The danger of inerrancy

Tim Chastain (a great progressive Christian blogger) just wrote an excellent post about how anti-theists and fundamentalists share the same binary way of thinking about the Bible.

timChastain

“You have probably noticed this as well. I have long observed that certain non-Christians, or former Christians, reject the Bible as though it was written as a consistent document to be interpreted literally.

As I have encountered and engaged these critics of the Bible on various blogs over the past year, the realization is even stronger—many of them treat the Bible as though it claims inerrancy. They agree with Christian inerrantists in this approach.

In my interactions with these biblical critics, I am often accused of cherry-picking the Bible, choosing the parts I like, or making it up as I go. They don’t seem to grasp that there is a legitimate, informed,  and consistent way to read the Bible without assuming inerrancy.

Biblical Inerrancy

David Schell’s Syllogism

Today I discovered an excellent resource to understanding this point better. It fits in perfectly with our discussion on biblical context, so I am going to break from my planned post to bring it to you attention.

This resource is posted by blogger David M. Schell. I encourage you to read his entire post at Why Young Earth Creationism & Biblical Literalism Aren’t Going Away, but right now I am going to interact with his excellent syllogism.

Schell states:

Most fundamentalists were taught that if there are any contradictions in the Bible, then it is untrustworthy. And many atheists became so after discovering that those contradictions did in fact exist. Both start with the same problematic premise:

(1) If there are contradictions in the Bible, then the Bible is false.

  1. Fundamentalists follow (a) with
  2. (2a) The Bible is not false, therefore
  3. (3a) there are no contradictions in the Bible.
  1. Some streams of atheists accept (a), then follow (a) with
  2. (2b) There are contradictions in the Bible, therefore
  3. (3b) The Bible is false.

This is already clear to those of us who do not subscribe to biblical inerrancy, but for some reason it does not seem clear to inerrancy-oriented critics. What I find so exceptional is that David Schell expresses it in terms that anyone should be able to grasp.

He suggests that those questioning inerrancy should begin by rejecting (1) ‘If there are contradictions in the Bible, then the Bible is false’ rather than accepting (1) and rejecting (2).

The Unfortunate Result of this Major Premise

Many fundamentalists, evangelicals, and other inerrantists come to a place where they have doubts about whether inerrancy is true. They might see problems with inconsistencies and ‘contradictions’ or begin to realize that there is, in fact, a strong case for evolution. Some begin to wonder whether the angry, violent, vindictive God depicted in the Old Testament is a true characterization of God or wonder how a loving God can punish people with eternal torment.

These are difficult issues for maturing inerrantists, and it is good for them to work through these doubts on inerrancy. But their quest is in grave danger if they begin with the major premise that ‘If there are contradictions in the Bible, then the Bible is false’.

Let’s change the premise slightly to read: ‘If the Bible is not inerrant, then the Bible is false’. Accepting this premise, and then becoming convinced that the Bible is not inerrant, leads to the conclusion that the Bible is false. The Bible is then rejected. Some lose their way and some become atheists who criticize the Bible as misleading and worthless.

The Alternative of Understanding Biblical Context

There is a valid approach to appreciating the Bible as a valuable book, filled with truth about Jesus and the Father, without assuming or demanding inerrancy: the Bible was written by people who felt they had a strong connection with God. This was true in the Old Testament, but it was particularly so with those who met Jesus, were transformed, and wrote about their understanding of him.

In their writing, these people wrote about their experiences and how they felt about them. However, they used their own words and ideas. They also used literary genre that cannot be read literally because it was not meant to be read literally; this includes apocalyptic, midrash, proverbs, poetry, letters and many other forms of expression.

When coming to grips with the fact that the Bible is not an inerrant book, there is no need to throw out the baby with the bath water of inerrancy. On the contrary, a better understanding of the biblical context makes the Bible an even richer document. So outgrow inerrancy and see the Bible anew!

Next time we will return to our discussion on apocalyptic.”

While I agree with almost everything he has written, I think he should have used the word antitheist (or militant atheist) instead of atheists. There are many respectful atheists in Continental Europe who do not fall into the fundamentalist trap while analyzing and criticizing religious texts.

Most of the time, antitheists turn out to be former religious fundamentalists or Conservative believers who are no longer able to think rationally about religion and have kept a fundamentalist bigoted mind in many domains.

Like Tim, I think we should view the Bible as the founding part of a long tradition of people having experienced God and reported their thoughts according to their own cultural background and worldview (which is certainly compatible with their experiencing genuine miracles).

The basis of our theology should not be an allegedly inerrant collection of books (which turns out to be self-contradictory) but God’s ultimate perfection which transcends anything mere humans could ever achieve.  This should be our criterion for evaluating any religious text.

