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Explaining Biblical Inerrancy

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This is a guest review by Alf Cengia.  He is a friend who reads this blog and his website can be found at Zeteo316.  Check it out.

The Inerrant Word: Biblical Theological and pastoral Perspectives. Edited by John MacArthur and Foreword by R. C. Sproul. Published by Crossway (Hardcover 399 pages).

Purchase: Crossway | Amazon

This is another important book I picked up from our Church Bookstore. I’m particularly drawn to these apologetics because of my former Roman Catholic background, a stint in a “Christian” cult and New Age years. What connected all these experiences was a downgrade of God’s Word. As most of us understand, this has happened throughout history. Today God’s Word is being questioned by some professing Christian leaders who are capitulating to the culture. John MacArthur writes:

The Bible is treated like Silly Putty, pressed and reshaped to suit the shifting interests of popular culture. ~ The Inerrant Word (page 26)

MacArthur states that the most dangerous attacks against God’s word have come from the evangelical community. He lists: “seminary professors, mega church pastors, charismatic charlatans on television, popular evangelical authors, Christian psychologists, and bloggers on the evangelical fringe.”

Iain Murray’s contribution (How Scotland Lost Her Hold on the Bible – A Case Study of Inerrancy Compromise) is an excellent case study of how God’s word can be gradually downgraded by ambivalent language. Murray demonstrates why claiming that Scripture contains God’s Word isn’t good enough.

The problem with saying that Scripture contains the Word of God is that it doesn’t affirm that Scripture is the Word of God. You may mean that it contains God’s Word; but also items which aren’t affirmed by the church, and thus open for debate. Homosexuality and same sex marriage would be two examples.

Murray uses the example of a bag of groceries. You can tell someone that it contains potatoes. You might even mean that the bag ONLY contains potatoes. But you might also mean that it contains other items. This chapter was one of my favorites as it is especially relevant to cultural challenges in the church today.

Another favorite was Alistair Begg’s Let the Lion Out, based on 2 Tim 4:1-5 and Charles H. Spurgeon. Just preach the Word! Ferguson’s The Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures was another gem in a lost list of important contributions.

The book is comprised of four main parts:

  1. Inerrancy in the Bible: Building the Case
  2. Inerrancy in Church History: Showing the Precedent
  3. Inerrancy in Theological Perspective: Answering the Critics
  4. Inerrancy in Pastoral Practice: Applying to Life

Each section has a number of chapters by a selection of evangelical scholars and ministers including: John Frame, Matt Waymeyer, Michael Vlach, Alistair Begg, Sinclair Ferguson, G. K. Beale, Abner Chou, William Barrick and more.

The Inerrant Word highly recommended reading for all Christians.

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I’m not a guy that would watch the Oscars and personally I could care less since most of Hollywood elites seems to be in la-la land.  The host this year was also Jimmy Kimmel which I personally think is an example of a fool with jokes that’s not funny, cheap laughs and too frequently down right mean. But my phone last night got an usually rare news notification concerning the most awkward moment in Oscar’s history which as many of you know, was about the mistake in the announcement of who got the award of Best Picture.

Seeing this made me think about how I’m grateful that the Bible is without error or mistake.  It is God’s Word and is always true.  The Bible is inerrant.  If you want to learn more check out the Inerrancy Summit Seminar Sessions Audios and also my Series of posts responding to attack on Biblical Inerrancy.

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Here is a video of Dr. Farnell, a contributer to these books: The Jesus Crisis: The Inroads of Historical Criticism into Evangelical Schlorship and The Jesus Quest: The Danger from Within, is speaking about the dangers of the higher critical method.  It is similar to the message that he gave at one of the seminars from the Inerrancy Summit.  Listen to Dr. Farnell, as he exposes some names, the critical methods, and the danger that the church faces today.  May the Lord protect His church from this false teaching.  If inerrancy is not upheld, there will be no power coming from the pulpit but dead sayings from men who are not armed with the sword of God, but men who are armed with toothpicks.

