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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:09 pm 
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*Dusts off apologetics forum*

Wow, this place is neglected. Anyway, as I've been researching for my category 2 cards (specifically, "Analyse and respond to the statement: 'We cannot believe in a Bible that is full of contradictions'"), I've been finding an increasing number of online apologists are absolutely convinced that that Bible holds no contradictions, whatsoever, and for it to have contradictions would completely undermined the basis of scripture.

I'm curious, is this view common among HSD'ers, as well? I ask primarily because I've never understood its biblical foundation. Also, is it possible to believe in both the inspiration and sufficiency of scripture, and also to recognize that contradictions do exist within scripture? Specifically, I'm thinking of 1 Kings 7:26 and 2 Chronicles 4:5, as well as Goliath's height (Modern translations say that he was roughly 9 feet tall, while the dead sea scrolls say he was more like 6.)

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:31 pm 
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Scratch wrote:
I'm curious, is this view common among HSD'ers, as well? I ask primarily because I've never understood its biblical foundation. Also, is it possible to believe in both the inspiration and sufficiency of scripture, and also to recognize that contradictions do exist within scripture? Specifically, I'm thinking of 1 Kings 7:26 and 2 Chronicles 4:5, as well as Goliath's height (Modern translations say that he was roughly 9 feet tall, while the dead sea scrolls say he was more like 6.)

This has been briefly touched on before in this thread. (For reading in the meantime)
I'll see about writing up a more detailed response, but have other things I have to attend to right now...

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:56 pm 
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I used to be like that, until I realized there actually were some factual contradictions in the Bible. It really bothered me, because I was in the "this undermines the entire basis of Scripture!" camp. The logic goes like this: I believe the Bible is true. In order for the Bible to be true and God-breathed, it must be perfect. If it is perfect, then it is completely consistent. God can keep His word consistent despite the fallacy of human scribes. Therefore there must not be contradictions in the Bible. If there are contradictions, then it is not God's word.

Well, I can't just deny reality. So what I've had to go back on is the overall story of Scripture. Does the Bible ever contradict itself when it matters? As in, when talking about God's promise, or the divinity of Christ, or how we ought to live our lives? No. Does Scripture ever contradict the overall story of history? No.
So minor details like Goliath's height and the number of baths in Solomon's palace (let's face it, even the people copying scripture could have made "typos"-- they were only human) aren't significant.

Some people are going to look at that and say, "Where do you draw the brightline? How can you accept that not all Scripture is absolutely perfect? Doesn't that cast doubt on the Bible as a whole?"

My brightline is where it matters. Jesus fed five thousand people with a couple pieces of bread and fish. A boy named David fought and killed a very tall man named Goliath, and the Lord gave His people victory. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves, but God over all. Jesus told his disciples to sell their cloaks and buy a sword (and contrary to the Message Bible, he didn't have an anti-weapon agenda... See "Jesus and Weapons part 2" further down the page.). Old and New Testament theology and prophecy are consistent.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:18 am 
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Here are my thoughts on contradictions in Scripture:

1. Contradictions in the original autographs are different than contradictions in later copies. I don't believe that the original autographs, that is, the actual parchment or clay tablet that the original author wrote on, contain contradictions. However, copyists may have made errors about things like numbers. Those aren't errors in the inspired text, though, because only the autographs are truly inspired.

2. The accuracy of the historical facts is crucial to our confidence in Scripture. The Bible recounts God's redemptive plan as it unfolded in specific places at specific times. Because of its historical context, it's important that the historical details are also true. We can't dismiss the historical parts of the Bible and still reasonably believe the spiritual parts. In John 3:12, Jesus said, "I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?"

3. The main question is the extent of the impact that contradictions like those dealing with Goliath's height impact the Bible's historical accuracy. 2 Timothy 3:16, the verse that everyone uses in every category 2 speech ever, says that all Scripture is inspired; that's what the doctrine of plenary inspiration teaches. Anything God inspired has to have been the truth, including details like the size of the bronze sea. And once you start to believe that there are contradictions, falsehoods, in the inspired text, it opens the way to disbelieve more of the historical sections and so on.