In the same way people of the past were mistaken about many empirical facts they also were wrong about moral and theological truths which they progressively discovered.

In the future I will debunk critically analyze some characteristic posts of DebunkingChristianity which presuppose a fundamentalist understanding of the Bible and religion.

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44 thoughts on “The danger of inerrancy

  1. Inerrancy is not a problem for Catholics or Eastern Orthodox since we reject the doctrine of perspicuity. Once you accept the Bible isn’t absolutely clear and requires Tradition and Church to interpret it then virtually all so called “contradictions” evaporate.

  2. I just wrote this comment on fundamentalism, and how Christian fundamentalism can only survive by being inconsistent. For example, fundamentalists think it is ok to ‘fix’ bad words in the Bible “due to Christian sensibilities”. So much for inerrancy when it is inconvenient! Or, Christians don’t reconcile conflict with their brothers as a high priority item, which undermines the very basis Jesus gives for nonbelievers trusting (a) Christians are Jesus’ disciples Jn 13:34-35; (b) God sent Jesus Jn 17:20-23 (both passages). I end the comment this way:

    My conclusion is that true fundamentalism would cure fundamentalism. But, of course, just like the Pharisees, what is often actually practiced is cherry-picking of scripture plus the creation of man-made rules. Take a look at Matthew 23, and see how much of it you can match against the Christianity to which you are exposed.

    The same does not necessarily hold for atheistic fundamentalism. I haven’t investigated that sufficiently.

  3. Hang on. Although I agree claiming biblical inerrancy is easily refuted (one doesn’t have to go beyond Genesis and one can place Exodus squarely in the section of fiction), this is not the central reason for rejecting belief in any of the gods (and offspring) of the bible or its various prescriptive commands for authority (especially in the moral category).

    The central reason for rejecting any claims for divine authority from the books of the bible comes from asking any theist who proclaims a belief derived from it (no matter how sophisticated and nebulous the claim may be), “How do you know that?” How does the theist decide which bits to empower as divine revelation with a one-to-one tie to describing the reality we share and which bits (like the Genesis or Exodus claims) fall into the metaphorical/interpretive/squinting-just-so camp? It is this examination of how the various claims are differentiated that reveals just cause for withholding confidence from any of them until reality can arbitrate them for confidence.

    • >Although I agree claiming biblical inerrancy is easily refuted (one doesn’t have to go beyond Genesis and one can place Exodus squarely in the section of fiction).

      This claim against inerrancy only has meaning if you accept perspicuity. So it’s worthless unless you intend to address a narrow brand of Protestant fundamentalism. OTOH asking how one knows what particular set of writings contain divinely inspired revelation that is a more worthwhile question.

      I’d go with that.

      • Sure. But the definition for the root word is very clear: in – meaning without, and errare – meaning error. I don;t care what kind of sophisticated theology one brings to the table to interpret what biblical innerancy means: if one is going to use the term, then one presumably should accept the definition for it first, n’est pas?

      • @tildeb

        >But the definition for the root word is very clear:

        But I still reject Biblical perspicuity so by definition your already arguing a non-starter.

        >in – meaning without, and errare – meaning error.

        Error in what sense?

        >I don;t care what kind of sophisticated theology one brings to the table to interpret what biblical innerancy means:

        Then by definition you have no rational or effective critique to give.

        >if one is going to use the term, then one presumably should accept the definition for it first, n’est pas?

        You are equivocating between the dictionary definition of the specific word “inerrency” vs it’s use to identify specifically formulated doctrines.

        That is another non-starter. I say if I use the term I mean it as formulated by Pius IX, Pius XII, Aquinas, Augustine etc…

        Otherwise any objections you formulate are at least to me non-starters.

      • BenYachov,

        I don’t quite know what you mean when you say, ‘This claim against inerrancy only has meaning if you accept perspicuity.’

        Inerrantists insist on perspicuity; as one who does not accept inerrancy I don’t accept perspicuity either. However, neither do I accept the inerrancy of Church and tradition.

        Are you saying that we can understand nothing about the Bible without the help of tradition?

      • @jesuswithoutbaggage

        >I don’t quite know what you mean when you say, ‘This claim against inerrancy only has meaning if you accept perspicuity.’

        Unless you believe the Bible is suppose to be absolutely clear only then you can point to seemingly contradictory passages and denounce the doctrine of inerrancy.

        >Inerrantists insist on perspicuity; as one who does not accept inerrancy I don’t accept perspicuity either.

        Which undercuts your claims of errancy. If the Bible is not clear then all “contradictions” are apparent only & not necessarily actual.

        >However, neither do I accept the inerrancy of Church and tradition.

