Inerrancy and Infallibility of Scripture

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Rexlion, Jun 16, 2020.

  1. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I think quite a few of the translational errors in the New World Translation are doctrinally significant though. Even that though is still 'inspired' because I'm pretty sure that God can use it to achieve his ends, if nothing else is available to him, in spite of the errors introduced by the JW translators.
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  2. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Not so sure about the NWT being "inspired," it has too many deviations for no valid linguistic reason to be the word of God IMO. I think it's more of a 'warped paraphrase of the word of God.'
     
  3. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    But if God can use warped human beings such as we to bring the message of God's redemption to a needy world then why not able also to use a 'warped paraphrase' of the scriptures. Human beings have done their darndest to subvert and silence the Gospel of Peace but so far the gates of hell have not stood against its onslaught upon human misery and despair. There is something inspired about that, I think. Even if the church itself suppressed the Gospel, it would get out somehow. God can even raise stones to be children of Abraham.
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  4. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Active Member

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    Yes but I suspect the attitude you assign to these people would be the same as you would have, if someone 2 or 3 hundred years ago described how wicked spirits had robbed the woodsman of the power of speach, when he had just had a stroke.
     
  5. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Exactly so. My point is that western world views have moved on and the common thought forms of previous generations have been replaced by other general assumptions. Strokes are now explainable to us in materialist terms which were unavailable to people living 2 or 3 hundred years ago. It was not though that they were more superstitious and stupid than we are today, there are just as many superstitiously stupid people today as there were then, it is just that we now have other language and terms to describe these phenomena. They were describing the same phenomena with the concepts available to them not because they were less intelligent, or lacking in wisdom, but because they were less knowledgeable.

    The mistake that 21st cenury persons make is in assuming that they are more intelligent or wise than those who have gone before them. It is just that some 21st century people have the benefit of human knowledge gained by others, through time. The mistake that the average 21st century materialist is always making, is to think that the vocabulary the ancients used to describe phenomena necessarily meant the same to them as it now does to us.

    The word 'demon', in terms of emotional response, to them could be very similar to the words 'cancer' or 'Alzheimers' are to us. WE are not their intelectual superiors simply because we use a newer vocabulary to describe the same phenomenon.

    My concern, as an evangelist, is that using terms like 'demon', 'spirit', 'The Satan' 'Christ' etc. evokes in 21st century people crude and inaccurate understandings of how these words should be defined and comprehended. We have lost a common language through which to communicate meaning to one another on theological issues.

    You, no doubt have an entirely different mental definition of the word 'God' than do I. When you hear me use the word 'God' in conversation you assume that I mean what you understand by the word 'God'. The same goes for the words 'demon' or 'spirit'. We are unable to even communicate effectively with each other without using whole bookloads of mutually agreed definitions of quite simple words.

    This makes the task of evangelism in 21st century society problematic. (That was my point. Sorry to labour it).
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    Last edited: Jun 20, 2020
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  6. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Active Member

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    No need to apologise, I think your post was brilliant. I too defend our forebears and ask my contemporaries if they could predict eclipses. I agree 110% they were just as intelligent as us. We today aren't as intelligent as we think. Most people think that the bath water turns differently down the plug in the two hemispheres. This is true but only in carefully controlled experiments, it is vastly more dependent on the initial dynamics of the water. Many would think our forbears superior to us in our treatment of criminals. Our forbears would probably be amazed that someone who rapes and kills my wife is; locked up given free meals and health treatment (not by his family) and I also contribute financially.

    I can now appreciate what your understanding of say Demon is and now realise it is different to what I thought.

    Ok I'll admit I only have a "head" understanding of God not a "heart" one. I imagine to you God is a supernatural all powerful entity that you have a personal relationship with. This relationship is analogous to but on a grander scale to your human relationships and it is just if not more so "real".

