Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Moser redux

This is a continuation of the Paul Moser Facebook thread. I've done some editing. I tried to cut the dead wood (IMO). I've sometimes combined comments or rearranged the order of some comments to tighten up the flow of argument. 

Paul K Moser
April 13 at 11:29pm · 
The Bible & Science:

Maul Panata Paul, who's the "you" in 1 Cor 1:14, i.e., in the "none of you except..."? Those Christians gathered in Corinth? Should we include Stephanus among them? Or do we have reason to think (e.g., 1 Cor 16:17) that Stephanus wasn't one of those "among you", i.e., those referred to in 1:14, since he was in Ephesus with Paul at the time Paul wrote 1:14?
April 14 at 3:17pm · Like · 5
David Byron How did Jesus regard the Tanakh. Does it matter how Jesus reportedly regarded the Tanakh? If "Scripture cannot be broken" fairly summarizes his attitude, then did/does his bad ideology of inerrancy turn many people away from Christian faith, and even faith in God-- especially educated people?
April 14 at 6:40pm · Edited · Like · 3
Paul K Moser Jesus didn't share the bad ideology of inerrancy. See Matt. 5:43-48. He corrects the Hebrew Bible where needed, even quoting parts of it before correcting it. (Maybe he even drew a picture, but that seems to have been lost in transmission.) He's Lord even of the OT. That's part of the point of the Sermon on the Mount. We can't impose a wooden modern idea of scriptural correctness on Jesus if we are to make sense of him. Otherwise, we make him look silly. The Bible is not Lord; Jesus is.
April 14 at 7:50pm · Like
Maul Panata Paul, in Matt 5:43ff Jesus corrects what was *said* not what was *written*. He's correcting *tradition*, not *Scripture*. At best your verses show that Jesus might have regarded tradition as errant, but not that he regarded the Bible as such.
April 14 at 8:59pm · Edited · Unlike · 6
David Byron @Paul, it appears that you think Jesus is correcting his bible in Matt 5:43. You say ("Jesus didn't share the bad ideology of inerrancy. See Matt. 5:43-48. He corrects the Hebrew Bible where needed, even quoting parts of it before correcting it.") 

In this, you seem to be mistaken. The OT contains no command to hate one's enemies. Jesus here affirms (and in some cases intensifies) his bible's teachings by contrasting them to halakhah and other abiblical guidance then current. For an introduction to the exegesis of Matthew 5, see:

David Byron Thanks for your reply, Paul. Again, I'm afraid it seems you haven't pondered deeply enough these relationships between gloss and thing glossed. The lex talionis (eye, tooth, etc.) defines what the Mosaic state is empowered to do to achieve the full justice to which the injured is entitled.

Jesus' remark isn't a dissent but rather a clarification that the injured *need not insist on*, and sometimes should not insist on, exacting the full justice to which s/he's entitled.
April 14 at 11:17pm · Like
David Byron In this respect, Jesus' comment is analogous to Saul/Paul's observation that the fact that a Christian may be entitled to seek a remedy against his offending neighbor in a court of law does not mean that the Christian should do so. Settle these matters in-house, if that's feasible, via negotiation, forgiveness, restoration, and other germinal values.
April 14 at 11:21pm · Like
David Byron I sense, Paul, that what you're concerned to do-- in rejecting inerrantism (which comes in flavors) and in dismissing revelational epistemology-- is to conserve the academic respectability and intellectual integrity of Christian theism by segregating and explaining away factors that seem to you inconsistent with truths or facts that every education person ought, by now, to believe. In other words, you seem to feel yourself fighting Galileo's fight against geocentric trogs.
April 14 at 11:24pm · Like
Paul K Moser 'Dismissing revelational epistemology'? You must be kidding. Does it matter that I've devoted four books to promoting such epistemology? I guess not.
April 14 at 11:25pm · Like
David Byron Sure, it matters. No need to grow defensive.
April 14 at 11:26pm · Like
David Byron No doubt you're open to the possibility that, for all your promotion of revelational epistemology, you haven't necessarily worked out the details of the details in a way that manages to be both God- and man-pleasing.
April 14 at 11:27pm · Like
David Byron In any event, I wouldn't attribute to you the claim that you had perfected your model. (There are some philosophers in the fold to whom I might attribute that stance....)
April 14 at 11:28pm · Like
David Byron It seems to me that respect for science, including the highly probable deliverances of applied scientific method, can live in intellectual harmony with both a revelational epistemology and a well-wrought inerrantism (that discerns and acknowledges oddities in the Bible critically rather than credulously).
April 14 at 11:28pm · Like
David Byron But when your dismissal of inerrantism comes hand in hand with illustrations that don't actually demonstrate the claims for which you adduce them, the dismissal ends up seeming forced and tendentious rather than argued.
April 14 at 11:29pm · Like · 2
David Byron Thanks for the tip. Back to the issue: When you adduced 1 Cor 1:14, Paul Manata embarrassed your misreading by pointing out that there's a good reason the writer mentioned Stephanus separately. You cited Matt 5:43-48 and Matt 5:38 in a way that showed you're not familiar with the routine and well-reasoned exegesis of those verses. What I'm saying is this: if you're going to cite passages to support your claims against inerrancy, citing passages that are actually problematic or interesting in that connection would better sustain your cause.
April 14 at 11:36pm · Like · 1
David Byron There's an unfortunate tendency in anti-inerrantist discussions, to see any crux in the text as a slam-dunk instance of error that renders the question of inerrancy moot. This is analogous, roughly, to atheist literature in which any ol' argument is good enough, as long as it points the right way. Our standard should be higher; we should expect and require better than, "The bible isn't inerrant, because St. Paul included an aside" or "Turning the other cheek is different from eye-for-an-eye, so clearly it corrects/supersedes it."
April 14 at 11:40pm · Like
Steve Hays Here's a good example of a sophisticated inerrancy position:

Here's another example: 

April 15 at 2:09am · Like
Steve Hays Other good monographs on inerrancy include:

Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (IVP; 2nd ed., 2007)

Steven Cowan and Terry Wilder, In Defense of the Bible: A Comprehensive Apologetic for the Authority of Scripture (B&H 2013)

James Hoffmeier & Dennis MaGary, eds., Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith? (Crossway 2012)

Jonathan Pennington, Reading the Gospels Wisely (Baker 2012)

Robert Stein, Interpreting Puzzling Texts in the New Testament (Baker 1997)

In addition, we have many fine commentators. 

