Berean’s first article of faith – The Bible

In this series of short articles, I would like to post for you one by one the articles of faith in the printed constitution for Berean Baptist Church in Ammon, Idaho.  I invite you all to share your comments.  Hey, this is your great opportunity to ask me all those questions that have been lingering in your mind and bugging you about what the Baptist preacher in your backyard believes.  I am working through with my church family on the clarity of these printed paragraphs in our church constitution.

Are you ready?

Let me provide a contemporary introduction to this first article of faith by quoting Karen Armstrong.  She lectured at Boise State University.  Here is a snapshot from one of her latest books, The Bible (Atlantic Monthly Press 2007), in the last chapter “Modernity”:

“In 1881, Archibald A. Hodge, Charles’s son, published a defence of the literal truth of the Bible with his younger colleague Benjamin Warfield.  It became a classic: ‘The scriptures not only contain but are the Word of God, and hence all their elements and all their affirmations are absolutely errorless and binding on the faith and obedience of men.’  Every biblical statement – on any subject – was absolute ‘truth to the facts’.  The nature of faith was changing.  It was now no longer ‘trust’ but intellectual submission to a set of beliefs.  But for Hodge and Warfield, this required no suspension of disbelief because Christianity was entirely rational.  ‘It is solely by reasoning that it has come thus far on its way,’ Warfield argued in a later article,’ And it is solely by reasoning that it will put its enemies under its feet.’

This was an entirely new departure.  In the past, some interpreters had favoured the study of the literal sense of the Bible but they had never believed that every single word of scripture was factually true.  Many had admitted that, if we confined our attention to the letter, the Bible was an impossible text.  The belief in biblical inerrancy, pioneered by Warfield and Hodge, would, however, become crucial to Christian fundamentalism and would involve considerable denial.  Hodge and Warfield were responding to the challenge of modernity but in their desperation were distorting the scriptural tradition they were trying to defend (199-200).”

I quote her to say I disagree strongly with this contemporary religious scholar.  I would like to know how the “belief in biblical inerrancy” is denial and dishonor to the words of God and historical, conservative Christian tradition.  I don’t think she is totally honest and fully factual about the historical scenario in the preceding seven chapters (Torah, Scripture, Gospel, Midrash, Charity, Lectio Divina, Sola Scriptura) before her conclusion in the eighth.

Here is Berean’s first article of faith – I. THE SCRIPTURES

A. STATEMENT

We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men supernaturally inspired; that it has truth without any admixture of error for its matter; and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the age, the only complete and final revelation of the will of God to man; the true center of Christian union and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried.

B. DEFINITION

1. By “The Holy Bible,” we mean that collection of sixty-six books, from Genesis to Revelation, which as originally written, does not only contain and convey the Word of God, but IS the very Word of God.

 

2. By “inspiration,” we mean that the books of the Bible were written by holy men of old, as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, in such a definite way that their writings were supernaturally and verbally inspired and are free from error, as no other writings have ever been or ever will be inspired. (Psalm 19:7-11; Psalm 119:89, 105, 130, 160; Proverbs 30:5,6; Isaiah 8:20; Luke 16:31; Luke 24:25-27, 44, 45; John 5:39, 45-47; John 12:48; John 17:17; Acts 1:16; Acts 28:25; Romans 3:4; Romans 15:4; Ephesians 6:17; II Timothy 3:16-17; I Peter 1:23; II Peter 1:19-21; Revelation 22:19)

Ok, I invite all traditional Christians and all LDS readers and critics (even those knee-deep in LDS higher criticism on the Bible like Ronan at BCC, TT at Faith Promoting Rumor, and Blake at New Cool Thang, etc.) to share your thoughts and questions on this first article of faith.  Biblical inspiration, inerrancy, canonicity, sufficiency, preservation, and authority are all open game for discussion on this thread.

37 comments

  1. I just find it presumptuous to tell God that since he spoke in the Bible, He therefore has nothing left to say. Which is what the statement that the Bible is the “final” word of God seems to mean.

    Who are we to tell God that He is done talking?

  2. Seth, you are the first one to break the ice on this thread. Thanks.

    Does that say something about your personality? 🙂

    You immediately picked up on a word, believe it or not, that bothers me, too. (And I just saw a dittography error that needs corrected – let me fix that. So much for inerrancy in my posts.)

