March 23, 2017

August 12, 2009


JI Packer on the Inerrancy of Scripture

From chapter 4 of Dr. JI Packer’s “Truth and Power: The Approach to Biblical Application”

First, why does biblical trustworthiness, whether we call it infallibility or inerrancy, matter? Why should it be thought important to fight for the total truth of the Bible? Some, of course, do not think it important, either because this is a belief they do not share or because they do not regard others’ disbelief of inerrancy as either dishonoring God or disadvantaging the disbelievers. I, however, am one of those who think this battle very important, and this is why: biblical veracity and biblical authority are bound up together. Only truth can have final authority to determine belief and behavior, and Scripture cannot have such authority further than it is true. A factually and theologically untrustworthy Bible could still impress us as a presentation of religious experience and expertise, but clearly, if we cannot affirm its total truthfulness, we cannot claim that it is all God’s testimony and teaching, given to control our convictions and conduct.

  Here is a major issue for decision. There is really no disputing that Jesus Christ and his apostles, the founders of Christianity, held and taught that the Jewish Scriptures (our Old Testament) were God’s witness to himself in the form of human witness to him. There is no disputing that Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Son, viewed these Scriptures as his Father’s Word (see how he quotes a narrative comment as the Creator’s utterance in Mt 19:5, citing Gen 2:24); or that he quoted Scripture to repel Satan (Mt 4:3-11); or that he claimed to be fulfilling both the law and the prophets (Mt 5:17); or that he ministered as a rabbi, that is, a Bible teacher, explaining the meaning of texts of which the divine truth and authority were not in doubt (Mt 12:1-14; 22:23-40; and so on); or that he finally went to Jerusalem to be killed and, as he believed, to be raised to life again because this was the way Scripture said God’s Messiah must go (Mt 26:24, 52-56; Lk 18:31-33; 22:37; compare 24: 25-27, 44-47). Nor is there really any disputing (despite skeptical poses struck by some scholars) that “God raised him from the dead” (Acts 13:30), thereby vindicating all he had said and done as right — including the way he had understood, taught and obeyed the Scriptures. So, too, it is clear that the apostles, like their Lord, saw the Scriptures as the God-given verbal embodiment of teaching from the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:25; 28:25; 2 Tim 3:16-17; Heb 3:7; 10:15); and that they claimed, not merely that particular predictions were fulfilled in Christ (compare Acts 3:22-24), but that all the Jewish Scriptures were written for Christians (compare Rom 15:4; 16:26; 1 Cor 10:11; 2 Cor 3:6-16; 1 Pet 1:10-12; 2 Pet 3:16); and that they took over the Old Testament (Septuagint version) for liturgical and homiletical use in the churches alongside their own teaching. For it is also clear that the apostles understood inspiration as the relationship whereby God speaks and teaches in and through human instruction that is given, explicitly or implicitly, in his name. They also saw their own teaching and writing as inspired in just the same sense in which the Old Testament was inspired (compare 1 Cor 2:12; 14:37; 1 Jn 4:6; and so on), so that the later conjoining of their official writing with the Old Testament to form the two-part Christian Bible was a natural and necessary step. None of this is open to serious doubt.

  So the decision facing Christians today is simply this: Will we take our lead at this point from Jesus and the apostles? Will we let ourselves be guided by a Bible received as inspired and therefore wholly true (for God is not the author of untruths), or will we strike out, against our Lord and his most authoritative representatives, on a line of our own? If we do, we have already resolved in principle to be led not by the Bible as given but by the Bible as we edit and reduce it. We are then likely to be found before long scaling down its mysteries (for example, incarnation and atonement) and relativizing its absolutes (for example, in sexual ethics) in the light of our own divergent ideas.

  And it that case Psalm 119 will stand as an everlasting rebuke to us, for instead of doubting and discounting some things in his Bible, the psalmist prayed for understanding so that he might live by God’s law. (Law here means not just commands but all authoritative instruction that bears on living.) This is the path of true reverence, true discipleship and true enrichment. But once we entertain the needless and unproved, indeed unprovable notion that Scripture cannot be fully trusted, that path is partly closed to us. Therefore it is important to maintain inerrancy and to counter denials of it, for only so can we keep open the path of consistent submission to biblical authority and consistently concentrate on the true problem, that of gaining understanding without being entangled in the false question of how much of Scripture should we disbelieve…more

Amen. The veracity of scripture is inextricably tied to its authority. It is a terrible shame that so many orthodox Anglican scholars in the United States have fallen away from this critically important truth. Fortunately, there are now Anglican studies programs in evangelical and reformed schools and universities that officially embrace inerrancy. 


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So the decision facing Christians today is simply this: Will we take our lead at this point from Jesus and the apostles? Will we let ourselves be guided by a Bible received as inspired and therefore wholly true (for God is not the author of untruths), or will we strike out, against our Lord and his most authoritative representatives, on a line of our own? If we do, we have already resolved in principle to be led not by the Bible as given but by the Bible as we edit and reduce it.

That’s the money line in this passage for me and I find sadly true when this topic comes up on SFIF.

[1] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-12-2009 at 07:10 AM · [top]

I think one change I would propose to the Nicene and Apostles creed is the belief in the inerrency of Scripture, God’s Holy Word. 

Once you take a step away from the Bible all hell breaks loose…people start doing all kinds of crazy things…

[2] Posted by B. Hunter on 8-12-2009 at 08:26 AM · [top]

B. Hunter,

Actually, the Creeds are commentary on the Scripture, and presume the Scriptures are what they claim to be - the Word of God written.

Darin+

[3] Posted by frdarin on 8-12-2009 at 08:34 AM · [top]

Mat, I have a question. When you say:
“It is a terrible shame that so many orthodox Anglican scholars in the United States have fallen away from this critically important truth. Fortunately, there are now Anglican studies programs in evangelical and reformed schools and universities that officially embrace inerrancy” you appear to be accusing certain people in the first sentence “many orthodox Anglican scholars” and institutions in the second sentence by lauding “Anglican studies programs in evangelical and reformed schools.”

As a member of the faculty of Trinity School for Ministry and as a friend of Nashotah House I am concerned that you “appear” to be telling all those out there in cyber-space that those two schools are no longer to be trusted for their views on scripture. If it is your belief that either of these schools has backed away from orthodox views on the authority of scripture, please present your evidence. We at Trinity are not doing our work in a corner. We have attempted to stand for the truth of God’s Word against terrible opposition for many years. We are not retreating from that legacy. Clearly the sexuality debate within Anglicanism is only a symptom of a deeper disease and that disease has to do with whether the church and individual Christians are willing to study, believe and obey the scriptures.

In the last couple of years Trinity has begun to produce a small theological journal called the ‘Trinity Journal for Theology and Ministry.’ The current issue is based on Artyilce XX of the XXXIX Articles which reads, in part, that “it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it expound one place of scripture, that it be repugnant to another.” The articles in that issue of the journal - most written by Trinity faculty members - expound on this truth of the non-repugnancy of scripture. Mat, you are welcome to phone Trinity and request a copy. Along with the Lord, we would ask you to ‘test us and see if there be any wicked way in us.’

Trinity and Nashotah have both been concerned about the proliferation of Anglican studies programs around the country. When we have asked those who have launched these programs why they are doing it, theology has never been the issue. In fact we have always been told how much they love us and don’t wish us harm (even though they may actually do us harm even if harm is not intended). What we hear has to do with cost and convenience. ‘It’s hard for people to sell their home, leave their job uproot their family and move to Trinity or Nashotah when there is a seminary around the corner’ seems to be the universal response. No one has accused us of heresy. I hope that is not what you are doing, Mat, although it is hard to read your comment in any other way. Forgive me if I sound a bit defensive. It is not just because the furture of Trinity and Nashotah may be at stake (and therefore my job!) but because we at Trinity and Nashotah have not been convinced that tacking a bit of Anglicanism on to a generic evangelical education will actually produce that kind of Anglican clergy that are needed to re-build from the Anglican ruins around us.

blessings,
Grant LeMarquand
Academic Dean
Trinity School for Ministry

[4] Posted by Grant LeMarquand on 8-12-2009 at 08:54 AM · [top]

hello Dr. LeMarquand,

“As a member of the faculty of Trinity School for Ministry and as a friend of Nashotah House I am concerned that you “appear” to be telling all those out there in cyber-space that those two schools are no longer to be trusted for their views on scripture.”

I don’t think I my words should be read that broadly. When I said “so many” orthodox Anglican scholars, I did not mean to include “all” scholars or to speak about “schools” in general but about “scholars” in particular.

Please also note the descriptive “orthodox”. That many orthodox Anglican scholars hold to an errantist view of the bible is a sad thing to me and, I think, an error, but I was not meaning to question their commitments to Christian truth or orthodoxy.

It goes almost without saying but since there is doubt I should say it, that both Trinity and Nashotah ought to be held in high regard by all orthodox Anglicans and I am very thankful for them. We owe a debt of gratitude and support.

I was not limiting, moreover, my comments to scholars at Nashotah or Trinity. There are orthodox Anglican scholars who comment here who do not hold positions at any school who also take the errantist postion.

I will admit to being distressed that of the professors from the two schools you name who have commented here, they have, to a man, embraced a view of the nature of scripture that is at odds with the one Dr. Packer articulates above. That distresses me.

Even more it distresses me that on various threads I have been led to believe that the inerrancy position is a minority one in those two schools. If that assertion is incorrect, I will be overjoyed to note that and blast that news to the skies.

“If it is your belief that either of these schools has backed away from orthodox views on the authority of scripture, please present your evidence.”

Again, I am not speaking about “schools” but scholars and the evidence that some scholars from those two schools do not hold to inerrancy may be found all over the various inerrancy threads in their own words and comments. These scholars are certainly orthodox and they certainly hold the bible to be authoritative but they just as definitively reject the doctrine of inerrancy and that, to me, is troubling for the reasons Dr. Packer articulates above.

“We at Trinity are not doing our work in a corner. We have attempted to stand for the truth of God’s Word against terrible opposition for many years.”

Absolutely. Thank you for what you have done.

“We are not retreating from that legacy. Clearly the sexuality debate within Anglicanism is only a symptom of a deeper disease and that disease has to do with whether the church and individual Christians are willing to study, believe and obey the scriptures.”

Yes, I agree.

“In the last couple of years Trinity has begun to produce a small theological journal called the ‘Trinity Journal for Theology and Ministry.’ The current issue is based on Artyilce XX of the XXXIX Articles which reads, in part, that “it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it expound one place of scripture, that it be repugnant to another.” The articles in that issue of the journal - most written by Trinity faculty members - expound on this truth of the non-repugnancy of scripture.”

I would love to read that—it sounds great. Again, I do not doubt that these particular scholars uphold biblical authority and the primacy of scripture, I think, however, that a rejection of inerrancy undercuts both propositions.

“Mat, you are welcome to phone Trinity and request a copy. Along with the Lord, we would ask you to ‘test us and see if there be any wicked way in us.’

Please do not think I have anything against either institution. I do know, based on their own words, that some of the scholars who are employed at both institutions do not hold to inerrancy. For that reason, I am pleased that there are Anglican studies programs in schools that do officially embrace inerrancy so that those who are concerned to uphold this doctrine might attend or send seminarians there and be assured that the training they receive is consistent with this doctrine.

“Trinity and Nashotah have both been concerned about the proliferation of Anglican studies programs around the country. When we have asked those who have launched these programs why they are doing it, theology has never been the issue. In fact we have always been told how much they love us and don’t wish us harm (even though they may actually do us harm even if harm is not intended). What we hear has to do with cost and convenience. ‘It’s hard for people to sell their home, leave their job uproot their family and move to Trinity or Nashotah when there is a seminary around the corner’ seems to be the universal response. No one has accused us of heresy.I hope that is not what you are doing, Mat, although it is hard to read your comment in any other way.”

I hope I have made it clear that I am not accusing you of anything approximating heresy. I pray for Trinity and Nashotah—that they will meet with prosperity and success.

I do think, in the absense of a school-wide policy on inerrancy, that those who are concerned about that particular doctrine might be able to send seminarians to Anglican Studies programs where they might be assured of teaching consistent with it.

“Forgive me if I sound a bit defensive.”

Not at all. Please forgive me for giving the wrong impression.

“It is not just because the furture of Trinity and Nashotah may be at stake (and therefore my job!) but because we at Trinity and Nashotah have not been convinced that tacking a bit of Anglicanism on to a generic evangelical education will actually produce that kind of Anglican clergy that are needed to re-build from the Anglican ruins around us.”

I understand your thinking on this and agree that it would be best for Anglican clergy to be trained in Anglican seminaries. I have been, as I said, distressed and concerned about the question of inerrancy. I believe it to be a hugely significant issue.

Thank you for your comments and for your participation on this thread.

[5] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-12-2009 at 09:52 AM · [top]

Great quote from Dr. Packer.

I want to make a couple of comments as an inerrantist and a pastor of an AMiA church plant. First is one that goes back to the DA Carson thread about the “Chicago Statement.” For my AMiA ordination exams, I had to study this statement and answer questions about Biblical interpretation from it. I certainly had the sense that the AMiA was in agreement with the “Chicago Statement.”

As to Anglican seminaries. I have no history with either Trinity or Nashotah. Having said that, if the choice for a postulant from my parish, was between an Anglican seminary that did not have a solid, inerrantist position, and an evengelical one with an Anglican Study program that did, the choice would not be too hard to make. It would be the evengelical seminary. This is too important of an issue.
Shane+

[6] Posted by Shane Copeland on 8-12-2009 at 10:27 AM · [top]

If it is your belief that either of these schools has backed away from orthodox views on the authority of scripture, please present your evidence. We at Trinity are not doing our work in a corner. We have attempted to stand for the truth of God’s Word against terrible opposition for many years. We are not retreating from that legacy. Clearly the sexuality debate within Anglicanism is only a symptom of a deeper disease and that disease has to do with whether the church and individual Christians are willing to study, believe and obey the scriptures.

Dear Dr LeMarquand,

I know that your question was directed at Matt+, but you do seem to have concern about the image of your school and I do believe there are somethings you should know. I suggest you do a search on Stand Firm for either an “inerrancy” or JEDP debate.

Generally, some scholar will pull rank and tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about because they have the PhD. Well, this is frustrating since Jesus had not just a few words about the Scribes (the academics of His time) and many other Biblical injunctions which seem to work opposite modern academia culture, but it is true that I only have an AAS. Dutifully, I will frequently pass on these debates and ask questions to either PhD or candidates in NT, Church History or World Religions in this area, another priest I trust that I’ve passed stuff along and asked questions also happens to be the Northeast coordinator for AMiA.

All of this over time builds impressions, as we attempt to discern the best course to send our seminarians and hire associate rectors.

Most notably David Handy+, “New Reformation Advocate”  (who has nothing to do with Trinity School for Ministry as far as I can tell) will drag your name into these debates to back up his point. There is a professor at Trinity who also chimes in and while not confirming David Handy+‘s assessment of Trinity, he does not dispute them and frequently is supporting NRA. So the image of your school is frequently tied to the view point of a few.

I would suggest that if view points are not representative of your school or if Trinity has a neutral position that you do as you have and join the discussion also to make clear delineations if someone is using your school’s name in a way that you do not desire it.

I know that I have forwarded and asked questions of my priests, I do not know if other people do the same. Ironically, even though our ecclesiology is so very different, Dr Chris Seitz+ seems to sum up my rectors positions on these issue the best.

[7] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-12-2009 at 10:36 AM · [top]

Dr. LeMarquand,
You wrote:
Along with the Lord, we would ask you to ‘test us and see if there be any wicked way in us.’”

WIth all due respect, Sir, I believe that is exactly what Matt was trying to do.

[8] Posted by heart on 8-12-2009 at 11:21 AM · [top]

Readers of Standfirm may also want to reference
the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy link
and
Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics > link
Dr. Packer was involved in their formulation and although one may disagree with parts of these formulations, I have personally found them very useful.  Although these two statements do not purport to be “Anglican”, their clear exposition of many of the central issues is well done, imho.
Pax et Bonum!
Steve Goodman

[9] Posted by Etienne on 8-12-2009 at 11:42 AM · [top]

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[10] Posted by Rich Gabrielson on 8-12-2009 at 11:45 AM · [top]

subscribe

[11] Posted by David Hein on 8-12-2009 at 11:51 AM · [top]

Anglicans holding to inerrancy are a small minority who seem determined to maintain that inerrancy is a universal standard for all of us and should be officially subscribed to by Anglican seminaries. It would be most unfortunate if that were to happen, but perhaps more to the point, it is unrealistic for the inerrantists to expect that such a situation is going to happen at any institution which values its academic reputation.

[12] Posted by Chazzy on 8-12-2009 at 02:19 PM · [top]

Matt+
I am a graduate from a RC Seminary (I am now an Episcopalian/Anglican) and we were taught the RC doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture according to Dei Verbum <ahref=“http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651118_dei-verbum_en.html”> link </a>
I haven’t had a chance to read the Chicago Statement (I will now) but what do you mean when you say an orthodox theologian doesn’t hold the Scriptures to be inerrant?  Do they say that parts of the scrptures are inerrant or the scriptures are not at all?

[13] Posted by King E on 8-12-2009 at 02:23 PM · [top]

Yeah Chazzy, because everyone knows how disreputable scholars like JI Packer, Wayne Grudem, RC Sproul etc are…

[14] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-12-2009 at 02:27 PM · [top]

Not to mention, as King E does, the Roman Catholic Church…

King E. What I meant was that while I think that those who deny inerrancy are in error, I would not call them heretics in so far as they are willing to uphold the primacy of scripture and its authority in the church.

The error of course lies in the idea that you can hold to scriptural primacy while at the same time measure it by some other standard and find it wanting.

[15] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-12-2009 at 02:29 PM · [top]

Dr. LeMarquand (#4),

I’m sorry if the angst and distress that I’ve provoked among some readers at SF have been somehow projected onto TSM and Nashotah.  The very last thing that I would ever want to happen is for either or both of those fine seminaries to suffer because they were considered tainted in some people’s eyes by association with my sometimes provocative statements here at SF.  And the same goes for Wycliffe College in Toronto.  All three schools are vital to the future of orthodox Anglicanism in North America, and I think all three of them are doing a fabulous job.

For the record, I don’t claim to speak for anyone else, not even for the whimsical NRAFC.  I certainly make no claim to represent the faculty at those outstanding seminaries. 

So I’m glad you jumped in early on this thread to stand up for Trinity (and implicitly Nashotah and Wycliffe).  I hope many SF readers will accept your invitation to check out what the three schools have to offer and their rock solid commitment to biblical, historic orthodoxy in its Anglican form.  Keep up the good work.

David Handy+

[16] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 8-12-2009 at 02:56 PM · [top]

I’m sorry if the angst and distress that I’ve provoked among some readers at SF have been somehow projected onto TSM and Nashotah.

Fr Handy,

This is a most curious phase and I question if you are not trying to divert attention from yourself and does not line up with past comments:

This would be true of most, if not all, the faculty members at Trinity in Ambridge and Nashotah House. 10-02-2008 at 04:45 PM 

and

But the fact remains that the MAJORITY of orthodox clergy are not inerrantists, just like the majority of the faculty at both Trinity in Ambridge and Nashotah House aren’t inerrantists. 11-12-2008 at 06:27 AM

Just to find two examples where you have expressly (not “somehow projected”) and as such “For the record, I don’t claim to speak for anyone else, not even for the whimsical NRAFC” is not a true representation of past postings.

[17] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-12-2009 at 03:17 PM · [top]

Chazzy at #12 says that Anglicans holding to inerrancy are a small minority. How does Chazzy know? As a High School teacher, I have to say that if a statement like that appeared in one of my pupil’s essays, I would write
Evidence??
or
How do you know??
in the margin.  At the end of the piece of work I might comment that unsubstantiated statements are valueless.  To convince, hard evidence is required.
Eh, Chazzy?

[18] Posted by Elliot B on 8-12-2009 at 03:37 PM · [top]

#15 - Matt: The Roman Church’s view of the inerrancy of Scripture is quite different from that espoused by the Chicago Statement, as even a cursory reading of Verbum Dei or the Catholic Catechism will show.  In fact, according to Aidan Nichols OP, Rome explicitly rejects the “verbal plenary” view of inerrancy espoused by many evangelicals.  As a Catholic Anglican I very much admire Rome’s position on this issue.  Here’s a great quote from Nichols:

The inerrant truth of Scripture is inerrant saving truth.  This means that the absolute, unconditional inerrancy of the Bible is a formal, not a material, inerrancy; inspiration has the effect of rendering Scripture inerrant under one formal perspective only, that of relevance to human salvation.  (Aidan Nichols, The Shape of Catholic Theology , p. 137, emphasis his)

Dan+

[19] Posted by Dan Dunlap on 8-12-2009 at 04:12 PM · [top]

Hi Dan+

Yes, I agree that Chicago and Rome are not the same. There does seem to be some disparity, however, in the Roman church on this question and the interpretation of various documents
http://www.catholicfaithandreason.org/BibleInerrancy.htm

I definitely think people should read dei verbum for themselves
http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM

[20] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-12-2009 at 04:43 PM · [top]

Having made a strong statement earlier, I have been following this post since and also went to Trinity’s website. But I guess I am still confused as to what their position on innerancy is? It does appear if they do not hold to inerrancy as put forth by The Chicago Statement. Is that correct?

[21] Posted by Shane Copeland on 8-12-2009 at 04:51 PM · [top]

Matt, it has taken me several hours to weigh in on this subject because I am stunned and deeply hurt that you would use the occasion of sharing Dr. Packer’s very commendable words on Scripture to besmirch two Anglican seminaries where Packer is a hero of the Faith.  (Packer has been instrumental in the life of Trinity since its founding, and his image is emblazoned in a mural there; and he was our Commencement speaker and received an honorary D.D. from Nashotah House in May of this year.)

When Grant LeMarquand (#4) states that “you ‘appear’ to be telling all those out there in cyber-space that those two schools are no longer to be trusted for their views on scripture” you respond, “I don’t think my words should be read that broadly.”  But then you go on to say,

I will admit to being distressed that of the professors from the two schools you name who have commented here, they have, to a man, embraced a view of the nature of scripture that is at odds with the one Dr. Packer articulates above. That distresses me.

It seems to me that you are very clearly calling the reputation of the two schools into question.  You further assert, “I do know, based on their own words, that some of the scholars who are employed at both institutions do not hold to inerrancy.”  Matt, as far as I am aware, I am the only faculty member from Nashotah House who comments on Stand Firm.  What have I or anyone else from Nashotah House ever said to lead you to believe that we have “embraced a view of the nature of scripture that is at odds with the one Dr. Packer articulates?”

I was a lowly seminarian in 1978 when the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy issued the “Chicago Statement.”  Our biblical studies faculty at Nashotah House (1 Old Testament, 1 New Testament professor, and 1 theology professor), being considerably younger, were still in elementary school at the time.  However, all four of us (including myself) studied with professors who were signatories of the “Chicago Statement” and we have continued to reflect that view of Scripture in our own teaching and ministries.

Just for comparison, the Statement of Faith of Gordon Conwell Seminary, states: 

The sixty-six canonical books of the Bible as originally written were inspired of God, hence free from error. They constitute the only infallible guide in faith and practice.

Nashotah House’s Statement of Identity states:

Therefore, the standard of teaching and practice of this House is belief in:
{...}
4. …the revelation of God in Scripture, which is “God’s Word written,” the infallible rule for Christian faith and practice.

(I encourage you to read the rest of the Statement.  You will find, among other things, that we are explicitly pro-life.)

In using the term “God’s Word written” we were echoing the language of the 39 Articles.  If it is God’s Word written (capital “W”—his Logos, the expression of His thought, in written form), how can it be anything less than completely true? 

As Packer states in the first sentence of the excerpt you quoted, the issue is “biblical trustworthiness, whether we call it infallibility or inerrancy…”  Note that both statements say that the Bible is “the infallible rule for Christian faith and practice.”  When we chose the language of historic Anglicanism (“God’s Word written”), rather than the language of Protestant debates of the last 30 years “inerrant,” it does not mean that we were saying anything less than inerrancy.  We believe we were expressing the functional equivalence of inerrancy, and our teaching here is consistent with that view—that, in Dr. Packer’s words, “we let ourselves be guided by a Bible received as inspired and therefore wholly true.”

Matt, the reason your comments distress me so much is that my whole purpose at Nashotah House has been to create a seminary where people don’t have to choose between a high view of Scripture, a thorough immersion in the Anglican ethos, and a practical grounding in leading and growing congregations that meets the needs of the Church today.  We believe that we offer all that and do a much better job than the Anglican studies programs in other seminaries.  But our job is made all the more difficult when people who should know better engage in characterizations that are inaccurate and harmful.

Robert S. Munday+
Nashotah House

[22] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 8-12-2009 at 05:00 PM · [top]

But don’t you think some disparity should be allowable?  If I read Packer et al. correctly they would nail inerrancy down to the Chicago Statement, which allows no disparity on the issue whatsoever.  Frankly, my read of the Chicago Statement amounts to the death of the verbal plenary view of inspiration by a thousand qualifications.  But that’s just my opinion.

[23] Posted by Dan Dunlap on 8-12-2009 at 05:04 PM · [top]

Well, I think it’s time for me to come clean and own up to my part in contributing to this disturbing mess.  Hosea (#17) has cited a couple places where I unwisely made assertions at SF in the past that I shouldn’t have made, since I’m in no way an authorized representative of either TSM or Nashotah House, and I don’t know all the faculty at those schools personally.  I regret making those statements, which may be causing damage to the reputation of those outstanding schools among some people here on this forum in ways I never anticipated.

I was going by what Dr. William Witt had told me about TSM, and on inferences from what I’ve read in published materials by some of the faculty at Nashotah.  Certainly Dr. Reginal Fuller and former ABoC Michael Ramsay, who both adorned the faculty of Nashotah occasionally, were far from being inerrantists in any meaningful sense of the term.  And neither was Gary Kriss+, the former Dean of Nashotah, who was my boss when I was first ordained a deacon in Albany and served under Fr. Kriss on the Cathedral staff.  But they taught at Nashotah in the past, and I had no business claiming to speak of Nashotah’s present faculty.

So again, my deep apologies to Dean Munday and Prof. LeMarquand, the Academic Dean at Trinity.  I’m mortified by how Matt and others are tarring those fine, solidly orthodox seminaries with the tar and feathers that could properly be applied to me.

With remorse,
David Handy+

[24] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 8-12-2009 at 05:26 PM · [top]

David+

“I’m mortified by how Matt and others are tarring those fine, solidly orthodox seminaries with the tar and feathers that could properly be applied to me.”

This is simply a falsehood. I have not tarred anyone or anything.

Your representations regarding the two seminaries have certainly played a role in this, but the words of various professors are what they are.

[25] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-12-2009 at 05:45 PM · [top]

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[26] Posted by 7Light on 8-12-2009 at 05:54 PM · [top]

Dear Dean Robert S. Munday+

I do appreciate your comment, but I’d have to agree with Matt+. Your words are not a few hours late, I’d say months to at least one year late, as I remember discussing some of this with Dr Noll+ [he was advocating CCP support both schools around the time of GAFCON] and those where just some recent quotes from NRA+ that I used, the name of your school has been dragged up for a while and the reason I pushed back on Dr. Noll+‘s blanket assertions. I tried to give the benefit of the doubt of the thread about Infallibility as I do believe Matt+ did as well {“I would say with regard to Trinity at least that not all of the professors and teachers there reject inerrancy as does Dr. Witt.”}, but neither you, Leander Harding or others rebutted, in that discussion or any of the others that followed. The only one who did bulk at Fr Handy’s use of name (which I do confess to be humorous ... he reject any “brown-noising”) and challenge in a productive way.

You might have a point if this were the only thread, but the reputation has been built for over a year, on maybe about ten different threads (some with moment of great humor).

I’ve challenged before that if what NRA+ has said is untrue than some body in authority needs to dispute it and do so in a timely manner. Well, I think after many, many, many, many, many, many, many posts, one finally notice (I also think there been a few emails behind the scene too, Fr Handy is acting unusably penitent, when he certainly has never been when I directly challenged his use of other people’s name in the past). The damage has already been done, I know I may be a stupid and work in construction, which ordinarily should be no threat to the schools PR campaign, but it is not to say I don’t have some interesting friends and might forward and ask questions of people who are also decision makers.

Unlike Fr Handy, I have no remorse, because I did exactly what SFIF (and others) has taught me to do, be on guard, watchful, stand firm and alert authorities when I see something wrong.

[27] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-12-2009 at 06:23 PM · [top]

I am appalled that the media would tar and feather former President Clinton for the Lewinsky Scandal and his interpretation of the events thereof.  I admit my part in spreading those rumors about the meaning of the singular form of the verb ‘to be’ and do hereby apologize, sackcloth, ashes, tar, feathers and all, for the actions of the media. 

Existentially Yours,
- Moot

[28] Posted by J Eppinga on 8-12-2009 at 07:05 PM · [top]

David (#24), please don’t engage in too much remorse.  You are not the one who extended a discussion of biblical inerrancy to cast aspersions on Trinity and Nashotah House.  If you and Matt want to discuss that issue per se that is fine with me, and I may (or may not) contribute as I am able. 

You cite your own mentors, some of whom are very dear to me.  Michael Ramsey is the product of an age in which discussions regarding biblical inerrancy did not play much, if any, role.  I am not in my office at the moment, but if I were, I could produce some quotations from Ramsey that reflect a very high view of Scripture, particularly given the academic and cultural context in which he lived and worked.  Similarly, I loved Reg Fuller.  I found some of his views a little unnerving.  But he was a product of his background and training, as we all are.  I take comfort that Reg seemed to grow more conservative the older he got.  To paraphrase Dr. Packer’s words, Reg was the sort of scholar who never used his, “disbelief of inerrancy” as a way of either “dishonoring God or disadvantaging the disbelievers.”

In the way of explaining my own background, I mentioned that I studied with professors in seminary who were signers of the “Chicago Statement.”  Beyond that, J.I. Packer and R.C. Sproul were among my theological mentors in the late 70’s and early 80’s and helped shape my own views on the inspiration and authority of Scripture.  Which is why I get a little testy when I read, on a website where I am a frequent commenter, “of the professors from the two schools you name who have commented here, they have, to a man, embraced a view of the nature of scripture that is at odds with the one Dr. Packer articulates above.”  If that statement is intended to characterize my own position, then it is patently untrue.

In my opinion, the present debates in Anglicanism have brought the issue of the authority of Scripture into keener focus in a way that should motivate us all to re-evaluate our own underlying assumptions about its inspiration and trustworthiness.  I believe that, if Ramsey were alive today, looking at the shambles that are being made out of Anglicanism precisely through a lack of confidence in Scripture, he might well shore up the foundations of his own views.

[29] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 8-12-2009 at 07:15 PM · [top]

This is simply a falsehood. I have not tarred anyone or anything.

I would disagree.  I think it is a fair assessment that the purpose of this posting was to warn potential seminarians that Trinity and Nashota had “fallen away from this critically important truth” which was a “terrible shame”.  And that “fortunately” they had other options in the evangelical world for seminary.  That appears to have been the entire point of this posting…

[30] Posted by Nevin on 8-12-2009 at 07:29 PM · [top]

Was CS Lewis an inerrantist?

[31] Posted by Capn Jack Sparrow on 8-12-2009 at 07:38 PM · [top]

More to the point, were J. B. Lightfoot and B. F. Westcott and H. C. G. Moule and B. H. Streeter and C. F. D. Moule and F. C. Grant and other well known Anglican biblical scholars inerrantists?

Rudy+

[32] Posted by Rudy on 8-12-2009 at 07:53 PM · [top]

How many times during two plus years past have I asked Fr. David Handy “What is your purpose?’, “What are you trying to accomplish with this comment?”, “Why are you saying this?”?  So many that Fr. Handy specifically referred to me as one of his detractors.