Problem is, Moser's modus operandi is to poison the well. That's not a philosophical virtue.
April 15 at 2:11am · Unlike · 2
David Byron The question of inerrancy and the issues of revelational epistemology are entangled in such a way that curt dismissal or ideological broad-brushing are inapt ways to deal with those complexities; they're better suited to avoiding those complexities. And dealing, rather than avoiding, is the heart of philosophy.
April 15 at 2:40am · Like
Brooks Robinson The question of inerrancy is no question at all. We don't have the original autographs. It is about as speculative as scholastic metaphysics.
April 15 at 2:41am · Like · 1
Steve Hays Robinson's objection cuts both ways. If, according to him, we don't know what the Bible really said, then error can't be imputed to Scripture.
April 15 at 2:45am · Like · 1
David Byron Hi Brooks. FWIW, "original autographs" is redundant. Since "inerrancy" is properly understood to be a trait of the autographa, we are indeed left, at best, with an approximation. But it's an excellent approximation; few doubt that textual critics have reconstructed the texts to well within the relevant margin of error. After all, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to textual evidence. For this reason, your comparing the integrity of the text to the accuracy of Scholastic speculative theology is mostly heat, not light.

The question of inerrancy doesn't hinge on whether we have 95% rather than 100%; rather, it's about whether 95% is good enough to discern (well enough) any of the intended teachings of the 100%; and whether any such teachings stand irreconcilably contrary to things known on other bases.
April 15 at 2:49am · Like
Steve Hays By Robinson's logic, we can't ask if Tacitus or Josephus are accurate since we don't have the originals.
April 15 at 2:49am · Like
David Byron In other words f the e's a w d or phr se from this sentence, we'll nev know what I intended to write!
April 15 at 2:51am · Like · 1
David Byron Brooks, the text we actually have didn't spring fully malformed from the head of Zeus! It exists precisely because a prior text, and operations on that text, led to its current state.
April 15 at 2:52am · Like
Paul K Moser Inerrancy isn't a thesis just about our knowing what someone 'intended to write'; it's a claim about the complete accuracy of the original Biblical mss. We can't shift the terms of disagreement here.
April 15 at 2:53am · Like
David Byron Declining to ask about Bubba's grandfather simply because only Bubba and his father remain is, shall we say, less than rigorous as a bio-hermeneutical approach. 
April 15 at 2:53am · Like
David Byron "Inerrancy isn't a thesis just about our knowing what someone 'intended to write'; it's a claim about the complete accuracy of the original Biblical mss. We can't shift the terms of disagreement here."

You seem to be confusing orthogonal issues: whether an assertion was intended and whether an assertion is accurate (by some relevant measure).

Inerrancy has been defined and defended in various ways; in the mainstream of such discussions, you'll find both factors in play: authorial (or editorial) intentions, and the literary mechanisms of meaning that convey those intentions.
April 15 at 3:01am · Like
David Byron I drew an analogy. It seems you're so quick to reply in a rebutting mode that you've almost entirely lost track of the thread. 
April 15 at 3:11am · Like
Paul K Moser Back to specifics: do you believe that Jesus cleansed the Temple twice: once at the beginning of his ministry, and then at the end?
April 15 at 3:14am · Like
David Byron I'm aware that some attempts to harmonize propose that structure. See, for example, Thomas & Gundry. I grant that it's possible as some sort of chiastic or parenthetical "lived parable". But to me, it looks more like the same event inserted in different places by authors whose chief concern was not strict chronology but literary effect.
April 15 at 3:17am · Like · 1
Paul K Moser So, strictly speaking, John's Gospel does not capture the correct chronology?
April 15 at 3:18am · Like
David Byron It seems to me that John's Gospel is extremely literary in its structuring, not unlike Genesis.
April 15 at 3:18am · Like
Paul K Moser So, the answer to my question is: yes?
April 15 at 3:19am · Like
David Byron I see no evidence in the gospels of an interest in strict biographical chronology; I see rough chronology amended for a variety of literary reasons.
April 15 at 3:20am · Like
David Byron Chief among those reasons is the goal of delivering inerrant, inspired teachings.
April 15 at 3:20am · Like
David Byron If only "inerrantism" meant just the simple, easily rejected/rebutted/refuted thing that you wish it meant.
April 15 at 3:21am · Like
David Byron (The closest we come to an interest in strict biographical chronology is Luke's remark that he has set things out "in consecutive order"; but how strictly he means that, and how strictly we should take it, are open questions.)
April 15 at 3:23am · Like
David Byron You're addressing me as if I've avoided your question; and yet, I've answered it emphatically and without important ambiguity. What is it about these discussions that makes that discursive style seem civil to you?
April 15 at 3:25am · Like
David Houston If we're judging John's gospel by the standards of modern biographies, which attempt to give a "womb to tomb" account in strict chronological order than, yes, he is in "error". But if were judging him by the standards of ancient biography (as we should!) then there is no error here. This is part of the difference between the Half Lindsey and Norman Geisler school of inerrancy (6 cock crows, anyone?) and the contextually sensitive inerrancy of guys like VanHoozer, Blomberg, Licona, Witherington, Wallace, etc.
April 15 at 3:27am · Like · 1
David Byron Your question: "...strictly speaking, John's Gospel does not capture the correct chronology?" In saying that I find that work literary in a manner akin to Genesis, I rather clearly dismiss the idea that "correct" chronology is something the author aimed to, or managed to, "capture". A theological armature based on key statements ("I am the...", and "my time has not yet come") and passover symbolism seems to be the main driver of sequence in that gospel; rigorous chronology does not.
April 15 at 3:31am · Like · 1
David Byron My only quibble with your question is the concept of "correct chronology", which is anachronistic for literature of that era.
April 15 at 3:32am · Like · 1
Paul K Moser OK, David Houston, that's a move toward a straight answer. Once we go 'contextually sensitive', however, we open up some big problems. One question concerns how we tell what an author actually intended by way of historical representation. This question can be difficult. Did Matthew intend to say that the dead actually emerged from their graves after the crucifixion? Hmm. Is the answer obvious to you? Saying 'no' will get you fired at a number of Christian schools. Or what about the virgin birth in Matthew? See the flak taken by Robert Gundry at ETS.
April 15 at 3:35am · Edited · Like
Steve Hays Notice that Moser is burning a straw man version of inerrancy. A good philosopher is supposed to attack the strongest version of a position, not the weakest version. I've cited several astute models, two of which are available online. Why does Moser attack easy targets rather than testing his position against the best competition?
April 15 at 3:34am · Like · 1
Steve Hays The timing of the "dead" emerging from the tombs is a syntactical question. The syntax is ambiguous. That's hardly the same thing as a factually false statement.
April 15 at 3:35am · Like · 2
David Byron The question of authorial intent is indeed fascinating. Whether we join Hirsch at one pole or dance with Foucault's "author function" at the other, we're bound to find no position that is both simple and satisfying.
April 15 at 3:35am · Like · 1
Steve Hays I don't recall Gundry being evicted from the ETS over the virgin birth. It was his use of redaction criticism, which denied the historicity of the nativity accounts, that got him into trouble.
April 15 at 3:37am · Like
Steve Hays Technically speaking, Gundry did not deny the inerrancy of Matthew and Luke. Sometimes "inerrancy" is shorthand for a package of issues, including historicity and predictive prophecy.
April 15 at 3:40am · Like · 1
David Byron "One question concerns how we tell what an author actually intended by way of historical representation. This question can be difficult." No doubt we should all spend more time and effort considering issues such as expression, representation, and historiography! 
April 15 at 3:40am · Like · 1
David Byron BTW, it's cute, Paul, that you present these "big problems" as if nobody on the inerrantist side of the issue has heard of them before. You're not selling anything, so I'm sure you don't intend to sound so clickbaity in your presentation. "An ancient text neglected early modern notions of temporality. You won't believe what its narrative did next!"
April 15 at 3:47am · Edited · Like
Paul K Moser I guess you forgot that I mentioned the existence of a large literature on the topic. I recommend the British evangelicals on the topic; they aren't taken in by American evangelical excesses on the topic. Inerrancy is largely an American corruption.
April 15 at 3:56am · Like
Maul Panata One British evangelical you might check, then, Paul, is John Wenham's _Christ and the Bible_ (this is a nod back to your claim that Jesus didn't hold to inerrancy).
April 15 at 4:12am · Edited · Like · 2
Patrick Chan 

