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Standard evangelical argument for the inerrancy of Scripture

Rob Bowman

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?


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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.

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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.


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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!

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(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.


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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.


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.

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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
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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?

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When Jesus taught this...

John 6

47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

48 I am that bread of life.

49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?

62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.


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The whole proposition is disingenuous, because Rob isn't really trying to prove that "Scripture" is "inerrant," he is trying to prove that the Bible is inerrant as taught by evangelical Christians.

Premise 1: Whatever Jesus Christ taught is true.

Premise 2: Jesus Christ taught that Scripture is inerrant.

Conclusion: Therefore, Scripture is inerrant.

Besides the obvious and already pointed out circular reasoning, Rob also commits the fallacy of affirming the consequent. http://www.fallacyfi...g/afthecon.html

And what an appropriate example is found on that site:

If God reveals himself in the Bible, he will preserve a record of that revelation.

God has preserved a record of his revelation.

God has revealed himself in the Bible.

Therefore, the second premise affirms the consequent of the first premise, and the conclusion is the antecedent of the first premise, which means that the argument commits the fallacy of affirming the consequent.

And Rob also commits the fallacy of the undistributed middle.

The 29 students in Mr Strang's classroom gravely considered the two sentences scrawled across the freshly washed blackboard: All A's are C's.

All B's are C's.

"The apparent conclusion

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I've got a lot going on tonight, but I have time to reply to a few points in your posts. You wrote:

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.

I don't think you understand the first premise at all. The first premise does not mean "Whatever the Gospels report Jesus saying is true." Rather, the first premise means, "Whatever the historical Jesus actually taught is true." The first premise neither asserts nor implies nor presupposes anything whatsoever about the reliability of any source for our knowledge of what Jesus taught. It simply asserts that if Jesus taught T, then T is true.

With this correction of your misunderstanding in mind, would you not agree with my first premise?

You wrote:

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.

Yet Matthew 5:17-18 and Luke 16:17 use language very close to what you are saying you can find "nothing to indicate" Jesus said. I'll have more to say about this later when I have more time.

You wrote:

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.

I specifically addressed this point in my opening post. Inerrancy does not require Scriptural figures or writers to use exact verbatim quotations, including verbatim quotations of earlier Scriptural texts.

I have written:

"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."

You replied:

A bit of a No True Scotsman fallacy.

Naw. I did not say that someone who doesn't assent to inerrancy is not a Christian. I said that someone who professes to be a Christian ought to assent to the two premises and so ought to conclude that inerrancy is true. I realize there are Christians who don't agree.

You wrote:

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

I gave a definition of inerrancy, noted some specific and relevant qualifications, and cited a reference for a more thorough discussion of the definition of inerrancy. For your convenience, I will quote the paragraphs you missed:

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

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Very interesting discussion.

The claim of scriptural inerrancy is extraordinary, since it significantly contradicts the reality of the rest of written language. As such, proof of scriptural inerrancy should be clear, and incontrovertible.

I haven't seen anyone yet make a good case for inerrancy; there are simply far too many places to poke holes in it, as mak has demonstrated.

Rob's premise leaves quite a number of assumptions unanswered, something that an airtight premise wouldn't do. For instance, the connection was not well made as to why Jewish emphasis on the authority of the scribes and their interpretations of scripture should translate readily into an assumption that scripture is therefore inerrant. It also fails to address the gaping hole of textual originality, something that EV Christianity only seems to be able to address by using vague generalizations about God somehow preserving the text because it is His Word.

My premise is that the faith of Christians who reject scriptural inerrancy will, in the long run, be far greater and lasting than those who base their belief in something that is so easily disproven, such as inerrancy. Bart Ehrman is an interesting study of that particular situation.

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