Friday, August 22, 2014

Inerrancy and open theism

As a conservative evangelical who accepted the “inerrancy” of Scripture, I used to be profoundly disturbed whenever I confronted contradictions in Scripture, or read books that made strong cases that certain aspects of the biblical narrative conflict with archeological findings. 
In my previous blog, I expressed one of the reasons why these things do not bother me anymore. The ultimate foundation for my faith is no longer Scripture, but Christ. I feel I have very good historical, philosophical, and personal reasons for believing that the historical Jesus was pretty much as he’s described in the Gospels.

That's a serious problem for open theism. You see, open theists like Boyd and Sanders try to prooftext their position from Scripture. But if Scripture is errant, then even if their interpretations are correct and their inferences are valid, the conclusion is no better than the erroneous source.

There are apologist who don't think inspiration and/or inerrancy is necessary. As long as Biblical accounts are based on eyewitness testimony, that's sufficient. After all, our historical knowledge in general is based on uninspired testimonial evidence. Testimonial evidence can still be reliable, even if the witness is fallible.

And that's true as far as it goes. But the problem with Boyd's position is that the claims of open theism aren't based on publicly observable events. Rather, they concern the nature of God. Whether or not God knows the future, or is affected by the world, is not an empirical fact. That's not detectable by the five senses. Our knowledge of God's nature in that respect is contingent on revelation rather than observation. 

OT prophets and Bible narrators are only privy to God's nature in that regard through divine self-disclosure. That's not something uninspired observers can see for themselves. That kind of information is inaccessible to sensory perception. 

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