April 15 at 4:09am · Like · 1 · Remove Preview
Steve Hays Is Moser saying, to take one counterexample, that 17C Reformed scholastics and Lutheran dogmaticians didn't subscribe to the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture?
April 15 at 4:34am · Like
Steve Hays What about British evangelicals like J. I. Packer, a signatory to the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy?
April 15 at 4:35am · Like
Maul Panata Well, we cited the literature we did because you (at least conversationally) implied that we couldn't find our stance or arguments among the British evangelicals.
April 15 at 5:29am · Edited · Like
Paul K Moser Contemporary British evangelicals do not represent your position in any significant way. Neither Wenham nor Packer is a contemporary contributor to the debate.
April 15 at 5:35am · Like
Maul Panata Sure, Paul, but that's not what you originally said, though it's consistent with it. Indeed, you claimed such a stance (inerrancy) was due largely to America. Your use of "corruption" seemed to be about more than just contemporary writers. So it seemed such references were warranted.
April 15 at 5:52am · Like
Paul K Moser It's a fact of the matter that British evangelicals do not feel obligated to endorse inerrancy in the way American evangelicals do.
April 15 at 12:10pm · Like
Maul Panata The majority of British academic evangelicals? Sure. Though I'm not sure the scene is much different here. Do the majority of American academic evangelicals embrace inerrancy? Hard to say! But what of it? 

British evangelicals do, however, make much of biblical *authority*. I wonder, do you? And, if you do, how do you understand that concept and what do you think grounds it?
April 15 at 12:17pm · Edited · Like
Paul K Moser It isn't hard to say: most American evangelical churches and colleges require commitment to inerrancy by their pastors and teachers. The difference suggests a distinctly American (wooden) reading of the Bible by evangelicals here. British evangelicals must wonder (rightly) what all the fuss is about.
April 15 at 12:21pm · Like
Maul Panata Perhaps. Do you have the hard data? Then, that schools officially require it isn't to say the profs all hold to it. Many schools look the other way. Moreover, many evangelical scholars may not teach at those schools. I'm asking about people, not institutions. Anyway, not much rides on this, but you're making an empirical claim and so empirical evidence is required.
April 15 at 4:08pm · Edited · Like · 1
Maul Panata Oh, as for "wooden" readings of the Bible, with respect, the only person I've seen doing that in this thread is you. It's how you get your "contradictions" (all of which have been adequately answered here, I might add).
April 15 at 12:25pm · Like · 1
Patrick Chan I suspect Prof. Moser may be working with a dated understanding of the term "evangelicals." But today the term "evangelical" has become so broad as to defy meaningful delineation. Not to mention "evangelical" arguably has different associations as well as connotations dependent on geography among other things (e.g. there seems to be a considerably different sense to saying one is an "evangelical" in NYC in comparison to saying one is an "evangelical" in the Deep South, let alone across the pond).
April 15 at 12:41pm · Like
Steve Hays "Paul K Moser: Contemporary British evangelicals do not represent your position in any significant way. Neither Wenham nor Packer is a contemporary contributor to the debate."

Aside from the fact that Moser is moving the goalpost, what about contemporary UK inerrantist Bible scholars like D. A. Carson, Richard Hess, Grant Osborne, and Murray J. Harris? For that matter, what about contemporary German inerrantist Bible scholars like Eckhard Schnabel, and Andreas Köstenberger?
Steve Hays "Paul K Moser: I recommend the British evangelicals on the topic; they aren't taken in by American evangelical excesses on the topic. Inerrancy is largely an American corruption."

I daresay the late Roger Nicole would beg to differ. You know, the Swiss Reformed theologian who studied at Lausanne, the Sorbonne, and Harvard–among other hotbeds of American evangelical corruption.

Of course, Moser could try to salvage his hasty generalization by invoking the no true Scotsman fallacy.
April 15 at 1:17pm · Like
Calum Miller There is certainly a significant contingent of inerrantists among British evangelicals. Lay evangelicals here probably tend to accept it, and evangelical theologians usually do too (probably more frequently than laypeople). I still think that's American influence - but it's there nevertheless.
April 15 at 1:20pm · Like · 2
Steve Hays Regarding Moser's appeal to the Sermon on the Mount to correct the OT, others have already demonstrated that Moser misconstrues his prooftexts. 

But let's grant Moser's interpretation for the sake of argument. His appeal is self-refuting. Remember that Jesus didn't write that. Rather, the author of Matthew is attributing those sayings to Jesus.

If, however, we take the view of critical scholarship regarding Matthew, which Moser presumably endorses, this was written c. 80-100 by someone who never heard Jesus speak. His source material underwent decades of creative oral tradition, followed by creative redaction. Indeed, Matthew isn't really about the life of Jesus, but about the life of Matthew's church. The author invents backstories to validate the beliefs and practices of his church.

Given that approach to Matthew, Moser can't quote Jesus to correct the OT, for we don't have the words of Jesus. (Not even a summary or paraphrase.) Rather, we have Matthew putting words in Jesus' mouth.

The alternative is that "fundaevangelical" scholarship which Moser views with dripping contempt.
April 15 at 1:29pm · Like · 1
Maul Panata Howell Jones is another. And the list can go on...
April 15 at 2:26pm · Like
Steve Hays In addition, numerous American inerrantists studied abroad under British scholars who deny inerrancy. There may be some who studied under Martin Hegel, too.

Likewise, Carl Trueman was reputedly a driving force behind the ouster of Peter Enns. Enns is American, and Trueman is British.
April 15 at 2:28pm · Like
Patrick Chan Besides, why is the contemporary standard of comparison over inerrancy solely set against the American vs. British academic backdrop? Why not, for example, include Asian or African or Latin American "fundaevangelical" scholars who are increasingly representing the direction of the majority Christian world as well?
April 15 at 2:46pm · Like
Paul K Moser 'May not be inerrantist'? Why do you hedge like this? Bad rhetorical ploy. Why not just state the truth? Why is this so hard for you? Better truth than self-serving rhetoric. In addition, why assume that 'the majority Christian world' (whatever it holds) has epistemic significance? It doesn't. This isn't a matter of a show of hands. By the way, the Reformed types you mention have to endorse inerrancy to keep their jobs, typically under the authority of the Westminster Confession. So, there's hardly impartiality here.
April 15 at 8:58pm · Like
Patrick Chan 
In any case, I didn't reference "the majority Christian world," period. No, I specified "scholars" - i.e. Asian, African, Latin American, and other "majority world" ("fundaevangelical") Christian scholars. I brought this up mainly because you strictly framed and confined the debate over inerrancy between UK and American evangelicals.

