Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Standard evangelical argument for the inerrancy of Scripture


  • This topic is locked This topic is locked
55 replies to this topic

#1 Rob Bowman

Rob Bowman

    Boldly going where no evangelical apologist has gone before

  • Contributor
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,665 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 01:39 PM

I present here a simple argument for the inerrancy of Scripture. In describing the argument as “simple,” I mean that the basic structure of the argument is simple and the premises of the argument easy enough to understand. Here it is:

Premise 1: Whatever Jesus Christ taught is true.
Premise 2: Jesus Christ taught that Scripture is inerrant.
Conclusion: Therefore, Scripture is inerrant.

The above is a logically deductive argument, more specifically a syllogism. The form of this argument is such that, if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true. I have stated the premises in normal English for ease of reading, but they can be stated more formally to make clear the logical structure of the argument:

Premise 1: Whatever is one of the teachings of Jesus Christ is true.
Premise 2: That Scripture is inerrant is one of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Conclusion: Therefore, that Scripture is inerrant is true.

The above argument follows the simple syllogistic form:

All Xs are B.
A is X.
Therefore, A is B.

Given the validity of the deductive form of the argument, the only way to challenge the argument rationally (reasonably) is to challenge one or both of the premises. Again, if the two premises of the argument are both true, then the conclusion must be true. Conversely, the case for the soundness of this argument rests on the evidence supporting the two premises. This does not mean that no premise may be used for which we cannot provide compelling proof that would satisfy everyone. For example, in a discussion between Catholics and Protestants, there will be no need to defend the premise that Jesus rose from the grave, since both sides accept this claim as fact. In a discussion between Protestants and Buddhists, on the other hand, this claim cannot be assumed as fact but must be defended with evidence. In this context, my argument is aimed at persuading any and all professing Christians that Scripture in inerrant. That includes but is not limited to Mormons. Anyone who professes to believe in Jesus Christ should, if I have presented the argument properly, find this argument persuasive. Still, in this presentation I will focus on presenting the evidence supporting my argument to Mormons.

Although the argument is simple, the defense of the argument need not be simplistic. There is considerable evidence that can and should be considered pertaining to the premises of the argument. In the remainder of this post, I will discuss briefly the basis for accepting the two premises of my argument. I make no apologies for the length of this treatment; it is necessary if the argument is to be understood properly and if the evidence for its premises is to be appreciated.

First Premise: Whatever Jesus Christ Taught Is True

Mormons should have no trouble assenting to the first premise of my argument: whatever Jesus Christ taught is true. Obviously, I would not make this a major premise of an argument intended to persuade atheists or Jews or Buddhists. But the belief of Latter-day Saints that Jesus Christ was Jehovah and that he came into the world as a human being for our salvation obviously demands assent to this first premise. The following statements nicely illustrate the usual if not uniform stance that the LDS Church and its leaders take on this point.

“A dictionary defines a Christian as ‘one who professes belief in Jesus as the Christ or follows the religion based on [the life and teachings of Jesus],’ and ‘one who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.’ Thus two characteristics identify Christians: (1) they profess belief in a Savior, and (2) they act in harmony with the Savior’s teachings. Faithful members of the Church, called Saints or Latter-day Saints, qualify clearly in both characteristics.”--Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Christians in Belief and Action,” Ensign (Conference Report), Nov. 1996, 70.

“For followers of Jesus Christ, nothing has more authority or significance than his very words.”--Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4:742.


I sincerely hope that we do not need to debate this premise. If Jesus Christ taught something, then those of us who call ourselves Christians should accept what he taught as true.

Past experience leads me to anticipate that although Mormons will almost certainly have to agree to this premise, some of them will demand to know on what basis I accept it. That question is really a diversion from the present argument in its present context. Logically, anyone who accepts both premises of the argument must accept the conclusion, regardless of their reasons for accepting those premises. If you accept the first premise for reasons that differ from mine, that may be interesting, but it has nothing to do with the soundness of the present argument.

Still, I don’t mind giving a short answer to the question. I am convinced that everything Jesus Christ taught is true because I am convinced on historical grounds that he resurrected from the grave. Jesus’ resurrection proves that he was sent from God, as he claimed. To anticipate another objection, the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus does not depend on the belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Simply looking at the sources from an historian’s perspective, examining the evidence and seeking to determine the best explanation for that evidence, leads me to conclude that Jesus’ resurrection is historical fact. Evangelical scholars have produced numerous excellent works defending the historicity of the Resurrection in just this way. A good introduction to the subject is Gary Habermas and Michael Licona’s book The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004).

If someone claimed to speak for God and then backed up his claim by rising from the dead, I consider his resurrection ample validation of his claim. Therefore, I accept that everything that Jesus Christ taught is true.

Second Premise: Jesus Christ Taught that Scripture Is Inerrant

I expect that the debate will focus on this second premise. My claim is that Jesus Christ taught that Scripture is inerrant. If this premise is true, then, given that whatever Jesus Christ taught must be true, it would follow that Scripture is indeed inerrant.

A. Defining Terms

Before proceeding further, it is crucial to define terms.

By Scripture I mean any and all texts that are extant, inspired by God, and properly treated as normative, foundational, or authoritative writings for the community of the people of God. Note that my definition stipulates three conditions for a text to be considered Scripture.

(1) It must be extant, that is, we must have access to the text. If a text is not extant, it is not presently Scripture. I leave open the question, then, of what to make of a text that was not extant but then becomes extant. Even supposing this can happen, as long as the text is not extant, it is not Scripture.

(2) It must be inspired by God. Obviously, we could engage in a lengthy discussion about what it means for a text to be inspired by God. I suggest that we simply stipulate that what we mean by this is a text that stands apart from other respected Christian literature as the result of God guiding the authors in some way to produce the text as an expression of divine revelation. This definition is deliberately imprecise because, again, I wish to avoid defining inspiration in a way that would beg the question of scriptural inerrancy.

(3) It must be properly treated as one of the normative writings of the community of the people of God. I could use the one-word term “canonical” to denote this idea, but since some people argue that canonicity is a concept that developed after the New Testament period, we might do well to avoid using that term here. Notice that I am not addressing the question of whether all extant inspired texts are Scripture, that is, whether the class of extant inspired texts is identical to the class of Scripture texts. I think this is so, but I am not arguing the point here. I simply stipulate that the term Scripture refers to extant inspired texts that are normative texts of the community of the people of God.

By inerrant I mean that the text, properly read and understood, expresses no false teachings or doctrines, no conceptual falsehoods. Another way to state this is that inerrancy means that the text is fully truthful in what it affirms. If a text of Scripture affirms or teaches T, and if Scripture is inerrant, then T must be true and cannot be erroneous.

Please note that the concept of inerrancy admits of various legitimate qualifications. Inerrancy does not mean that the text must be absolutely precise in its reporting of numbers or of a person’s speech or in its quotation of other sources. It does not entail that the text provides exhaustive information. It does not require that narrative texts recount events in precise chronological order. It acknowledges that copies of the text may have copying errors of various kinds and that translations of the text may not convey the meaning of the text with perfect accuracy. All of these qualifications are consistent with the claim that the text, properly read and understood, is fully truthful in all that it affirms. For a formal statement on the subject that articulates these qualifications in a helpful way, see the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.

