Article XIV

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Today, I’d like to continue our look at the doctrine of Inerrancy and we’ll be doing that by looking at Article XIV of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. This article reads as follows:

We affirm the unity and internal consistency of Scripture.

We deny that alleged errors and discrepancies that have not yet been resolved vitiate the truth claims of the Bible.

Once again, there isn’t much here that could be disagreed with. If there’s been a problem with the statement I’ve seen so far, it’s that it’s really simple. Of course, that can be good at times as one can just state what one believes and find who does and doesn’t support it, but when it comes to finer matters, it becomes difficult.

The idea of biblical contradictions is often construed as if the Christian is having cognitive dissonance and if they find something that is an apparent contradiction, there is no need to look further. Just stop right there and do not do anything. If you seek to resolve the contradiction, then you are just trying to deny that which is right in front of your face.

To begin with, I think there is a great deal of the Bible that is not plain. Thus, when someone tells you that they are going with the “plain” meaning or the “clear” meaning of the text, be on your guard. It could simply mean that which is plain or clear to a 21st century American. Is that the way it would have been seen at the time of the writing of the part of the Bible you are reading?

If there is something that is an apparent contradiction, is it wrong to give the benefit of the doubt to the Bible? No. In fact, I think this should be done with any book. If you think there is a contradiction in the Book of Mormon or the Koran, by all means feel free to ask about it, but if it can be explained well, then leave it at that. Don’t just press the issue because you think you found something. If the Book of Mormon and Koran are false, as I believe they are, then you will be able to demonstrate that on other grounds.

In doing so, you are not being consistent. This is also not the case just for religious books. If you think Aristotle contradicted himself between what he said in the Politics and what he said in the Nichomachean Ethics, then study it. Aristotle was a smart guy after all so he deserves the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it’s the case that he changed his mind. Maybe you’re misunderstanding. You don’t just want to immediately say “Well he didn’t know what he was talking about.” Wrestle with the text. Good hermeneutics applies not just to the Bible but to any ancient work.

Now I do believe that contradictions by and large have been resolved and numerous ones could be presented for dialogue. Suppose one hasn’t. Based on the track record I’ve seen in the Bible, I think it is fair to give the benefit of the doubt. Even if one is not resolved, this would not render the whole Bible false. Even if the text was errant, which it is not, Christianity would still be true.

We shall continue next time.

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One Response to “Article XIV”

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