"So, there's hardly impartiality here.

This cuts both ways. One could say the same about Enns, or yourself, for example. Perhaps you're prejudiced in ways relevant to the debate at hand because you're employed by a left-leaning moderate Catholic institution, perhaps some of your funding comes from particular sources at odds with inerrancy, etc.
April 15 at 10:18pm · Like · 1
Paul K Moser Some of my funding? You need a reality check, asap. I have nothing more to say to you, other than: May your day go well.
April 15 at 10:20pm · Like
Patrick Chan "Some of my funding? You need a reality check, asap."

This shouldn't be surprising, especially for someone in academics. It's routine in academic research to disclose funding sources because external funding and commercial interests can in fact influence if not bias a study or paper or the like.
David Byron In particular, they maintained that the autographa were a (necessary and) perfect medium, and that our reconstruction of them is a (necessary and) sufficiently perspicuous medium.
April 16 at 1:25am · Like
Steve Hays "Paul K Moser In addition, why assume that 'the majority Christian world' (whatever it holds) has epistemic significance? It doesn't. This isn't a matter of a show of hands."

Funny how Moser adopts and ditches standards at the drop of a hat whenever it suits the immediate demands of his argument. He defaults to "British scholarship." What's that if not a show of hands? 

"By the way, the Reformed types you mention have to endorse inerrancy to keep their jobs, typically under the authority of the Westminster Confession. So, there's hardly impartiality here."

i) D. A. Carson, Grant Osborne, Rick Hess, Murray J. Harris, Eckhard Schnabel, Andreas Köstenberger et al. don't teach at institutions where the faculty must uphold the WCF. 

Moser concocts just-so stories to back up his claims. 

ii) Furthermore, is this a backdoor admission on Moser's part that the WCF commits adherents to the inerrancy of Scripture? Yet the WCF is a 17C British document. That ruins Moser's fictional polemical narrative about inerrancy being an American fundamevangelical innovation. 

iii) What's wrong with teaching at a Confessional institution? It's a free association. No one is required to teach there. 

Does Moser think Christian seminaries shouldn't be confessional institutions? Does he believe in distinctively Christian institutions?
April 16 at 1:56am · Like · 1
Steve Hays Robert Reed,

That pop narrative has already been challenged. Do you think that 17C Lutheran dogmaticians and Reformed scholastics (to take two examples) did not espouse the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture?
April 16 at 2:00am · Like
Steve Hays "Paul K Moser: Necessary medium? The earliest Christian movement flourished before there were original mss."

When contemporaries of Jesus are still around, when living memory of what he said and did was still accessibly, there was naturally less need to have written records which preserve that for the benefit of posterity.

At the same time, pastoral letters to mission churches were a part of the earliest Christian movement.
April 16 at 2:05am · Like
Steve Hays "Paul K Moser: 'Dismissing revelational epistemology'? You must be kidding. Does it matter that I've devoted four books to promoting such epistemology? I guess not."

That ducks the question of whether Moser considers verbal revelation to be a foundational element of the Judeo-Christian faith. Does he repudiate the principle of divine speech (mediate by inspired writers)?

What is Moser's benchmark, anyway? is it Christianity or mere theism?
April 16 at 2:15am · Like
Steve Hays Reed, you said inerrantism is a reaction to 19C historical criticism. If, however, it antedates that movement, then that obviously calls into question what you said.
April 16 at 3:01am · Like
Steve Hays "Robert Reed: The way I see inerrancy being used here seems much stronger than inspiration but to also include a thesis about what the message of scripture is."

Do you think that proponents of inerrancy like B. B. Warfield, Roger Nicole, D. A. Carson et al. have a stronger view of what inspiration entails than 17C Lutheran dogmaticians and Reformed scholastics? 

"My question now for Steve is why do you call my point about the historical-critical school and the fundamentalist reaction against it a 'pop-narrative'?"

Because it's an urban myth that was popularized by men like Donald McKim and Jack Rogers. This, in turn, becomes an polemical narrative that's uncritically repeated without any regard to the view of Scripture held by 17C Protestant divines. It treats inerrancy as a reactionary innovation. That, however, is historical revisionism.
April 16 at 3:29am · Like · 2
Craig Pynn "How long will you torment me,
and break me in pieces with words?" Job 19:2
April 16 at 4:57am · Like · 1
Steve Hays Craig, the issue is whether Christianity is a revealed religion. Why do you think that's unworthy of discussion? do you think God raises up prophets and apostles? Does he speak to and through authorized representatives? Even if you deny that, that's foundational to the Judeo-Christian faith. Not just a God who acts, but a God who speaks. A God who interprets his own actions.
April 16 at 5:06am · Like
Steve Hays Robert, are you denying that inerrancy antedated the HC movement?
April 16 at 5:04am · Like
Paul K Moser The mean Calvinists push on to the bloody end, taking no prisoners. Any kind of mean rhetoric is fair game in their adversarial minds. They are running the new inquisition, fully self-appointed and impervious to correction. The evidence doesn't matter, because Calvin's God is on their side. Sad story indeed.
April 16 at 5:09am · Like
Steve Hays Is Moser proposing that Calvinists and inerrantists are conterminous?
Commenters have produced abundant counterevidence to Moser's sweeping claims. His response is to reply, not with reasoned argument, but invective.
April 16 at 5:17am · Like
David Houston Hi. My name is David. I am not a Calvinist but I am an inerrantist. 

More impressive non-Calvinists inerrantists include Witherington, Wallace, Blomberg, Licona, etc.
April 16 at 5:27am · Like · 1
David Houston And I know this is several comments up now but are we really going to argue that inerrantists are pressured into holding their view? Most of the inerrantists mentioned in this thread were trained at institutions where a commitment to inerrancy was equivalent to a scientist coming out as a young earther!
April 16 at 5:30am · Like · 1
Steve Hays To piggyback on David's statement, confessional Lutherans are inerrantists. Many Southern Baptists support inerrancy, but oppose Calvinism.
April 16 at 5:35am · Like
Paul K Moser You must be proud of them, David. Are we supposed to believe that is an indication of their strong faith in God? Maybe you are suggesting that the evidential support for inerrancy is about as strong as that for a young earth. Hmm. If so, we're in agreement.
April 16 at 5:38am · Like
David Houston No, it was to point out that your argument that people hold to inerrancy largely because they want to get/keep a job cuts both ways. Peer pressure is not confined to conservative circles.
April 16 at 6:03am · Like
Paul K Moser Did someone here say it was thus confined? If not, we have a case of the straw man fallacy here.
April 16 at 6:57am · Edited · Like
David Houston So you're saying that those who reject inerrancy are just as guilty as conservatives of pressuring others to adopt their view on this subject?
April 16 at 7:07am · Edited · Like
Adam Omelianchuk Paul. I know you probably find the topic of biblical inerrancy to be pretty tedious, but it is actually a lot of fun to think about from a philosophical perspective. Garry DeWeese taught a great class on this topic at Biola, which I was fortunate to sit in on before he retired. I went in to the class pretty skeptical and came out thinking it was more viable than I could have ever believed. Some of what I learned, I used in a little review I wrote on Amazon for the Zondervan's latest "5 Views" book on the subject if you are interested. 