Finally, I should point out that inerrancy of Scripture does not mean that Scripture is complete or that the “canon” of Scripture is closed. I do believe that the canon of Scripture is complete, but this is not part of what I mean by inerrancy. Rather, inerrancy simply means that whatever Scripture exists teaches no false conceptions or doctrines. If new Scripture comes along, it will also be inerrant, if it is true that Scripture is inerrant.

B. Method

Since this premise is the one that Mormons will likely dispute, we must face the question of how one would go about establishing what Jesus taught on the subject of the nature of Scripture. The most important methodological concern is to avoid question-begging approaches. It won’t do for me to argue that Jesus taught scriptural inerrancy merely because Scripture reports Jesus teaching it, since this argument assumes what it seeks to prove. Nor will it do for Mormons to argue that Jesus didn’t teach scriptural inerrancy because their LDS scriptures deny scriptural inerrancy, for a somewhat different reason: such an argument is arguably self-defeating. That is, the argument, “This scripture says that scripture is not inerrant; therefore, scripture is not inerrant,” is self-defeating because it presupposes that we should accept as true whatever scripture says—which is precisely what the argument claims to disprove!

In order to avoid both question-begging and self-defeating arguments, I propose an inductive, historical approach that seeks to determine what Jesus taught about the nature of Scripture from the most historically reliable sources of information about the teachings of Jesus. Notice that I am now considering documents as historical sources, not as scriptural texts (though they may be both). (This is the same method I use to show that Jesus rose from the dead.) In order to make the argument doubly relevant for Mormons, I will also focus on documents that both evangelicals and Mormons revere highly as essential sources of information about the teachings of Jesus. Thus, although my argument is primarily historical, it is also theologically relevant in this context.

Since this argument for my second premise is historical in nature, that means that the argument is inductive in form and its conclusion will be more or less probable. That is, an historical argument does not claim to provide deductively or mathematically certain proof for its conclusion, but rather some measure of factual support for the conclusion. Depending on the strength of the evidence, an historical argument may establish that its conclusion is plausible, likely, probable, or virtually certain. In this case, I will argue that the historical evidence demonstrates that it is somewhere between highly probable and virtually certain that Jesus held to the inerrancy of Scripture. Such a high degree of probability or likelihood is sufficient that the reasonable person should accept this premise based on that evidence.

C. Sources

I propose that the sources on which we should base our historical investigation into Jesus’ teachings about the nature of Scripture are the NT Gospels. I have two reasons for this proposal.

First, historians generally regard the NT Gospels as the most reliable sources of historical information about the activities and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. A few scholars may prefer the Gospel of Thomas or some other source, but one may speak of a broad consensus among historians that the NT Gospels are our best sources of information about the historical Jesus. For example, Bart Ehrman—an agnostic New Testament scholar—has this to say:

“…some of the traditions preserved in the noncanonical Gospels, especially in the Gospels of Thomas and Peter, may be much older than the books themselves, at least as old as some of the traditions in the canonical books. On the whole, though, the noncanonical Gospels are of greater importance for understanding the diversity of Christianity in the second and third and later centuries than for knowing about the writings of the earliest Christians.”—Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 4th ed. (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 221.

Second, Mormons generally profess confidence in and acceptance of the teachings of Jesus in the NT Gospels, as the following statement illustrates:

“The teachings of Jesus in the New Testament comprise the core of LDS doctrine, and their preeminence is evidenced by their frequent appearance in other LDS standard works accepted as scripture and in LDS speaking and writing.”—Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1:108.

In using the NT Gospels as the primary source of information about the teachings of the historical Jesus, I am not assuming their inspiration or inerrancy. My method is to treat these texts as historical sources, which means that their information must be compared with other sources of historical information and critically assessed. This method will pay attention to such issues as the sources that scholars think stand behind the Gospel texts. It will also give conclusions about what Jesus taught more credence if those conclusions are supported from multiple strands of material in the Gospels. If an idea appears in more than one Gospel, in different “layers” or sources of tradition within the Gospels, and in different subgenres or types of speech (e.g., parables, discourses, polemical discussions with religious leaders, etc.), these multiple sources strengthen the argument for concluding that the idea was part of Jesus’ teaching.

D. The Most Common Objection

Before examining the evidence from the NT Gospels, I must address up front a common objection that could easily confuse the issue. In examining what Jesus said in the NT Gospels about Scripture, obviously we will be looking at statements pertaining in that historical context specifically to the OT. We all know that none of the NT books existed when Jesus spoke in Galilee or Jerusalem. (We also know that in the NT Gospels, Jesus never refers to the Book of Mormon or other LDS scriptures.) My claim is that whatever Jesus taught about the nature of Scripture should apply to all Scripture, not just the OT. The alternative is to suppose that OT Scripture is inerrant but other Scripture (say, the NT) is not inerrant. This is a plausible position for an Orthodox Jew, but not for a Mormon or for anyone who professes to be a Christian. I have yet to meet any professing Christian who accepted the OT as inerrant Scripture but regarded the NT as errant. Perhaps such individuals exist, but I don’t think this is a viable position in the context of the dispute between evangelicals and Mormons on the nature of Scripture. Indeed, most Christians of whatever religious perspective who deny scriptural inerrancy usually have the strongest objections or criticisms with regard to the OT—and this includes Mormons. Thus, I think we can plausibly contend that if OT Scripture is inerrant, then a fortiori other Scripture must also be inerrant. But if anyone wishes to argue that as followers of Jesus we should view the OT as inerrant but not the NT, let him make his case!

(continued in next post)
  • 0
Rob Bowman
Director of Research, Institute for Religious Research
"BYU faculty members do not speak for the church."--Michael Purdy, LDS Church spokesman.

#2 Rob Bowman

Rob Bowman

    Boldly going where no evangelical apologist has gone before

  • Contributor
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,665 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 01:43 PM

E. The Evidence for Jesus’ View of the Nature of Scripture

1. Scriptural inerrancy was the prevailing Jewish belief.

The first line of evidence is indirect but still will prove highly relevant: Jesus was (among other things!) a first-century Jewish rabbi, and scriptural inerrancy was the standard, prevailing view among the Jews generally and among rabbis or teachers particularly. My claim here is not that Jesus agreed with all of the particular explanations and speculative statements made by various rabbinical authorities (some of whom, of course, lived after Jesus). Rather, I argue that the conventional Jewish understanding of the nature of Scripture forms the most obvious and important cultural and religious context in which to situate Jesus’ view of the nature of Scripture.

