How do you know?

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JM

Puritan Board Doctor
I found this statement on the net, "...the original autographs, are the written Word of God, divinely inspired and completely inerrant and factual."

How do you know they were completely inerrant and factual if we don't have them?
 

Jimmy the Greek

Puritan Board Senior
Inerrancy of the original autographs is a claim, affirmation, and conviction derived from the teaching of Scripture itself. It is thus a presupposition and should not be stated as a fact without the appropriate caveats.

"As far as anyone knows, all of those Original Manuscripts have long since disintegrated, and only Scribe-made copies of any of them still exist, so the claim of Inerrancy regarding the Original Manuscripts is probably beyond any possible proof." P D Feinberg (Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
"...so the claim of Inerrancy regarding the Original Manuscripts is probably beyond any possible proof..."
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
I know this won't be much of a satisfactory answer, but Greg Bahnsen once asked the question, "How do you know they aren't?"

The idea is that since we don't have the autographs, there is no emperical evidence either way. Doubting the inerrancy (or accepting it) rather is an a priori belief and is not going to be proven or disproven by human means and methods.
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
I know this won't be much of a satisfactory answer, but Greg Bahnsen once asked the question, "How do you know they aren't?"

The idea is that since we don't have the autographs, there is no emperical evidence either way. Doubting the inerrancy (or accepting it) rather is an a priori belief and is not going to be proven or disproven by human means and methods.

"...so the claim of Inerrancy regarding the Original Manuscripts is probably beyond any possible proof..."
 

Jimmy the Greek

Puritan Board Senior
"...so the claim of Inerrancy regarding the Original Manuscripts is probably beyond any possible proof..."

I would say, yes, that is correct, it cannot be proved a fact by secular standards. It is a matter of conviction.

However, this conviction is derived from Scripture itself. And I would suggest that the Scriptures which support this conviction are not called into question by the extant mss textual variants. There is some disagreement as to whether Scripture teaches this doctrine explicitly or implicitly. The consensus today is that inerrancy is taught implicitly.
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
I understand but if the quote is true then your conviction derived from Scripture could be wrong since we can't know the original mss were inerrant, or am I missing something?
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I understand but if the quote is true then your conviction derived from Scripture could be wrong since we can't know the original mss were inerrant, or am I missing something?

That's what I was going to say.
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
I get questions like this all the time from unbelievers and I'm not sure how to answer them.
 

Jimmy the Greek

Puritan Board Senior
Hmmm. I see what you're saying. But it seems that your question about proving the inerrancy of the original autographs could be applied to most other convictions derived from the testimony of Scripture, e.g. the historicity of Jesus, his teachings, the resurrection, eternal life, etc.

In other words, its like arguing with an unbeliever --- Sometimes it boils down to this: If the Bible is wrong, I'm a fool. If the Bible is right, you'd better pay attention to it. :eek: I believe it is right. . . and inerrant in the original autographs. :lol:
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
If we believe that the originals, which were breathed out by God, were in error then we would be saying something about the character of God since He was the one that breathed them out.

So my conviction of the inerrant originals comes from my understanding of God's character.
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
"...so the claim of Inerrancy regarding the Original Manuscripts is probably beyond any possible proof."
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
If we believe that the originals, which were breathed out by God, were in error then we would be saying something about the character of God since He was the one that breathed them out.

So my conviction of the inerrant originals comes from my understanding of God's character.

The problem is that your understanding of God's nature comes from the scriptures. If the originals are errant, and the copies even more so, then your understanding of God is errant, and thus your conviction re: the originals.

Regardless of what one thinks of Clark, I think he had a good idea in ranking epistemology as the most important philosophical discipline.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
At some point, one simply is forced to acknowledge "I am creature."

We have limits, we are fallible, even without sin we're fallible. I don't even need the Bible to tell me that. Unless I'm persuaded that I'm god, that I really can be like the religious positivists out there, of the Christian Scientists, etc.

It's a package deal, my friends. And part of that package is accepting by faith that God can communicate to us reliably. If you have to go "empirical", I suppose you can put all the other truth claims out there to the test, and choose the one you think is "best". Oh well, bummer that, knowing you can't ever be sure about your own choice either.