In my view, Trinity and Nashotah are shining lights in a sea of darkness; not perfect, but the brightest lights in an otherwise very dark sea.

Dr. Munday+ and others certainly have missed opportunities to respond to Fr. Handy, and others.  With little else to do, I am flabbergasted they allowed those opportunities to escape them.

SFIF has been a tremendous spiritual resource to me over the past several years.  Fr. Matt Kennedy’s posts and comments have been a major factor in that.  Many others who post and comment on this thread have also contributed to making SFIF the resource it has been and is to me.

To suggest that Fr. Matt has “tarred and feathered” Trinity, Nashotah or anyone associated with either, or anyone else, other than Satan, is difficult for me to imagine.

God bless Fr. Matt, Dr. Munday+, Nashotah and Trinity and all who teach and preach the faith once delivered.

[33] Posted by Ol' Bob on 8-12-2009 at 08:13 PM · [top]

Critique the below:

Inerrancy in the current sense of the term is a twentieth-century idea, developed as a response to liberal attacks on the authority of the Gospel. It was not held (naming Protestants only) by Luther, or Calvin, or Wesley, or Whitefield, or anybody else, and in the 20th century not even by J. Gresham Machen in the first great defence of Scriptural authority. It is based not on Scripture, but on pagan/secular philosophying about the nature of God—e.g., “God is perfect; therefore He cannot lie.” This is a conclusion of secular philosophy based on secular/pagan notions of “perfection”. In Scripture, God changes his mind, repents of previous actions, says things that are factually untrue to his beloved, etc.

[34] Posted by Toral1 on 8-12-2009 at 08:16 PM · [top]

In Scripture, God changes his mind, repents of previous actions, says things that are factually untrue to his beloved, etc.

Toral1, whatever weak case you make for dismissing inerrancy as a 20th century idea was demolished by your ignorance of, or disingenuous purpose in not acknowledging, these changes of mind and repentance as anthropomorphisms, God’s phrasing of truths beyond human understanding yet giving us a “paraphrase” of His thought in human terms that let us take in as much as we can handle.  The Chicago Statement deals with anthropomorphisms quite well.  I am intrigued by the last phrase of the sentence I quoted.  Please provide one, or preferably several, examples of God saying things to His beloved that are factually untrue.

And this! :

It is based not on Scripture, but on pagan/secular philosophying about the nature of God—e.g., “God is perfect; therefore He cannot lie.” This is a conclusion of secular philosophy based on secular/pagan notions of “perfection”.

What Scripture are you reading?  God’s perfection and His utter and complete truthfulness to the point of being unable to lie are affirmed so often in Scripture as to be the very warp and woof of it.  Secular philosophy constantly asserts the opposite.  I would fear and tremble to have uttered such a slander against the Triune God!
Isaiah 66:2b “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

[35] Posted by Milton on 8-12-2009 at 08:47 PM · [top]

Toral1, realizing that you may be quoting the words of another, I hope you will clarify who actually wrote or spoke them.

[36] Posted by Milton on 8-12-2009 at 08:49 PM · [top]

Dean Munday,

1. I do apologize for causing offense or hurt. That was not my intent.

2. I also apologize for another reason. I was concentrating in my remarks on the various inerrancy threads. I did not mean to imply or include you when I wrote

“I will admit to being distressed that of the professors from the two schools you name who have commented here, they have, to a man, embraced a view of the nature of scripture that is at odds with the one Dr. Packer articulates above. That distresses me.”

In my concentration on the ongoing debate on inerrancy I had forgotten that you comment quite often on SF. I should have been far more specific and narrowed my remarks to the inerrancy threads. You have never articulated a view contrary to Packer’s on SF.

But in the specific debates on inerrancy two from Nashotah and Trinity have.

Here is Dr. Witt on the Chicago Statement who I consider a friend but who does not hold to the understanding of inerrancy articulated by Packer above:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/10605#199780

Here is Occassional Reader who is registered under the name of a member of the faculty at Nashotah:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/10605#197580

I was referring specifically to them in my response to Dr. LeMarquand. I regard them as orthodox Anglican scholars who are solid and faithful but who nevertheless reject inerrancy as understood by Packer and the signitories of the Chicago Statement.

I remind you here that I did not, in my original post, mention Trinity and Nashotah. I pointed more broadly to “many orthodox Anglican scholars” because the discussion has been far broader and included many scholars who do not teach at either institution…in fact the majority who have commented here do not teach at either institution.

But those who do hold positions at Nashotah and Trinity who have weighed in on the matter here on Stand Firm do not hold to the inerrancy position as articulated by the ICBI and Dr. Packer above and neither school takes that position as a matter of policy.

3. I want to reiterate here what I said to Dr. LeMarquand, Trinity and Nashota are solid orthodox Anglican seminaries that uphold the primacy and authority of the bible. They have fought the good fight and are, in my opinion, foundational for the future of North American Anglicanism. Nothing I have said regarding the inerrancy debate takes away from that.

4. I do not, however, understand how it is possible to reconcile the Nashotah House statement of identity with the Gordon Conwell statement and/or the Chicago statement’s. To say that the bible is “the infallible rule for Christian faith and practice” is good and right but it is less comprehensive than an explicit statement that the bible is free from error in all matters with which it deals.

“The sixty-six canonical books of the Bible as originally written were inspired of God, hence free from error.”

That is what sets the Chicago statement and the Conwell statement apart from those statements that just affirm inerrancy with regard to matters of “faith and practice” or “salvation”.

So there is a substantial distinction between the Nashotah statement and the Conwell statement and these distinctions I think are crucial and they are at the heart of the running debate we have been having on SF.

For that reason, I stand by what I wrote in my initial posting. Though Trinity and Nashotah are solid orthodox Anglican seminaries that are foundational to the future of North American Anglicanism, for those who value the doctrine of inerrancy as articulated by the ICBI, it is good to have the option of Anglican studies programs based in institutions that uphold inerrancy as an official policy.

5. Notwithstanding, David Handy+‘s assertions with regard to the makeup of the Nashotah and Trinity faculties which are neither here nor there, my comments regarding the scholars on the faculty of Trinity or Nashotah who have commented here are based on the words of those scholars themselves (see above).

6. Finally, I am having a difficult time understanding your assertion that I have “cast aspersions” on Trinity or Nashotah House. I have not done that. I have said that it is a good thing there are Anglican Studies programs for those Anglicans who prefer institutions that officially adhere to the doctrine of inerrancy. I have also said that, in my opinion, it is a sad thing that neither Trinity nor Nashotah embraces such a policy. These are simply facts. They are not aspersions. I am not tarring either institution nor would I.

[37] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-12-2009 at 08:52 PM · [top]

Nevin,

I have not “tarred” either school. That is simply false.  I think the doctrine of inerrancy is a vital one. For that reason I am 1. unhappy that many orthodox Anglican scholars reject it and 2. I am happy that there are Anglican Studies programs for those Anglicans who prefer institutions that officially adhere to the doctrine of inerrancy.

I have also said that, in my opinion, it is a sad thing that neither Trinity nor Nashotah embraces such a policy. These are simply facts.

I am not tarring either institution nor would I. I have great respect and admiration for both. I am pointing out that there are options for those who seek schools that adhere to an official policy of inerrancy.

[38] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-12-2009 at 08:59 PM · [top]

No, Hosea 6:6, (#27) you not only need to have remorse, you need to repent!  You are reminiscent of the former head of a certain GLBT organization we all know who has a habit of challenging certain church leaders that if they haven’t issued statements (for instance) condemning the Nigerian government’s criminalization of homosexuality, then they are complicit in it. (Nevermind that those church leaders may not have the foggiest idea what the Nigerian government’s position is on homosexuality.)

You are suggesting that if aspersions regarding Nashotah House’s position on the Bible were made over the past year on a thread (or threads) that I didn’t happen to read (and, therefore, didn’t rebut), then those lies should, even now, be allowed to stand as the truth.  How idiotic is that?!?!

But thank you for the link to the article I never read entitled, Article Six (part 2): Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation, where you, David Handy and Matt Kennedy all misrepresented Nashotah House’s position.  (Golly, if only I had known sooner how much slander against Nashotah House our advertising on Stand Firm was helping to support!)

Thank you also for the link to the article on Infallibility, which also I had never read.  I didn’t see any references to Nashotah House, but I bookmarked the article to read the next time I am suffering from insomnia.

You see, in the 1970’s and 80’s I loved to debate questions like inerrancy (and a great many other theological propositions), like the “young Turk” I was at the time.  I’m 54 now, and my life is a lot more hectic.  The only things I want to do with the Bible are (1) study it, (2) believe it, (3) teach it, and (4) conform my life to it; and not to debate it.  So now, when I see an online debate of the kind I grew weary of more than 20 years ago, I tend to give it a pass.  I probably wouldn’t have read this current thread if J.I. Packer’s name hadn’t been in the title.

So far, this thread has caused me to blow a good portion of the day and miss going to a movie tonight.  I have a disgruntled bishop to deal with in the morning and a conference call in the afternoon to figure out what the clergy of my diocese (South Carolina) are going to do following General Convention.  (Pray for us!)  So if y’all discuss Nashotah House again, please try to give us the benefit of the doubt, because I may (or may not) be reading.

Grace and Peace!

Robert S. Munday+
Nashotah House

[39] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 8-12-2009 at 09:00 PM · [top]

am not tarring either institution nor would I. I have great respect and admiration for both. I am pointing out that there are options for those who seek schools that adhere to an official policy of inerrancy.

I can easily see how someone might take that as encouragement to NOT take courses from those two insitutions, because there are other options.  I can easily see why someone who is a leader in such an organization, and who apparently sees himself as being under siege in a hostile church, would take great distress at an influential website encouraging people to spend their time, money and resources elsewhere.

[40] Posted by AndrewA on 8-12-2009 at 09:07 PM · [top]

No, Hosea 6:6, (#27) you not only need to have remorse, you need to repent!

Please show me in Scared Scripture of what sin I need to repent.

On various threads, I was instructed that was not qualified to have an opinion since I did not have a PhD. I simply asked forwarded the articles and questions to those who did.

Since your SFIF join date is February 22, 2007 12:19 AM, well before those posts and your name is frequently on the sidebar, I do think it would behoove you to notice if someone is using the name of your institution (as Fr Handy has and I offered at least two examples, you are capable of doing a search yourself if there are more).

Now, you seem to be involved in the sin of slander, since Matt+‘s #37 he did not mean you, and I ask you to please read what I said in that post—“(which it might be in Dr. Noll+ or Dean Robert Nunday+‘s best interest to refute if not true)”—If you can not recognize the shock and agony of hoping something to be untrue and desiring something much like Dean LeMarquand’s #4 or your #22 on this thread back then ... well ... it is a pity, but I am the one who wrote it and know that what Fr Handy wrote crushed my opinion of both schools, I desired it not to be true, but I can’t tell you how many time in this mess that I’ve been devastated by people I thought were one way but in the end it was not to be.

So again what do I need to repent of?

It seems to me that debates have rage on SFIF, that you, who are in a position more than I, that it might be wise to pay attention, yet did not. When you notice, you make accusations and demands of repentance of those who did not accuse you (Matt+) or were so hoping you would walk through the door to refute so long ago, but never came (me).

So I remind you of a certain former head of a certain GLBT organization ... please if you going to accuse a brother in Christ, why don’t you just say who you mean. Also do not put words in my mouth, I’ve given at least two examples where Fr Hardy was the one tying your institutions name and even in my address to Dean LeMarquand in my #7 in the second paragraph next to the end, request that if these are not the idea of Trinity to please refute.

If you desire, I will forward this thread to those I am under spiritual authority to give guidance, but I’d ask to whom you are accountable to if they find that I am not in error and you are the one in sin and need discipline to be held to account.

[41] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-12-2009 at 09:28 PM · [top]

Dean Munday,

I followed your link. The first part is a quote from David Handy+ asserting that few if any at either institution accept inerrancy as articulated by the ICBI

“This would be true of most, if not all, the faculty members at Trinity in Ambridge and Nashotah House…”

The second part is my comment on that quote:

“While I would agree with this, especially the “not all” part of it, I would also say that this, regrettably is why I think at least some promising seminarians will go to places like Gordon Conwell. I hope that inerrancy will one day be more fully represented at both institutions. But if not, well, unfortunately there are other options.”

I do not think I “misrepresented” Nashotah’s position much less “slandered” Nashotah. Nashotah does not officially embrace inerrancy as articulated by the ICBI. Fr. Handy made the assertion that “most if not all” professors do not agree with inerrancy on the faculty of either institution. The professors who comment on the SF inerrancy threads from both institutions explicitly rejected the Chicago Statement.

I assumed, based on these facts, that Fr. Handy knew better than I so I agreed. I emphasized the “not all” part because I knew of one that does embrace inerrancy. I apologize for agreeing based on insufficient knowledge.

I did not slander or misrepresent. I agreed with a representation that I had no reason to suspect was false. If you say it is false, that the majority of the faculty at Nashotah agree with the ICBI’s articulation of inerrancy in the Chicago Statement, then I will certainly and joyfully recant, repent and seek forgiveness.

[42] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-12-2009 at 09:37 PM · [top]

AndrewA (#40),

I am puzzled by your reference to “an influential website encouraging people to spend their time, money and resources elsewhere.”

Would you be kind enough to provide a specific example, a citation, of any one on this thread doing that?  A quote, maybe?

God bless.

[43] Posted by Ol' Bob on 8-12-2009 at 09:38 PM · [top]

Guys, I don’t see where Matt has tarred either institution. I see where he lumped Dean Munday, probably through haste or inattention, in with a couple of other folks, but he apologized for that downstream.

I’m not enough of a wonk to know whether this school or that embraces or rejects this or that doctrine, but as to the question of “tarring” one of these schools… I just don’t see it. Matt’s not making value judgements - he’s making an observation of what he sees as fact. Whether he’s right or wrong, well… the debate around inafallibility/inerrancy/etc just isn’t my strong suit, so I can’t say.

But either he’s right, or he’s wrong. If he’s right, I don’t see the problem. If he’s wrong, I’d think a simple correction accompanied by an explanation would suffice.

[44] Posted by Greg Griffith on 8-12-2009 at 10:08 PM · [top]

I’d say I don’t know why I’m throwing myself into this but I do.

Ol’ Bob: Would you be kind enough to provide a specific example, a citation, of any one on this thread doing that?  A quote, maybe?

Some people are being intentionally thick.  If a seminarian goes to “places like Gordon Conwell” instead of Nashotah then he is spending his time, resources and money on a place other than Nashotah.  BTW, I am by no means suggesting that Dean Munday’s motivations are purely mercenary, but I’m explaning why it would not be unreasonable of him and his counterpart at Trinity to think that a influential website that their advertisement dollars are supporting is encouraging people to not attend their insitutions.

Hosea6:6
It seems to me that debates have rage on SFIF, that you, who are in a position more than I, that it might be wise to pay attention, yet did not.

For heaven’s sake, why should he feel obliged to carefully track all the debates going on at Stand Firm, especially when they are on topics he is quite settled on and has little interest in arguing about?  I haven’t even read the vast majority of the articles in question, and unlike him I don’t have a particularly time consuming job, familial responsibilities, disgruntled bishops and other far more important things in Real Life to deal with.

[45] Posted by AndrewA on 8-12-2009 at 10:14 PM · [top]

I just don’t see it. Matt’s not making value judgements - he’s making an observation of what he sees as fact.

Only by the most tortured defintions of value judgement and facts.  What does Matt say?

I have also said that, in my opinion, it is a sad thing that neither Trinity nor Nashotah embraces such a policy. These are simply facts.

Yes, it is a “fact” that Matt thinks it is a sad thing.  However, when he says “...in my opinion, it is a sad thing that…” I would call that a value judgment. 

Now, the next question is, does saying “...it is a sad thing that neither Trinity nor Nashotah embraces such a policy,” constitute “tarring” the institutions?

Perhaps this discussion is best continued after a good night’s sleep, perhaps a day to catch the breath, and maybe even a virtual and private “beer summit” between the principals.  If that doesn’t work, I promise to hold the cloaks during the resulting duels over offended honor.  grin

[46] Posted by AndrewA on 8-12-2009 at 10:27 PM · [top]

Hi AndrewA,

Taco Bell does not serve breakfast croisants. That is sad. I like breakfast croisants. If you would like to have breakfast croisants there are institutions that serve them.

[47] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-12-2009 at 10:34 PM · [top]

Andrew A - Are you implying that Stand Firm bloggers should refrain from commenting to avoid upsetting readers or allies when those comments are offered with no malice and based on facts as we believe them to exist?  I thought that was the current purpose of the MSM
I agree with Greg - this is not rocket science.  If Matt has misunderstood a position, it is easily resolved.  I’ve known Matt for a while now and have never known him to be reluctant to correct an error.  He leaves no doubt that he holds both Trinity, Nashota House, not to mention the men who posted and especially Dean Munday in very high regard.  It would stretch the imagination to believe that these good Christian men would be unable to discuss this matter and resolve any differences or misunderstandings in any but a truly Christian manner.

[48] Posted by Jackie on 8-12-2009 at 10:36 PM · [top]

AndrewA:

If you were warn (or more than that, examples given) where your institution, of which you are the executive, is reported to have said something ... don’t you think it might behoove you to pay attention or at least use the handy-dandy search feature to search on these things (or have an admin do it)?

I guess not, you have a “Real Life to deal with.”

——

Dean Munday+ & Dean LeMarquand:

Search is next to “Account” then I typed “Trinity Nashotah House” then pull down box “Search in Titles, Entries, Comments” then “Search for All Words” and 57 entries popped up.

Honestly, my opinion changed based on how Fr Handy presented it and was shocked when Dr Witt chimed it, honestly I had thought these were “topics he is quite settled on and has little interest in arguing about,” but really begin to change my mind (if you want evidence to support that claim, I quite favorable in 5/27/07 thread but you’ll find I’m more suggesting Anglican studies programs by the summer of 2008, I’ll say that directly related to how the schools were presented [still hoping in error] by a professor and another commenter who frequently used your schools to bolster his point.

I hope you would consider pondering what your schools official position is on these matter and if they are not represented by what has been posted in the 57 entries, that you issue some sort of corrective statement that would clear these issues up.

[49] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-12-2009 at 10:37 PM · [top]

Dean Munday+ & Dean LeMarquand

I beg your pardon for my abruptness and I think my post would be better with the addition of a simple word:

I hope you would please consider ...

[50] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-12-2009 at 10:43 PM · [top]

Andrew A - Are you implying that Stand Firm bloggers should refrain from commenting to avoid upsetting readers or allies when those comments are offered with no malice and based on facts as we believe them to exist?  I thought that was the current purpose of the MSM.

No, just and I’m also not implying that people never read meanings into comments that do not 100% correspond to the intention of the commenter, giving rise to understandable but unfortuanate conflict. 

Taco Bell does not serve breakfast croisants. That is sad. I like breakfast croisants. If you would like to have breakfast croisants there are institutions that serve them.

So you see the situation as being analogues to Taco Bell not serving breakfast croissants as opposed to Taco Bell not serving tacos, or serving woefully inadequate tacos?  Thanks.  That certainly clears things up on my end.

It would stretch the imagination to believe that these good Christian men would be unable to discuss this matter and resolve any differences or misunderstandings in any but a truly Christian manner.

As it would stretch the imagination to suggest that experienced denizens of the internet wouldn’t take due consideration of emoticon.  I’m going to retire from this thread before I get myself banned.

[51] Posted by AndrewA on 8-12-2009 at 10:48 PM · [top]

I suppose we can debate on exactly what is meant by “tarring”.  But what is clear is that the entire purpose of this posting was quite intentionally to call into question the orthodoxy of Trinity and Nashotah seminaries, and to suggest that they are not safe for orthodox seminarians who would be wise to look elsewhere for training.  Obviously Matt is free to express this opinion on his own blog.

[52] Posted by Nevin on 8-12-2009 at 10:48 PM · [top]

Rev. Kennedy, your comment number 47 relates to something that is merely a matter of taste. But it is clear from your remarks above that you believe the Chicago Statement reflects a “critically important truth,” and schools that do not unambiguously support it’s view on Scripture have made an error with respect to a “vital” doctrine. Surely the clear implication of your views in this thread is not that seminarians with a “taste” for inerrancy should go to Gordon-Conwell et al, but that any seminarian who wishes to avoid error on a vital doctrine of the faith should do so rather than attend NH or TSM. Haven’t your remarks been intended to exhort all patrons not mired in error to go to some institution other than Taco Bell for their theological sustainance?

[53] Posted by texanglican on 8-12-2009 at 10:49 PM · [top]

Nevin,
You are totally off base.  Matt did no such thing.

[54] Posted by Jackie on 8-12-2009 at 10:50 PM · [top]

“So you see the situation as being analogues to Taco Bell not serving breakfast croissants as opposed to Taco Bell not serving tacos, or serving woefully inadequate tacos?”

No, I see the situation as being analogous to being charged with slander by Taco Bell for expressing a preference for croisants.

“Thanks.  That certainly clears things up on my end.”

Welcome

[55] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-12-2009 at 10:51 PM · [top]

I am very sad that Matt has tarnished the public image of Taco Bell.  Some Taco Bell outlets serve their burritos until 1 a.m.  Some serve until 10 p.m.  But it is the official policy of taco bell outlets that they do not serve breakfast, which would preclude croissants.  Unless of course, they invented a croissant-taco, or croissant-flavored taco, or a volcano stuffed croissant flan dessert, with nachos. But again, such would not be in the official policy of Taco Bell Inc. 

To summarize, it’s okay to assert that Taco Bells are open until 1 a.m., and serves croissant flavored flan with churrito checharones, as long as one is not Matt+.  Keep in mind of course, that the majority of Taco Bell outlets assert that they do these things, while not in line with the official policy of the corporation.  On the other hand, if one is NOT Matt+ and is sympathetic to the right (ney, the duty) of Taco Bell outlets to serve flan flavored honey chicken / tilapia medley, then they are obligated to point that out for everyone’s benefit.  Moreover, they are sorry for Matt+‘s confusion on the matter, do hereby repent for Matt+, poor creature and utterly unable to repent for himself, that he is. 

Whew!

Say - is anyone as hungry right now, as I am?

[56] Posted by J Eppinga on 8-12-2009 at 10:55 PM · [top]

Matt,
It has become clear that you must be brought to task. 
Croissant is spelled with 2 s’s.

[57] Posted by Jackie on 8-12-2009 at 10:55 PM · [top]

It looks like it’s time for me to eat another helping of humble pie.  Having already apologized for contributing to the confusion at SF over the complete soundness of our two leading orthodox Anglican seminaries in America (leaving aside the REC schools), let me make another apology.

My last comment (#24) ended with an ambiguous line that has unfortuantely aroused yet more confusion.  When I said that I was mortified that Matt and others here had “tarred” TSM and Nashotah (i.e., with accusations of not sufficiently upholding the full authority and trustworthiness of Scripture and so not being as safe a place as inerrantist institutions like Gordon-Conwell) I left myself wide open to being misunderstood.  Alas, not for the first time.

I was trying to inject a little humor into a contentious thread to help ease the tension (I was poking a little fun at myself by evoking the image of being tarred and feathered by my critics), but I didn’t supply a smiley face or anything else to make that clear.  And so my attempt at lightening things up backfired, and provoked an immediate, strong denial from Matt (#25), vehemently insisting that he wasn’t tarring either school.  And now Greg was weighed in (#44) to help calm the waters.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for misunderstandings to arise in a written medium like blogs, where we lack tone of voice (as in a phone call) or body language to help clarify what message is really being sent.

So, once again, I’m sorry for uninentionally stirring up controversy and inadvertently sowing confusion in a sensitive area where much was at stake. 

I think one thing we can all agree on is that we all want TSM and Nashtoah House to thrive and flourish.  And Wycliffe in Toronto and Cranmer House in Houston too.  We need all the healthy, viable orthodox seminaries we can get to undergird the survival and growth of orthodox Anglicanism in North America.  We’ve seen several of the liberal TEC seminaries flounder and go belly up in the last year.  None of us want that to happen to those precious assets that TSM and Nashotah are for biblical Anglicanism in North America.

And likewise, we all want SF to thrive and flourish too.  We don’t want TSM or Nashotah to stop advertising here.

David Handy+

[58] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 8-12-2009 at 10:57 PM · [top]

Milton, I was paraphrasing the argument of James Barr, a liberal Anglican theologian, to be found in his great book, “Fundamentalism”. (On a board like this, it should not be necessary to say that calling a book “great” does not mean I agree with any of it. It is the one liberal book I would recommend that everyone read.) I have called him a “liberal”, but he repudiated the term.  His great strength is that he was a leader in the Englich equivalent of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship.  Reading many liberals, one gets the idea that they have never known an orthodox Christian in their life.  Barr has; and although he no longer counts himself with them, he still likes them. In his book he rebuts many of the cruder things non-believers say about evangelicals more effectively than any evangelical writings I have seen ever have.  Because he has known us, and so does not repeat silly lies about us. On the other hand, he has known us—so he knows where the theological bodies are buried.

I have to head off, so I can’t go into details now.  I will just say that it is one of the few (only?) comparable
books to have favourable reviews from orthodox (and indeed inerrantist) Christians. IIRC it received a favourable review from Harold O. C. Brown. It receives a respectful 5-page treatment in Roger Steer’s book on the history of Anglican Evangelicalism.

[59] Posted by Toral1 on 8-12-2009 at 10:58 PM · [top]

I’m in from a late-night stint at the salt mines . . . and it appears that this has been an interesting thread.

As a somewhat outside observer of the inerrantist threads over the past years [I’ve participated very little], I’m going to just note a few things from my memory—not having tracked the threads closely but keeping half an eye on the topic.

—Matt has been very clear over the years that the inerrantist position is quite important to him —it’s been hard to miss!  It’s somewhat important to me, but quite important to Matt.

—Over the *years* of his posting stuff on this, two or three Trinity professors [as I recall, but I haven’t gone back and checked all the comments on these interminable threads] and one or two Nashotah House professors have posted [I don’t recall Dean Munday’s posting on those threads at all] and it’s been fairly clear that they do not hold the inerrantist position

—I have attended Gordon Conwell with great joy over a period of semesters—catching up on some classes and such—and they do hold an inerrantist position as nearly as I can see

—Anglicans don’t have to hold an inerrantist position in order to be Christians, orthodox/traditional or all around great people

—But I do see—even with my untutored eyes—that the position of our two Anglican seminaries is differing from the inerrantist position

—Again—this doesn’t make those two bad seminaries, or unAnglican, or unChristian, or unorthodox

—So I’m quite befuddled that some of the commenters on this thread appear either a) shocked over Matt’s views or b) angry that he’s again stated his position about the importance to him of the innerancy position.  That’s not “tarring” Anglican seminaries—it’s simply being objective and matter-of-fact about his clear values—values that have been stated for years now here at StandFirm.

I’ve been able to get to know Dean Munday slightly—via email and some very nice conversations at GenCon 2009—and I like him immensely.  So of course I’m sad that he’s upset.  And Matt erred in his statement that “to a man” professors have stated that they’re not inerrantists, since I don’t recall Dean Munday mentioning or being involved in the inerrancy threads—so I’m pleased he’s apologized.  But honestly, that misstatement does appear to be merely a small portion of the reason why some are upset with Matt.  If he hadn’t said that but had instead kept everything he said above, but said “with the exception of Robert Munday I’ve noticed that Trinity and Nashotah House professors aren’t inerrantists” it appears—from the comments above—that some would still be upset with Matt.

So that brings me to a question—why is it a bad thing for Matt to 1) point out this issue and 2) frankly state his own values about this issue?

All of the above I say without much emotion, but I do have a little emotion about one minor point on this thread.

Dean Munday implies that he has wasted money on advertising at StandFirm—and certainly that may be the case if the banners have brought in no interest or click-throughs from StandFirm [I somewhat doubt that, but still, it’s possible].  But he seems [and I may be misreading here] to imply that 1) advertising at StandFirm means that bloggers cannot state opinions about the institutions that choose to advertise here [and I think I have safely proven that wrong personally in the past!] and/or that 2) Matt Kennedy has a stronger influence on seminary attendance than banner advertising.

I am somewhat disturbed.  For one thing, as a blogger, I would be very distraught if people believed that I would guard what I said about an institution or organization solely because they were advertising on StandFirm.  I have said numerous nice things about Nashotah House . . . I don’t want people to think that the nice things or the support that I have given the House is because they are advertising with us.  The moment people begin to think that StandFirm bloggers aren’t going to say what they believe because an organization has bought and paid for advertising space here, is the moment that I lose all credibility.  I’d like to think that people advertise here because folks of like Anglican mind—or Christian mind—hang out here quite a lot.  And that is in part because the bloggers write what’s on their mind in as objective a way as possible, with a huge variety of opinions and beliefs.

A cursory glance at the blog reveals that we’ve blogged at least in part mentioning Nashotah House over 30 times.  Back in 2006 I mentioned Nashotah House as a great giving option for Christmas:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/1588/

Matt posted Noll’s letter on Anglican education in 2007:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/3182/

I’ve promoted the Patrick Reardon course and noted the gorgeous photography of The Missioner:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/19661
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/19674
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/19847

All of us have repeatedly posted Dean Munday blog posts.  And numerous other posts about the House.

The moment people start thinking “SF bloggers won’t say anything critical or values-based about those who advertise at their blog” is the moment that all of those posts become untrustworthy and pointless.

Although I don’t have quite the same intensity of feeling about inerrancy as Matt does, I completely understand his pointing out this difference between various seminaries, and the importance of this issue to him—and I don’t consider it wrong or slanderous at all.  Nor is it wrong for Matt to point out that if inerrancy is a big deal to a student then there are options.  Pointing out that there are options—on anything at all, from TEC, to ACNA, to seminaries, to rectors, to parishes, to dioceses, to magazines, to websites . . . none of that is bad or immoral.

Finally . . . at last . . . I come to the thing that is really The Most Deflating Thing Of All.

In the past month, not only have I had to endure Neva Rae Fox’s pretence that she doesn’t understand the exquisite irony of a conservative Episcopal blogger’s happily and sarcastically applying the title Meanest Most Divisive Blogger Ever to herself [since that is precisely what revisionist Episcopal activists imply about traditional bloggers who communicate their issues with the national leadership of TEC] . . .

Not only have I had to endure that appellation stripped from me [again with the outraged pretence that it’s all Super Serious, rather than *frank mockery* of the attitudes of progressive activist Episcopalians] and given to Matt, so that he can be denied “press credentials . . .

But now . . .

I must have ground into my face that the influence of StandFirm is less than the influence of one Reformed Anglican blogger, namely Matt Kennedy.

. . . Because apparently, advertising at StandFirm with 6000 registered commenters and countless more readers is completely outweighed by the opinions of Matt Kennedy, on various wonkish and ponderous and tedious inerrancy threads, such that aspiring [and insecure] seminarians will flee from Nashotah House and Trinity because they do not hold with the inerrancy that Matt Kennedy believes is important.

This realization has shattered me.

It has brought down my gray hairs in sorrow to the grave.

I believe that I am now in Permanent Decline after the horrors of General Convention and now this further inflation of Matt’s ego.

I am now tottering to bed, a broken woman.

[60] Posted by Sarah on 8-12-2009 at 10:59 PM · [top]

Moot,

It remains an unchallenged fact that some Taco Bells refuse to serve the sublime Chili Cheese Burrito. I won’t go so far as say this impugns their integrity, but it might deserve its own thread.

[61] Posted by Greg Griffith on 8-12-2009 at 10:59 PM · [top]

You are totally off base.  Matt did no such thing.

Sorry, that’s what I see…

[62] Posted by Nevin on 8-12-2009 at 11:06 PM · [top]

Does Taco Bell deliver?

[63] Posted by Jackie on 8-12-2009 at 11:13 PM · [top]

Moot ... your levity has me rolling on the floor in laughter.