    Is there more divine revelation to come? I think so, Seth. I need to think better how to phrase this.

    But is the written divine revelation that I hold in my hands sufficient for all I need, presently? Yes, I think so, too. And apostolic authority under the Spirit’s influence instructs me to believe this.

  3. Seth: Todd can make his own counterargument, but I think a simple answer is, “God said that the Bible is his final word; who are we to doubt?” By analogy, I believe that Christ is the only way by which I can be saved, but who am I to say that God can’t invent some new salvific mechanism?

    Todd: I am very excited about this series. A couple questions:

    1) “…written by men…” Were there no women who played a role in its writing?

    2) “…complete…will of God to man…” Does “man” mean “mankind” or “each individual man”? In other words, is it possible that God has a specific will for me today that is not specified in the Bible, that He can and does reveal that ‘personalized will’ to me today, and therefore while global revelation is finished there is still personal or individual inspiration akin to (though not necessarily on par with) the supernatural inspiration received by the Bible authors?

    P.S. I think you have an unwanted duplication of “the only complete…to man”

    3) “…the true center of Christian union…” Help me understand what you mean, because I would have thought that you would say that Christ is the center of Christian union.

    4) “…the supreme standard…be tried.” Is the Bible vocal on all issues/decisions? Is it ever possible that I am faced with an important decision (i.e., not trivial, like what flavor of ice cream to eat), I consult the Bible, and find that it does not weigh in on either side? For example (and just for example, not that I want to discuss these issues), does the Bible weigh in on school vouchers or immunizations? Does the Bible ever defer to some other authority, as in, “Consult with your doctor and do what he says.”? (The last question could mean that the Bible ‘tells’ a person today to do X, but a person tomorrow to do Y.)

    5) “…which as originally written…” I’m curious about this ‘almost-LDS’ statement. Do we currently have the Bible as originally written? Are English (or Spanish, etc.) translations inferior to the original, or are they still the word of God? Does your article of faith allow for debate about original meaning of Hebrew/Greek, or do you hold to one English translation? Do the languages in which the Bible was originally written still exist today?

  4. 1). Do the sixty-six books quote the words of godly women? Yes. There are examples of sister and prophetess in song and declaration. Have epistles been transported by women? I think so. But were any of the 66 canonical books written by a woman? I don’t see the strong evidence to be dogmatic about this.

    2). Brian, I would call it Spirit illumination and guidance rather than inspired divine revelation.

    3). It is hard for me to cleave the exalted, living Word from the glorious written word that testifies fully of Him.

    4). The Bible should have its influence on all issues (heart issues – I had to throw in that favorite phrase of mine) and decisions. Absolutely crucial. Where the decision is not contra to Scripture, I go for it! (Brush your teeth with Crest. It makes them whiter.)

    5). Also, four more good questions.

    * We don’t have the original autographs. But I think that God has preserved all the words. His words.

    * Yes, and I think the KJV translators wrote an excellent preface on this very topic in their translation.

    * I don’t hold to just one English translation but our current church constitution in a later section allows for only the KJV to be used for preaching and teaching. (I would like to evaluate that statement more thoroughly in future months.) I will personally continue to teach and preach from the KJV for various reasons.

    *They are not spoken today. In fact, I don’t know if anyone speaks in the King’s English of 1611, today.

  5. I’m not in much of a position to say that the Bible (or the Book of Mormon, for that matter) is or is not “sufficient” for my situation and my needs. I think I would again presume to much in saying that.

    I am rather happy with the books though, and I am committed to them. I do feel comfy saying that much…

  6. Think about these words:

    “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

    That sentence is dynamite, Seth! God has given us divine revelation to make us complete . . . and to be richly equipped for weathering every spiritual storm that might be looming on the horizon.

    Wowzers.

    And the living Word of the written word “gives unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.”

  7. Todd, this is very enlightening. Just to clarify: I asked two questions in one sentence and you answered at least one of them:

    Me: “Are English (or Spanish, etc.) translations inferior to the original, or are they still the word of God?”

    You: “Yes….”

    Can you answer yes/no:

    a) Are translations inferior
    b) Are translations still the complete Word of God?

