Inerrancy and Infallibility of Scripture

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

  1. JonahAF

    JonahAF Moderator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    Does it provide us with a roadmap for addressing the current debate? If he uses the word 'inerrant', that should close the issue, I would think.
     
  2. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Have you looked up what a mythological motif is? Clue is, it is neither a fiction, nor a lie. Those are just assumptions inferred by your own lack of understanding of the meaning of mythological motifs and the role that mythic narrative has in conveying truth.

    The fact is that there is no ' cliff ' (κρημνός krēmnos) on that part of the Sea of Galilee, neither for that matter is there a 'cliff' (κρημνός krēmnos : overhanging, i.e. a precipice: — steep place.), in Nazareth over which the good townspeople could have thrown Jesus, even though they may have threatened to do so. Matt.8:32, Mark 5:13, Luke 8:33, Luke 4:29.

    This lack of steep places in key geographical positions may be a matter of some concern to inerratists type (a) who insist that there simply must be, because the Bible says so, but anyone who has actually been there can tell you that the hill above Nazareth has no 'edges' over which to throw anyone and the lakeside in that particular region of the lake is fairly flat, without anything steep like 'cliffs', as suggested by κρημνός - krēmnos. One possible reason why the Greek word krēmnos has been translated 'steep place', rather than cliff or precipice or promontory in most translations, 'precipice' is what it really means, that steep.

    Unless the original Greek and Hebrew words are honestly and accurately transliterated the Bible you are reading, trying to understand and God forbid teach, is not inerrant. How do you explain the 3 different, (supposedly inerrant), locations mentioned in various manuscripts, concerning the self same Demoniac incident?

    (1) Did the Authors not know exactly where it had happened? (They had been, almost shipwrecked visitors, in a foreign land, without a map; or not even present at the event at all, as in the case of St. Luke's version and almost cetainly Mark's Gospel also, (who neither heard the Lord speak, nor followed him, but only later followed Peter as his interpreter, whose work was later copied by Matthew and Luke)?

    (2) Had some of them forgotten exactly where it happened, so spelt it as well as they could remember. (They were writing about 30 years after the event)?

    (3) Did the writers not really care much where it had happened, only that it had happened, in some God forsaken foreign country where the population were pig eating heathen, seething under the Roman jackboot, nearly all of them as paganly lunatic as the nutter who gashed himself in the cemetary?

    Your guess is as good as anyone else's. I would advise though that demonising the opinions of those who tell you the proven topographical truth about a bible geographical region, simply because you disagree with their theological belief, dangerously places one on the metaphorically demonic road to ruin.

    :laugh: :cheers:
    .
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
  3. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Not exactly a road map, although there are a couple of road signs. :) The part I quoted might be the clearest of them. Neither the words 'inerrant' nor "infallible' are used, however I could see the elements of precision, truth, purity and preservation by God.
     
  4. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Goodness, should we suppose that wind and water have not had any topographic effects on the land in 2000 years? That would stretch credulity. Just because no precipice is found there today does not indicate the lack of a steep enough embankment then for swine to rush down and drown.

    As for the 3 allegedly different locations, I've already addressed that in the message you just responded to.
     
  5. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Everything high tends to get worn down eventually, true, but it takes rather more than 2000 years, unless it is catastrophic due to earth quake, volcanic action or flood. There is certainly a high hill at Nazareth too and I wouldn't like anyone to push me down it, but it is hardly a cliff. More like a steep, rocky, long, sharp, bumping way down. A descent a bit similar in effect to being stoned, I would guess. The result could easily be terminal though or at least severely disabling.

    Anyhow, I'm not trying to prove scripture is errant. I am merely pointing out that there are more important things about biblical truth than mere factual accuracy, (which can't be proven anyway). It simply isn't necessary for the Bible to be factually faultless in order for it to be inerrantly effective in delivering the message God intended.

    Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31.
    .
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
  6. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I know you're not trying to prove scripture is errant. And I didn't intend my comments as a criticism of you or a demonization of your opinion. Nor was I attempting to label you a modern revisionist (you're just somewhat modern, ;) not a revisionist). But I took your line of reasoning and tried to make the point that a good many modern revisionists exist and they would say very similar things to justify their revisionist position. Obviously they'd say them for different motives than you.