[64] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-12-2009 at 11:13 PM · [top]

Not to beat a dead horse, but Matt did say it was a “terrible shame” that so many have “fallen away” from “critically important truth”.  I don’t think that it’s a stretch to take that statement as purposely casting doubt on the sufficient orthodoxy of the seminaries.  And he did say that “fortunately” there were other options.  If that’s not a recommendation to stay away from Trinity and Nashota I am exceedingly dense…  but Matt can clear it up very easily and make a statement that Trinity and Nashota are sufficiently orthodox and safe and that orthodox seminarians should choose them…

[65] Posted by Nevin on 8-12-2009 at 11:30 PM · [top]

Hmmmm.
Mr. Nevin said,

but Matt can clear it up very easily and make a statement that Trinity and Nashota are sufficiently orthodox and safe and that orthodox seminarians should choose them…

  I’m the first to admit I am at the bottom of the pack when it comes to these debates, but thankfully I can read.  Can’t do those linky things though.
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/24508#392140 

3. I want to reiterate here what I said to Dr. LeMarquand, Trinity and Nashota are solid orthodox Anglican seminaries that uphold the primacy and authority of the bible. They have fought the good fight and are, in my opinion, foundational for the future of North American Anglicanism. Nothing I have said regarding the inerrancy debate takes away from that.

[66] Posted by Sweets on 8-12-2009 at 11:43 PM · [top]

RE: “Not to beat a dead horse, but Matt did say it was a “terrible shame” that so many have “fallen away” from “critically important truth”.”

Right—but Matt thinks it a terrible shame.  And he thinks it fortunate that there are other options for folks who care about inerrancy.  I think so too.  I think it fortunate, too, that there’s an Anglo-Catholic seminary for some and an evangelical seminary for others. 

I personally think it a terrible shame that some orthodox parishes engage in liturgical dance.  I think it fortunate that there are other options for folks who care about not experiencing liturgical dance.

And Matt was *crystal clear* to clearly communicate in the thread comments that he deemed Trinity and Nashotah to be *orthodox* and Anglican.

And I suppose it’s *possible* that parishes engaging in liturgical dance can be orthodox and Anglican.  ; > )

Matt is perfectly capable of saying what he likes, but I personally hope that he sticks right with *his beliefs and values which he has stated clearly on this thread* and for the past several years, and doesn’t withdraw them one bit.  I have no interest in approving the notion that no blogger is allowed to state his or her beliefs and values clearly at SF, even if it means that they contradict the beliefs and values of other orthodox Anglicans.  The idea that Anglicans should only go to one of two seminaries is simply not one that I accept, although certainly I have supported and will continue to support the two Anglican seminaries in question with money, time, and promotional energy as well.

That idea that nobody can express differences—clear and forthright differences—because it might be considered “divisive” is one of the most perfidious ones that I have personally dealt with in TEC and I have no intention of writing for a blog that decides to incorporate such a sensibility into its policies.

[67] Posted by Sarah on 8-12-2009 at 11:44 PM · [top]

Thanks to everyone who has successfully injected some welcome levity into this sometimes tense thread.  I loved all the Taco Bell jokes.

But I also appreciate Torah1’s attempt to get back to the original topic of the thread and his recommendation of James Barr’s important but controversial book that bears the somewhat misleading title Fundamentalism.  For Barr lumps together everyone who defends the notion of biblical inerrancy under that pejorative label in a way that many of us (myself included) would consider confusing and even offensive.  Thus he regards leading evangelicals like James Packer, John Stott, and Michael Green as “fundamentalists.”  But if you can get past that, there is indeed much of value in Barr’s book.

But personally, I much prefer his later and less strident book Beyond Fundamentalism.  Indeed, I found this second, more irenic book on the topic by Barr (a retired OT scholar who taught at Oxford for many years) to be a genuinely pastoral and illuminating book that was a great help to me personally in moving beyond the limitations of the old inerrantist postion I’d imbibed at Wheaton.

But even better is a marvelous, long essay by James Dunn called, “The Authority of Scripture according to Scritpure,”, in a volume of his collected essays entitled The Living Word.  Dunn’s essay is simply the best thing I’ve ever seen on the subject of this thread.  IMO, it’s lucid, balanced, and utterly compelling.

David Handy+

[68] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 8-12-2009 at 11:47 PM · [top]

Toral1, thanks for the clarification.  “If only the (statement) applied to those who hate you, and its (intent) to your enemies!”  Thankfully, neither applies to you!

Barr must be counting on Biblical illiteracy and anti-Christian prejudice of his readers to even float such preposterous notions, though those notions find plenty of takers among the fans of Dan Brown, Richard Dawkins, et al.  One, I’m surprised no one else offered a critique of the statement, even amid the clash of the titans on this thread! smile  Two, is he seriously arguing against inerrancy on those terms?  I’m not by any stretch of the imagination familiar enough with the Protestant fathers’ writings to know whether they explicitly affirmed or denied inerrancy.  If they did not explicitly affirm it, my guess is that it was taken for granted and implied in their writings, just as Jesus did not have to explicitly forbid same-sex sexual relationships since the Mosaic Law did that for Him in Israel, where Paul ministered in Gentile lands that had male temple cult prostitutes with Christian converts who had recently left those practices.

I’m curious to read some of those “untruths” Barr attributes to God in the Scriptures.  And of course, calling a book “great” implies no agreement with its content.  It could be “great” in being significant or simply be a “large” book!  wink

[69] Posted by Milton on 8-12-2009 at 11:53 PM · [top]

I for one had no clue that there were any Episcopal, now American Anglican priests, who believed in inerrancy.
Not one.
I thought about going to ETSS 20 years ago because I was in Austin at the time. Didn’t really know anything about NH or TESM, although I spent many hours at the ETSS library. Don’t recall any advertizing in any Episcopal or Continuing Church magazines I read there. 

Instead, I went to a seminary where inerrancy was taught and shouted from the rooftops. A badge of honor. No playing with words. It’s name is Liberty.
Not Anglican. But it didn’t matter. I wanted to learn the Bible without excuses.

Bravo to Matt Kennedy. A priest who will fight for inerrancy and call a spade a spade.

There is hope.

[70] Posted by LA Anglican on 8-12-2009 at 11:55 PM · [top]

Late subscribing

[71] Posted by TLDillon on 8-13-2009 at 12:04 AM · [top]

<u>All of us</u> have repeatedly posted Dean Munday blog posts. 

Aaaah. But have we done so to a man? wink

Sorry. I wondered if I should be part of this discussion but istm that it’s already moved on. Nevertheless, for my part I do note that I promised upon ordination to uphold this…

Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.

Which is, of course, a statement about the sufficiency of Scripture, not its inerrancy.

Now of course, as an über-Puritan and a Calvinist that makes Matt’s claim to be Reformed look like lace-wearing Tractarianism, I am also convinced of the inerrancy of Scripture. Like Matt I find it very concerning when people move away from it. Very concerning indeed. But I am wise enough, I hope, to recognise that there will be those whom I respect greatly who do not hold that position, nor are they obliged to in their claim to be Anglican.

So I think I join Matt in his expression of concern. And I join him in his affirmation of the solidly orthodox and Anglican nature of those 2 schools. The 2 are by no means incompatible.

Now, of course, if they were to reject the sufficiency Scripture .... well then we would have a scrap on our hands wink

[72] Posted by David Ould on 8-13-2009 at 12:35 AM · [top]

This is an important discussion. I heard Walter Kaiser, Gordan Conwell’s great former Dean, talk about his confrontation with a professor in college you screamed “there are no absolutes” to his class. Kaiser responded by asking “are you certain about that?” The teacher replied “Absolutely.”

[73] Posted by Going Home on 8-13-2009 at 01:04 AM · [top]

I should add to this post
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/24508#392145

that I do not believe David Handy+ intentionally “misrepresented” or “slandered” Nashotah. He was speaking truthfully and in a way that he thought friendly about the institution.

The accusation of “slander” is a serious one that is unwarranted by anything David+ wrote about Nashotah and his “misrepresentations” if they were “misrepresentations” were not intended to be harmful ones.

[74] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-13-2009 at 06:21 AM · [top]

Now of course, as an über-Puritan and a Calvinist that makes Matt’s claim to be Reformed look like lace-wearing Tractarianism, I am also convinced of the inerrancy of Scripture.

Well, David+, there could be a funny irony here ... presuming that all the other thread went unnoticed and 8/12/09 is the first time either dean noticed these discussions on SFIF ... if my suggestion to search what has been said about the schools in the past and judging not the emotional reactions but willingness to state an actual position in #4 & # 22 ... well the school that one might associate with “lace-wearing Tractarianism” seems more willing to stand on the infallibility of Scripture than the other (based only on what #4 & #22 were willing to actually say about Scripture, not orthodoxy as you pointed out).

Somehow if as Greg says, “If he’s wrong, I’d think a simple correction accompanied by an explanation would suffice.” I really don’t think it would be painful for either Matt+ (or myself) to rejoice in an apology of having an errant perception, even if (for Matt+) at the school that is less thought of as Evangelical.

[75] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-13-2009 at 06:27 AM · [top]

Just my two cents here..

a)  If a view is or is not the position of faculty members of two seminaries, why is it bad to point that out?

b)  If someone disagrees with the position of various faculty members of two seminaries, why is it bad to express the disagreement?

c)  If the views of various professors is in conflict with the official position of their seminary, is it too much to ask that they sign a public statement to the effect that they either hold to the official view, or promise not to teach contrary to it?

d)  If (c) would be too much to ask, then would it be in the best interest of both seminaries to pen their own version of the Chicago Statement?

I do understand that people’s livelihoods are on the line, but we’re dealing with something a bit more important than Infralapsarianism, here. 

And hey, if people don’t like it, then it is their prerogative not to attend the seminaries or send their people there.  Period.

[76] Posted by J Eppinga on 8-13-2009 at 07:04 AM · [top]

Matt (#74),

Thank you for your gracious acknowledgment that I meant no harm to either TSM or Nashotah.  You’re correct, of course, but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that harm wasn’t inflicted anyway.  And I do regret that.

David Handy+

[77] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 8-13-2009 at 07:08 AM · [top]

This is an interesting thread. It initiates something which I think conservative Anglicans need to do: begin talking about some of the issues - adiaphora or semi-diaphora - which we hold with varying degrees of conviction. To mention a few: women’s ordination, divorce and remarriage, lay and diaconal presidency, predestination and freewill, Eucharist presence. You get the idea. Add to that the question theological education and the importance (or not) of having orthodox Anglican seminaries.

Anyway, if I can add a quick note in passing, as a former professor of biblical studies at TSM who was sometimes accused of deviancy on the matter of inerrancy but who finally decided to join the Evangelical Theological Society in the late 90s…

Yesterday I heard a lecture in Uganda about “mother-tongue” languages. The speaker made the point that 1) all human languages are capable of expressing the same ideas, but that 2) every language has its own nuanced character so that even dialects of the same language can be misunderstood by native speakers.

It strikes me that something of that phenomenon is at work here. ICBI is exp

[78] Posted by Stephen Noll on 8-13-2009 at 07:21 AM · [top]

David Ould:

Now of course, as an über-Puritan and a Calvinist that makes Matt’s claim to be Reformed look like lace-wearing Tractarianism, I am also convinced of the inerrancy of Scripture.

After that crack, it’s lace for the Tractarians (plenty of it, too) and designer sackcloth for the likes of you.

Has it ever occurred to you that the cause of Reform might go forward if you folks would just spruce up a bit? Never mind the chasuble, it’s all anyone can do to keep you out of overalls.

By the way, this High Churchman’s rather high view of inerrancy can be found in Providentissimus Deus. Don’t know what Leo XIII was wearing when he wrote it (although I suspect ermine was involved), but he seems to have gotten it right.

For your penance, go find some stone steps you can climb on your knees while saying as plaintively as possible: “I will not put Tractarianism in a small box.”  Then we can discuss your wardrobe.

And maybe do something with that hair.  tongue laugh

[79] Posted by episcopalienated on 8-13-2009 at 07:32 AM · [top]

RE: “Has it ever occurred to you that the cause of Reform might go forward if you folks would just spruce up a bit? Never mind the chasuble, it’s all anyone can do to keep you out of overalls.”

Uh. Oh.

[80] Posted by Sarah on 8-13-2009 at 07:44 AM · [top]

episcopalienated, shaking my head and LOL!!!
(methinks D. Ould+ would have to grow a bit more hair to “do something” with it smile  )

PS thanks for the laugh in the PM!  I hope to respond this evening with e-mail address included.

[81] Posted by Milton on 8-13-2009 at 07:49 AM · [top]

By their garb shall ye know them…. I thought the truly Reformed dressed Goth???? Episcopalienated - thanks for the laugh and the mention of Providentissimus Deus, which I am about to read.

[82] Posted by oscewicee on 8-13-2009 at 07:56 AM · [top]

As a Trinity graduate I am somewhat distressed by this thread.  It seems to me that we are throwing the term “inerrancy” around without truly defining it and sticking to that definition.  Are we ignoring genre in Scripture?  Are we saying that there are no translation or scribal errors?  Are we saying that the Masoratc and Greek texts are perfect copies?  How do we deal with differences between the Masoretic text and the Dead Sea Scrolls? Is the Septuagent a perfect copy? Is Aland, “The Greek New Testiment” a perfect text?  Is it only the King James Version that is the inerrant text?  Does someone happen to have a first edition of the OT and NT in their back pocket and that all agree as to the content of the Canon?  Or do we assume that we Protestants are infallible and we can simply ignore the Samaritan canon the Syrian canon, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox?  Do we insist that the 39 articles, as important as they are)were inspired by the Holy Spirit?

Trinity taught me that Scripture is the authoritative word of God and that the authors of the original texts were inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Those texts reflect God’s revelation and those texts are authoritative.  God himself in the form of Jesus vouched for the OT texts that He was using.  If this means that scripture is inerrant then I agree with that.

If we say that the modern translations we have today are letter and text perfect, that there is absolutely no textual doubt, that meaning is not dependent on genre, and that there are no factual errors in the text then that is a different meaning of inerrancy.

[83] Posted by Br. Michael on 8-13-2009 at 08:21 AM · [top]

As Stephen Noll has remarked, this thread has touched upon some interesting areas.  One area that has been touched upon is Article VI ‘Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.’

I’ve cited so much of Article VI because of the sense I’ve gotten from some posts (and more than one liberal Episcopal clergy person) is that the Article is taken as limiting the primacy of Scripture to the topic of salvation.  Rather, many early Anglicans (especially those of the Puritan ilk - Alexander Nowell for one) would have interpreted it as only constraining the use of extra-Scriptural conditions, rites, duties as needed for Salvation.

My own view as to why Article VI needs to be supplemented by the concept of inerrancy is both a theological and a practical one.  From a theological one, if I start from 2 Tim 3:16, I am left with little grounds for excluding any scripture (The concept of it being “God-breathed” and containing error do not sit well together.)  From a practical point the next verse (2 Tim 3:17) seems to dictate the universality of Scripture’s utility in my own walk.  I’m okay with those who would maintain only agreement with Article VI as a sine qua non of Anglicanism but for me, inerrancy is the most effective basis to build a Christian’s life upon.

Pax et Bonum!
Steve

[84] Posted by Etienne on 8-13-2009 at 08:31 AM · [top]

RE: “It seems to me that we are throwing the term “inerrancy” around without truly defining it and sticking to that definition.”

Br. Michael, Matt’s threads deal with the definition of inerrancy established by the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy which you may read here:
http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.html

It has been copiously linked on other SF inerrancy threads and has been linked on this thread as well.  As you will see, the Chicago Statement deals with the various questions you raise so that we are all talking about the same things.

[85] Posted by Sarah on 8-13-2009 at 08:48 AM · [top]

Br. Michael, your plea for a definition of inerrancy, adhered to, fleshed-out, that addresses all the concerns you mentioned is found in what was linked in a few comments above.  At the risk of beating a live horse and having it snort, paw the ground and kick me, you will find what you are looking for in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, to which I, Matt+, no doubt the giants who authored it, and several other commenters on this thread adhere to.  The Statement is both broad and detailed enough to account for all the Biblical research and scholarship that has been done in the decades since and that ever will be done.  Peace, brotherly communion and fellowship, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit with power be to you!

[86] Posted by Milton on 8-13-2009 at 08:53 AM · [top]

And the Chicago Statement is totally Calvinistic in its point of view.

[87] Posted by BillB on 8-13-2009 at 09:04 AM · [top]

OK, BillB, your definition of Calvinistic, please.  Even R. C. Sproul, one of the authors of the Chicago Statement and as Reformed as they come, read straight from the (Shorter?) Westminster Confession to the effect that the doctrine of Predestination was in no way to be understood to contradict the necessary free-will choice of each man and woman nor the Christ-commanded necessity to evangelize.

[88] Posted by Milton on 8-13-2009 at 09:12 AM · [top]

RE: “And the Chicago Statement is totally Calvinistic in its point of view.”

And that’s fine.  Just so long as everyone knows what *Matt* is talking about when he mentions that he really really values inerrancy, than others are free to disagree with inerrancy—as the Chicago Statement defines it—and move on from there.

The key is having the terms of the debate defined—and the Chicago Statement has been Matt’s definition of inerrancy for years now.  Years.

It appears that many Anglicans do not adhere to inerrancy as the Chicago Statement has defined it, but rather prefer to think of their adherence to scripture in terms of sufficiency and authority. 

Matt has moaned about that, and he will no doubt continue to moan about that, but there we are.

[89] Posted by Sarah on 8-13-2009 at 09:18 AM · [top]

This is an interesting thread. It initiates something which I think conservative Anglicans need to do: begin talking about some of the issues - adiaphora or semi-diaphora - which we hold with varying degrees of conviction. To mention a few: women’s ordination, divorce and remarriage, lay and diaconal presidency, predestination and freewill, Eucharist presence. You get the idea.

I wasn’t awhare that there was a shortage of discussion on such issues.

[90] Posted by AndrewA on 8-13-2009 at 09:22 AM · [top]

And the Chicago Statement is totally Calvinistic in its point of view.

I would agree and not the same fan of the Chicago Statement, but I have found a friend in Matt+, who would like the Chicago Statement, because the differences are not as great between the formulation of our trust in the reliability as they are with so-called “modern” critics (which a friend qualified “of a certain age”).

I don’t think Br. Michael was offering a true critique as the JI Packer article would be a fine loose definition on this thread or DA Carson one from August 6, or the many, many other times we’ve debated these things. Used for an effect to springboard to express his fondness for TSM.

There are many conservative Catholics, Orthodox and Calvinist, who can fight in the details, but will hold the Divine Word to be without error. I’m sympathetic to Chicago statement, even if from a different bent, but the JI Packer+ definition at the top is fine with me for this thread, the DA Carson one was fine for that one.

[91] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-13-2009 at 09:28 AM · [top]

Since my name has come up in this discussion several times, I have been debating whether I should enter this discussion. I entered into the inerrancy discussion at length in only one discussion thread that took place over a year ago.

Matt (above) points readers to one of my posts, which I suggest they should read at length.

Here is Dr. Witt on the Chicago Statement who I consider a friend but who does not hold to the understanding of inerrancy articulated by Packer above:

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/10605#199780

I really do not know whether I hold to the understanding of “inerrancy articulated by Packer above,” because the word “inerrancy” is not defined in Packer’s statement.  Certainly I would agree with every single word that he writes above, with the single exception of the word “inerrancy.”  In the above statement, Packer seems to equate “inerrancy” with “infallibility.”  I certainly do affirm the “infallibility” of Scripture.  The problem is that Matt continually has identified “inerrancy” with the particular formulation of that doctrine as it was debated among American Evangelicals in the 1970’s, and as summarized by the Chicago Statement.  My problem with the Chicago Statement, as I argued repeatedly throughout that discussion a year ago, is that I did not believe then, and do not believe now, that the discussion in the 1970’s was about a doctrine of the authority of Scripture, but about the permissibility for Evangelicals to use historical critical method to study Scripture.  As I stated:

In my initial forays I suggested that the real issue had to do not with inerrancy, but with the permissibility of the use of the historical-critical method.

As I documented in that post, the issues that were being debated during the 1970’s debate were “young earth creationism” (see my reference to the June 17, 1977 issue of Christianity Today), and such issues as dual authorship of Isaiah, and the historicity of Jonah and Job. Also see:

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/10605#195338

The targets of 1970’s attack were not liberal Protestants, but fellow Evangelicals like George Eldon Ladd, F. F. Bruce, and G. C. Berkouwer.  (One of these untrustworthy “bad guys” from that period was William Abraham, who was a keynote speaker at the most recent Mere Anglicanism Conference, and who shared the limelight with Al Mohler.  Although Billy Abraham has not changed his position, he is apparently no longer a bad guy.)

I still stand by what I wrote in those posts.  At issue in the 1970’s debate was the kind of careful orthodox critical scholarship that is done routinely these days by scholars like N.T. Wright, Ben Witherington, or Christopher Seitz.  J. I. Packer has an enthusiastic blurb on the back cover of N.T. Wright’s book Simply Christian.  So these days Packer seems to have no problem with Wright’s orthodoxy.  Wright would have been considered untrustworthy by the authors of the Chicago Declaration in the 1970’s.

One of the the things that I was trying to do in that discussion was to try to make people aware of the kind of critically orthodox biblical scholarship that is being done among orthodox Christians both in the past, and more recently. I thought before people should make unfounded accusations they should at least be familiar with the work of scholars like Sir Edwyn Hoskyns, C.F.D. Moule, Brevard Childs, Ben Witherington, Craig Evans, Richard Bauckham. I am frustrated that over a year later, there is still no evidence in this discussion of awareness of any of these writers.

Moot asks:

c)  If the views of various professors is in conflict with the official position of their seminary, is it too much to ask that they sign a public statement to the effect that they either hold to the official view, or promise not to teach contrary to it?

Every faculty member at Trinity yearly signs a doctrinal statement that can be found here.  None of us dissembles.  If we did not believe it we would not sign it.  We all sign it willingly.

Biblical authority, and, in particular, Biblical Theology, is at the heart of Trinity’s education.  Every student is required to take Hebrew and Greek.  Every student is required to take numerous courses in Biblical Theology and Scripture.  Every course is required to integrate biblical theology in our teaching.  For example, my course on Introduction to Christian Ethics begins with the Ten Commandments, and we spend the first month on Scripture.

My colleague Rod Whitacre’s summary of Trinity’s approach to Scripture can be found here.

Almost the last thing I wrote in that discussion was the following:

I’ve also seen both TESM and Nashotah House held up to suspicion without people actually bothering to find out what is being taught at either place.  That disturbs me.  If people have doubts about my orthodoxy, they can read the materials on my website/blog.  The faculty at TESM are published authors.  Read what they’ve written.  Don’t make unfounded accusations.

I still stand by that.  Since that time, I have consciously restricted my posting on Stand Firm because I was so frustrated with the level of discussion in that particular debate.  Rather than engaging in thoughtful discussion, the arguments quickly turned polemical and ad hominem.  A few days ago, I (rather foolishly) made the mistake of making some comments in this thread

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/24480

noting once again my conviction that the Chicago Statement was about the permissiblity of the use of historical critical method, and that the kind of distinction made by Ben Witherington (which I endorse) between matter that Scripture teaches, and matter that Scripture touches on would have been considered unacceptable at that time.

Perhaps I am wrong, but that comment seems to have occasioned this post, which states that it is a “terrible shame” that “orthodox Anglican scholars in the United States have fallen away from this critically important truth.”  It seems that seminarians would be safer to study at Free Church Evangelical seminaries with Anglican Studies programs than be exposed to the dangers of the faculty at Trinity.

With friends like that . . .

[92] Posted by William Witt on 8-13-2009 at 09:31 AM · [top]

Of course, the dirty little secret in academia is that a growing number of theologians have quietly moved on from the Chicago Statement, even at “stalwart” bastions of American evangelicalism.  It is not that they have rejected it.  It is simply that it too narrowly defines inerrancy to be suspicious of, if not downright antagonistic towards, the value of higher criticism.  Hence many otherwise orthodox scholars have simply set it aside on a shelf to gather dust, and have been exploring other approaches to the question of the authority of Scripture.  (You might ask me how I know.  Admittedly, my “evidence” is anecdotal.  But as a former dean at two seminaries who is currently serving as a faculty member at an evangelical seminary, I’ve hobnobbed for a number of years in these circles… at ATS gatherings, etc.)

I’m glad Matt included the link to the Pontifical Institute’s paper above. (I think he thought that he was linking to Verbum Dei, but what he linked to was even better as it is more up to date.)  It shows where the RCC is today on the matter of Scriptural authority and interpretation, and commends the fruits of many Protestant worthies, like Brevard Child’s canonical approach.

Dan+

[93] Posted by Dan Dunlap on 8-13-2009 at 09:37 AM · [top]

I do not see Matt+ as having disparaged TSM or Nashotah on this thread. I agree with Sarah that he has merely pointed a something that is a key issue for him: inerrancy. I was not aware that TSM or Nashotah, or a number (majority?) of professors at those schools, do not hold ineranncy as the way it is defined by the Chicago Statement. Since I do agree with the Chicago Statement, then this has been helpful to me as an Anglican pastor.

As to LA Anglican’s statement that he was unaware that there were any Anglican Priests who held to inerrency…wow, I guess my perspective has been truly limited. I was really unaware that their were so many who do not hold to inerrancy. While I don’t believe that inerranists are the “tiny minority” of Chazzy’s statement, maybe it is indeed smaller than I thought. I guess I’ve been colored by the likes of Packer and Stott.

[94] Posted by Shane Copeland on 8-13-2009 at 10:32 AM · [top]

Sarah, thanks for the link.

[95] Posted by Br. Michael on 8-13-2009 at 11:12 AM · [top]

Every faculty member at Trinity yearly signs a doctrinal statement that can be found here.  None of us dissembles.  If we did not believe it we would not sign it.  We all sign it willingly.

And that’s awesome.  However, based on some of the comments on this thread and others (and this has been pointed out), I get the feeling that in some instances there is a lurking discrepancy.  At the very least, the discrepancy would be between the official position and what some of your “friends” imply about it. 

Please understand too, Dr. Witt, that I have more than one dog in the fight, and I am sympathetic to scholarship that might not fit into a “classical” understanding of inerrancy, but would honor the spirit of the Chicago statement. 

With friends like that . . .

With passive-aggressive rhetoric like that, one wonders if the speaker has ever truly had an enemy.

[96] Posted by J Eppinga on 8-13-2009 at 11:26 AM · [top]

All,

Matt wouldn’t post this because it’s not in his nature, but I run this blog so here goes:

Matt’s absence on this thread today is due to his having to give a deposition in the property suit TEC has brought against him. This is not their attempt to get at property - this is their attempt to get at Matt personally. He can use all our prayers.

[97] Posted by Greg Griffith on 8-13-2009 at 11:40 AM · [top]

Prayers ascending for Matt…

[98] Posted by Athanasius Returns on 8-13-2009 at 11:44 AM · [top]

Prayers for Fr. Matt.

[99] Posted by oscewicee on 8-13-2009 at 11:45 AM · [top]

May the LORD be his comfort and defender!

[100] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-13-2009 at 11:59 AM · [top]

Matt+, I invoke Isaiah 54:17 to cover you with the LORD’s shield:

Isaiah 54:17 (New American Standard Bible)
  17"No weapon that is formed against you will prosper;  And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.

[101] Posted by Milton on 8-13-2009 at 12:10 PM · [top]

I pray for +Matt and his parish.  May we be one.

[102] Posted by King E on 8-13-2009 at 01:15 PM · [top]

Hard to post from Uganda in the mid-afternoon [#78] Let me try again.

This is an interesting thread. It initiates something which I think conservative Anglicans need to do: begin talking about some of the issues - adiaphora or semi-diaphora - which we hold with varying degrees of conviction. To mention a few: women’s ordination, divorce and remarriage, lay and diaconal presidency, predestination and freewill, Eucharist presence. You get the idea. Add to that the question theological education and the importance of having orthodox Anglican seminaries.

But it does make threads like this one head off in labyrinthine directions.

Anyway, if I can add a quick note in passing, as a former professor of biblical studies at TSM who was sometimes accused of deviancy on the matter of inerrancy but who finally decided to join the Evangelical Theological Society in the late 90s…

Yesterday I heard a lecture in Uganda about “mother-tongue” languages. The speaker made the point that 1) all human languages are capable of expressing the same ideas, but that 2) every language has its own nuanced character so that even dialects of the same language can be misunderstood by native speakers.

It strikes me that something of that phenomenon is at work here. ICBI is expressed in the particular language of American Evangelical Protestantism, often presented with great scholarship and sophistication. Jim Packer may or may speak this language with a British accent, but note that this same Packer was attacked strongly when he signed onto “Evangelicals and Catholics Together.”

Classic and current Anglican formularies have affirmed (much) the primacy, unity, clarity and sufficiency of Scripture (see my discussion here).

But the dialect of ICBI and the Anglican formularies is different.:


Article VI: Of the sufficiency of the Holy Scripture for Salvation

Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.

A Place to Stand, A Call to Mission (American Anglican Council)

[103] Posted by Stephen Noll on 8-13-2009 at 01:20 PM · [top]

Continuing…

A Place to Stand, A Call to Mission (American Anglican Council)

Holy Scripture: We believe all Scriptures were “written for our learning” (Romans 15:4), that they are “God’s Word written,” and that we are to “hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them.” We commit ourselves to regular Bible study and to preach and teach only that which is in accordance with Holy Scripture.


TSM Statement of Faith, Article III: The Holy Scriptures

The trustworthiness of the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as “God’s Word written,” which contain all things necessary for salvation, teach God’s will for His world, and have supreme authority for faith, life, and the continuous renewal and reform of the Church.

Jerusalem Declaration, clause 2

We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading.

I suspect that virtually all the discussants on this thread, including the faculty at Nashotah and Trinity, could affirm these statements. So let me ask Matt whether he finds these statements insufficient to articulate and defend the truth of the gospel and the faith of the church. Or is he simply speaking a different dialect from the others?

[104] Posted by Stephen Noll on 8-13-2009 at 03:52 PM · [top]

Hi Dr. Noll,

I think these statements are more than sufficient. They are wonderful affirmations of the sufficiency and primary authority of the bible.

My point was not to deny that any or either institution is solidly orthodox as I hope I made clear in the comments. I was and remain glad, however, that there are options for those of us who wish for an explicit affirmation of inerrancy. I do not think an institution heterodox without such an affirmation, though I prefer those with them.

[105] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-13-2009 at 04:08 PM · [top]

Matt, I much prefer your comment in #105 than the comments of the original post.  The language there, using terms such as “fallen away” led many, including deans at both seminaries, to believe that accusations of “heterodoxy” were being made.  If you had simply stated what now appears in #105 I imagine this thread would have less than half the comments and hardly any hurt feelings and none of the controversy…

[106] Posted by Nevin on 8-13-2009 at 04:36 PM · [top]

Mr. Nevin
I couldn’t help but notice that you seem much more interested in pounding Fr. Matt then commenting on the substance of the topic at hand.  Leads me to believing that just getting to take shots at Fr. matt is the substance of your purpose.  How come?

[107] Posted by Sweets on 8-13-2009 at 04:48 PM · [top]

Of course, the dirty little secret in academia is that a growing number of theologians have quietly moved on from the Chicago Statement, even at “stalwart” bastions of American evangelicalism.  It is not that they have rejected it.  It is simply that it too narrowly defines inerrancy to be suspicious of, if not downright antagonistic towards, the value of higher criticism.

Dan Dunlap,

I am not sure how to understand the above statement, nor how it fits in with the below:

It shows where the RCC is today on the matter of Scriptural authority and interpretation, and commends the fruits of many Protestant worthies, like Brevard Child’s canonical approach.

There is no secret that Evangelical scholars these days engage in historical critical method when they do biblical studies.  The works of scholars like N.T. Wright or Ben Witherington or Craig Evans are quite upfront about what they are doing.

