Inerrancy And Apologetics

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Bryan

Puritan Board Freshman
The majority of evangelical Christians will affirm that scripture is
inerrant and infallible in the original autographs, but must not the scriptures that we have today be inerrant and infallible if we want a firm basis from which to do apologetics from? If they are not doesn't that reduce apologetics down to a probability game where we make guesses as to what we think the inerrant and infallible scripture said?

Bryan
SDG
 

ChristopherPaul

Puritan Board Senior
The majority of evangelical Christians will affirm that scripture is
inerrant and infallible in the original autographs, but must not the scriptures that we have today be inerrant and infallible if we want a firm basis from which to do apologetics from?

Yes

If they are not doesn't that reduce apologetics down to a probability game where we make guesses as to what we think the inerrant and infallible scripture said?

Yes

There must be an authority. It is either Christ through the scriptures or Christ through the Church. Anything else would reduce the Holy Spirit to being (God forbid) schizophrenic, chaotic and confused.

Who is to say anyone is right if the scriptures are not inerrant and infallible?
 

Bryan

Puritan Board Freshman
But this creates all kinds of problems.

If the scriptures we have today are inerrant, which ones? The ones that include the Comma Johanneum, or the ones that don't for example. Are translations inerrant? For those of us who don't know Greek if they are not then we are left without a final authority (or one that we don't have access to which is just as bad). Those who wrote the Chicago Statement seem to have recognized this problem when they wrote "We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original." But as you have agreed with that doesn't provide for a final authority.

It honestly seems that only something like a KJVO position could provide for both a final authority and do away with the annoying questions the regard different greek readings and translations.

Bryan
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Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Inerrancy only applies to the originals. Really it is more a statment about who God is than what the Scriptures are. Can God lie? Can God accurately speak the truth to us?

The issue of defending textual transmission is not that difficult. If someone questions that, then simply point out that the Bible we have in our hands today is the most researched book in the history of mankind. We have more certainty as to the original reading of Scripture than we have of any other ancient text. Most people don't realize that. The critical text of Plato is derived from 8 manuscripts if I remember correctly. The NT is based upon 1000's of texts with only minor mostly explainable variations. Even the differences between the TR and the critical text are so minor that it shouldn't be an issue, and nothing doctrinally is at stake at all. The next time someone questions the integrity of the Bible, simply point out these facts, and you will silence the ignorance of others who are usually basing their arguments off of nonsense like the Davinci Code or left over liberal arguments that were refuted 100 years ago.
 

Vytautas

Puritan Board Freshman
If the scriptures we have today are inerrant, which ones?

Check the Reformed Confessions.

The ones that include the Comma Johanneum, or the ones that don't for example.

The Comma Johanneum is not in the cannon of Scripture. Reasons for this assertion are available upon request.

Are translations inerrant?

Some translations are inerrant such as Acts 22 which was originally spoken by Paul in Hebrew, but it was recorded in Greek by Luke.

For those of us who don't know Greek if they are not then we are left without a final authority (or one that we don't have access to which is just as bad).

In Church History, many Saints did not have access to the Bible.

Those who wrote the Chicago Statement seem to have recognized this problem when they wrote "We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original." But as you have agreed with that doesn't provide for a final authority.

Why cannot copies and translations of Scripture be a final authority?

It honestly seems that only something like a KJVO position could provide for both a final authority and do away with the annoying questions the regard different greek readings and translations.

