The Divine Authenticity of Scripture

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CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
Evangelicals have taken extraordinary care in formulating and articulating a high view of Scripture. And yet the doctrine is not without its inadequacies and its internal critics - both past and present. The idea that McGowan contests is that of inerrancy. He points out that "inerrancy" is nowhere taught by the Reformers or in the Reformed Confessions - such as the Westminster Confession of Faith. That inerrancy is a product of the Rational/Scientific philosophy that pervaded Christianity in the 19th Century. He argues that the idea of inerrancy has been contested by the Reformed since its formulation by B. B. Warfield, and that inerrancy should be replaced by an informed concept of the infallibility or authenticity of Scripture. The way forward, according to McGowan, is to reach back within the European evangelical tradition, particularly to the work of the Dutch Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck. Even if you may not agree with his thesis - his arguments need to be answered. A stimulating book!
 

Wayne

Tempus faciendi, Domine.
This sounds like a rehash of the Rogers and McKim theory, which was so brilliantly and utterly refuted by Dr. John D. Woodbridge.

See Woodbridge, John D., Biblical Authority: A Critique of the Rogers/McKim Proposal. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982.

and for background, Rogers, Jack and Donald McKim, The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach. Harper and Row, 1979.

See also a very helpful article on inerrancy by Mark Dever, posted at
Inerrancy of the Bible: An Annotated Bibliography - 9Marks

Dever concludes his article with this statement:

"If I could just recommend one book on the inerrancy of the Bible it would undoubtedly be this one—John Wenham, Christ and the Bible (Tyndale Press, 1972 [UK]; IVP, 1973 [US]). Wenham’s book has been through three editions and makes the simple point that our trust in Scripture is to be a part of our following Christ, because that is the way that Christ treated Scripture—as true, and therefore authoritative."
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
"That inerrancy is a product of the Rational/Scientific philosophy that pervaded Christianity in the 19th Century."

This is incorrect. Both Augustine and Gregory Naziansus argued for inerrancy. Last I checked they didn't live in the 19th century...
 

CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
No - McGowan goes covers both Augustine and Naziansus - and points out that they believe in Inspiration not Inerrancy.

Blessings,

Rob
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Augustine went out of his way several times to say that there are and have been errors in the Bible. He also said that those errors didn't change the fact that the Bible is the Word of God.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
What is McGowan's definition of inerrancy? That is the first step in evaluating his proposal, surely.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
This book

Amazon.com: The Divine Authenticity of Scripture: Retrieving an Evangelical Heritage (9780830828791): A. t. b. Mcgowan: Books

seems to be a follow up to this book by Andrew McGowan

Amazon.com: The Divine Spiration of Scripture: Challenging Evangelical Perspectives (9781844742202): Andrew T. B. McGowan: Books

unless they're the same book in different imprints and editions.

The latter book received a lot of flak for its attempt to reformulate an evangelical view of Scripture while rejecting inerrancy and yet saying that he was not arguing for errancy.

Here's a review by James Anderson of the latter book:-

http://www.proginosko.com/docs/McGowanInerrancy.pdf

And a quote from the same review:-

McGowan’s third argument against inerrancy “concerns how we deal with textual issues such as apparent conflicts and contradictions.”

Faced with these textual difficulties, McGowan observes, inerrantists “will typically reply in one of two ways”: Either they will argue that this is only an antimony, an apparent but not real contradiction, or they will argue that if we had the autographa we would see that the problem does not exist there, only in errant manuscripts, because of errors in the copying over the centuries. (p. 112)

I have to wonder from what inerrantist literature McGowan has drawn his conclusions. In my experience, these two ‘escape hatches’ are rarely employed and only then as a last resort. Far more commonly, inerrantist scholars will offer one or more exegetical explanations as to why the conflict is merely apparent. McGowan may not find such explanations satisfying, but it is simply misleading to suggest that they are not offered
as a matter of course.

In support of his point, McGowan borrows an example from I. Howard Marshall:

In the story of Jairus as recorded by Matthew it is simply said that when
Jairus first met Jesus he told him that his daughter was dead (Matt. 9:18).
According to Mark and Luke, however, the daughter was merely on the
point of death at the beginning of the story and it was only later — after
the incident of the woman with the haemorrhage — that Jairus and Jesus
learned that she had actually died (Mark 5:3 f.; Luke 8:49 f.). There is a
clear contradiction between the initial words of Jairus as recorded by
Matthew and the other Evangelists. We can, of course, explain the
contradiction quite easily and acceptably by saying that Matthew, whose
generally policy was to tell stories about Jesus in fewer words than Mark,
has abbreviated the story and given the general sense of what happened
without going into details. But the fact still remains that Matthew has
attributed to Jairus words which he did not actually say at the time stated.
(p. 113)

Unfortunately for McGowan, this example proves either too little or too much. Does he think that Matthew affirmed a falsehood (intentionally or otherwise)? If so, then his insistence that he isn’t arguing for ‘errancy’ falls flat. He must conclude that Scripture contains errors after all (in the sense that the inerrantist defines ‘error’).

