James Montgomery Boice wrote a few thoughts while preaching on John 10:35:
“In the last two centuries or so the orthodox view of the Bible has been denied by large segments of the church so that for many the Bible has become man’s word about God rather than God’s word to man, and its authority has been lessened. But this was not always so. In fact, when we turn to past ages we discover that until recently all who claimed to be Christians, even heretics, acknowledged that the Bible was infallible and authoritative. . . . It was the glory of the church that in its first sixteen or seventeen centuries all Christians in every place, despite their differences of opinion on theology or on questions of church order, exhibited at least a mental allegiance to the Bible as the supreme authority for the Christian in all matters. It might have been neglected. There might have been disagreements about what it actually teaches. It might even have been contradicted. But it was still the Word of God. It was the only infallible rule of faith and practice”
What is your attitude on the biblical scriptures?
Boice is just wrong. The Bible’s inerrancy is a very recent evangelical issue and phenomena. The bible wasn’t called inerrant in the early Church. In fact, allegorical interpretation ruled the day for the first four centuries after Christ’s time.
Blake, do you think that your views of biblical scripture are on similar par with the patristic fathers, early church, etc.?
Blake, I’m not sure that there is a contradiction between allegorical interpretation and inerrancy. At the same time, you are correct in that, today, inerrancy is often identified with an approach to Scripture that eschews allegory (in spite of the fact that St. Paul himself uses it in a couple of places to interpret passages from the Old Testament) and which contends that the text is “literally” infallible and inerrant, essentially understanding the notion of truth through the lens of the Enlightenment and ignoring the literary forms involved. The most prominent example is, of course, the understanding of Genesis 1-2 that turns this section of Scripture into a scientific textbook. St. Augustine, 1500 years ago, warned us against doing this, but his plea is either ignored or unknown in many quarters today.
Yes, I respectfully disagree with some of Augustine’s hermeneutical approach in Genesis, but I think he had a similar attitude with me on inerrancy . . . a submissive approach to all those biblical words coming directly from heaven and not corrupted by man’s agendas.
(Chuckling) Genesis hermeneutics is not even what Boice is talking about. We don’t even see eye to eye on Genesis 1 interpretation. He would prefer Augustine’s interp over mine.
Todd it’s nice that you take a particularly inerrant view of scripture as a default position and try to depart from it as little as possible.
But I’d thank Evangelicals to not make their inerrancy views the touchstone of their criticisms of Mormonism. Just because you prefer to read the Bible a certain way does not mean you are justified in excluding other members of the body of Christ based on that read. Especially considering that your read is only one of several plausible and valid reads.
Seth, a touchstone criticism given to me is that I am not listening to the living, certain words of God.
I didn’t start the controversy, friend.
Todd: You accept that if there is a prophet that has been called by God, then you would have a duty to listen. So that is something that we both share. We say that God has called a prophet and you are not listening.
You believe that the Bible is infallible. We assert that the Bible just doesn’t say that and it is obvious that it aint. We do not accept that if there a Bible that it must be infallible. A lot of those that you would accept as Christian (like Catholics, Orthodox and Episcopalians don’t accept that the Bible is infallible. So if you trot out the canard that the Mormons just aren’t Christian because they don’t accept an infallible Bible, it just isn’t an argument that has any tractions for us. In fact, the bibliolatry that I sometimes detect among the more radical evangelicals seems to me to get in the way of real worship of God.
Blake, I would really like to hear your answer to Todd’s question in comment #2.
Christopher: I haven’t responded because I don’t understand what he is asking.
Three thoughts, Blake:
1. I think the prophets pointed to “that prophet” in John’s Gospel. I will follow that Prophet (God help me) with all my heart, Blake. And any other prophet is good when he is described like John – but all things that John spake of this man were true (John 10:41).
2. No, it is not “obvious” to me that the Bible is full of conflicting agendas on who God is and what He says. And John 10:35 only confirms my faith. I cannot accept the higher critical scholarship that infiltrated Protestantism and then Catholicism. (Taking my cues from the John’s Gospel and reading comments by the author of John’s Gospel, the Jews, and Jesus – I see the story unfolding of how they all have a higher view of the scripture than what I see in higher critical scholarship, today.)
Christianity is grounded in Who God is and what God has done for man’s redemption. I trust the special revelation given to us by God for the accurate and reliable sharing of the good news. And Blake, I am not blind to the destruction within my own Baptist denomination. I run contra to even Baptist organizations, completely separating myself from the liberalism that swallowed much of the American Baptists.
3. Let me rephrase the question in #2. What do you think was the position/attitude of Polycarp and other early Christian writers in their understanding of scriptural trustworthiness?
Todd: Regarding Polycarp’s and other 1st century understanding of scripture. First, the NT didn’t even exist in the first century. Second, Polycarp regarded the OT, or parts of it, as inspired. Being inspired and being infallible are and were two very different things. Polycarp didn’t embrace anything like infallibilism and would not have understood scripture to be what you think it is.