    Exactly and you can see on on this site. I have copied and pasted some of your posts temporarily to mine and like me you have to correct some of the spellings which the site suggests are not spelt correctly.:halo::wicked:

    Tiffy if you lived over my back fence I'm sure we would get on like a house on fire.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2020
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  7. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I don't know about scripture being inerrant but I figure the one who authored it by inspiration definitely is. He also has a brilliant sense of humour.
    Watch God underline for us the words of Jesus concerning his care for us and sparrows. This happened only this morning. I don't know if it actually WAS a sparrow, but I rather hope it was. :laugh:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6s7n6Kv9c8o
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  8. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    How did the Jews in Jesus' day view the Old Testament? Traditionally, the Jews considered Pentateuch ("the Law") to be a word-for-word, and letter-for-letter dictation by God. The rest of the O.T. ("the prophets") was considered to be divinely inspired but not in the sense of having been dictated. Jewish rabbis taught that the entire O.T. was without error. Josephus wrote that they were "justly believed to be divine." Philo said that the Torah of Moses was decisive authority and that the books of the prophets contained divine revelations.

    What did Jesus have to say about the O.T.? Jesus frequently quoted from and referred to the O.T. He attributed authoritativeness to those writings by often saying, "It is written..." or "Have you not heard?..." Jesus criticized the Pharisees for elevating their traditions above the words of the O.T. Scriptures (Matt. 15:3-9) and characterized those O.T. words as "commandments of God." He also corrected the Sadducees on the basis of Scripture's authority:
    Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God (Matt. 22:29).

    Jesus viewed the O.T. as a divine message and foretelling of His coming.
    Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
    Mat 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

    Luk 4:21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

    Luk 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
    Luk 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.


    Jesus referred to the Psalms (specifically referencing Ps. 82:6) as "Scripture" that "cannot be broken."
    Joh 10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
    Joh 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;


    Jesus said that David was "speaking in the Spirit" when he wrote Psalm 110 (Matt. 22:43-45).

    All of Jesus' teachings are true. Jesus taught, in essence, that the Old Testament Scriptures are inerrant; indeed, He taught that they are more than inerrant, for they are unbreakable Scripture that can not fail or pass away so long as this earth exists.
     
  9. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Since we know that the Old Testament was considered inerrant by Jesus, what of the New Testament?

    It is interesting that the New Testament contains a good many quotes of, and direct references to, the O.T. For example, Matthew's Gospel has been divided into 1,071 verses, 310 (31%) of which contain material from the O.T. Of all the N.T. writings, only Paul's letter to Philemon (a mere 25 verses) contains no O.T. reference or quote. Overall, the entire N.T. is 7,967 verses of which 2606 (32%) restate O.T. truths. Without further examination one may conclude that between one-fourth and one-third of the N.T. is made up of inerrant O.T. Scriptures. By and large, the N.T. derives its definitions, teachings, and concepts from O.T. doctrine.

    (Incidentally, I've read that none of the apocryphal writings contain any O.T. quotes or direct references. Nor were they considered by the Jews of Jesus' day to be Scripture.)

    Jesus Christ, as He is foretold by the O.T. Canon and as He is shown to us in the things He said and did while corporeal on earth, comprise the overwhelming majority of the N.T. contents.

    Jesus' words comprise nearly 20% of the N.T. Jesus said that His words would "never pass away" (Matt. 24:35), so we can be confident that the things God the Son said (1) are inerrant and (2) were preserved in their inerrant state. Although there is overlap between Jesus' words and the O.T. quotes (because Jesus often quoted the O.T.), it's probably safe to say that between the two we are now up to perhaps 45% the content being 'proven' inerrant.
     
  10. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Jesus gave the Apostles authority and commissioned them to spread the Good News about Him. While the Apostles lived, no N.T. Canon was needed because the Apostles were around to say what Jesus said and to clarify doctrinal questions. Their writings were imbued with this authority, too. So after their passing and the rise of many heresies, the church recognized a need for a Canon ( meaning 'measuring stick') of Scripture, a standard by which matters of doctrine and practice could be measured. They examined the extant writings and weeded out those that were not inspired by God ('God-breathed'). Those which lacked clear Apostolic origin, lacked recognition and acceptance among the broad group of churches, or failed to align with accepted Apostolic teaching were prayerfully eliminated. By inspiration of the Spirit, the Gospels and letters we now have were established as Canon and Scripture.

    As the 'measuring stick' set forth by godly men when the Holy Spirit so moved them, our New Testament joins the Old Testament as a reliable, error-free, infallible and inerrant written guide. Every spiritual matter may be held up to Scripture as our objective standard, similar to a man measuring with a ruler or measuring tape, to discern God's will and intent in the case of any questions or disputes regarding doctrine or morals. It is this Canon of Scripture which shows us the 'lines on the road' so we are less likely to stray into either ditch.
     