On the other hand, if McGowan doesn’t believe that Matthew affirmed a falsehood, he can’t reasonably conclude that this example poses any difficulty for the inerrantist.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Augustine went out of his way several times to say that there are and have been errors in the Bible. He also said that those errors didn't change the fact that the Bible is the Word of God.
Several times? Please document these several times, each and every instance of which you are aware.

Thanks,
DTK
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
No - McGowan goes covers both Augustine and Naziansus - and points out that they believe in Inspiration not Inerrancy.

That may be what McGowan says, but that's not what Augustine and Gregory say.

Augustine writing to Jerome, Letter 82.3 (Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers, First Series, volume 1, pg. 350).

"On such terms we might amuse ourselves without fear of offending each other in the field of Scripture, but I might well wonder if the amusement was not at my expense. For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the Ms. is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it. As to all other writings, in reading them, however great the superiority of the authors to myself in sanctity and learning, I do not accept their teaching as true on the mere ground of the opinion being held by them; but only because they have succeeded in convincing my judgment of its truth either by means of these canonical writings themselves, or by arguments addressed to my reason."
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf....1.LXXXII.html

Gregory Nazianzen

I remembered the days of old, and, recurring to one of the ancient histories, drew counsel for myself therefrom as to my present conduct; for let us not suppose these events to have been recorded without a purpose, nor that they are a mere assemblage of words and deeds gathered together for the pastime of those who listen to them, as a kind of bait for the ears, for the sole purpose of giving pleasure. Let us leave such jesting to the legends and the Greeks, who think but little of the truth, and enchant ear and mind by the charm of their fictions and the daintiness of their style.

We however, who extend the accuracy of the Spirit to the merest stroke and tittle, will never admit the impious assertion that even the smallest matters were dealt with haphazard by those who have recorded them, and have thus been borne in mind down to the present day: on the contrary, their purpose has been to supply memorials and instructions for our consideration under similar circumstances, should such befall us, and that the examples of the past might serve as rules and models, for our warning and imitation.

NPNF2-07. Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzen | Christian Classics Ethereal Library
pg. 225

See this thread for more early church quotes on inerrancy:
http://www.puritanboard.com/f15/innerancy-church-fathers-24121/

-----------------------------------------------------------
Some helpful reviews of McGowan's book:

Is Inerrancy Unbiblical, Rationalistic and Presumptuous? A critique of A.T.B. McGowan's proposal for evangelicals to reject inerrancy - Reformation21

Review: The Divine Spiration of Scripture by A.T.B.McGowan

Banner of Truth Trust General Articles

Andrew McGowan, The Divine Spiration of Scripture (Nottingham: Apollos (IVP), 2007)
 
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toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Augustine went out of his way several times to say that there are and have been errors in the Bible. He also said that those errors didn't change the fact that the Bible is the Word of God.
Several times? Please document these several times, each and every instance of which you are aware.

Thanks,
DTK

Surely if Augustine "went out of his way" to dispute inerrancy, then producing such a list of these instances should be fairly straightforward, Tim. I'm looking forward to seeing your references.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
I may have been using improper terminology, thrown off by the statement in the OP

He points out that "inerrancy" is nowhere taught by the Reformers or in the Reformed Confessions - such as the Westminster Confession of Faith.

The great majority of Reformers agreed with Turretin in that they didn't hold to perfect preservation. If the author means that the autographs had errors, then the above statement is so obviously false that I don't see how friend C&H would have recommended it to us, even to discuss.

Over the last months I've shown several occasions where Augustine called for changing the Bible when better mss came to light, and one case where he even called for leaving some errors intact for the sake of an ecumenical text.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Augustine went out of his way several times to say that there are and have been errors in the Bible. He also said that those errors didn't change the fact that the Bible is the Word of God.
Several times? Please document these several times, each and every instance of which you are aware.

Thanks,
DTK

Surely if Augustine "went out of his way" to dispute inerrancy, then producing such a list of these instances should be fairly straightforward, Tim. I'm looking forward to seeing your references.
You made a claim, I asked you to document your claim, and now you're asking me for references for a claim I never made?

Please accept my apologies for asking you to make good your claim. I see now where my mistake was made.