I am especially puzzled by the two references to Childs and the RCC understanding of Scriptural authority.  I specifically mentioned Childs above as someone whose approach I greatly admire? Are you suggesting that Childs rejected historical critical method or would have embraced the Chicago Statement?

As for the Roman Catholic Church, they have explicitly embraced historical critical method since Pope Pius XII’s Divion Spiritu Afflante (September 30, 1943.)

Those who wonder about my own approach to these things should read my articles here  and here , versions of which appeared in the latest two Trinity Journals.  In both articles I argue that, far from being a problem for biblical authority, careful use of historical critical method confirms orthodox Christianity.  The differences between theological revisionists and orthodox do not lie in their willingness to embrace historical critical method, but are entirely theological.

[108] Posted by William Witt on 8-13-2009 at 04:49 PM · [top]

Sorry, that is Divino Spiritu Afflante.

[109] Posted by William Witt on 8-13-2009 at 04:51 PM · [top]

Thank you, Dr. Noll and Dr. Witt.

Your comments have helped to calm the waters and clarify things here.  Your contributions are much appreciated.

And since I’ve been something of a lightning rod in this tempest, or an unwitting cause of this unfortunate squabble that has strained relationships here, let me clarify, if I may, lest there be any doubt, that despite my emphatic rejection of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy or infallibility (in any form, no matter how carefully nuanced), I nonetheless do joyfully and wholeheartedly affirm the truth of all the various statements regarding the authority, primacy, and sufficiency of the Scriptures that Dr. Noll has helpfully listed above.

David Handy+

[110] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 8-13-2009 at 04:52 PM · [top]

Hi Nevin,

I am glad to hear that but nothing I said in #105 is different than what I have written all along. I did not even mention the two schools in my original post. And when I did I was quite clear in my assessment of them.

[111] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-13-2009 at 05:02 PM · [top]

Er ... Um ... ah ...

Dr Witt & Dr Handy+ do seem to be continuing to make Matt+‘s case for his defense of that last sentence, the one caused the deans react. confused One thing, Dr Handy+ will not be teaching NT at Nashotah, they used “infallible” and NRA qualified himself (“in any form, no matter how carefully nuanced”). cool hmm

[112] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-13-2009 at 06:11 PM · [top]

I think it should be said for those who maybe new to this 18 month running dialog, that both Dr Witt & Dr Handy+ have done nothing but a orthodox Christology and have supported traditional sexual ethics, we do differ on our understanding of the nature of Scripture.

[113] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-13-2009 at 06:41 PM · [top]

RE: “If you had simply stated what now appears in #105 I imagine this thread would have less than half the comments and hardly any hurt feelings and none of the controversy…”

I hardly think so.  Had Matt said precisely that, it would have probably caused even more of a firestorm since again, Matt’s pointed out that he values—very much—inerrancy, that he distinguishes the doctrine of inerrancy from the doctrines of “the sufficiency and primary authority of the bible”, and that he’s glad there are options for those who value that doctrine of inerrancy.  I think—judging by the comments on this thread—that would have been quite sufficient to cause “controversy.”

RE: “So let me ask Matt whether he finds these statements insufficient to articulate and defend the truth of the gospel and the faith of the church. Or is he simply speaking a different dialect from the others?”

Why must those be the only two choices?  To my untutored eye, I see what Matt seems to see—that many Anglicans “defend the truth of the gospel and the faith of the church” and make “wonderful affirmations of the sufficiency and primary authority of the bible” while not advocating inerrancy—and that distinction is not “simply speaking a different dialect from the others.”

RE: “Perhaps I am wrong, but that comment seems to have occasioned this post, which states that it is a “terrible shame” that “orthodox Anglican scholars in the United States have fallen away from this critically important truth.”

For people who believe in the doctrine of inerrancy as described by the Chicago Statement it is indeed “a “terrible shame” that “orthodox Anglican scholars in the United States have fallen away from this critically important truth.” 

RE: “With friends like that . . .”

Actually the shoe is on the other foot.  With friends like that . . . it’s certainly understandable why differences are merely stated under the breath or in locked rooms among people who already agree, since friendships that cannot suffer simple statements of values and beliefs are “fragile reeds” to be sure.

[114] Posted by Sarah on 8-13-2009 at 07:37 PM · [top]

It may be true that these finely-nuanced attitudes toward inerrancy do not constitute a breech of orthodoxy.  After all, David Handy is demonstratively orthodox in his theology even if he arrives at that endpoint by an irrational and inconsistent path.  But how does one propagate an historical religion when one believes that its historical record is a collection of myth, and fable, and fantasy?  Intellectuals may find it interesting to hold those two mutually-exclusive concepts “in tension.”  The average person is going to reach a much different conclusion.  He is going to conclude “False in one, false in all.”  This is indeed happening all over the west these days because of the sustained attack on the integrity of Scripture that proceeds from Academia.

To establish the principle that Scripture is properly judged by some external authority is to begin the unstoppable process of destroying biblical authority.  Bart Ehrman understands this.  He writes textbooks widely used in introductory New Testament religion classes, and his message is simple: “Christianity is false, because the Scripture is an unreliable historical record.”  His students are not reacting by saying “O, but of course it is still theologically true even if it is historically false.”  They are concluding it is all false, and walking out the door.  In droves.  After all, modern scholarship says so, and who can refute modern scholarship?  It is the independent objective authority of the modern world to which all truth claims must pay homage.  Except its not objective, and it isn’t an authority.

Liberal religion finds its origin in the destruction of the authority of scripture.  There is no way to maintain scriptural authority once an external authority is given place to judge the truth of Scripture.  There is only the inevitable destination of 815, the road to which is paved with the good intentions of scholars.

carl

[115] Posted by carl on 8-13-2009 at 08:10 PM · [top]

Sweets, the “substance of the topic at hand” is exactly Matt’s comments following this quote from Packer.  The only comments Matt made on it were related to Anglican theologians and seminaries and there has been no debate on inerrancy itself, which has been completely exhausted on other threads.  Generally speaking comments made by the blogger point the direction in which the thread will go.  I absolutely love Matt and most of his writing and certainly don’t mean to “pound” him.  I can remember getting upset with a certain, now banned, poster for his unreasonable animus toward him and would really regret falling into that category…

I did not even mention the two schools in my original post

I guess so.  But I think everyone understood what your remarks meant with regard to those two seminaries.

nothing I said in #105 is different than what I have written all along

I found it different.  I thought your “fallen away” language was echoing 2 Thess. 2:3 and that you were issuing a warning about “unsafe” heterodox elements.  It seems that was not your intent.

Had Matt said precisely that, it would have probably caused even more of a firestorm

More?  I know I wouldn’t have been moved to say anything.

[116] Posted by Nevin on 8-13-2009 at 08:24 PM · [top]

It may be true that these finely-nuanced attitudes toward inerrancy do not constitute a breech of orthodoxy.

That’s just it, Carl.  He rejects even nuanced theories of inerrancy:

I may, lest there be any doubt, that despite my emphatic rejection of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy or infallibility (in any form, no matter how carefully nuanced),

I’m not saying this to put him down;  indeed, he’s taken enough of a beating on this thread, again and again.  I’d prefer to let the man articulate his defense in his own way, rather than something else (even something nuanced - sorry, couldn’t resist). 

I’m sure you’ve heard of Abraham Kuyper.  Kuyper was “trained” in one of the most respected liberal seminaries of his day.  Years later, he recalled how one of his professors stood at the lectern and denounced the doctrine of the literal resurrection of Christ, and that applause erupted amongst the students.  Kuyper lamented that his own applause was the loudest of all the students. 

Years later, Kuyper was dragged to Grace by God, first with a nervous breakdown, then with a huisvrouw’s initial refusal to shake his hand (She relented, but only on the grounds that he was a fellow human being - ouch). 

I think that speaks volumes about this:

students are not reacting by saying “O, but of course it is still theologically true even if it is historically false.”  They are concluding it is all false, and walking out the door.  In droves

For you see, for the droves that walk out the door that God will call to Himself, they will have no choice in the matter.  And for those who do not have that benefit, what they do will be used somehow, for the Glory of God, too.

Election is a funky thing.

[117] Posted by J Eppinga on 8-13-2009 at 08:32 PM · [top]

“But I think everyone understood what your remarks meant with regard to those two seminaries.”

Not at all. The remarks were meant with regard to “many orthodox Anglican scholars” and as I noted to Dr. Munday the majority of those who post on SF are not associated with either school. I was very specific and very careful in my comments.

Dr. LaMarquand was the first to bring up the two schools and I addressed his point. I did not bring it up and was not planning or intending to. The point of the thread was to lament the apparent fact that “most orthodox Anglican scholars” in America do not hold to inerrancy and to rejoice that there are schools that officially embrace it.

[118] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-13-2009 at 08:34 PM · [top]

Let me thank some of my most vocal and persistent critics, Hosea (#112, 113) and carl (#115), for vouching for my basic orthodoxy.  Just as I would do the same in turn for them.

And yes, I’m aware that the deliberately unqualified statement I made above (#110) would seem to disqualify me from teaching at Nashotah, so that ought to be an encouragement to those at SF who might dread that even as a remote future possibility (grin).

But let me try to reframe the issue, at least for a while on this thread, as I’ve tried to do before on similar threads.  I wholly agree that at the very center of this bitter struggle for the soul of Anglicanism and western culture is the fight to RECOVER the authority of Scripture that has tragically been lost in so much of western, global north Anglicanism (at least lost in practice in TEC).  I mourn that catastrophe as much as anyone here at SF.

I like to put it this way.  Just as the original Protestant Reformation of the 16th century in large part centered on the fight to recover the lost authority of Holy Scripture when it had been, at least for all practical purposes, subordinated to that of Tradition in the medieval Latin Church, so the New Reformation that is now underway in the 21st century is in large part centered on the titanic struggle to recover the lost authority of the Bible too, since it has been, for all practical purposes, subordinated by so many to the dominant authority of personal experience in our time.  That is, this struggle is at the heart of the battle with the cultural lies and form of Liberalism associated with postmodernism.

But inbetween the first Reformation and this new one came the Enlightenment (starting about the same time as the American and French Revolutions in the late 1700s with the rise of Deism along with modern science).  And at that time, the great struggle was to recover the supreme authority of Holy Scripture as the Word of God when it had been subordinated, for all practical purposes in much of elite western culture, to that of human reason.  The fervent fundamentalist and evangelical concern to uphold biblical inerrancy was in large part due to a justified reaction against this subordination of Scripture to Reason in the form of humanistic, rationalistic scholarship.  I fully agree with carl there (and Hosea and Matt, etc.).  I just think that trying to defend the notion of biblical inerrancy is a misguided over-reaction that throws out the baby (the authentic gains of moderate biblical scholarship) along with the dirty bathwater of rationalism.

But the big problem the Church faces today certainly isn’t fundamentalism (as so many leaders in TEC seem to think).  No, the problem is Liberalism (as an sim, an ideology) whether it’s Liberalsim of the modernist (Enlightenment) or postmodern sort. 

And I’m an implacable foe of theological Liberalism.  Just as John Henry Newman was.

Which leads to the second point.  I continue to argue that the quarrel over inerrancy isn’t just a liberal vs. conservative issue.  Dig deeper, and it really comes down to a Protestant vs. Catholic issue, i.e., it’s really about the function of the Bible in the life of the Church, and in particular the relative roles of Scripture and Tradition.  I continue to insist that at its roots, the attempt to defend biblical inerrancy is a hardcore Protesant attempt to uphold an ultra-Protestant version of the classic Protestant principle of sola scriptura

So I’ll say it again, the real reason Matt and I differ so profoundly and sharply about inerrancy is not so much because he’s more conservative than I am (although that’s obviously true, of course), but rather because he’s so much more one-sidedly Protestant than I am.  He vigorously defends the notion of sola scriptura (as do carl and others here), which I have explicitly rejected.  I’m a 3-D guy, with a strong catholic side, along with the evangelical and charismatic ones.

But to close in an irenci spirit, we all want to reassert and recover the supreme and ultimate authority of the Scriptures as the Word of God.  And in that all important sense, we’re all on the same team, the orthodox Anglican team.

David Handy+

[119] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 8-13-2009 at 10:26 PM · [top]

[119]  Dave

If you were to take your scholarly, nuanced position on Scripture into a debate with Bart Ehrman, he would carve you up like cheap sushi.  He would force you to concede all his points, and you would be reduced to defending your conclusions on the basis of nothing but special pleading.  There is no way to recover the authority of Scripture on a foundation of historical error. 

carl

[120] Posted by carl on 8-13-2009 at 10:54 PM · [top]

[117] Moot

For you see, for the droves that walk out the door that God will call to Himself, they will have no choice in the matter.  And for those who do not have that benefit, what they do will be used somehow, for the Glory of God, too.

You are right, of course.  But God uses means to accomplish His purpose, and a sound apologetic is a legitimate means.  So also is false teaching.  Whatever the case, it is our responsibility to uphold that which is true, and oppose that which is false.  These are the means at our disposal.

carl

[121] Posted by carl on 8-13-2009 at 11:04 PM · [top]

Carl (#121)

These are the means at our disposal.

Agreed.  God is a God of means.  Which is why whenever I’ve found myself on the street, I update my CV and start packing breathe mints.  And which is also why, practically speaking, not all orthodox teachers are appropriate for all orthodox students.

[122] Posted by J Eppinga on 8-14-2009 at 03:41 AM · [top]

To establish the principle that Scripture is properly judged by some external authority is to begin the unstoppable process of destroying biblical authority.  Bart Ehrman understands this.  He writes textbooks widely used in introductory New Testament religion classes, and his message is simple: “Christianity is false, because the Scripture is an unreliable historical record.”

Carl,

On Barth Ehrman, might I refer you to numerous books by scholars like Craig Evans or Ben Witherington I mentioned above?  They discuss him in depth.

Ehrman’s historical approach is simply reductionist.  Ehrman claims in his book Misquoting Jesus, that the smoking gun in his loss of faith (and Ehrman was originally a Fundamentalist, educated at Moody Bible Institute), was Mark 2:25-26, which says that Abiathar was the high priest when David entered the house of God and ate the shewbread, where 1 Samuel 21 indicates that the high priest was Abimilech, the father of Abiathar.

Scholars have attempted to dissolve this difficulty in numerous ways, with some suggesting that the solution might lie in textual variants or translations of the Greek.

However, at bottom, absolutely nothing depends on the solution.  My faith in Christ depends on the gospels providing a faithful historical account of Jesus’, life, death, and resurrection. It does no rest on Mark’s being entirely accurate about whether or not Abiathar or Abimilech was the high priest at the time of David.

This is, I think, exactly the kind of difficulty where Witherington’s distinction between matters that Scripture teaches and matters that Scripture touches on is helpful.  In the context of Mark 2:25, Mark is providing an account of a conflict between Jesus and the pharisees about the significance of the Sabbath—which certainly took place.  Mark recounts Jesus refuting the Phraisees by stating “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of man is lord of the Sabbath.”  Jesus uses the story about David to provide an illustration that leads up to his point.

That is what Mark is teaching.  There is no reason to doubt that Mark records accurately the gist of what took place, and that Jesus’ conflict with the Jewish leaders about Sabbath keeping was a major factor that eventually led to his crucifixion.  That is the key point in this pericope, and that is what matters.

We will likely never know the solution to the Abimilech/Abiathar question, but anyone whose faith could be shattered by being unable to resolve it is not someone to be taken seriously.

Ehrman’s other big area of attack is textual variants in manuscripts.  Again, this is simply irrelevant.  Everyone knows that there are numerous variants in the textual manuscripts that have come down to us.  This has not kept scholars from being able to provide an accurate reconstruction of the Biblical text, and even before the study of textual variants (so-called lower criticism), the versions that were available, including the LXX in the East and the Vulgate in the West, are substantially the same as the modern texts we have.  None of the variants are theologically or historically significant.

Those whose faith can be shaken by Bart Ehrman need to grow up.

[123] Posted by William Witt on 8-14-2009 at 06:44 AM · [top]

#116 Nevin - you are reading into Matt+‘s statements, as he, Sarah and others pointed out, he wrote specifically about two named scholars and one who only he would know shares the name of prof. in a seminary. Since one openly teaches in a seminary and show no fear of discipline for espousing something that is contrary to a once held commonly held belief that Matt+ considered very important, he used “Falling away” (see Carl # 115 [basically, no logical reason but by God’s grace]) which if you held that view, quite appropriate, but it would then cause Matt+ to write his sentence about seminaries (which we presume due to their open stance on inerrancy that Matt+ holds dear, would not so fearless to openly reject it).

It’s fairly simple, while in few other topics I would dare to say I understand what Matt+ meant, but after about 18 months, with all the same characters going around & around (yours is not a name I recognized from then), I say you were reading into a statement that not something that is there (as did others too, like deans of two schools who probably first became away of all this and their schools name being mentioned [not by Matt+] for 18 months).

So you’re new to the discussion, welcome. I wrote #113 when it occurred to me that folks who have not been here all along can take things to mean what the author did not intend.

Your first few posts are completely understandable, but honestly, your #116 looks like you’re trying to dig yourself out of a hole. I work for an excavating company, let me assure you that doesn’t work. So you mistook something Matt+ said, big deal, I get stuff wrong all the time, folks tried to give you a hand out, but #116m just looks like your being stubborn and trying to justify your claim.

[124] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-14-2009 at 07:18 AM · [top]

[123] William Witt

Those whose faith can be shaken by Bart Ehrman need to grow up.

Many of them don’t get a chance to grow up.  They are college freshmen most of whom have never heard of textual variants, and they are suddenly thrust into a New Testament Deconstruction class where they will be told that everything they have learned is a lie.  They will be handed Ehrman’s book, and told to receive it as if it were chiseled in stone on Mt Sinai.  And they will be largely defenseless against the onslaught.  To gird those who will enter this maelstrom with the attitude that Scripture is a book of theological truth amidst historical error is the equivalent of telling them to write “Thrust spear point here” on their chests.

David Handy has denied the accuracy of the historical accounts of Creation, Noah’s flood, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, the Exodus, the giving of the Law, the 40 years in the wilderness, Joshua’s invasion, and ... well ... pretty much everything else in the Old Testament.  He has denied the historicity of the Gospel of John, and Pauline authorship.  I have in fact never heard him affirm any miracle in the Scripture other than the resurrection, nor have I heard him justify that one glaring exception on any grounds other than special pleading.  Depending upon the subject, he flits from the authority of the church to the authority of tradition to the authority of scripture, and above all to the authority of scholarship - but curiously only selected scholarship.  His theology is orthodox, but it is irrational in that it is totally disconnected from history in space and time.  This is the foundation you expect people to take before Bart Ehrman?  Handy’s every word confirms everything Bart Ehrman would say.

Your example is much less severe then what I have read on this sight from Dave.  But if you say the Scripture in the autograph is wrong, or the words of Christ were correctly recorded but wrong, then you have a huge problem.  The historicity validates the truth behind the history.  If Jesus could be wrong about events in scripture, then why couldn’t He be wrong as well about the way to the Father?  Here your distinction between teaching and touching becomes problematic.  For this is just Handy’s argument writ small.  He says for example that the the Gospel of John is not historical, but is theologically true nonetheless.  How is this qualitatively different from your argument between teaching and touching?  Haven’t we accepted in principle the nature of the transaction, and moved on to haggling over price?  It is but a small step to saying that the resurrection is not historical, but is theologically true nonetheless.  And that is liberalism writ large.

carl

For those who might be interested, there is a nice discussion of Mark 2:25-26 by Dr Dan Wallace here.

[125] Posted by carl on 8-14-2009 at 08:35 AM · [top]

Since one openly teaches in a seminary and show no fear of discipline for espousing something that is contrary to a once held commonly held belief

This is a misrepresentation.  I have expressed my disagreement with one specific document, The Chicago Statement (published in 1978), and I have given my reasons.  It has to do with the legitimacy of the use of historical-critical method, not a doctrine of the authority of Scripture. The Chicago Statement was a document produced by a restricted group of largely American Free Church and Calvinist Evangelicals at a particular time in history, with the specific purpose of squelching the scholarship of worthy Evangelical scholars like G. E. Ladd, F. F. Bruce, and I.H. Marshall, all of whom survived this attempt to ruin their careers.

The Chicago Statement has never been recognized by any Anglican body.  It has never been endorsed at Trinity School for Ministry.  My understanding of the relationship between Scripture and biblical scholarship is in the tradition of Anglican worthies like B. F. Westcott, F. J. A. Hort, E. C. Hoskyns, Michael Ramsey (who is a hero at Nashotah House) and C. F. D. Moule, all of whom are heroes of orthodoxy.  I am completely in company with such contemporary Evangelical scholars as those represented in Kevin Vanhoozer’s Dictionary of Theological Interpretation of the Bible (Baker Academic, 2005), people like Kevin Vanhoozer, Ben Witherington, Craig Evans, N.T. Wright.  This is the mainstream of contemporary orthodox biblical scholarship, and I have repeatedly suggested to people on this blog that they get acquainted with it to at least be familiar with the work that is being done before they jump to unwarranted conclusions in their criticisms—with no evidence that this suggestion has been heeded.

Above you accuse me of “frequently . . . supporting NRA.”  To the contrary, I do not “frequently” post on this blog, and generally have avoided the extended conversations with Matt and NRA about such things as the Pentateuchal Documentary hypothesis, for lack of time or interest.  I have directly answered your previous accusation that I must agree with everything that NRA writes because I have not criticized him over a year ago here, where I provided a very lengthy summary of the extent to which I supported NRA, and provided a summary of my own biblical approach:

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/10605#200156

I have indeed expressed my strong agreement with NRA’s endorsement of Hoskyns and Davies’ The Riddle of the New Testament, one of the classic defenses of biblical orthodoxy which I have repeatedly suggest that people read—with no evidence that any have done so.

I stated clearly that I disagreed with NRA’s enthusiasm for Richard Friedman’s book on the Documentary Hypothesis, here:

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/18279#308104

As an alternative to Friedman, I suggested that readers might find more helpful books by Walther Eichrodt, Brevard Childs, William Abraham, and V. Phillips Long.  Again, there is no evidence that such advice was heeded.  The only scholars that seem to matter to many on this blog are people like R.C. Sproul or D.A. Carson.

The main reason I ceased posting regularly on this blog about matters of theology or biblical scholarship was that polemic, ridicule, and the ad hominem attack had become the standard mode of discourse.

I tire of people who do not even giving their names questioning my orthodoxy without evidence.  I have a blog where I have written extensively, and have some published writings.  I teach at a seminary where my views are public.  If you have evidence of my questionable orthodoxy, produce it.

When Archbishop Carey visited Trinity School for Ministry a few years ago, he reportededly expressed his concern to some of the faculty that they really needed to consider a historical critical approach to Scripture, to which our Academic Dean responded that we already do.  Visitors to Trinity often express the concern that we are Biblical “Fundamentalists.”  We are not.  On this blog, we are now being criticized because we do the very thing that those on the left fear that we don’t do.  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Meanwhile, no one has shown any evidence whatseover that they actually know what is or is not taught at Trinity.

[126] Posted by William Witt on 8-14-2009 at 08:54 AM · [top]

But if you say the Scripture in the autograph is wrong, or the words of Christ were correctly recorded but wrong, then you have a huge problem.  The historicity validates the truth behind the history.  If Jesus could be wrong about events in scripture, then why couldn’t He be wrong as well about the way to the Father?

No, Carl. It is precisely those whose faith would be shaken about such an insignificant detail in a text who “have a big problem.”  I have already suggested some of the same possible textual solutions that the authors suggests in the article you cite. 

I do not know why Mark’s gospel has the wrong name.  All of the textual evidence we have is rather clear that it does. As I have mentioned, there are numerous possible explanations. 

I also do know that nothing whatsoever depends on it.  It is precisely Ehrman’s simplistic either-or approach about such insignificant details that I consider reductionist.  If any doctrine of Scripture, including a doctrine of “inerrancy,” depends on such minutia, it is no wonder that Fundamentalist students lose their faith when people like Ehrman point these things out.

[127] Posted by William Witt on 8-14-2009 at 09:09 AM · [top]

RE: “Above you accuse me of “frequently . . . supporting NRA.”  To the contrary, I do not “frequently” post on this blog, and generally have avoided the extended conversations with Matt and NRA about such things as the Pentateuchal Documentary hypothesis, for lack of time or interest.”

I agree.  Though NRA considers William Witt an ally, William Witt often has *not* agreed with NRA on various things over the long and tedious history of these inerrancy threads.

RE: “My understanding of the relationship between Scripture and biblical scholarship is in the tradition of Anglican worthies like B. F. Westcott, F. J. A. Hort, E. C. Hoskyns, Michael Ramsey (who is a hero at Nashotah House) and C. F. D. Moule, all of whom are heroes of orthodoxy.  I am completely in company with such contemporary Evangelical scholars as those represented in Kevin Vanhoozer’s Dictionary of Theological Interpretation of the Bible (Baker Academic, 2005), people like Kevin Vanhoozer, Ben Witherington, Craig Evans, N.T. Wright.  This is the mainstream of contemporary orthodox biblical scholarship, and I have repeatedly suggested to people on this blog that they get acquainted with it to at least be familiar with the work that is being done before they jump to unwarranted conclusions in their criticisms—with no evidence that this suggestion has been heeded.”

I would be interested in Matt’s providing a list of what authors he has read—since he was educated at a standard Episcopal seminary I somewhat doubt that he is unfamiliar with those authors.

I myself have not heeded that advice because I have no interest in theological scholarship at all, and do not wish to be a theologian, and finally have a list of books I wish to read before I die, and thus cannot add more.  The only bit I can claim is an excellent masters-level class at Gordon Conwell in OT Criticism that used Knight and Tucker’s Hebrew Bible and Its Modern Interpreters and Harrison’s Intro to the OT.  I loved every bit of it—particularly when the professor—who has a ThD from Harvard—meticulously tore apart the canards and sophistries of various hist/crit thinkers.  Though a Presbyterian he teaches Sunday School at an Episcopal church. 

RE: “As an alternative to Friedman, I suggested that readers might find more helpful books by Walther Eichrodt, Brevard Childs, William Abraham, and V. Phillips Long.  Again, there is no evidence that such advice was heeded.  The only scholars that seem to matter to many on this blog are people like R.C. Sproul or D.A. Carson.”

Again, I strongly suspect that Matt has read these authors, and that he merely happens to agree with Sproul and Carson.  These things do happen sometimes—people read things by noted scholars and say “I reject your hypotheses and theories and accept these over here.”

RE: “The main reason I ceased posting regularly on this blog about matters of theology or biblical scholarship was that polemic, ridicule, and the ad hominem attack had become the standard mode of discourse.”

Certainly one man’s “polemic,” “ridicule” and “ad hominem attacks” are another’s stout criticism and analysis.  And this blog is—obviously—not for everyone.

RE: “I tire of people who do not even giving their names questioning my orthodoxy without evidence.”

I would be curious as to what Anglican or Episcopalian on this blog has done so.  In Carl the Reformed’s eyes, of course, we are all heretics.  ; > )

RE: “Visitors to Trinity often express the concern that we are Biblical “Fundamentalists.”  We are not.  On this blog, we are now being criticized because we do the very thing that those on the left fear that we don’t do.”

I find it intriguing that “fundamentalists” are equated with those who subscribe to inerrancy. 

Certainly revisionist Episcopalians now call practically anyone to the right of center in the Episcopal Church “fundamentalists”—you know, those of us who believe such antiquated notions as the physical resurrection of Jesus. 

But RC Sproul and Steve Brown are not members of that curious American Protestant separatist dispensational sect called “fundamentalism.”  Indeed no “fundamentalist” worth his or her salt would be caught dead dealing with Sproul or Brown or Covenant Seminary.  And trust me on this . . . I know.

Fundamentalist “thinkers” are John R Rice, Lester Roloff, Jack Hyles, and many other such worthies.  One may with interest dig into their tomes and see what “fundamentalism” is all about.  But really . . . to simply lump all those who are inerrantists into the “fundamentalist” sect is quite . . . Episcopalian!  ; > )

[128] Posted by Sarah on 8-14-2009 at 09:51 AM · [top]

126 Dr Witt,

Please do not take offense at what I am going to write, because honestly I want to think the best of you, but I think you may be more used to the norms of scholarly world of academia than of the rest of the world.

I’ve learned by the process of being told that I don’t know what I’m taking about and (on that thread by NRA another later [it’s on SFIF if you want to search for the evidence, by you, I challenge you openly if Layman should not read the Scriptures and you fumbled an answer that basically said it was of profit, but still the realm of the expert - I’m not really interested in debating that one), so taking much to PhD or candidates, I learned there are such things as “footnote wars” in which academics will carry on lengthy debates and attack each other in obscure places, one claimed you are showing your age in the JEPD debates because it’s only those of that period who seem to obsess. Not interested in going into any of that, other than to say it is different - the norms of one are not the norms of the other.

I think you are attempting to apply or assuming things that just are not true in a open layman’s blog. 

On that same thread from March 2008 NRA claims you,
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/10605#193775
I challenge him:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/10605#193790

You say nothing until Dec. 2008?
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/18279#308104

Okay, I think academic forums don’t have to worry about impressions ... NRA began to use TSM on that thread, I am pleading that if untrue on with authority who would know please speak up (Dr Noll+ or Dean Munday), there is silence and you seem to confirm NRA’s claim.


Okay, your #108 seems to directly challenge the spirit of the deans in #4 and #22 - they should be shaking their heads and muttering “you’re not helping.”

However, with Dean Munday+ #29 with the one I prove by example in #17 is the one (not Matt+) who used the name of his school and gave us all the impressions of that institution, yet he’s angry with Matt+. I get accused in #39 of being like a GLBT leader and some unspecified sin (I address offline, flimsy explanation and no apology), I think there is a PhD old boys ... one in which some are more equal than other and the greatest is not the least of all. Mostly that is divorced from the world that the rest of us seem to operate in.


Here is a hint, when NRA+ started using Dr Chris Sietz+‘s name, Dr Sietz+ immediately was confused by the brown nosing and basically did a blog for of a gentle push away. He was wiser than you in not letting the rest of us confuse that his idea were his and NRA+‘s were his. Also, your so-called distancing, it would help it we were all on an academic forum where it could be expected to all have read the books and know what you are talking about, that type of stuff communicates nothing on an open forum where we’ve not all read the same canon of scholarly works.


Point blank, you do have much to contribute, but you are making a hash of things if you do not understand the norms here. Dr Handy+ did not do you a favor and I think he was more shrewd in the ways of the commoner than you, knowing that tying his ideas to you and your school, he was trying to gain creditability for his argument, he succeeded in one way, but more giving us the impression that you and him are two peas in a pod, that TSM and Nashotah are teaching things others of us disagree with and your silence and lack of rebuke only lead to credibility of his claims.

Madison Ave understands the masses better than you and Coka Cola is fierce in defense of it’s brand name. Some web based company purchased the Circuit City brand name, even though the other one went out of business. Your lack of delineation early and continuously does have an effect, I do not know the norms of the academic journals, but I surmising that your blunders is trying to apply them here.

[129] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-14-2009 at 09:53 AM · [top]

I think we would all be better served if we consider the blog format, for that is what this is, as better suited to breezy drive-by commentary about events, than deep theological discussion.

That comes from a personal bias on my part. The blog format lends itself to quick, even hasty replies and comments. Theology requires a fair amount of care, both in the reading of it as well as the writing.

That’s not to say that theological discussion isn’t important, but it is also important to remember that while you may be writing in the full possession of your faculties and with every possible resource at your fingertips, your fellow commenters may be emotionally overwrought, over caffeinated, over hasty and protestant.

wink

[130] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 8-14-2009 at 10:59 AM · [top]

Matthew A (formerly mousestalker)

I’d completely disagree. You basically cut me and folks like me out of the realm of theological discussion. Thankfully I doubt Matt+ is of that mind set.