        Neither do I since that would be incoherent. Only a written document can be inerrant. A Church is an institution who is protected from formally teaching doctrinal and moral error under certain clearly defined circumstances by the Holy Spirit but of course receives no public divine revelation. In other words it’s infallible not inerrant. Tradition is how Divine Providence has lead the Church in formally interpreting the written Word of God and what books belong to it.

        >Are you saying that we can understand nothing about the Bible without the help of tradition?

        We can always understand something about it without the help of the Church & Tradition but we can never settle it’s final meaning without the former and later.

        It’s like interpreting the constitution without a Supreme Court.

        Someone must have final say.

      • Thanks BenYachov, I think I better understand what you are suggesting.

        As a former inerrantist, I do not reject inerrancy based on ‘contradictions’. I reject inerrancy because it has no reasonable foundation; the premise that the Bible was meant to be a perfect document that can be read throughout as the authoritative word from God is a mere assumption.

        While inerrancy demands that there are no scientific, historical, or other factual errors in the Bible, a greater issue for me is disregard for several more important factors, such as:

        * That the Bible was written by people–not God
        * That these people wrote from their own time and from their own understanding
        * That the Bible contains numerous literary genre and cannot be read simply in a literal straightforward way

      • Your welcome Jesuswithoutbaggage dude.

        Some more thoughts.

        >As a former inerrantist, I do not reject inerrancy based on ‘contradictions’. I reject inerrancy because it has no reasonable foundation; the premise that the Bible was meant to be a perfect document that can be read throughout as the authoritative word from God is a mere assumption.

        I think as a Catholic the problem is that by rejecting Church Authority and Tradition the Bible is made to do too much beyond what it was meant to do by it’s divine author.

        >While inerrancy demands that there are no scientific, historical, or other factual errors in the Bible,

        This is the Catholic definition BUT since we reject perspicuity it is not often clear when the Bible is speaking scientifically, historically or factually and what type of science, history motif or facts is it using?

        >a greater issue for me is disregard for several more important factors, such as:

        *>That the Bible was written by people–not God

        Rather God wrote the Bible threw people who where 100% the authors along with God who is 100% the author also God as a Transcendental Cause made them via Providence freely write what He wanted them to write and nothing more. As a Thomist I have no problem saying God can cause me to act toward an end freely or that God is the cause of my free act which he causes to take place freely. It’s a mystery but I can see no provable contradiction in it.

        *>That these people wrote from their own time and from their own understanding

        I have no problem with that.

        * >That the Bible contains numerous literary genre and cannot be read simply in a literal straightforward way.

        Agreed! Thus you need Tradition and Church.

        Cheers.

  4. Most of the so-called “contradictions ” and “difficulties” with the Bible have been adequately explained, repeatedly. I have found that most who have problems with the Word of God have problems with the Author, and are looking for excuses not to believe it. Once you’ve reconciled yourself to “In the beginning God…”, you can usually iron out the rest without resorting to denying inerrancy.

    It would seem you have a false dichotomy going on here. If you believe in inerrancy your either a “Fundie”, or an atheist. I am neither.

    • Hello.

      I think you should avoid overgeneralizing. There are many reasons for unbelief, some being humanly and morally very understandable. Think about a Jewish girl having survived the Holocaust while seeing her whole family slaughtered.

      As for harmonizations, you have to ask yourself if they are not only logically possible but also not unlikely .

      There is a consensus among all critical scholars that it is extremely unplausible that all the authors of the Bible always agree with each other.

      As for having “having Problem with the Author”, I certainly have none with a perfectly loving and just Being.
      But a deity ordering soldiers to kill babies cannot be qualified as such.
      This neither fits God’s moral perfection nor Jesus ethic.

      Cheers.

      • Thank you for the reply 🙂

        Your loving Being is not Just if He does not punish sin.

        You’ve proven my point. You have a problem with the Author. You seem to be under the impression that God has no moral right to Judge His creation. You have made yourself the judge of God. How Righteous you must be! Good luck with that.

        I don’t understand every nuance of Gods Word, but I won’t presume to accuse Him of being evil, or of being unable to preserve an accurate record of His Words.

        He has every right to wipe us out with a flood, send plagues to judge unrighteousness Pharaohs, and even to send Babylonians to displace His own Covenant people. Certainly Revelations has it’s own demonstration of the Wrath of a Just, Holy, and Loving Trinity.

        As for His Love…He sent His only-begotten Son, who came voluntarily to bear the Wrath that I was due. He can be both Just, and loving Justifier of His trusting ones.

        Again, I appreciate the dialog.

        • I certainly agree that God has the right to execute people who are really wicked.
          But can you say with a straight face it is the case of babies and toddlers?

          Does “might makes right”?