4. At the same time, the big picture is what really matters. I'd rather look at the overall events than haggle over minutiae with a non-Christian who was asking questions.

And one more thing, I have this quote in my box which gives another interesting perspective on the issue of contradictions:
Quote:
There is enough of a discrepancy to show that there could have been no previous concert among them; and at the same time such substantial agreement as to show that they all were independent narrators of the same great transaction.
According to the citation on my card, that's from Simon Greenleaf of Harvard Law School, author of a treatise on evidence, and I'm pretty sure he's talking about the gospel writers.

I would take the time to go back over this post & make it more cogent, but my sister needs the computer...

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:30 am 
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adnarim - Ahhhhh. That makes a bit more sense. Thanks a bunch for clarifying that for me! Also, would it be accurate to say that you use the doctrine of Sola Scriptura as your brightline, or am I not quite understanding what you're saying? :)

SoCoNative – First off, thanks a ton for being so informative! I really do appreciate it :). Though, I do have to admit, there still are several issues that you mentioned that still confuse me a bit. I’d really appreciate it if you could answer a few additional questions!

SoCoNative wrote:
Because of its historical context, it's important that the historical details are also true. We can't dismiss the historical parts of the Bible and still reasonably believe the spiritual parts.

...Why not? Honestly, I don't understand why an inaccuracy in a historical detail (say, Lazarus was actually a resident of Jericho, rather than Bethany) would have any bearing upon the spiritual message of scripture. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, the basis of Christianity is that we're wrong with God, that God - in the form of Jesus - did something to correct that wrongness, but that we need to accept that gift before it can be applied to us. Outside of the realm of prophecy, the historical details of Jesus' life seem to be pretty much irrelevant to our salvation. (On a side note, I'm pretty confidant that Jesus wasn't talking about Scripture in John 3, given his audience was Nicodemus and the topic was being “born again”. Just my two cents, though.)

SoCoNative wrote:
The main question is the extent of the impact that contradictions like those dealing with Goliath's height impact the Bible's historical accuracy. 2 Timothy 3:16, the verse that everyone uses in every category 2 speech ever, says that all Scripture is inspired; that's what the doctrine of plenary inspiration teaches. Anything God inspired has to have been the truth, including details like the size of the bronze sea. And once you start to believe that there are contradictions, falsehoods, in the inspired text, it opens the way to disbelieve more of the historical sections and so on.

Honestly, I can’t say that I understand all the logical links here. First off, I think everyone can agree that keeping scripture in context is extremely important – that you can make scripture mean whatever you want if you take it out of context. However, when you put that one phrase found at the beginning of the passage you referenced in context, you’ll find that Paul isn’t advocating that scripture is useful for everything ever, but that it’s useful for “every good work” – good work likely meaning the stuff that we, as Christians, actually do. How can we justify taking this phrase and applying to things that it’s pretty clear Paul wasn’t talking about (Science and Genesis, for example)?

Secondly, although this isn’t really a question, it seems to me as though the only way one can support the doctrine of plenary inspiration using scripture is by assuming that the doctrine is true. Take 2 Timothy 3:16 as an example: if we assume that the doctrine of plenary inspiration is flawed, we open up the possibility that Paul didn’t mean literally all of scripture, but instead all the ideas or teachings of scripture. That interpretation, although certainly outside of orthodoxy, would remain consistent not only with the rest of Paul's message to Timothy, but also with all the other teachings of Paul and of the Bible – after all, the reason why this verse is so quoted in category two speeches is because it’s the only place in scripture (at least, as far as I know) were the doctrine of plenary inspiration can be so clearly derived.