The traditional Jewish view of Scripture at the time of Jesus was that all of it was divinely inspired, with a special status of preeminence reserved for the Torah (the Pentateuch). Jews typically believed that God had dictated the Pentateuch word for word and even letter for letter. The rest of the Scriptures were inspired though not in a dictation sense. The Jewish Encyclopedia explains:

The traditional view is that the Pentateuch in its entirety emanated from God, every verse and letter being consequently inspired; hence the tannaitic statement that “he who says the Torah is not from Heaven is a heretic, a despiser of the Word of God, one who has no share in the world to come” (Sanh. xi. 1; ib. Gemara, 99a) is expressly explained to include any one that says the whole Torah emanates from God with the exception of one verse, which Moses added on his own responsibility, or any one that finds verses like Gen. xxxvi. 12 and 22 too trivial to assign to them a divine origin (Shab. 99a, b).... Every letter of the Torah was fixed by the Masorah and counted by the Soferim (?id. 30a), and on each particle, such as “et,” “we,” “gam,” “af” (“and” or “also”), were based important laws (Pes. 22b; Sanh. 70a); even the Masoretic signs formed the basis for halakic or haggadic interpretations in Akiba’s system.... R. Ishmael said to R. Meďr while the latter was occupied with the professional work of a scribe, “Be on thy guard concerning thy sacred task, for if thou omittest or addest one single letter to the Law thou destroyest the whole world” ('Er. 12b). This whole view of plenary inspiration was in the main (though the passage regarding the counting of the letters by the Soferim, ?id. 30a, includes the Prophets and Hagiographa) strictly held only in regard to the five books of Moses—the Torah.... All the canonical books are “kitbe ?odesh” = holy writings" (Shab. xvi. 1), and were read at divine the service as the divinely inspired Word (“Mi?ra” = “the recited Word of God”). The prophetical and hagiographic books are implicitly included in the Torah (Tan., Re'ch, ed. Buber, p. 1), but the Torah is the standard by which their value or holiness is judged and gauged (see Shab. 13b, 30b; Meg. 7a; Ab. R. N. i.; Tos. Meg. iv. 19; Yer. Meg. iv. 73d).

According to Philo, whose idea of inspiration was more or less influenced by the Platonic conception of the ecstatic or God-intoxicated seer, the prophet spoke and wrote in an ecstatic state (“Quis Rerum Divinarum Heres Sit,” §§ 51-52). Josephus (“Contra Ap.” i., § 7) writes: “The Prophets have written the original and earliest accounts of things as they learned them of God Himself by inspiration.” This view regarding the inspiration of the Bible as a whole is expressed also in II Tim. iii. 16: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (theopneustos, “given by the spirit of God,” the same as the Hebrew “berua? ha-?odesh”).

“Inspiration,” in Jewish Encyclopedia (1906).


As I shall argue, the evidence shows that Jesus’ view of Scripture was in broad agreement with the conventional Jewish view. If there is any significant difference, it is that Jesus did not assign preeminence to the Pentateuch over later portions of Scripture.

2. Scriptural inerrancy is stated or implied in Jesus’ sayings in all four Gospels and in their likely earlier sources, including the hypothetical “Q” source.

My argument here assumes, in a general way, the mainstream view of New Testament scholarship that identifies various sources about Jesus within the Gospels. One of these sources is the material that is common to both Matthew and Luke but is not in Mark. This material, called “Q” in biblical studies, almost certainly dates earlier than any of the Gospels. Biblical scholars for this reason tend to assign a higher degree of likelihood that a particular saying or idea goes back to the historical Jesus if it is in Q. More broadly, if a saying or idea occurs in several independent sources of material, that strengthens the likelihood that it goes back to Jesus.

The Gospels report Jesus frequently using the formula “it is written” to introduce quotations from Scripture. This formula appears in “Q” (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10, cf. Luke 4:4, 8, 10; Matt. 11:10, cf. Luke 7:27), in Mark (9:12, 13), in material common to Matthew and Mark (Matt. 26:24, 31; Mark 14:21, 27), in material in all three Synoptics (Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46), and in material unique to Luke or John (Luke 24:46; John 6:45). A similar formula, “Have you not read…?” appears in all three Synoptic Gospels, again including Q passages (Matt. 12:3, 5; 19:4; 21:16, 42; 22:31; Mark 12:10, 26; Luke 6:3). All of these sayings all treat the Scriptures (our OT) as implicitly authoritative revelation from God.

According to Luke, when Jesus first returned home to Nazareth after beginning his public ministry, Jesus read from Isaiah 61 in the synagogue on the Sabbath and then commented, “Today in your hearing, this Scripture has been fulfilled” (Luke 4:16-21). Everything about this account presupposes that Jesus thought of Scripture in the usual Jewish way. A Jewish man would read from a scroll of Scripture in the synagogue, and then offer a comment on it. The religious and cultural context is that of the traditional Jewish synagogue, in which Scripture was the focus and authority.

Near the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matt. 5:17-18). Luke records a similar saying in a different context: “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in the Law to fall” (Luke 16:17). Jesus’ affirmation of the authority of even the smallest letter or stroke of a letter of the Law (Torah) corresponds remarkably to the rabbinical emphasis, cited above, on preserving every letter and particle of the Hebrew text of the Torah. These sayings in Matthew and Luke are part of the Q material, thus most likely representing some of the earliest traditions of Jesus’ sayings. Mormons ought to be especially inclined to accept these statements, especially Matthew 5:17-18 as representing the teachings of Jesus, since, as the Encyclopedia of Mormonism comments, “The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) is for Latter-day Saints, as well as for all other Christians, a key source for the teachings of Jesus and of Christian behavior ethics” (4:1298). In addition, a statement verbally almost identical to Matthew 5:17-18 appears in the Book of Mormon as part of Jesus’ “Sermon at the Temple” (3 Nephi 12:17-18). I do not see how Mormons could gainsay this saying of Jesus without calling the Book of Mormon into doubt.

In response to the Pharisees’ criticism that his disciples were breaking the Sabbath, Jesus cited the account in Scripture of David and his companions eating the sacred bread and the provision in the Torah for the temple priests to work on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-5; Mark 2:25-26; Luke 6:3-4). In Q, Jesus assumed that key events in the account in the book of Jonah were factual (Matt. 12:39-41; Luke 11:29-30). This is worth noting, since Jonah is one of the most ridiculed books of the Bible today. According to Matthew and Mark, Jesus quoted with approval Isaiah’s hard saying about Israel hearing and not understanding to explain the reason he spoke in parables (Matt. 13:13-15; cf. Mark 4:11-12). These two Gospels also report that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for elevating their traditions over the word of God in Scripture:

“He answered them, ‘And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, “Honor your father and your mother” [Ex. 21:17], and, “Whoever curses father or mother must surely die” [Lev. 20:9]. But you say that whoever tells father or mother, “Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’” then that person need not honor the father. So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God. You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines”’” (Matt. 15:3-9; cf. Mark 7:6-13).

Notice that Jesus treated as “the word of God” not only the Commandment to honor one’s father and mother, but also the legal statute in Leviticus.