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John_Frame_HS

As many of you are aware, The Inerrancy Summit was fairly recent.  Many Christian leaders came together in solidarity concerning the doctrine of inerrancy.  Many years ago, on October 1978, more than 200 evangelical Christian leaders with many different stripes of theology (i.e. Arminians, Calvinists, etc.) came together to sign the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy to protect us from the cancer of liberalism.  They defended us to the heart and teeth.  Brethren, we are living in dangerous times where the Word of God is being attacked not only by the unbelieving world, but by those who still carry the Christian heritage.  Since the topic of inerrancy is still resonating with many in the evangelical circle, we wanted to get another voice from a Christian leader.  Many of our contributers here at Veritas have been tremendously blessed by Dr. Frame.  Currently, we have been quoting from his books systematically each day on our Facebook wall.  To get more updates and words of edification from Veritas, please feel free to visit our Facebook or Twitter page:

Dr. Frame has contributed many significant works related to theology, apologetics, and philosophy.  He has interacted with many apologists and we have much to learn from him.  He is committed to the inerrant, infallible, and inspired Word of God and believes we need to subscribe to them in order to able to withstand the attacks of the unbelieving worldview.  In addition, here are some more details surrounding Dr. Frame’s biography which I got from RTS.  He is currently the J. D. Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy.

Princeton University, A.B.
Westminster Theological Seminary, B.D.
Yale University, M.A., M.Phil.
Belhaven College, D.D.

Bio

Dr. John Frame joined RTS Orlando in 2002 and serves as J.D. Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy. Dr. Frame teaches core courses on systematic theology, apologetics, ethics and philosophy.

Dr. Frame’s research interests include theology proper (the doctrine of God), the doctrine of scripture, ethics and epistemology (the theory of knowledge). Dr. Frame began his teaching career on the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia before serving as a founding faculty member at Westminster Seminary California for more than 20 years. He is best known for his prolific writings, particularly his four-volume Theology of Lordship series. The second volume in this series (The Doctrine of God) won the 2003 Gold Medallion Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association in the category of theology/doctrine.

An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, Dr. Frame is deeply committed to the work of ministry and to training pastors. Students appreciate Dr. Frame’s wealth of insight and his ability to communicate complex issues simply and clearly. Students also value Dr. Frame’s practical definition of theology as “the application of God’s revelation to all of life.”

Dr. Frame is a talented pianist and organist as well as a discerning media critic. He and his wife Mary have multiple children.

Publications

ONLINE RESOURCES

BOOKS

SELECT ARTICLES

  • “The Road to Generous Orthodoxy,” in Reformation & Revival 14:3 (2005), 97-105.
  • “Salvation and Theological Pedagogy,” in Reformation & Revival 14:1 (2005), 57-70.
  • “Johnson on Van Til: A Rejoiner,” in Evangelical Quarterly 76:3 (2004), 227-239.
  • “Reply to Don Collett on Transcendental Argument,” Westminster Theological Journal65:2 (2003), 307-309.
  • “Studying Theology as a Servant of Christ,” in Reformation & Revival 11:1 (2002), 45-69.
  • “In Defense of Something Close to Biblicism: Reflections on Sola Scriptura and History in Theological Method,” in Westminster Theological Journal 59:2 (1997), 269-291.
  • “Scripture and the Apologetic Task,” in Journal of Biblical Counseling 13:2 (1995), 9-12.
  • “Van Til on Antithesis,” in Westminster Theological Journal 57:1 (1995), 81-102.
  • “Men and Women in the Image of God,” in John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds.,Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Wheaton: Crossway Books (1991), 228-236.
  • “Christianity and Contemporary Epistemology,” in Westminster Theological Journal 52:1 (1990), 131-141.
  • “Toward a Theology of the State,” in Westminster Theological Journal 51:2 (1989), 199-226.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

We will now move onto the interview portion of this post:

Hello Dr. Frame,

Thank you for doing this interview with us.  We are blessed by your service to God and His inspired, inerrant, infallible, and the sufficient Word of God.  Here are some questions I have for you.