Why only the King James? Why cannot other English versions of the Bible be used as a final authority? Or why cannot any other Bibles in other languages for that matter be a final authority?
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
The majority of evangelical Christians will affirm that scripture is inerrant and infallible in the original autographs, but must not the scriptures that we have today be inerrant and infallible if we want a firm basis from which to do apologetics from? If they are not doesn't that reduce apologetics down to a probability game where we make guesses as to what we think the inerrant and infallible scripture said?
It is well known by students of the Bible that textual variations between the Hebrew text, the Septuagint (LXX), and copies of both existed in the days of our Lord’s flesh, yet the Lord Jesus and the New Testament writers themselves quote repeatedly from contemporary copies of both the extant Hebrew texts and translations of the Septuagint, never once calling into question the certainty, integrity, and adequacy of these copies to communicate infallibly the word of the true and living God. To suggest otherwise would be to call into question the integrity of the New Testament witnesses themselves. The preservation of the New Testament text (from the first century to our own day) has been shown many times over to possess the highest degree of accuracy in comparison to other ancient texts. Thus we can appeal to the precedent of practice set by our Lord himself, and the New Testament writers as well, in respect of their accepted use of contemporary Old Testament texts with known variants from the autographa. Commenting on the phrase “as it is written,” Roger T. Beckwith has pointed out:
The quotations are treated as having finality, and it is the contemporary text of the quotations which is treated in this way. Philo quotes from the Septuagint translation, as the New Testament often does and the Fathers regularly do, but when the Hebrew is quoted or reflected (as in the Dead Sea Scrolls and sometimes in the New Testament), there is nothing to suggest that anything other than contemporary manuscripts of the Hebrew is being used. Paraphrase, where paraphrase is employed, is evidently designed to draw out the most relevant implications of the passage quoted, and not to restore a more primitive form of the text. In all this, the practice of Jesus and his apostles in the New Testament is like that of their Jewish contemporaries.

What this implies is that God’s “singular care and providence” was understood to extend not just to the traditional form (or forms) of the original text, but even to standard and accepted translations of the text, such as the Septuagint. See Beckwith’s “Toward a Theology of the Biblical Text” in Donald Lewis and Alister McGrath, eds., Doing Theology for the People of God: Studies in Honor of J.I. Packer (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996), p 48.
DTK
 

polemic_turtle

Puritan Board Freshman
I've recently been reading a little bit of Theodore Letis on the Ecclesiastical Text. It was very thought provoking, as he asserted that:

1.) Warfield broke new ground in textual criticism for conservative Protestants, which brought TC into that community whereas it had been the accepted domain of liberals previously,

2.) the dogmaticians and Puritans( eg. Owen ) had held to the infalliblity of the apographa as opposed to the autographa necessarily as vital support of Sola Scriptura,

3.) the textual criticism community at large recognizes the impossiblity of even aproximating a perfect text by their methods,

and, lastly, 4.) the answer to this problem of the correct text could be found by what he calls the Ecclesiastical approach as propounded by John William Burgon.

I was struck that this is somewhat like what Dr. Bahnsen says when he points out that most modern apologists act as though the laws of logic were settled and undisputed; 'tis simply not the case and I wonder whether or not the same thing could be said about evangelical opinions on inerrancy.

Anyone read Letis? He's interesting.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
I was struck that this is somewhat like what Dr. Bahnsen says when he points out that most modern apologists act as though the laws of logic were settled and undisputed; 'tis simply not the case and I wonder whether or not the same thing could be said about evangelical opinions on inerrancy.
I would refer you to Bahnsen's actual position on inerrancy, as he expounded it, "The Inerrancy of the Autographa," pp. 150-193 in Norman Geisler, ed., Inerrancy Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980).

DTK
 

Staphlobob

Puritan Board Sophomore
Anyone read Letis? He's interesting.

Yes. He left the Reformed for the LCMS due to what he experienced at Westminster, Pa. He recently (in the last year or so) died in a car wreck around Chattanooga, Tenn.

A lover of the AV and loather of modern translations, he also had little time for the inerrancy debate, blaming Warfield for introducing it. Though he and I spoke several times, I always struggled with his point of view, wondering if he wasn't placing the church above the text. I'm not saying his theology was without merit. I'm just not sure I completely understoood it.
 

polemic_turtle

Puritan Board Freshman
I would refer you to Bahnsen's actual position on inerrancy, as he expounded it, "The Inerrancy of the Autographa," pp. 150-193 in Norman Geisler, ed., Inerrancy Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980).

DTK
I know Bahnsen's position, but that wasn't my point. Perhaps I didn't make it clear enough, but I was only bringing his statements up as an example of something most people accept without question.

I probably should start my own topic, since now I suppose I'm really just wanting to discuss Letis. However, the reason I brought him up, though it was probably not fitted well with the topic at hand, was that he makes the arguement that the early Protestants argued for the texts which they had in hand, rather than about a text impossible to acquire, since the Papists argued that the Vulgate reflected earlier textual sources and was therefore more reliable and ought to take precedence over the texts known around that time.