John also reports Jesus speaking of Scripture as “the word of God” and doing so in a way that emphasizes its binding authority and truth: “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the Scripture cannot be broken…” (John 10:34-35). Here, John reports Jesus referring to Psalm 82:6 as both “the word of God” and “Scripture,” clearly describing Scripture as the word of God. Furthermore, John reports that Jesus asserted that “the Scripture cannot be broken.” This statement agrees with the saying in Q that not one letter or stroke of the Torah would pass away or fall (Matt. 5:17-18; Luke 16:17). Yet the context and wording of the statement in John 10:35 is clearly independent of the Q saying.

In Matthew and Mark, when the Pharisees pointed out to Jesus that Moses permitted them to give their wives divorce papers (Deut. 24:1-4), Jesus did not question the accuracy of the text of Deuteronomy or express disagreement with Moses. Rather, Jesus corrected the Pharisees’ mistaken inference that Moses was endorsing divorce: “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hardness of heart” (Matt. 19:7-8; cf. Mark 10:4-5). Jesus backed up his position with a quotation from Genesis (Matt. 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9).

In a passage found only in Luke—the famous parable of Lazarus and the rich man—Jesus concluded with the following comment: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31). This statement assumes the traditional Jewish perspective that Moses and the Prophets (a standard Jewish shorthand expression for the Scriptures) were the authoritative word of God. Jesus’ point is that if they won’t listen to what God has already told them about judgment in Scripture, they won’t be persuaded by a resurrected person coming back from the dead to warn them. John reports Jesus making the same point in another context: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” (John 5:46-47). Jesus’ argument here presupposes, of course, that the Jews ought to have believed what Moses wrote.

According to Matthew and Mark, when the Sadducees asked him a trick question about the resurrection, Jesus began his answer with the comment, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt. 22:29; Mark 12:24). Then, according to all three Synoptics, Jesus refuted the Sadducees with a quotation from Exodus (Matt. 22:31-33; Mark 12:26-27; Luke 20:37-38). Matthew and Mark also report that according to Jesus, David was speaking “in the Spirit” when he wrote Psalm 110 (Matt. 22:44; cf. Mark 12:36). In Q, Jesus says that the Pharisees erred because they “neglected the weightier matters of the Law [Torah],” which they should have done “without neglecting” the lighter matters (Matt. 23:23; cf. Luke 11:42-43).

All four Gospels report that Jesus claimed that the events leading to his death were fulfillment of Scripture. In Matthew, when some of Jesus’ disciples tried to resist those who came to Gethsemane to arrest him, he rebuked him: “How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way? . . . But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets” (Matt. 26:54, 56). Similar statements appear in the Synoptic parallels (Mark 14:49; Luke 22:37). Luke records a similar statement in Jesus’ prediction of his impending death: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished” (Luke 18:31). In another context within the Passion context, John reports a similar statement by Jesus that “the Scripture must be fulfilled” by the betrayal of Jesus by one of his disciples (John 13:18).

In review, we see that Jesus’ way of quoting and handling Scripture, and his descriptions of Scripture, are consistent with the prevailing Jewish, rabbinical view of Scripture in his day. This is evident in all four Gospels. It is evident in the Q material, notably in the famous saying that not one letter or stroke of a letter would pass away from the Torah until it was all fulfilled—an idea also paralleled in an independent saying in John. The traditional Jewish high view of Scripture is evident in material unique to Matthew, material unique to Luke, and material unique to John. This view of Scripture is reflected in statements connected to Jesus’ parables, in his controversies with the Pharisees, in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the Passion narrative.

This evidence is equal to or superior to the evidence supporting any conclusion in contemporary critical historical Jesus scholarship. In other words, to doubt that Jesus viewed Scripture as God’s unerring word would entail, from the standpoint of historical scholarship, total skepticism about the teachings of Jesus. The multiple lines of attestation from every Gospel and every major source or tradition underlying the Gospels are a powerful cumulative argument for the conclusion that Jesus did in fact view Scripture in the traditional Jewish, rabbinical way.

Nor is there any counterevidence for this conclusion from the Gospel sources. The one passage sometimes cited against Jesus having a traditional view of Scripture is the passage of six “antitheses” in Matthew 5:21-48. Many people have supposed that in these antitheses Jesus was contrasting his teaching with that of Moses or the Torah. However, as many recent studies have borne out, the antitheses actually contrast Jesus’ teaching with that of the scribes and Pharisees, not with that of Moses. Thus, Jesus specifically denies that he is advocating breaking any of the commandments of the Torah, and tells his disciples that their righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, not that of the Mosaic Law (Matt. 5:19-20). The whole point of Jesus’ saying about not abolishing the Torah or the Prophets (Matt. 5:17-18) is to safeguard against the misunderstanding that he was criticizing the Torah. If Matthew 5:21-48 are read in the light of the programmatic statements in 5:17-20, as they surely must be, then we will not misunderstand Jesus to be disagreeing with Moses.

Given the overwhelming evidence from our best sources that Jesus viewed Scripture as inerrant, and a complete lack of evidence to the contrary, the reasonable conclusion is that Jesus did in fact view Scripture as inerrant. Thus, I conclude that the evidence demonstrates the second premise of my argument to be almost certainly true.

Conclusion

I have explained the logic of the argument and shown that anyone who professes to be a Christian ought to assent to both premises of the argument. This means that the argument is sound and the conclusion should be accepted.

The basic argument I have presented here is not new. What I have done that differs somewhat from other evangelical presentations of the argument is to offer a more critically aware defense of the second premise. The following are excellent examples of evangelical presentations of the argument:

Habermas, Gary R. “Jesus and the Inspiration of Scripture.” Areopagus Journal, Jan. 2002.

Harris, R. Laird Harris. “The Basis for Our Belief in Inerrancy.” In Evangelicals and Inerrancy, ed. Ronald Youngblood, 105-10. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984.

Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible, 45-71. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969.

Wenham, John W. Christ and the Bible. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1972.

Wenham, John W. “Christ’s View of Scripture.” In Inerrancy, ed. Norman L. Geisler, 3-36. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979.
  • 0
Rob Bowman
Director of Research, Institute for Religious Research
"BYU faculty members do not speak for the church."--Michael Purdy, LDS Church spokesman.

#3 BCSpace

BCSpace

    Right Divider of Systematic LDS Theology

  • Contributor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 18,359 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 01:49 PM

Given the validity of the deductive form of the argument, the only way to challenge the argument rationally (reasonably) is to challenge one or both of the premises.


Not difficult. Jesus never taught the kind of scriptural inerrancy required for the ev pov.
  • 0

BYU Combined Choirs perform "Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing"
LDS doctrine defined. The first bullet point is the key.
Capitalism from the Lord: Law of Consecration.
Evolution Primer Evolution does not conflict with LDS doctrine in any way.

Your Best Resource On Joseph Smith's Polygamy


#4 bluebell

bluebell

    Declares a Day of Rest

  • Contributor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 17,716 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 01:53 PM

I'm on my way to class, so i didn't read these posts as closely as i should, but it seems to me that the biggest problem so far is the idea that for Jews of Jesus's day, scriptures were inerrant.

