Disclaimer: This study is only an analysis of the logic underlining a certain philosophy. I make no judgement on any brother or sister in Christ with this article. At times readers confuse conviction with personal scrutiny.
Scholar after scholar in today’s Bible colleges seem to be pushing a new modern idea that the Bible is NOT inerrant. For some, this is a disturbing heresy, and I agree, but it is one that is going unnoticed in the classrooms of the modern colleges. In my studies I do see a very subtle shift occurring in the world of hermeneutics. It seems that the standards rules are changing or being replaced by other rules that could make the doctrinal meaning of the text distorted.
Influential scholars such as PCUSA theologian Jack Rogers and Donald McKim. In their book The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach (1979), these scholars have tried to depict the doctrine of inerrancy as a novelty of rationalistic nineteenth-century Evangelicalism. If ALL scripture is “God-Breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), then how can any falsehood exist within it? This same passage is also evidence that the early church also believed in inerrancy. Acts 4:25 shows that the early church saw scripture as coming straight from the Holy Spirit. This is the first century thinking which should be our thinking.
Students of Christianity are quickly embracing this idea because it allows better collaboration with the secular historians who are not theologians not believers. Remember beloved, that the world is not neutral nor should you be neutral! This is
commonly called the neutrality fallacy and we are giving away the sovereignty of the Almighty when we do so. Giving up inerrancy is giving into the world and their pressures. The opposite of “holding fast” to the faith.
Perhaps this is only an intellectual cop-out for those who do not want to be as mindful of the Word of God; a form of intellectual laziness perhaps. In fact scholars are placing a political spin on this issue by claiming that it even gives the Biblical account a mark of authenticity. When two witnesses corroborate the same event in differing ways including errors, it has a far higher degree of historical probability; both provide independent testimony that is not concocted in the mind of the other author. But this is a valid claim with or with out Biblical inerrancy and is in fact evidence supporting the need of a proper rule of hermeneutics for some of the more “contradictory” passages of scripture.
The removal or replacement of a basic rule of hermeneutics, which I will explain shortly, is the reason why students are now struggling with these once concrete Biblical texts and may be one reason why young people are leaving the churches in droves. For thousands of years these texts were never considered “contradictory” or flawed in any way. But come on to the “modern” enlightened scholarly world and suddenly we decide to forget the “old paths” and forget the justified reasons our forefathers interpreted a passage a certain way for a new idea. This could well be the Fallacy of argumentum ad novium. Where we give credibility to a concept only because it is new and this is irrelevant to the truth of the concept. In like manner I would not give credibility to a concept simply because it is old (agumentum ad antiquitum). No, We must evaluate the concept on it’s own intellibility. It is about what explaination makes the most sense.
Let’s look at an example from the Bible:
“And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him.” Mark 15:15-19 (KJV)
There is a supposed “error” in this passage. Some of you may have spotted it already; others may need a little help to see what I am talking about. Let’s look at another passage describing the same scene:
“Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” Matthew 27:26-32 (KJV)
What color was the robe? Well if you don’t believe that the Bible is inerrant, then you really don’t care but at the same time you don’t believe that the Spirit of God is really supernaturally present within His Word (and I don’t mean the physical book) nor that He has perfectly presereved His word through the centuries. Nor do you believe that God is either willing or able to preserve an inerrant account. Or you may believe that this is a copying error which means that you cannot trust any of the Bible you read and don’t believe that God has kept his promise to supernaturally preserve His word:
“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” Psalms 12:6-7
“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” – Mark 13:31
“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” – Revelation 22:18-19
So what do you then believe about God? You may be saying “I believe God can preserve His Word, But I don’t believe that is the way God did it.” Hate to break it to you, but you then don’t believe what God said in Mark 13:31. Therefore your definition of God must be an inferior being to the one I trust in.
Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! John 19:1-5 (KJV)
You may think that inspiration and inerrancy is only applied to the originals, as I once did, but this is still a denial of God’s ability to preserve His Word in any language. Or you may be tempted to believe that only the concepts of doctrine are what is inerrant and inspired. Well, this then means that you can interpret scripture anyway you want if you need not consider the grammar and context that each individual word builds upon:
“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” Proverbs 30:5-6
The belief in errors in the Bible creates a philosophical avalanche for the Christian. Without a belief in inerrancy all doctrine and Biblical authority crumbles. Why would Biblical authority crumble? I guess you don’t see the relationship that validated facts have with human trust. Can you actually trust a book that you believe has errors in it? With what principle can you use to conclude the trustworthy passages with the erring ones?