Letis seems to claim that when you get beyond the popular level, you realize that scholars are not nearly so confident that they'll ever find the perfect text and to depend on them when they reject verses which have edified and protected the church for centuries seems misguided. I'm no KJVO fellow and regard them somewhat like Letis: anti-intellectuals for the most part and non-scholarly as a rule. However, I really despise the rules that say things like "If it seems to suggest orthodoxy and is not in some texts, then suspect it." I feel like the church has surrendered something precious when they reject readings which have been in the church for centuries for a MSS "found in a trashcan in Egypt". Letis seems like a good balance to me. Any thoughts? Has anyone read his books?

If this is too off-topic, would a mod please split it into another topic? I'm interested in pursuing this thread.
 

Staphlobob

Puritan Board Sophomore
Letis seems to claim that when you get beyond the popular level, you realize that scholars are not nearly so confident that they'll ever find the perfect text ...

Is "the perfect text" the same thing as the "original text"? If so, then that's part of what I found confusing about Letis. When I listened to him and read his arguments I found myself in agreement.

Yet other, very qualified, textual critics claim that variants are actually helping us re-create the original text; that we already have in hand about 95% of that text.

Actually, I'm in over my head. But you bring up an incredibly significant and crucial issue. Where is our final authority? Who - and what - says so?

When I was Roman I had no problem with this because the church - the pope and college of bishops - were infallible. That was the authority. Period. End of argument.

But upon joining a liberal protestant denomination I found myself floundering. If sola scriptura is supposed to be our authority - and that authority is errant and fallible - then we may as well throw in the towel. Which is why I ended up embracing and defending plenary Scriptural inerrancy and infallibility.

Someone recently gave me a quote from the Evangelical Lutheran Church's website that clearly claims that the interpretation of Scripture belongs to the church (my guess is that the PCUSA would say the same thing). If that's true, then the reformation is over and Rome wins. (At least this is true for those denominations.)
 

polemic_turtle

Puritan Board Freshman
This morning, I tried to begin reading "The Majority Text", but I was sicker than a dog, so I didn't get far. But, I believe I gleaned something valuble from him: how did the majority text become the majority text? Because it was the text used and preserved by the church for centuries. He holds the Alexandrian MSS in disdain and really suspects a Gnostic source, which he tries to demonstrate( eg. Joh 1:18 "only begotten God"[ Alexan. ] vs. "only begotten Son" [ Majority text ] ).

What I like about him is that he likes the KJV, but has no qualms with calling it imperfect and in need of a genuinely scholarly update by means of an Ecclesiastical textual criticism. He calls his approach a "post-critical criticism". The man who he was primarily influenced by, John W. Burgon, wrote a commentary on the Matthews gospel with around 60~ textual improvements on the Textus Receptus. He was actually a trained textual critic and collated enormous amounts of Patristics relative to this problem. I believe he checked out the Alexandrian text and noted the variations, which is more than most have done( I believe that's what he said ).

I believe Dr. Kim Riddlebarger, who wrote his dissertation on Warfield, approved of his Warfield research, which is something to think about. Again, he claimed that Warfield single-handedly introduced textual criticism into the Calvinist churches and successfully re-interpreted the Westminster Confession in a way never seen before in order to introduce his "autographa" theory. He parallels his case with that of Dr. Charles A. Briggs and others, showing that while Dr. Briggs was the one set up in this debate as the heretic, Dr. Warfield's principles were not entirely different from those he was debating. Dr. Briggs saw through his novel re-interpretation of the confession and called him on that, but to no avail.

Dr. Letis said that the continual indulging of the academics' requests for revising the Bible had led to something like mistrust of the Bible by Christians. "What will they find to be spurious next, I wonder", "Can I trust that they won't someday find this doesn't belong?", et al. He also disputes the claim that we're getting nearer and nearer to the autographa with each revision of the Bible. I'm certainly not able to prove his points, but I'm interested in getting people to talk about it and perhaps read his books. I don't understand him all the way yet, either, but I'm interested in his perspective.

Unless the case can be made that we're getting closer and closer to the autographa in a material way, how can we know that we're defending the genuine Christian faith in our apologetics? For example, what if, as Issac Newton said, those verses proving Christ's deity don't belong? Isn't it true that a lot of critics don't hold to that doctrine anymore? Your thoughts?
 
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