As a history study, who has studied, very limitedly, the development of Hebrew scriptures, there was little consensus at the time of Jesus's ministry of what exact constituted scripture. I know all groups were in agreement on certain issues but if i'm remembering correctly (i don't have time right now to go back and look so i may not be) they were divided on others. Any division among the Jewish factions on what was or wasn't scripture would invalidate your premise.

Also, the different factions couldn't even agree on the idea of an afterlife or the realities of a messiah, so to argue that the prevailing Jewish beliefs prove something about Jesus's true teachings seems odd.
  • 0
"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

UMW always and forever.

#5 Ariarates

Ariarates

    Separates Water & Dry Land

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1,184 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 01:56 PM

Your syllogisms look rather circular to me because Jesus's teachings are contained in the very scriptures whose inerrancy you base on Jesus's teachings which are contained in the scriptures whose inerrancy you base on Jesus's teachings which are... well, you get the picture.

BTW, I admit I didn't read the entire thing so maybe you addressed this, in which case don't mind me.
  • 0
Blessed are the cheesemakers...

#6 Woody

Woody

    Member: Moves Upon the Waters

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 235 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 01:57 PM

Premise 2: Jesus Christ taught that Scripture is inerrant.

Looks to me like you've one of those self-eating watermelons here. The only way to know what Jesus taught is thru scripture, right? (Whatever's written down of his teachings is scripture...) If those writings are correct then you know what he taught. If they are not correct you don't. If you don't know what he taught then you don't know he taught "Scripture is inerrant".

Not that we even have any teaching by Him written down that scripture is inerrant, but why bother with a triviality when you've got a molehill?

Wood
  • 0

#7 mfbukowski

mfbukowski

    Wittgensteinian Pot-Stirrer

  • Contributor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 21,730 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 02:02 PM

Premise 1: Whatever Jesus Christ taught is true.

One of the central problems here upon which you spent no time at all is this premise.

What Jesus taught is debatable. Our interpretation of the meaning of ancient languages and the ancient contexts as well as the "correct" transmission of "what he taught" should be a central concern for you, but it seems it is not.
  • 0
"I see Religion as creating a language to speak of the divine and sacred. Since I see creating this language as a creative act, ... creating a certain view of heaven and earth, a living 'image' of God and Man and their story, past, present and future." - Calmoriah

My Blog: Theomorphic Man http://theomorphicman.blogspot.com/

#8 Woody

Woody

    Member: Moves Upon the Waters

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 235 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 02:04 PM

Gee, Ariarates, same two points (circular logic, verbosity) posted within two minutes of each other by two people with about the same number of posts each.

This would really be a strange day if it turns out we actually are twins.

Wood

Edited by Woody, 09 March 2010 - 02:05 PM.

  • 0

#9 Pa Pa

Pa Pa

    Shhh...Don't tell the anti-Mormons

  • Limited
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 14,617 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 02:05 PM

I present here a simple argument for the inerrancy of Scripture. In describing the argument as “simple,” I mean that the basic structure of the argument is simple and the premises of the argument easy enough to understand. Here it is:

Premise 1: Whatever Jesus Christ taught is true.
Premise 2: Jesus Christ taught that Scripture is inerrant.
Conclusion: Therefore, Scripture is inerrant.


Assuming that they are in the same condition as in Christ's day.
  • 0
"So now it's just another show, leave them laughing when you go. And if you care don't let them know. Don't give yourself away" Joni Mitchell
There is no such thing as "Christian Tolerance"! Theo 1689 (CARMite)
See my Poetry Blog

#10 mfbukowski

mfbukowski

    Wittgensteinian Pot-Stirrer

  • Contributor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 21,730 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 02:22 PM

Just more question-begging definitions.

This is all just a waste of time.

You define terms in such a way as to get the proper conclusion.

And to base your belief in the Bible because of a historical resurrection? Pretty shaky ground there!

Of course the resurrection was an historical event, but it cannot be proven historically.

Look at the nightly news or the JFK assassination! We don't know what "really happened" in these cases, but somehow we are supposed to be able to prove a supernatural event which occurred two thousand years ago?? Not possible!
  • 0
"I see Religion as creating a language to speak of the divine and sacred. Since I see creating this language as a creative act, ... creating a certain view of heaven and earth, a living 'image' of God and Man and their story, past, present and future." - Calmoriah

My Blog: Theomorphic Man http://theomorphicman.blogspot.com/

#11 Woody

Woody

    Member: Moves Upon the Waters

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 235 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 02:23 PM

(We also know that in the NT Gospels, Jesus never refers to the Book of Mormon or other LDS scriptures.)

It really does seem strange that Jesus wouldn't know the whole history of the earth (John saw it in vision...) Or that Jesus, knowing it too, wouldn't mention one of the most salient events (since John mentioned it.) So we comb thru carefully and aha! we find this:

(New Testament | Matthew 13:10 - 32)
10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
...
31 ¶ Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Now what do we know of that has generated a lot of interest, is full of truth, has affected history greatly and is likely to affect it further, has caused a hierarchical organization to come into existence and grow until it has millions of members, and angels even visit; yet it was a small thing, buried in the earth?

Wood
  • 0

#12 Benjamin McGuire

Benjamin McGuire

    Separates Water & Dry Land

  • Contributor
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2,435 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 02:35 PM

Since Jesus didn't actually write the scriptures Rob, how do you propose to prove that the scriptures are in every way equivalent to what Jesus taught?

Ben M
  • 0
... suppose, contrary to legend, that Oedipus, for some dark oedipal reason, was hurrying along the road intent on killing his father, and, finding a surly old man blocking his way, killed him so he could (as he thought) get on with the main job. Then not only did Oedipus want to kill his father, and actually kill him, but his desire caused him to kill his father. Yet we could not say that in killing the old man he intentionally killed his father, nor that his reason in killing the old man was to kill his father. (Davidson)

#13 Glenn101

Glenn101

    Just Basic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,549 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 02:40 PM

I present here a simple argument for the inerrancy of Scripture. In describing the argument as “simple,” I mean that the basic structure of the argument is simple and the premises of the argument easy enough to understand. Here it is:

Premise 1: Whatever Jesus Christ taught is true.
Premise 2: Jesus Christ taught that Scripture is inerrant.
Conclusion: Therefore, Scripture is inerrant.


The problem that one has is who determines what is scripture and what has happened to that scripture since it was recorded. If you were to be granted your first two arguments you would still be constrained to prove that the texts that were added to the canon after Jesus spoke are all scripture and that even some of those that were extant during the time of Jesus were inspired scripture. The weight of history and the decisions of uninspired men are not valid arguments that any text should be included or excluded from the canon as scripture.
Also, you must be able to prove that those texts have been transmitted unaltered over the course of time, which fact you are unable to do.

Glenn
  • 0

#14 Zakuska

Zakuska

    Creates Worlds Without Number

  • Limited
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 23,607 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 02:54 PM

1. Scriptural inerrancy was the prevailing Jewish belief.

<snip>

As I shall argue, the evidence shows that Jesus’ view of Scripture was in broad agreement with the conventional Jewish view. If there is any significant difference, it is that Jesus did not assign preeminence to the Pentateuch over later portions of Scripture.


