14 June 2008

Inerrancy

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from a sermon titled "The Bible Tried and Proved," preached at the Met Tab on Sunday morning 5 May 1889.




     believe that there is no mistake whatever in the original Holy Scriptures from beginning to end.

There may be, and there are, mistakes of translation; for translators are not inspired; but even the historical facts are correct.

Doubt has been cast upon them here and there, and at times with great show of reason—doubt which it has been impossible to meet for a season; but only give space enough, and search enough, and the stones buried in the earth cry out to confirm each letter of Scripture.

Old manuscripts, coins, and inscriptions, are on the side of the Book, and against it there are nothing but theories, and the fact that many an event in history has no other record but that which the Book affords us.

The Book has been of late in the furnace of criticism; but much of that furnace has grown cold from the fact that the criticism is beneath contempt. "The words of the Lord are pure words": there is not an error of any sort in the whole compass of them. These words come from him who can make no mistake, and who can have no wish to deceive his creatures.

If I did not believe in the infallibility of the Book, I would rather be without it. If I am to judge the Book, it is no judge of me. If I am to sift it, like the heap on the threshing-floor, and lay this aside and only accept that, according to my own judgment, then I have no guidance whatever, unless I have conceit enough to trust to my own heart.

The new theory denies infallibility to the words of God, but practically imputes it to the judgments of men; at least, this is all the infallibility which they can get at. I protest that I will rather risk my soul with a guide inspired from heaven, than with the differing leaders who arise from the earth at the call of "modern thought."
C. H. Spurgeon


39 comments:

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Frank Pastore, former major league baseball pitcher, now Christian apologist and radio show host, states that the doctrine of inerrancy is a hill that he's willing to die on.

I may join him and Spurgeon on that hill.

Mike said...

After I read the first two paragraphs, I dismissed the rest of the article; I'd already agreed with those paras. ;)

Chris Roberts said...

It is perplexing how some claim a Christianity without Scripture, or with a very weak Scripture. If the Bible is mostly man's book, where is it reliable to teach and instruct? And if Christianity is not based on revelation from God, where are its teachings authoritative? If the Bible is not God's word then Christianity is empty. If Christianity is without God's revelation then Christianity is powerless.

Matt said...

TUAD: that's not the hill where they're going to "land the plane", is it?

jeff said...

If I can't put my trust in the inerrancy of Gods' Word, then what, or who, can I put my trust in? Spurgeon puts it so well. I'll keep standing on the solid rock.

Robert N. Landrum said...

Such relentless attack on the bible through the ages is proof positive that scripture is divinely unique. What other book has ever been so hotly criticized?

Critics may rail yet it is only by faith that one can tell!

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for this quote, Phil.

Spurgeon writes: "I believe that there is no mistake whatever in the original Holy Scriptures from beginning to end."
My Comment: "When Spurgeon is saying "original" here, I believe he is saying "original languages, and not "original manuscripts." The latter is a later view spawned by Warfield. We see him to believe this in this context because he differentiates the originals with a translation.

Spurgeon writes: "There may be, and there are, mistakes of translation; for translators are not inspired; but even the historical facts are correct."
My Comment: Spurgeon doesn't take an English preservationist view. He believes that preservation occurs in the original languages.

Spurgeon writes: "Doubt has been cast upon them here and there, and at times with great show of reason—doubt which it has been impossible to meet for a season; but only give space enough, and search enough, and the stones buried in the earth cry out to confirm each letter of Scripture."
My Comment: He believed in preservation of Scripture down to the letter---the jot and tittle. This is the historic view that we read in the writings of the Puritans among others.

Spurgeon writes: "The Book has been of late in the furnace of criticism; but much of that furnace has grown cold from the fact that the criticism is beneath contempt. "The words of the Lord are pure words": there is not an error of any sort in the whole compass of them. These words come from him who can make no mistake, and who can have no wish to deceive his creatures."
My Comment: Spurgeon certainly was referring to Biblical criticism, but also textual criticism, as seen in his reference to "words."

