Inerrancy and Infallibility of Scripture

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

  1. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    "The Bible isn't accurate."
    "The Bible contains errors and mistakes."
    "The Bible has become corrupted over time with copyist errors."

    These are arguments I would expect to hear from atheists. Not from Anglicans!
     
  2. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Agreed. These are not Anglican statements in accord with our Divines, or with the doctrine of scripture found in the Fathers.

    I also don't think it's a great idea to quote from Rowan Williams, who was at least heterodox, if not worse, and pretty much destroyed the Church of England on his watch, both with his actions, and with his inactions. Even his fuddy-duddy softie public persona was completely alien to ferocious Anglicans like John Jewel, who said, "a bishop should die preaching", or to the Anglican martyrs who literally did attain the crown of martyrdom to build up the CofE which Williams and now Welby are seeking to tear down.
     
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  3. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    The phrase 'you people' is not classy.

    In reality we must take account the world in which we live. The ancients understood that time was measured from it's beginning to it's ending. In that sense time had a finite length. The contemporary understanding of time is that we measure it from where we are, backwards and forwards infinitely. This is not about right or wrong, this is not about true or false, but it is about understanding what the writers were talking about.

    The world view of the ancients was a flat earth standing on pillars in the waters under the earth, the sky spread out as a dome or tent-cloth over the earth an the sun rising and setting over the earth. Our contemporary understanding is of a heliocentric ball spinning as it revolves around the earth and the sky as the enormity that lies beyond it. This is not about right or wrong, this is not about true or false, but it is about understanding what the writers were talking about.

    Let us not return to condemning Galileo as an heretic.
     
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  4. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Correct, the historical-critical method is a liberal secularizing of the Scriptures, and is extremely dangerous. Again, it has nothing in common with "the Anglican" view of Scripture.


    Ahem. That's literally what the modernists said, to permit themselves to revise every Christian doctrine.

    Let me show in a few easy steps why Galileo is literally irrelevant here, and why his case should not be permitted in these conversations.

    It's simple. Here we go:
    SCIENCE IS NOT DOCTRINE.

    Change is permitted in science.
    CHANGE IS NOT PERMITTED IN DOCTRINE.

    There, that was simple.
     
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  5. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I do not know whether Clement regarded the deutero books as canonical scripture. I have no information either way. My hope is that he did not.
     
  6. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    What I see in Clement's statement, "nothing wrong," is that the Scriptures are fully correct, and to be fully correct they must by implication be free from errors. Contradictions (referred to by Justin) are a subset of 'something wrong', so being free from contradictions also implies it's free from errors (or at least that type of error... but Justin didn't write about finding any other types of errors in Scripture). Harmony and agreement (Theophilus) means free from contradictions, too.

    Augustine plainly stated that the canonical books of the Bible are free from errors and that everything in it is to be believed absolutely. He didn't leave 'wiggle room' for disbelieving any parts of it, on any grounds.

    When something is free from (without) errors, that is the very definition of inerrant.

    I fully agree with your last paragraph; the inspiration from God was, and is, key.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  7. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    The church, for 1,700 years and more believed the sun revolved around the earth, because the Bible, (and scientific understanding at the time), appeared to support their contention. That though is no reason to go back to thinking that it does, though some might want to do that rather than re-evaluate the way they choose to interpret the truths of scripture and apply their peculiar definition of inerrant to mean the earth must be flat and held up by pillars and the sun must revolve around it, not the other way round, because it says so in the bible. Also some would contend that "ALL Cretans are liars and gluttons", must be true, because the bible says of this statement, in its own 'inerrant' way, "this testimony is true". All this in spite of the fact that the word 'inerrant' appears nowhere in sacred scripture.

    It is no more logically supportable to be saying "Christians for 1,700 years were inerrantly right about geocentricity and the sun's orbit round the earth", than it is logically supportable for scientists, without an understanding of Christian theology or biblical interpretation, to be saying "Christians for 1,700 years were errantly wrong about Christian doctrine".

    I find pious believers arguments, trying to support the notion of biblical 'inerrancy' on the one hand, and atheistic scientists arguments purporting to have knowledge enough to pontificate upon doctrines of the church on the other hand, both equally spurious and mutually ill conceived nonsense.
    .
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  8. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    In the absence of information to the contrary, it is most likely that he did.

