From: Robert Schneider (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Jun 17 2003 - 22:32:47 EDT
There is a distinction to be made between characterizing the Bible as
"authoritative" and as "inerrant." They are not equivalent terms. I can
accept the Bible as authoritative without thinking that its authority rests
upon a claim of inerrancy, which for me it does not. In his article on
"Inerrancy" in the Westminster Dictionary of Theology, Paul Feinberg states
that inerrancy "is not presently demonstrable" for several reasons, one
being that no one has all of the data one needs to insure that any text will
be "properly interpreted" without qualification. I also think that "A claim
of inerrancy plus simplistic approaches to the text readily produce a
defense of the inerrancy of one's interpretation" is more likely to be a
problem than (to rearrange your sentence) "each individual preference
becomes the standard, if the text is secondary to our own judgement." The
more I think about this distinction, the more it seems that both fall prey
to individual interpretation.
I constantly go to the Bible to try to understand more deeply what these
sacred writings reveal about God, Christ, salvation, and Christian living.
In doing so I declare my faith in the Bible's trustworthiness. I also think
that my own judgment must also be applied along with my understanding, i.e.,
my judgment about literary form, authorial intent, the meaning of sayings in
context, etc. The text invites me to judge it in these ways because it
invites me to understand it. At the same time, I submit myself to the
judgment of those words about God, etc., that I seek to understand.
Sometimes they convict me, sometimes they encourage me.
I also go to the Bible to understand the Hebrew conception of the world, to
listen to and ponder the Israelites' story, to understand the historical
context of Jesus' ministry and message of the Kingdom, to understand the
struggle within the Jesus movement over the place of Jew and Gentile, to
appreciate what would prompt the writing of The Revelation to John, and many
In none of these activities do I depend upon a doctrine of inerrancy to
ensure the trustworthiness and authority of the Bible. Were I to find
anything in the Bible that failed the test of historical or other accuracy,
my faith in the Bible would not be altered one whit.
----- Original Message -----
From: "bivalve" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2003 5:36 PM
Subject: Verses relating to inerrancy
> As has been noted often before on the list, part of the problem is
defining inerrant. The assertion that the Bible, properly interpreted, does
not teach anything incorrect is quite different from the assertion that the
entire Bible must be literalistic history. "Properly interpreted" can be a
major loophole; at the same time, it is important to keep track of what the
intent of the passage is.
> The assembling of the Bible postdates its writing, so there is certainly
not a verse that declares that the entire set of books is inerrant.
> Relevant passages include Jesus' assertions that Scripture must be
fulfilled, Mt. 5:18, Is. 40:8, Mk. 13:31, etc. While these, like II Ti
3:16-17 and Rev. 22:18-19, fall short of asserting full inerrancy (plus the
open questions of what texts are in mind for each of the references), they
do point to the constantly authoritative nature of the text.
> Likewise, traditional attitudes such as the scribes counting each letter
show a high value being assigned to the entire text.
> Decisions on the boundaries of the canon also reflect the premise that the
Bible is authoritative. Issues such as consistency and origin (e.g., for
the NT, coming from apostolic sources rather than a later generation) were
> The premise of inerrancy of the texts provides a basis for judging
theological claims. A claim of inerrancy plus simplistic approaches to the
text readily produce a defense of the inerrancy of one's interpretation. On
the other hand, if the text is secondary to our own judgement then each
individual preference becomes the standard.
> Claims on inerrancy also reflects issues such as the perception that God's
word ought to be truthful. This would tie in to many additional verses.
> Dr. David Campbell
> Old Seashells
> University of Alabama
> Biodiversity & Systematics
> Dept. Biological Sciences
> Box 870345
> Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0345 USA
> That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted
Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at
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