  8. a. Yes, they have their limitations, blemishes, and biases (some more than others). Any translator would tell you this. Get Hebrew and Greek interlinears.

    b. If you mean completely inerrant . . . no. Translations carry derived inspiration not direct inspiration. Brian, they are not the original autographs. Nor do any of them claim to be. But I can say with confidence that when I preach to you from the King James Bible, I am preaching to you the words of the Lord translated in English (going all the way back to Tyndale) that you need to hear.

    But perhaps the probing should go deeper. Do you believe that we possess today the complete Word of God in the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, etc.? How many major doctrinal problems do you see in the corporate body of textual manuscripts?

    For me to accept Latter-Day scriptures, I would have to agree with Joseph Smith in abandoning both scriptural inerrancy in the original autographs and scriptural preservation by God through the centuries. The first LDS prophet would force me into an either/or situation.

  9. Thread commercial

    “Emergence of the Christian Community” by Blake Ostler

    Click on his name in the post above. Locate this article in pdf, dated earlier this month.

    Page 22, bottom paragraph, of his 60 page article.

    Ouch!

    He rejects the fundamentalist view of harmony in the biblical canon. Look how he pits against each other: Jesus, Paul, Peter and James, and Jewish Christian fundamentalists. Whew.

    (Who is the higher authority? Scripture or Blake Ostler)

  10. Todd said:

    “Think about these words:

    “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

    . . .God has given us divine revelation to make us complete. . . and to be richly equipped for weathering every spiritual storm that might be looming on the horizon.”

    So the author of Timothy (read likely not Paul) was referring to the 66 books of the bible (and including your philosophical positions on the nature of revelation and inerrancy) as you have them Todd ? Puh-lease.

    Your post sounds like you worship the bible Todd, I’ll be frank.

    And what about this kind of a statement:

    “I would call it Spirit illumination and guidance rather than inspired divine revelation.”

    This is just gibberish, I am sorry to say, Todd.

    I will be back to critique the idea of inerrancy as laid out here later.

    Best wishes,

    TYD

  11. I was waiting for the yellow dart to zip in here, seeking to hit some bullseye.

    If I can’t claim all 66 books packed in that phrase, “all scripture”, still, which LDS apologist is going to accept the truth claims of wondrous sufficiency for what was already written?

    Best wishes to you, too, Dart; and only my wife can say I am speaking gibberish.

    Snickering in fun,

    ET

  12. I am sitting here gazing upon Jehovah (Isaiah 44). He amplifies himself with wave upon wave of his actions in verses 24-28.

    Here is one – “he confirmeth the word of his servant [Isaiah]”. This fills my heart with an explosive climax that I learned back in Isaiah 40:8,

    The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

    Application to my heart at the moment: There are a lot of things that are beautiful and breathtaking in life out here in the West. But they easily wither.

    Yet God’s word is an unchanging voice of splendor.

  13. Todd asks, “Do you believe that we possess today the complete Word of God in the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, etc.? How many major doctrinal problems do you see in the corporate body of textual manuscripts?”

    I am no bible scholar, but my understanding is that there are several very old manuscripts that disagree in many places. (I often study using the NET online and read manuscript info in the notes.) That doesn’t bother me; I think that the writing in the Bible is powerful enough to overcome the problems of scribal error, translations, and whatnot. But since I believe that the BoM is the word of God for all the world, I certainly don’t see the Bible as God’s complete word. As for major doctrinal problems, I just don’t study the Bible with that question in mind, so I don’t have any kind of list. I’d have to go and search for examples—and frankly, I think that would be a waste of good study time.

  14. “So the author of Timothy (read likely not Paul)”

    What do you do with several quotes from I Timothy and possibly II Timothy by Polycarp during the early second century? I think there is good evidence that Polycarp and others had a fairly complete collection of Pauline epistles very early in the second century that would include I and II Timothy.

  15. Brian,

    I don’t deny variants. But the variants provide no encouragement to the disagreements that Joseph has made in biblical texts.

    That doesn’t bother me; I think that the writing in the Bible is powerful enough to overcome the problems of scribal error, translations, and whatnot.

    That is a great sentence, friend. God is powerful enough to preserve His word through the variants in the Hebrew and Greek copies, through the Greek translations, through the Latin translations, through the whole explosive list of other language translations, and finally through the English translations, etc.

    Chris,

    Could you provide a choice quote from Polycarp? I am interested.