    Yes, it is simple. I have not argued against the eternal truth of scripture. You argument here is for a limitation of inerrancy. I certainly have no trouble with that. However in the argument Galileo is not irrelevant because, those who accused him accused him because the Bible said otherwise. To my mind that was a mistake, and part of that mistake was to fail to differentiate between science and faith or doctrine.

    There are to my mind various forms of truth, and Pilate's question we so easily read as harsh, is also a recognition of the difference between political reality and justice.
     
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  9. Phoenix

    Phoenix Moderator Staff Member Anglican

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    So unfortunately the thing that happens in these discussions happened here. Because infallibility was questioned on historical grounds, the veracity of Scripture itself was questioned:

    "The Bible isn't accurate."
    "The Bible contains errors and mistakes."
    "The Bible has become corrupted over time with copyist errors."

    These are not legitimate statements from an Anglican perspective. The issue raised in this thread does not logically result in these kinds of statements becoming legitimized. They are not legitimate. Also, they go against the forums' terms of service:

    https://forums.anglican.net/pages/terms/

    Please continue the discussions of whether terms like inerrancy or infallibility are admissible on historical grounds, without permitting the Scriptures to be questioned.
     
  10. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps it would be better, when one does not understand how to reconcile a Scripture with known fact, to simply say, "I don't understand this Scripture," and leave it at that. After all, this is the course of action recommended by no less than Origen and Augustine.

    I might be able to help with understanding the Cretans, though. :sherlock: The reference to Cretans is found in Titus and is, sadly, being misrepresented.
    Tit 1:12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
    Note that it does not aver that "all Cretans are liars," but rather that some individual made the statement, "The Cretans are always liars..." Paul was telling the truth that someone made such a statement. :book:

    As for the long-ago misunderstanding about the earth and sun, this quite simply was a case of people misinterpreting the Bible and reading inferences into it that weren't actually there, for the reason that they had their own erroneous preconception about reality and they tried to make the Bible line up with what they (thought they) knew. This happens all the time, as we are all aware. :p The verses about pillars and such could have been better interpreted, perhaps (it pains me to say this! :laugh: ) by allegorization rather than literalness. It is a failure of the readers to understand, not a failure of the Scriptures to be fully truthful and error-free.

    You may come up with some of these that actually stump all of us for an explanation. But that would still not mean that Scripture was inaccurate or misleading or erroneous. It simply means that we have an imperfect understanding of perfect Scripture.

    Hopefully none of us think ourselves wiser than Origen and Augustine on the proper handling of difficult Scriptures.... :loopy:
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  11. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Though I agree with the thrust of your advice here I am dubious about whether it effectively supports the notion that scripture is 'inerrant' in the way suggested previously in this thread. i.e. that everything found in scripture is literally, historically, geographically, mathematically, geologically, cosmically, 'true'.

    Sensible people all have a sense that they may not know everything and may even be in error, a willingness to be proven wrong is an indication of maturity of thought. Obstinate refusal to change one's mind in the light of new evidence or events is no indicator of intelligence, rather the opposite.

    The reference in its proper context actually runs as follows:

    For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth. Tit.1:10-14 NKJV.

    This is not actually a misrepresentation in the context of a debate concerning the way 'inerrancy' of scripture is defined by some to mean that the bible is 'inerrantly factual' in its every assertion, be it doctrinal, scientific, historical or otherwise.

    “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Certainly could be wrongly interpreted as meaning exactly what it says, which might appear to be: 'Cretans always are liars and this is a fact".

    What the advocates of 'literalist inerrancy' fail to understand would be the fact (as you rightly pointed out), that Paul's statement is cleverly quoting a Cretan 'prophet', one of their own, who presumably therefore being a Cretan himself, is himself a liar by his own definition. So the testimony cannot be logically true. This is actually a joke, a riddle and an aphorism injected by Paul, presumably to lighten somewhat the rather draconian advice he feels forced to give Titus on how to handle the threat of a Judaising faction in the Christian community seeking to re-establish Jewish fables and commandments of men, who turn from the truth.

    So you do at least seem to appreciate that the bible can easily be misunderstood by 'literalist' readers who do not understand such nuanced statements but prefer to treat every biblical statement as a statement of pure fact and compound their error by insisting that others do the same.

    No the verses about pillars are perfectly infallible but not inerrant scripture. At least not in the sense that the earth literally IS set on pillars to hold it up. Scripture was written by people who literally believed the earth was held up by pillars but also by people who deliberately used that notion in an allegorical and poetic sense perfectly understandable by sensible readers of today but easily misunderstood by fools.

    The bible is all easily misunderstood by fools.
    .