I think it should be recognized for what it is but also head the warning of Jesus. The “scholars” here do have a knack for wanting to debate thing like scholars do, Matt+ seems to want to teach the whole body of Christ about God. That’s probably due to the nature of his job as a pastor (not lawyer, as you, or other scholars). That is probably why I keep returning to SFIF instead of going to StephanWitness or willgwitt.org—it is written were I feel more welcomed and will pass onto friends without much worry.

I’m sorry, Matthew A (formerly mousestalker), but I will challenge your notion as unBiblical, since Jesus had many, many less kind things to say about the Scribes who did want to have the theological discussion with only the elite.


The other places are fine, but when dealing with simpletons like me, well, it’s not an academic forum, thus the masses can read and join in and be valued, unlike the other where there is a gate and most of us probably would not want to go anyways. It’s like saying we can’t understand physics {Natural Revelation} unless we don’t have a PhD in physics or must only have discussions in the journal Science (thankfully due to public funding, those who once held that notion are no longer funded and those who realize the common man learning is good for the support of legislators not cutting grant funding, are distributing to the masses). We experience physics every single day and we should know as much about God as we can (break down the word theology into it’s part and tell me what it means and if we should have it).

However, like all communication ... we should know our audience and the ability of the medium ...

[131] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-14-2009 at 11:19 AM · [top]

Hosea 6:6,

I’m going to ignore the lawyer stuff.

What I was driving at is that a lot (not all) of what gets posted is news and commentary on events. The proper tone for that sort of stuff is breezy.

Theology requires more thought. So it’s a horrible mistake to apply the commentary style and quick response suited to news articles to theological discussion. A lot of the misunderstandings and hurt feelings that arise come from that.

I’m sorry my earlier post didn’t make that clear.

I would hate for anyone to think that they are unwelcome. If my attitude, tone or words conveyed that, then I apologize.

My earlier post is a plea for grace, not a demand for censorship. As well as a request that those who post on theological issues take the time to choose their words carefully and reflect fully upon them. I am very much guilty of posting hastily with poor word choice.

[132] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 8-14-2009 at 11:30 AM · [top]

Sarah (#128)

Regarding that OT-Crit class at Gordy-Con…  Is that available in a distance-learning format?  Taking seminary distance classes is one of my dreams;  though it may be a decade or so, the way things are working out for me.  The Gordy-Con class you mentioned appeals to me. 

There are other seminaries I’d like to do this with as well - Covenant (for their BT class) and Trinity (believe it or not) spring to mind as well.

[133] Posted by J Eppinga on 8-14-2009 at 11:51 AM · [top]

#132 Apologies for the lawyer comment then (sometimes I find attorneys demanding full claim to their profession and that’s how I thought your #130 was going, I was wrong and apologies).

Per the other, I’d blame the 800 gorillas for jumping into the kiddie pool. On the JEPD debate one, commentated that article Matt+ posted was child’s play, duh?! On the DA Carlson 4:00 clip on irrenceny, suddenly it turns into one where long list of books I’ve never read (and incapable of reading) are listed. He who has been given much, much is expected, it would be great if a dean of a seminary, instead of treating me like he did in #39, instead humbled himself and used his knowledge and education to build up the body of Christ instead of bashing in ending with “Grace & Peace!”

I’m not fooled, I don’t think that I’m on the journal of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)  [see I did pass onto friend who know about these things), I know that Matt+ shared 863 words by JI Packer and now have a blurb of a book I’ll probably never read, but am still enriched.

I think some of the frustrations comes from folks wanting to street race and you have all these slow pokes out there. Instead, as I understand Scripture, if knowledge puffs up but love builds up, if we don’t have love we are nothing and to be great is be the servant of all ...

More frustrating is that there is a blog by a layman called UnmannedSpaceflight.com, where instead of bishops, deans, priest and lay folk it is Principle Investigators, Rover Drivers, other scientist and lay folks, run by Doug Ellison, who in some ways is much like Greg Griffith. Dr Alan Stern is not known for being the most even temper person in the world, he up and quite NASA less than a year on the job, but on UMSF.com he has treated everyone with respect and humbled himself to explain the dumb things us lay folks come up with, never confusing the rules that apply to Nature or Science journals. There is more a sense of equality on that board, it’s not Christian ...

I think the scholars, deans, bishops and priest can really add a lot to SFIF, I think we could richly be blessed by there contributions and the whole body of Christ could be edified, but if folks used their position or earned ranking in such a way that pushes us lay folks out ... well ...

——

There is a family of Mennonites, who live just outside Bingingham, NY (must be in same county as they where in the Court House when it was locked down with teh shooting at Immigration building). I know them through JAF Family Retreats, as they raised one with special needs, now that their children have grown, they are trying to adopt three more, two with special needs, the dad says well ... in twenty years we can adopt three more (the wife has some objection) ... so I guess in someways none of this ‘historical critical method’ is impressing me because of the fruits I see, but a simple trust in more than inerrancy, but quite literal inerrancy, is producing a trust of Scripture because of the fruits - I know horribly unintellectual ... somehow the witness is just so different in who they think Jesus is.

[134] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-14-2009 at 12:36 PM · [top]

You say nothing until Dec. 2008?

With all due respect, this is incorrect.  If you will check the dates of my first direct reply to you linked above, it is March 24, 2008—not December 2008.  At that time I stated: “I have little time these days for internet participation.”  If you read that post again, I was very clear about the points on which I agreed with Fr. Handy (NRA), but also on my own position on the historicity of the Old Testament, which was being discussed, and on the scholars whose views I found more helpful.  Please read it again.

The December 2008 response was about a very specific issue.  Matt Kennedy and David Handy had been having a very lengthy debate about the JEDP documentary hypothesis, and Fr. Handy had expressed his approval of a book by Richard Friedman as the best contemporary defense of the hypothesis.  At the same time, Matt had appealed to Jewish scholar Umberto Cassuto as the definitive rebuttal of the documentary hypothesis.

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/17966#303859

I did what responsible scholars do. Rather than entering into a subject on which I was ignorant, I went to the library and read both books cover to cover.  With a full teaching load, this took time.  I then reported back on Dec. 2 (and wrote):

When I am not grading papers, lecturing, etc., I sometimes have time to read a book.  This discussion has prompted me in the last few weeks to read both Friedman and Cassuto on the documentary hypothesis.  I found both unsatisfactory.

Then (also on Dec. 2) was the more detailed response you note above. This response took place because December 2008 was when Fr. Kennedy and Fr. Handy were having the discussion, not because I waited nine months from the time Fr. Handy and Fr. Kennedy had their first discussion.

At the same time, as I made clear earlier I have made a conscious decision to avoid such discussions on Stand Firm.  I just do not have the time, and, as this discussion shows, they generate more heat than light.  I agree strongly with both Matt Kennedy and David Handy about many things, but I also disagree strongly with both about many things.  I don’t have time or interest to join in most of their discussions; at the same time, both Matt Kennedy and David Handy are grown ups who are quite capable of arguing strenuously for their own positions.  They do not need my help.

With that, I will cease my contributions to this discussion.  I doubt others are interested in the details of the history of my comments on Stand Firm.

[135] Posted by William Witt on 8-14-2009 at 01:26 PM · [top]

carl (#125), esteemed sparring partner,

I don’t think you’ve been fair to me, brother.  But I can see how you’d get the impression you have (and others too) from the ad hoc sort of comments I’ve been making on various threads here at SF about biblical interpretation.  Somehow, what’s lodged in your mind is the impression that I’m extremely skeptical about the historicity of a great deal of the narrative portions of Holy Scripture.  That’s actually not the case at all, for those highly controversial threads dealt mainly with some of the most controversial and hotly disputed matters and aren’t representative of my overall approach to teaching (and especially preaching) the Scriptures.

Thus, my preferred way of doing serious in-depth teaching of the whole Bible for laypeople is to use Abingdon’s DISCIPLE program, which resembles Kerygma or EFM, but is significantly more conservative.  More importantly, it concentrates almost entirely on teaching the CONTENT of the Bible, not exposing people to the methods and common results of biblical criticism.  For example, although the first year of DISCIPLE devotes about 16 weeks to introducing new serious Bible readers to the whole sweep of the OT, it never even gets into the source analysis of the Pentateuch (the famous JEDP/JEPD theory).  I’m firmly committed to focusing attention on the final, canonical form of the biblical text as what is authoritative and what we’re called to believe and obey.  I am after all a student of Prof. Brevard Childs at Yale, who has championed that healthy emphasis (“canonical criticism”).

Got to go now.  More later, if it seems appropriate.

David Handy+

[136] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 8-14-2009 at 02:04 PM · [top]

RE: “I tire of people who do not even giving their names questioning my orthodoxy without evidence.”

I would be curious as to what Anglican or Episcopalian on this blog has done so.  In Carl the Reformed’s eyes, of course, we are all heretics.  ; > )

Not sure where this came from.  I have never questioned the orthodoxy of anyone on this weblog unless he had first explicitly denied an essential of the Christian faith.  I have even twice on this very thread affirmed the orthodoxy of David Handy despite the cacophony of errors he constantly spews forth on this subject. My heresy filter is actually pretty broad.

Well, except for the Wesleyans, and others of their Arminian ilk.  And Dispensationalists, even if they claim to be Ameraldians.  And sneaky Historic Premillennialists who masquerade as Amillennialists.  And Baptists.  I could never call myself a Baptist.  And Lutherans.  That consubstantiation thing is hopeless.  And Pentacostals.  No speaking in tongues allowed.  And those fallen souls who like comfortable church pews, and joyful experiences, and think laughter is appropriate during worship.  Drudgery and pain form the essence of proper church service.  But other than that ...  wink

carl
After levity, seriousness.

[137] Posted by carl on 8-14-2009 at 06:01 PM · [top]

Well if I am the nameless person, I gave him my full name via PM, also the charge is baseless as I tried reassure people that he has an orthodox Chirstology, it is the nature of Scripture we disagree.

—-

I did say he made Matt+‘s defense for him, here I said #108 in the PM I said I grabbed too quick & #92 ... really it would be both.

Matt+ said:

It is a terrible shame that so many orthodox Anglican scholars in the United States have fallen away from this critically important truth. Fortunately, there are now Anglican studies programs in evangelical and reformed schools and universities that officially embrace inerrancy.

So many is for sure NRA+ & Dr Witt and probably Occasional Reader at the least, they have repeated assured us they are normative in seminaries ... thus “so many orthodox Anglican scholars” would be accurate.

[Note Matt+ said orthodox Anglican scholars]


Yes that second sentence is problematic for Trinity ... however it begs the question, which is the greater pull having Anglican Seminaries or inerrancy. That is not “be exposed to the dangers of the faculty at Trinity” in an unorthodox way but meaning a poor Christology, as the Dean and Dr Witt have tried to make it, but there is not agreement on the nature of Scripture.

That’s what this is all about.

Matt+ is happy there is a choice where there is an official policy for inerrancy, I’m happy there is a choice too. I’d suggest if this is a threat and TSM is loosing market share, do something about it.

[138] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-14-2009 at 06:56 PM · [top]

One bit about RCC from #108 of Dr Witt I would like to openly challenge, is that some in the RCC are using historical critical method and using Pope Pius XII’s Divion Spiritu Afflante (September 30, 1943.) as their justification, but not all.

Mostly apparently by the liberals in the RCC - anecdotal but how I knew exactly what he was talking about (they keep referencing a certain papal communication that the liberal keep using - not sure if the same, but I’d hazard a guess), but how we can easily reject Dr Witt’s assertion of “official” is that he is not actually (nor am I) licensed to speak for the RCC.

I once heard missionaries who serve with the Chinese register Church say, whatever you have heard about China, it is so vast, somewhere it is probably true. The problem with painting as Dr. Witt did as an official position, is by whom? In the US there are about as many Roman Catholics as there in the whole Anglican Communion, some schools, like Georgetown, can be to one extreme, other will see it very differently and inform you that is not meant to be an official endorsement. So be careful when anyone says something is “official,” I’ve noticed a whole lot more debate inside the RCC.

[139] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-14-2009 at 07:29 PM · [top]

#139 & #108

I will not name my source, because he is a friend and has some decisions to make and my loyalty is him more than needing to engage in a scholarly battle with Dr Witt, maybe one day they can face off if it is both orthodox doctors choosing, it is meant to edify SFIF.

I emailed:

<blockquote> As for the Roman Catholic Church, they have explicitly embraced historical critical method since Pope Pius XII’s Divion Spiritu Afflante (September 30, 1943.)

Is that the one you keep referencing the liberal took and ran with?</blockquote>
The author (who can spell and has good grammar, so you know I didn’t write it) has PhD in Church History, he is Catholic and airs on inerrancy, replied:

This phrase is likely a mischaracterization of the encyclical, depending on how the words are defined: “explicitly embraced historical critical method.”

The encyclical says that catholic biblical scholars can use modern, scientific methods to interpret scripture, but it does not accept or endorse the whole “historical critical” package. The encyclical starts by affirming the inspiration of scripture and says scripture does not contain error ~ oddly, something that my progressive friends didn’t mention.

Remember he is not named, so take it for what you will ... this is a blog, not an academic journal, but it did feel there was an open error stated here. FYI He is not license to teach theology in the RCC either, so that it how you will.

[140] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-14-2009 at 07:51 PM · [top]

Hosea,

As someone who teaches Scripture and courses on historical theology at a Roman Catholic university, I have been asked to attend carefully to the 1994 document, *The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church*, issued by the Pontifical Biblical Commission with a preface by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who was then the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (and now Pope Benedict XVI). Intended to provide a methodological guide to Vatican II’s Dei Verbum, the document says among other things that,

“The historical-critical method is the indispensable method for the scientific study of the meaning of ancient texts. Holy Scripture, inasmuch as it is the ‘word of God in human language,’ has been composed by human authors in all its various parts and in all the sources that lie behind them. Because of this, its proper understanding not only admits the use of this method but actually requires it.”

Referencing “Dei Verbum” and “Divino Afflante Spiritu” the document reads, 

“The early confrontation between traditional exegesis and the scientific approach, which initially consciously separated itself from faith and at times even opposed it, was assuredly painful; later however it proved to be salutary: Once the method was freed from external prejudices, it led to a more precise understanding of the truth of sacred Scripture (cf. “Dei Verbum,” 12). According to “Divino Afflante Spiritu,” the search for the literal sense of Scripture is an essential task of exegesis and, in order to fulfill this task, it is necessary to determine the literary genre of texts (cf. “Enchiridion Biblicum,” 560), something which the historical-critical method helps to achieve.”

If there is any remaining question, I would highly recommend the “Introduction” to Benedict XVI’s recent book, Jesus of Nazareth. While he seeks to go beyond the historical-critical method by employing a theological analysis of the Bible, he explicitly says that the historical-critical method is a necessary and valuable foundation of his own work in the gospels. Thus, I think the affirmation of Dr. Witt is precisely correct (and true to my own experience in a number of Roman Catholic educational contexts).

[141] Posted by M. J. G. Pahls on 8-14-2009 at 08:02 PM · [top]

To allow for the existence of errors in the autographs is to fundamentally change the nature of Scripture.  We must suddenly answer questions that we did not have to previously answer:

a.  Where did the errors come from?

b.  What else in the Scripture is in error?

c.  What standard do we use to parse truth from error in Scripture?

d.  Who parses truth from error?

e.  If the Scripture is on error, then by what authority does the Scripture compel the conscience of men? 

It is not enough for scholars to say “These errors are just minutia, but the major things are untouched.”  One man’s minutia is another man’s fatal contradiction.  The presence of even one sin in man reveals the sin nature.  The presence of even one error in the autographs will likewise reveal a flawed nature that calls into question the truth of all other content.  It is not enough for scholars to say “We are scholars, and we know these things, and you should just trust us.”  The likes of Marcus Borg and J D Crossan have put paid to that assertion.  They are also scholars and highly educated - certainly more so than I.  And yet I freely reject their theological proffers as apostasy.  Arguments from Authority predicated upon a CV no longer persuade.  And when Christian scholars scoff at the impact of Bart Ehrman’s current assault on Scripture because of a weak or non-existent apologetic, one’s confidence in Christian scholarship is not restored. 

There is I think an assumption among scholars that scholarship is a more certain path to truth than Scripture; a belief that the current understanding of scholarship is more likely correct than the Scripture itself.  I also wonder at the impatience of scholars who because of their position expect deference towards their scholarly opinions from laymen, and respond with scholarly irritation when they do not receive it.  Both of these trends would make Christian scholarship more and more isolated from the very people they are supposed to serve.  Scholarship does not exist for its own sake.  It exists to serve the Church.  And that means it must operate within the boundaries of the presuppositions of the Christian faith. 

Scholarship is not and can never be an objective blind investigator relentlessly seeking truth no matter the cost.  There is no such investigator.  There is no such thing as objectivity.  Instead it must admit its presuppositions about the nature of Truth and proceed from them with relentless consistency.  One of those major presuppositions is that God neither lies, nor errs.  We do not therefore judge his revelation.  We receive it.  We presume that what He says is true.  We presume that He provides His revelation for a purpose, and He watches carefully to see that His purpose is carried out.  We do not look at the results of our scholarly investigations and presume to say “Hrmm, God kind of botched that verse didn’t he.”

carl

[142] Posted by carl on 8-14-2009 at 09:37 PM · [top]

Ongoing emails ... I’m getting myself in the middle of something I’m not qualified but summed up in quib

misleading and not very accurate and doesn’t reflect much awareness of what the encyclical actually says, the church’s position about exegesis, the use of encyclicals, and the history of interpretation.

I’d recommend back to #139 some also it was recommended that Protestants who are interested actually read the encyclicals, which apparently do discuss inerrancy (“it and previous one(s) had a pretty thorough discussion of inerrancy”)—being dyslexic, I probably let other do that work, but as I suspected, the monolithic representation in #108 does not seem accurate of the RCC position.

[143] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-14-2009 at 09:38 PM · [top]

Amen Carl

[144] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-14-2009 at 09:55 PM · [top]

I have been in and out of this thread.  It has grown immensely.  This is a question for the inerrantists who hold to a Reformation view.  As I understand, in the New Testament as written in Greek there is more than one word that in the English is translated as love.  In the Reformationists view of just being able to pick a copy of the Bible and read it, how does this not induce an error in the readers mind if they do not know the translation issue?  Context is sometimes not completely clear in English.  I have heard numerous problems in this vein here in the souther Bible Belt with these words and others. With more knowledgeable people to guide one this is not a problem but often this is not the case.

[145] Posted by BillB on 8-14-2009 at 10:05 PM · [top]

This afternoon, here in Louisiana, I went to the Barnes & Noble to look at books and drink coffee (it was a iced Mocha to be exact).  As I made my way through the religion stacks I overheard a man telling a couple of other men, who seemed enthralled, “Paul was married because he was a member of the Sanhedrin.”  To which I responded, “Paul was not a member of the Sanhedrin.”  The man said, “It’s in the word.”  I told him, “It’s not in Paul and it’s not in Acts.”  Silence.  I walked away.
I’m sorry to say I didn’t ask him what he did with 1 Corinthians 7:8.

I guess biblical scholars do have a couple of advantages over others.  We know the Greek or Hebrew text, or at least can read it and work with lexica and grammars and commentaries.  We also often know something of the history of scholarship and can go and look up some of the secondary literature.  Almost all my books are in storage at the moment, but if they were with me I could look up the literature on virtually any question on 1 and 2 Corinthians and 1 and 2 Thessalonians in English and German and to some extent in French.

But somehow there needs to be a better way, in The Episcopal Church and in all churches, to bring more and more people up to some reasonable level of knowledge of Scripture.  The educational model we’ve got now in this church is broken, totally shattered.  We’ve got to find better ways to get a better understanding of Scripture to more people in this church.  I don’t care for the word “inerrancy” although I do like the word “trustworthiness.”  Somehow, whether we are TEC or ACNA or C of E or ANiC or anything else in the Anglican Communion, we’ve got to forge some new models for how we convey the message of Scripture and how we teach Scripture to our people.

Rudy+

[146] Posted by Rudy on 8-14-2009 at 10:34 PM · [top]

Hosea,

Your appeal to “some” seemed to apply exclusively to the “[m]ostly apparently by the liberals in the RCC” that you referenced in the next paragraph. I’m happy to be corrected if I have misread your intent (the words seem clear), but the use of historical-critical methodologies is commended by the Second Vatican Council (Dei Verbum) and by the official guidance on the implementation of the council’s teaching provided by the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Their use is far from the exclusive province of Catholic liberals (who are better disciplined generally by ecclesial authority than liberal Protestants, BTW) and appeals to them appear regularly in moderate and even very conservative Catholic scholars. Scott Hahn rooted a good chunk of his dissertation research at Marquette in the historical work of critical scholars like Frank Moore Cross and D.J. McCarthy. Hard to get more conservative than this member of Opus Dei and Professor of Theology and Scripture at Franciscan University Steubenville. I’ll say it again, Dr. Witt is precisely correct in his read of the Roman communion’s official approach to the Bible.

I don’t have a real dog in the fight as I’m comfortable with the use of inerrancy to characterize my own approach to the Bible. That said, one of the really important contributions to the thread has been the challenge issued to those who would divorce commitments to inerrancy from the believing use of historical-critical methodologies. This is simply a false dilemma and, as the 1994 PBC document explicitly indicates, the former makes the latter really useful.

With real reputations and careers at stake (not to mention two venerable institutions), we are not well-served by imprecision with regard to verifiable facts. I was simply concerned to correct a manifest error in the record and to validate a claim that was called into question.

Blessings and peace.
MJGP+

[147] Posted by M. J. G. Pahls on 8-14-2009 at 10:49 PM · [top]

Echoing BillB sentiments, this thread has grown immensely, and when it has avoided the “who said or implied what about some other person or seminary” raised some interesting points. I wanted to comment on two topics - one raised by Carl and the second by BillB.

First in response to Carl’s post (142), inerrancy admits that an error may be introduced in the transmitted version but not in the autograph.  As we are not in possession of a single autographa for any book of the Bible, believing in inerrancy means that transmission has not introduced a fundamental error into God’s word. (As the Westminster Confession puts well). This belief is bolstered by the fact that any fundamental truth will be reiterated and expounded upon many times in scripture.

Secondly, to BillB’s comment on the Reformation view.  I belief that you may be referring more to the perspicuity of scripture than inerrancy, per se.  The idea that scripture is clear does not mean that there are not challenges to understanding.  From the NT itself (2 Pet. 3:16) to John Chrysostom to Luther, many of have certainly said there are difficult places.  What this doctrine is really about is not needing another to mediate the understanding of God’s fundamental truth. 
No Reformation author or any of the Evangelical voices behind the Chicago statement maintains that commentaries, knowledge of history, languages, etc. aren’t useful in either exegesis or hermeneutics.

From the Book of Homilies “A Fruitful Exhortation…” to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, it is maintained (and us Reform inerrantists believe) that the understanding we need will be opened within the “capacity of both learned and unlearned”.
Pax et Bonum!
Steve

[148] Posted by Etienne on 8-14-2009 at 10:59 PM · [top]

It is with a degree of temerity that I put fingers to keyboard on this topic in the presence of scholars. One of the major factors in my conversion from a Southern Baptist rearing, through a period of agnosticism, to the Anglo-catholic understanding of the Faith was the three-legged stool of Scripture, Reason, and Tradition.  I had always been troubled by the little discrepancies in the Holy Scriptures, such as what exactly was said in the Garden of Gethsemane when Christ was betrayed.  The Gospel writers differ (only slightly) and how could that be?  The Baptist understanding parallels that of my Russian professor at Syracuse when I came to class with a copy of “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” mixed in with my books.  She screamed loudly and pointed at the book exclaiming, “Is true! Every word! Is true!”

The priest who taught my Inquirer’s Class (now an RC priest) explained that it was like what happens with witnesses to a traffic accident.  You ask each one and, even if you absolutely believe each one is telling the truth, you get a slightly different version of what happened and when (in the details), but there is no doubt that an accident actually occurred.  Surely the Gospel writers were inspired by God to write what their teachers had preached for many years, but they might be forgiven if they missed a small detail or two along the way.

Does the term “inerrancy” hearken back to the Baptists and to my Russian professor?  If we were like another religion and believed that Jesus himself had written the New Testament, perhaps this view could be justified. (No blasphemy intended) But God gave us Reason and Tradition to help us interpret the Scriptures.

The whole idea of a written code of law instead of a living Moses to decide who is right has been a difficult proposition at best.  That’s why we have so many lawyer jokes.

If by “inerrancy” you mean that what the Scripture says is true when correctly interpreted and should be followed even when it hurts, then I wholeheartedly agree with you.

[149] Posted by RicardoCR on 8-14-2009 at 11:02 PM · [top]

RicardoCR,

As I read your final line, the words of Millard Erickson (admittedly a Baptist, but a good one) came to mind. He defines inerrancy thusly,

“The Bible, when correctly interpreted in light of the level to which culture and the means of communication had developed at the time it was written, and in view of the purposes for which it was given, is fully truthful in all that it affirms.”

This is consistent with the Chicago Statement provided that you properly read Aricle XII as qualified by Article XIII.

MJGP+

[150] Posted by M. J. G. Pahls on 8-14-2009 at 11:10 PM · [top]

MJGP+, thanks for your comment.  Allow me to add that I have no problem with Baptists, I just don’t want to be one any more. I fully expect to meet Billy Graham in heaven.

[151] Posted by RicardoCR on 8-14-2009 at 11:15 PM · [top]

Butting in late.
The ‘two orthodox schools’ in Anglicanism shouldn’t fret much over Matt’s saying what he said.

1) Matt (like I) thinks Scripture to be without error, though my understanding of it may be.
2) He affirmed their orthodoxy, while regretting their failure to officially support the Chicago statement.

With that as the background, all the schools would stand to lose are people like me who don’t want to have some one claiming to be a scholar trying to tell me that some how God’s word has been corrupted.  I rather suspect that folks like me would be a pain in the side of the profs at schools where such is taught.

PS, in my particular case, seeing the lady folks in vestments was enough to purge the schools from my ‘list of place to consider’.  So don’t blame Matt+ when you don’t get my support.  Blame my resistance to change and your own policy.

[152] Posted by Bo on 8-14-2009 at 11:24 PM · [top]

Re #37

Here is Occassional [sic] Reader who is registered under the name of a member of the faculty at Nashotah:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/10605#197580

I was referring specifically to them in my response to Dr. LeMarquand. I regard them as orthodox Anglican scholars who are solid and faithful but who nevertheless reject inerrancy as understood by Packer and the signitories [sic] of the Chicago Statement.

Having just returned from a working “vacation,” (a Bible-preaching vacation) you can imagine my surprise to find that a post made under my SF nom de plume, had been adduced as evidence for Nashotah House’s (partial or wholesale) “rejection of inerrancy.”  My surprise is multi-faceted:

(1) That I have contributed under a username rather than my actual name is precisely so as not to imply that my comments (easily misconstrued in the blogging genre) represent the views of Nashotah House.  In other words, what Matt did in the blockquote above (#37) strikes me as a breach of trust.  I am happy to stand behind what I have said in any of my comments, but I have never presumed to represent an institution.

(2) I didn’t recall that I had ever rejected biblical inerrancy, though I did remember saying that I found the word “inerrancy” not to be our best choice of language for affirming and guarding biblical authority.  I was heartened, but not surprised, to reread the comment Matt links above and to recall the substance of my statement.  To say, as I did, that the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy is flawed in conception or execution is not to reject biblical inerrancy, any more than, say, critiquing Abelard’s articulation of a theory of the atonement is a rejection of the atonement. Indeed, it is precisely out of the deepest commitment to biblical authority, that I critiqued (briefly) the CSBI, while noting my basic sympathy with its intent.  I note that in the comment, I commend the word “infallibility” as a better—a more intrinsically biblical—choice.  Since much has been made of my “rejection” of inerrancy—including, stunningly enough, the impugning of a whole faculty—I hope the intelligent SF readers will go ahead and read the comment which is hyperlinked above and note what I actually said.  It is simply a non sequitur to assume that a defender of biblical authority who critiques one rather sub-culturally particular construal of it is thereby abandoning a commitment to Holy Scripture.

(3) I think my students would be surprised to learn that their professor, for having critiqued the CSBI, was thereby espousing of a low view of Scripture, skidding headlong down a slippery slope.  Please sit in on my classes and you will hear a thoroughgoing defense of the historicity of the Gospels (my students think I overdo this), arguing for the evangelists’ dependence upon eyewitness testimony; an argument for the “high Christology” of Jesus(!); a scholarly case for the historicity of Acts; a defense of the Pauline authorship of the 13 letters bearing his name (to the point of tedium, I am told); the affirmation of the theological importance of those canonical biblical texts which have been historically marginalized in the Church’s theological reflection; an exploration the organic narrative and theological unity of the Christian canon; an insistence (unfashionably) on the primacy of authorial intent for biblical interpretation; a full affirmation the biblical view of sexual morality, etc.  That’s what you get from this biblical infallibilist.  If someone can find a slippery slope here, I can only admire your vivid imagination.

If I seem a bit indignant, then I have conveyed my feelings accurately.

(An Increasingly More) Occasional Reader

[153] Posted by Occasional Reader on 8-14-2009 at 11:38 PM · [top]

Let’s see, some (not commenters on this post) would have us defer to scholars and the scholars would be pleased by this as well, then saving their huffy wrath for the hoi-polloi who don’t know any better than to take God at His word.

Hmmm, on the one hand we should trust scholars to be both unbiased and all-knowing, perhaps even infalliblesmile  On the other hand we should trust an invisible Father God and Holy Spirit and a once-visible Son of whom who a great many have testified that they not only saw and walked with Him, they took hold of His feet and worshiped Hum.  Trust God or trust man.  OK, that was easy!

2 Peter 1:21 for no prophecy was ever madr by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

[154] Posted by Milton on 8-14-2009 at 11:42 PM · [top]

Occasional Reader,
The text states ” He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that (Y)THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.” “

Are you suggesting that there was a seed smaller that of the mustard plant that a early I Century farmer would have sown?

If so, what pray tell was that seed?

[155] Posted by Bo on 8-15-2009 at 12:13 AM · [top]

With real reputations and careers at stake (not to mention two venerable institutions), we are not well-served by imprecision with regard to verifiable facts. I was simply concerned to correct a manifest error in the record and to validate a claim that was called into question.

This is correct in real careers on the line, which is why I am not go too far. I still think you are perpetuating an error in an assistance in monolithic understanding of Dei Verbum, remember they have twice the fun as Protestants.

You are sort of correct in “some” meaning liberal, that’s more to the biases of the resources I have at my disposal so I went for the easier point to prove (some does not indicate number just as Matt+‘s “so many orthodox Anglican scholars” doesn’t, in both case it is not “all” or “none” - one can logically same “Many” just as well as “some” but your “official position” as universally understood, I would still disagree).

So I would say you are perpetrating an error on this board, as I found at least one. As I looked at your bio, you should be aware that there is much more debate (like there is in Protestantism), they (presuming you are Protestant with the lovely family) get to not only debate Scripture but also the papal dogma {It is that last bit which is why I’m still Protestant, I love Catholics, at least I’m often surrounded by them, I could be Orthodox if they were not so strange in other ways, but it is that second source of authority then there two fights)

—-

That said, one of the really important contributions to the thread has been the challenge issued to those who would divorce commitments to inerrancy from the believing use of historical-critical methodologies.

Dr Witt has openly expressed problems with the Chicago statement, thought re-reading his comments, I am confused where he actually stands. Dean Munday+, while not behaving like his office should towards me, does seem to affirm a high view of Scripture (maybe not Chicago, but at least “infallible”).

Dr Noll+ issued some statements both Matt+ and Dr Handy+ could sign onto ...

What do you think an Anglican statement of the Trustworthiness of Scripture might look like?