          Is it possible for a perfect being to order soldiers to rape small children before the eyes of their terrified parents?
          Or are certain actions incompatible with God’s moral perfection?

          • Exactly which parts of the Bible are you going to leave out? How do you decide what is inspired, and what is not? Is it by your own arbitrary judgment? Is it what feels morally acceptable to you?

            You see, you have a far more difficult task choosing what parts of the text you will accept, than I do accepting the whole as Truly true, even by acknowledging that I don’t have it all nailed down in my own mind.

            As far as God’s dealings with women and children in the Old Testament, you would acknowledge that The Lord has claim even of those, especially since it’s not just adult males who have sinful hearts, wont you?

            Why is it you think that eight day old Hebrew males were circumcised, or that infants are baptized in historically orthodox Christian churches?

        • While the last example is not in the Bible, I mentioned it to illustrate what theistic voluntarism (God arbitrarily decides what is right and what is not) really means.

          I don’t accuse the Almighty of anything but believe that the humans who wrote these passages got Him wrong owing to their own cultural background.

      • >But a deity ordering soldiers to kill babies cannot be qualified as such.

        Well the easy answer to that is the deity never did this and verse that say so where not meant to be taken literally. Much like when Jesus said “If your right eye offends thee..etc..” is not understood to literally authorize self mutilation.

        OTOH since God is the author of life then He has an absolute right
        to take any life. Since Life is God’s exclusive property no human may take it without authorization. Augustine said for a private individual to take it upon himself to slay an evil doer marks him a murderer.

        >This neither fits God’s moral perfection nor Jesus ethic.

        But what if God is not a moral agent in the first place?
        God doesn’t owe you physical life and God may end it as He see fit.

      • I’m going to briefly side with Lothar despite being, technically, an inerrantist:

        OTOH since God is the author of life then He has an absolute right
        to take any life.

        Well the easy answer to that is the deity never did this and verse that say so where not meant to be taken literally. Much like when Jesus said “If your right eye offends thee..etc..” is not understood to literally authorize self mutilation

        See, that’s a copout. We can’t just yell “not literal!” whenever we don’t like what the Bible says.If there are verses where God orders the Jews to kill pagan babies, then those were his orders.

        I would rather argue, and I’m not sure but I THINK Aquinas would be there with me, that as the author of morality God can let the ends justify the means. We, who are not the authors of moral laws, omniscient, or omnipotent, cannot.

        Augustine said for a private individual to take it upon himself to slay an evil doer marks him a murderer.

        At first blush, what’s so remarkable about that? We’re all sinners. If we’re not the relevant authority figures working under the auspices of due process to carry out a justly considered sentence then, yeah, you can’t just kill people. I thought this was close to universally agreed among the various Christian groups.

        The only exceptions I’d make would be for the very rare cases of just war and for self defense/defense of others. But my guess is that even Augustine would agree with that distinction. But hey, maybe I’m wrong.

      • @malcolm

        >See, that’s a copout. We can’t just yell “not literal!” whenever we don’t like what the Bible says.If there are verses where God orders the Jews to kill pagan babies, then those were his orders.

        I am not denying God has the authority to take any life or command it to be taken. But I have seen some good arguments that in specific instances some or most maybe even all of these commandments might not have been meant literally. I am open to either. Tradition is helpful in some of these instances and not in others.

        >I would rather argue, and I’m not sure but I THINK Aquinas would be there with me, that as the author of morality God can let the ends justify the means. We, who are not the authors of moral laws, omniscient, or omnipotent, cannot.

        No God in fact can’t command what is intrinsically evil because of His Holiness. He can command you to kill an infant but He cannot command you to rape or torture that infant to death. Killing can’t be intrinsically evil otherwise God could not ever command the death penalty even for evil doers. Murder is wicked because it is unlawful killing. Usurping that which belongs to God alone.

        As Fr. Brian Davies has shown Aquinas did not conceive of God as being a moral agent & having obligations to us. So “ends justifies the means” as a moral philosophy is rather incoherent when applied to God. God’s Goodness is metaphysical, ontological and essential but God isn’t under a code that He may follow or transgress.

        >>Augustine said for a private individual to take it upon himself to slay an evil doer marks him a murderer.

        >At first blush, what’s so remarkable about that? We’re all sinners. If we’re not the relevant authority figures working under the auspices of due process to carry out a justly considered sentence then, yeah, you can’t just kill people. I thought this was close to universally agreed among the various Christian groups.

        My purpose for citing this is to show Life is entirety the property of God. For a vigilante to slay an evil doer is a sin. For the Public Authority to do so(since it is given this right by God) is not. God ordering Herem is not a sin for those who carry it out. Of course God can only order Herem via a public revelation. Since the death of the Last Apostle all public revelation ceases till the Second Coming.