    It's true, my familiarity with literary devices must be somewhat lacking, because I don't think in those terms when I'm reading... I just read for what a thing says.
     
  7. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Going back to this latter statement, I'd like to shift gears away from the 'inerrancy' issue and address the question of merely saying that Scripture is inspired. More specifically, is 'inspired' a sufficient descriptor and a high enough standard to set Scripture apart from other writings?

    Some would say that C. S. Lewis' writings were inspired by God. (Does that make them trustworthy?)
    Some would say that Augustine's Confessions were inspired.
    Some might even say that Michelangelo's paintings were inspired.

    But we ascribe a greater and higher quality to the Bible than we do to other works... greater and higher than the word 'inspired' can capture.

    Would 'infallible' be a term acceptable to you all? Let's talk about it.

    The definition proposed in post #1 was:
    Scripture is Infallible: it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses; neither misleading nor misled, it is a sure, safe, and reliable rule and guide in all matters.

    However, we could instead choose a dictionary definition. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary has these possible meanings:
    1 : incapable of error : unerring
    2 : not liable to mislead, deceive, or disappoint : certain
    3 : incapable of error in defining doctrines touching faith or morals
     
  8. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    No.

    I understand that you have tried to lay out what you feel that the terms means, however for me, in the real world, those who have proclaimed the scriptures to be infallible have together with this held a range of views, and I don't believe they ever intended to nuanced use of the phrase you intended. In my experience those have wave wanted to use the term have indeed also wanted to describe the Holy Scriptures as the work of God's own hand, and the authors we named were mere penholders, while God moved the pen. This results in an approach that is not dissimilar to the approach of the followers of the prophet to the words of the Quran.

    The American landscape photographer Anselm Adams was once confronted by a lady who complained that there were no people in his landscapes. He replied that there were always at least two people in every photograph, the one behind the lens, and the one in front of the image. I think this is true of scripture as well. There is always God - the revealer, the author - interpreter of truth, and the reader/hearer who must process and understand what is presented.

    God is Infallible. God is Inerrant.
    The authors of scripture were indeed fallible.
    The scriptures are received as canonical.
    the hearers and readers are all over the shop.

    I would say that the writings of CS Lewis are inspirational, that Augustine's Confessions are hard work though nowhere near as hard as Civitas Dei, and that much of Michelangelo's paintings are also inspirations. The test for them as we come to establish truth in them is the measure of scripture as a whole. Art and scripture may most certainly meet. For much of the christian centuries it was art as much as words that carried truth. I have always found Dore's woodcut of the expulsion of Haggai moving and profound, however it is only one frame from a very long series.

    Abraham-Sends-Hagar-and-Ishmael-Away-1516x1920.jpg
     
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  9. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    On the contrary, I think the infallibility of God's word is a part of Anglican doctrine.
     
  10. Phoenix

    Phoenix Moderator Staff Member Anglican

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    It should be noted that the view I present is not in the league with views such as the above, as they seem to express a modernist conception of the sacred Scriptures which is out of harmony with the classical position expressed by Bishop Jewel and other authors, and the fathers of the Church. While there is a reason why the divines or the fathers did not use descriptors like inerrant or infallible, still it was not because they perceived the sacred Scriptures to be a mere work of human hands, but rather the very Word of God.

    Instead of inerrant or infallible, what about this then, "the Word of God"? I believe that phrase is found in Jewel; why may we not seize on it again, today? It would seem to capture all we want to capture here, namely the confidence, the certainty, the authority, and even the perfection of the work, without getting ourselves liable to gauge its every comma by a scientific ruler.

    These works are inspired only by metonymy and analogy; anything which is successful may be said to be "inspired" which is not how that word is understood when applying to Scripture. Everything else in the world may be inspired by analogy, or metaphorically; the sacred Scriptures may be said to be inspired literally; in-spired, namely directly caused by the Holy Ghost himself.

    What about this then, in sum: the inspired Word of God?
     
  11. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    "The inspired Word of God" does set it apart from all other writings, inspired and otherwise. :tiphat:But I'm not quite ready to run up the white flag on "infallible." :)

    The 39 Articles of Religion are a part of Anglican doctrine, am I correct?
    If so, then Article 35 incorporates the Homilies within Anglican doctrine.