I’m asking because your bio seems to run the gammet, with Presbyterian, AMiA, a dissertation on John Henry Newman, TEDS grad not at a Catholic university. I’m a bastardized Anglo-Catholic, who forwards some questions to RTS or WTS grad now at CUA and they get a negative impression of TSM and Nashotah House, thus I don’t think those schools need to worry about us for a while. 1 in 5 new clergy are from Anglican schools in my corner, but also it seems of those I know in CANA in this area. So they can not rest on being “an Anglican school” in ten to twenty years time. Your statement intrigues me, since not all can accept the Chicago statement, how would you write one, considering all the diverse backgrounds that you come from and are a part of this blog.

It is a rough challenge, I know, but I guess I’m frustrated going round and round, I stated my belief in post #1, two who support “modern scholarship” keep making it seem that I, as a lay simpleton, can ever know if a passage is true of not without years of scholarship, Matt+ disputes this by posting life lines of scholarly-articles written for laymen, I grab hold because, even though from a Calvinist tongue laugh it is something to reassure. I’d be curious if a new voice would be willing to be the lightning rod (yes, I know it would be destine to many, many, many critiques), but I be interested if you could write something form your experience that would be new, something that we’ve been in a rut and not seen before.


Feel free to decline, but it would be interesting to give a fame work that was not the Chicago statement (which some have problems with) but those who do like it could still affirm in inerrancy.

[156] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-15-2009 at 12:21 AM · [top]

I have a feeling that this won’t be well recieved, but I’m going to throw a concern ‘out there,’ anyhow..

The trustworthiness of the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as “God’s Word written,” which contain all things necessary for salvation, teach God’s will for His world, and have supreme authority for faith, life, and the continuous renewal and reform of the Church.

The thing that bothers me about this statement is this - how could, e.g., a Universalist disagree with it? 

Let’s make it more basic: 

Statement #1:  “The Bible contains everything we need to know about salvation.” 

Statement #2:  “Everything written in Scripture concerning salvation, is absolutely true.” 

Note that both statements are limited to the topic of salvation, so that we don’t get sidetracked with questions historicity, or genre, or the design of Welhausen’s bathroom tile.  Yet, it is immediately apparent that the statements are not equivalent.

The implication of statement #1 is that some of the claims that the Bible regarding salvation, even if they are properly exegeted, are incorrect.  IOW, what remains after we take away the incorrect statements, is a correct view of salvation. 

Statement #2 doesn’t fall into that trap. 

So, let’s think of John 3:16, viewed from a perspective of statement #1.  The classical understanding of ‘whosoever believeth in Him…’  would refer to those people who embrace Christ before they die.  On the other hand, per Phil 2:9-11, everyone will eventually acknowledge the lordship of Christ.  Given these two texts, and given that one is not required to acknowledge other texts that talk about the very real possibility of damnation, and given that statement #1 even gives leeway for rejecting portions of proof-texts, why wouldn’t Universalism be an acceptable?

Further, why wouldn’t it be considered orthodox, by those qualified so to do? 

I’m not satisfied.

[157] Posted by J Eppinga on 8-15-2009 at 01:12 AM · [top]

[153] Posted by Occasional Reader

This thread exhibits a lot of huffing and puffing by academics who want to simultaneously:

1.  Affirm their orthodox standing in regard to Scripture.
2.  Deny inerrancy.

It seems that scholars consider inerrancy to be an embarrassing and intellectually indefensible position.  Far better they think to admit the errors, and simply sweep the issue off the table.  “We should instead focus on the errors as minutia.  The Bible may be chock full of errors, but they are small errors that do not affect the truth of the message contained therein.  The Scripture is therefore infallible and trustworthy even if it contradicts itself.”  So neat.  So clean.  So academic.  Except this is a terrible apologetic.  It opens a gaping hole in the line at the very point at which Scripture is currently being attacked.  We are claiming that this text is revelation from God.  If we admit it contains errors, we are tacitly admitting that its source is truly found among men.  Your opponents are therefore not going to accept this all too convenient assertion that errors in one part of the text do not undermine the authority of the whole text.  They will seize on your admission and beat you bloody with it. 

Consider.  Was Jesus wrong about his prophesy in Matthew 24? Is he therefore a false prophet?

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  Matthew 24:32-35

This is certainly the common accusation.  “Your so-called god is a false prophet condemned by your own book!”  Will you now scoff at the size of the mustard seed as minutia even as you move heaven and earth on behalf of reconciling this “error?”  Why?  What is the standard you have applied to ignore the one as irrelevant, even as you defend the other as vital?  It appears your admission is parsed by the relative threat to the truth claims of Christianity.  Your opponents will not accept your scholarly statements from authority that this is just the way things are.  They will want to know why your admissions of errors do not affect essential doctrines; how it is that the errors are so conveniently isolated?  It is the same question I asked earlier.  What standard do we use to parse truth from error in Scripture?  Admissions of error in the autographs demand this question be answered, and I have not heard one yet.

And I have also not yet heard one reason why I should prefer the modern understanding of scholarship to the testimony of Scripture.  Scholars frequently get things wrong.  They judge according to their own (acknowledged and unacknowledged) presuppositions.  Why then should I presume that scholarship gives a better answer simply because scholars would prefer it that way?  Education is not prima facia evidence of superior understanding,  In the end, the man born blind was wiser regarding the things of God then the educated Pharisees who cast him out.  And what did the Pharisees say of that man?

They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.  John 9:34

He tried, but they would not listen.

carl

[158] Posted by carl on 8-15-2009 at 01:27 AM · [top]

Bo,

If you re-read the post to which you are apparently referring, you will see that the concern about the relative size of the mustard seed was entirely my professor’s, not mine.  It was his concern (not mine) that in fact we know of many smaller seeds.  My point, on the other hand, was simply that to defend the statement as if Scripture was making an absolute claim of a botanical sort, was an exercise in missing the point—the parable is about the kingdom of God.

That said, your solution is not only unnecessary but also unhelpful.  First, the text makes no qualification to the effect that the seed must be the kind of see which is sewn by a farmer (the text says “the smallest of ALL seeds”).  Secondly, if the qualification “1st cent farmer” is taken seriously, then you are implying that we are only able to affirm that the claims of Scripture are an accurate (inerrant?) reflection of the state of knowledge of the era(s) in which it was written.  Do you really want to assert such a low view of Scripture?!

I suggest that we leave the mustard seed business alone; it was offered simply as an anecdote to illustrate how pedantic the discussion can become.

[159] Posted by Occasional Reader on 8-15-2009 at 02:23 AM · [top]

With that as the background, all the schools would stand to lose are people like me who don’t want to have some one claiming to be a scholar trying to tell me that some how God’s word has been corrupted.  I rather suspect that folks like me would be a pain in the side of the profs at schools where such is taught.

Bo, (#152) Your comment is precisely why I reacted so strongly when this thread was used to criticize Trinity and Nashotah House for not officially embracing the Chicago Statement.  When people hear or read that kind of criticism, they immediately assume, as you did, that professor at our seminaries teach “that somehow God’s word has been corrupted.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I spent 15 years on the faculty of Trinity, and I have been Dean and President at Nashotah House for 8 years.  I am in a good position to attest that you will not hear, at either institution, anyone teach anything less than that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are completely reliable and trustworthy—and to go beyond that with wholesome teaching about the power of the Word of God in our lives.

I quoted our that part of Nashotah House’s Statement of Identity which states:

Therefore, the standard of teaching and practice of this House is belief in:  {...}
4. …the revelation of God in Scripture, which is “God’s Word written,” the infallible rule for Christian faith and practice.

Obviously, that is not the same as the Chicago Statement, but it is a very strong statement by historic Anglican standards, and arguably much stronger than “A Place to Stand, A Call to Mission (American Anglican Council)” and “The Jerusalem Declaration”, which Prof. Stephen Noll has helpfully quoted in comment #104 and to which ACNA and GAFCON have committed themselves. 

Just because our Statement of Faith does not line up with the ICBI’s “Chicago Statement” does not mean that our faculty teach anything less or that anyone would graduate from Nashotah House (or Trinity) with any less confidence in Scripture than the graduates of the evangelical seminaries that have been mentioned.  Before anyone else makes assertions to the contrary, they ought to come and taste our professors’ teaching.  Then if you want to criticize, I’ll listen.

As I think I have indicated earlier, I would have been absolutely thrilled with Matt’s providing us with that very commendable quote from J.I. Packer, if he had just refrained from making his comment in that last sentence following, which is hard to take as anything less than a dig at Trinity and Nashotah House.  Judging from the comments, other readers obviously read it that way too.

My pain upon reading this thread it twofold:
(1) that it would cause readers to think that because neither Trinity nor Nashotah House signed on to a statement—devised by a particular set of evangelical theologians at a time when Trinity was just beginning as a seminary and Nashotah House was in a different place—that either of our seminaries teach anything less than that the Bible is completely true and trustworthy.  This is a gravely serious mistake.

(2) That this thread would divide orthodox Anglicans at a time when we need to be building unity among Anglicans of different churchmanship and backgrounds.  I believe that Stand Firm has played an important role toward developing that unity, which is why Nashotah House and I personally support it.  For the reasons I have given, I believe this whole thread has been a marked departure from that helpful role, and I would encourage Matt to look beyond the particular point he is trying to make with this thread to that larger purpose.

Robert S. Munday+
Nashotah House

[160] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 8-15-2009 at 02:27 AM · [top]

#158,

Although I see that you have addressed me, I’m not able to follow how your post engages what I have written.  I’m not trying to be difficult or snarky; I’m just not following your line of thought.  It may be that you are implicitly attributing to me views that I do not hold. I critiqued CSBI; I cannot think of a post where I have argued for an “errant” Bible.

[161] Posted by Occasional Reader on 8-15-2009 at 02:30 AM · [top]

Carl,  As far as I can recall, I have always found myself in agreement with what you have said on Stand Firm, but I am baffled by your comment #158.  You address it to “[153] Posted by Occasional Reader” but then you do not address anything he actually said. 

You have quotations marks around the sentence:

“We should instead focus on the errors as minutia.  The Bible may be chock full of errors, but they are small errors that do not affect the truth of the message contained therein.  The Scripture is therefore infallible and trustworthy even if it contradicts itself.”  So neat.  So clean.  So academic. 

Are these supposed to be the words of a hypothetical opponent?  If so, it would be helpful if you would make that clear.  This thread has been destructive enough without appearing to put words in other people’s mouths.

Robert Munday+

[162] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 8-15-2009 at 03:35 AM · [top]

#160, ToAllTheWorld, “Before anyone else makes assertions to the contrary, they ought to come and taste our professors’ teaching.”

Is there any chance of y’all offering some remote classes? I would very much like to emperil my soul by taking classes from Nashotah without leaving the comfort of my Atlanta home. wink

All kidding aside, video or audio of lectures at Nashotah would be an invaluable resource for the laity in the church. I have little interest in acquiring yet another degree, but am very interested in learning subjects such as the one discussed here from a sound Christian, catholic perspective.

[163] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 8-15-2009 at 03:53 AM · [top]

Hello Occassional Reader:

1. Let me first say, as I have said to Dean Munday and Dr. LaMarquand, that I apologize for causing offense. Believe it or not, that was not my intent but that has been the result and I am deeply sorry for any hurt or pain that has resulted from this post.

2. I did not and have not said anything derogatory or slanderous about either Trinity or Nashotah. Please show me where I have done so.

3. I did not mention, nor was I even thinking about the two schools when I made the original post I was thinking about, “most Anglican scholars” in North American (the majority of whom who post here do not teach at either inst. to my knowledge).

4. I don’t think I can say this enough. The intent of my post was to recognize and appreciate those schools that do explicitly affirm the doctrine of inerrancy.

5. I do not think I accused you of anything. I never said that you have a “low view of scripture” and I do not think that you do.

6. I do believe that you are not an inerrantist in the sense the ICBI defines that word (which is the definition I have been working with all along). I think you have been pretty clear about that. If you are and I am wrong I will gladly issue an apology.

7. I never suggested nor do I think you are anything but an orthodox Anglican teacher with a high view of scriptural authority. In fact I said: “I regard them as orthodox Anglican scholars who are solid and faithful but who nevertheless reject inerrancy as understood by Packer and the signitories of the Chicago Statement.”

7. I never suggested that your views represent the views of Nashotah.

8. I have not and will not reveal your identity. Looking back at this, I could have said, “Another professor from Nashotah comments here anonymously” and described your posts without linking one of your posts. That would have, I think, respected your anonymity more than my post above did. It was wrong for me to not do what I could easily have done with a little more time, thought, and consideration. I do apologize for my lack of care in not doing that. I was wrong.

Finally let me say something more general.

I believe, as I wrote above, that inerrancy is a crucially important doctrine. By those words I do not at all mean that those who do not hold to it are heterodox. This is something I think we can disagree about, even vehemently, without dividing.

An analogy might be the fight between evangelicals and Anglo Catholics over the nature and number of sacraments. I think both sides would agree that the topic is of crucial importance and that where one stands on the topic will have rather dramatic consequences. I also think both sides would agree that it is perfectly acceptable to prefer one seminary over another or to prefer a school with scholars who adopt one position over another when making educational decisions. Such a preference is neither slanderous nor hurtful toward other schools. It is simply a choice.

Had I, say as an Anglo Catholic, written: “It is a terrible shame that so many orthodox Anglican scholars in North America have fallen away from the historic position of the Church catholic with regard to the seven sacraments. Fortunately, there is one school that officially embraces catholic sacramental theology.”

I don’t think we would have seen so much heat on this board. Or, at the least, the heat would have been directed toward the topic at hand—sacraments—rather than the scholars and schools. I don’t think Trinity, for example, would have read that as an insult or slander. 

I am persuaded that the doctrine of inerrancy is vital for the health and future of the Church. My views are in line with those already expressed by Carl above. For that reason, I am and remain pleased that there are options for those who would like to go to a seminary that explicitly embraces inerrancy.

One last thing. The word “slander” has been thrown about a lot on this thread. That word would be appropriate if in fact I had lied or maliciously spread a falsehood about one or both institutions, but since I have not lied about either and since I am more than willing to be corrected if my understanding is incorrect and/or one or both of the scholars or schools that have been named above do embrace inerrancy as the ICBI articulates it then I will suggest that accusations of “slander” at this point have become rather slanderous and ought not to be used.

[164] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-15-2009 at 07:03 AM · [top]

Let me pick up on something that Rudy+ (#146) and Matthew A (#153) have touched on, and that is the pressing, urgent need for better tools for teaching the Bible to ordinary lay people in the parish.  This is crucial to the future success of orthodox Anglicanism in North America (and elsewhere), for truly, we don’t live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4, etc.), and it’s by the inspired Scriptures that we’re led to saving faith (2 Tim. 3:14) and properly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  I’m just as deeply and fervently committed to those fundamental truths as I was back in my Wheaton days as a Bible major, or the days when I was in training with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

But I’m not happy with EFM or DOCC (two serious lay training progams widely used in TEC and promoted by Sewanee).  Some readers at SF may be surprised to learn that I consider EFM not only too liberal, but quite idiosyncratic in places, and not really representative of moderate, mainstream biblical scholarship at all.  But above all, as I tried to say above, when responding to carl’s accusations against me, I strongly believe that we must teach CONTENT before CRITICISM.  And because we only hear the Scriptures read and preached from in small chunks in the liturgy, it’s particularly important that we have an effective way of teaching everyone THE BIG PICTURE, the overall sweep of the biblical story of salvation (creation, fall, redemption, and new creation).  That’s why I’ve liked and used the evnagelical Methodist in-depth Bible study program called DISCIPLE.  But we need an Anglican equivalent

I’m planning on launching my own blog this fall, and there I’ll be posting some tools and resources that I’ve been developing to try to meet that very important need.  My intention is that everything I offer be postive and edifying to the Body of Christ.  Alas, it’s become all too clear that all my posts here at SF haven’t always come across that way.  And I regret that.

David Handy+

[165] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 8-15-2009 at 07:41 AM · [top]

Yes, it’s never a good sign when you wake up in the morning, and people are saying things like “What in the hell are you talking about, carl?” or “Did that Nyquil kick in a little early last night, carl?”  Anyways, [158] seemed coherent to me at 1:27 in the morning when I hit the “Submit” button.  I should just make it a rule.  Never ever press “Submit” after 1:00 o’clock in the morning.

That entire post was a reaction to this statement by OccasionalReader:

It is clear that no phenomenon of Scripture, however apparently “errant” could ever be regarded as an “error” by adherents to CSBI (see Article 14).  Various strategies are used at this point:  an appeal is sometimes made to (non-extant) autographs (although, interestingly, I have never known an inerrantist textual critic who was willing to advance the sorts of conjectures such a view requires).  Or, more often, an appeal is made to literary genre, phenomenological language, anthropomorphic speech, etc. to account for the apparent discrepancy.  It is at this point that something stable and important (biblical authority) is being subverted by something intrinsically unstable, i.e., special pleading interpretations that turn a focus away from understanding the affirmations of Scripture on their own terms to defending the accuracy/truthfulness of the text.

Which I am sure was obvious to everyone.  That’s why I got reactions like “Maybe you should try the good stuff next time, carl”  Oh, well.  Live and learn.  I could explain what I was thinking last night, but at this point I think it is best to be silent.  Best not to throw good words after bad.

[162] ToAllTheWorld
Yes, the referenced quote was a hypothetical objector.  I apologize for any confusion or distress that I may have caused. 

carl

[166] Posted by carl on 8-15-2009 at 08:27 AM · [top]

Uh oh.

Somebody has hit on one of my hot buttons.  And it seems to come up whenever there is conflict or stated disagreement *among orthodox Anglicans*.

RE: “That this thread would divide orthodox Anglicans at a time when we need to be building unity among Anglicans of different churchmanship and backgrounds.”

While it’s true that Matt’s pointing out that there are evangelical seminaries with Anglican studies programs that teach inerrancy might also necessarily bring up the thought of Trinity and Nashotah House [although I’m not certain that as many readers thought of that as some commenters have claimed, but thanks a lot for bringing it up, I guess!] . . . . pointing out real divisions amongst Anglicans is not something that will “divide orthodox Anglicans”—because “orthodox Anglicans” are already divided.

We are not divided in one sense—in that I know that I am dealing with largely Christian believers when I talk to a fellow orthodox Anglican.  Revisionists would of course say “one division is the same as another—if you say you are divided from our wonderful gospel, then that’s the same as dividing over [insert more minor division here].”  But all of us understand and know that the division that comes between 1) Christians who believe the gospel and 2) people who say they are Christians but do not believe the gospel is far more devastating to a church than other divisions.  Whether revisionists will admit it or not, one division is not the same as another.

But we—orthodox Anglicans—are most certainly divided in literally dozens of ways that are extremely important and cannot be simply “not talked about publicly” and that will and do have consequences.

[My list below does not give permission to now begin talking about your favorite division.]

We are divided over WO.

We are divided over imputation version infusion of grace, which necessarily means justification and sanctification as well as various means of salvation—kind of serious, there. 

We are divided, then, over the salvific nature of the sacraments.  In fact, one side of this debate takes this so seriously that they are very careful over who can actually present the sacraments—because it touches on the salvation of souls, for them.

We are divided over the expression of gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Indeed we are even divided over what we will name “gifts” in that some do not believe that the current expression of “tongues” or “prophecy” has anything to do with the tongues or prophecy mentioned in the Bible.

We are divided over strategy—HUGELY divided over strategy, so much so that we must declare certain articulations of that division off-limits because after four years of experience with it we understand that threads go entirely off track when expressed and we [bloggers] further believe that they are too wrong to allow.

We are [obviously] divided over whether Holy Scripture is free from error [error as defined by the Chicago statement].

We are divided over creationism versus evolution and for the creationists, that’s hugely significant and deadly, pun intended, because one of the key issues with evolution is where did death come from, what caused it, and what does death mean.

We are divided on what exactly is “the Anglican Communion” and what constitutes it—and yes, that has immense consequences for many people in their making decisions.

We are divided on the numbers and nature of bishops that entities—across the board—should consecrate and I leave that open enough to encompass HOSTS of disagreements.

We’re divided on the meaning and nature of the church—whether it is local, global, universal—and how denominations or organizations enter into that church, intersect with it, and whether people should be a part of certain organizations—or churches depending on your definition—that have gone off the rails.

We are divided on the meaning and pursuit of organizational holiness and purity.

We are divided on the meaning and interpretation of the verses regarding separation.

We’re just simply divided.

And the divisions have consequences.  They are not trifles.  Or something that is only spoken of lightly at cocktail parties, or heavily at various “closed meetings” of the leaders.

[Oh yes—we are divided on whether these divisions should be talked about publicly amongst the masses and peons.  Might scare the horses.]

People actually do make decisions on what organizations they wish to be a part of—and make decisions about their pursuits of various strategies and activities regarding Anglicanism—based on these very serious conflicts and disagreements.  They are doing it all the time and I speak with them about it.

Should these divisions—real and existing—allow us to say “you are not Christian”?  “I do not recognize you as a believer?”  None of us blogging at StandFirm believe that, obviously.  Those who do, don’t last very long here commenting.

But just under that is a level called “Very Serious Indeed and I Will Make Decisions Based On These Matters.”  And for many of us, many of the issues named above are at that level.

From my perspective, Matt’s bringing up the very real fact that some evangelical seminaries teach inerrancy does not make us any more divided.

It merely brings out into the light a division that at least some of us have been conscious of anyway and have talked about.

I get the impression here that—beyond Matt’s bringing up an issue that points out existing division—there is an anxiety about consequences of those divisions.

But those consequences of divisions are already being carried out—over and over and over all throughout TECland and Anglitania.  People are quietly and painfully making decisions based on divisions that already exist.  We’ve all had to make decisions about the TEC divisions.  And from those decisions there are rippling out further decisions and consequences about the divisions within Anglitania in general.

The reason why people are going to Rome—or the PCA church—is because of these divisions.

The reason why people are staying in TEC—or going to ACNA—or going to an Anglican entity not in ACNA—is because of these divisions.

The reason why people are choosing one seminary over another or choosing a non-Anglican seminary entirely—is because of divisions.

The reason why people are *leaving Anglicanism entirely never to return*—is because of divisions.

Talking about the divisions publicly I do not think will make those divisions any more real or the consequences any less distressing.  But at least we’ll all be talking about them.

[My list above does not give permission to now begin talking about your favorite division.]

[167] Posted by Sarah on 8-15-2009 at 08:29 AM · [top]

Matt,

1a) Part of my frustration with the word “inerrancy” as used in these discussions is its continual shifting nature.  So, periodically, the statement is made that “inerrancy” is the doctrine affirmed by the entire church right up until modern liberal apostasy.
1b) At other times, we are told that “inerrancy” applies only to the original autographs in the original languages.

Both of these statements cannot be correct.  When we read the Fathers, we find no discussions of “original autographs.”  The Scripture to which the Eastern Fathers refer is usually the LXX (with exceptions like Origen, who knew his Hebrew).  For the West, it is either the Old Latin or the Vulgate.  You will find no mention of original autographs in Augustine or Athanasius.  That is an entirely modern distinction, introduced, to the best of my knowledge, by the Princeton school in the nineteenth century.

And, of course, the classic statement of inspiration in 2 Timothy 3:16, says nothing about “original autographs.”  The “scripture” in this passage that Timothy would have been familiar with would have been hand copied versions of the Old Testament, probably the LXX.

2a) Some times we are told that “inerrancy” does not mean artificially narrow notions of accuracy.  Differences in chronological order (in the gospels) or less than accurate citings of Scripture do not constitute errors.  So, the plain reading of Mark and Luke indicate a single Gerasene/Gadareme demoniac. Matthew says there were two.  Mark says the transfiguration took place after “six days.”  Luke says it was “about eight days.”  The synoptics place the cleansing of the temple at the end of Jesus’ ministry.  John places it at the beginning.  Many times the New Testament authors cite the Old Testament inaccurately. None of this affects inerrancy.
2b) At other times, we are told that “inerrancy” demands accuracy even in the smallest details.  So, according to Carl (above), if Mark’s gospel incorrectly identifies the correct high priest at the time of David in an incidental passing reference in a pericope whose main point is not “Who was the high priest at the time of David?,” but “Who is the Lord of the Sabbath?,” then the entire gospel collapses.  If Mark has the wrong name for the High Priest, how can we trust anything the Bible says?

Do you agree with Carl here?  (Your seem to be endorsing him). If it were shown:
i) That the translations in even conservative translations like the ESV are correct—Mark really does say “in the time of Abiather the high priest,” and 1 Samuel really does say that Abimilech (not Abiather) was the priest at the time of David;
ii) That the evidence does not seem to point to any other possible textual variants (after all it would be far more likely that a copiest would correct a reference to Abiathar rather than change a correct reference to Abiathar to an incorrect reference to Abimilech);
iii) Consequently, it is most likely the case that the original autograph of Mark said “Abiathar,” not “Abimilech,” and so Mark’s citation (as originally written) was technically incorrect.

Would you then agree with Carl (and Bart Ehrman!) that this would entirely destroy the credibility of Christianity?

Frankly, I find that absurd.  It is precisely these kind of reductionist scenarios that make me reluctant to use words like “inerrancy.”  A doctrine of inspiration that demands that biblical writers never suffer from lapses of memory in their citation of biblical texts, or that demands that different accounts of the same historical event (the Gadarene demoniac) must agree precisely in every detail amounts to not to inspiration, but dictation, and creates insuperable difficulties, because clearly the accounts do not show this kind of precise accuracy and agreement.

At any rate, if “inerrancy” means 2b), it is not the doctrine of the Fathers or the Reformers.  For example, if one reads Augustine’s Harmony of the Gospels, he recognizes such differences in order, timing, etc., and states that the gospels did not intend exact accuracy, so we should not be bothered if it is not there.

I have referred several times in this discussion to a book by Ben Witherington, The Living Word of God (Baylor University Press, 2007).  It is published by a Southern Baptist Press(!)  It has enthusiastic blurbs by Craig L. Blomberg, and Leo Strobel (both respected Evangelicals, whose orthodox Evangelical credentials should be impeccable).  Witherington’s book is written for lay people, and is quite accessible.  I think it a fine example of a contemporary nuanced and orthodox defense of the authority of Scripture, and I would highly recommend it.

But Witherington explicitly repudiates the kind of either-or dilemmas that Carl embraces above.  Witherington’s view is similar to 2a) above, and that is the kind of language we find in the Fathers.  Neither the Fathers nor the Reformers would have embraced the kind of extreme position that Carl defends.  Carl’s view is entirely a modern understanding of the authority of Scripture that probably first appeared sometime in the nineteenth century.

[168] Posted by William Witt on 8-15-2009 at 08:37 AM · [top]

This thread has opened many avenues for discussion.  In fact, it has given us an exciting idea that we hope to implement in the near future. 
That being said, we will be closing this thread soon in order to allow us to begin implementation of this new idea that we hope our readers will find of interest.
So within the limits of our commenting guidelines, feel free to get your final hoots and whistles and cat calls and statements of offense in soon.

[169] Posted by Jackie on 8-15-2009 at 08:39 AM · [top]

I forgot to mention one of the more important divisions.

We are divided on liturgical dance—is it a beautiful expression of worship that churches should embrace and that real Christians—if they had any spontaneity, faith, holiness, and other fruits of the Spirit at all—should enjoy and revel in?  Or is it rather an unAnglican and most likely unChristian activity that any decent Christian should deplore, and that should also cause real Christians to implement the Oedipus-tactic of wearing blindfolds or indulging in a coughing-fit-that-demands-departure when someone else begins their liturgical dance?

[170] Posted by Sarah on 8-15-2009 at 08:49 AM · [top]

A doctrine of inspiration that demands that biblical writers never suffer from lapses of memory in their citation of biblical texts, or that demands that different accounts of the same historical event (the Gadarene demoniac) must agree precisely in every detail amounts to not to inspiration, but dictation, and creates insuperable difficulties, because clearly the accounts do not show this kind of precise accuracy and agreement.

I did not say this, and do not believe it.  Two truthful accounts of the same event do not have to agree in every detail, and I have never used the word ‘dictation’ in regard to inscripturation.  I said that errors cannot be allowed to exist in the autographs.  If errors exist in the autographs, then the authority behind the autographs shifts from God to man.  For if Paul can have lapses of memory, then we must wonder exactly what other problems he might have introduced into the text on account of human failing. 

carl

[171] Posted by carl on 8-15-2009 at 09:04 AM · [top]

Definitely the latter, Sarah.

[172] Posted by heart on 8-15-2009 at 09:19 AM · [top]

For if Paul can have lapses of memory, then we must wonder exactly what other problems he might have introduced into the text on account of human failing.

This is, at least helpful. It clarifies your view.

So when Paul writes the letters that we recognize as canonical Scripture, he is no longer a human being, who suffers from the ordinary limitations that all human beings share—faulty grammar, lapses of memory, not entirely accurate citations of Old Testament texts—but becomes some kind of a superhuman, whose every thought is pumped directly into his mind by divine intervention, or else, who is regularly corrected by divine intervention, should he even show the slightest human frailty.

You may say that such a view is not dictation, but it is materially no different.

The problem is that Paul’s letters show precisely these kinds of human frailties.  He does sometimes forget (1 Cor. 1:14-16).  He sometimes cites Scripture from memory, and does not get it word perfect, precisely accurate.

It seems to me that it is your view that casts the authority of Scripture into doubt.  For me, there is absolutely no problem if Mark had a lapse of memory and wrote down the name of the wrong High Priest in the time of David, in a passage that has no bearing on the identity of the High Priest.  The key point of the passage is that it is Jesus who is the Lord of the Sabbath, not that Abiathar was High Priest.  But for you, if Abiathar is the incorrect High Priest, then Jesus is no longer Lord of the Sabbath.  If that is really what you are saying, it is a rather egregious non sequitur.

I am curious as to whether Matt agrees with you in this.

[173] Posted by William Witt on 8-15-2009 at 10:12 AM · [top]

Re Matt (#164).  Thank you for your various apologies and clarifications.  Tempting as it is to respond point by point, if I am learning anything here, it is that I was supremely unwise and overly trusting to participate in SF as an “occasional reader” sometimes with two cents to contribute.  And more participation does not usually lead to greater understanding.  So I will make only a few final comments (and perhaps a few more posts before I ride into the sunset):

First, re your #6.

. “I do believe that you are not an inerrantist in the sense the ICBI defines that word (which is the definition I have been working with all along). I think you have been pretty clear about that. If you are and I am wrong I will gladly issue an apology.”

I believe that the Bible is true in everything that it affirms and asserts and is, under God, the ultimate standard for Christian belief and practice.  I also think that there could be better, indeed more biblical, ways of articulating that position and more robust ways of affirming and defending a commitment to biblical authority than the flawed, as I regard it, ICBI statement and with it, the well intentioned but, as I see it, problematic investment in the word “inerrancy.”  Whether this qualifies or disqualifies me to bear the label “inerrantist” is not especially important to me.  Neither conferral nor denial of that imprimatur of recent vintage would affect my commitment to Scripture as the revealed Word of God.  I have never “rejected” inerrancy on SF; I have only asked whether it is the truest and most felicitous way to affirm our shared commitment to Scripture.  It saddens me that the label (and the CSBI) has been used so facilely to characterize persons and institutions in binary terms on this and other SF threads.     

Secondly, as for institutions and scholars who explicitly affirm inerrancy, you are aware, of course, that it is not that simple.  I attended one such seminary, which I hold in high esteem, but not all of the faculty members meant the same thing when they affirmed inerrancy, and several scholars held views of the biblical text which I suspect you would not be able to endorse as consistent with inerrancy.  The same is illustrated in the wider evangelical world. Robert Gundry insisted he was an inerrantist but believed that the opening chapters of Matthew’s gospel were not historical, strictly speaking.  A majority of his ETS colleagues believed that he could not be an inerrantist and hold that view of Matthew 1-2.  Some of my staunchly inerrantist teachers thought that he was absolutely and dangerously wrong about Matthew 1-2 but still should be regarded as an inerrantist and should be able to retain his ETS membership.  A similar scenario has just played out at Westminster with Peter Enns, who insisted that he was an inerrantist, despite his views of the nature of the OT text.  Suppose Enns had not written his Inspiration and Incarnation book.  He would still be teaching at Westminster as an self-avowed inerrantist who held views which many inerrantists, rightly or wrongly, find repugnant. 