  11. Phoenix

    Phoenix Moderator Staff Member Anglican

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    The "inspired" (rather than "inerrant") camp would fully allow for a text to be directly dictated by God, and yet not be inerrant. God may dictate poetry or parable, which (as you and I have both affirmed above) cannot be judged by the metric of inerrancy. God may dictate the words of the Psalm, "the wings of the wind" and thereby be entirely correct, and those words be inspired, without them being susceptible to the analysis of inerrancy.

    The concept of the presence of multiple genres within Scripture is something we really have to grapple with.
     
  12. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Again I will point out that the only way they do this is by adopting a different meaning for 'inerrancy' than the one I've advanced (the one which evangelical churches have set forth as their intended meaning). It sets up a false argument. It's like a group of apple farmers saying, "Apples are round," whereupon someone complains that farmers are wrong and that "apples are round" is an invalid statement because they aren't perfectly spherical (i.e., they have bumps and variations in shape).

    Definition from my first two posts:
    Scripture is Inerrant: it is free from all falsehood, fraud, deceit, and mistake, and so safeguards the truth that Holy Scripture is entirely true and trustworthy in all its assertions.
    Scripture is inerrant, not in the sense of being absolutely precise by modern standards, but in the sense of making good its claims and achieving that measure of focused truth at which its authors aimed.​

    In the case of poetry or a parable in the Bible, without resorting to nitpicks about inconsequential imprecision or misinterpreting non-literal statements as literal ones, in what way do they contain a falsehood? A fraud? A deceit? Or a mistake? Do they make some portion of Scripture untrustworthy or untrue in its assertions? I don't see where they do. Do parables and poems inspired by God achieve the measure of truth for which they were intended? I think they do.

    One can hardly have a beef with the "evangelicals" for holding to inerrancy, when one insists upon looking at inerrancy in a way the "evangelicals" find unacceptable and would repudiate.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
  13. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    You make it sound so simple, but . . . . I'm sure the devil is in the detail.

    Take for example two aparrently straightforward texts from which we may perhaps discern Satan's role in God's Biblical economy.

    Satan's role in the temptations of Job was to try to provoke Job into blaspheming God for destroying his flocks, his children and his health, in a private wager between himself and God. He acts as an agent provateur, striving to coax Job into crimes for which he can then be punished by God. Satan acts here as God's 'enforcer', overzealous for the law, rejoicing in human weakness and failure, yes, but Job's punishment would come from God, not him.

    When Satan next appears before God, (no suggestion here that he is an interloper in the heavenly court, just been away a while enforcing God's Law on earth, and probably enjoying his job more than just a little too much), God chides Satan for failing in the wager, not for doing the killing and inflicting the boils, that was all OK with God. God says "Job still holds fast his integrity, although you moved me against him, to destroy him without cause". Job 2:3.

    The author seems to be deliberately lifting up the God of a degenerate Deuteronomic theology to ridicule. (Which in fact he was). That God of the successful, rich and powerful, (so aptly represented by Job's three 'comforters', in inverted commas), who rewards wealthy, landed aristocrats with riches and long lives while cursing the poor, is the butt of a merciless lampoon that issues from the outraged sensibilities of a writer who has acutely observed how the oppressed and infirm suffer undeserved evil at the hands of the rich and powerful. (If you fail to understand just how sarcastic the author is being, you don't understand the Book of Job, no matter how 'inspired' or 'infallibly', 'inerrant' you may think it to be in describing Satan's character and exploits).

    Those who God has not blessed, who have no such vast herds and spaceous houses, but barely subsist on the land, must relish the sight of this rich man now stripped of his possesions and reduced to their level. They must have chuckled with delight at the story teller's artful repetion in Job 2:1-3 where God behaves like a forgetful potentate unable to recall the job description of his own appointee.

    What we are dealing with here is a particular kind of Biblical Literature, not a historical description of the Character Satan. If it is taken as a factual description, then the picture that emerges is in direct opposition to that presented by Jesus Christ.

    John 8:31-47. Presents a very different picture of the character Satan. Just as inspired as the Job narrative but there is no question here of Satan working God's purposes and overzealously inflicting 'The Law' on God's subjects whenever they transgress. Satan is nothing but a lying murderer from the very beginning.

