Inerrancy and the future

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Tonight, I’m going to continue our look at inerrancy based on something that someone just emailed me looking at the whole Licona/Geisler debate going on and wondering what this means for the future of apologetics.

Despite what some people think, I do have hope.

To begin with, I do believe the Bible is true and it will stand till the end. It has survived all the attacks of its critics and will continue to survive. In that regards, I think we should open up the Bible more to the critics. I think we should be gladly telling them to come and face the text and feel forward to bring their objections. Naturally, we will have to do our part in studying, but when we study, I do believe we will find answers to supposed contradictions.

What we need to avoid is what I see going on in the current climate with a pre-set idea of what areas are and aren’t acceptable to study. I fear that there are many avenues of study that could be missed out on because we are holding to a certain approach to the text that unfortunately we could be putting above the text itself.

The Bible was not written in our time, place, and age. It should be no surprise then that it is a difficult book to understand and when we say otherwise, we do great harm to ourselves and lower Scripture. How many an atheist has said that Jesus taught poor values since he said we are to hate our father and mother? Yet when you explain to them that in the culture of the time Jesus was using hyperbolic language and explaining that discipleship to him was so stringent that it meant that all other priorities, including those of family which were utmost, are to be put secondary, get the reply of “But I thought the Bible was supposed to be easy to understand.”

It has happened to me numerous times. A number of atheists think all they need to do is sit down, read the Bible, find something they don’t like, and well that settles it. There is no need to do further research. If the Bible says slavery, well it means what went on in the Civil War. If the Bible says bats are birds, well it means what we mean by modern taxonomical standards today.

Of course, keep in mind for many of these atheists, you must be read in science to speak on science. Of course, I am of the opinion that that is true. If you wish to argue on science, you should study science. Hence the reason I do not argue on science. I do not study it. I will gladly comment on the philosophy of science, but not science qua science.

As long as we keep up this kind of standard, we are giving atheists more fodder to use. Not only that, we are hurting our own people. Our people are getting the idea that they do not need to study the Bible except for just reading it privately. There is no need to read scholars on the topics. Such a Christian is just a sitting duck when the new atheists come along, who frankly do not have good arguments against the Bible.

Instead, we need to present the Bible as we are as Scripture of God, but much more. It is a rich and vast work of literature and to study this literature, we need to do far more study than we would to learn Shakespeare, Plato, Virgil, or any other work. The great treasure that is within will only come to the one who is willing to dig.

What this means is an openness to be willing to dig and accept that. We must be willing to accept avenues that might have seemed threatening. Of course, this does not mean a full denial of the faith. However, if someone presents a worthy objection, we must be prepared to look into it. Suppose someone comes up with a new persuasive argument that Jesus did not rise from the dead. Let us not run from it! Instead, let us say “Bring your idea and let us study it and we are sure the truth of the resurrection will win out!” If someone challenges the Trinity, we are to say, “Bring your challenge and let us study it!” We who hold to orthodoxy affirm these things and being sure of these things, we should be willing to look into challenges to them. We would want to know if we are wrong, although for those of us who have spent years studying, we are quite sure we are not.

That certainty is also just fine to have. The certainty we have is not based on blind hope. At least, it should not be. The certainty is based on the years of study we have done. When I read the Summa Theologica for instance, and I see the objections raised, I can picture Aquinas saying to his students “I want you to go out and study what we believe and see if you can come up with the toughest objections to it!” I can imagine the students gathering together testing each other to see if they could try to “Stump the master” and find out each time that their master knew the objections and was able to answer them.

It is because Aquinas had that certainty based on years of study that I believe he could have indeed made such a claim to his students and done so without fear and in fact done so knowing it would boost their confidence in the end. Why? Because if you see the toughest objections you can come up with to a view can be answered, it makes you far more prone to trust that view.

If someone presents a view that is wrong, that is only determined by research and study and not by a fiat decision. Someone might ask about Nicea. Nicea was also based on research and study and they did discuss the creed and find out how many were willing to agree to it beforehand. This was also on matters that if these truths were denied, then Christianity itself was denied. It was not on peripheral issues.

That also means we will really have to ask what battles are worth fighting over. I happen to have friends who take opposite sides on a number of secondary issues and I gladly fellowship with them. I do not hesitate to call them my brother or sister in Christ, even though I am sure they are wrong on those issues. On the other hand, I would be happy to be a friend with a Mormon or JW, but I would not think of them for a second as a brother or sister in Christ.

I think the future could be good for this. We do not need to deny inerrancy. We can easily affirm the truth of God and if we are sure the Bible is that truth (Or at least some that God has chosen to reveal. I believe all in Scripture is the truth but not all the truth is in Scripture) then let us say to its critics without “Bring your objections” and to doubters within “Let us allay your fears!”

That future depends on you and I however and on our educating the church more on these matters and not only have our members in the church simply filling pews but also engaging in the matters themselves and learning. They need to be confronted with hard issues regularly and introduced to what is going on in the world of academia. The church in America has more power to be a force for evangelicalism I believe than any other church and frankly, we are not. Is it not the fault of the material. It is not the fault of the message. It is the fault of the people and mostly, the fault of those of us who are leaders. Let us do better. We can be assured that the message will get out somehow without us. I don’t know about you, but while that is true, I want it to be that when I meet my God I can know I played a part in relaying his truth to the world. Don’t you?

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