Finally, I also don’t understand why disbelieving in the doctrine of plenary inspiration would be so detrimental to the Christian faith. The doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture (or Sola Scriptura) is well documented throughout the pages of the Bible. Indeed, it was this very doctrine that Paul was supporting in 2 Timothy 3:16 when he said that all scripture was inspired by God. Why, if we still believe in the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, is the doctrine of inspiration still so critical to the faith?

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:49 pm 
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Scratch wrote:
Also, would it be accurate to say that you use the doctrine of Sola Scriptura as your brightline, or am I not quite understanding what you're saying?

From my understanding of Sola Scriptura, yes.
Scratch wrote:
SoCoNative wrote:
Because of its historical context, it's important that the historical details are also true. We can't dismiss the historical parts of the Bible and still reasonably believe the spiritual parts.

...Why not? Honestly, I don't understand why an inaccuracy in a historical detail (say, Lazarus was actually a resident of Jericho, rather than Bethany) would have any bearing upon the spiritual message of scripture...Outside of the realm of prophecy, the historical details of Jesus' life seem to be pretty much irrelevant to our salvation. (On a side note, I'm pretty confidant that Jesus wasn't talking about Scripture in John 3, given his audience was Nicodemus and the topic was being “born again”. Just my two cents, though.)

I know this question wasn't directed at me... but oh well. :) The historical details of Jesus' life are what confirms prophecy. The Bible is dealing with the lives of real people. If the Bible gets major details wrong-- for example, saying that Jesus' mother was named Elizabeth, He started His ministry by turning water to wine in His teens, and Lazarus was only asleep, not dead-- then it undermines the authority of the text. Stuff like how tall Goliath can be altered by mistake. Stuff like the living status of Lazarus can't.
Jesus was talking about what He was telling Nicodemus at the time. As God... I'm pretty sure He would have the same opinion when it comes to Scripture (His word). If we don't believe in the historical accuracy of Scripture, then how can we believe in its theological accuracy?

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:12 am 
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adnarim wrote:
Jesus was talking about what He was telling Nicodemus at the time. As God... I'm pretty sure He would have the same opinion when it comes to Scripture (His word). If we don't believe in the historical accuracy of Scripture, then how can we believe in its theological accuracy?

Well, probably because - as radical as it might seem - our faith is in God rather than the Bible. No matter one's opinion on this issue, it remains that the Bible is merely a tool (albeit a very special tool) that can be used for good or for ill. One only needs to look at the history of the Church to find all sorts of things that were justified using scripture that were also pretty clearly not within the will of God. To again paraphrase C.S. Lewis (btw - if you want sources for all of these references to C.S Lewis, I should be able to provide them. I'm just too lazy to look up the exact quote. :P), the Bible is tool that will only bring us closer to God when read in the proper light under the guidance of moral instructors in righteousness. In essence, the reason why I can continue to believe in the theological accuracy of scripture while questioning the need for and scriptural legitimacy of the historical accuracy is because I believe the Bible is the chosen tool of a God who desires to draw us closer to Himself, not because the historical evidence supports it. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:25 pm 
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Just so you know, I'm not ignoring you, Scratch. I'll respond when I have the time to write out a more coherent response. :)

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:56 pm 
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Scratch wrote:
Honestly, I don't understand why an inaccuracy in a historical detail (say, Lazarus was actually a resident of Jericho, rather than Bethany) would have any bearing upon the spiritual message of scripture. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, the basis of Christianity is that we're wrong with God, that God - in the form of Jesus - did something to correct that wrongness, but that we need to accept that gift before it can be applied to us. Outside of the realm of prophecy, the historical details of Jesus' life seem to be pretty much irrelevant to our salvation. (On a side note, I'm pretty confidant that Jesus wasn't talking about Scripture in John 3, given his audience was Nicodemus and the topic was being “born again”. Just my two cents, though.)