DTK
 

P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
Augustine on Innerrancy: On such terms we might amuse ourselves without fear of offending each other in the field of Scripture, but I might well wonder if the amusement was not at my expense. For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it. As to all other writings, in reading them, however great the superiority of the authors to myself in sanctity and learning, I do not accept their teaching as true on the mere ground of the opinion being held by them; but only because they have succeeded in convincing my judgment of its truth either by means of these canonical writings themselves, or by arguments addressed to my reason. I believe, my brother, that this is your own opinion as well as mine. I do not need to say that I do not suppose you to wish your books to be read like those of prophets or of apostles, concerning which it would be wrong to doubt that they are free from error. Far be such arrogance from that humble piety and just estimate of yourself which I know you to have, and without which assuredly you would not have said, "Would that I could receive your embrace, and that by converse we might aid each other in learning!"

(Letter to Jerome, Letter 82 in Augustine's Letters, Section 3)
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Several times? Please document these several times, each and every instance of which you are aware.

Thanks,
DTK

Surely if Augustine "went out of his way" to dispute inerrancy, then producing such a list of these instances should be fairly straightforward, Tim. I'm looking forward to seeing your references.
You made a claim, I asked you to document your claim, and now you're asking me for references for a claim I never made?

Please accept my apologies for asking you to make good your claim. I see now where my mistake was made.

DTK

DTK -

You should probably read the post to which you replied again (you replied to a post of mine, not Tim's), and check who it is who posted the request (that was me, not Tim), what the request entailed and to whom the request (that is, the request was made to Tim, not you) was made. I'm agreeing with you 100% and am asking TIM to provide a list of references that he claimed existed.

Todd
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
You made a claim, I asked you to document your claim, and now you're asking me for references for a claim I never made?

Please accept my apologies for asking you to make good your claim. I see now where my mistake was made.

Are you talking to me? It's a bit unclear. I said that Augustine said that there were mistakes in the Bible that could be corrected by older and better mss. Is that what you want to see? When have I asked you for anything?
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
DTK -

You should probably read the post to which you replied again (you replied to a post of mine, not Tim's), and check who it is who posted the request (that was me, not Tim), what the request entailed and to whom the request (that is, the request was made to Tim, not you) was made. I'm agreeing with you 100% and am asking TIM to provide a list of references that he claimed existed.

Todd
Todd,

Thanks, I meant to be asking TimV to make good his claim. My apologies to you.

DTK
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
DTK -

You should probably read the post to which you replied again (you replied to a post of mine, not Tim's), and check who it is who posted the request (that was me, not Tim), what the request entailed and to whom the request (that is, the request was made to Tim, not you) was made. I'm agreeing with you 100% and am asking TIM to provide a list of references that he claimed existed.

Todd
Todd,

Thanks, I meant to be asking TimV to make good his claim. My apologies to you.

DTK

Not a problem :) I'm just making your solo a duet.

Todd
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
You made a claim, I asked you to document your claim, and now you're asking me for references for a claim I never made?

Please accept my apologies for asking you to make good your claim. I see now where my mistake was made.

Are you talking to me? It's a bit unclear. I said that Augustine said that there were mistakes in the Bible that could be corrected by older and better mss. Is that what you want to see? When have I asked you for anything?

Tim -

Let me make it clearer ... DTK was confused about what I had posted.

We're both asking you with one voice: Provide references to Augustine's "going out of his way to state that the Bible has errors in it".
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
You made a claim, I asked you to document your claim, and now you're asking me for references for a claim I never made?

Please accept my apologies for asking you to make good your claim. I see now where my mistake was made.

Are you talking to me? It's a bit unclear. I said that Augustine said that there were mistakes in the Bible that could be corrected by older and better mss. Is that what you want to see? When have I asked you for anything?
Yes, but that is not your original claim. Augustine's acknowledgement for the occasional need for textual correction does not equal his endorsement of scriptural errancy. I would be grateful for you to post these several references for each and every occurrence you claim that Augustine made.

Thanks,
DTK

-----Added 12/7/2009 at 09:39:46 EST-----

Tim -

Let me make it clearer ... DTK was confused about what I had posted.

We're both asking you with one voice: Provide references to Augustine's "going out of his way to state that the Bible has errors in it".
Thanks Todd! That was/is my intention.

DTK
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
You made a claim, I asked you to document your claim, and now you're asking me for references for a claim I never made?

Please accept my apologies for asking you to make good your claim. I see now where my mistake was made.

Let me ask you with a single voice what you mean by that, since I'm truly not in the mood for reading minds. I said

The great majority of Reformers agreed with Turretin in that they didn't hold to perfect preservation. If the author means that the autographs had errors, then the above statement is so obviously false that I don't see how friend C&H would have recommended it to us, even to discuss.

and

I said that Augustine said that there were mistakes in the Bible that could be corrected by older and better mss.

Are you both KJV onlies?
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
That book just sounds like another subtle attack on biblical inerrancy from someone who is supposed to uphold it.