I end the review saying, "As a philosopher (in training) I find the idea of biblical inerrancy to be more interesting than ever. The intersection of the philosophy of language, the philosophy of history, literary criticism, the nature of truth, the structure of knowledge, theories of interpretation, and perfect being theology all converge to make fertile ground for philosophical reflection. Add to that the sociological drama of the consequences of affirming or denying biblical inerrancy, and you get all the trappings political intrigue thrown in. This book reflects all of that in wonderful detail."

Steve Hays Murray Hogg,

Regarding Calvin's theory of accommodation, have you read this analysis?

Steve Hays Murray Hogg:

"First, it seems that whenever a person critiques inerrancy they are accused of attacking a 'straw man.' This is a terribly easy accusation to make given that inerrantists themselves really don't seem to agree on what the concept actually entails and it's this lack of precise agreement which I see as a major problem. It's almost impossible to deal with all versions of inerrancy which are bandied about so, yes, a blanket treatment of inerrancy is likely to distort some people's understanding of same."

I, for one, named particular representatives of the version I had in mind. So, no, that wasn't a "terribly easy accusation" to make. I was quite specific. 

"Personally, I just go with the claim that I've never seen a version of inerrancy which doesn't seem to me to have serious problems."

Well, only you know who you've read and why it seems that way to you. 

"As long as we're dealing with inerrancy as some sort of broad conceptual idea (i.e. code for "the bible is a reliable guide for faith and practice") then well and good. But when one sees a dispute such as that between Al Mohler and Mike Licona over the latter's treatment of Matthew 27:51-54 it becomes clear (to me, at least!) that even inerrantists aren't precisely sure what they're defending."

Mohler is a generalist and a popularizer. So his formulation isn't very astute. Further down, Ochuck references Vanhoozer's essay. Not surprisingly, that's far more sophisticated.
April 16 at 12:50pm · Like · 1
Steve Hays "Paul K Moser: If truth be told, the inerrancy doctrine is more of a social identity-marker than an empirical hypothesis."

It's silly for Moser to frame inerrancy as an "empirical hypothesis." Does he frame the Trinity as an empirical hypothesis? 

Inerrancy is grounded in the principle of divine verbal revelation, which is, in turn, attested by the self-witness of Scripture (e.g. OT prophets). Of course, unbelievers reject the revelatory status of Scripture, but that's what makes them unbelievers. 

"Its deepest motive is: I'm more faithful than those damn liberals."

Imputing motives cuts both ways. We could just as well say that Moser is making a virtue of necessity by camouflaging his infidelity in mock pious terms.
April 17 at 2:23am · Unlike · 2
Steve Hays Murray Hogg: 

"I well imagine there could be more nuanced versions available that I haven't encountered but this just takes us back to my previous point: it's hard to know precisely what 'inerrancy' means or to address it definitively when there are multiple variations on the theme."

How is that different from other theological constructs? Consider different models of the hypostatic union. 

There's no reason to have a one-size-fits-all assessment of inerrancy. And, typically, when we evaluate the merits of a position, we should focus on the most sophisticated formulation. 

"frankly, by the time inerrancy gets sophisticated enough to hold water it seems to me that it's just too complex to be helpful."

It's simply a question of introducing reasonable qualifications, like making allowance for literary conventions.

Inerrancy is inevitably bound up with hermeneutics. And there are different schools of hermeneutics. But then, we'd expect a serious theological claim to generate complexities. That doesn't present a special problem for inerrancy. Any major philosophical or theological position will spawn complications.

April 17 at 2:29am · Unlike · 2
Steve Hays "Paul K Moser: Only someone completely innocent of epistemology would suggest that the claim that the Bible is without error could be assessed without attention to empirical evidence -- as if the Bible made no empirical claims."

i) It's entertaining to see your bait-n-switch. You begin with an "empirical hypothesis." You then shift to "assessing a claim" by reference to "empirical evidence." 

Only someone completely lacking in philosophical discernment would conflate what constitutes a claim with evidentiary evidence for (or against) the claim. 

Moser claims that inerrancy is an "empirical hypothesis."

He goes on to say that "Only someone completely innocent of epistemology would suggest that the claim that the Bible is without error could be assessed without attention to empirical evidence -- as if the Bible made no empirical claims."

Notice that according to him, a claim is an empirical hypothesis if it can be assessed by attention to empirical evidence. 

Let's take a comparison. Consider the claim that every red object is a colored object. 

Now, there's potential empirical evidence for that claim. You could conduct an inductive investigation of red objects to see if every red object you find is a colored object. 

But does that make the claim that every red object is a colored object an empirical hypothesis? Is that empirical dimension what constitutes the nature of the claim? 

Or is the claim in fact an essentially analytic truth? 

Only someone completely innocent of epistemology would suggest that the claim that every red object is a colored object is an empirical hypothesis. Astonishing. One cannot sustain worthwhile discussion at this level of epistemological innocence. Back to radio silence toward such innocence.

ii) This also goes to your superficial understanding of the claim. Inerrancy is not the core claim. Inerrancy is the end-result of something more ultimate: verbal revelation. 

iii) You also disregard "empirical evidence" for the claim, viz. the argument from prophecy. Of course, it would be unsurprising if you reject the argument from prophecy, but if so, you're operating outside the boundaries of Christianity.
April 17 at 2:42am · Unlike · 2
Steve Hays "John Schneider: It never fails that defenses of 'inerrancy' descend into ad hominem rants (reject 'inerrancy' and you are unmasked as an 'unbeliever' or as someone who just disobeys Christ)."

It never fails that partisans like Schneider are deaf to their own bias. Deaf to the ad hominem rants from their own side. As loyal team-players, they only hear ad hominem from the rival team. 

Oh, and as a matter of fact, disbelieving God's words is a touchstone of infidelity in OT and NT piety alike.
Steve Hays "John Schneider: 'Inerrancy' is indeed at its core a deduction from a concept of inspiration: verbal and plenary supervision (Warfield). But it fails deductive tests because the fundamental concept is unfounded and confused."

That's a false dichotomy which disregards the fact that Warfield made an inductive case for the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture based on the extensive self-witness of Scripture. 

"'To inspire' is not a speech act, and if one inspires by speaking, one hardly does so by overriding the freedom and frailties of the 'inspired' (virtual dictation)."

i) That's hopelessly confused. "To inspire" is to *produce* inspired "speech acts." Likewise, inspiration isn't speaking. That confuses inspiration with revelation. If God speaks through a prophet, that's inspiration. If God speaks to a prophet, that's revelation. 