        Christian People who object too it I suspect are trying to imagine themselves being ordered to kill an infant by God and finding the process naturally distasteful. But I suspect the Israelite men lived in a hardened culture so where likely insensitive to that. Much like today people have become hardened to partial birth abortion. The later I find morally repulsive & I find it hypocritical Atheists who object to Herem are often in my experience for Partial Birth Abortion.

        I will at least admit Liberal Christians like Lothar are more consistent(assuming he is Prolife).

        >The only exceptions I’d make would be for the very rare cases of just war and for self defense/defense of others. But my guess is that even Augustine would agree with that distinction. But hey, maybe I’m wrong.

        Augustine would say only public revelation could authorize Herem and that anyone else who does it without justification is a criminal.

        Cheers.

      • >I certainly agree that God has the right to execute people who are really wicked.

        Actually God has the right to take any life with along with existence is His undeserved gift. He can give it and He can take it away. He gives existence which we cannot give ourselves and He can decide we shall continue our existence with our souls detached from our bodies at anytime.

        >But can you say with a straight face it is the case of babies and toddlers?

        Job said “Thought He slay me yet will I trust in Him”. Given the presuppositions of Classic Theism and the relation of God to creation it makes perfect sense God may take any Life He chooses and it is not evil.

        >Does “might makes right”?

        If I can decompile a Program I wrote & that is not wrong & God is even more intimately a creator to his creation then a programer to a computer program then yes it is right for God to take any life He chooses for His own purposes. It is never right for us to do it since Life is not our property. God isn’t the Biggest Thing among a bunch of tiny things in reality. God is Unconditioned Reality that causes our conditioned reality which He did not have to do. So might has nothing to do with it.

        This Theistic Personalist mishigoss will not do.

        >Is it possible for a perfect being to order soldiers to rape small children before the eyes of their terrified parents?

        No killing per say is extrinsically evil not intrinsically evil which is why God can make it a punishment for a crime or order it in regards to a people He wants to cease to exist as a nation in His judgement. But rape is intrinsically evil and cannot be ordered to be done by God because of His holiness otherwise God could order Rapists to be raped instead of Killed.

        >Or are certain actions incompatible with God’s moral perfection?

        God is Holiness Itself & can be said to be morally good in the sense of being the Moral Law Itself. But God is not a moral agent that has obligations to His creatures. He is not obligated to stop evil in the short term thought His nature is such that He will deal with it in the long term. He may allow an evil doer to rape and is not obligated to stop him. But He won’t command rape. He may take life directly or direct a servant to do so via public revelation(which ceased at the death of the last Apostle till the 2nd coming). But he can’t command that which is intrinsically evil. Rape, torture, Sodomy etc are intrinsically evil.

        To get a better understanding one has to give up the Volinteerism of Theistic Personalism and embrace the essentialism of Classic Theism.

      • Given the presuppositions of Classic Theism and the relation of God to creation it makes perfect sense God may take any Life He chooses and it is not evil.

        Christian People who object too it I suspect are trying to imagine themselves being ordered to kill an infant by God and finding the process naturally distasteful.

        I will at least admit Liberal Christians like Lothar are more consistent (assuming he is Prolife).

        Welcome to Divine Command Theory, the identical epistemology used by Himmler to justify the courage of the SS to mass murder in the name of Hitler (who was also Prolife). One might think this a clue worth considering about the quality of the ‘divine’ morality of DCT…

        • Hey.
          I reject DCT and believe instead it is only morally permissible to submit ourselves to God as a perfect being .

          And if we realize that a religious text falls very short from perfection, we ought to conclude it cannot stem from God (as I defined the word).

          Religious atrocities stem from the fact that the perpetrators do not view the Creator they worship as perfectly loving and just but as a capricious deity we unconditionally have to obey.

          Religious people believing (or hoping) in a God whose love transcends that of the best human person having ever lived are extremely unlikely to exert a harmful influence on society, however irrational you might deem us to be.

          Cheers.

      • >Welcome to Divine Command Theory, the identical epistemology used by Himmler to justify the courage of the SS to mass murder in the name of Hitler (who was also Prolife).

        If you think Hitler was pro-life you are a mentally inferior philosophically illiterate Gnu Atheist jack ass.

        Sorry not even close to divine command theory. God cannot be unequivocally compared to His creation.

        >One might think this a clue worth considering about the quality of the ‘divine’ morality of DCT…

        There are superficial similarities between Calvinism and Traditional Thomism on the sovereignty of Divine Grace but that doesn’t make them the same(Thomists believe in Free Will). There are superficial similarities between Atheist Materialist reductionism vs Platonic Atheism but neither are the same(the later reject reductionism and are strong realists).