Spurgeon writes: "If I did not believe in the infallibility of the Book, I would rather be without it. If I am to judge the Book, it is no judge of me. If I am to sift it, like the heap on the threshing-floor, and lay this aside and only accept that, according to my own judgment, then I have no guidance whatever, unless I have conceit enough to trust to my own heart."
My Comment: He believed in the infallibility of what he possessed, not just the original manuscripts. This kind of all-or-nothing belief is akin to the position that Bart Ehrman took, except Ehrman believed there were errors so he pushed the eject button on Christianity. This would also show that Spurgeon did not see inerrancy as a non-essential, tangential, tertiary doctrine.

Spurgeon writes: "The new theory denies infallibility to the words of God, but practically imputes it to the judgments of men; at least, this is all the infallibility which they can get at. I protest that I will rather risk my soul with a guide inspired from heaven, than with the differing leaders who arise from the earth at the call of "modern thought.""
My Comment: Clearly Spurgeon takes infallibility down to the very Words. He doesn't believe that infallibility on the level of words should be left to the judgment of men.

Conclusion:

Spurgeon attests to a belief in verbal, plenary preservation. All the Words and every Word of Scripture were available perfectly to him.

Rick Frueh said...

"If I am to judge the Book, it is no judge of me."

A multifaceted observation. The post modern scholars have gone from tortured interpretation to outright dismantling of the authenticity of the written revelation.

But they speak their views with an autheniticity they deny the Scriptures. Their books can have their undeniable authorship while the Creator of the Universe has to rely on a confused collection of the thoughts and stories of men which can be straightened out by more confused men.

If the source of truth can be questioned, than truth is at the mercy of what source men assign to it.

"In short, you have a ghastly mess!" (Mary Poppins)

Caddiechaplain said...

Kebt,
Your comments are somewhat . . . refreshing . . . at last!

The Doulos said...

My Bible college student son and I were having a discussion of various aberrant theological views last evening, especially those regarding the atonement of Christ. Our consensus was that these views that dismiss the penal substitutionary atonement have to beased on a willful disregard for the plain meaninng of the Scriptures. Which flows from a lack of regard for the authority of Scripture. Which flows from a lack of regard for the inerrancy of Scripture. Once you move from that foundation there is no limit to the error you can propound.

Daryl said...

"I believe he is saying "original languages, and not "original manuscripts.""

That doesn't quite cut it in my little mind. I mean, if he doesn't mean original autograph's but only original languages, then that would mean there would have to be no disagreement whatever, between all available manuscripts transcribed in the original languages, and, of course, that's just not the case.

In reality, the only thing we can say to be entirely without any error whatever, is the originals.

Lest this lead down an unnecessary rabbit trail, is it not true that all available and trustworthy manuscripts, while varying slightly due to copyist error, in no way vary so as to alter a doctrine of any significance?


I think we need to be careful to let Spurgeon say what he said and nothing more.

Besides Kent, we all know where you are ultimately heading with your comment, don't we...:)

Lamblion said...

"I have heard men with prudish and mock-modesty, who would like to alter the Bible; and (I almost blush to say it) I have heard minister’s alter God’s Bible, because they were afraid of it. Have you never heard a man say, “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not,” — What does the Bible say? “shall be DAMNED.” But that does not happen to be polite enough, so they say, “shall be CONDEMNED.” Gentlemen! pull the velvet out of your mouths; speak God’s word; we want none of your alterations." C. H. Spurgeon, The Bible

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

With the passage of time, I really appreciate the work and efforts of those who drafted and labored to make the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy in 1979 a reality. (As well as their forbearers).

CSBI and its drafters and signers have taken on so much criticism from liberal mainline Protestants and postmodern Emergers, and yet it still stands the test of time, and is a foundational bedrock with which to slay the continual re-appearances of the liberal Medusa-heads who minimize Scripture.

Will said...

Its amazing how many of the words of Spurgeon remain so relavant for today.

