How do you defend the infallibility of scripture?

Discussion in 'Defending the Faith' started by ABondSlaveofChristJesus, Jun 11, 2005.

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  1. ABondSlaveofChristJesus

    ABondSlaveofChristJesus Puritan Board Freshman

    I know Christ gave authority to the apostles and according to these apostles he deemed the entire OT authoritative. How do we defend that scripture being "god breathed" is infallible as it was written through fallible man? Catholics can't seem to grasp that it is infallible because it was written by man who is fallible.

    There is obviously extremely accurate continuity in scripture. The translations seem to be preserved through divine intervention after comparing it to the discovered dead sea scrolls. The world view that scripture contains is the only consistent one.

    [Edited on 6-11-2005 by ABondSlaveofChristJesus]
     
  2. ReformedReidian

    ReformedReidian Puritan Board Doctor

    Take their ultimate authority and ask them to show how it provides (or reveals the provider) of the preconditions of intelligibelity.
     
  3. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    There are a couple of issues under consideration here:

    1) Infallibility -- The Protestant view that the Bible alone is infallible contra the Roman view that the infallible Pope can speak ex cathedra on matters of faith and doctrine.

    2) Providential preservation of the Scriptures

    The Biblical Protestant position on both of these points is well summarized and expressed in Chapter 1 of the Westminster Confession. (BTW, I am not appealing to a creed over the authority of the Bible but rather appealing to it as a clear summary of what the Scriptures themselves teach.)

    On the first point, after comparing the Westminster and Roman views of infallibility (wherein Rome puts forth the Church as the necessary mediator between the scriptures and men while Protestants hold that the Holy Spirit fully persuades men of the infallibility of God's Word -- see sec. V), and exploring why God determined to give us not only general but special revelation (see sec. I), I would return to 2 Peter 1.19-21 to show how God used fallible men to enscripturate his infallible Word:

    We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

    On the subject of providential preservation, see sec. VIII: "...being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical;(r) - Matt. 5.18: For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

    For further study, I recommend David Dickson's commentary on the Confession called Truth's Victory Over Error (1684) in which he discusses the Papist error on authority of the church being superior to the authority of the Bible; as well as G.I. Williamson's Study Guide on the Westminster Confession in which he explains the history and principles involved in the provdential preservation of the Scriptures.
     
  4. ReformedReidian

    ReformedReidian Puritan Board Doctor

    Technically speaking, Rome won't deny that the scriptures are infallible (sure, they deny it in practice).
     
  5. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    The heart of the issue in Protestant-Roman apologetics about the infallibility of Scripture vs. the Church or about perspicuity of Scripture or any of the related issues is one of authority. Rome always sets something (the Church, tradition, etc.) higher in authority than the Scriptures. That's what every discussion about Roman views on the Bible seems to boil down to.
     
  6. openairboy

    openairboy Puritan Board Freshman

    Isn't that a bit of a Protestant take on their position? Wouldn't they set tradition on par with Scripture? They then set the Church and/or the Pope as higher authorities when it comes to the interpretation of Scripture, but they don't negate the authority of the Bible in theory.

    openairboy
     
  7. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Yes, it is a Protestant take on the RC position. I am a Protestant after all (former RC) and make no apologies for that.

    The fact is, if tradition is said to be on par with the authority of Scripture, then the Scripture is demoted from its proper unique place of authority. Cf. Matt. 15.3: But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

    And likewise if the Bible is said to be God's Word but it is so imperspicuous as to require the necessary mediatorial interpretation by the Church then the Bible's infallibility is de jure but not de facto; rather the Church is elevated to the status of infallibility, which is precisely how the RC puts it in the citations I provided earlier to the Catholic Encyclopedia's definitions of "infallibility" and "ex cathedra."

    As the Westminster Confession notes "the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself" (I.IX). Any doctrine of the Church or tradition which sets itself as allegedly co-equal to the Scripture in terms of authority and infallibility in reality negates the authority, infallibility, persipicuity and sufficiency of Scripture.
     
  8. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    This is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    It seems to present a case for infalliblity, although there is some wiggle room (perhaps only parts are infallible, namely those parts that are "for the sake of our salvation.").

    I read a papal encyclical awhile back, Divino Affluente I think it was called, that seemed to express a strong view of infallibility.

    Without a doubt, many Catholic theologians, priests, seminary professors, and laymen believe the scripture contains error and are in these points indistiuguishable from mainline liberals.
     
  9. ReformedReidian

    ReformedReidian Puritan Board Doctor

    As mentioned earlier, the average Catholic on the street is not "the hot-shot, self-appointed apologist who vigorously defends Rome," but a semi-relativistic liberal.
     
  10. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    Jacob - you are definitely right on that. I am not even sure if you need to qualify with the "semi." We do have some people at our church who came from conservative, traditional (RC only) churches. I have not met many of those myself. Most people claiming to be RC don't even attend church.
     
  11. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Another thought: as I see it, infallibility is an attribute of God that is incommunicable. Thus, the Roman Pontiff or any other entity which claims this attribute is claiming a characteristic that belongs to God alone.
     
  12. If you demonstrate the reality of "miracle" a linear argument can be made for the historicity of the bible then towards the innerancy and infallibility of it based on God's attestation accompanying the message.

    Miracles are very important in this regard.
     
  13. rmwilliamsjr

    rmwilliamsjr Puritan Board Freshman

    the APC (americanpresbyterianchurch.org)site is excellent, i only wish they had signed their essays and had a discussion forum attached.
     
  14. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    Paul,
    The more I read about Warfield, the more displeased with him I become. Warfield and Hodge have let me down on the evolution/six day creation issue.

    Hermonta
     
  15. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    I think I would feel a bit better if it was an issue that perhaps had not been settled for thousands of years. Also I believe the flaws were so major that they contributed a large part to the downfall of Princeton.

    However I never meant to imply that Either was the devil, so Van Til being part Warfield is not very suprising.
     
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