You don't even grasp the position you presume to oppose. 

Of course, the two can be combined, viz. an inspired record of inspired speech.

ii) To assert that God doesn't "override" the frailties of the human agents begs the question. Moreover, inspiration can operate at a subliminal level. It's not equivalent to possession.

"Secondly, it fails the relevant inductive and evidential tests so miserably that any schoolboy can demolish the theory simply by reading a few pages into the Bible."

I agree with Schneider that schoolboy objections are all that we've been treated to on this thread. Thanks for the candid consession. 

"--BTW: 'I read the Bible' is one of the main answers atheists give to the question, 'Why did you abandon Christianity?'"

People who find the Bible incredible ought to abandon their nominal Christian faith. They should drop the pose of pretending to be something they are not.

Of course, that doesn't mean they should abandon Christianity. Rather, they should to abandon the foolish presuppositions that prejudice them against the Bible.
April 17 at 1:12pm · Unlike · 1
Steve Hays Murray Hogg,

The complications are only problematic if the distinctions which inerrantists like Bock, Blomberg, Poythress, Vanhoozer et al. draw are ad hoc. You'd need to explain why those are ad hoc distinctions rather than reasonable distinctions which are to be expected in historical revelation and inspired discourse.

From what I can't tell, your basic beef is when inerrancy is used to prejudge interpretation. That's a legitimate grievance. But those two issues are, and ought to be, distinct.

Errors in Scripture go to the question of whether there's a God who communicates to man. That's not a secondary concern. The alternative is epistemological Deism.
April 17 at 1:19pm · Like
Steve Hays "Paul K Moser: Bill, What about all of the saints (e.g., Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) who were saints before the Bible came into existence? Didn't they know God personally? I suspect they did. Abraham was a 'friend' of God."

That commits a basic blunder by confusing the mode of revelation with the existence of revelation. 

Abraham knew God via the spoken word of God. And that was passed onto Isaac and Jacob.

In addition, God also revealed himself to the patriarchs via dreams. Visions and auditions. 

The spoken word of God is verbal revelation. And visionary revelation can also include verbal revelation (auditions).
April 17 at 1:24pm · Unlike · 2
Linda Mainey Call me slow or stupid or both (I've been called worse), but why should we think that *natural* science has anything (empirical) to say about the Christian or any other *super*natural God?
April 17 at 1:52pm · Like · 2
Patrick Chan "why should we think that *natural* science has anything (empirical) to say about the Christian or any other *super*natural God?"

For one thing, you've drawn a false dichotomy between what's "natural" and what's "supernatural." Or what makes you think there should be strict boundaries demarcated in bold red ink between the two? In fact, why these two categories in the first place?

For another, what makes you think "science" should be solely or significantly equated with the "empirical" (and do you mean to imply empiricism as well)?

Much more could be said, but I'll leave it for now.
April 17 at 3:39pm · Edited · Like
Murray Hogg //The complications are only problematic if the distinctions which inerrantists like Bock, Blomberg, Poythress, Vanhoozer et al. draw are ad hoc.//

No, not at all. In fact, I gave the reason why I think they are problematic: because I think one doesn't need to make them. That is to say, I think there are simpler approaches one can take. This doesn't make other approaches "ad hoc" --it makes them more complex.

//Errors in Scripture go to the question of whether there's a God who communicates to man. //

It would be interesting to see a defense of this assertion. I personally think it indefensible.
April 17 at 4:05pm · Like · 1
Steve Hays Since you don't say why you think it's indefensible, there's nothing specific to defend it against.
April 17 at 4:16pm · Like
Murray Hogg I think it's indefensible because the two issues: the presence of errors in the Christian bible, and the existence of a God who can communicate to man, are utterly distinct.

Indeed, you've just acknowledged in an earlier post that God did indeed communicate himself to man (in particular to the patriarchs) without the aid of an inerrant scripture.

Ergo, inerrancy has no bearing whatever on whether there exists a God who can communicate to man.
April 17 at 4:29pm · Edited · Like · 2
Paul K Moser Murray, I'm afraid that your interlocutors have come to deem themselves to be inerrant; as a result, they concede nothing, not even obvious corrections to their rickety position. You have to wonder what the point of the exchange is at this time. One also wonders which NT text is more representative of the allegedly inerrant original mss.: Textus Receptus, Westcott-Hort, or the modern critical edition, Nestle-Aland 28. If they can't tell, their ideology is even less appealing.
April 17 at 8:31pm · Like
Maul Panata Paul: interesting, to me anyway, to juxtapose these two comments of yours:

[1] Murray, I'm afraid that your interlocutors have come to deem themselves to be inerrant; as a result, they concede nothing, not even obvious corrections to their rickety position. You have to wonder what the point of the exchange is at this time.

[2] Adam, [Inerrancy's falseness is] a settled issue for me, having done due diligence with no pressure from my employer, parents, church, or friends. I can find nothing that even begins to make the position plausible. The empirical data are decisive vs. the position. Take care.
April 17 at 9:35pm · Unlike · 2
Maul Panata Back to British evangelicals: In the 5 Views on Inerrancy book, British evangelical Michael Bird sounds almost exactly like Moser when he writes that British evangelicals do not really care about inerrancy. To them, inerrancy seems like a particularly American thing. He goes on to tell us what their "thing" is. Their fight is over whether the Bible is authoritative and normative. The British evangelicals say yes. However, what's interesting is that Bird's view is *basically* inerrancy. He approaches and attempts to resolve alleged problem passages just like American inerrantists do. Moreover, he definitely is not saying that British evangelicals are fine with an *errant* Bible. Call this position Schminerrancy. The matter begins to look verbal and political. So here is a British scholar, with his finger on the pulse of evangelicalism in Britain, who begins explaining his situation exactly how Moser does, but who then goes on to tell us, in a round about way, that they are schminerrantists. As he admits on his blog, "I think Scot mostly gets where I’m coming from. My own 'veracity' view can be correlated with a nuanced and generous view of inerrancy." Bird is here giving is what he takes to be the standard view of British evangelicals (seen by his use of "we" language, and his bifurcation of "American evangelicals" and "British evangelicals"). So here we have not only an expert in theology, but also a British evangelical with his finger on the pulse of evangelical scholarship across the pond, telling us that Moser has given us *half truths*. Yes, Moser is right that British evangelicals are not concerned to label themselves inerrantists and fight over inerrancy. The half he left out is that they are schminerrantists who fight for schminerrancy. And the two different words stand for the same core concept.