    Quite apart from thousands of years separating the authors, this also is inspired and never fails in its purpose, as far as its author is concerned, to hit the mark but both accounts give very different profiles of Satan. They are by no means consistent. Which one is 'inerrant'. Which one 'infallibly' factually accurate?

    In their own way, of course, both, but that is by no means 'simply' arrived at as a theological concept. It requires understanding and insight.
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  14. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I strongly suspect that you have used a comma where you should have used a question mark. I certainly buy the argument that Jesus was the Old Testament, whose canon at that stage had not been established, as authoritative. The evidence of the New Testament is that Jesus and the other writers of the New Testament made use of the LXX, yet most of those who speak of inerrancy reject the LXX and prefer the Masoretic text. Inerrancy was not a matter of discussion in the day, but rather authority. Notably the Alexandrian and the Antiochene Schools approached scripture differently, and neither of them argued for inerrancy, though perhaps the Antiochene school looked for a more literal meaning.

    Your dismissive relegation of the deuterocanonicals to the waste paper basket is to my mind imprudent, and not the intent of the 39 articles. I suggest that Wisdom 16 has a deep understanding reflected clearly in John 3.

    I am in no way dismissive of scripture, however I do feel that the doctrine of inerrancy, and its close friend propositional revelation, are both unhelpful and unnecesary, and are more inclined to get us focussed on the wrong topic. I am working on some notes for the 4th Gospel at the moment, and it has really struck me that John has one topic of conversation, and one question that he wants to answer. Put simply that is 'Who is Jesus?', and for the theologs that is to suggest that John is predicated on establishing a meaningful Christology. The Church has much to be thankful for to the writer of 4G.
     
  15. Phoenix

    Phoenix Moderator Staff Member Anglican

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    1. This definition does not seem to be present in any dictionary definition for the word Inerrant.
    2. The etymology of the word “in-errant” would seem to preclude some of the clauses in that definition; something like defining a circle as “a shape with sharp corners”. The components within the provided definition appear to be mutually exclusive; as an “inerrancy” which permits factual errors.
    3. The word Inerrant does not seem to have a pedigree in the Anglican tradition, or even in Christendom generally, prior to the 19th century. Prior centuries have defended the integrity of Scripture from subjective reading or revisionism using other predicates and descriptors. It may be more fruitful to lend an ear to them and their function through history, rather than putting too much emphasis on a 19th century neologism.
     
  16. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I think perhaps I have at least conveyed in this thread the meaning of "inerrancy" as it is used by most of those who would regard themselves as inerrantists. They who are not in the inerrantist camp now have a better idea of what those inerrantists mean when they speak of inerrancy. This has the potential to dispel some myths and misconceptions about those 'poor, deceived evangelicals.' :rolleyes: That might be about all I can hope for.

    I should confine myself to terms established by early fathers, I suppose. Terms such as:
    Scripture is perfect. (Irenaeus)
    The Scriptures are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit. (Clement of Rome)
    Scripture contains no conflict. (Origen)
    No Scripture contradicts another. (Justin)
    Scriptures are never discordant with truth. (Tertullian)
    The writers wrote down the Scriptures without error. (Augustine)

    If it is inaccurate to associate the word "inerrant" with those concepts of Scripture, I must stand corrected. :unsure:
     
  17. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Understanding and insight are required for making any judgment concerning what 'inerrancy' might actually mean when applying the term to the Holy Scriptures.

    Some might imagine the term to mean (a) that 'inerrancy' means strictly, historically, literally factual in every respect.

    Others, like myself, (b) would prefer to define scriptural inerrancy as, 'Divinely authored and rendered supremely fit for purpose', the purpose being to alert mankind to their need for God's moral guidance and a complete obedience to all God's directives. The second clause in the previous sentence can be summed up as "Trusting in His Son Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and doing what He taught while on earth". The entire Bible is 'inerrant' in achieving that specific divine objective.

    Inerrancy Definition (a) is problematic, in that it invites the unbelieving to search out and if possible find factual errors or inconsistencies in the scriptures, which they then may try to use as justification for ignoring and rejecting said scriptures as a means of obtaining knowledge of their salvation. (Which is in fact what The Gospel actually IS).

    To render the Bible hostage to anyone that wants to discredit its comprehensive factual veracity, merely on the possibly mistaken belief that no one can prove otherwise, is foolishness and does nothing to enhance the scripture's reputation as a means of communicating spiritual truth.