1)  Just for the sake of clarity for our audience, what is the difference between inerrancy and infallibility?  Different authors define these terms in different ways. I try to stick with the dictionary, in which either the two terms are synonymous, or infallibility is the stronger term. Inerrancy means there are no errors. Infallibility means that there can be no errors, that there is no possibility of error.

2)  What role does hermeneutics play in our defense of inerrancy?  Many objections to inerrancy are based on false interpretations of Scripture. That is, they are hermeneutical issues rather than issues of truthfulness.

3)  What apologetic method is most biblical in defending inerrancy?  Well, I’m a presuppositionalist, and I think that method is generally biblical. (See, for example, Cowan, ed.,  Five Views of Apologetics.) So I think it is the best method for debates about inerrancy, as well as debates about other aspects of the Christian faith. Presuppositionalism means being honest about the Christian’s ultimate criterion of truth, and showing that other proposed criteria collapse upon themselves. See, for example, my Apologetics to the Glory of God.

4)  What are your thoughts on the Classical defense for inerrancyThe Classical defense of Scripture was published in the Expositor magazine; a publication of OnePassion Ministries. You are evidently referring to a particular article, and I don’t have time to look that up and evaluate it. When I think of “classical defense,” I think of Sproul, Gerstner, and Lindsley,Classical Apologetics. My replay to them can be found in several places, particularly www.frame-poythress.org. TheClassical book says that we should assume at the outset that Scripture is “generally reliable,” but not inerrant, then work from there. In brief, (1) the serious critics of inerrancy don’t believe the Bible is generally reliable. (2) The classicists fail to give an account of how general reliability can be assessed.

5)  Does modern scholarship have any negative implications upon the doctrine of inerrancy? If you think modern scholarship (the anti-inerrantist part of modern scholarship) is completely trustworthy, then you cannot believe in inerrancy. But I think defenders of inerrancy have raised legitimate questions about these modern attempts to undermine inerrancy. See myDoctrine of the Word of God.

6)  Are those who hold onto limited inerrancy, still evangelical? Some of them clearly are not, because they not only limit inerrancy but also deny many of Jesus’ miracles, the blood atonement, etc. Others limit inerrancy to “matters of faith and practice” but maintain belief in miracles, the blood atonement, the resurrection, etc. I think this view is inconsistent, and its view of biblical authority is less than the Bible claims for itself. But I don’t worry too much about labels. Many of these people try to follow an evangelical heritage. Evangelicalism does not have a precise definition, and if limited inerrantists want to adopt the term I have no strong objections.

7)  What are the top three books you would recommend on the doctrine of inerrancy? Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible; Kline, The Structure of Biblical Authority; Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God.

8)  Did you watch The Inerrancy Summit? If so, what is your analysis on it? Sorry, but I did not.

9)  Why are seminaries and academicians who associate themselves in the evangelical circle, denying inerrancy? Because they want to be academically respectable, so they think they have to align themselves with the mainstream liberal positions. Of course, they have arguments for their positions, and those ought to be assessed.

10)  Please let me know if I am missing any other questions that you think are pertinent for this interview. Well, there are many questions, that have filled many books. But I think the above questions are sufficient for this kind of format. As I see it, the main issue is that we should believe what the Bible teaches about itself, just as we must believe what the Bible says about any other doctrine.

 

Blessings,

John M. Frame

 

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TMAI

This past Monday, I was fortunate to hear many different speakers from the TMAI International Symposium Conference.  One speaker that I enjoyed much is Benedikt Peters from European Bible Training Center, Zurich, Switzerland.