Oh, P.S., Bird is a "contemporary" British evangelical telling us about the "contemporary" scene.
April 17 at 10:03pm · Edited · Like · 1
Adam Omelianchuk I thought Bird was Australian?
April 17 at 10:06pm · Like
Maul Panata Same thing to me lol. Didn't want to get into those nuances. Here in 'merica we lump all dem together. Australia-UK relations are pretty tight anyway, same Queen too, so I don't see a substantial difference here. Bird represents the UK evangelical tradition, so far as I can tell.
April 17 at 10:14pm · Edited · Like · 2
Paul K Moser See, Adam, the mean inerrantists deem themselves to be inerrant; they concede not even the obvious mistakes they make. Terribly sad stuff. Worthy of radio silence.
April 17 at 10:29pm · Like
Maul Panata Did you see the "lol" in my response to Adam, Paul? And where I did concede it? I knew all along that Bird is Australian. You are incorrigible. Anyway, that's not an interesting difference. Bird represents the evangelical UK position on this. He wasn't speaking for the "Australian evangelical tradition," as if that's some different niche from the "UK tradition." He represents the position you were speaking about. So his comments are relevant, and your attempt to poison the well so you don't have to interact is telling. So the irony here is that I corrected your false narrative yet you don't admit that you were mistaken or misleading at best. Like I pointed out above, you're the only one here evidencing an inerrancy complex. You have a habit of imputing your faults onto others. For example, like when you claimed the inerrantists here are guilty of reading the Bible woodenly, when the only person to have done that here is you, in order to get your "contradictions." Truly sad stuff.
April 17 at 10:50pm · Edited · Unlike · 4
Maul Panata Brooks, indeed, I noted that very fact--the 'murica corruption--didn't I? So not clear (a) why you're repeating it and (b) why Moser liked your comment as if you scored a point. In fact, what you said was *crucial* to the main point I was making--to which Moser could only call me a meany who thinks he's inerrant (and he'll be critiqued for "tone" in 3, 2, 1...).
Yesterday at 12:09am · Edited · Like
Patrick Chan "I think it's indefensible because the two issues: the presence of errors in the Christian bible, and the existence of a God who can communicate to man, are utterly distinct."

You'll have to flesh out what you mean by this statement. Not all "errors" are created alike. For instance, scribal errors are hardly tantamount to denying inerrancy en toto.

"Indeed, you've just acknowledged in an earlier post that God did indeed communicate himself to man (in particular to the patriarchs) without the aid of an inerrant scripture."

That God can and does communicate directly with someone (e.g. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) does not exclude that in Scripture is recorded the words of God.
Yesterday at 12:47am · Like
Patrick Chan "I'm afraid that your interlocutors have come to deem themselves to be inerrant; as a result, they concede nothing, not even obvious corrections to their rickety position."

Say (arguendo) these "obvious corrections" in our "rickety position" exist. If they exist, Moser certainly hasn't demonstrated it in this thread. 

In fact, I'm not entirely sure what to think about Moser here. At the very least I would've expected a far better performance from a professional philosopher against a bunch of laypeople. A pity, really.

"One also wonders which NT text is more representative of the allegedly inerrant original mss.: Textus Receptus, Westcott-Hort, or the modern critical edition, Nestle-Aland 28. If they can't tell, their ideology is even less appealing."

Why are these the only choices? Where's the UBS5, which considerably overlaps with but is not equivalent to the NA28? If you're going to bring up the TR, why no mention of the Majority Text, which is arguably the preferred text by those who argue for the Byzantine text-type?

However, of the three, I'd say the best choice is the NA28. It's a critical as well as eclectic text. 

On the other hand, the TR is, for one thing, primarily based on a much later text-type. At least to my knowledge, the differences between WH and NA are largely insignificant, but the WH is dated as well as too reliant on the Alexandrian text-type mss.

Also, this assumes variants undermine inerrancy. But if so, how so? Moser doesn't say. 

Is Moser suggesting we can't recover the wording of the original NT?

In my view, the fact that the variants which exist do exist has peripheral bearing on the inerrancy debate. But I'll wait to see if there's any follow-up before I say more.
Yesterday at 12:54am · Like
Patrick Chan "I do not see how the scientific method, which is based on empirical observation, can be applied to anything that is not available to empirical observation."

Hm, what do you mean by "the scientific method"? I don't see just a single scientific method. Science can be and is done using all sorts of methods (e.g. thought-experiments).

You may not agree with the arguments, but there are some arguments for the existence of God which are based at least in part on "empirical observation" (e.g. certain species of the teleological argument, same with cosmological arguments which rely on the big bang theory).
Yesterday at 12:58am · Like
Patrick Chan "I imagine 'radio silence' will be the response, Patrick. You are a layperson after all... sheesh."

That's what's ironic: Moser keeps "radioing in" to tell us he'll now observe "radio silence"! 

By the way, with regard to Paul Manata's comment about Michael Bird being from the UK, I believe Bird did teach New Testament in the UK for some years (Highland Theological College in Scotland).
Yesterday at 1:17am · Edited · Like
Blake Reas And if you are talking about my mockery of the, "radio silence" quote, I think I have good reason. The bad arguments, misunderstandings, and lack of engagement with those of us who hold to inerrancy is revealing. Inerrancy should be easy to disprove... show one error. That's all. Appeals to 1 Corinthians 1:14, while creative, don't do the trick. I would also imagine that your supposed "archaeological issues" could be just as easily dispatched. I also find your disparagement of attempting to analyze literary genre etc, as attempts to circumvent errors in the text amusing. If figuring out what a person intended in a text is a central component of deciding whether they are in error, then I don't see the problem. Maybe you can elaborate a little on why it is a problem for someone who wants to understand what scripture means to take into account such issues as genre, etc.
Yesterday at 1:33am · Like
Patrick Chan "Thank you, Brooks. A worthwhile perspective on things has been sacrificed to a self-indulgent obsession to be 'correct', come what may."

1. This is a gross mischaracterization of the events. As I've previously pointed out, people can simply read or re-read this thread to see what has actually transpired.

2. But be that as it may. What is indeed problematic is how Moser doesn't wish to delve into the details of an argument or counter-argument. Instead, he makes hasty generalizations, but when we call him on his hasty generalizations, he proceeds to poison the well by saying stuff like we have "a self-indulgent obsession to be 'correct', come what may." In other words, for Moser it's apparently "a self-indulgent obsession to be 'correct', come what may" when we ask for specific details and so forth to support his assertions.
Yesterday at 1:49am · Edited · Like · 1
Steve Hays "Murray Hogg: Indeed, you've just acknowledged in an earlier post that God did indeed communicate himself to man (in particular to the patriarchs) without the aid of an inerrant scripture. Ergo, inerrancy has no bearing whatever on whether there exists a God who can communicate to man."

You're committing the same mistake I corrected another commenter on by conflating two distinct issues. The essential principle is divine verbal communication and not the mode of communication. Whether it is the spoken word or the written word is secondary to that principle. 

If, however, the only record we have of divine communication (or public revelation) is the written word, then, as a practical matter, that's what the issues comes down to for us, at our stage in redemptive history. 

Is God an inerrant communicator? If the communication is not inerrant, is that still from God? Is that a divine communication? Is that ultimately from God, but filtered through a human communicator who obscures divine communication with human error? If so, how do you sort that out?
Yesterday at 1:49am · Like · 1
Steve Hays "Paul K Moser: One also wonders which NT text is more representative of the allegedly inerrant original mss.: Textus Receptus, Westcott-Hort, or the modern critical edition, Nestle-Aland 28. If they can't tell, their ideology is even less appealing."