    Take for instance the scriptural accounts of the healing of the Gadarene Demoniac. Many 'facts' are mentioned in the story. But are they unquestionably, historically accurate, factual incidents which actually happened exactly as reported in the Gospel accounts?

    Someone who adopts definition of 'biblical inerrancy' (a) would look no further into the question than simply answering "YES, they are entirely factual in every detail". They might even follow that statement up with "And if you can prove it's not true, then I'll stop believing in it", and that would be a serious mistake.

    This story is a classic example of personal possession by spiritual entities, (Mark 5:1-20). It overflows with mythological motifs. The "dumping of the devil" (by letting the demons destroy themselves in the swine) catches everyone's attention, but that motif is clustered with a whole set of other eerie touches; the harrowing "night sea journey" in which Jesus has silenced a storm as if it were a demon, and scare his disciples at this display of his abilities, (Mark 4:39-41); Jesus' first entry into alien Gentile territory (The Decapolis); the very name "Gerasa", which may be a fanciful allusion to the Hebrew grs, "to drive out, cast out, expel"; and the wild demoniac who dwells among tombs like a spectre from the unconscious. We cannot speak with any assurance as to which of these elements was original to the event, and which, if any, has been added. A Biblical 'inerrantist' of the (a) variety would dismiss the suggestion of all such 'additions' by gospel writers, as tampering with the truth. Today, biblical scholars are more likely to see in them the very means by which a local affair could be given universal significance and mythic depth. Could the church have touched up the account with dabs of Isa. 65:1-15.

    Not all of the Gospel writers actually walked with Christ, they were not all witnesses to the events they related to us in their gospels. It is unlikely that many would have re-visited or even originally visited the scene of the events relating to the Gadarene Demoniac's deliverance.

    The evidence assumed by 'inerrantist type (a)', may have actually come not from Gerasa, (30 miles south east of the sea of Galilee), or Gadara, (only 5 miles), neither fits well, even if their territories might be understood to extend to the sea. Both cities lack the necessary shore and cliff, so other texts, supported by Origen proposed Gergesa on the basis of local tradition.

    The fact is that we can't be certain where this exorcism should actually be located. Various manuscripts of the Gospels put it (inerrantly?), at different places. In the country of the Gerasenes, the country Gadarenes or the country of the Gergasenes.

    Which of these different locations is intrinsically 'inerrant' according to inerrancy definition (a) believers?

    If the church, (which was the writers of the Gospels), has touched up the account by drawing on Isa. 65:1-15, then it would have been only to help the reader recall that God's intention to reach out to the Gentiles had been prophetically anticipated all along. Isa.65:1. Isa.49:5-10

    Could there have been some ideas in this Isaiah passage which 'informed' the Gospel writers and 'inspired' them to 'write them in' to their narratives. Inerrancy definition (b) believers would say that is quite possible since Isa.65:1-15 is 'inspired' and the Gospel writers also believed it to be relevant to the Gadarene incident which was an established historical fact, even though they couldn't agree exactly where the cliff was or exactly which Decapolis town it actually took place near to.
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  18. JonahAF

    JonahAF Moderator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    Hi all, perhaps what is needed is a look into John Jewel's treatise on the Scriptures. I am sorry to have not gotten around to publishing that work yet ... :blush:
     
  19. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    You make my case better than I do, but not in the way you intended. Although I am in between the two types of inerrantists you propose, what you suggest in this paragraph fits neither "type a" nor type "b" inerrantist but perfectly fits the modern revisionist. Instead of accepting the very practical possible explanations such as scribal transcription error or that Jesus was out in the country somewhere between the two towns mentioned, the modern revisionist, being enabled by an assumption that the N.T. may be erroneous, concludes that the story smacks of mythology and that a writer may have deceitfully embellished the story by deliberately substituting a similar name in order to build an allusion that wasn't actually supported by the facts. This is the very attitude which inerrantists oppose, for this modern revisionist attitude opens the floodgates to doubt and unbelief. If the writer could embellish as to the location of a miracle, it's only one small step to assume that the writer could have fabricated the entire demoniac story. And if that story could be a falsehood, then the written witness concerning the very resurrection of Jesus can readily be cast into doubt. This is the slippery slope that leads away from orthodoxy, cripples the Gospel, and fairly reeks of the devil's handiwork.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
  20. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I quoted a bit from that in post #35, btw.