Inerrancy and Infallibility of Scripture

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

  1. Phoenix

    Phoenix Moderator Staff Member Anglican

    Posts:
    139
    Likes Received:
    158
    It’s just a question of meaning, what something simply means. Does that meaning change, or is it settled. And who settles it.

    In any case I’ll leave you guys to debate that one. For the purposes of forum policy I am mainly interested in the inerrancy debate, where I’m having a very fruitful discussion with @Rexlion.
     
    Rexlion likes this.
  2. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,544
    Likes Received:
    473
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    Well, I agree, that according to the scripture it is not a matter entirely of one's own interpretation. 2 Peter 1:20.
    .
     
    Rexlion likes this.
  3. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,410
    Likes Received:
    680
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian
    After all the hits on the words I've thrown out for consideration, because those words were dismissed due to 'potential alternate meanings and misuses,' I would be remiss if I didn't object to Tiffy's use of the word "mythic" on the very same grounds. :laugh: But I can't muster the energy to really pursue that one! :sweating: I might need to lie down.... :friends:
     
  4. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,410
    Likes Received:
    680
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian
    A question occurs to me. Would the shying away from words like "inerrant" and "infallible" be reflective of a "broad church" view because the words are seen as too narrow and limiting? Or would it be the opposite... would the words be seen as an unwelcome broadening because it moves away from the more narrowly drawn verbiage of the early Church of England (16th & 17th Centuries)?
     
  5. Phoenix

    Phoenix Moderator Staff Member Anglican

    Posts:
    139
    Likes Received:
    158
    To my mind they are too broadening, because they attempt to expand the traditional conception (seen as too constricting) with newer concepts that seem more relatable today. And as the centuries roll on, the words which will feel relatable will inevitably change, and therefore be added on.

    Imagine if in 500 years today’s youth word “lit” evolves into something which stands for certainty & truth, and we officially start calling the Word of God “lit”, as a stand-in for “inerrant”, which was a stand in for “Word of God“, which was a stand in for “inspired”.
     
    Rexlion likes this.
  6. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,410
    Likes Received:
    680
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian
    I can respect that. It comes as a surprise to me, though. All along (for many years) I've thought of "inerrant" and "infallible" as concepts fully consistent with and supported by the Apostles and the early church (even though the words themselves were not used specifically, I thought the concepts were present). So I've been laboring under the notion during this discussion that you folks were advocating a more broad-minded, modernist view of the Word of God that would not be hamstrung by the narrowness of those two words. Now I see we're advocating in the same direction.
     
    Phoenix likes this.
  7. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,544
    Likes Received:
    473
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    Though much of what I say may seem give a contrary indication, I actually have a very high view of scripture. It is just that I consider the use of words like 'infallible', 'inerrant', 'perfect' etc suggestive of a supposed unquestionablity which can be used and abused by unscrupulous manipulators to impose their own interpretations, (or even traditional interpretations which happen to be particularly to their own liking), upon others. Thus using the bible as a weapon in their private armoury, to subject others to a kind of religious bondage, bound by the edicts of an authoritative book of rules.

    However infallible, inerrant or perfect I may think scripture to be, I always refer to it as just 'inspired by God'. That way I give no assent and provide no amunition to those who would misuse it.
    .
     
    Rexlion likes this.
  8. Phoenix

    Phoenix Moderator Staff Member Anglican

    Posts:
    139
    Likes Received:
    158
    Absolutely. There are two ways to push against inerrancy: one, that it's too strong; and two, that it's too weak. I have been speaking from the latter perspective, but it is easy to get it rolled up together with those who espouse modernism. Anglicanism (in the West at least) has had no shortage of modernists in leadership positions, so it was a risk for me to take a stand, when being in an official standing, there was a risk of tarnishing the reputation of this website as well.

    However since the site is making a stand on recapturing the traditional standpoint in all things, I figured I'd make an exception and personally wade into this debate, at the risk of getting lumped in with the modernist position; but on the up-side, hopefully recapturing a stronger (obscured) traditional position as well. Plus, we also need to reach clarity with our update to the Terms of Service.
     
  9. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,410
    Likes Received:
    680
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian
    Tiffy, anything can be used or abused. For example, if someone hits you over the head with their heaviest Bible! :laugh:

    Any word can be perverted. As Slick Willie famously said, "It depends on what the meaning of the word, 'is,' is." :biglaugh:

    Not arguing, just having fun. :signpeace:
     
  10. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,227
    Likes Received:
    956
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican (ACNA)
    It would seem that using definitions like 'inspired' may be found in the Scriptures themselves, as I've begun to recognize...

    "
    All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. " (2nd timothy 3.16-17)
     
  11. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,544
    Likes Received:
    473
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    An accurate quote indeed actually referring to scripture.

    Interestingly the words 'infallible' and 'perfect' also appear in scripture but never referring to scripture but the word 'inerrant' never appears anywhere, in any translation of the bible that I have ever come across so far, and I've searched quite a few.
    .
     
  12. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,410
    Likes Received:
    680
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian
    I concede that the Anglican Church does not regard the Holy Scriptures as inerrant. Nor do most of the members of this forum. And I don't expect that to change.