        God in either DCT vs Classic Theism may give or take human life at will but God in the Classic sense can’t do anything to us because it would go against the nature of His Holiness. the false DCT God can.

        Geez here is a penny Gnu buy a clue.

        • But Hitler WAS against abortion and the penalty he supported could range upwards to death! Ipso facto, Herr Hitler fits the definition of Prolife!

          Take back your penny and try again.

        • If you think Hitler was pro-life you are a mentally inferior philosophically illiterate Gnu Atheist jack ass. (well, Prolife as it relates to membership in the anti-abortion cohort, anyway)

          Cheers people! Love to you all

          So THAT is what pious love sounds like: name calling of those who have cause to point out contrary historical evidence. Who knew? Oh right… the gnus know! And that’s why we speak out against privileging this kind of commentary with respect when it is deserving of honest criticism.

      • Death is the natural end of natural biological life. When Man fell from Grace He fell from a supernatural state to a mere natural one as ancient Christianity teaches. He did not fall into an unnatural state as some of the Reformers taught.

        Since death is the natural end of mere natural life God can command directly via public revelation or formally cause by Providence the end of any natural life.

        Torture, rape. and Sodomy are not natural ends and thus God because He is Holiness Itself as well as Being Itself cannot command they be done. At worst He can stand by & allow these things to happen since He has no obligation to us to intervene since all His good acts are gratuitous & not by moral obligation. But natural rational beings who elect to do these things reject Life Itself and are by nature given as a logical consequence privation of Life Itself/Holiness Itself/Being Itself etc otherwise known as Hell.

        Post enlightenment Divine Command Theory mishigoss has nothing to do with God’s right to take any life.

        DCT is stupid and incoherent and Aquinas would royally abuse it as Thomists who came after him have done with great glee.

        Like Davies, Feser, Lagrange etc……………

        Screw DCT!!!!!!!!!

        The God of Abraham, Aquinas and Anselm is the only true God. The DCT “god” of Descartes and Paley can suck it!

        (At least once a day I must rant against Theistic Personalism to be happy! Cheers people! Love to you all!)

      • >But Hitler WAS against abortion and the penalty he supported could range upwards to death! Ipso facto, Herr Hitler fits the definition of Prolife!

        He was against abortion for Blonde blue eyed Babies only. That is not pro-life.

        Are you really this intellectually dull? Here take a quarter too. You going to have to buy a six pack of clues.

        Your Atheism should be far more intellectual than the mere disbelief that came about because God didn’t give you the pony you prayed for when you where 5 years old.

        • Umm, he was against abortion, period. He was in favour of life being hard on people and allowing the cream – supposedly the blonde, blue-eyed type – to rise to the top. I’m just saying that belonging to the Prolife cohort casts a rather wide net of rather disreputable characters of highly questionable morality and even more highly hypocritical stances on respecting fetuses more than the lives of fully developed autonomous adults. Hitler also falls into this category. And that includes a god that would command the same kind of mass killing of innocents. So much for being pro life.

          Of course, you allow god to do the same kind of mass murdering, and call it just, by assuming that whatever this god does contrary to the claim, he remains perfectly moral regardless of what actions he commands be carried out. This is Divine Command Theory in action. And in this same line of reasoning we find the same justification offered by probably one of the most reprehensible expressions of this ‘just following orders, boss’ with the speech Himmler gave to the SS troops in Poland, extolling them for their courage and virtue by having to do terrible things in the name of their venerated leader whose orders are good by fiat (Sound familiar?). That’s why there’s no difference between you extolling a god for the same kind actions, the same virtue of character earned by those following these orders, the same kind of justification using the same line of reasoning with different proper nouns, that Himmler used. The company you metaphorically keep in the name of piety and obedience is rather questionable, I think.

          And your reasoning is based on such a dangerous and fallacious piety because it allows any and all actions to be good if it is sanctioned by the Dear Leader. That doesn’t make you an autonomous moral agent; it makes you a dupe… a willing accomplice to perpetuating a tyrant you call god and reduces you to a state of moral immaturity, moral irresponsibility, and an obstacle to those who wish to promote and respect a mature moral autonomy for good reasons.

          A god like yours helps immensely to make a lot of New Atheists from your ranks. Keep up the good work.

      • @lotharson

        Now for some stimulating discussion with an intelligent opponent…..

        >I reject DCT and believe instead it is only morally permissible to submit ourselves to God as a perfect being .

        This is where we part company since I reject any concept of God as a being that exists alongside other beings even if said being is more uber.

        >And if we realize that a religious text falls very short from perfection, we ought to conclude it cannot stem from God (as I defined the word).

        Rather we should abandon the idea religious texts are perspicuous and clear without a Tradition or Providentially protected authority to guide us in reading them.