“Benedikt Peters studied Greek, Hebrew, and general linguistics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. He served as the editor of a Christian publisher for many years and authored many books on theology. Currently, Benedikt serves in full-time teaching ministry, and teaches Bible survey and systematic theology at the European Bible Training Center in Zurich. In addition to his responsibilities as a church leader in Arbon, Switzerland, he also ministers in churches at various European countries, and is a popular speaker at pastors’ conferences. Benedikt is married to Helene, and they have four children.”

I was blessed to hear him preached on revelation and inerrancy.  Here are his notes for your enjoyment: Inerrancy

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Notes from Shepherd’s Conference

Introduction: Spurgeon’s Defending Lion quote

Setting: Paul writes to young Timothy

1.) His Charge (v.1-2)

Note it is a solemn charge
It is a charge before God and we must live in light of the reality of God now

We must be conscious of God and this begins with the preacher before the congregation

We are to preach
Nots speaking with authority is culturally neutral in that every culture understand someone speaking with authority

Are you convinced that expository preaching will always do it’s work?
Even when it’s difficult, even when it’s dwindling

Do it with patience

2.) His Challenges (v.3-4)

Instead of abiding to their creator, some have become themselves creators of their own god

People don’t put up with sound doctrine

Not New but even back in Isaiah 30 we see
These people accumulate teachers

3.) His character (v.5)
5 imperatives:
Always be sober minded (note that much of worship today undermine the preaching of the gospel)
Suffering
Preach Gospel
Fulfill your ministry (fulfill can be understood in the Greek as paying a debt)

Let the Lion out

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Shepherds Conference

Why an inerrancy summit?

1.) The scripture is under attacked and we are under obligation to defend it

The greatest threat is not from the outside but the inside

I submit there is no greater offense than to attack the Scripture

Jude tells us to earnestly contend for the Faith (v.3)

We see a long history attack of Scripture (Roman Catholicism, enlightenment, historical criticism, rationalism, cults, Pentecostals, experimentalism, third wave, New apostolic reformation, Christian psychology, church growth, etc)

Scripture reserve the harshest statements against this who lie about God’s Word; think of 1 kings 18 with Elijah and the false prophet

2.) Scripture is authoritative and we are called to declare it

2 Timothy 3:16_17

Jesus in John 10:35 says his weird cannot be broken which also shows he is GOD

John 3:33 says God is true

Bible is true because God cannot lie

New testament quote the old testament with divine authority

3.) Scripture is accurate and we are to demonstrate it

Law of thermodynamics, description of whether cycle, countless stars, Earth suspension on nothing confirmed in the bible

Think of prophecies such as Isaiah 53

4.) The Scripture is active and we are called to deploy it

It is the means which people are saved

It is the word that sanctifies (John 17:17)

There is only one book that will change your nature and your eternal destiny

The word is with power

You cannot be an expositor if you have a weak view of Scripture

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Shepherds Conference

Recovering from this year’s Shepherd’s Conference.  It was so encouraging, edifying and equipping!

The last evening on Friday John MacArthur made a major announcement that Shepherd’s Conference next year’s theme is going to be on the doctrine of Inerrancy.

There’s going to be a lot of big name speakers (not that it’s big name in of itself is important, but names of men whom God have used mightedly because of their faithfulness).  It’s anticipated to be the biggest Shepherd’s Conference ever.

Here’s the promotional video:

There’s going to be RC Sproul, Ligon Duncan, Sinclair Ferguson, Paige Patterson, Carl Trueman, Al Mohler, etc.

It’s going to be March 3rd-8th, 2015.

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Wow, Vern Poythress has done it again this year!  Another free book that he has written that he has made available online for free on PDF!  We are thankful for this Christian apologist, theologian and philosopher!

 

For your copy, click HERE.

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I once read that if your writing is not clear, most likely your thinking is not clear. After some initial confusion on attempting to explain why Scripture rather than logic was my presupposition, I have finally cleared my thoughts and hopefully will give some clear up the confusion.