The book is probably inspired by the devil.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Are you both KJV onlies?
It doesn't seem that I can get a simple, straight answer for your claim. Therefore, I'm bowing out of this discussion to spend my time in more fruitful pursuits.

DTK
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
It doesn't seem that I can get a simple, straight answer for your claim. Therefore, I'm bowing out of this discussion to spend my time in more fruitful pursuits.
Words removed by Administrator. I have never ran from a discussion and I don't plan on now. When I get back from my first appointment I will plan on posting several examples of where Augustine said that there were mistakes in the Bible he had at the time.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
You made a claim, I asked you to document your claim, and now you're asking me for references for a claim I never made?

Please accept my apologies for asking you to make good your claim. I see now where my mistake was made.

Let me ask you with a single voice what you mean by that, since I'm truly not in the mood for reading minds. I said

The great majority of Reformers agreed with Turretin in that they didn't hold to perfect preservation. If the author means that the autographs had errors, then the above statement is so obviously false that I don't see how friend C&H would have recommended it to us, even to discuss.

and

I said that Augustine said that there were mistakes in the Bible that could be corrected by older and better mss.

Are you both KJV onlies?

I can only speak for myself, and no, I am not KJV-only.

You said the following:

Augustine went out of his way several times to say that there are and have been errors in the Bible. He also said that those errors didn't change the fact that the Bible is the Word of God.

This is the post to which we both were referring. You say nothing here about "corrected by older and better mss." The words you used imply that Augustine believed that the Bible had errors in it (NOT that there are bad manuscripts out there that have errors in them). This is why hackles were raised.

If all you want to do is say that Augustine believed that there were some manuscripts that had errors in them, this is NOT a denial of inerrancy. Yet you claimed that Augustine did not hold to inerrancy. Hence the confusion about what you were saying.
 

P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
Todd:

I've provided evidence that Augustine believed in inerrancy: "the authors were completely free from error" were his words.

He ascribed apparent errors to three possible causes:

1) a bad manuscript;

2) a bad translation; or

3) his own imperfect understanding.

McGowan's claims are refuted by the testimony of folks like Augustine, as well as by the Reformers who held the same thing. Offhand, I recall William Whittaker (16th Century) making the same argument, even quoting from Augustine:

That some of the ancients were of this opinion appears from the testimony of Augustine, who maintains, in opposition to them, "that the evangelists are free from all falsehood, both from that which proceeds from deliberate deceit, and that which is the result of forgetfulness." (De Cons. Ev. Lib. II. c. 12.)
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
It doesn't seem that I can get a simple, straight answer for your claim. Therefore, I'm bowing out of this discussion to spend my time in more fruitful pursuits.

Don't get into a self righteous huff. I have never ran from a discussion and I don't plan on now. When I get back from my first appointment I will plan on posting several examples of where Augustine said that there were mistakes in the Bible he had at the time.

Again, Tim, you did not qualify your earlier remarks with the words "he had at the time." You stated that Augustine believed there were errors in the Bible. That's quite a different statement than his believing that there were errors in manuscripts he had access to. Perhaps it is best if you just realize that you posted something that did not carry your intent, but implied quite naturally the conclusion we came to.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Todd:

I've provided evidence that Augustine believed in inerrancy: "the authors were completely free from error" were his words.

1) Actually, I never asked you to provide any evidence about Augustine, but was asking Tim to show his evidence that Augustine believed there were errors in the Bible.
2) I totally agree with your position - that Augustine held to inerrancy. We're on the same page.

If I'm deciphering things correctly now, it seems that Tim did not mean to claim that Augustine denied inerrancy, but that he denied perfect manuscript transmission.

Todd
 

P.F.

Puritan Board Freshman
Todd:

I understand where you stand, which is where DTK and I also stand. Possibly it is where Tim stands, though he apparently entered the discussion without understanding what "inerrancy" means.

My comment, however, is really to Rob (aka CalvinandHodges) who stated: "No - McGowan goes covers both Augustine and Naziansus - and points out that they believe in Inspiration not Inerrancy."

The book's index lists four pages that reference Augustine: pp. 100, 180, 199, and 200.

Page 100 contains a block quotation that mentions that Augustine used the term inerrabilis about Scripture.

Page 180 mentions that we Reformed folks of the Scottish tradition view Augustine as within our traditional lineage.

Page 199 mentions that Calvin recovered systematic expositional preaching from folks like Augustine and Chrysostom.

Page 200 mentions that Zwingli was strongly influenced by Augustine, to whose work Zwingli had devoted much time in study.

The word "inerrancy" may be a new word, but the concept is a very old concept.

Now, I'm wondering if Rob would like to substantiate his claims with respect to Augustine either with his own arguments or with quotations from McGowan on pages that I didn't locate.
 
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