Mike said...

So, Kent, are you a KJV-Onlyer?

Twolyp said...

2 Sam 24:24 “So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.”

1 Ch 21:25 “So David paid Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the site.”

=======================

Mar 15:25 “It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him.”

Joh 19:14-18 “Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, "Here is your King!" They cried out, "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!" Pilate asked them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but the emperor." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.

=====================

I can't imagine anything that would make one a more responsible exegete than "former major league baseball pitcher"

=======================

There is more than one form of postmodernism. Some forms are not relativism, or question all means of knowing, and do not question the source of truth rather they question themselves. For instance take Luther and Melanchthon's defending God's inerrant word about the earth NOT being the center of the universe:

Luther called Copernicus an “upstart astronomer” and referred to him as a “fool who wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.”

Melanchthon said that “the eyes are witnesses that the heavens revolve in the space of twenty-four hours. But certain men, either from the love of novelty, or to make a display of ingenuity, have concluded the earth moves.” In support of what was obvious to him and clearly taught in Scripture he would quote such authoritative texts as Ecclesiastes 1:5 “The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hurries to the place where it rises.”

They were not wrong about God, or the Bible, just had some wrong information that they imposed on His Word because they were fallen, finite human beings and not God.

God doesn't make mistakes... humans do.

===========================

"Once you move from that foundation there is no limit to the error you can propound."

See above, and every Christian denomination that loves God and interprets Scripture differently than you.

Polycarp said...

NUTSHELL:

A Professing Christian who will not embrace inerrancy errs greatest and most tragically in his pseudo-profession of faith

jeff said...

I attend a church that is KJV only, but I don't necessarily believe that myself. In large part due to what I've learned here at Pyromaniacs.

Frank Turk said...

Kent:

I refer anyone who doesn't understand what you're driving at here to this exchange on the Textus Receptus at the D-Blog so that they can see what constitutes your view.

I also refer anyone interested in having a very broad view of the topic of KJV-Only arguments to read James White's The King James Only Controversy in order to dispel any lingering doubts about your opinions on this matter.

I'd also like to point out that your obsession with this topic violates rule #3 at TeamPyro: stay on-topic. KJVO theories are off-topic from this dose of Spurgeon. Stay between the ditches.

Twolyp said...

Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?
(a) God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
(b) Satan did (I Chronicles 2 1:1)

When Jesus walked on water how did the disciples respond?
(a) They worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33)
(b) “They were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:51-52)

Where was Jesus three days after his baptism?
(a) After his baptism, “the spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days ... (Mark 1:12-13)
(b) Next day after the baptism, Jesus selected two disciples. Second day: Jesus went to Galilee – two more disciples. Third day: Jesus was at a wedding feast in Cana in Galilee (see John 1:35; 1:43; 2:1-11)

Who killed Saul?
(a) “Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.... Thus Saul died... (I Samuel 31:4-6)
(b) An Amalekite slew him (2 Samuel 1:1- 16)

Did the voice spell out on the spot what Paul’s duties were to be?
(a) Yes (Acts 26:16-18)
(b) No. The voice commanded Paul to go into the city of Damascus and there he will be told what he must do. (Acts9:7; 22:10)

Where was Jesus at the sixth hour on the day of the crucifixion?
(a) On the cross (Mark 15:23)
(b) In Pilate’s court (John 19:14)

How many pairs of clean animals did God tell Noah to take into the Ark?
(a) Two (Genesis 6:19, 20)
(b) Seven (Genesis 7:2). But despite this last instruction only two pairs went into the ark (Genesis 7:8-9)

Did Jesus die before the curtain of the temple was torn?
(a) Yes (Matthew 27: 50-51; Mark 15: 37-38)
(b) No. After the curtain was torn, then Jesus crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last (Luke 23:45-46)

Did Jesus bear his own cross?
(a) Yes (John 19:17)
(b) No (Matthew 27:31-32)