  16. Todd, what Joseph did with the Bible—both his ‘translation’ of it and by creating companion scripture to it—was audacious to say the least. And you’re right: while a transcribed and translated Bible has problems, even if they were major problems they do not authorize anyone to fix them the way Joseph did. (I think that a good parallel is Uzzah steadying the ark: the fact that the ark was tipping was not authorization to touch it.) Of course, you already know where, according to my belief, Joseph actually did get authorization.

  17. It’s not really all that persuasive to me to say that Polycarp had full copies of the Pauline epistles. The scribal system in the first 200 years of Christianity was an absolute mess. Very amateurish and mistake-ridden. First you had whoever wrote down Paul’s words (it wasn’t always Paul himself), then you had those letters distributed to various locales where they were again copied by whoever knew how to spell and further distributed locally. Then some copies survived and others didn’t.

    Some Mormons take the view that the Apostolic period was some wonderful period when the doctrine was pure, the word was inerrant and the Church structure perfect. I do not take this view. I believe that the word was being altered and corrupted FROM DAY ONE. I also believe that the seeds of apostasy were occurring while Paul and Peter were still alive.

    I also view Paul as ever bit as problematic a figure (from an orthodox viewpoint) as Joseph Smith. Bold, daring, unconventional, not afraid to go out on a limb and declare new doctrine on the fly, often at odds with Peter, James and John in Jerusalem. Impertinently thumbing his nose at the powers that be. The guy was a radical and a firebrand who left an even larger doctrinal footprint on historical Christianity than Christ’s own words. Indeed you might well say that contemporary Christianity is based less on Christ’s original words than it is on Paul’s interpretation of them.

    As for me, I like Paul a lot. I find him rather inspirational and insightful. But I don’t entirely trust him, just as I don’t entirely trust Joseph Smith.

    No, I don’t buy inerrancy really. I find the Bible, when divorced from the exercise of my own conscience and my own prayerful witness and the witness of modern guides, to be just so many dead words. And I find the creation of the Bible to be an inherently “arm-of-the-flesh” sort of undertaking as well as a divinely ordered undertaking.

  18. Todd,

    Here are the quotes from first and possibly second Timothy by Polycarp.
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.iv.ii.i.html

    Chapter IV.—Various exhortations.
    “But the love of money is the root of all evils.” Knowing, therefore, that “as we brought nothing into the world, so we can carry nothing out,” let us arm ourselves with the armour of righteousness; and let us teach, first of all, ourselves to walk in the commandments of the Lord.

    Chapter XII.—Exhortation to various graces.
    For I trust that ye are well versed in the Sacred Scriptures, and that nothing is hid from you; but to me this privilege is not yet granted. It is declared then in these Scriptures, “Be ye angry, and sin not,” and, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Happy is he who remembers this, which I believe to be the case with you. But may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Son of God, and our everlasting High Priest, build you up in faith and truth, and in all meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, forbearance, and purity; and may He bestow on you a lot and portion among His saints, and on us with you, and on all that are under heaven, who shall believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in His Father, who “raised Him from the dead.” Pray for all the saints. Pray also for kings, and potentates, and princes, and for those that persecute and hate you, and for the enemies of the cross, that your fruit may be manifest to all, and that ye may be perfect in Him.

    There are also several possible quotes from second Timothy but I believe this one is the most plausible.

    Chapter XI.—Expression of grief on account of Valens.
    I am deeply grieved, therefore, brethren, for him (Valens) and his wife; to whom may the Lord grant true repentance! And be ye then moderate in regard to this matter, and “do not count such as enemies,” but call them back as suffering and straying members, that ye may save your whole body. For by so acting ye shall edify yourselves.

    Seth,
    As you can see, the entire letter of Polycarp to the church in Philippi is pretty much a string of direct quotes and thoughts taken from the NT. In Chapter XII you have Polycarp (trained by the Apostle John) attributing the letter Ephesians to Paul and calling it “Sacred Scriptures”.
    In Chapter III, Polycarp says this about Paul and his letter to the Philippians…

    “For neither I, nor any other such one, can come up to the wisdom of the blessed and glorified Paul. He, when among you, accurately and stedfastly taught the word of truth in the presence of those who were then alive. And when absent from you, he wrote you a letter, which, if you carefully study, you will find to be the means of building you up in that faith”

    Also, here is Polycarp’s view on the condition of the church in the early second century.