Now, however, if a seminarian were to study at Nashotah House today, the particular views of Gundry and Enns are emphatically not endorsed by the respective biblical studies faculty here.  But (ironically?) a seminarian could go to a self-proclaimed “inerrantist” institution where such views could be advanced by professors who consider themselves inerrantists and who sign doctrinal statements with a clear conscience to that effect.  So I think you are simply mistaken that the presence or absence of an inerrantist clause guarantees that certain views of Scripture are taught consistently.  For this reason, your initial comments about Anglican studies programs at explicitly inerrantist seminaries were misguided, whether or not a slight toward TSM and Nashotah was intended.

Finally, I don’t know what to make of your comments re “slander,” in a post addressed to me, since it is not a word or accusation that I made.  I’m not sure why you brought it up in this context.

[174] Posted by Occasional Reader on 8-15-2009 at 10:34 AM · [top]

There have certainly been some positive things on this thread.  I want to respond to Dr. Witt at #123 and in general.

In general he says that the debates over biblical inerrancy really boil down to what methods of biblical interpretation are OK to use.  It comes down to what method you use.  I’ve spilled a lot of ink over the interpretation of Paul’s letters, but my impression is that a lot of readers here wouldn’t like redaction criticism of the synoptic gospels, where (if you believe in Markan priority) it is generally believed that Matthew and Luke edited Mark.  We’ll leave Q to the side today.  I’m under the impression that most people here would be more comfortable with the gospels being eyewitness accounts, or based on them, and that the divergences between Matthew and Mark would be due to a difference in sources, rather than Matthew editing Mark.  Yet that’s what all sorts of NT scholars have believed and taught in this country, England, Germany, and elsewhere for many years.  That’s what I taught and teach.  So this is a good illustration that the debates over inerrancy are really debates about what methods to use or to reject.  I agree with you entirely.

Specifically to your #123, Dr. Witt I’d want to take issue that there are no textual variants that are theologically or historically significant.  Origen didn’t think so; Westcott and Hort didn’t think so; Tischendorf didn’t think so; Metzger didn’t think so; and the list goes on and on.  Yes, we can reconstruct the NT text with a great deal of confidence (more for some books of the NT than for others).  When I was in graduate school I was taught by a well known textual critic that NT scholars would now no longer use the title that Westcott and Hort used, “The NT in the Original Greek,” because we don’t think we have the original Greek.  Generally speaking the next we read in Nestle-Aland’s “Novum Testamentum Graece” or in the UBS’s “The Greek NT” is believed to be a reconstruction of the text that circulated in the early church from about the 4th century.  Admittedly we have some earlier manuscripts, but it is the great uncials that are carrying the most weight.  And so it isn’t surprising that there are some textual variants that are of theological significance.  I’m thinking of Luke 2:14 (who is the peace on earth for?) and Romans 5:1 (do we have peace with God already on the basis of justification or are we supposed to do something to obtain it or to “be at peace”?  See Robert Jewett, “Romans: A Commentary,” pp. 344-349).  1 Corinthians 3:5 comes to mind as well (not “who” Apollos and Paul are but “what”).  The reading that Nestle-Aland 27th edition adopts reads “what” rather than “who.”

So there continues to be a lot that NT scholars do at the level of research that is, I believe, significant for the life of the Christian and for Christian theology.  I want to be able to use all the methods that we have and that we are developing in order to throw light on the text.

Rudy+

[175] Posted by Rudy on 8-15-2009 at 11:07 AM · [top]

Carl (re #166),

I think that I what I say in that block quote from months (years?) ago almost speaks for itself, but lacking a larger context here, it might be helpful to offer a few clarifications, as it obviously elicited a strong response from you.

1.  You will note my use of scare quotes around “errant” and “error.”  Thus, it should be clear that I am making no claim in that excerpt about errors in the Bible.

2.  The point of the excerpt was to say that the attachment of biblical authority to a demonstrably error-free text has led to some unhappy consequences: specifically, a focus on verification rather than interpretation, that is to say, defending the Bible (sometimes quite unpersuasively) rather than a more proper focus on explicating and obeying it.  To illustrate via Dr. Witt’s earlier example, a commentary, article, or sermon which expends more energy trying to solve the notorious Ahimelech/Abiathar problem of Mark 2:26 but thereby fails to explore the glorious Christological implications of Jesus the anointed but not yet enthroned Son of David or the rich ethical and eschatological implications of the Son of Man who is the Kyrios of the Sabbath(!) (2:28) is offering a sadly impoverished reading of a stunningly rich text. 

That was the gist of what I was getting at months ago.  If that is academic “huffing and puffing,” as you say (#158), I can live with that. 

I now understand that the larger part of your post (the part that mystified Dean Munday and myself) about scholars setting themselves up over against the biblical text as authorities and arbiters was not, as it appeared, directed toward me but some other hypothetical person(s), so there is no need for me to respond to that bit of “huffing and puffing.”

[176] Posted by Occasional Reader on 8-15-2009 at 11:07 AM · [top]

My problem with inerrancy as it is sometimes practiced by its most avid proponents is that it has a certain deductive logic which makes sense in the abstract but is difficult to apply in the concrete texts of Scripture. Let me give one small example.

Twenty years ago, I was commissioned to write a short commentary on the Book of Esther for the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Baker). As I worked on the Book of Esther, I struggled with the question of its historicity, or maybe more properly I should say its genre. Exactly what kind of writing is this, anyway? The same could be said of Jonah, Job, Daniel, and to a lesser extent many other books of the Bible. The next question I faced with the editors was, can I include anything short of a ringing defense of the historicity of the book and still be considered “Evangelical”?

Well here are the first three paragraphs of the Commentary. You be the judge.

<blockquo

[177] Posted by Stephen Noll on 8-15-2009 at 11:12 AM · [top]

#170 Yes indeed, who has not been deeply and memorably touched, by ladies of a certain age, with their lovingly home crafted veils and garments, pirouetting around churches during the divine liturgy.

It makes my heart, so to say, somersault (and my trigger finger twitch).

[178] Posted by driver8 on 8-15-2009 at 11:21 AM · [top]

Dr. Noll, I believe those dreaded internets fouled your link.  Surely a VLWC.  raspberry

[179] Posted by Jackie on 8-15-2009 at 11:28 AM · [top]

RE:  “... and perhaps a few more posts before I ride into the sunset.”

Not to unnecessarily pick on one person, (this is just the most recent example, Occasional Reader), but why do people feel the need to warn us that “I’m not going to participate here any longer if…. or ‘This is my last post because .....’” as if issuing a warning to “the rest of us” [meanies, disagree-ers, arguers]?
At our house, we call this the “I’m Taking all My Barbies and Going Home!” syndrome.

It is ineffective and childish, and serves only to promulgate disagreeable feelings.  I can’t figure out what purpose an otherwise well-reasoned post is served by remarks like this..

[180] Posted by heart on 8-15-2009 at 11:41 AM · [top]

Hi Occassional Reader,

The second half of my post was preceded by this, admittedly, ambiguous label:

“Finally let me say something more general…”

I meant by that that I was leaving off responding directly to your post and that I was going to say something in general about the responses on the thread. I should have made a second post.

[181] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-15-2009 at 11:44 AM · [top]

Sarah, #167 is a much-needed acknowledgement of the very real differences (my term for what need not divide us who are saved by Jesus’blood that washes away all sin and the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us in daily washing and further growth) among those who “contend earnestly for the faith given once for all to the saints”.  As usual, of course, you could not resist throwing an incendiary device right into the midst with #170! smile

Dr. Witt, you and others have motivated me to purchase Witherington’s The Living Word of God.  I predict that it actually will agree perfectly with the Chicago Statement properly applied and understood.

To address the many commenters, all brothers and sisters in Christ, who contend long and earnestly with my and each other’s shortcomings in understanding and orthodoxy, I take the liberty of cross-posting my comment from a shortly previous SFIF post (D.A. Carson video) that mushroomed into a similar debate on inerrancy:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/24480#391770

Modest Mystic, I think to insist on belief in inerrancy (to which I hold) as necessarily required for salvation (with which I disagree) is to go beyond Scripture, if not to deny some crucial passages, especially Romans 2:9-16.  Certainly Jews and Muslims, for example, may be saved on the terms of that passage by the grace of the Lord Jesus, who acts on hearts across all barriers and who knows the secrets of all hearts, by which He will judge each of us someday.  A Jew or Muslim saved in spite of their practice on the basis of God’s hidden knowledge of their true heart would certainly not hold to Biblical inerrancy!  We absolutely should seek to evangelize all peoples, including those 2 groups, while not imposing conditions of our own that may block such people from coming to a saving faith and sanctification that likely will include a growing confidence and trust in the reliability and even the inerrancy of Scripture.

Denying inerrancy may, however, lead one to error that does touch on essentials rather than non-essentials of faith, and that is where the danger lies.  Not holding to Jonah literally being swallowed by a fish is one thing.  Denying the reality of human sin and rebellion that, unforgiven and unredeemed, will result in God justly separating us from Him forever, and teaching that denial as new leading of the Holy Spirit, and marginalizing and then persecuting those who uphold sound doctrine and leading unwary souls to judgment after them is quite another.

Ed the Roman, are you hinting that an inerrant (perhaps bald-face woodenly literal?) reading of John 6 will lead us irresistibly to add “the Roman” after all our screen names as well?  Perhaps you are preaching transubstantiation or exclusion of women’s ordination.  Or one could, by misinterpreting the inerrant text, assert that, at some point described only in tradition but not in Scripture, Jesus literally gave of his physical human flesh and human blood for the disciples to eat and drink.  Or perhaps derive a solution to providing food for large impromptu gatherings!

One has to make quite a stretch to get to transubstantiation from the Gospel descriptions of Jesus’ offering bread and wine as His body and blood.  A figurative and even mystical meaning would seem obvious since the disciples could see Jesus and bread and wine before their eyes as 3 discrete physical entities, so it must have been clear to them that He was seeking to convey a truth that was above human conceptual categories but that did not require the tortured logic and lengthy justifications and expositions of transubstantiation that would take several lifetimes to read in their entirety.  The Real Presence does quite nicely there!

Inerrancy does, however, pose a stumbling block to the formation and enshrining as dogma a few extra-Scriptural and even contra-Scriptural doctrines, which no one needs listed here.  I am grateful to the Holy Spirit for making the few true essentials clear and convicting to the hearts of the saved, to Jesus for His atoning sacrifice and much, much more, and to the one Triune God who will correct our incorrect theological exam answers on the other side, after He has graced us to answer correctly the one question on the pass-fail exam that got us there!

[80] Posted by Milton on 08-10-2009 at 11:03 PM • top

[182] Posted by Milton on 8-15-2009 at 11:56 AM · [top]

Matt (#181), I see.  That was a helpful clarification.  Thank you.

[183] Posted by Occasional Reader on 8-15-2009 at 11:57 AM · [top]

159,
In your post on the mustard seed you seemed rather bothered that some one would defend the statement as made. If you accept the truth of what our Lord said, and that is has been faithfully delivered to us, then I have misunderstood your position in this matter.

Perhaps that particular person’s attempt to defend the text’s accuracy was done in a way that bothered you, and that is generated the hostility I see your statement about it.

The mustard seed was the smallest of all the seeds the sower took to the field.  In this parable the sower is a 1st century farmer. That qualification of ‘smallest’ is in the text, (Even a simple man like me can read that well) we need not worry about orchids (or any other out-of-context plants).

I don’t know the fancy terms for it, but the Scripture qualifies, classifies, and explains itself.  In this parable the smallest of all the seeds the sower took was a particular mustard seed which grew to be big enough for birds to roost in it. 

Now my understanding is not infallible, but it does conform to the infallible text in way that does neither my mind nor the text any injustice.

Robert Munday+
The claim is made that the text if taught as fully trustworthy and reliable.  I’m fully aware that there are different was of saying the same thing, and a multitude of ways of saying nearly the same thing.  I’m also aware of ‘issues of timining’.

Yet, the folks from the two houses don’t seem to take the attitude that Scripture is always right.  Taking an example offered by someone else here, how do y’all resolve the “contrived trouble” of the mustard seed?

Dr. Witt,
I’ve taken the ‘who was high priest’ statements as indicating that perhaps overlapping office-holding was going on.  Perhaps the elder was still high-priest but unable to full-fill the duties, his son then being ‘acting’ high priest.  At present I leave it as it appears as if the text is saying that ‘they both were’, the means of that I can not say with certainty.

[184] Posted by Bo on 8-15-2009 at 12:05 PM · [top]

#180, with the great number of posts on this thread you probably missed an important detail that would help you understand my comment.  I am a faculty member at Nashotah House.  I have posted on Stand Firm on an occasional basis under a username, not to hide or troll, but simply to chime in without needing to worry that I might be taken to represent my seminary, a responsibility which has never been entrusted to me.  That changed on this thread when Matt felt that it was important to identify me as a member of the Nashotah House faculty (#37) via the registration information to which he (and presumably some others) have private access, but which I had naively assumed was essentially confidential.  He did so to adduce evidence for a claim he wished to make regarding the view of Scripture that is held at Nashotah House—to my Dean no less!  This was just the sort of thing I had meant to avoid.  I’m perfectly happy to stand by things I have posted here in the past (granting there are no doubt errors of fact and infelicities of rhetoric aplenty), but it is not possible to continue as a responsible but anonymous participant as I intended originally.  So I don’t actually think that my decision to finish out this thread and to cease posting at SF is the childish response you make it out to be.

[185] Posted by Occasional Reader on 8-15-2009 at 12:26 PM · [top]

#185 OR, I hope you will take my #182 as a humble request and invitation to continue to comment at SFIF whenever you feel so moved.  We can only be enriched by more faithful voices joining the conversation and only be impoverished when each one leaves it.

To my brother in Christ,
Milton

[186] Posted by Milton on 8-15-2009 at 12:32 PM · [top]

I just had a very long reply to Dr.Witt. Disappear. I will come back to it later.

[187] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-15-2009 at 12:41 PM · [top]

Bo (#184), the point that I had tried to make originally with this anecdote about the mustard seed seems to be a hard one to get across.  The very simple point was that it is pedantry to feel obliged to defend the botanical truthfulness of Jesus’ statement as if he were giving a Botany 101 class when he was actually making an assertion about the kingdom of God.  That’s it.  That’s all I was getting at.  There are, of course, several ways of “defending” Jesus statement:  (1) You can say he is using hyperbole. (2) You can say that he is accommodating to the limited understanding of his audience. (3) You can say that the Greek adjective, being comparative and not superlative in form, is actually not being used in its customary elative sense (quite a stretch given the presence of pantwn).  But my point was not actually to take issue with any such explanations in themselves, but with the very idea that one should feel obliged to offer such a thing.  When my professor offered such it was specifically because by his own admission his definition of inerrancy included the claim that the Bible was inerrant with respect to all of its scientific claims, and he counted this as one such claim.  This struck me then as it does now as a terribly tortured approach to the text, but one which was required by his version of a deductive definition of inerrancy.  Most inerrantists never stoop to this sort of pedantry, but my professor, a signatory of the CSBI and essayist on its behalf thought this was important to the defense of biblical inerrancy.  That’s why it came up in the first place.  That’s all I was trying to say.

[188] Posted by Occasional Reader on 8-15-2009 at 12:45 PM · [top]

Occasional Reader,

Again, I apologize for the way in which I identified you above. It was not my intention to “reveal your identity” to your Dean or anyone else. There was another way to have made the same point as I noted in #164 but I was not thinking clearly enough. Again, I am very sorry for wronging you in that way.

[189] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-15-2009 at 12:52 PM · [top]

Matt (#189), I forgive you.  I didn’t like rehearsing my grievance, but it seemed that #180 was not apprised of the context. 

By the way, Dean Munday knows very well my unambiguous commitment to the authority and trustworthiness of Scripture.  I’m quite sure it was a major part of the reason he hired me.  So I have no worries about that.  I was only sorry that I inadvertently caused him grief by opening our seminary to insinuations that are contrary to fact.

[190] Posted by Occasional Reader on 8-15-2009 at 01:00 PM · [top]

“Most inerrantists never stoop to this sort of pedantry, but my professor, a signatory of the CSBI and essayist on its behalf thought this was important to the defense of biblical inerrancy.”

It may seem like pedantry to people in some settings. Not in others. The question of the mustard seed has come up numerous times in my short 7 year ministry, people genuinely either concerned about the veracity of scripture (and by extension) the truths contained therein or people wrestling with deep doubts about the bible because of these kinds of problems.

It does not do any good in those situations, precisely for the reason’s Carl mentions above, to say “well this might be inaccurate but the larger point is…” because to the average joe if the bible really is God’s word then it should be true, truer than any other book, perfectly true—and if the small points are wrong, if the bible writers, much less Jesus, can’t even remember who the high priest was when David took the shewbread—then why on earth should we trust what they say about the bigger things.

That may seem wrong headed to you (I don’t think it is) but that is how a lot of people think.

The “pedantic” arguments, however, about why Jesus expressed himself the way that he did have proven immensely helpful in these situations.

[191] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-15-2009 at 01:15 PM · [top]

I’d want to take issue that there are no textual variants that are theologically or historically significant

Rudy,

Context sometimes determines how comments should be interpreted.  Perhaps I should have been more clear that when I said textual variants are not theologically or historically significant,  I was speaking of being theologically or historically significant in terms of Bart Ehrman’s critique—that there are textual variants that he claims would undermine the credibility of Christianity.  Certainly textual variants can be, as you put it, “significant for the life of the Christian and for Christian theology.”  And, this is precisely the kind of work for which we can be grateful to Westcott and Hort.

My point was that, even without the great work of Westcott and Hort, even before Erasmus’s first printed Greek New Testament, even when fathers like Augustine were dependent on an inferior Latin translation of inferior manuscripts, and most of the Greek fathers could not read Hebrew, but depended on the LXX, the Bibles that they had were not only “sufficient,” but enabled them to do the most important theology that the church has ever been written in the church.  For all their importance, Westcott and Hort are footnotes to Athanasius and Augustine.

At the same time, I am glad that you mentioned Westcott and Hort because part of this conversation is about an artificial distinction between the kind of textual work Westcott and Hort did with textual variants—this is where language of inerrant “original autographs” comes from—and the historical critical work that scholars like Westcott and Hort also did—so called “higher criticism.”  Both have to do with studying the Bible as God gave it, not as we would like to have received it.  Both are equally valuable and necessary.

[192] Posted by William Witt on 8-15-2009 at 01:26 PM · [top]

188,
The important thing is that one admit first and foremost that the saying is true.  You listed three options.

(1)Hyperbole in a parable, maybe.
(2)Stooping to the level of his audience - maybe (not teaching them botany, but running with what they already thought they knew).
(3)Word games - highly unlikely, unless he is speaking to the scribes and pharisees where this would be an appropriate action - the scholarly types seem to love that stuff..

I submitted a fourth
(4) The context He gives providing the limitation of the comparative set - probably.  After all Scripture is the best guide to understanding scripture….

As long as we agree that the text is true, and our perceptions of error are our own failure, we’re doing good.

[193] Posted by Bo on 8-15-2009 at 01:30 PM · [top]

Sorry if I misunderstood you.  I agree with you about what Ehrman is arguing.  I also agree with you that the distinction between “lower criticism” and “higher criticism” is ultimately an artificial one.

It is interesting that Origen liked textual variants and commented in places on several different readings of the Greek text of the same verse.

With every good wish,
Rudy+

[194] Posted by Rudy on 8-15-2009 at 01:37 PM · [top]

It does not do any good in those situations, precisely for the reason’s Carl mentions above, to say “well this might be inaccurate but the larger point is…” because to the average joe if the bible really is God’s word then it should be true, truer than any other book, perfectly true—and if the small points are wrong, if the bible writers, much less Jesus, can’t even remember who the high priest was when David took the shewbread—then why on earth should we trust what they say about the bigger things.

Matt,

The fact is, it does the average joe no good to gloss over the very real “problems” (for lack of a better word), or difficulties in the text.  The fact is, a plain reading of Mark’s gospel identifies one high priest, and a plain reading of 1 Samuel identifies another.

Certainly there are possible expanations—and I indicated some of them, possible different translations of the Greek texts, perhaps textual variants that have been lost, perhaps (as suggested above), there were two high priests.  The same average joe who is troubled by the problems will conclude that such so-called solutions are mere rationalizations, an attempt to pull the wool over his eyes by pretending that the texts do not really say what they say.  And if the average joe actually starts studying the texts in their original languages, operating with the kind of a priori demands that you presume—“if the bible really is God’s word then it should be true, truer than any other book, perfectly true—and if the small points are wrong . . . why on earth should we trust what they say about the bigger things”—he will indeed end up like Ehrman when he concludes that “the small points are wrong.”

I have referred earlier to a book by E. C. Hoskyns, The Riddle of the New Testament. Using the best historical critical method of his day, Hoskyns showed that, even allowing for historical critical method, one never finds a Jesus in the text who is not the Son of God, who did not die for our sins, and who did not rise form the dead.  That is a point of real significance.

I find approaches like Hoskyns and Witherington’s to be much more helpful.  I think the average joe is capable of understanding that the ways in which people wrote history in the first century were different than the ways in which we write history today—that there were no copyright laws, no printed texts, no footnotes, that the gospels are not verbal transcripts, but retellings of different versions of the same basic oral story that were compiled over decades.  The kind of “truth” that the gospels portray is that of a largely oral culture, not a publishing one.

So, it should be no surprise that in such an oral culture, people depend more heavily on memory, and memory is not infallible.  Biblical writers did not have printed Bibles with versification.  If they had a text at all, they had hand written manuscripts written on cumbersome scrolls, without verses, page numbers, or even punctuation.  They identified texts by referring to its original narrative context. They quoted texts from memory. They interpolated glosses to help clarify points in the text.  This was standard operating procedure in pre-modern cultures.

If this kind of thing is a threat to the average joe, then the average joe is scandalalized by a God who truly became incarnate in a first century Middle Eastern culture rather than twenty-first century North America.

[195] Posted by William Witt on 8-15-2009 at 01:57 PM · [top]

Dr. Witt,
It is no ‘pulling of wool’ to say “The Scripture apparently teaches both were High Priest” acknowledge that there is no plain teaching on the mechanics of this, and to say ‘perhaps two reigned’.

Granted, it would be ‘wool-pulling’ or worse to give as ‘the only canonical explanation’ one’s on suppositions….

It is far worse than ‘pulling wool’ to state, as if fact, that either Mark or 1 Samuel got it wrong. 

The Scriptures do not ‘get it wrong’.

[196] Posted by Bo on 8-15-2009 at 02:04 PM · [top]

Hi Dr. Witt,

I think Jesus was referring to the “time” of Abiathar…who was more well known than Ahemilech—not necessarily saying that Abiathar was the high priest when David ate the shewbread. It’s like saying “John served in the Navy on a PT boat during WW2 in the time of John F. Kennedy, the president.” Obviously John Kennedy was not president in WW2 but he did serve on a PT boat at the same time and everyone knows of him and his exploits and so the sentence makes sense and it is not in error unless someone read’s it maliciously. I think the same sort of thing is going on with Abiathar.

And not only do I believe these “pedantic” answers are true but in fact they have been quite helpful in assuring people of the truthfulness of scripture. I am not speaking theoretically here, as you seem to suggest, I am speaking about real pastoral experiences and encounters. Being able to show how the apparent contradictions and errors you list are not in fact contradictions or errors and that the small things are in fact quite right and that the big things are trustworthy as well has been a great benefit to my congregation and I think Christians in general.

And I also have found not only in my own life but in my ministry and in my dealings with others that in fact, the more I study the more scripture shows itself to be accurate about both the small and little things and the very big ones. I do not see the need to draw the line that you think necessary.

I agree, also, that the genre determines the canon or measure you use to determine the veracity of a text and for that reason you do not judge the gospels in the way that you might a newspaper—but there are some principles, I think, that cut across a number of genres—the principle of non-contradiction for example—that can falsify an account.

[197] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-15-2009 at 02:26 PM · [top]

Matt (#164) pointed to the use of the term “slander” in this discussion.  Since I used that word in comment #39, let me explain what I meant by it.  I am defining it (without recourse to a dictionary) as “the mischaracterization of an individual or an institution in a way that is to their detriment.”

In comment #39 I was making reference to the fact that in an article entitled, Article Six (part 2): Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation, David Handy, Matt Kennedy, and Hosea 6:6 all spoke erroneously regarding Nashotah House’s position on inerrancy—and had been doing so on a number of threads which I never read and, therefore, failed to rebut.  It is important to note that Hosea and Matt were responding to David Handy’s characterization of our position, which he did not know and regarding which he did not have the authority to speak.  (David has since acknowledged that and apologized profusely several times in this discussion; and I am more than happy to forgive him.) 

It was in response to this realization that a great deal had been said over a long period of time that misrepresented Nashotah House’s position, that I said, in parentheses, “(Golly, if only I had known sooner how much slander against Nashotah House our advertising on Stand Firm was helping to support!)”  That remark on my part was an expression of exasperation and was partly (or maybe even wholly) facetious.  I guess I need to learn that, in the black and white world of blogging, such comments can be taken as if they were criminal accusations.  But that was not my intent.

In any event, it has felt over the last few days as though the cumulative effect of this thread has been detrimental to Nashotah House, not because of our actual position on inerrancy, but because of mischaracterizations and misrepresentations of it.

It is important to note that this thread did not begin with the ICBI’s definition of inerrancy as contained in the Chicago Statement; that element was introduced in comments subsequently.  This thread began with J.I. Packer’s statement on why “biblical trustworthiness, whether we call it infallibility or inerrancy” matters.  And I want to assure anyone reading this thread that Nashotah House’s faculty would agree completely and unanimously with Dr. Packer’s remarks.

Finally, I want to call your attention to the examples given by “Occasional Reader” in comment #174, that demonstrate that even signatories of the “Chicago Statement” and faculty members in evangelical seminaries differ in their understanding of inerrancy.  (In fact, they differ more widely that I believe is acceptable if the document is to have any real meaning.)  So whether faculty at Nashotah House may agree that the Chicago Statement is the best vehicle for communicating an understanding of the nature and trustworthiness of Scripture, we do, in fact, hold to and teach a view of Scripture that is as high or higher than many of those individuals and institutions who claim to endorse that statement.

Robert S. Munday+
Nashotah House

[198] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 8-15-2009 at 02:38 PM · [top]

Matt+
Thanks for adding to my list of understandings of the passage that are consistent with both the words written and the presupposition that the scriptures do not get it wrong.

I am no ordained minister, but share with you a ministry to people who need assurance of the truth of God’s word. 

Having another ‘way of looking at it’ that I can share with them is something that I value.

The patrons of the Waffle House are not likely to actually have this specific question, but should one do so, I now have yet another way to explain it. 

Most of them, when they reach the point of coming to me, are struggling and fighting against the Spirit (they are ‘under conviction’ as we would say), many of them grasping at straws so that they can deny the authority of scriptures ( and the Holy Ghost that breathed them). 

I don’t see the questioning Christian. I see the ones ‘resisting arrest’, kicking against the goads, seeking some way to justify their own disobedience to the God of their youth, or of their mother (sadly few of them had Godly fathers).  In this field, sophistry is of no value, letters after one’s name are of no help. 

Being able to share the truth of the Scripture, (in all its parts) is the only thing that can be of service to them, or to their Creator. 

Not one of the day labors, plumbers, and construction workers that I see are interested in ‘word games’ - they want to know ‘Is this stuff true?’, and ‘What do i do about it now?’.

[199] Posted by Bo on 8-15-2009 at 02:52 PM · [top]

Trying again…

My problem with inerrancy as it is often practiced by its most avid proponents is that it has a certain deductive certainty which makes sense in the abstract but is difficult to apply in the concrete texts of Scripture. Let me give one small example.

Twenty years ago, I was commissioned to write a short commentary on the Book of Esther for the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Baker). As I worked on the Book of Esther, I struggled with the question of its historicity, or maybe more properly I should say its genre. Exactly what kind of writing is this, anyway? The same could be said of Jonah, Job, Daniel, and to a lesser extent many other books of the Bible. The next question I faced with the editors was, can I include anything short of a ringing defense of the historicity of the book and still be considered “Evangelical”?

Well here are the first three paragraphs of the Commentary. You be the judge.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Eccles. 4:12). Like the proverbial cord, the Scripture weaves together carefully and powerfully the strands of history, art, and doctrine. The Book of Esther is a fine example of this marvelous tapestry.

The story of Esther takes place in the Persian court of the famous king Xerxes (“Ahasuerus”). An amazing sequence of events involving Haman, Esther, and Mordecai displays God’s salvation of his people. While these biblical figures are not mentioned specifically in Persian annals or by the Greek historian Herodotus, it is hard to imagine how such a powerful story commemorated in such a universally accepted feast could emerge without a basis in the actual history of the Jewish people.

We do not have any direct testimony outside the Bible for Esther, Mordecai, or Haman in the time of Xerxes, although the basic story line is not implausible. The accession of a foreign-born queen, the promotion of Jews to high office, the occasional persecution of alien peoples in the pagan empires – all these events are known in other historical sources. Further, the story employs names, titles, and court practices that are generally consistent with the Persian period. On the other hand, certain details, such as the 180-feast and the edict commanding wives to obey their husbands, would seem to serve more to dramatize human foibles of the characters. In all of this, readers are caught up into the events as if they were there!

[200] Posted by Stephen Noll on 8-15-2009 at 03:06 PM · [top]

[173] Dr William Witt

For me, there is absolutely no problem if Mark had a lapse of memory and wrote down the name of the wrong High Priest in the time of David, in a passage that has no bearing on the identity of the High Priest.  The key point of the passage is that it is Jesus who is the Lord of the Sabbath, not that Abiathar was High Priest.


The critical presumption in this argument is that the ‘lapses in memory’ never affect the ‘key points’ of the passage.  What is your justification for making this presumption?  There are all kinds of potential errors that men can introduce, and said errors can be introduced at any point in the text.  You cannot consistently limit the locations of those errors to places you consider sufficiently benign.  Once having introduced the possibility of error, how do you avoid setting Scripture against itself - Paul against Christ, or Paul against Paul?  Unpopular doctrines can be dismissed as the product of an introduced error.  For example, how often have we heard some variation of the following:  “Paul didn’t have the benefit of a modern scientific understanding of homosexuality.” 

But for you, if Abiathar is the incorrect High Priest, then Jesus is no longer Lord of the Sabbath.  If that is really what you are saying, it is a rather egregious non sequitur.


Jesus is, among other things, a prophet.  So when Jesus speaks as a prophet, by definition what he says must be true.  Therefore when he says in Matthew 24 that “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place”, we begin with the presumption that what he is saying is true.  The text must be handled with that guiding principle in mind.  We cannot say “Perhaps he got one little part of the prophesy wrong, but his larger point is true.”  Any error in the prophesy reveals him to be a false prophet.  99.999% correct isn’t good enough. 

An error in the text reveals the nature of the text just as an error in the prophesy reveals the nature of the prophesy.  Only men can introduce error, and so this necessitates that the authority of the text must be found in men.  Yet we know with certainty that men cannot establish metaphysical truth on their own.  You want me to accept that Mark can accurately relate that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath after you have already established that Mark couldn’t keep straight the name of the High Priest in the time of David.  Well, perhaps he got Jesus’ identity as Lord of the Sabbath wrong as well.  To establish otherwise, you must present the standard by which you separate truth from error in Scripture.  A generic appeal to scholarship simply will not suffice. What is that standard?

carl

[201] Posted by carl on 8-15-2009 at 03:07 PM · [top]

198 Dean Munday+

Since I am the accused of slander as you defined as “the mischaracterization of an individual or an institution in a way that is to their detriment.” I point you to post #17 where the impression I had was not baseless, but on what another individual had been repeatedly saying without any other figure challenging it, even openly begging for someone in authority to speak up (which most ironically you link to in your accusation as an attack rather than the heart-broke cry of hearing something I wish to be untrue). In #39 you oddly are the one slandering, by your own definition ... ME!!!!!!!!

