Monday, June 30, 2008

Infallible falsehoods

According to Perry Robinson:

“Added to this is the fact that various councils claim for themselves divine inspiration.”

“The cessation of the apostolic office wouldn’t imply a lack of divine inspiration in the church, which is exactly and explicitly what the ecumenical councils that Protestants profess fealty to claim for themselves.”

“But I would need to be infallible to judge in a way that was normatively binding on the consciences of other men and that seems fairly easy to establish in terms of what was in the mind of the church at councils.”

“Therefore, the judgments reached in this way are provisional and revisable and therefore represent a practical stability, which can always be re-opened. There isn’t any formal theological statement found in any Reformed confession that isn’t itself open to possible revision, and this includes the canon itself.”

“I don’t have a problem with the idea that erroneous statements could be inspired.”

“Caiaphas’ case is relevant since he was wrong yet inspired.”

Let’s put two and two together. On the one hand, Perry thinks that ecumenical councils are inspired.

And he apparently thinks that conciliar inspiration renders conciliar statements “normative” and “unrevisable.”

On the other hand, Perry also has no problem with the idea of inspired errors. So if we apply Perry’s theory of inspiration to his belief in conciliar inspiration, Perry doesn’t have any problem with the idea that conciliar statements could be wrong or erroneous.

But why would an inspired error be normative or unrevisable? Indeed, given Perry’s theory of inspiration, wouldn’t conciliar statements be provisional and open to correction?

How do inspired errors bind the conscience of a believer? Are we duty-bound to believe falsehoods?

Are inspired errors better than uninspired errors?

Perry seems to regard the mind of the church, speaking in or through ecumenical councils, is infallible. An infallible judge. But how does that square with his theory of inspiration?


  1. “Caiaphas’ case is relevant since he was wrong yet inspired.”

    Does that passage in John mean that Caiaphas was actually inspired or was he just "prophesying" in the sense of making a prediction?

  2. Good question. However, Perry has yet to explain how Caiaphas was wrong.

  3. FWIW, I interact with Perry Robinson in the following thread, In Defense of Sola Scriptura - Part Two , starting at comment #28, but accelerating towards the end of the thread.

    Relevant to this Tblogue thread, he writes:

    "And when I mentioned the Apostles, I meant at least collectively. Do you think it was possible for all of the apostles to teach a false gospel say at the Acts 15 council or no? Furthermore, it is arguable that what Paul rebukes Peter for is praxis and not teaching. It was Peter’s behavior that was the problem."

    "Well first we’d need to agree on what apostolic authority constituted and then whether it was at least in part transferrable. This is why I focused on the council in Acts 15. Was that infallible or no? If so, then it significantly undermines SS."