According to the Gospel of John, what did Jesus say about bearing his own witness?
(a) “If I bear witness to myself, my testimony is not true” (John 5:3 1)
(b) “Even if I do bear witness to myself, my testimony is true” (John 8:14)

When Jesus entered Jerusalem did he cleanse the temple that same day?
(a) Yes (Matthew 21:12)
(b) No. He went into the temple and looked around, but since it was very late he did nothing. Instead, he went to Bethany to spend the night and returned the next morning to cleanse the temple (Mark 11:1-17)

What was the name of King Abijah’s mother?
(a) Michaiah, daughter of Uriel of Gibeah (2 Chronicles 13:2)
(b) Maachah, daughter of Absalom (2 Chronicles 11:20) But Absalom had only one daughter whose name was Tamar (2 Samuel 14:27)

Did Joshua and the Israelites capture Jerusalem?
(a) Yes (Joshua 10:23, 40)
(b) No (Joshua 15:63)

In what year of King Asa's reign did Baasha, King of Israel die?
(a) Twenty-sixth year (I Kings 15:33 - 16:8)
(b) Still alive in the thirty-sixth year (2 Chronicles 16:1)


These few among many others.

Mike said...

twolyp:
Nice piece about faith, but the contradiction implied by the refs of 2 Sam 24:24 and 1 Chr 21:25 is only on the surface. It can be reconciled and expounded through exegesis; but very simply, the epochs and the purchase item of the two verses are different, though they refer to the same event. The clue is in the fact that, chronologically, the former verse was written before the latter was. 1 Chr ref records the final result of the event.

The other set of contradictory verses (Mar 15:25 & Joh 19:14) can also be reconciled. In the KJV, the time references are marked with "third hour," "fourth hour," "ninth hour," etc. based on the epoch used for that locality. In the first century, there were several epochs (the rising sun, the setting sun, noon, midnight). These epochs differed according to locality (Egyptian, Babylonian, Athenian, Umbrians, Romans, etc.). The Joh 19:14 epoch was midnight (based on Romans), the Mar 15:25 epoch was the rising sun (based on Athenian, also according Hebrew practice). Thus, at 9 AM Jesus' trial was winding up and He was led away to be crucified.

The pertinent question to ask here is why John used the Roman system when he had the same culteral background as the synoptics. The answer is in the time and location John's Gospel was written: 90 AD in Ephesus, which was the capital of the Roman province of Asia.

Nevertheless, your post has valid observations. I like the point about Joshua's command to the sun to stand still, not the earth.

There are indeed mistakes in the KJV, but not just in the English translation: the very few discrepancies are found even in the manuscripts which are carried forward in the KJV. One example is 1 Sam 13:1.

Mike said...

twolyp:
Your second post list of contradictions, I suspect, are all cosmetic and can all be reconciled. There is a book out on this subject.

One point about apparent contradictions: not all accounts are chronologically recorded.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Twolyp,

Woe is me. I've been so brainwashed by the doctrine of inerrancy. My faith is so brittle and now you've shattered it to pieces with all your apparent contradictions. I shall be like Bart Ehrman and follow his footsteps into atheism or agnosticism. I shall give succor and aid to the liberal Protestants who've always decried the hardline inerrancy stance by fundamentalist-literalists for prompting weak-in-the-faith Christians such as I to abandon the faith now that inerrancy is broken and maybe what Jesus purportedly said, or what is written about Jesus is purportedly wrong. Woe is me. Boo-hoo. Boo-hoo.

And now I'm like so trapped. If I produce answers resolving these contradictions then I'll be accused of accepting the most stretched-out explanations for these contradictions so that I can hold to my brittle faith, lest I suffer an acute mental breakdown from having my Christian cultic paradigm snapped in half by such clear and simple questions.

Woe is me. Woe is me. Whatever shall I do.

(Tongue planted firmly in cheek.)

Kent Brandenburg said...