Presuppositions Defined

Presuppositions are a person’s most basic non-negotiable truth, ultimate authority, and/or ultimate committment in a person’s worldview. Said differently, presuppositions are the guiding truth and standard used to gauge all other truth claims. All other truths will be evaluated through these basic presuppositions.

Thus, if a person (from now on used interchangably with a male pronoun) appeals to another authority and not his claimed “presupposition” then he shows that his “presupposition” was not his most basic, guiding truth. In other words, his presupposition was no longer his presupposition; his ultimate authority had another authority; and his ultimate commitment was no longer ultimate. 

Simply put, the person would be inconsistent.

Take my example of claiming Scripture is my presupposition, if I had conceded that logic is used to verify the truthfulness of Scripture, then I would’ve betrayed my presupposition. By saying yes, logic verifies the truthfulness of Scripture, I would have been inconsistent. If I really believed Scripture is my presupposition, then I wouldn’t be testing Scripture with another authority (logic).

My refusal to acknowledge logic as a standard to test Scripture reveals two things. The first is that my presupposition is still my presupposition— not just my claimed “presupposition”. Put another way, I remained consistent, demonstrating a coherent worldview by continuing to use my presupposition to evaluate all other claims. The second is that the source of my disagreement didn’t come from a clear understanding of logic (at the time; more on logic later) but rather a clear understanding of my presuppositions— Scripture.

My Confusion

During my discussion I kept agreeing that Scripture must be logical. My error was assuming that saying Scripture is logical was the same as admitting Scripture must be tested with logic (Footnote 1).

By agreeing that Scripture is logical, the objection might be raised,  “Doesn’t that mean logic is the ultimate authority?” The  answer is no.

Interpreting Scripture is not the same as testing Scripture.

When a person checks to see whether or not a proposition from the bible is logical, he’s not testing the logic of Scripture, he’s testing his own logic!  The key was consistently applying the inerrancy of Scripture to my incorrect assumption. Because Scripture is truthful, Scripture is inherently logical. By assuming the truthfulness of Scripture beforehand, I no longer was conflicted.

My Presuppositions

The source of my confusion was assuming that testing my interpretation of Scripture is the same as testing the logic of Scripture. God doesn’t automatically give a pat on the back with an invisible hand when you understand Scripture correctly. Instead, he gives us minds to think and logical tests to verify we are interpreting Scripture correctly.

Thus, Scripture’s logic is not in question. Man’s understanding of Scripture is in question. If anything Scripture seems illogical, it is safe to conclude that in reality the person, not Scripture, was illogical. Man can only think logically and truthfully if he aligns his thinking to God’s thinking and follows his thoughts from God’s thoughts (Footnote 2).

By assuming the doctrine of inerrancy, I know beforehand that Scripture is automatically truthful and therefore logical.

In the form of a logical argument, my reasoning might be clearer:

If Scripture is truthful, Scripture is logical.
Scripture is truthful                                    
Therefore Scripture is logical.

My Conclusion

Don’t despair if you are confused and frustrated but especially don’t give in. Be God-fearing and admit you don’t have an answer instead of man-fearing and setting aside your faith and source of all truth.

Putting aside your source of all truth, Christ, even temporarily will make you inconsistent but more importantly hostile to the knowledge of God. Remember, “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction (Prov 1:7).” It’s ok to be confused; it’s not ok to be neutral.


Footnote 1: If you make the mistake of denying Scripture as logical, you validate fideism, a belief that religion is irrational. Don’t fall into this mistake! Christians can admit that Scripture is logical without automatically implying Scripture is not an ultimate authority. So the next time someone asks if Scripture is logical, say yes.

Footnote 2: For a more elaboration see Section 4.5.2 “Man Knows God Analogously to God’s Knowing” Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis by Greg L. Bahnsen pg 257.

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