Category: Inerrancy

Jesus: a ‘new and improved’ Moses?

Should we regard the Old Testament and the New Testament as continuous, or discontinuous, with one another?  The standard evangelical approach is to regard the relationship between the two as that between bud and flower, source and stream, promise and fulfilment.

But many are troubled by the moral teaching and actions recorded in the Old Testament, and ask how this can be reconciled with the teaching and actions of Jesus.

Taking the difficult matter of the destruction of the Canaanites as his starting point, Peter Enns looks at Matthew’s Gospel, asking, ‘What would Jesus do?’

Jesus taught that we should ‘love our enemies’ (Mt 5:43-48).…

“Aha” moments that challenged beliefs about the Bible

In 2014, Old Testament scholar Peter Enns began a series of posts in which he invited biblical scholars to share key moments when their inherited conservative view of the Bible was challenged, and subsequently modified.

Here’s the (very) distilled essence of each entry in the series:-

  1. Peter Enns – realised that Paul accepted, apparently without demur, the extra-biblical legend about a ‘moveable rock’ (1 Corinthians 10:4).
  2. John Byron – found that Jesus (or Mark) was mistaken about what 1 Samuel 21:1-9 says about David and his men eating the consecrated bread from the tabernacle.

2 + 2 = 5?

William Jennings Bryan is reported to have said: “I believe the whale swallowed Jonah because the Bible said it, and if the Bible said that Jonah swallowed the whale I would have believed it simply because the Bible said so.”

Much more recently Peter LaRuffa, who is on the staff of Grace Fellowship Church, Northern Kentucky, said:-

Of course, statements such as these tend to incite mockery from those of us who suppose ourselves to be more enlightened.  …

The ‘heresy’ of inerrancy

[Note: I’m using the word ‘heresy’ in the old-fashioned sense of ‘divisiveness’ as in Titus 3:10 (Authorised Version): ‘A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject.’]

When Mike Licona published his book on the resurrection, he ventured to suggest that some elements in the Gospel story might be symbolic in character, rather than strictly historical.  The passage which has received most attention is the one in Matthew 27:52f, about the raising to life of many dead saints.  …

Confessions of a virtual inerrantist

Recent publication of a book exploring Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy has got me thinking again about this topic.

Readers of Walking With Giants will know that I do not subscribe to a formal doctrine of inerrancy.  I have outlined my reasons for this, and these include:-

Inerrancy is an inappropriate term.  It is not appropriate for the very different kinds of literature we find in the Bible.  It is easy to see what it would mean for a telephone directory to be regarded as ‘inerrant’, but not a psalm.…

Inerrancy as an evangelical ‘boundary marker’

According to one commentator, when Matthew came to write his narrative of Jesus’ birth, he based it on Luke’s account.  Matthew, however, was writing for a different readership, and so changed Luke’s true story about the humble shepherds coming in from the fields to visit the baby Jesus into a fictitious one about some high-ranking Magi coming from the East to pay their respects, offering costly gifts.  Matthew re-told the story because he wanted to emphasise Jesus’ mission to the Gentiles. …

Inerrancy and infallibility

Inerrancy and infallibility, writes Timothy Ward, are not to be thought of as the most important things that we say about Scripture.  Rather than being of central or foundational importance, they are implications of our belief in the trustworthiness of the Bible.

What follows is a summary of Ward’s views on this subject.  (I have set out my own views elsewhere).

‘Infallibility’ is often taken to mean that the Bible is entirely trustworthy is matters of faith and conduct.…

Calvin and the (in)errancy of Scripture

It is clear to any reader of the works of John Calvin that he had a very high view of the truthfulness of Scripture.  There are a handful of passages, however, where some have detected hints that the great Reformer thought that the Bible might err in matters of detail.  These are categorised by J.I. Packer as follows:-

  1. Passages in which God accommodates himself to human forms of thought and expression.  Thus, Calvin did not think that we should look to Genesis 1 for scientific teaching on astronomy.