        >Religious atrocities stem from the fact that the perpetrators do not view the Creator they worship as perfectly loving and just but as a capricious deity we unconditionally have to obey.

        Rather they fail to realize there is a God and they are not Him and they cannot assume His powers or prerogatives. God can take life but God can give it too and restore it. No mere human can make that claim. God is the Transcendental Cause of causes that causes our existence. Not the biggest thing among a group of things.

        It’s all about the classic theism and the folly of neo-theism/theistic personalism.

        >Religious people believing (or hoping) in a God whose love transcends that of the best human person having ever lived are extremely unlikely to exert a harmful influence on society, however irrational you might deem us to be.

        Jesus of course was not the best human person ever. He was a Divine Person only that united both a divine and human nature that are in union but don’t mix. God is simply more than a mere person and a whole different category all together.

        We don’t agree but I invite you to look into Classic Theism.

        Cheers.

      • I can see tildeb you are a very stupid person with little if any education in history, philosophy, theology, science or logic.

        >Umm, he was against abortion, period.

        We are suppose to believe Hitler objected to “inferior races” killing their unborn children? Right…sure pal let us know when Elvis gets here……

        Of course it’s all the more hypocritical coming from someone who no doubt believes in murdering unborn children of all races equally.

        The rest of your irrelevant & ignorant rant cannot be coherently applied to a classic view of God & thus is by definition a non-starter.. It makes about as much sense as listening to some idiot talking about the atomic weight of natural selection or listening to a Young Earth Creationist genius talk about how the 2nd law of thermodynamics “refutes” evolution. You should read up on the concept of a category mistake except it is apparent you can’t read English at all(more on this later). Learning some philosophy and basic logic might do you some good but we both know you are too lazy for that. God in the classic sense can only be compared to creatures in an analogies sense not unequivocally. Your “critique” such as it is is nothing more than an unequivocal comparison between an anthropomorphic theistic personalist concept of deity(a mere powerful being who exists along side other beings in reality vs the Ground of All Being and Unconditional Reality Itself)and a human tyrant. Sorry to disappoint you but I am a strong Atheist in regards to such a primitive concept of deity being at all true. I’d rather believe in Russell’s Tea Pot.

        Like I said a non-starter. Then there is your reading comprehension skills or lack there of…

        >This is Divine Command Theory in action…..

        I reject DCT you would know that if you had bothered to read my other posts. So your lame inept criticism of a concept I already disbelieve in only has the potential to bore me at best temp me to mock you at worst.
        It seems the later so I me relieve the boredom.

        >That doesn’t make you an autonomous moral agent;

        I don’t believe in any “god” who is a moral agent I thought I clearly stated that? (FYI with morals for myself I start with natural knowledge via Aristotle before I even pick up a Bible). But then again you clearly have reading comprehension issues.

        >A god like yours helps immensely to make a lot of New Atheists from your ranks. Keep up the good work.

        Rather a mindless almost fundamentalist adherence to naked positivism, low information in regards to philosophy especially Aristotle & even Atheist philosophers & putting on the airs of a petulant child makes Gnu Atheists. Thinking certainly doesn’t do it.

        But thanks for playing. Stick to arguing with fellow fundies they are more your level anyway.

      • >So THAT is what pious love sounds like: name calling of those who have cause to point out contrary historical evidence. Who knew?

        No I name call passive aggressive idiots who spoil for a fight then turn around and say “Oh but your a Christian why are you being so mean?”.

        I rather enjoy it.

        > Oh right… the gnus know! And that’s why we speak out against privileging this kind of commentary with respect when it is deserving of honest criticism.

        I prefer informed criticism. If you where honest you would admit not knowing, about classic theism from theistic personalism from classic philosophy to modern philosophy to a hole in your rather large head.

        Informed criticism is what wins the day. I honestly don’t care to hear any other. It’s so boring.

  5. I’m so with you on this topic! The move away from a belief in inerrancy was a move of hope and life for me, and helped save my faith.

    I find it very hard to see how intelligent and thoughtful evangelicals – of which there are many – continue to cling to a doctrine which to me seems so clearly untenable. The gospels alone would cure me of a literalistic inerrancy, with Matthew’s glaring misquotes from the OT, and the many (albeit minor) inconsistencies in reporting of particular stories and sayings between the four accounts.

    For me, the whole idea of inerrancy is itself unbiblical; based on a mistaken human view of what the Bible is, and of what perfection must look like. ‘Inspired’ I can accept; even ‘authoritative’ in a sense; but neither of these necessarily imply inerrant.

    Arguments based on lines from the Psalms about God’s word being perfect are circular, and rely on a particular (I think mistaken) interpretation both of ‘God’s word’ and of ‘perfect’.

