Re: Essay about errancy

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Mon Feb 02 2004 - 14:06:16 EST

Josh Gough wrote:

>First, some definitions are in order. Biblical inerrancy is the belief
>that the Bible is the inspired word of God. This means that espousers of
>Biblical inerrancy believe that the Bible and all of its words in its
>original languages were inspired directly by the will of God, the creator
>of the universe and sustainer of all life. They hold that this God worked
>through the hands and minds of human beings to produce a document that in
>its final 66- book canon is without a single error.

A variation is that the original manuscripts were inerrant in the
autographs, but it is acceptable to acknowledge that scribal errors and
errors in translation have occurred over the course of many years. These
errors are well-documented and could be used to refute any claims of
inerrancy that try to go beyond that. An inerrant King James Version, for
example, which is implied by the word "final" is a mistaken idea that can
be easily disproved.

>Included in this belief is that the four canonical gospels, Matthew, Mark,
>Luke, and John are historical eye-witness accounts that portray the
>miraculous birth, earthly mission, crucifixion and atoning death,
>resurrection, and heavenly ascension of Jesus of Nazareth. One cannot
>escape the pervasive influence of this belief upon the entire western
>world in particular, and by extension to the rest of the earth. This
>inerrant belief in the gospel accounts means that while each gospel tells
>different details about Jesus, that all of these details can be harmonized
>into a cohesive and logically flawless document. Again, I will not attempt
>to argue whether or not Jesus of Nazareth actually came back from the
>dead, but I will call into serious question the proposition that these
>four documents are as claimed inerrant historical witness.

Luke was a physician who traveled with Paul. Read the 2nd verse of Luke,
and you will see that he did not claim eyewitness status.


>According to Biblical scholars, the book of Mark was written first 1.
>Notice how similar the account is in both books. Notice that in Matthew,
>there is a line about tombs opening and many saints coming out of these
>tombs after Christ's resurrection and then being seen by many in
>Jerusalem. After seeing these miracles, the centurion cries out that this
>was the Son of God. However, look at Mark's earlier account. It says that
>when the centurion saw his cry and saw how he died he said he was the Son
>of God. There is no mention of him being terrified. The words are changed
>a little bit as well.


>Now, first of all, we are told that these accounts are without error and
>are completely in harmony with one another. But, the words are not the same.

And no two manuscripts in existence today, all copies and copies of copies,
are the same.

> We can reasonably believe that different authors might word things
> slightly different as to the narrative, but when recounting the actual
> words of people in the events, should we not hold them to a higher
> standard? Apologists will say that the Holy Spirit worked within the
> personalities and styles of different writers to construct these
> accounts, but I for one cannot accept that a personal style can allow for
> the changing of a man's spoken words. Notice that the words of Jesus are
> identical. Why should these words be identical and others not? Besides,
> the rest of the narrative is virtually identical except for this account
> of an earthquake and of dead saints rising and being seen by many.2
> Notice also that the dead saints are said to come out of their graves
> after the resurrection prior to the account of the resurrection.
>The writer of Matthew knows he needs to lend more to this account to make
>it spectacular.

Now who is embellishing? Matthew or the writer of this email?

> He inserts details about an earthquake and dead saints resurrecting to
> bolster the account and then provides the centurion's response, not to
> the sight of Christ's death, but of the events surrounding it. Do we read
> about these saints in Paul's writings? No. Why not?

Paul? He wasn't there.

> Is not the resurrection of many saints seen by many much more incredible
> workmanship of God than the resurrection of one man? Remember, when
> giving evidence to bolster an account, you use the evidence that will
> most likely persuade your listeners. If Paul knew about these many
> saints, why did he not use them to bolster his account? If he did not
> know about them, then how did later writers learn of them? Furthermore,
> why did Mark not know about them and Matthew did? If Mark was written
> between 65 and 70 AD, how could word of many risen saints seen by many
> people and of an earthquake not reach him at this time? Furthermore, if
> Mark was inspired by the Holy Spirit, why would the Holy Spirit choose
> not to reveal this to him? If God truly wants all to believe in his Son
> Jesus Christ, why did he not reveal al the details until later? These are
> all questions for inerrancy believers to answer, but I've not seen any
> reasonable response.

Not many inerrantists on this list. You need to go to a church and speak
with a youth pastor who is better equipped to handle these questions. He
gets them all the time.

>Do as I did and take Ravi Zacharias seriously. Zacharias says reality is
>grounded in either/or logic.3 Well, either the bible is without error or
>it is not. It's that simple. It is not both without error and with error.
>Take the challenge and do this. Read the articles on
><> and engage in debate with
>non-Christians and ex-Christians, but take them seriously just as I have
>taken you all very seriously for over a year. Read the works of Richard
>Carrier, Jeffrey J. Lowder, Ed Babinski, and Robert Price. Also go to
>places like <> to read William
>Lane Craig and other bible-defenders. Make it even.

Rather than making inerrancy the issue, decide for yourself whether or not
the total evidence is so incredible that you are willing to pass on a free
gift of salvation just because a possibility exists that some error may
have crept in someplace. Lets's get that problem solved first. Do you
want to risk eternal life on this issue?

I will be happy to email you a chapter from my book,
<>The Origins Solution, titled "Inerrancy: to Err is
Human." Hopefully, it will help you get over these difficulties.

Dick Fischer - Genesis Proclaimed Association
Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History
Received on Mon Feb 2 14:08:56 2004

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Mon Feb 02 2004 - 14:08:56 EST