Suppose I write a book about Adolf Hilter and in this book I wrote that he was only 4 feet 3 inches tall. After a little verification on your part you would come to know that was an error in my book. You may still wish to read my book on Hilter to gleam other facts that I did get right about him but would you really trust them or read another one of my books on another historical figure? No you probably would put it down and never read one of my books again. To make it worse, secular scholars and non-believers claim there are hundreds of “errs” in the Bible. No wonder people are putting the Bible down and never picking it up again. As long as this belief exists in you, you will never trust what God has committed to paper.
This also affects the rules of purpiscuity. That means the plain reading of the text. Can we trust the plain reading to understand a doctrine. Colleges are teaching a violation of this principle today. Professor Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary believes Jonah was probably a real prophet but the book of Jonah is a parable. Jonah was never swallowed by a large fish, nor did he ever go to Nineveh. The whole account is just an inspired short fictional parable (pp. 157-60). He favorably cites Old Testament Professor James Bruckner (North Park Theological Seminary) who says that Jonah is a unique parable about a real prophet” (p. 160). Now this changes the entire book of Jonah and since no one in the Bible really explains the parable, it can mean almost anything.
Another example can be found in the June 1998 issue of Theology, News and Notes, which is the official magazine of Fuller Theological Seminary. It contains the address of Donald A. Hanger as the “George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament,” which he delivered on Oct. 4, 1993. He writes:
“There are those for whom it is not enough to affirm the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. One must also assert their inerrancy. It is hard to imagine anything more debilitating to the work of the Biblical scholar than the a-priori insistence on inerrancy. The faculty of this seminary, we may be thankful, saw how unreasonable, unnecessary and misleading this doctrine is, and in 1972 changed the seminary’s statement of faith” (p. 7).
Complementarianism – That is the rule that many new students and the so call “enlightened” modern scholars are missing. The Bible is a complementary collection of accounts. The author of any narrative, such as the narrative of the soldiers and Jesus, is NEVER meant to transmit every detail of the account. For instance, We do know that the soldiers beat him badly in the head, but there is nothing to say that Jesus did or did not have a dislocated jaw from the beating. He could have but If so, that was simply left out by that author from that narrative. This was just a single example. Complementary
unification of the passages means understanding all the details in totality. Passages often time omit information because the author sees no need for it in the message he is trying to transmit. For example, in John 6:1 we read, “After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.” But at the end of John 5 Jesus is still in
Jerusalem, and John does not bother to tell us how Jesus got to Galilee or which “other side” of the lake is referenced.
Now in the case of the robe allow me to demonstrate hermeneutical complementarianism: Where did the purple robe come from?
“And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.” Luke 23:8-12 (KJV)
This is new information that was not in the other narratives. Jesus may have had two robes both scarlet and purple. The purple robe He received from Herod (Purple is Royalty) and the Scarlet He was given by the soldiers after visiting Herod. The soldier figured that since Herod could persecute Christ as a King they could too. They were only following the example of King Herod. The account from Mark simply omits the second robe and even the original owner. The soldiers had to redress Jesus for his crucifixion as Matthew adds this detail when he writes “and put his own raiment on him”. So he had the scarlet and purple robes on when they were beating and persecuting Him, then took them off and redressed Him. I would even say that He was dress again in both robes because these were the valuable commodities the soldiers gambled for (Matthew
Secondly, even if this verse is not an example of hermeneutical complementarianism, the lesson still stands to reason that this is logical. You see historically, there was never a “contradiction” with these passages. Agustin simply makes the comment there existed a a purple-scarlet rode (Post Nicene Fathers, Augustin, Harmony of the Gospels). Much like the viral dress color illusion of 2015 where people in a certain light only gold When the dress had no gold in it. If this is the case then the Gospel writers simply picked one color for there description and neither was an err for both that is the color the light presented at the time of observation. After all why won’t Herod not have such an elaborately royal robe in his closet?
Craig Blomberg, Can We Still Believe the Bible?: An Evangelical Engagement with Contemporary Questions?,Brazos Press, 2014