    God’s Word is first and foremost Christ. The Bible is at best the secondary word of God, and it is God’s word insofar as it points us to Christ, and mediates Christ to us. My view now is that the Bible *becomes* God’s word to us only as the Holy Spirit speaks afresh to us through its texts. So we cannot pin down definitive interpretations, dotting every ‘i’ and crossing every ‘t’. It is a living and in some ways open-ended work, not a Fixed Truth eternally set in stone. It should start conversations, not close them down.

    • Thanks, Labreuer, for sharing this post. Peter Enns is one of my favorite bloggers, but I only began following him about a year ago and had not read this post. It was hilarious–and on target.

  6. Inerrancy is a hot topic. Many atheists perceive contradictions in the Bible, and some theists see this and don’t even attempt to combat it. I have seen some of the most commonly alleged ‘contradictions’ and can safely say that they aren’t contradictions at all.

    There is no danger with inerrancy. The Bible has no contradictions. Simple as that. We cannot abandon the Bible. If one part of the Bible is wrong, what is stopping atheists from writing off the entire Bible due to that one contradiction?

    Christians need to stick to our guns and learn some apologetics. We need to dig into these allegations and expose them for the lies that they are. They are all misinterpretations, misunderstandings of language and people flat out not even knowing what contradictions are.

    I have asked everyone who has claimed contradictions to give me examples, and not one of them wind up actually being contradictory. Just recently I had a ‘contradiction’ shown to me that pretty much had the Bible classifying bats as birds. It might seem like a contradiction on the surface, but any thought applied to the matter exposes it for a false allegation. Bats very well might have been considered birds at the time of the writing of the Bible, so if God based what he told them to write based on man’s interpretations, that would explain it. But if God has his own definitions for animals, we can look back to genesis to see them: basically land animals, creeping things, flying animals, underwater animals. Very general groups of animals. People see this verse and say “Well, scientists don’t classify bats as fowls!” when they need to realize that that ultimately doesn’t matter, because the Bible doesn’t have to match mankind’s interpretations of our world in order to be inerrant. It doesn’t have to have the same definition of ‘species’ contained within it.

    I am extremely troubled that so many Christians and believers and giving up on their convictions in an attempt to meet atheists somewhere in the middle. This is not a strategy that will work. We need to preach the TRUTH, not alter our preaching to fit the atheist’s beliefs.

    • Hi Josh.

      Well I’m not seeking to meet “atheists somewhere in the middle” and I often criticize militant secularists on this blog.

      I’m just trying to pursue truth and be honest to myself and to God.

      • How are you striving to find truth about morals and life other than that which is found in the Bible? What method do you use to determine truth other than that which is in the Bible? A personal standard?

        How do you determine that some parts of the Bible are wrong or unreliable? For example, your belief that homosexuality is not a sin; what do you base this off of?

        Also, concerning Biblical contradictions, there actually aren’t any. Most people label certain things in the Bible as contradictions even though they actually aren’t (ie: applying personal emotions and feelings where they don’t belong, misinterpreting meanings, taking figurative speech for literal statements and just downright not understanding the grammar in the Bible).

        There is no reason to doubt the Bible other than a personal conflict with it, and even then said personal conflict is that of man and not of God. We should not let our own man made opinions or standards bias our interpretations of the word of God.

  7. This form of ‘theology’ is yet another wolf in sheep’s clothing lurking under some fundamental principles (ironically) that lurk in the darkness under a spiral of silence. It’s another attempt of man at creating a man made religion based on his thoughts and feelings…and this is proven that some ‘forms of Liberal Theology’ and ‘So Called Progressive Christianity” denounce the very foundation on what it is based on, namely the Nature of our Lord and Savior. I’ts not that the stores in the old testament are not True, it’s the premise under which t ey are meant to be understood that is wrong, and that is by Revelation which comes from God. Yes, there are some who also will claim that , but it too is false. There were strict warnings about this sort of shenanigans in the writings of Paul and warnings by The LORD Christ Jesus, but the progressive will set out to redefine what even LORD means..it’s as bad a boomerang effect that the Roman Catholics had to Gnosticism only know its bounced back in the opposite direction into what is called “liberal Christianity’ which will eventually relax and bounce back yet another way in time. Just what, in the end, it’s all going to point to The Light in the Person of The Christ of God no matter which way we like it. Being in the world not of the world entails not conforming Christianity to fit the worlds standards. In my readings concerning this topic, most if not ALL Liberal Theologians (whatever that means can be a range of things since afterall, it’s liberal, so it means nothing in the end)…seem to have no idea of what The Faith of God is nor have them come to Comprehend by being Apprehended into what Fear of the Lord is, as a result, there is no Righteous Fear and anything goes. Typical fallen human nature once again.

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