On the surface, an inaccurate historical detail doesn't affect the core of Christianity. But the details still matter. The basis of Christianity that you described is grounded in history. At specific places and times, God was born as a human, lived a sinless life, was crucified and buried, and was raised from the dead. Those events lose their significance if we lose sight of them as events which actually took place in human history. So we have to be able to trust the historical accuracy of the Bible which recounts them. I don't think we can cherry pick which events and details we regard as accurate–the trustworthiness of the Bible's historicity as a whole is eroded, including the parts directly related to salvation.
Scratch wrote:
SoCoNative wrote:
The main question is the extent of the impact that contradictions like those dealing with Goliath's height impact the Bible's historical accuracy. 2 Timothy 3:16, the verse that everyone uses in every category 2 speech ever, says that all Scripture is inspired; that's what the doctrine of plenary inspiration teaches. Anything God inspired has to have been the truth, including details like the size of the bronze sea. And once you start to believe that there are contradictions, falsehoods, in the inspired text, it opens the way to disbelieve more of the historical sections and so on.

Honestly, I can’t say that I understand all the logical links here. First off, I think everyone can agree that keeping scripture in context is extremely important – that you can make scripture mean whatever you want if you take it out of context. However, when you put that one phrase found at the beginning of the passage you referenced in context, you’ll find that Paul isn’t advocating that scripture is useful for everything ever, but that it’s useful for “every good work” – good work likely meaning the stuff that we, as Christians, actually do. How can we justify taking this phrase and applying to things that it’s pretty clear Paul wasn’t talking about (Science and Genesis, for example)?

0_o I can't quite follow my own logical links… That's what I get for hitting submit without going over what I wrote. I think my point was that the whole Bible is inspired by God, and that if it's not all inspired, than it's up to us to decide what's inspired and what's not. That's dangerous because it's too easy to just throw out inconvenient parts as un-inspired portions.

About the Timothy verse: If "all Scripture" just means "all the ideas in Scripture", where do you draw the lines? That separates the historical realities behind the ideas, which erodes the significance of the ideas. Also, the historical and scientific parts can still be useful for good works… they teach us more about God's power as the creator and His interactions with His people.

Once again, I've run out of time to go over this post and rewrite the confusing bits… hopefully I covered everything. And hopefully it makes sense. :P

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:31 am 
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SoCoNative wrote:
On the surface, an inaccurate historical detail doesn't affect the core of Christianity. But the details still matter. The basis of Christianity that you described is grounded in history. At specific places and times, God was born as a human, lived a sinless life, was crucified and buried, and was raised from the dead. Those events lose their significance if we lose sight of them as events which actually took place in human history. So we have to be able to trust the historical accuracy of the Bible which recounts them. I don't think we can cherry pick which events and details we regard as accurate–the trustworthiness of the Bible's historicity as a whole is eroded, including the parts directly related to salvation.
First, I do agree that Christianity is grounded in history - meaning that the events in scripture (or something remarkably similar), did indeed occur. However, I can't say that I understand why that makes the historical details so important, or why these historical details must be recorded accurately for Christianity to still hold water. To use a simplistic analogy, if my doctor gives me a pill, I believe that there is a solid body of research supporting that that pill will do what my doctor tells me it will. However, if we begin with the assumption that the pill will work, then that body of research becomes irrelevant. In the same way, if we begin with the assumption that Scripture contains everything that we need to know (Sola Scriptura), then the historical accuracy of Scripture becomes irrelevant.

SoCoNative wrote:
0_o I can't quite follow my own logical links… That's what I get for hitting submit without going over what I wrote. I think my point was that the whole Bible is inspired by God, and that if it's not all inspired, than it's up to us to decide what's inspired and what's not. That's dangerous because it's too easy to just throw out inconvenient parts as un-inspired portions.
I think we might be missing each other a bit here... I am not rejecting the idea that Scripture is inspired by God. Rather, I am rejecting a very specific form of inspiration called the plenary inspiration of scripture (EDIT: upon further research, this is actually plenary verbal inspiration of scripture. Sorry for any confusion.), which states that every word in Scripture comes directly from God. In it's place, I'm suggesting that all the spiritual concepts in scripture are inspired, even if not the specific words. I'm honestly not quite sure how someone could use that doctrine to throw out "inconvenient parts" of Scripture. Could you perhaps provide an example? :)