Theres a huge problem with this one?

Matt 16
6 ¶ Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
12
Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Chirst most definatley was not in agreement with the broad conventional Jewish view on many things. Why would that some how be any different on how he treated their scriptutres?

The Problem is... he claimed to be above the scriptures. Which he was of Course.

John 5: 39
39 ¶ Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.



The only reason Christ, or Even Paul (in the case of the Pagan Poets) refered to Scripture and said "thus it is written" is because the people he was talking to held the View that scripture was all Authoritative. Its the only way they would listen to him. And even then they missed the boat.

Matt 7
24 ¶ Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

The Scribes taught the scriptures. Christ taught by the Living breathing word in his heart, the word of God.

The scribes tuaght by the letter of the laws, the ink on the Page. Christ and his Aposltes taught in spirit and in Truth.

2 Cor. 3: 3
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
...
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Rom. 7: 6
6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.


Edited by Zakuska, 09 March 2010 - 04:01 PM.

  • 0
"Works are necessary for salvation but they do not cause salvation; for faith alone gives life.” -- Martin Luther
"Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire!" -- Martin Luther

#15 maklelan

maklelan

    Places Sun, Moon & Stars In The Sky

  • Contributor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,086 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 03:12 PM

I present here a simple argument for the inerrancy of Scripture. In describing the argument as “simple,” I mean that the basic structure of the argument is simple and the premises of the argument easy enough to understand. Here it is:

Premise 1: Whatever Jesus Christ taught is true.
Premise 2: Jesus Christ taught that Scripture is inerrant.
Conclusion: Therefore, Scripture is inerrant.


My first concern is the assumption inherent in premise 1 that the teachings of Jesus are verbatim represented in the NT. This begs the question of inerrancy in the scriptures, since it requires that there be no misrepresentation or corruption.

My second concern is that I don't find the explicit espousal of inerrancy in Jesus' teachings. I find a requirement that the texts be adhered to strictly, e.g., "not broken," but nothing to indicate Jesus felt every word and letter was the very voice of God and could not be wrong. The clearest evidence that such was not the case is his variegated use of MT, LXX, and even targumic readings of scriptures that he cites. For example, in Mark 4:26-29 Jesus cites Joel 3:13, and the version he cites agrees with a proto-Masoretic text-type against the Septuagint. In Matt 21:16 Jesus quotes Psalm 8:2 in a form that agrees with LXX against MT. In Matt 11:5 (Luke 7:22) Jesus cites Isaiah 35, 26, and 61, and the readings agree with LXX against MT in many places (but not all). In Mark 4:12 Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:9-10, but the conclusion, "and it be forgiven them" comes from the Targum, not from MT or LXX. The Targums are paraphrastic Aramaic translations. If Jesus believed in an inerrant Bible it's not the Bible you read today. In fact, his Bible doesn't exist anywhere anymore. Is your Bible wrong, was his Bible wrong, or does biblical inerrancy not mean every letter and every word, but simply the ideas?

I'll respond to your next post in another post.
  • 0

#16 Ariarates

Ariarates

    Separates Water & Dry Land

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1,184 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 03:21 PM

Gee, Ariarates, same two points (circular logic, verbosity) posted within two minutes of each other by two people with about the same number of posts each.

This would really be a strange day if it turns out we actually are twins.

Wood

Yeah, I've always felt I was switched at birth... BTW, I look like Schwarzenegger used to. Are you short and fat like Danny DeVito?

Still, I wonder why people still address the rest of the OP if the whole thing is just circular logic. I guess many people like the circus.

Edited by Ariarates, 09 March 2010 - 03:22 PM.

  • 0
Blessed are the cheesemakers...

#17 maklelan

maklelan

    Places Sun, Moon & Stars In The Sky

  • Contributor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,086 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 04:12 PM

E. The Evidence for Jesus’ View of the Nature of Scripture

1. Scriptural inerrancy was the prevailing Jewish belief.


During Jesus' day? I disagree. I'm interested to see what you have to say, though.

The first line of evidence is indirect but still will prove highly relevant: Jesus was (among other things!) a first-century Jewish rabbi,


Absolutely not. Rabbinic Judaism developed well after Jesus' death. There were no such things as rabbis in the first century CE. Later Judaism retrojected the title into their earlier history, but rabbinic Judaism developed from Pharisaic Judaism beginning after the destruction of the temple. People didn't carry the title "Rabbi" until well after.

Now, I do agree that Jesus is represented as appealing to traditional interpretations of the scriptures that would later be crystallized in rabbinic texts (like his targumic readings and his interpretation of Ps 82:6), but at that time they were just traditional, not rabbinic.

and scriptural inerrancy was the standard, prevailing view among the Jews generally and among rabbis or teachers particularly. My claim here is not that Jesus agreed with all of the particular explanations and speculative statements made by various rabbinical authorities (some of whom, of course, lived after Jesus). Rather, I argue that the conventional Jewish understanding of the nature of Scripture forms the most obvious and important cultural and religious context in which to situate Jesus’ view of the nature of Scripture.

The traditional Jewish view of Scripture at the time of Jesus was that all of it was divinely inspired, with a special status of preeminence reserved for the Torah (the Pentateuch). Jews typically believed that God had dictated the Pentateuch word for word and even letter for letter.


This reverence for the text did not develop until well after the first century. See my discussion here.

The rest of the Scriptures were inspired though not in a dictation sense. The Jewish Encyclopedia explains:


That discussion from over 100 years ago appeals to a conservative and traditional (and synchronic) interpretation of rabbinic literature. Aqiva's appeals to relevance for every letter and the flourishes on the tips of every letter derive from rabbinic traditions that developed well after Aqiva's lifetime. The existence of the tiqqune sopherim and the ketiv/qere incontrovertibly prove that the rabbis recognized errors in the scriptures, and that tradition comes centuries after Christ's lifetime.

As I shall argue, the evidence shows that Jesus’ view of Scripture was in broad agreement with the conventional Jewish view. If there is any significant difference, it is that Jesus did not assign preeminence to the Pentateuch over later portions of Scripture.

2. Scriptural inerrancy is stated or implied in Jesus’ sayings in all four Gospels and in their likely earlier sources, including the hypothetical “Q” source.

My argument here assumes, in a general way, the mainstream view of New Testament scholarship that identifies various sources about Jesus within the Gospels. One of these sources is the material that is common to both Matthew and Luke but is not in Mark. This material, called “Q” in biblical studies, almost certainly dates earlier than any of the Gospels. Biblical scholars for this reason tend to assign a higher degree of likelihood that a particular saying or idea goes back to the historical Jesus if it is in Q.


I disagree. Scholarship treats Q as a literary source just like any other literary source. There are only a few criteria that actually compel scholars to assign a high degree of probability that it originates with an historical Jesus, and presence in Q is not one of them. One of the most prominent of those criteria is the lectio difficilior principle from an ideological point of view. Those statements that conflict with Christian orthodoxy or with early Christian writings are those most likely to come from an historical Jesus. This is because most Christian ideologies developed well after Christ's life, and sayings that conflicted with them would only be preserved if they were more archaic.