Two things I need to clear up from Frank's comment. I'm an expositional preacher. I don't obsess on a topic. If I judged based on Frank's standards of obsession, Pyro is obsessed with the Emergent movement (which they're not) and Frank with things Steve Camp says (he might be).

You can get a taste of our exposition at the sermon/downloads at our church website to get a taste of our church---http://www.pillarandground.org/?page_id=7

The second falsehood is that I was off topic. All I did was break down what Spurgeon said. I never mentioned the King James Version once. I said preservation of the words in the original languages. I think the King James was written in English if I'm not mistaken.

Let's play nice. OK, Frank?

jeff said...

Truth Unites,
Will you be ok? I'm worried about you. Now that Christianity has been proved false, I don't know what I'll do iether. Ha, Ha.

Mike said...

Well, in fairness, Kent...

"All I did was break down what Spurgeon said. "

That's not all you did. You "clarified" Spurgeon's comments with your own, and thereby changed the context of the message.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I think the scholarly, truthful, and edifying way to react to what I wrote in the comments is to simply show how that I was wrong. I can take that and love it.

The post from Spurgeon was about inerrancy. A big part of the attack on inerrancy today is to make room for the existence of textual variants. I don't deny textual variants exist. Saints of the 16th century didn't. Based on the quote, Spurgeon took the historic and Scriptural position, the one we see that Owen, Rutherford, Turretin, and the Westminster divines took. A big question is, does inerrancy apply only to the originals or to what we possess?

Frank wants to eject that from the discussion when it is one of the elephants in the room. He wants to do it with rhetoric, the KJO mud smear. Part of the attack on inerrancy that results in moving it from the essential to the tertiary doctrine category is this issue. That is what I heard from talking to Daniel Wallace directly. You can also see the revision of the historic position by reading Warfield.

Twolyp said...

truth unites,

You may want to take your medicine before you answer with such a clear, concise, and "well thought out" apologetic.

Mockingly sticking your head in the sand does you no favors; in fact, it makes you look very dumb.

I know how to resolve the issues I brought up and still retain my faith. That's right you can THINK and still have faith.

You should try it some time instead of scoffing or regurgitating what you heard someone else say.

Mike,

Nope

DJP said...

It seems to be a constant with folks like you, "Twolyp," that you display no self-awareness whatever.

Thus you can say:

"Mockingly sticking your head in the sand does you no favors; in fact, it makes you look very dumb. ...you can THINK...instead of scoffing or regurgitating what you heard someone else say"...

...after two posts of nothing but cut-and-pasted, already-oft-answered mockery, served up as if it said anything about anything other than yourself; and you can do it without the slightest twinge of irony!

It's a marvel. A scary marvel.

Magister Stevenson said...

Twolyp,
You stated, "I know how to resolve the issues I brought up and still retain my faith. That's right you can THINK and still have faith."
Are you implying
1. that these passages constitute difficult passages to understand and often are answered without thinking,
or
2. that these passages constitute real contradictions which can only be dealt with by thinking about one's faith (and not just "believing")
or
3. other?

And out of curiosity, of what does your faith consist?
Enoch

Twolyp said...

djp,

In a friendly mood today? OK I'll clarify. The questions are stock, no doubt. I don't have the time to continually write blog comment questions. I was referring to answers. I like to see literalists jump through the harmonization hoops or get worked up into name calling or putting people down with unhealthy sarcasm or outright disdain; which, by the way seems to be a constant with you too. Being so self unaware you say anything to anyone in any manner and you think it is in the "love" of Christ. I believe the Greek word is hypocrite.

Let me guess your next comment will be putting me down more in a passive aggressive manner thereby proving you are right and I am wrong.

It's a marvel. A scary (sad) marvel.

I also like how from a couple of blog comments you know how "self unaware" I am. Play God much? There were good responses to those questions that did not need a passive aggressive defense of "the truth unites" silliness

Stevenson,

I'm implying that the Scriptures are very difficult in some sections that require skills beyond harmonization and literalism. For example, Hebrew poetry. I increasingly find many Christians resort to ignoring issues within the text, unable to properly identify the different genres in the Bible, or resort to a form of inerrancy something along the lines of "I believe it, so it's true" which in the end I find a weak argument. God's Word is more holy, awesome, and complicated than that simple reduction.

