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September 17, 2012

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I agree that it is not necessary to prove inerrancy in order to make the case that Christianity is true. I've argued as much myself. But at the same time, I do think it's possible to make an argument against Christianity from errors in the Bible if they can be found. The argument would look something like this:

1. If Christianity is true, then Jesus is the messiah and a prophet sent by God.

2. If Jesus is the messiah and a prophet sent by God, then whatever he believed about the Old Testament was true.

3. Jesus believed the Old Testament was inerrant.

4. Therefore, if Christianity is true, then the Old Testament is inerrant.

At this point, a person need only find an error in the Bible to complete the argument.

5. The Old Testament is not inerrant.

6. Therefore, Christianity is not true.

If you don't take the time to solve whatever Biblical problem has been pointed out, the only way out of this argument is either to deny that Jesus believed the Old Testament was inerrant or to deny that everything Jesus believed about the Old Testament is true just because he's the messiah and a prophet sent by God.

I think this is a moot point. It can be proven that the Bible is inerrant. It's a waste of time to attack the Bible; it has stood each and every test over 2 millenia. So all that remains is to either believe the Bible or not.

  1. The Bible is inerrant and true
  2. Therefore, we can trust that what the Bible says is inerrant and true
  3. Therefore, what the Bible says about Christianity is true
  4. Thus, Christianity is true

Now, believe or don't believe.

Well, the Apostle Peter had a high enough regard for the word of God that he opined:

"2Pe 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
2Pe 1:17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased"—
2Pe 1:18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
2Pe 1:19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.
2Pe 1:20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation,
2Pe 1:21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."
An eyewitness to Jesus' transfiguration with the Father's approving voice from heaven saying that the prophetic word is more sure than his eyewitness testimony. No fact is brute enough to speak without interpretation.

Thus, the Westminster Divines say in Chapter 1 paragraph V:

"V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts."

In a way, f's argument above, an unabashed biblicism, is not too far fetched.

""Not one jot or tittle will pass from this book until all is fulfilled." It is an eternal book. It is an unchanging book. It is the anvil in that old story of the man pounding the hammers and after many years the anvil still stands as countless hammers have been destroyed. The hammers that have hit the Scripture lie in the rubble while the Scripture still stands.""


Archeology and giants, prophecies and persons, lives and deaths, cities and nations, empires and worlds. It seems the immaterial Word always has preceded the material page, as Hebrews and John and Genesis tell us. All things race ever backwards towards reality's epicenter light years away where formless Matter scripts to motionless Man as Person is breathed by that Personhood of the un-derived Singular, Who is Himself Love, in Whom Multiple Distinct Perfects live within that uncreated embrace of the I-You which eternally Begets the Singular-We. The anvil of Word being infinite and uncreated easily withstands the sorrowful anger of the created finite. What does a page have without word? What can it have? It is Person, Mind, Word which fills up the page. The page is but the canvas which the Immaterial delights in writing upon as Word becomes Flesh.


The Bible is inerrant. And Christianity is true.

Whether Christianity could still be true if the Bible weren't inerrant is a bit of an academic exercise. To some extent, even asking the question that way almost makes it seem that you consider the argument for inerrancy weak. Which it is not.

What I think is a bit more important question is this: Should I abandon my Christian faith because I cannot deal with a supposed Biblical error?

There, I expect that most people who have come to faith in Christ have done so for reasons that do not include the inerrancy of Scripture. As long as those reasons are operative, I should think that you should not abandon your faith...whatever you might (correctly or mistakenly) come to believe about inerrancy.

For example, many people regard the empty tomb as a powerful reason for Christian faith. As long as you think the tomb is empty, it seems that your reason for belief remains. Now, if you came to believe that the Bible is in error or unreliable about that very point, then I think you'd have to reassess your faith. I certainly would.

On the other hand, even if I can't quite make sense of the generations of Jesus as given by Matthew and Luke, or whether Jesus told his disciples to bring sandals on their journey or whatever the alleged error is, it seems that that doesn't really undercut the evidence of the empty tomb (unless so much of it piles up that I come to think of the Bible as, on the whole, unreliable).

But I must not let pass the point that these alleged contradictions and errors are usually pretty silly things. Grown-up people should be ashamed of asking people to bet their souls on these jokes.

Honestly...you don't know whether Jesus rode one donkey or two? Well....now I guess you better just reject the best answer to the problem of human sin and Divine Holiness available.

Sam-

The argument you give is one of the chief arguments for Biblical inerrancy. There are powerful reasons to believe Christianity is true, and since that is so, the Bible is inerrant. One alleged error is not going to work to overcome the reasons for Christianity (unless it happens to be an error about something central, like the historicity of the resurrection), and so it will not overcome the reasons for Biblical inerrancy.

This is especially so if you can meet the charge of error via some explanation. The explanation need not be true or even likely (not that there's anything wrong with true and likely explanations). So long as the explanation for the 'error' does not undercut the reasons you already have for believing Christianity.

People have been trying to disprove Christianity for almost 2000 years. I think it's rather arrogant of today's society to think that they have finally done it. It won't be done because it's true! I challenge anyone to read the Bible, really read the Bible with all the prophecies, etc. and tell me it's not true. There's just no way. Revelation itself is mind-blowing. The person who wrote it was either the smartest person alive or the visions he saw actually happened. I'm going with it actually happened because the evidence supports that. Follow the evidence, regardless of whether you like its conclusions.

People have been trying to disprove Christianity for almost 2000 years. I think it's rather arrogant of today's society to think that they have finally done it.

I find it interesting this dogged fascination with disproving Christianity. If I read between the lines correctly, I think I hear John M saying to Christianity's critics, "Give it a rest already! You've been trying for 2000 years and have gotten nowhere. You failure over such a long period of time is in itself "proof" that Christianity must be true."

The reason I comment on this is to highlight a double standard that exists with other forms "open questions" or questions that haven't been proven or disproven but for which there is an accepted answer. Some of these have been around for a very short amount of time (a couple decades). An example from Computing Science comes to mind: the famous P=NP question. P is a certain class of problems, and NP is a much more difficult class of problems. If it turns out that P and NP are the same thing, then things like encryption, secure web sites, etc. are no longer secure.

My point is that this question hasn't been definitively answered, people have been trying this question for only a few years comparatively, and yet there is this consensus that P is not the same as NP. One of the reasons that people feel that this is the correct answer is that we haven't been able to prove the reverse.

How is it we can wrestle with rather important questions for only a few years and because we haven't proved/disproved it we agree on a consensus, but all of a sudden, when it comes to Christianity, we will spend millenia trying to disprove it even the face of failure after failure. I figure at some point empirical data would lend people a light bulb...

Or to put another way, for some problems that we have accepted answers for, we only have data points of a few years, but with Christianity we have data points of millenia, and yet people are still willing fight it. How many times does the apple have to fall from the tree before we start believing in gravity?

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