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What is the Bible? Why do we say it's God's Word? How did we get it? What makes it so special?
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Why do you believe the Bible is infallible?

Postby Missy Mix » Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:53 pm

Why do you believe the Bible is infallible?
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Re: Why do you believe the Bible is infallible?

Postby jimwalton » Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:57 pm

"Infallibility," as a term, has its problems and is inadequate to describe what we're after as we talk about honoring the authority of Scripture. We know for a fact that there are manuscript discrepancies in biblical transmission, so it is often said that original manuscripts (the "autographs") are what we consider to be "perfect," inerrant, or infallible. But if we have none of the autographs, the claim is somewhat of an illusion. Secondly, we know that the ancients had a different scientific understanding than we do, and that they were writing accurately to their own culture. So is the text infallible, or isn't it? "Infallibility" just isn't the right term. In the same sense, the ancients' entire approach to historiography (the writing of history) is different from ours, and when we allow for those differences, "infallibility" is just not a helpful term.

As was written in The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978): "We deny that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage and purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations. These hermeneutical principles are designed to prevent us from demanding mathematical precision from the New Testament but rather historical and theological reliability in terms of the ordinary communication of daily life. This approach leaves some room for discretion while at the same time not calling into question the conviction that the New Testament is true in all that it affirms."

Theologically speaking, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to use a single term that provides an adequate box for us to put Scripture in. All of the words are too limited, and Scripture is too exalted. We use words like infallible, inerrant, and literal to try to declare our deep respect and honor for the authority and divine nature of the Scriptures, but these are man-made words used to refute accusations against the Bible. While we admire the reasons they were coined, further investigation shows us that they don't rise to the necessary height to capture the worthiness of God’s Word.

Our wisest course is to use words that the Bible itself uses to describe itself, and we can find safety and assurance in the adequacy of those terms. Even those words need to be interpreted, however. The first term comes from 2 Timothy 3:16: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." Paul's points are several, not the least of which is that Scripture has God's authority because God is its source. And because God is its source, we can treat it as having the same attributes that God himself has: objective truth, authoritative information, and reliable guidance. It is to be believed and obeyed.

Being God-breathed, the Scripture carries the very presence of God and life of God himself. These words have authority and truth, power and presence. "God-breathed" emphasizes a divine source rather than human truth. Is there a difference between human truth and God's truth? Not in a normal sense, since truth is truth, but yes in the sense that our truth is a derived truth, and God's truth is the original and the source of truth. Think of a pool table with billiard balls on it. When you hit the cue ball into another ball, the other ball is not moving on its own power. It's moving because something made it move. The energy it has is real energy, but it's different from the energy of the first ball. And it can't be as much as the original energy; at least some energy was lost on impact. We as humans deal in derived truth (the second ball), but God's Word is Source Truth, objective truth, absolute truth. God is not only the source of truth, He is truth, and the Scriptures are an authoritative revelation of himself. The truth I tell, by contrast, is derived truth. Something else made it true; I'm just passing it on.

Scripture being God-breathed puts it on a different level than anything I have to say, no matter how true it is. His truth, the Bible, carries more weight, more authority, and more authenticity.

In addition, 2 Peter 1.21 says, "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." Here we see again that God is the sole source, but the authority of the text is vested in the human communicator, which is our only access to God's communication, which is our true source of authority. While the pen was in the hand of a human, the words had both divine source, initiative, authority and reliability.

John Walton and D. Brent Sandy, in their book "The Lost World of Scripture," counsel: (1) We should be competent readers of the text itself (the words, grammar, syntax, context, genre, etc.); (2) We should be ethical readers as we seek to follow what is written, following the path of the intended meaning of the text; and (3) We should be virtuous readers. The Bible is offering an encounter with God, and it expects the reader to be transformed as a result.
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Re: Why do you believe the Bible is infallible?

Postby Missy Mix » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:03 pm

Thank you for sharing your side of this! You put it very eloquently! As for me the place I slip away in the argument is: if any part of the Bible is either morally or factually incorrect, the whole thing deserves to be treated as another book. The Bible does have many moral good parts, but (looking at it through the any other book idea) it also has quite a few bad ones and that’s okay. Factually I would have to go find my sources (and I’m a little too stoned to do that) so I’m not going to speak on that.

As on scripture being god breathed, you first have to believe in god, and that’s a whole new topic. Although I would say this was one of the hardest things for me to untangle when I left the church. So I might not be the best to speak on it, just my opinions from personal experience and research.
Missy Mix
 

Re: Why do you believe the Bible is infallible?

Postby jimwalton » Sat Dec 22, 2018 9:59 am

> if any part of the Bible is either morally or factually incorrect, the whole thing deserves to be treated as another book.

Well, see, this is where it gets tricky, and why "infallible" is an inadequate word. For instance, when the people of the OT expressed thoughts according to their understanding of science, it was their worldview. God accommodates their worldview to reveal himself in words and concepts that they would understand. If he revealed himself in our scientific perspective, they wouldn't have understood a word he was saying, just as if he revealed himself to us in science from 3000 years to our future (can you just imagine how different their terminology and understandings will be!). So God chooses to accommodate his message to their scientific view. Does that mean it's "factually incorrect"? That means that our science is "factually incorrect" also, since it will be superseded by future discoveries. So where do we go with this? What I believe is that God was right to accommodate his revelation to their scientific understanding to communicate to them. The authority of his message was not in their science, but in what he was saying to them. The science changes every year. The message was authoritative. That doesn't make the Bible sort of common (profane), deserving to be treated as any other book. We would expect God to speak in words that were part of our vocabulary, even though those concepts might change next year. If God used some word that won't be coined until 2020, we wouldn't understand the message.

> The Bible does have many moral good parts, but (looking at it through the any other book idea) it also has quite a few bad ones and that’s okay.

Usually the ones perceived as bad ones are misunderstandings. There is more to the Bible than appears on the surface. For instance, the Old Testament definition of slavery is very different from the New Testament one, and completely different than what we mean when we talk about slavery (having lived through the horrors of chattel slavery in the colonial era—something the OT folks knew nothing about). There are also many misunderstandings about the Bible endorsing misogyny (which it doesn't) and such things. When you take the time to understand the ancient culture and the text itself, all the "bad ones" fade away like a mist.

> As on scripture being god breathed, you first have to believe in god, and that’s a whole new topic.

True, it is a whole new topic, and an obvious necessary foundation to the idea of Scripture being God-breathed. There are many logical arguments for the existence of God that are far stronger than the logical arguments against, and there are also evidences for the existence of God stronger than the evidences to the contrary. All in all, the evidence for God is a pretty solid case when examined.

We can certainly talk more about any of it, as you wish.


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