SoCoNative wrote:
About the Timothy verse: If "all Scripture" just means "all the ideas in Scripture", where do you draw the lines? That separates the historical realities behind the ideas, which erodes the significance of the ideas. Also, the historical and scientific parts can still be useful for good works… they teach us more about God's power as the creator and His interactions with His people.
How does separating the historical context of Scripture from the ideas given to us in Scripture erode the significance of the ideas proposed? I ask primarily because I've always been of the opinion that the truths give to us in Scripture possess intrinsic, timeless significance distinct from their historical context - I think that the golden rule was just as true in the day of Adam as it was in the days when Jesus walked the earth. And I agree that the historical and scientific parts of scripture can indeed be useful - but I don't understand why they have to be 100% accurate or true in order to be useful?

(On a side note: Sorry for taking so long to get back with you. For some strange reason, HSD didn't notify me when you replied, even though I have (or had?) subscribed to this thread.)

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Last edited by Scratch on Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:15 am 
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First off, thanks all of you for this conversation, I'm really enjoying reading all of it. I'm not going to get involved in the discussion, but I do have a question for Isaiah.

You said earlier that plenary inspiration is outside of Christian Orthodoxy, right? Just to clarify, do you think a case can be made through Church history for your view that only theologically relevant bits were inspired?

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:05 pm 
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Gold Water's Ghost wrote:
You said earlier that plenary inspiration is outside of Christian Orthodoxy, right? Just to clarify, do you think a case can be made through Church history for your view that only theologically relevant bits were inspired?

Hm...evidently, I didn't communicate as clearly as I would have wished. Plenary inspiration (specifically, plenary verbal inspiration) is a doctrine quite solidly within protestant orthodoxy, although I'm not quite as sure about Catholicism (As I recall, the Catholic view on this issue is that there are differing levels of inspiration - that some parts of Scripture were directly inspired by God (meaning plenary verbal inspiration), while other parts were more indirectly inspired in ways similar to what I'm suggesting? Please, someone correct me if I'm wrong.). Regardless, I think it is a bit more unorthodox to reject plenary inspiration than it is to accept it.

As for what can be shown through Church history, I'm honestly not quite sure what your asking. Would you mind being a touch more specific? :)

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:04 pm 
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Oh, that was completely my own fault. What I meant to say is that you earlier stated
Scratch wrote:
That interpretation, although certainly outside of orthodoxy, would remain consistent not only with the rest of Paul's message to Timothy, but also with all the other teachings of Paul and of the Bible – after all, the reason why this verse is so quoted in category two speeches is because it’s the only place in scripture (at least, as far as I know) were the doctrine of plenary inspiration can be so clearly derived.

apparently admitting that your own interpretation is outside of Christian Orthodoxy, I was talking about your counterpoint to plenary inspiration. Mistyped it is all :P

Sure, as the Catholics love to remind us, Christ will never let Satan prevail against the Church. So right doctrine has always been found in the Church. So unless you can trace a line throughout Church history in which your beliefs or something very similar were taught, your interpretation is very likely not correct. So my question for you, is did any of the Church fathers hold a similar view to you? During the Middle Ages? What about during the Reformation? If this idea first came about in the 19th century, I'm going to be very unlikely to embrace it :)

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:49 pm 
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I agree that the Sacred Scriptures are inspired by God, and I agree that this in no way entails that the Scriptures are free of self-contradiction or are factually accurate when taken out of context.

One way to express this is to say that I believe in the inspiration of Scripture in the sense that 1 Timothy speaks of it: "all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is useful for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness."