The scholarly infatuation with Q is tapering off, as well.

More broadly, if a saying or idea occurs in several independent sources of material, that strengthens the likelihood that it goes back to Jesus.


But the entire theory of Q is that these sources are not independent, but genetically related to each other.

The Gospels report Jesus frequently using the formula “it is written” to introduce quotations from Scripture. This formula appears in “Q” (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10, cf. Luke 4:4, 8, 10; Matt. 11:10, cf. Luke 7:27), in Mark (9:12, 13), in material common to Matthew and Mark (Matt. 26:24, 31; Mark 14:21, 27), in material in all three Synoptics (Matt. 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46), and in material unique to Luke or John (Luke 24:46; John 6:45). A similar formula, “Have you not read…?” appears in all three Synoptic Gospels, again including Q passages (Matt. 12:3, 5; 19:4; 21:16, 42; 22:31; Mark 12:10, 26; Luke 6:3). All of these sayings all treat the Scriptures (our OT) as implicitly authoritative revelation from God.


I don't believe "it is written" necessarily appeals to inerrancy.

According to Luke, when Jesus first returned home to Nazareth after beginning his public ministry, Jesus read from Isaiah 61 in the synagogue on the Sabbath and then commented, “Today in your hearing, this Scripture has been fulfilled” (Luke 4:16-21). Everything about this account presupposes that Jesus thought of Scripture in the usual Jewish way. A Jewish man would read from a scroll of Scripture in the synagogue, and then offer a comment on it. The religious and cultural context is that of the traditional Jewish synagogue, in which Scripture was the focus and authority.


Actually the person would not comment on it, but interpret it.

Near the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matt. 5:17-18). Luke records a similar saying in a different context: “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in the Law to fall” (Luke 16:17). Jesus’ affirmation of the authority of even the smallest letter or stroke of a letter of the Law (Torah) corresponds remarkably to the rabbinical emphasis, cited above, on preserving every letter and particle of the Hebrew text of the Torah.


Actually they do not correspond, but attest to a diachronic relationship. The idea that the Law was authoritative and would be fulfilled in every sense developed into the idea that the Law was inviolable and inerrant. The priority of the letter of the law actually did not begin until after the destruction of the temple. Without sacrifice as a tangible expression of faith the law filled in. Jewish scholars developed methodologies and rules of interpretation and they set out to exalt the law to the soteriological position once held by the temple.

These sayings in Matthew and Luke are part of the Q material, thus most likely representing some of the earliest traditions of Jesus’ sayings. Mormons ought to be especially inclined to accept these statements, especially Matthew 5:17-18 as representing the teachings of Jesus, since, as the Encyclopedia of Mormonism comments, “The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) is for Latter-day Saints, as well as for all other Christians, a key source for the teachings of Jesus and of Christian behavior ethics” (4:1298). In addition, a statement verbally almost identical to Matthew 5:17-18 appears in the Book of Mormon as part of Jesus’ “Sermon at the Temple” (3 Nephi 12:17-18). I do not see how Mormons could gainsay this saying of Jesus without calling the Book of Mormon into doubt.


It doesn't necessarily call the Book of Mormon into doubt, just the idea of inerrancy.

In response to the Pharisees’ criticism that his disciples were breaking the Sabbath, Jesus cited the account in Scripture of David and his companions eating the sacred bread and the provision in the Torah for the temple priests to work on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-5; Mark 2:25-26; Luke 6:3-4). In Q, Jesus assumed that key events in the account in the book of Jonah were factual (Matt. 12:39-41; Luke 11:29-30). This is worth noting, since Jonah is one of the most ridiculed books of the Bible today. According to Matthew and Mark, Jesus quoted with approval Isaiah’s hard saying about Israel hearing and not understanding to explain the reason he spoke in parables (Matt. 13:13-15; cf. Mark 4:11-12). These two Gospels also report that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for elevating their traditions over the word of God in Scripture:

“He answered them, ‘And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, “Honor your father and your mother” [Ex. 21:17], and, “Whoever curses father or mother must surely die” [Lev. 20:9]. But you say that whoever tells father or mother, “Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’” then that person need not honor the father. So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God. You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines”’” (Matt. 15:3-9; cf. Mark 7:6-13).

Notice that Jesus treated as “the word of God” not only the Commandment to honor one’s father and mother, but also the legal statute in Leviticus.

John also reports Jesus speaking of Scripture as “the word of God” and doing so in a way that emphasizes its binding authority and truth: “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the Scripture cannot be broken…” (John 10:34-35). Here, John reports Jesus referring to Psalm 82:6 as both “the word of God” and “Scripture,” clearly describing Scripture as the word of God.


But this does not mean inerrancy, it just means it's the word of God.

Furthermore, John reports that Jesus asserted that “the Scripture cannot be broken.” This statement agrees with the saying in Q that not one letter or stroke of the Torah would pass away or fall (Matt. 5:17-18; Luke 16:17). Yet the context and wording of the statement in John 10:35 is clearly independent of the Q saying.


But asserting the authority of the scriptures is a far cry from asserting they are absolutely without error or imperfection. Again, see the variegated textual traditions cited by Jesus.
  • 0

#18 maklelan

maklelan

    Places Sun, Moon & Stars In The Sky

  • Contributor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,086 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 04:13 PM

In Matthew and Mark, when the Pharisees pointed out to Jesus that Moses permitted them to give their wives divorce papers (Deut. 24:1-4), Jesus did not question the accuracy of the text of Deuteronomy or express disagreement with Moses. Rather, Jesus corrected the Pharisees’ mistaken inference that Moses was endorsing divorce: “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hardness of heart” (Matt. 19:7-8; cf. Mark 10:4-5). Jesus backed up his position with a quotation from Genesis (Matt. 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9).


This is another proto-rabbinic interpretation meant to align contemporary ideologies with clearly conflicting scriptural ideals.

In a passage found only in Luke—the famous parable of Lazarus and the rich man—Jesus concluded with the following comment: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31). This statement assumes the traditional Jewish perspective that Moses and the Prophets (a standard Jewish shorthand expression for the Scriptures) were the authoritative word of God. Jesus’ point is that if they won’t listen to what God has already told them about judgment in Scripture, they won’t be persuaded by a resurrected person coming back from the dead to warn them. John reports Jesus making the same point in another context: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” (John 5:46-47). Jesus’ argument here presupposes, of course, that the Jews ought to have believed what Moses wrote.


But this is still a far cry from an appeal to inerrancy. Mormons don't believe in inerrancy but they still appeal to the authority of scripture. Shoot, they appeal to the authority of General Conference talks.