"And out of curiosity, of what does your faith consist?"

Long answer: too long for a blog comment; short answer: God created, we fell, God incarnated in Jesus, he died, rose again, and somehow because of that I can spend eternity with him.

I believe that the Bible is complicated, deserving of our continual study, because God can always instruct us from his word that is alive and living and sharper than any two edged sword; however, I think some of our answers need some work particularly ones that resort to weak literalism (the following is not to you stevenson) so I am less than Christian and worthy of derision, and probably a heretic.

At least Jesus loves me.

Yes djp I am "aware" that I am using the same tactic that I put down earlier. Just as I was "aware" that I was poking people like "the truth" to respond the way he/she did.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Twolyp: "I know how to resolve the issues I brought up and still retain my faith. That's right you can THINK and still have faith."

Of course. What I am saying, via the wonderful tool of rhetorical sarcasm, is that I can satisfactorily resolve those issues or contradictions that you bring up, but that will merely open me up to the next false accusation that I (and any other inerrantist) will accept any explanation that clarifies and elucidates any apparent contradiction away.

There are numerous books and internet articles that resolve the contradictions that you posed.

I just don't want to play the game anymore with atheists and LibProts who are into Historical Criticism and neo-Orthodoxy.

Mike said...

"Mike,

Nope"

Twolyp,

Nope what?

Twolyp said...

Truth unites,

How do you feel about the salvation of "LibProts who are into Historical Criticism and neo-Orthodoxy"?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

How do you feel about the salvation of "LibProts who are into Historical Criticism and neo-Orthodoxy"?

What prompts the question? Are you a LibProt who subscribes to Historical Criticism and Neo-Orthodoxy?

DJP said...

Twolyp — no, never particularly friendly towards trolls. And no, not God; just literate, and older than 12.

I don't have the time to continually write blog comment questions. ...I like to see literalists jump through the harmonization [blah blah blah]...

IOW, troll, and arrogant troll at that. If that isn't tautology.

Mike, TUAD, Magister, I'm calling Rule 3. Don't waste more time on someone who won't waste his time on real dialogue, but will waste your time baiting you with questions for whose answer he's announced and shown himself disinterested.

Twolyp said...

djp,

your response has proved me a prophet

Magister Stevenson said...

DJP,
Not a problem. One of the great parts of God is the promise of a full examination when we meet him. Though doubtlessly I have much to answer for, I praise him that he will expose all error for what it is. Trolls included.
Enoch

Polycarp said...

Twolyp:

So seemingly smart in your petty examples because you have time on your side. How truly sad it is when one sets out to attack the holy, inerrant Word of God. Perhaps the following deathbed quote by Thomas Paine, who likewise thought himself so clever and outspoken throughout his life in his persistent attacks on the scriptures, will be reason for pause. Tragically, there was no hope left for Paine when he spoke these words because he was out of time; you, however, have the opportunity to repent for such indifference to Truth, and our gracious Lord will forgive you.

Quotes like the following are priceless gems of wisdom for suceeding generations because in them we have the vantage point of seeing the end result of lifelong folly, through words that were perhaps the most profound such individuals ever uttered in their time on earth:

**

Thomas Paine, renowned American author and infidel exerted a considerable amount of influence in his attack on the scriptures and belief in God; he came to his last hour in 1809, a most disillusioned and unhappy man, and declared:

“I would give worlds, if I had them, that the Age of Reason had not been published. O Lord, help me! Christ, help me! O God what have I done to suffer so much? But there is no God! But if there should be, what will become of me hereafter? Stay with me, for God’s sake! Send even a child to stay with me, for it is hell to be alone. If ever the devil had an agent, I was that one”

p.132, Last Words of Saints and Sinners. Lockear, Herbert (1969)