The basic steps of Sproul’s arguments are nicely summarized by Tim Challies: “ Premise A —The Bible is a basically reliable and trustworthy document. Premise B —On the basis of this reliable document we have sufficient evidence to believe confidently that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Premise C —Jesus Christ being the Son of God is an inerrant authority. Premise D —Jesus Christ teaches that the Bible is more than generally trustworthy; it is the very Word of God. Premise E —The word, in that it comes from God, is utterly trustworthy because God is utterly trustworthy. Conclusion —On the basis of the inerrant authority of Jesus Christ, the church believes the Bible to be utterly trustworthy; i.e., inerrant.” [ “The inerrancy of Scripture (Part 3)” at challies.com] The two approaches described above were described in a very brief manner. They are the kind of thing one would study in an apologetics class. My point in bringing these up is that there are some good resources for answering the this objection concerning circularity
On #1: Sometimes the Bible describes things from the perspective of the observer or the speaker. E.g., &quot;the sun rises; (b) On occasion the Bible will round of numbers. This can be noted in the early chapters of I Chronicles where various numbers of given from different tribes. In most cases the numbers are rounded off. 2. When the NT quotes the OT, sometimes the author paraphrases the OT text.; The same applies to the Gospel writer's record of Jesus' words. Here a distinction is made between the &quot;exact words&quot; of Christ and the &quot;exact voice.&quot; The Gospel record the &quot;exact voice&quot; of Jesus. That is, they represent an accurate and faithful rendition of what Jesus actually said, even though there may be variation in how each Gospel writer expresses this.
Truthfulness of God’s written revelation
Word of God (revelation) Inspiration Inerrancy Clarity & sufficiency Canon of Scripture
“The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything which is contrary to fact” The Bible speaks the truth in everything that it affirms (assumes correct interpretation)
Psalm 119:142 Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true. Psalm 119:151 But you are near, O LORD, and all your commandments are true. Psalm 119:160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
Titus 1:2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began. Hebrews 6:18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
Numbers 23:19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
2 Samuel 7:28 And now, O Lord GOD, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 2 Samuel 22:31 This God- his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him
ESV John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 10:35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came- and Scripture cannot be broken-
One possible response: ◦ The Bible is a historically reliable document and based on this, that it gives sufficient evidence that Jesus is the son of God. ◦ From there you look at Jesus’ view of scripture: he viewed the scriptures as the very words of God. ◦ Illustrated in R. C. Sproul, Reasons to Believe. A second possible response: ◦ Christianity is seen as a worldview. This approach would basically try to show that the existence of God is a necessary presupposition of all rational thought. ◦ All worldviews have basic presuppositions that control their epistemologies, argumentation & use of evidence. ◦ Thus, when it comes to ultimate presuppositions, all worldviews are circular in a broad sense. ◦ In the Christian worldview there is no higher authority than God’s word. ◦ Example: Greg Bahnsen, Always Ready; Grudem (ST, 78-79); Frame (DKG)
“The Bible Can Be Inerrant and Still Speak in the Ordinary Language of Everyday Speech.” “The Bible Can Be Inerrant and Still Include Loose or Free Quotations.” The Bible can be inerrant and not give an “exhaustive account” of a matter. “It Is Consistent With Inerrancy to Have Unusual or Uncommon Grammatical Constructions in the Bible”
“I know that Jim did “Jim aint no thief. not rob the bank at No sir! Last night the corner of he be at my crib Church Street. He when the robbery was dining with my be goin’ on.” wife and I when the robbery occurred.”
#1: Bible is only authoritative for matters of salvation and conduct (or faith & practice). ◦ Not consistent with the Bible’s own testimony (i.e., “all of scripture” is inspired) ◦ It confuses the major purpose of scripture with the total purpose of scripture (Grudem). ◦ If the Bible is not dependable in areas that can be checked then there’s no basis to say it’s dependable in areas that cannot be verified (Erickson).