    However, nothing prevents me from being convinced of the fact in my own mind. As far as I'm concerned, "inspired" is a weaker, more watered-down down term than "inerrant," and I hold a view that the Bible meets the higher standard. None of you are bound by my conviction, however, just as I am not bound by yours.
     
  13. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,227
    Likes Received:
    956
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican (ACNA)
    I have been searching through the doctrines among other denominations, and it 'seems' ( I could be wrong?) that there is no affirmation of inerrancy among the lutherans (augsburg confession), presbyterians (westminster confession), or in the Baptist confession either... Perhaps we do need to affirm it for our particular times?, but it does not seem to have been a historic affirmation among Christians

    However I am trying to learn more so please correct me
     
  14. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    627
    Likes Received:
    663
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Inerrancy is a designation that was not known until the boom in textual criticism in the second half of the 19th century. That is why you are not finding it in the historic confessions of these denominations. However, you will find it affirmed in more recent documents published by bodies such as WELS and LCMS. And of course, most of the conservative Baptist associations will use the term frequently.

    It may have been B.B. Warfield that popularized the idea.
     
  15. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,343
    Likes Received:
    1,506
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    The Articles speak about the 'expounding' of scripture, which I take to imply some sense of interpretation. It seems to me that it is often the inerrancy of the interpretation that is being proclaimed. I recall listening to a sermon who argument was that the ecumenical movement was sinful because Jesus prayed that his Church might be one, (John 17:20-24) and Jesus declared it was accomplished (John 19:30), so any effort to bring the Church together was clearly in error because it was suggesting that we were not already one.

    In the main this is the sort of stuff that makes me reluctant to walk down this path. The Jensenists of the Diocese of Sydney developed the doctrine of propositional revelation, based on the argument 'God reveals himself in propositions, the propositions are contained within Holy Scripture, therefore the Bible is infallible and inerrant'. What this doctrine appeared to accomplish was an overabundant sense of confidence and certainty that they were right and everyone who did not acknowledge that was to be kept on the outside always looking in. To my mind what is fundamentally wrong with the idea is that God does not reveal himself in propositions, but in the person and Jesus. And the word became flesh and tabernacled in our midst.

    We don't need the artificial academic certainty of a book, but the living flesh and blood of Jesus who promises to be with us till the end of time.

    Is Balaam's Ass history or fable? I don't really mind. And I don't want to loose it from the canon either. Scripture is a vehicle for truth, but not all truth is historical truth.

    And this is not really such a new problem

    The opposition between theologians centred in Antioch and those centred in Alexandria, both in their ways of interpreting Scripture and in their understandings of Christ’s person, is well known, if often somewhat exaggerated by modern scholars. Antiochene exegetes tended to insist more than their Alexandrian counterparts on the importance of seeing each biblical passage in its context within the longer narrative of Israel’s history, and to search for practical, moral applications, while Alexandrian interpreters tended to be more interested in the theological and spiritual meaning. More importantly, Antiochene theologians tended to see the fullness of salvation as eschatological, Alexandrians as present and accessible in the Church; as a result, Antiochenes tended to emphasize more the boundaries between God’s life and creation
    https://oxford.universitypressschol... to insist,more interested in the theological
     
    Shane R likes this.
  16. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,544
    Likes Received:
    473
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    In all other matters it seems 'conservative' Anglicans on this website advocate 'going back to the writings of the early church fathers and divines for their doctrinal 'grist for the mill'. On this issue however they seem to have scant regard for the fact that 'Biblical Inerrancy' as a concept is a very new idea, not to be found among church fathers, divines or apostles, nowhere stated in any creeds, never a tenet of the Anglican Church.

    Why do they think they need it? Is not scripture SUFFICIENT for providing information necessary for our salvation? Sufficiency does not imply total inerrancy, which is nowhere claimed in scripture itself, nor is the word to be found anywhere within it.
    .
     
    Shane R likes this.
  17. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,410
    Likes Received:
    680
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian
  18. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,410
    Likes Received:
    680
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian
    Here was Augustine's opinion on the matter:
    Therefore, whatever He [Christ] wanted us to read concerning His words and deeds, He commanded the disciples, His hands, to write. Hence, one cannot but receive what he reads in the Gospels, though written by the disciples, as though it were written by the very hand of the Lord Himself.
    (Harmony of the Gospels, 1.35.54)
    Surely the hand of the Lord is inerrant, eh? :halo:

    For it seems to me that most disastrous consequences must follow upon our believing that anything false is found in the sacred books.
    (Letters, 23.3.3)
    Another word for 'false' might be 'errant.' So, 'nothing false' seems to mean 'nothing errant.' Inerrant? :hmm:

    For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honor only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it. (Letter 82.3, 350)

    Augustine seems to have held to the concept of inerrancy, even though he did not use the specific word.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2021
  19. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,544
    Likes Received:
    473
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    So if Augustine never used the word, yet held the concept of inerrancy, why is it that some christians in the US and elsewhere are so insistant on using it?
    .
     
  20. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,544
    Likes Received:
    473
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    Though Augustine appears to have believed this there is no evidence in scripture that He (Christ) commanded the disciples to write the gospels, any more than He (Christ) commanded Paul to write his epistles or the author of Hebrews was commanded by (Christ) to write it.

    All these documents were inspired by the Holy Spirit who proceeds from The Father, (and some say also from The Son).
    .
     
    Botolph likes this.