"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Election: The Inerrancy of Scripture

"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Let me start this post by saying that while the men mentioned in the previous post were formative in my thinking, they should not be held accountable for any errors you find herein.

Reading the Bible through played in my being able to accept the doctrine of election. Natural men, and to a large degree even regenerate men, resist the doctrine of election because it strikes too close to our prideful heart. Without the witness to election in the Scriptures, men would not accept the doctrine of election. An essential element, then, in supporting the doctrine of election is the establishment of the reliability of Scripture. The only way this can be accomplished is by showing the Bible to be inerrant, for if we find error in a part of the Bible, say Genesis 1-11, then how can we trust any of the Bible? As Greg Bahnsen has written (Inerrancy, pp. 153), “if God sets forth false assertions in minor areas where our research can check His accuracy (such as historical or geographical details), how do we know that He does not also err in major concerns like theology?”

Is Genesis reliable? Some today would claim that Genesis, at least in its account of creation, is poetical; some even hold it to be mythical, and borrowed from pagan religions. One reason for this is the widespread acceptance of evolution. Sufficient for our discussion is to note that any detailed analysis of evolution will reveal that evolution is based on certain “faith” assumptions, among them the doctrine of uniformity, that all events in the past transpire according to what we can observe today, and the corollary that nothing external to the natural realm influences the natural realm. In light of this faith based ground for evolution, choosing between evolution and Genesis is taken out of the realm of science. The question then must be asked, do you believe the Bible, when there is no reason not to believe it, or do you follow the teachings of men who are intent on denying God a place in His universe.

Other “problems” have been found which supposedly refute the claims that the Bible is inerrant. Two points are sufficient here. One point is that the claim for inerrancy rests with the autographa, the original writings. Scribal errors may have crept in over the centuries, particularly in areas where numbers differ between the account in Samuel/Kings and the corresponding account in Chronicles. Does this mean we cannot trust our Bibles, since we no longer have the original manuscripts. Again, Bahnsen answers this question well (Ibid., pp. 185): “How can we know that our extant copies are substantially correct transcriptions of the autographa? The answer here is twofold: we know it from the providence of God and from the results of textual science.” In fact, he goes on to add (Ibid., pp. 187), “Textual criticism of the copies of the Scripture we possess has brought immensely comforting results to the church of Christ.”

The second point is the Bible's own internal witness to itself. Our Lord quotes the Old Testament as the authority for deciding all matters. His words in Matthew 19:4-6 (“And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh”? Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’”) indicates His commitment to the Old Testament, even the account of the creation of man and woman. John W. Wenham sums up Jesus’ view of Scripture (Inerrancy, pp. 30):

To Christ the Old Testament was true, authoritative, inspired.

To Him the God of the Old Testament was the one living God, and the teaching of the Old Testament was the teaching of this living God.

To Him what Scripture said, God said.”

Further testimony is found in the Apostles. Paul writes in II Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” This verse tells us that the Bible is like the breathe of God, which gives life. But so far we have only supported the Old Testament, what of the New Testament? Peter writes:

II Peter 3:15 “and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”

Here, Peter equates Paul’s epistles with Scripture. Further evidence and testimony could be given, but hopefully the point has been established. In concluding this section, the Westminster Confession states (1:10): “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.”

A follow up note on things that have changed in the last ten years. First, the topic of evolution has become increasingly more debated with the advent of Intelligent Design (ID) theory. While ID doesn't have a specific Biblical/Christian basis, it does show that the long held theory of evolution is problematic even from a scientific standpoint.

Second, the Bible is under attack again, most notably in a recent book by Bart Ehrman. I would recommend that anyone who has been troubled by Ehrman's claims read the response at Bible.org by Dr. Daniel Wallace. It is a fairly technical read but does a good job of defending inerrancy against Ehrman's accusations.

2 Comments:

Blogger Faded Wolf said...

Election is the very doctrine that brought me to Christ. As I studied the word, I saw more and more that if it were left up to me, I would spend eternity in hell. Only through seeing that it was all God and 0% me could I see his grace. Thank you for this article.

1:06 AM EDT  
Blogger Taliesin said...

Phil,

Thanks for the comment and the help on the settings. I have played with them and think I've got them closer to what I want (though I still can't get the time to work right - though the time for your comment is close).

In Christ,

Eddie

8:32 PM EDT  

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