Or you accept the self-referential nature of Scripture. You accept that it's the Spirit's witness that is the summum bonum, not my individual experience. Everybody in the world hears "God" talking someplace. So where's it going to be for you?
 

Ivan

Pastor
At some point, one simply is forced to acknowledge "I am creature."

We have limits, we are fallible, even without sin we're fallible. I don't even need the Bible to tell me that. Unless I'm persuaded that I'm god, that I really can be like the religious positivists out there, of the Christian Scientists, etc.

It's a package deal, my friends. And part of that package is accepting by faith that God can communicate to us reliably. If you have to go "empirical", I suppose you can put all the other truth claims out there to the test, and choose the one you think is "best". Oh well, bummer that, knowing you can't ever be sure about your own choice either.

Or you accept the self-referential nature of Scripture. You accept that it's the Spirit's witness that is the summum bonum, not my individual experience. Everybody in the world hears "God" talking someplace. So where's it going to be for you?

The latter...and amen!
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I will try to interact with the OP, keeping in mind Rich's ban of TR discussions.

Jason, you say you found this on the web,

"...the original autographs, are the written Word of God, divinely inspired and completely inerrant and factual."​

and you query concerning it,

"How do you know they were completely inerrant and factual if we don't have them?"​

First, I wouldn't take the statement you found as my starting point. I would start with, The written Word of God I have has been providentially preserved by Him and is a reliable copy of the original Scriptures He had His prophets and Apostles write.

Then I would go to 1 Tim 3:16, 17: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God...", and the following: "...thy word is truth" John 17:17, and "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" Matt 24:35. I would go to Isa 59:21,

As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.​

and also Psalm 12:6, 7:

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.​

My presentation would be on this wise: God has spoken to mankind and had His words written so men could have them in perpetuity; He also promised to preserve them as man needed every word that proceeded out of His mouth to live by (Matt 4:4).

The Psalmist said, "Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever" 119:160.

The Lord spoke His true words, preserved them, and we have them. The Scripture is self-attesting. How do I know anything? Because God's knowledge is perfect, and He has given us to know what He wants us to know through the revelation of His spoken and written word.

Would one call that circular reasoning? I would call it apprehending the truths of God by faith, that is, trust in Him and His word, which trust is a gift and part of regeneration. Before He revealed Himself to me I knew nothing truly, all based only on my own perceptions. When He gave me His word He gave me the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16; Ro 12:2), enabling me to be a partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4).

You see my approach: I have been translated / transferred into the Kingdom of Christ (Col 1:11) and am alive in the reality of His word. By His word I know these things I speak of here.
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
Thank you Steve.

I missed the ban of TR discussions, where is it posted?
 

ManleyBeasley

Puritan Board Junior
Dr. Calvin said it well,
section 4, chapter VII
"It is necessary to attend to what I lately said, that our faith in doctrine is not established until we have a perfect conviction that God is its author. Hence, the highest proof of Scripture is uniformly taken from the character of him whose Word it is. The prophets and apostles boast not their own acuteness or any qualities which win credit to speakers, nor do they dwell on reasons; but they appeal to the sacred name of God, in order that the whole world may be compelled to submission. The next thing to be considered is, how it appears not probable merely, but certain, that the name of God is neither rashly nor cunningly pretended. If, then, we would consult most effectually for our consciences, and save them from being driven about in a whirl of uncertainty, from wavering, and even stumbling at the smallest obstacle, our conviction of the truth of Scripture must be derived from a higher source than human conjectures, Judgments, or reasons; namely, the secret testimony of the Spirit."
(from Calvin's Institutes, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
And THAT is what I was just thinking. :) The Spirit testifies to the truth. God's word is truth and testifies to the Spirit.

It is a closed, perfect and non-contradictory system that needs no human validation.
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
Wouldn't that be true for the word we have in our hands, not the originals that we can no longer access to?
 

sotzo

Puritan Board Sophomore
Even if we had the autographa we would still be finite creatures and the question could still be raised as to how we should test the Scriptures to determine if they are inerrant and infallible. We can't escape interpreting even in the presence of the originals and since all interpretations are founded on the presuppositions of the interpreter, we end up back in the circle. This goes for everyone, Christian or non, so the only way to escape this would be to be God himself which is where Bahnsen's "impossibility of the contrary" argument came from.
 
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