    Chapter I.—Praise of the Philippians.
    I have greatly rejoiced with you in our Lord Jesus Christ, because ye have followed the example of true love [as displayed by God], and have accompanied, as became you, those who were bound in chains, the fitting ornaments of saints, and which are indeed the diadems of the true elect of God and our Lord; and because the strong root of your faith, spoken of in days long gone by, endureth even until now, and bringeth forth fruit to our Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sins suffered even unto death, [but] “whom God raised from the dead, having loosed the bands of the grave.” “In whom, though now ye see Him not, ye believe, and believing, rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory;” into which joy many desire to enter, knowing that “by grace ye are saved, not of works,” but by the will of God through Jesus Christ.

    Again, this is coming from someone who was taught by and knew personally the Apostle John.
    I don’t see Paul being a problematic figure. Even someone so closely associated with the “rival” Apostle John sees Paul as a “blessed and glorified” Apostle who’s epistles are seen as “Sacred Scriptures” and “the means of building you up in that faith.”

    Good stuff!

  19. Where does Polycarp claim to have been taught by the “apostle” John?

    What does that have to do with Timothy being written pseudopigraphically even if he was?

    Maybe we could talk about primary evidence for a change. Your argument here is as circumstantial and weak as it was for “creatio ex nihilo”.

  20. TYD, how is your critique comment of my post on inerrancy?

    I would like to introduce you to a full-blown higher critic who dramatically changed. Radically changed. Morally changed.

    Thrilled about this person. You have got to hear the story.

    And you don’t think Polycarp was a disciple of John? This is surprising.

    And speaking of “creatio ex nihilo”, you reminded me that I need to write something on the subject and interact a little with Blake’s interp. Give me a couple of weeks. And have you read Karen Armstrong’s definition of “Ex nihilo” in her book, mentioned in the above post?

    Chris, thanks for the quotes.

    Seth, I don’t Paul comes even close to Joseph for being problematic in slashing scripture and inserting new ideas.

    Brian, you struck a central, fundamental nerve (#18) that smarts me severely . . . the authorization to fix problems in the text. It is like the sledge hammer from a beefy Idahoan construction worker pounding away relentlessly on my inerrant blueprints which I am relying upon to build my life and my home according the Lord’s desire and purpose.

    The Jews were upset in John 5 by Jesus’ action on the Sabbath. Furious. Jesus comes back in John 7 and brings up the heart issue (among several other questions) in the conversation. Look closely at John 7:19-24.

    The Jews think Jesus broke/violated/corrected the O.T. law. This is one reason why a devout orthodox Jewish leader will not place the Greek N.T. side by side in supplementing his O.T. Hebrew Bible. He would claim Jesus blasphemed his Scripture.

    First, is it alright to compare everything that Jesus did and said with the O.T. law? You bet. It’s commanded by the famous prophet. Isaiah 8:20 (Notice the scripture data in the above article of faith.)

    But was Jesus trying to break or “fix” the O.T. law as the Jews assumed? Nope. Nope. Nope.

    Now, Joseph Smith (or a young missionary, today) comes along and says to Christians something like this: “The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ to be added alongside your O.T. and your N.T.”

    But in wanting me to accept Latter-day revelation, does Joseph try to fix O.T. and N.T. data?

    Yep. Yep. Yep.

    Now what am I suppose to do?

    My LDS friends say loud and clear.

    “Just reject your concept of scriptural inerrancy; and all the standard works will now fit together; and we will all be happy.”

  21. Todd,

    I passingly mentioned the fact that Paul *probably* didn’t write Timothy. Chris brought up the topic further; though I would think authorship questions should be relevant to a post on biblical inerrancy, sufficiency, etc.

    Because of my schedule I have yet to write a full critique of this post–it’s one of the problems of holding both a full time job and studying 4 or 5 languages in an academic setting.

    As for whether Polycarp was a disciple of the *apostle* John or not, it bears little relevance to whether Paul wrote Timothy. And let me say again, I have no theological problems whether Polycarp was or wasn’t educated by John the apostle, or whether Timothy was or wasn’t written by Paul.

    I used to be a scriptural uniformitarianist in practice such as yourself at one time, believe it or not Todd.

    I don’t think it is intellectually or spiritually compelling or honest.

  22. Oh and Todd, if you are going to wait a few weeks to post on creatio ex nihilo, you might as well wait until Blake’s new book comes out in mid-March, which, as I understand, contains substantial (new) sections on the historical and philosophical problems with such a view.