Another way to express this is to say that I am a biblical literalist: I believe that all the senses of Scripture begin with (though certainly do not end in) the literal sense, that is, the language itself understood according to its structure, authorship, and reception.

Scratch wrote:
I've been finding an increasing number of online apologists are absolutely convinced that that Bible holds no contradictions, whatsoever, and for it to have contradictions would completely undermined the basis of scripture.

The task of finding a pile of online apologists who are absolutely convinced of just about any view is not a difficult one. ;)

SoCoNative wrote:
1. Contradictions in the original autographs are different than contradictions in later copies. I don't believe that the original autographs, that is, the actual parchment or clay tablet that the original author wrote on, contain contradictions. However, copyists may have made errors about things like numbers. Those aren't errors in the inspired text, though, because only the autographs are truly inspired.

Why posit this this? I ask this question in two senses.
(1) What reason do we have to think this of the original inscriptions? There is certainly nothing in Scripture that makes such a requirement, nor is there anything in Christian doctrine or church history that would require it, and there seems to be no logical reason to posit it. Why think this?
(2) What is at stake in positing this of the original inscriptions? I have a hard time seeing of what use such a theory would be. It seems that the properties of texts to which we have no real access (directly or by reconstruction) simply cannot have any real meaning for us, theologically or otherwise.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:14 pm 
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Gold Water's Ghost wrote:
Sure, as the Catholics love to remind us, Christ will never let Satan prevail against the Church. So right doctrine has always been found in the Church. So unless you can trace a line throughout Church history in which your beliefs or something very similar were taught, your interpretation is very likely not correct. So my question for you, is did any of the Church fathers hold a similar view to you? During the Middle Ages? What about during the Reformation? If this idea first came about in the 19th century, I'm going to be very unlikely to embrace it :)

Ahhh, I see. That makes a bit more sense, thanks for clarifying! Though, I must admit, I am rather curious: if you think that the right doctrine will always be found in the Church, and the protestant movement was founded on the belief that the Church (in the form it held before the Reformation) had gotten it wrong in at least some regards, why are you a protestant?

But, to answer your question. It's very true that both dynamic (meaning that only the ideas of scripture are "inspired", rather than the actual words) and partial (meaning that scripture is only inspired so far as it's relevant to our salvation) inspiration are outside of conservative protestant orthodoxy. However, that doesn't mean that these ideas are without support.

For example, St. Augustine held that - when speaking of the genesis account - "our authors [referring to the Biblical writers] knew the truth about the nature of the skies, but it was not the intention of the Spirit of God, who spoke through them, to teach men anything that would not be of use to them for their salvation". Today, this position on scripture that would be considered the bare equivalent of partial inspiration.

Additionally, I'm not sure if you'd consider C.S. Lewis one of the fathers of the church, but his belief regarding the Bible was that it is "not "the word of God" in the sense that every passage, in itself, gives impeccable science or history. It carries the word of God; and we (under grace, with attention to tradition and to interpreters wiser than ourselves, and with the use of such intelligence and learning as we may have) receive that word from it not by using it as an encyclopedia or an encyclical but by steeping ourselves in its tone or temper and so learning its overall message." although it's hard to put a label on that opinion (in my humble opinion, C.S. Lewis is typically extremely hard to put in one theological camp or another), I'd have to say it's a mix of dynamic and Neo-Orthodox inspiration. One thing it certainly isn't, however, is support for the verbal plenary inspiration of scripture.