According to Matthew and Mark, when the Sadducees asked him a trick question about the resurrection, Jesus began his answer with the comment, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt. 22:29; Mark 12:24). Then, according to all three Synoptics, Jesus refuted the Sadducees with a quotation from Exodus (Matt. 22:31-33; Mark 12:26-27; Luke 20:37-38). Matthew and Mark also report that according to Jesus, David was speaking “in the Spirit” when he wrote Psalm 110 (Matt. 22:44; cf. Mark 12:36). In Q, Jesus says that the Pharisees erred because they “neglected the weightier matters of the Law [Torah],” which they should have done “without neglecting” the lighter matters (Matt. 23:23; cf. Luke 11:42-43).

All four Gospels report that Jesus claimed that the events leading to his death were fulfillment of Scripture. In Matthew, when some of Jesus’ disciples tried to resist those who came to Gethsemane to arrest him, he rebuked him: “How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way? . . . But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets” (Matt. 26:54, 56). Similar statements appear in the Synoptic parallels (Mark 14:49; Luke 22:37). Luke records a similar statement in Jesus’ prediction of his impending death: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished” (Luke 18:31). In another context within the Passion context, John reports a similar statement by Jesus that “the Scripture must be fulfilled” by the betrayal of Jesus by one of his disciples (John 13:18).

In review, we see that Jesus’ way of quoting and handling Scripture, and his descriptions of Scripture, are consistent with the prevailing Jewish, rabbinical view of Scripture in his day.


They can't be. There was no rabbinical anything in his day. What you're showing is that the New Testament can be aligned with late rabbinic ideologies.

This is evident in all four Gospels.


But all four gospels also conflict with each other in a number of ways, as does the Hebrew Bible with itself and with the New Testament.

It is evident in the Q material, notably in the famous saying that not one letter or stroke of a letter would pass away from the Torah until it was all fulfilled—an idea also paralleled in an independent saying in John. The traditional Jewish high view of Scripture is evident in material unique to Matthew, material unique to Luke, and material unique to John. This view of Scripture is reflected in statements connected to Jesus’ parables, in his controversies with the Pharisees, in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the Passion narrative.

This evidence is equal to or superior to the evidence supporting any conclusion in contemporary critical historical Jesus scholarship. In other words, to doubt that Jesus viewed Scripture as God’s unerring word would entail, from the standpoint of historical scholarship, total skepticism about the teachings of Jesus.


I disagree. What it entails is allowing the texts to speak for themselves rather than appeal to anachronistic frameworks within which to interpret the texts.

The multiple lines of attestation from every Gospel and every major source or tradition underlying the Gospels are a powerful cumulative argument for the conclusion that Jesus did in fact view Scripture in the traditional Jewish, rabbinical way.

Nor is there any counterevidence for this conclusion from the Gospel sources. The one passage sometimes cited against Jesus having a traditional view of Scripture is the passage of six “antitheses” in Matthew 5:21-48. Many people have supposed that in these antitheses Jesus was contrasting his teaching with that of Moses or the Torah. However, as many recent studies have borne out, the antitheses actually contrast Jesus’ teaching with that of the scribes and Pharisees, not with that of Moses.


Can you cite these studies, please?

Thus, Jesus specifically denies that he is advocating breaking any of the commandments of the Torah, and tells his disciples that their righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, not that of the Mosaic Law (Matt. 5:19-20). The whole point of Jesus’ saying about not abolishing the Torah or the Prophets (Matt. 5:17-18) is to safeguard against the misunderstanding that he was criticizing the Torah. If Matthew 5:21-48 are read in the light of the programmatic statements in 5:17-20, as they surely must be, then we will not misunderstand Jesus to be disagreeing with Moses.


But do you really believe that he was being serious with his higher law? Certainly you don't believe that Christians are expected to cut off hands and cut out eyes and be able to completely suppress even the occurrence of a sexual inkling. This is rhetoric, not an actual law.

Given the overwhelming evidence from our best sources that Jesus viewed Scripture as inerrant, and a complete lack of evidence to the contrary, the reasonable conclusion is that Jesus did in fact view Scripture as inerrant. Thus, I conclude that the evidence demonstrates the second premise of my argument to be almost certainly true.


I disagree, and I think I've shown that even if we suppose Jesus was advocating inerrancy, he most certainly wasn't practicing it. Undermining all that, however, is the presupposition of inerrancy that must form the foundation of premise 1 for it to be legitimate.

Conclusion

I have explained the logic of the argument and shown that anyone who professes to be a Christian ought to assent to both premises of the argument. This means that the argument is sound and the conclusion should be accepted.


A bit of a No True Scotsman fallacy.

The basic argument I have presented here is not new. What I have done that differs somewhat from other evangelical presentations of the argument is to offer a more critically aware defense of the second premise. The following are excellent examples of evangelical presentations of the argument:

Habermas, Gary R. “Jesus and the Inspiration of Scripture.” Areopagus Journal, Jan. 2002.

Harris, R. Laird Harris. “The Basis for Our Belief in Inerrancy.” In Evangelicals and Inerrancy, ed. Ronald Youngblood, 105-10. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984.

Harris, R. Laird. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible, 45-71. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969.

Wenham, John W. Christ and the Bible. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1972.

Wenham, John W. “Christ’s View of Scripture.” In Inerrancy, ed. Norman L. Geisler, 3-36. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979.


I think your definition of inerrancy would be helpful before this discussion develops too much further.

Edited by maklelan, 09 March 2010 - 04:14 PM.

  • 0

#19 SilverKnight

SilverKnight

    Heidnischer Krieger

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,857 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 05:02 PM

I present here a simple argument for the inerrancy of Scripture. In describing the argument as “simple,” I mean that the basic structure of the argument is simple and the premises of the argument easy enough to understand. Here it is:

Premise 1: Whatever Jesus Christ taught is true.
Premise 2: Jesus Christ taught that Scripture is inerrant.
Conclusion: Therefore, Scripture is inerrant.

The above is a logically deductive argument, more specifically a syllogism. The form of this argument is such that, if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true. I have stated the premises in normal English for ease of reading, but they can be stated more formally to make clear the logical structure of the argument:




Whatever Muhammad taught is true.
Muhammad taught Islam is the only path to God.
Therefore, Islam is the path to God.


When you consider the reasons why you reject the above statement, you will understand why I reject yours.
  • 0
No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take.
The gray rain curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass. And then you see it.
White shores. And beyond, a far green country, under a swift sunrise.

#20 Vance

Vance

    Chief Pharisee and Vindictive Goat

  • Contributor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,817 posts

Posted 09 March 2010 - 05:03 PM

Jesus said, (Luke 11:52) "Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered".

What is the "key of knowledge" that Jesus is talking about here? Why would it not be the truth found in the scriptures?
  • 0
"Remember kids! In order to maintain an untenable position, you have to be actively ignorant." Stephen Colbert

"Because some people need to be dealt with reality, they have been coddled their whole lives, and when they're morons I have the guts and the compassion to let them know that they're morons." Mark Levin.

"Vance is truly the devil's right hand man and his multiplicity of sins testifies to that." & "Your heart is truly filled with evil, a true thistle through and through." Echo of the "truth in love ministry".


1 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users