  23. Good for you, Dart! Have you heard of her before tonight? What do you think of her testimony? Isn’t it great that she was set free from the clutches of blackish Bultmann criticism, the old bulldog of myth deconstruction? He makes some of today’s secularists look like angels.

    I just googled Eta’s name for the first time. I like the top entries. Looks good. I just have an one printed article on her. Maybe, I can peck out a few of the highlights, tomorrow.

    —-

    hmmm . . . I was just looking over here in “Weightier Matters” and found that AHLDuke and his wife are knee deep in higher criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

    http://weightermatters.blogspot.com/2008/02/holy-scripture-holy-myth-part-i_21.html

    —-

    Back to the N.T.

    (Sigh) I am assuming that modern day LDS apostles never publicly speak out about all the ways N.T. apostolic writings are subjected to all the forms of literary source criticism in today’s scholarship.

    But thinking about it, can you imagine how their writings will be treated 100 years from now. What will be considered “inspired” then? The limelight is only too fleeting.

  24. Todd,

    I actually had not head of Linneman before I searched and found. As for her transition from “higher criticism” to inerrancy, I think taking an inerrant viewpoint on scripture is ahistorical, illogical, and detrimental to faith. I find such a position unpersuasive, being both non-biblical and self-refuting from within the traditions of those who espouse it. While I am certainly happy she has faith in Jesus, I think she and others who promote such a position are simply damaging others faith in the long run and setting them up for a hard fall.

    However, I agree with you that Bultmann paradigm was in long need of being overhauled. However, that hardly means serious historical and critical investigation into the scriptures can be bypassed or that one should just adopt an inerrant view of the bible.

    Honestly, I think just about anyone who can read is a “higher” critic than those who hold to inerrancy. It is a shame they have turned the word “critic” into a negative meaning.

  25. Rats! I just lost a lengthy comment because wordpress wouldn’t take my link.

    Let me try again (and a little shorter).

    First, let me say that I don’t think “biblical criticism” is a bad term. Every translator evaluates and critiques word choice. Conservative biblicists critique. The damage is when there is no thoughtful, Spirit-led critique, either by (1) professing Christians who don’t want to think and be lazy in study or (2) religious scholars who forget to submit their fallible intellect to the Spirit. Do mainstream higher critics even pray that the Spirit would grant to them understanding?

    Was it the promotion of biblical inerrancy that brought the downfall to Bart Ehrman’s faith? I don’t think so, Dart.

    Google Eta’s book, Historical Criticism of the Bible.

    Here are some remarkable thoughts from the author’s introduction (you can read it all on the web):

    = = =

    “By God’s grace and love I entrusted my life to Jesus. He immediately took my life into his saving grasp and began to transform it radically. My destructive addictions were replaced by a hunger and thirst for his Word and for fellowship with Christians. I was able to recognize sin clearly as sin rather than merely make excuses for it as was my previous habit. I can still remember the delicious joy I felt when for the first time black was once more black and white was once more white; the two ceased to pool together as indistinguishable gray. . . . By God’s grace I experienced Jesus as the one whose name is above all names. . . . I recognized, first mentally, but then in a vital, experiential way, the Holy Scripture is inspired. Not because of human talk but because of the testimony of the Holy Spirit in my heart, I have clear knowledge that my former perverse teaching was sin. At the same time I am happy and thankful that this sin is forgiven me because Jesus bore it on the cross.”

    “I wish to use this opportunity to mention that I have pitched my two books Gleichnisse Jesu . . . and Studien zur Passionsgeschichte, along with my contributions to journals, anthologies, and Festschriften. Whatever of these writings I had in my possession I threw into the trash with my own hands in 1978.”

    = = =

    Dart, 1978 was a great year!

    Christians also had a good summit meeting that fall.

    The Chicago International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (1978)

    Now, thirty years later in America, I pray for a revival of joy in God through his word.

  26. Todd,

    I am glad you don’t use the word(s) “(higher) criticism” (not to mention “liberal”) as a rhetorical whipping boy as many fundamentalists do. Furthermore, I know of not a few scholars who certainly don’t hold to an inerrant view of scripture who are quite religious–so I honestly doubt that they don’t pray often and meaningfully about their lives and their work; I think you are seriously misrepresenting many scholars when you suggest otherwise.