I chose to use St. Augustine and C.S. Lewis because those are the two authors with which I'm most familiar. I'm pretty confident there are others out there, as well - I simply don't have the time to read through all of their works, as much as I would enjoy the experience. :P

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:37 pm 
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Additionally, I'm not sure if you'd consider C.S. Lewis one of the fathers of the church

I would certainly hope not! Whatever brilliance he may or may not have, he lived two millenia after the founding of the church. :P

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:10 pm 
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Green Tea wrote:
Quote:
Additionally, I'm not sure if you'd consider C.S. Lewis one of the fathers of the church

I would certainly hope not! Whatever brilliance he may or may not have, he lived two millenia after the founding of the church. :P

Pish. Don't cha know? C.S. Lewis is the Chuck Norris of modern apologetics. Some sort of minor detail like not existing couldn't possibly prevent him from helping found the church. ;)

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 7:42 pm 
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Because the Catholic Church didn't speak with unanimity. Also because they were never the only segment of the Church. The Greek Orthodox for example held to a lot of right doctrine. And there were numerous reform movements :) But I do agree this puts me outside of the position most Evangelicals hold today -- something I'm very comfortable with considering the state of much of the Generic North American Protestantism today :)

The quote from Augustine was very interesting, though I don't much like a lot of Lewis's doctrine :) Thanks for the help clarifying your position.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:23 am 
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First off, I'm really sorry for taking so long to respond... I don't have a good excuse, really. :P

Scratch wrote:
How does separating the historical context of Scripture from the ideas given to us in Scripture erode the significance of the ideas proposed? I ask primarily because I've always been of the opinion that the truths give to us in Scripture possess intrinsic, timeless significance distinct from their historical context - I think that the golden rule was just as true in the day of Adam as it was in the days when Jesus walked the earth. And I agree that the historical and scientific parts of scripture can indeed be useful - but I don't understand why they have to be 100% accurate or true in order to be useful?

Some of the ideas, like the golden rule, aren't tied to historical events. But God's plan of salvation unfolded through history--starting with the fall, through God setting aside a specific nation for Himself and revealing Himself to them, and Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. God could have given us a theological textbook, but instead He gave us a book that probably has more history than straight theology in it. So yes, the truths in Scripture do have timeless significance, but they're also tied to temporal events. I don't see why God would give us a book grounded in history without ensuring that the history was accurate (of course, I don't see why God would do lots of things… I guess what I don't see is why we would assume that He's given us an inaccurate book when He's perfectly able to give us an accurate one). Francis Schaeffer said it better than I can: "How strange if the noncreated Personal is not a liar or capricious, that He should give 'religious truth' in a book in which the whole structural framework, implicitly and explicitly, is historic, and yet that history be false or confused."

Another thing that makes me uncomfortable with saying that the history and science aren't entirely accurate is that it seems to make a distinction between spiritual truth and historical or scientific truth. Specifically, separating spiritual truths from the accuracy of historical facts makes spiritual things subjective and completely distinct from the objective realms of science and history.
Scratch wrote:
I think we might be missing each other a bit here... I am not rejecting the idea that Scripture is inspired by God. Rather, I am rejecting a very specific form of inspiration called the plenary inspiration of scripture (EDIT: upon further research, this is actually plenary verbal inspiration of scripture. Sorry for any confusion.), which states that every word in Scripture comes directly from God. In it's place, I'm suggesting that all the spiritual concepts in scripture are inspired, even if not the specific words. I'm honestly not quite sure how someone could use that doctrine to throw out "inconvenient parts" of Scripture. Could you perhaps provide an example?

Ok… I think I understand a bit better now. I guess believing that all the spiritual concepts are inspired wouldn't lead quite as directly to ditching unpopular teaching. Two questions/concerns: First, saying that only the spiritual parts are inspired (if that's what you're saying… correct me if I'm wrong :) ) makes the same dichotomy between faith and facts that I was talking about above. Second, inspiration seems a lot more squishy if you say that the general ideas, not specific words are inspired. There seems to be much more leeway for coming up with all sorts of interpretations… but maybe I'm making too big a deal of it.

Hopefully I've more or less responded to your main points… thanks for being patient with my somewhat fuzzy thinking/explaining.

Green Tea wrote:
SoCoNative wrote:
1. Contradictions in the original autographs are different than contradictions in later copies. I don't believe that the original autographs, that is, the actual parchment or clay tablet that the original author wrote on, contain contradictions. However, copyists may have made errors about things like numbers. Those aren't errors in the inspired text, though, because only the autographs are truly inspired.