    Homily #10, Of the reverend estimation of God's Word, says in part (quite near its ending, and I have modernized the spelling):
    GOD therefore for his mercies sake, vouchsafe to purify our minds through faith in his son Iesus Christ, and to instill the heavenly drops of his grace into our hard stony hearts, to supple the same, that we be not contemners and deriders of his infallible word: but that with all humbleness of mind and Christian reverence we may endeavour our selves to hear and to read his sacred Scriptures, and inwardly so to digest them...​
     
  12. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    As the term is used clearly 7 times in the 39 articles, and is clearly a term that has been used historically, I find it more than acceptable.

    Holy Scripture is used 8 times in the articles. Holy Writ is used twice. Bible is not used at all.

    The main claim, as I see it, in the 39 Articles is Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation:

    If one was to unpack that, one would conclude that Holy Scripture is the measure by which doctrine is to be established. The scriptures would suggest that we avail ourselves of the benefits of the one holy and sufficient sacrifice of Christ, made once for all upon the cross, by grace through faith. It is the doctrine that is revealed in Scripture, not the deed itself, and that is the intent of the articles, but not to accord to scriptures some mystical powers that they do not have. I fear some misguided folk take the view that if they hold the Bible up and are seen to do so, they are in reality validating their own position, whereas we know that in reading and measuring their words and actions against what scriptures reveal is where truth is apprehended.
     
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  13. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Here let us mark well, and remember that the high power and authority of Kings, with their making of laws, judgements and offices, are the ordinances not of man, but of GOD: and therefore is this word (through me) so many times repeated. Here is also well to be considered and remembered, that this good order is appointed by GOD'S wisdom, favour, and love, especially for them that love GOD, and therefore he saith, I love them that love me. Also in the book of wisdom we may evidently learn, that a king's power, authority, and strength, is a great benefit of GOD, given of his great mercy, to the comfort of our great misery. For thus we read there spoken to kings, Hear O ye Kings, and understand, learn ye that be Judges of the ends of the earth, give care ye that rule the multitudes: for the power given you of the Lord, and the strength, from the highest (Wisdom 6.1-3). Let us learn also here by the infallible and undeceivable word of GOD, that kings and other supreme and higher officers, are ordained of GOD, who is most highest: and therefore they are here taught diligently to apply and give themselves to knowledge and wisdom, necessary for the ordering of GOD'S people to their governance committed, or whom to govern they are charged of GOD.​

    I am not sure how much of the paragraph you want us to embrace. I have attached a copy of the homily rendered in contemporary language. I do think that it is one of the homilies that need very much to be understood in the historical context. They were almost certainly written in the last years of Henry VIII, and not published till 1547 in the early time of reign of Edward VI. The view of authority and indeed specifically royal authority is not a view that would be generally espoused today, save by a few leaders whose structure make the notion of royal authority somewhat mute.

    It has been generally held by Anglicans that the First Book of Homilies is of value, but not according to it the authority such as one might determine doctrine by it. I not that despite the Americans having dispensed with the services of the monarch, it is generally true, despite he misgivings of the homily that many people do go about unrobbed.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    The homily may "need to be understood in a historical context" where it speaks of things historical, but when the homily speaks of things enduring and unchanging (such as the word of God), we should not apply historical context to those portions.
     
  15. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Active Member

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    But I don't think this Homily does speak of things in an historical context. The Homily is from Tudor times and appears to have no historical context apart from historical events from the O.T. period, which is of course "things enduring and unchanging (such as the word of God)" I suspect certain people from a certain country wish this Homily didn't exist!
     
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  16. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    The passage in a letter referring to the actual wrintings we are discussing makes it abundantly clear that the nature of the 'inspiration' it attributes to those 'writings' is quite different in purpose and in origin than any of the examples you mention above.

    And thou--be remaining in the things which thou didst learn and wast entrusted with, having known from whom thou didst learn, and because from a babe the Holy Writings thou hast known, which are able to make thee wise--to salvation, through faith that [is] in Christ Jesus; every Writing [is] God-breathed, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for setting aright, for instruction that [is] in righteousness, that the man of God may be fitted--for every good work having been completed. 2 Tim.3:14-17 Youngs LITERAL translation.