#2: Inerrancy is a useless doctrine because it is only claimed for the original docs. ◦ For a little over 99% we know what the original mss say, hence inerrancy is very applicable. ◦ Jesus & apostles did not have the originals either (i.e., for the OT) yet they had no problem affirming the complete truthfulness of scripture. ◦ It affects your view of scripture.
#3: God accommodated his message to the “erroneous” worldviews of ancient cultures.” ◦ Some argue this is part of taking the “humanity” of the Bible seriously. Example: argument by Enns in Inspiration and Incarnation.
On the relation between ANE myths and the Genesis creation stories: ◦ Despite differences he says both Gen. & these myths are part of the “same conceptual world” (p. 27). ◦ He asks: “how can we say logically that the biblical stories are true and the Akkadian stories are false when they both look so very much alike?” (p. 40) ◦ Also: “Is Genesis myth or history?” (39)
His proposal: ◦ Not to view “myth” as “made-up story” ◦ But myth as “an ancient, premodern, prescientific way of addressing questions of ultimate origins and meaning in the form of stories: Who are we? Where do we come from?” (40)
To the general claim that God accommodated his revelation to the false worldviews of the ANE: ◦ It implies God acted contrary to his nature (He cannot lie). ◦ The same kind of argument can be used to deny the truths of salvation.
Specific response to Enns: ◦ His view of “myth” does not answer the very important question as to whether the events happened or not. ◦ There are other approaches to the issue that do not entail the negative conclusions given by Enns: Some similarities had a polemical intent Such similarities reflect an ancient tradition that was distorted by the pagan cultures & accurately preserved by biblical authors. ◦ He acknowledges that during the monarchical period, biblical authors wrote reliable history – why could this not be the case for earlier writers?
#4: Inerrancy is a modern invention; Christians from earlier centuries did not believe in the idea. Response (see next several slides on examples of belief in inerrancy throughout church history)
Clement of Rome (first century): “You have studied Scripture [O.T.] which contains the truth and is inspired by the Holy Spirit. You realize that there is nothing wrong or misleading in it” (First Letter to the Church at Corinth) Irenaeus (second century) commenting on Luke’s reporting says: “Now if any man set Luke aside, as one who did not know the truth, he will (by so acting), manifestly reject that Gospel of which he claims to be a disciple…It follows then, as of course, that these men must either receive the rest of his narrative, or else reject these parts also. For no person of common sense can permit them to receive some things recounted by Luke as being true, and to set others aside, as if he had not known the truth.”
Augustine (354-430): “For it seems to me that the most disastrous consequences must follow upon our believing that anything false is found in the sacred books…For if once you admit into such a high sanctuary of authority one false statement, as made in the way of duty, there will not be left a single sentence of these books which, if appearing to any one difficult in practice or hard to believe, may not by the same fatal rule be explained away, as a statement in which, intentionally, and under a sense of duty, the author declared what was not true”
Augustine: “I have learned to yield this respect and honor only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error” (Letters, 82) Luther: “It is impossible that Scripture should contradict itself; it only appears so to senseless and obstinate hypocrites” (Works 9, 356).
Luther: “Whoever is so bold that he ventures to accuse God of fraud and deception in a single word and does so willfully again and again after he has been warned and instructed once or twice will likewise certainly venture to accuse God of fraud and deception in all of His words. Therefore it is true, absolutely and without exception, that everything is believed or nothing is believed. The Holy Spirit does not suffer Himself to be separated or divided so that He should teach and cause to be believed one doctrine rightly and another falsely” (WA 54, 158)
#5: “There are some clear errors in the Bible.” ◦ Needs to be handled on case by case basis. ◦ Satisfactory solutions have been given to virtually every problem text. ◦ But what if there is no solution? Answer: give the Bible the benefit of the doubt. Why? Bible has proven record of truthfulness & reliability We are called to trust his word.