    ————

    As for whether Ehrman’s faith was destroyed in part to fundamentalism, I can only say from his biographical writings and the talks I have heard him give that it almost certainly did.

    As conservative evangelical scholar Craig Evans (not a fundamentalist I might add) said in his book “Fabricating Jesus” concerning Ehrman (and some other [now] liberal scholars):

    “And so everything began to unravel for Ehrman. But observe the line of reasoning; it is so typical of brittle fundamentalism. I have heard fundamentalists say, “Show me one mistake in the Bible and I will throw out the whole thing>” I suspect Ehrman heard that more than once in his Moody Bible Institute days. His reasoning today, even as a professing agnostic, still has a fundamentalist ring to it.

    I repeat: The truth of the Christian message hinges not on the inerrancy of Scripture or on our ability to harmonize the four gospels but on the resurrection of Jesus. And the historical reliability of the gospels does not hinge on the inerrancy of Scripture or on the proof that no mistake of any kind can be detected in them. Ehrman’s struggle with faith–and I feel for him–grows out of mistaken expectations of the nature and function of Scripture, mistaken expectations that he was taught as a young, impressionable fundamentilist Christian.”

    As Ehrman wrote in his recent book about his life:

    “For me, though, this [the loss of the original manuscripts of the New Testament] was a compelling problem. It was the words of scripture themselves that God had inspired. Surely we have to know what those words were if we want to know how he had communicated to us, since the very words were his words, and having some other words (those inadvertently or intentionally created by scribes) didn’t help us much if we want to know *his words*…Those of us at Moody believed that the bible was absolutely inerrant in its very words.”

    Evan’s talks in other places concerning other scholars clash with their fundamentalist upbringings. After discussing Robert Price he concludes:

    “What we see in Price is what we have seen before: a flight from fundamentalism.”

    Concerning Robert Funk:

    “What strikes me is how Funk began his Christian experience with a “literalist reading of Genesis 1and 2,” went on to attend a “Bible College,” becoming “a teenage evangelist” and learning “by memorization and rehearsal”. I don’t want to read into this too much, but it sure sounds as if a rigid, fundamentalist understanding of Scripture laid the foundation of his formative years. Funk goes on to say that learning was an agonizing experience. I have heard that before–how breaking away from a fundamentalist understanding of Scripture can be emotionally devestating.”

    Concerning James Robinson (one of Evan’s teachers) he says:

    “Robison says that at Davidson College he taught “a quite literal Old Testament.” He imagines that his students view him as “hopelessly naive.” Here again, we likely have a rigid, fundamentalist understanding of Scripture. Having taught the Old Testament, while probably reading scholarly literature along the way and trying to respond to students’ questions, Robinson says he “no longer” believed what he had taught. What *what* did he no longer believe? He goes on to say, “I had tried to make sense of my childhood theology to myself, and had failed.” What was this “childhood theology”? As best I can extract…Robinson is talking about Calvinist theology and a conservative view of scripture.”

    ———–

    As for your comments about the Chicago statement, it is one of the most obvious examples of why inerrancy is circular reasoning, non-scriptural, unverifiable, and illogical.

    ———–

    And this statement from Linnemann is interesting:

    “…Not because of human talk but because of the testimony of the Holy Spirit in my heart, I have clear knowledge that my former perverse teaching was sin.”

    This can’t really be , on your view,”revelation” to her though, right Todd? Only “Spirit illumination” at best–whatever that means.

  27. I just read this quote on your other entry Todd from Barat:

    “In an earlier book, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, I have indicated that my strong commitment to the Bible began to wane the more I studied it. I began to realize in its very words (the view I had at Moody Bible Institute), the Bible was a very human book with all the marks of having come from human hands: discrepancies, contradictions, errors, and different countries and writing for different reasons to different audiences with different needs. But the problems of the Bible are not what led me to leave the faith. These problems simply showed me that my evangelical beliefs about the Bible could not hold up, in my opinion, to critical scrutiny. I continued to be a Christian—a completely committed Christian—for many years after I left the evangelical fold.”

    Interesting. I had heard Ehrman speak about his crisis with theodicy but he never said it like this.

  28. He came and spoke at my university a little while back and had said that his encounter with lower and higher criticism had damaged his faith and then when on to discuss briefly this crisis as well.

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