    The scriptures are 'Breathed by God' according to the author of this statement and that puts them into an entirely different category to any other 'writings' to which we might assign the compliment of being 'inspired', (meaning by that, that they are just of high literary value and impeccable quality).

    When we refer to scripture as 'inspired' we necessarily connect it with the purposes and will of God. This is what makes the Bible 'Holy', set apart, different, unique, one of a kind, and all other sorts of unlike anything else in mankind's libraries.

    There is no single Greek word in scripture translated into English as the word 'inspired'. Where you see 'inspired' in 2 Tim.3:16 you are seeing a translation of the Greek words for 'God-breathed'.

    Though many literary creations of man may be so influential on morality and ethics as to improve the relationships between human beings when they are read and understood, none of them, in my opinion, come close to the Bible, and particularly the King James Translation of it, for sheer historical impact upon the conduct and behaviour towards God and each other of all those who read, understood and faithfully followed the precepts and directives found within it and put there by it's author.

    All human beings are 'incomplete' without having been taught, set aright, made righteous in Christ, and rendered fit for His service, by hearing or reading, marking and inwardly digesting the 'GOD BREATHED' words of The Holy Bible, just as the author of 2 Tim.3:16 suggests. Rom.2:29.

    It is quite sufficient to support the claim that the Bible makes for itself, that it is 'INSPIRED'. No other supposed upgrade on this inspired accolade from a biblically canonical author, is necessary. In fact all claims for 'inerrancy', 'perfection' or 'infallibility', if unprovable by scripture itself, are mere human conjecture, opinions formed without proof.
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    Last edited: Jun 25, 2020
  17. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Or at least would find ways of dismissing it's content as being irrelevant to them as a nation. :laugh: while picking the bits they approve of out as proofs of their own contentions.
    .
     
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  18. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    It speaks of the authority of Kings in a period when the authority of the Pope and the authority of Kings was a very important part of the contemporary political discourse. The homily leans a little towards erastianism.
     
  19. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Active Member

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    Yes but the homilies are backed up by referenced Scripture passages such as Prov 8:15 (By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.)
    And 1 Peter 2:13&14 (Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
    14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.)

    People may also like to read Homily XXI from the second book of Homilies.(AN HOMILIE AGAINST disobedience and wilfull rebellion)
    with the relevant supporting scriptures.

    Botolph you may want to read it and whisk a copy of to Peter FitzSimonds :)
     
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  20. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    How we may interpret those scripture references though will dictate very much what we deduce from them.

    (a) We might conclude that "By me kings reign, and princes decree justice." means that God chooses and annoints with God's own authority 'Kings and Princes', whose decrees must therefore necessarily be 'just' because, and only because, God not only permits them to 'reign' but actually installed them in their position of authority. Thus any decree of supposed 'justice' must be obediently complied with by their subjugated, subjects, otherwise they would be opposing God Himself through God's rightful dispenser of 'presumed justice'. Many of Henry VIII's subjects had exactly that problem with him.

    (b) We might alternatively conclude that God is actually saying, that though mere fate has installed Kings in positions of authority, they still have a responsibility to God to see that they truly dispense just judgments and decree just laws, and it is God who decides what is 'just' and not kings who are perfectly capable of dispensing injustice, and frequently did, as amply attested in scripture every time we read "And he reigned . . . . .and he did evil in the sight of the Lord". Which is about 33 times by my last count. Thousands of Henry VIII's subjects swung in their nooses on the gallows or watched their bowels torn out and burned in front of them for daring to ask for justice from him during the enclosure riots. I doubt they would have been supportive at all of deduction (a), homilies or no homilies and the people who compiled them, who were probably friends of The King.

    Scripture is only what you make of it and how you understand it's meaning.

    If you are a King who want's absolute, unquestionable, untrammeled, dictatorial power over others, it will give you exactly what you want at Prov.8:15.

    If you want justice and protection from Godless tyrants masquerading as servants of the living God you will have a lot of much less influential interpreters 'on your side' of the argument over what scripture actually all means, it seems.
    .
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2020
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