I ask you, it #39 fitting with your calling as dean, ordination as a Presbyter or even as an elder Christian?

If you are to be so great in any capacity, should you not be the one who serves?

Is your actions in #39 what you want people to think is the atmosphere of Nashotah House or is it less than becoming?

Is this your conflict resolution style?

Or maybe you have an apology to make in being a accuser of the brethren without merit and not living up to your office as Dean, Priest or Christian?


Yes, I think it was you who introduced the word “slander” then gave an example, calling me like a GLBT activist and need to repent of a sin of acting on the only information I had available at that time or a whole year afterward. Since we had a seminary professor from the other seminary also remain silent, I think it is not an unfair presumption, especially considering the times.


I’m glad you are now paying attention and are here on SFIF to correct misunderstanding, but I still think your #39 is WAY out of line considering your office.

[202] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-15-2009 at 03:19 PM · [top]

Dear Dr. Munday,

Thank you for your comment above. Especially for this:

“This thread began with J.I. Packer’s statement on why “biblical trustworthiness, whether we call it infallibility or inerrancy” matters.  And I want to assure anyone reading this thread that Nashotah House’s faculty would agree completely and unanimously with Dr. Packer’s remarks.”

I am overjoyed to read it.

[203] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-15-2009 at 03:22 PM · [top]

Stephen Noll,
You did ask… smile

I’d have rephrased “On the other hand, certain details, such as the 180-feast and the edict commanding wives to obey their husbands, would seem to serve more to dramatize human foibles of the characters.”
Perhaps something more like And yet, certain details, such as the 180-feast and the edict commanding wives to obey their husbands, would seem to serve to dramatize the timeless human foibles of the characters.”

That way, to me at least, it reads more as if the events emphasized are not so much ‘unhistorical’ but rather ‘timeless’ in there application.

[204] Posted by Bo on 8-15-2009 at 03:23 PM · [top]

OR, your point about the parable of the mustard seed being a lesson on faith rather than a Botany 101 lecture is exactly the kind of assertion the Chicago Statement makes about the inerrancy of Scripture.

[205] Posted by Milton on 8-15-2009 at 03:37 PM · [top]

Matt+

Your response #197 to Dr. Witt demonstrates the ways that imprecision with the doctrine of inerrancy and its implications takes the whole discussion off the rails. Let me attempt to problematize the theological function of the doctrine of inerrancy.

In resolving the apparent difficulty of the text by appeal to an imaginative analogy with a contemporary statement made with regard to JFK, you have advanced with it an assumption of genre and of similitude between a contemporary and an ancient locution. You may be right in the end, but your solution is as yet no less speculative than any other possible solution (including solutions rooted in scribal errors, divergent oral traditions, limitations in the human author’s knowledge, or the normalcy of imprecision in ancient historiography). You have not, in other words, validated your proposed reading nor distinguished it as more persuasive than any other alleged solution. This is why inerrancy debates always resolve practically to the validation of exegesis and hermeneutics and this takes us out of the discourse of inerrancy/infallibilty and into the discourse of finite/fallible interpretation. 

The inerrancy of the autographa is a venerable theological affirmation but it presents a contemporary reader/interpreter with very little practical help if the goal is inerrant interpretation, inerrant translation, or inerrant articulation of the Bible’s illocutionary intentions. We don’t possess the autographa or an precise copy of the autographa, so we are dependent on the fallible methods of textual criticism to establish as best as possible the original. The theological appeal to the autographa only establishes a goal for text criticism and a goal for interpretation; it can’t infallibly validate the product of those efforts. We’re dependent on adequate hermenutical methodology (including right applications of the analogia scriptura), accurate historiography, an adequate grasp of grammatical/lexical/discursive possibilities, and (hopefully) the illumination of the Spirit. All of these, even claims for special illumination, are fallible.

You were very quick with the hearty amen to Carl’s post #142 above but errors and apparent difficulties do appear regardless of whether we distance God from those errors by recourse to inerrancy and infallibility. Let me attempt the answer to his questions dealing with what actually appears when we open our BHS or GNT:

a.  Where did the errors come from?

The errors or apparent difficulties are there and they are, of course, the contribution of finite/fallible human beings. They may be errors originating from the work of humans in transmission or they may be errors of our own interpretation/understanding of the text. Ordinarily, it is more the latter than the former.

b.  What else in the Scripture is in error?

Wherever we encounter a difficulty or error, there is a problem to resolve. The resolution may or may not be found in a better codex and it may/may not be found in a more satisfactory interpretation/understanding of the text. The errors are not God’s problem; they are human problems arising from our own finitude and fallibility. The perspicuity of the Scripture is only a minimalist theological affirmation that those things which are “necessary to be known for our salvation” can be adequately accessed. There is no guarantee that they will be adequately accessed or faithfully obeyed (since human beings often “suppress” even “clearly revealed” truth by unrighteousness, Rom 1.18ff.).

c.  What standard do we use to parse truth from error in Scripture?

We are ultimately accountable to God’s standard, but we remain finite and fallible in our interpretive efforts. The validation of interpretation is thus a matter of persuasion. Confidence is established by coherence within the analogy of faith (itself a product of scripture, tradition, and reason) and by the internal witness of the Spirit.

d.  Who parses truth from error?

We do, using our faculties of judgment as partakers of the one Holy Spirit and as yielded, teachable members of the Church which is “the bulwark and pillar of our faith.”

e.  If the Scripture is in error, then by what authority does the Scripture compel the conscience of men?

Because we are finite and fallible our consciences can be either well-formed or mal-formed but most of us are possessed of both. We are morally responsible for our interpretations and our obedience, but persuasion and conviction about what is good/true/beautiful is a matter of proper confidence, not inerrant certitude. 

I might recommend in this regard, Gordon Fee’s nice article, “Hermeneutics and Common Sense: An Exploratory Essay on the Hermeneutics of the Epistles.” He makes this case in more and better detail and distinguishes properly between two differing views of inerrancy extant among evangelicals. 

It can be found in the older volume Inerrancy and Common Sense or in his own collection, Gospel and Spirit. A poorly formatted version can be found here:

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/dpep/excerpt.pl?sku=75788&event=AFF

[206] Posted by M. J. G. Pahls on 8-15-2009 at 03:52 PM · [top]

carl, if you will read the Chicago Statement in detail, I think you will find that the explanation Matt gave above for, what is on the face of the text, an error in who was high priest when David ate the shew bread is exactly the kind of seeming contradiction that is resolved satisfactorily and with fidelity to the text.  Only a wooden literal reading could stubbornly hold to Abiathar/Ahimelech being a substantive error rather than an accepted convention in everyday speech to common folk of referring to a certain time in Israel’s history.  If Jesus had said, “When Elijah prayed for rain, it rained cats and dogs” in clear wooden literal contradiction of the OT description of rain falling sans animals, surely you would not call that an error?

[207] Posted by Milton on 8-15-2009 at 03:57 PM · [top]

BTW, and lest it need to be said, by problematizing the theological function of the doctrine of inerrancy, I am not arguing that we should abandon it. Rather, I am concerned to articulate the proper functional and practical limits of the dogma. I have been distressed at how often differences in interpretation and articulation of the Bible’s message are recast as debates over inerrancy/infallibility for political effect. I watched this happen throughout my two tours at TEDS and during my ten-year sojourn in as a minister in the PCA. 

MJGP+

[208] Posted by M. J. G. Pahls on 8-15-2009 at 04:30 PM · [top]

The evolution of this thread over several days has been interesting.  It began with Fr. Matt’s quote from Dr. Packers’ Truth and Power; The Approach to Biblical Application and his comments on it.  It progressed to an exchange about the adequacy of the inerrantist credentials of some and whose inerrantist credentials were more or less impressive and consistent, whether a suggestion that faculty members of certain institutions may not always and without exception speak in a common voice about inerrancy and, if so, whether that impugns the inerrantist credentials of the institution(s) involved.  Running through it were exchanges something like this: you called me a bad name, no I didn’t, but if you think I did I apologize, followed by yes you did but I accept your apology anyway.

Here is my simple take on inerrancy.  I believe that the original texts inspired by God and written by humans chosen by God to receive it are inerrant.  Unfortunately, I lack the ability to read them.  What I read is ranslations from Greek and Hebrew into Latin, and thence into English, or some other sequence, with those translations revised and “modernized” several times over the centuries.  I am not particularly moved by whether some “scholars” agree with what the scriptures say about who wrote the Pentateuch.  I seek to understand “original intent”, if I may use that secular reference, by reading credible teachers whose orientation seems to me to be enhancing and strengthening my ability to understand and thereby enhancing my faith, rejecting those whose orientation seems to be providing me with reasons to doubt.  I recognize that this is probably too simplistic for many.

I have learned from this thread.  Wading through the fractiousness has been a reasonable price.

Thanks to all and God bless all.

[209] Posted by Ol' Bob on 8-15-2009 at 04:34 PM · [top]

[206] M. J. G. Pahls

The errors or apparent difficulties are there and they are, of course, the contribution of finite/fallible human beings. They may be errors originating from the work of humans in transmission or they may be errors of our own interpretation/understanding of the text. Ordinarily, it is more the latter than the former.

This answer seems to address the subject of textual variants.  Nothing I have said would in any way apply to the transmission of the text over time by human agents.  I am referring only to the creation of the autographs.  If we allow for errors in the autographs, then we are saying God intended to deliver Message M, but human agency corrupted Message M into a different Message M primeThus the actual revelation can never be recovered because it was never truly received.  If all we ever get is M prime, how can we ever say what God actually requires?  How do we determine the extent of the correlation between M and M prime?  And how do we address the rather unfortunate implication we have just made about the nature of God Himself?  The inescapable conclusion of M prime is that God was unable to overcome the limitations of man in his attempts to communicate.  This has profound implications when we consider that God says He gives His word for a purpose, and He watches carefully to see that His purpose is carried out.

carl

[210] Posted by carl on 8-15-2009 at 05:25 PM · [top]

It is true, I believe, that professors at schools that officially and explicitly embrace inerrancy do not always teach and write in ways that are consistent with the school policy.

That is true.

And yet it is also true that with the policy in place, students, administrators and others have an opportunity to hold professors accountable to an agreed upon measure.

Without an explicit policy, there is nothing to which a student or administrator can appeal should a professor decide to teach that scripture errs.

The presence of the standard, even if some do not follow it, means that the “law” of the place is something to which all may look and appeal when necessary.

[211] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-15-2009 at 05:47 PM · [top]

Ol’ Bob, if you look to one side you’ll see I’m lined up shoulder-to-shoulder alongside you!

[212] Posted by Milton on 8-15-2009 at 06:14 PM · [top]

Hosea6:6, you are just way over the top with your diatribe against Dean Munday.  He was “calling you to repent” because of your “idiotic” assertion that his failure to respond to various comments made on various threads over the last year or so constituted assent to the opinions expressed in these comments.  He likened this truly absurd belief to those of GLBT organizations who claim that failure to denounce specific legislation constitutes endorsement of said legislation.  You seem to be incapable of realizing that 1) monitoring every blog thread on SF is not a reasonable expectation for a seminary dean 2) Dean Munday (and others at these seminaries) had no idea what was being said on these threads 3) you have absolutely no right to assume silence is agreement on this flimsy basis.  I don’t think Dean Munday was out of line at all…

[213] Posted by Nevin on 8-15-2009 at 06:22 PM · [top]

213 Nevin - Due to your attacks on Matt+ then my correction of you, I really can’t take you as an objective source of criticism or as in true love. At least while you not apologized for your behavior above, it seems as if there could be something else at work.

He’s mad because we were in error which is truly an offence. Fine, he didn’t notice, I regret both the error and he didn’t notice, but to go on the attack for “slander” because we were operating on what an individual said, was not rebuke for 18 month, now that is over the top. I’ll say I regret being in error, I can’t say I’m sorry, because if everything lined us the same I think I’d make the same judgment, though because of this experience I think I’ll PM next time. When someone makes an accusation, one who should know does not correct it and no one else does in many, many, many threads, I think I would reasonably come to the same conclusion.

He could chose a less attack approach to correct an error, especially when I documented where why we thought that error. At his level, I’d hope for a little more leadership. I disagree with your assessment.

[214] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-15-2009 at 07:07 PM · [top]

Thanks, Milton (#212)

[215] Posted by Ol' Bob on 8-15-2009 at 07:08 PM · [top]

I should say, it is very possible that no one involved is guilty of “slander.” Meaning the one who made the claim and the one who was employed at the other seminary that was silent which lent creditability to the claim, both earnestly thought that error was true, as in a perfect storm.

[216] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-15-2009 at 07:36 PM · [top]

Carl,

You are correct in your understanding of my answer to (a.) above. While I understand the intention of your response and even agree with what you predicate of God, his power, and his intentions, as a practical solution it succeeds only in kicking the problem down the road. We must be clear on the proper function of inerrancy as a dogma and that has been missing in some of the discussion so far.

If I understand you correctly, you are arguing that in the process of inspiration God successfully delivered his intended message to the human author and that said message was accurately inscribed in the original autograph. By this dogma, God is vindicated as truthful and omnipotent and omniveritas. Fine and good, we agree.
As I said, the affirmation of an infallible/inerrant autograph also establishes a notional goal for all text criticism and interpretive endeavor. Thus and for example, the autograph of Matthew’s gospel, rather than a speculatively reconstructed Q source or the imagined words of Jesus in Aramaic, is the object of the Church’s inquiry and proclamation.

As I have argued, however, your “Message M prime” has still actually and factually entered into the scribal record—and into our Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and English Bibles—because of intentional and/or unintentional errors. The usual standard in claims for inerrancy is verbal (i.e. “jot and tittle”) inspiration and any page of the NA27/UBS4 GNT will show you divergent jots and tittles with “[B]” and “[C]” indications of the degree of certitude. Further divergences from that pure message enter because of grammatical, lexical, textual, cultural, and interpretive incompetence and/or the noetic effects of sin.

We can affirm, for theological reasons, that the texts (words, not codices) of the original autographs remain present, hidden like Aristotle’s forms in the manifold errant manuscripts that have survived. We can also affirm that they could be hypothetically reconstructed using the available tools of textual criticism. Humility requires us to admit, however, that absent the autographs, we could never be empirically certain of our reconstruction. There is only probability and confidence mingled with some educated conjecture. Present editions of the BHS and GNT—texts on which every significant English version is based—make this much clear. God, or so we must affirm, is able to overcome even this human limitation in his attempt to communicate, so this is not the best reason to affirm the inerrancy of the autographs.

You are concerned to make sure that all things necessary have been preserved for us and our salvation. I agree. Also, I certainly wouldn’t want to exaggerate the significance of extant uncertainties in our present critical editions (the Church is not so tenuously established). That said, these theological affirmations are of little pragmatic value when it comes to the possibility of inerrant reconstruction, inerrant interpretation, inerrant translation, or inerrant articulation of the Divine Author’s illocutionary intentions.

One of the most important implications of a high doctrine of Scripture (inerrancy inclusive) is that it cultivates a salutary humility in all our dealings with it. Richard Hooker was wise in books 1 and 5 of his Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity to distinguish between Scripture and the interpretation of Scripture. Our access to Biblical Revelation is never immediate, but always located. Human beings are able by their wickedness to suppress even that which is clearly revealed by God (again, Romans 1:18ff.) and this places us in a place of genuine need of divine grace. We find that, or so we affirm by faith, with the people of God, in self-conscious subordination to the Word of God, and utterly dependent on the Spirit who guides us into all truth. Inerrancy may help us with what we may not predicate of God (that he has lied, for example), but it is no substitute for prayerful, patient, obedient grappling with the text in conversation and communion with God’s people.

I am, of course, solicitous of correction where I am in error, but that’s my best shot.

Peace.
MJGP+

[217] Posted by M. J. G. Pahls on 8-15-2009 at 08:03 PM · [top]

I think Jesus was referring to the “time” of Abiathar…who was more well known than Ahemilech—not necessarily saying that Abiathar was the high priest when David ate the shewbread.

Matt,

I was quite confident that you could come up with a possible explanation of the passage so as to eliminate the problem of mistaken reference.  This is not at all difficult, and I had already suggested several such possibilities myself.

But this does not address the question I raised.  I deliberately raised a scenario that would exclude this possibility:

Do you agree with Carl here?  (Your seem to be endorsing him). If it were shown:
i) That the translations in even conservative translations like the ESV are correct—Mark really does say “in the time of Abiather the high priest,” and 1 Samuel really does say that Abimilech (not Abiather) was the priest at the time of David;
ii) That the evidence does not seem to point to any other possible textual variants (after all it would be far more likely that a copiest would correct a reference to Abiathar rather than change a correct reference to Abiathar to an incorrect reference to Abimilech);
iii) Consequently, it is most likely the case that the original autograph of Mark said “Abiathar,” not “Abimilech,” and so Mark’s citation (as originally written) was technically incorrect.

Would you then agree with Carl (and Bart Ehrman!) that this would entirely destroy the credibility of Christianity?

Your alternative is to refuse to consider my scenario, but to substitute one of your own.  That is, in no circumstances could the text really say what a plain reading would seem to indicate because this would violate the inerrancy of Scripture.

This suggests to me that the guiding hermeneutic for one who holds to a doctrine of inerrancy (as you interpret it) is that the text is not to be interpreted in its literal plain sense meaning, but rather, that a prior hermeneutical principle is operating.  Every text must be interpreted first and foremost in a manner that preserves the doctrine of inerrancy. If the plain sense meaning is consistent with the doctrine of inerrancy, then the plain sense meaning is the meaning of the text.  If the plain sense meaning would mean the text is in error (understood in a very specific sense), then the plain sense meaning must be abandoned in favor of some other meaning.

In this case, however, inerrancy becomes an irrefutable hypothesis.  There can be no errors in Scripture because by definition, any text that could be perceived as an error really means something else.

It seems to me that this is precisely to open the door to the kind of trap set by people like Bart Ehrman.  All it takes is one “error” (and “error” means something as frivolous as the incorrect name for a high priest), and the entire authority of Scripture collapses.

Again, I find this absurd.  Paul nowhere bases his authority as an apostle on his never misciting a passage of Scripture or never having a lapse of memory.  He appeals to a direct revelation of Christ.  In 1 Cor. 15, he appeals to eyewitnesses as evidence for the resurrection of Christ.

So, I’ll ask you again, if it were the case that Mark’s gospel in the original autograph stated that Abiathar was priest during the time when David ate the shewbread (not that David ate the shewbread sometime during the general ballpark when Abiathar was priest), would this mean that Jesus was not Lord of the Sabbath?  (Carl seems to think so.)

If Paul forgot who he baptized in 1 Cor. (and he says he did), would it follow that the Corinthians could not trust what he said about the eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Christ in 1 Cor. 15 because if Paul cannot be trusted to remember such minor matters as who he baptized, he cannot be trusted when he says that there were hundreds of witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead?

It seems to me that you have progressed considerably from your initial claim.  You are understanding “inerrancy” in a very specific and quite narrow sense.  This may indeed be the understanding of the inspiration and authority of (some of?) the signers of the Chicago Statement.  It is a stretch to suggest that this is the doctrine of the universal church, of the Fathers and the Reformers, and that those who do not share it have abandoned the Church’s historic position.  It is rather to say that those who do not share your position do not share a very specific, and I would say very limited understanding of biblical authority.

As I wrote above, despite all protests to the contrary, such a view seems indistinct from dictation.  It presumes that God so overwhelms the humanity of inspired writers that they no longer are susceptible to ordinary human limitations.  In such a scenario I see no reason for writers like Luke to appeal to previous written accounts or eyewitnesses at all, or for Paul to appeal to eyewitnesses to the resurrection.  Human witnesses are no longer necessary.  Inspired writers transmit all truth straight from God.

[218] Posted by William Witt on 8-15-2009 at 08:04 PM · [top]

When someone makes an accusation, one who should know does not correct it and no one else does in many, many, many threads, I think I would reasonably come to the same conclusion

Again, confirmation that Hosea6:6 still holds to the outrageous view that Dean Munday “should” have been monitoring the “many, many, many threads” on SF (and presumably any blog on which reference to Nashota might appear) in order to provide correction for any erroneous opinion expressed in such a thread.  Hosea6:6 still thinks silence in such a case means that the comments must be true, and such a conclusion is “reasonably” reached.  I admit that this sort of irrational thinking leaves me dumbfounded.

[219] Posted by Nevin on 8-15-2009 at 08:13 PM · [top]

Jesus is, among other things, a prophet.  So when Jesus speaks as a prophet, by definition what he says must be true.

carl,

This is presuming a lot of things.  First, it presumes that Mark’s gospel is providing a verbatim transcript of Jesus’ words.  But in the parallel in Matthew’s gospel, the reference to Abiathar the priest is entirely missing.  It is entirely likely that Matthew deliberately omitted the reference, but it is also possible that Mark (or his sources) provided the reference.  As I mentioned, ancient writers did not have versification, footnotes, punctuation, or parentheses, and it was a quite common practice to insert glosses to aid in understanding.

It also presumes that the statement “about Abiathar the high priest” is a prophetic utterance.  It is not, so your point is irrelevant.

Unless you are saying that any memory lapse any prophet ever makes means nothing he says can be trusted.  If Isaiah forgot his wife’s birthday, would we have to throw out his book?  And, no, I am not being facetious.  This is the logical implication of such an assumption.

[220] Posted by William Witt on 8-15-2009 at 08:42 PM · [top]

You want me to accept that Mark can accurately relate that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath after you have already established that Mark couldn’t keep straight the name of the High Priest in the time of David.  Well, perhaps he got Jesus’ identity as Lord of the Sabbath wrong as well.  To establish otherwise, you must present the standard by which you separate truth from error in Scripture.  A generic appeal to scholarship simply will not suffice. What is that standard?

Questions of inspiration entirely aside, the standard would be the same standard as that of any other historical document of the first century.  Mark is recounting a narrative in which he gives a number of details, the central point of which is that Jesus claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath, and which led to controversy with Jewish leaders, which eventually led to his crucifixion.  This is consistent with numerous other incidents in all four gospels, and is entirely consist as an historical explanation, both as to Jesus’ claims, and as to the reason for his death.  Nothing about the identity of the High Priest during the time of David has any bearing on whether or not the incident took place.

The vindication of Jesus’ claim lies not in Mark’s having the correct identity of the High Priest during David’s reign, but in God the Father having raised Jesus from the dead, an event that is presumed in every single book of the New Testament.

A slip in a single detail does nothing to cast doubt on Mark’s central claim.  Marcus Bockmuehl’s recent book on Jesus and the Eyewitnesses documents that eyewitnesses often slip on minor details, but get the essential facts straight.  A minor discrepancy like an author forgetting the name of a character in a literary reference (whethe biblical or otherwise) has no bearing whatsoever on his trustworthiness as an historical witness.

Your excessive skeptism and demand for indubitable certainty here is entirely Cartesian and modernist at its core.  It is certainly not the understanding of Scripture found in the Fathers.  As I said before, Augustine is rather casual about these things.  When confronted with apparent inconsistencies in the text, he simply remarks that the gospel writers were not trying for exact certitude.  He certainly does not suggest that a single minor difficulty undermines the reliability of the entire gospel.

I fear for you, carl.  It seems it would take very little to lead you down Bart Ehrman’s path.

[221] Posted by William Witt on 8-15-2009 at 09:00 PM · [top]

Nevin - Okay, how is this, #39 would be an inappropriate reaction even on that very thread in March 2008.

Now you are twisting my words (as you did Matt+‘s above) and the silence of one was commenting on that thread (Matt+ has even more reason to be suspect, see #37). So you seem very angry and at this point moving into personal attacks, just like #39, only difference, is you really only represent yourself here.

I’m happy to hear your dumbfounded, the sort of irrational thinking on #30, 52, 62, 65, 106 & 116 have left me pretty much the same way. So there I guess we’re even. Good night, sleep tight.

[222] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 8-15-2009 at 09:14 PM · [top]

Hello Dr. Witt,

I wrote a rather longish reply earlier in the day addressing your questions in more detail but I lost it when I tried to post it and was too frustrated to try again. Let me see if I can make this work now.

“Your alternative is to refuse to consider my scenario, but to substitute one of your own.”

Well, I thought your scenario was a built on number of false suppositions.

“That is, in no circumstances could the text really say what a plain reading would seem to indicate because this would violate the inerrancy of Scripture.”

I come to the text with the assumption that any supposed contradictions and errors are apparent and not real—due to my own limitations rather than those of the text. I assume the text to have been breathed out by God and written by men as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

“This suggests to me that the guiding hermeneutic for one who holds to a doctrine of inerrancy (as you interpret it) is that the text is not to be interpreted in its literal plain sense meaning, but rather, that a prior hermeneutical principle is operating.”

Not at all. The literal principle is core to those who hold to inerrancy. It’s just that we are more suspicious of ourselves than we are of the text. What that means is that if there is a plausible explanation that would account for what I might at first recognize as a contradiction, I take it. This is nothing less than the sort of charity that we ought, at our best, give to one another.

We assume truthfulness, accuracy, honesty and integrity are attached to the words of our fellow Christians until and unless a brother demonstrates himself to be untrustworthy. Why ought we to treat the writings of the apostles, God’s own word, with any less charity?

“Every text must be interpreted first and foremost in a manner that preserves the doctrine of inerrancy.”

No. Every text is assumed accurate and truthful unless it can be proven otherwise.

“If the plain sense meaning is consistent with the doctrine of inerrancy, then the plain sense meaning is the meaning of the text.  If the plain sense meaning would mean the text is in error (understood in a very specific sense), then the plain sense meaning must be abandoned in favor of some other meaning.”

It seems that you are suggesting that the “plain sense meaning” of Mark 2 is that Mark or Jesus made a factual error. Plain sense meaning, as you seem to understand that term, means “the first that comes to your head when you read a text”. I don’t think that’s what the “plain sense” means. It’s certainly not in keeping with the literal principle—which says, basically, that a text is to be interpreted in keeping with its literary form or genre.

So, going back to Abiathar, there are a number of plausible explanations within the literary form of Mark’s gospel that would resolve the apparent inaccuracy but you seem to prefer the one forces Jesus or Mark into a factual error. Why? Because it is the first thing that strikes you when you read the text? Is that your understanding of “plain meaning”? I think it wrong headed.

I don’t even approach secular literature in that manner. I assume factual reporting and factual historical writing until I’m given reason to second guess the author.

“In this case, however, inerrancy becomes an irrefutable hypothesis.  There can be no errors in Scripture because by definition, any text that could be perceived as an error really means something else.”

Well it is true that I believe the bible is inerrant in part because of deductive reasoning, but it is also true that this deductive conclusion is solidified rather than damaged in my study of scripture. What is reasonably assumed deductively is proven inductively.

“It seems to me that this is precisely to open the door to the kind of trap set by people like Bart Ehrman.  All it takes is one “error” (and “error” means something as frivolous as the incorrect name for a high priest), and the entire authority of Scripture collapses.”

As they say, The bible is an anvil that has worn out a thousand hammers…I’m really not afraid of Ehrman. He regurgitates old canards and false contradictions and “errors” that have been refuted and answered many times before.

“Again, I find this absurd.  Paul nowhere bases his authority as an apostle on his never misciting a passage of Scripture or never having a lapse of memory.”

He bases his authority on the direct call of Jesus Christ to proclaim the word. And it is on that basis that his teachings and writings are not simply his teachings and writings, but they are the word of God. They are scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16) even though some may not understand and seek to twist his words.

“He appeals to a direct revelation of Christ.  In 1 Cor. 15, he appeals to eyewitnesses as evidence for the resurrection of Christ.”

Yes.

“So, I’ll ask you again, if it were the case that Mark’s gospel in the original autograph stated that Abiathar was priest during the time when David ate the shewbread (not that David ate the shewbread sometime during the general ballpark when Abiathar was priest), would this mean that Jesus was not Lord of the Sabbath?  (Carl seems to think so.)”

Yes. In the same way if Mark’s Gospel not only mentioned the presence of one Gerasene demoniac, but also went on to say something like this: “and there was only one”...then we would have a genuine contradiction—the bible would be in error and its veracity called into question. Did Jesus really die? How can we be sure? The gospels can’t even agree on the number of demoniacs or the number of angels in the empty tomb—or whether Jesus was on a mount or a plain when he delivered the beatitudes—and the beatitudes themselves are so different—what did he say really? Did he say anything? Maybe the whole Gospel of Matthew is just the story of the Matthean community and their post-synagogue troubles projected back into the mythic life of “Jesus”?...how can we be sure of anything much less that he really died and rose again.

“If Paul forgot who he baptized in 1 Cor. (and he says he did), would it follow that the Corinthians could not trust what he said about the eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Christ in 1 Cor.”

That’s a little bit of a stretch I think. Inerrancy does not mean that Paul is omniscient. It means that whatsoever is inscripturated is inscripturated accurately. Paul accurately reports, superintended by the Holy Spirit, that he has forgotten who else he baptised in 1 Cor 1.

“if Paul cannot be trusted to remember such minor matters as who he baptized, he cannot be trusted when he says that there were hundreds of witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead?”

On the contrary, if Paul could not remember,  he would have admitted that he could not remember (which, as you point out, he did on once before)

cont…

[223] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-15-2009 at 09:40 PM · [top]

cont…

“It seems to me that you have progressed considerably from your initial claim.”

Which claim?

“You are understanding “inerrancy” in a very specific and quite narrow sense.  This may indeed be the understanding of the inspiration and authority of (some of?) the signers of the Chicago Statement.  It is a stretch to suggest that this is the doctrine of the universal church, of the Fathers and the Reformers, and that those who do not share it have abandoned the Church’s historic position.”

I don’t know, have you read Calvin’s harmony of the gospels? Luther seemed pretty certain “We know that God does not lie. My neighbor and I—in short, all men—may err and deceive, but God’s Word cannot err” (Larger Catechism) And here’s Augustine of Hippo from one of his letters to Jerome (82:3):

“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!”

You are much better read than I so I am sure you can produce quotes from many to support your claim, but I believe the record of the Church is a little more nuanced that your comments suggest.

“It is rather to say that those who do not share your position do not share a very specific, and I would say very limited understanding of biblical authority.”

Again, I would like to take some time and investigate that claim. Off the top of my head I can remember reading through some laborious efforts by various fathers of the church and Reformers to harmonize apparent contradictions in the scriptures. It’s not as if the answers to the facile attacks of the Bart Erhman’s of the world have to be thought up from scratch. These kinds of attacks have been leveled at scripture from the beginning and they have been met, often, with the very same answers you and others might have characterized as pedantic.

“As I wrote above, despite all protests to the contrary, such a view seems indistinct from dictation.”

It’s called superintendency.

“It presumes that God so overwhelms the humanity of inspired writers that they no longer are susceptible to ordinary human limitations.”

No it assumes that human writers think and write like human writers but that the Holy Spirit superintends or guards what is produced so that there are no errors. There is no need to “overwhelm” a writer’s humanity in order to do that any more than Christ’s divinity overwhelms his humanity.

“In such a scenario I see no reason for writers like Luke to appeal to previous written accounts or eyewitnesses at all, or for Paul to appeal to eyewitnesses to the resurrection.  Human witnesses are no longer necessary.  Inspired writers transmit all truth straight from God.”

I have no idea why you would come to that conclusion? The presence of an inerrant account of an earth shattering salvific historical event would, I think, be quite helpful in establishing God’s truth beyond a reasonable doubt.

[224] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-15-2009 at 09:41 PM · [top]

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