doctrine, efficacy of scripture etc? I'm not intending to steer your comments, but I'm thinking that inerrancy goes hand in hand with infalibility. Perhaps I'm not fully understanding what it is you are wrestling with.

Buddy King said...

Interesting, I was about to respond that I think inerrant and infalliable were two different ideas. Then, when I looked up the defininition of inerrant, I found -
1. Incapable of erring; infallible.
2. Containing no errors.

Obviously God didn't make any errors when he inspired the writers, so I would say that I can agree with Spurgeon. He really sounds as though he is talking about whether or not the bible is "true" if you look at the whole context as opposed to any type of errors mentioned at CARM.

Robert Tewart said...

C.A.R.M is an excellent resource Buddy. That should tie up this discussion nicely! Thanks for posting.

Buddy King said...

Funny, I usually check a few blogs just before I head home and found this at Ray Comfort's blog.

Mistakes In The Bible

Buddy King said...

Whateverman. I meant to add that I wasn't posting that to suggest that you are a skeptic of the bible or anything negative. I love the way Ray presents things sometimes and really did think it was funny and just posted it becasue it was coincidental.

Whateverman said...

Simply put, Robert, you're supporting different and conflicting methods of interpreting the Bible.

This book clearly says "the Earth doesn't move". I personally don't find this to be shocking, as it's consistent with the beliefs of the time in which it was written in. I believe it's proper to read the book in context, and to remember that the text was written by fallible (and possibly divinely inspired?) human beings.

But you're endorsing Spurgeon's quote, and he makes no bones about stating that every part of the Bible is true. His quote appears to endorse a literal, absolutist view of the book - while you've just told me that not every part of the Bible is meant to be read literally (re. it needs context).

My point is that your opinions are in conflict.


PS. I try to not be offensive, but by the same token, I make sure to have a thick skin. If someone says or implies things about my opinions that I believe are incorrect, I'll merely explain - rather than be offended

Robert Tewart said...

We do read the bible literally. But it also uses Proverbs, poems (psalms), parables and symbolysm (Revelation) to tell the story.

Luke 14:26 says this: "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple."

Jesus didn't litterally mean to hate your mother and father, but he used hyperbole to make His point.

Whateverman said...

Reading the book literally while claiming parts of it are NOT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY is inconsistent. It is not a literal interpretation of the Bible.

I'm fine with that, honestly. What I'm driving at is the contradictory nature of your beliefs (as you've described them) and Spurgeon's quote.

Robert Tewart said...

It is literally true where it is intended to be literally true, figurative where it is intended to be figurative, poetic where is meant to be poetic, etc. Therefore, we must examine the wide diversity of biblical writing using logic, contextual analysis, etc.

Whateverman said...

Great! Now we're finally getting somewhere...

Spurgeon's quote implies that all of the Bible is to be taken as the literal truth, does it not? I'm not asking you what you believe in - I want to understand the meaning of the quote you posted...

Robert Tewart said...

My last post changes nothing about what Spurgeon said or believed...or what I believe about the bible being without error. The context is clearly speaking of the entirety of scripture. Please remember that Spurgeon was speaking primarily to believers in his writings. If an unbeliever stumbles upon them, he may very well have the same objections you do.

Here is the part of Spurgeon's quote that you seem to be missing:

"I am prepared to believe whatever it says, and to take it believing it to be the Word of God;"

Earlier, you were hung up on the earth being "fixed in the heavens". Think about this for a minute. Why would the ancients have even considered that the earth was even IN the heavens? From their point of view looking up, wouldn't the earth be the only thing that WASN'T in the heavens? A pretting interesting idea they had if you ask me.

Here is the bottom line: In Spurgeons quote, he said "Sit thou down, Reason, and let Faith rise up." I would urge you to do this particularly with what scripture has to save about salvation. By now, I'm sure you've heard the Gospel numerous times. These tired arguments seeking to refute the bible only serve to further the hardening your heart Whateverman.

I do what I do because I believe in the Gospel and seek to serve God by sharing it with others--hopefully in a way that is clear and compelling. Above all, with love.

Now I have a question for you. Why are you so motivated to argue a point of view that says "there is no God?" This really perplexes me about atheist. Hmm. I guess I've never really asked that question before although I've thought it a number of times. Anyway, there it is.

I'm not sure I have much more to offer in the way of Spurgeon's quote, but I do thank you for your comments!

Whateverman said...

Robert wrote the following to me: Now I have a question for you. Why are you so motivated to argue a point of view that says "there is no God?" This really perplexes me about atheist

I'm not an atheist, Robert. Never claimed that I was, nor have I said "there is no God". In fact, I don't think I've ever said it in more than 41 years of existence.

What makes you think that people who disagree with your theology are atheists? I suppose that disbelieving in a specific God makes one an atheist - in which case, you're an atheist too (IRT Buddah, the God of the Mormons, the God of Islam, etc). However, I suspect that you wouldn't agree with this definition - please correct me if I'm wrong...

Robert Tewart said...

My mistake. You're right about never having said you're an atheist. However, you have displayed somewhat of a combative tone in your writing along with a fair amount of sarcasm. Two things indicative of most if not all atheist I have encountered.

Also, you are the owner of Raytractors which states " We are a community of mostly atheists and agnostics..."

Why would I not make the assumption?

Whateverman said...

Fair enough - I had forgotten that my profile links to the old Raytractors site.

I identify with the term "deist", though the definition is not a perfect fit (for me). In short, I reject theology while believing that God exists.

I can be more combative than I am with you here, and should point out that I'm not anti-Christian (although it would be fair to label me as anti-Christianity). I talk with Christians, atheists, Jews, Mormons, agnostics - anyone interested in talking. Those I take issue with have demonstrated (in my mind) inconsistency somehow.

I still believe fairly strongly that your "contextual" understanding of the Bible and Mr. Spurgeon's abolutist interpretation can not co-exist. Perhaps it's true that when he claimed it's all infallible, believers would not NOT to take him literally - but as for me, I choose to take people at their word. As he stated his beliefs and as you have stated yours, these two methods of interpretation conflict with each other - whether you choose to accept this or not is completely up to you.

Whateverman said...

Incidentally, Buddy, the Earth can be moved. The Indonesian tsunamis were caused by an earth quake, the latter of which both changed the change of and the speed of its rotation.

Ray likes to ignore reality in order to score points with his fans. Scripture is indeed wrong in this case - while I don't find this particularly noteworthy, Ray's impotent defense of his opinion (not scripture) is much more telling.

Whateverman said...

Whoops, that was supposed to read "changed the shape and speed of rotation of the earth".

Buddy King said...

When I read these verses, they actually give me great comfort and assurance. To me, they speak of the sovereignty and power of God. He created the world precisely as it needed to be along with all the necessary components in order for us to exist here and nothing is going to change that until He says so - more accurately, until He destroys it.