Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thoughts about Inerrancy.

I have been doing some more digging and believe that my first impression of Craig Evans was a bit off. Here is a some questions which he answers and makes me rethink my first opinion I had of him, which I discussed in this post.

Undoubtedly if you ever explored this blog you will come to see I have a very high view of scripture.

Our view of scripture determines all that we believe. If we view scripture as mere words of man we may just as well declare our local glossy magazine our book of faith.
The way we understand what the Bible is, determines how serious we take it.

There are very different views on scripture. We can see it as inerrant in its original transcripts or we can say it is a human book pure and simple.
Both these views have pitfalls. The question is “Is there a middle ground?”
I do not think so, either it is the word of God or it is not. Others would say that there is a middle ground and if you take ever side you are going too far.
You can also say that if you follow the doctrine of inerrancy to it’s a logical conclusion you will arrive at an unscientific place or at full blown liberalism.
These past few days I’m being delving into what Dr Craig Evans has to say. He has a very unique take on the whole thing which warrants more investigation.
If I understand him correctly he will not defend the Bible as historical inerrant but, what the Bible sets out to do it accomplishes.The Bible brings us the good news of Christ and how we might be saved.
He would not agree with the Chicago statement of inerrancy then. Would he?

I’m still checking it out but it does seem on face value that he takes the Bible seriously and that he believes that Jesus physically died and rose again. I will then place him under the wider evangelical umbrella but, not under the traditional group.
He makes a very good case that we must take all the differences in the synoptic gospels seriously. He seems to be a very competent and thoughtful scholar. What I do think is that he gives up to much ground. I see many points where he could have defended the reliability of the Bible.
What I do appreciate of him is that he does a very in depth study of everything he is just a wealth of information. Not a grain of laziness in the man.
Although I think that my view of scripture is pretty much the same as Norman Geisler, I think his answers and explanations of some difficult passages are a bit shallow and he doesn’t really answer many of the concerns.

I admit I have limited resources on both these men and pray that I will be able to acquire more in the future. In all I’m not satisfied with either ones handling of the issue.

Craig Evans gives to much ground to the sceptic and it seems that Norman Geisler isn’t really listening to them. I wonder what Kaiser will say. I have read his book on the reliability of the Old Testament documents and his approach was very balanced. He takes the critics very serious but, he makes a strong stand. Don’t take me wrong when Evans decides on this hill he will die on, he makes a stand. 
My quest is to sift all these thoughts running around in my head and find out which way is the best.
Giving up ground on the issue on inerrancy is not to be taken lightly. My question is it even necessary. In the past it has been proven on many occasions that the Bible is reliable.

Many times the historicity of the gospel is taken in question because of many differences between the synoptic gospels. The problem is that these differences do not impact basic doctrine.

Many times the sceptic is are simplistic about the perceived discrepancy. They take it at face value while on other occasions they fire both barrels of the shotgun if we dare take the Bible at face value.
The sceptics always seem to fire off all the alleged discrepancies in the gospels and then claim “superior number of arguments wins” while each individual argument and accusation must be handled on its own.

This is one of the problems with debates. For some or other reason the liberal will list his long lists of complains and the “evangelical” just gives an answer that is weak and vague, they sometimes try to explain a principle to answer similar arguments but, never answer the point made by the liberal. Maybe it is the way debates are done but, why not for once just answer the man’s question straight down the middle? If I look at Norman Geisler’s stuff I think he will actually do it, the problem is sometimes even I can spot the holes in his argument.
I’m probably being a bit to forward, I regular keyboard warrior. My question is why not take the dog by the scruff of the neck and manhandle the opinion, say it like it is, answer the critic, go at him toe to toe. Or do we have no real answer or witty comebacks?

I think the problem is not as simple as just saying we are inarticulate or not assertive enough when it comes to debate ting these issues.
Most debates between evangelicals and liberals always have the evangelical starting off on the back foot, defending an already weaken position.

For starters they almost never bring in the ancient tradition, on who wrote the gospels. It is a great big debate yes but, why have we resigned from that fight. Many scholars have written against the historical teachings on who wrote the gospels. They doubt the accuracy of these traditions. The question is must they not proof their case to us, are they not attacking a very old tradition handed down through generations? Are these persons who wrote about this tradition not closer to the original authors in time and culture?

The case is made that these guys seen as the writers traditionally could not have written such great literature and that just 3% of the people living in Israel at that time could read what to say of being able to write such well edited gospels.
Let us look at the traditional writers then.

The Gospel of Matthew was said to be a tax collector appointed by the Romans , would the Romans appoint a illiterate man as tax collector?.
The Gospel of Mark was written by some companion of Peter. Mark according to tradition wrote the Gospel according to what Peter told him. Peter was one of the leaders of the church a man of great influence. The church was very large over five thousand and there was added to their number daily, is it not possible that out of this large crowd Peter could find such a writer as Mark.

The Gospel Of Luke, according to tradition he was a companion of Paul and that he also was  a kind of doctor, is it also such a far fetch dream that he could have been well educated just as Paul? Is it so far fetch that a doctor could read and write?    
Then we get to sequence of the gospels. The modern view is that Mark was written first after that Luke and Matthew. So how do they devise such a sequence? Well they look at all synoptic gospels and seen that a lot of material over lapses. Sometimes exactly. So they come to the conclusion that they must have copied from each other or used a common source. They even gave the source a name “Q”.

The question is then this, why could they not all been written independent from each other? Why could they not just have been writing the same story from three prospective and why could the overlapping parts not be because they are telling the same story.
Bart Ehrman makes a very strong case, he says that even if you take a lot of eyewitnesses and let them write what exactly happened that you wouldn’t get two accounts that is remotely same to the extent that the gospels are similar.

This is a very strong argument, the problem is this cannot be the only argument, I believe he would add a few. The problem is what about inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was He not the one who inspired the writers to write accurate accounts?
The other question is why accept the viability of the “Q” source which has no proof accept the similarities between the gospels and reject the historical account of the possible existence of the Hebrew gospel?

Has the liberal scholar not infringed on the evangelical scholars so much that we have fallen to the winds of chance, while we believe in the God who created that wind.

We have abandoned to many outposts, it is time to take stock and decide which ones are to be retaken.
In a real sense I agree with Craig Evans, the Christian faith is grounded on the factual death and resurrection of Christ and not on the Bible. The problem is that the Bible is the source that ultimately proofs it and explains it.

Over simplification is very dangerous. The minimal facts approach is great for short debate and discussions but, not enough for deep, sustained Christian life.

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