Why posit this this? I ask this question in two senses.
(1) What reason do we have to think this of the original inscriptions? There is certainly nothing in Scripture that makes such a requirement, nor is there anything in Christian doctrine or church history that would require it, and there seems to be no logical reason to posit it. Why think this?
(2) What is at stake in positing this of the original inscriptions? I have a hard time seeing of what use such a theory would be. It seems that the properties of texts to which we have no real access (directly or by reconstruction) simply cannot have any real meaning for us, theologically or otherwise.

1. I assume you mean positing that there are no contradictions? The normal logic behind it is that if two parts of Scripture contradict each other, one of them is false. Coming from the point of view that God inspired all of Scripture, it can't contain anything false because then God would be lying. Is there any logical reason to suppose that there are contradictions in Scripture? (that's a genuine question, btw, not rhetoric or snark :P)
2. The point that I was making is to recognize that copying and translating errors do occur occasionally, and that they aren't a result of inspiration. Just to be clear, I wasn't saying that modern copies/translations don't have any value; they're inspired insofar as they represent the original text. And through textual criticism, we know that they represent the original texts remarkably well.

And one last thing… Isaiah, the dog in your avatar is ridiculously adorable. :D

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:20 pm 
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SoCoNative wrote:
Specifically, separating spiritual truths from the accuracy of historical facts makes spiritual things subjective and completely distinct from the objective realms of science and history.

Does separating scientific truths from historical truths make scientific things subjective and completely distinct from the objective realm of history? If not, I do not see why the parallel case would be true with the spiritual.

SoCoNative wrote:
I wrote:
Why posit this this? I ask this question in two senses.
(1) What reason do we have to think this of the original inscriptions? There is certainly nothing in Scripture that makes such a requirement, nor is there anything in Christian doctrine or church history that would require it, and there seems to be no logical reason to posit it. Why think this?
(2) What is at stake in positing this of the original inscriptions? I have a hard time seeing of what use such a theory would be. It seems that the properties of texts to which we have no real access (directly or by reconstruction) simply cannot have any real meaning for us, theologically or otherwise.

1. I assume you mean positing that there are no contradictions? The normal logic behind it is that if two parts of Scripture contradict each other, one of them is false. Coming from the point of view that God inspired all of Scripture, it can't contain anything false because then God would be lying. Is there any logical reason to suppose that there are contradictions in Scripture? (that's a genuine question, btw, not rhetoric or snark :P)
2. The point that I was making is to recognize that copying and translating errors do occur occasionally, and that they aren't a result of inspiration. Just to be clear, I wasn't saying that modern copies/translations don't have any value; they're inspired insofar as they represent the original text. And through textual criticism, we know that they represent the original texts remarkably well.

I do not equate contradiction with falsity. That Christ is 100% God and 100% human are two contradictory propositions, but rather than expressing a falsity they expresses the highest truth of our faith. Furthermore, there are different registers of truth and falsity. For example, take the case of a metaphor: in one register (the literal course of the words used) it is false, while in another (what is said) it may well be true. In fact, it is entirely possible that falsity in certain dimensions is necessary for truth in others. For example, the famous statue of Athena was designed to be anatomically false and disproportionate so that it would be anatomically true and proportionate when viewed from the ground.

As for the reasons for believing that Scripture contains this and other contradictions (say, the Gospel genealogies), I would simply point to the fact that they are present. It is certainly possible to say, "well, if we had an original text, which we don't, there would be no contradictions," and that may be the case, but if we have no reason to think that to be the case and it is of no use to think so (since we do not have the texts in question), it seems more or less obscurantist to do so.

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"Be forbearing when you compare us
With those who were the perfection of order.
We who everywhere seek adventure,
We are not your enemies.
We would give you vast and strange domains
Where flowering mystery waits for him would pluck it."


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