Why would Moser wonder about that unless he suffers from self-reinforcing ignorance of the inerrantist literature?
Yesterday at 1:58am · Like
Patrick Chan "as for me, I will have difficulty evaluating the claims made by different methods of inquiry into and different assumptions about the natural world."

Given the context, I'll assume you have "difficulty" here because you're not a scientist.

"I hope there is only one uniformly adopted method of scientific discovery."

Unfortunately, this isn't much of a response. "Hoping" doesn't make it true.

"Look at the time! I have to go meet with my friend who just knows she has a past natural life"

What do you mean by "past natural life"? Are you suggesting she subscribes to reincarnation?

"and then with my neighbor who builds engines based on the laws of mechanics."

This is so vague as to be unhelpful. Lots of people can do various things based on scientific laws without understanding the scientific laws. Lots of people can engage in science without being scientists. 

For instance, a street sweeper can sweep the streets "based on the laws of mechanics." A dog walker can walk a dog "based on the laws of mechanics." An automechanic can fix a car "based on the laws of mechanics." 

This doesn't begin to engage what I pointed out above.
Yesterday at 2:12am · Like
Steve Hays Murray Hogg:

"The issue of verbal communication may be an issue to you (and to others) but it's not an issue to me."

That should be an issue for every Christian inasmuch as the divine verbal revelation is foundational to the Judeo-Christian faith. As John Frame has noted:

"The whole Old Testament history is a history of obedience and disobedience: obedience and disobedience to what? To God’s commands; and after Ex. 20, to God’s written word!"

And the same holds true under the new covenant. If you love Jesus, you will keep his commandments (Jn 14:15,23).

"I'm not trying to defend the premise that God communicates 'verbally' as his sole means of communication. So this is a fundamental point of difference between us, I think."

I never said that was his "sole" means of communication. In Bible history we have event-media as well as word-media.

"I actually regard it as obvious --based on the record of scripture itself-- that his most profound communication (the incarnation) was far more than simply verbal. Indeed, at points it's essentially non-verbal."

In which case you're overlooking the obvious:

i) You'd have absolutely no knowledge of the Incarnation absent written records of the event.

ii) In addition, the Incarnation is not an empirical event. Empirically speaking, Christ appears to be purely human. Appreciating the identity of Christ as the divine Son Incarnate depends on something unobservable. A theological interpretation of the event.

Not only do we require historical accounts, but interpretive history. Interpreted events which unveil the otherwise indiscernible significance of the events. 

"And I take it that if, in fact, verbal communication were adequate to God's purposes, then he could have easier sent a verbal message than the incarnate Christ."

Which mistakenly presumes that the purpose of the Incarnation was merely revelatory rather than redemptive (i.e. to make atonement for sin).

"Further, I think his present mode of revelation is spiritual --the point of the gift of the Spirit being precisely that the verbal communication of the Old Testament is inadequate as God is calling us to a living relationship with himself rather than some conceptual relationship with a book."

The contrast between OT piety and NT piety isn't between a bookish faith and a spiritual faith, for NT piety is equally bookish. That's why we have the NT!

"I would argue, however, that as long as such emphasis is placed upon that book, and particularly upon the need for that book to be inerrant otherwise God cannot communicate to us through it, then I'd say there's something enormously deficient in the inerrantist position."

Our knowledge of Christ is knowledge by description, not acquaintance. You don't know Jesus personally in the that the disciples knew him. Rather, you know about him in the way you know about other historical figures you never met. You can't have a "living relationship with Christ" apart from a book which mediates essential information regarding his person and work. 

The gift of the Spirit creates receptivity to the message; it's not a substitute for the message.

Christianity is a historical faith, based on divine words and divine actions in history. You can't bypass the bookish aspect and have direct access to those truths.
12 hrs · Unlike · 2
Steve Hays Murray Hogg:

"I think here only the question of inerrancy is open to any sort of check --so I'd start with the question of the nature of scripture rather than with what I see as an essentially philosophical pre-commitment to verbal disclosure."

No. This is a question of accepting or rejecting the Christian faith on its own grounds, as it presents itself to the world. If, throughout OT and NT history, the principle of divine verbal revelation is foundational, and you can't bring yourself to believe it, then you reject Christianity. If you reject the self-representation of the Christian faith, you reject Christianity. You're not a Christian believer. That's not, in the first instance, a value judgment but a statement of fact. 

That's not a philosophical recommitment. Rather, that's the starting-point Christianity, in its self-representation.

Steve Hays Murray Hogg:

"I'll say only: even if the above were true (and you'll note that I don't agree that it is, I only allow it for the sake of argument) at most it gets you to the importance of the verbal message. It doesn't get to the claim that the bible is inerrant --not even remotely."

That's because you're oscillating between two different denials: inerrancy and verbal revelation. 

"The reality is that we routinely accept verbal communication(s) as reliable despite not ascribing to them anything like a notion of inerrancy, nor anything like unimpeachable honesty to the one delivering the communication."

i) To begin with, that's only germane to types of information available by ordinary means. Observation. What people can see, hear, or touch. But theological truths often go behind-the-scenes. You brought up the Incarnation. But that has a crucial dimension which eludes the senses. 

ii) Moreover, fallible memory is better at recalling events than sentences. Remembering the gist of a story or the gist of a conversation. But verbatim recollection is highly unreliable. Yet the Gospels contain lengthy sayings of Jesus. 

"That said, I don't accept that our knowledge of Christ is by description not acquaintance. That, to me, is an extraordinarily impoverished view of the person and work of the Holy Spirit (and another discussion altogether!)"

You're equivocating.

i) Does the Holy Spirit beam propositional information into our minds? Apart from reading John's Gospel, does he mentally recreate the scene of Jesus and the woman at the well, like watching a movie in our heads? Apart from reading Jn 4, do we know the content of that conversation? Does the Holy Spirit beam a transcript into our minds? Is that the experience of Christians generally?

Only two people were present at the time. There was no stenographer or tape-recorder. 

ii) Ironically, you reject what Scripture does attribute to the Spirit. You reject the work of the Holy Spirit in the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture.

iii) Moreover, you overlook how much your alternative takes for granted. Apart from Scripture, what to you know about the person and work of the Holy Spirit? Even if you experience the work of the Spirit, how would you know, apart from Scripture, that that's the effect of the Spirit's agency? 

"To me, however, this suggests at most only that the Gospels (and such other records as there may be) are a witness to revelation as opposed to revelation themselves."

You're not defining your terms. What is the revelation they witness to? Are you referring to the Incarnation? If so, to what extent is the Incarnation revelatory apart from a theological interpretation of the historical Jesus? Even merely human prophets can perform miracles. So the actions of Christ don't ipso facto point to the Incarnation.

Jesus can interpret his actions in his own words. But since you repudiate verbal inspiration, what makes you think we have the words of Jesus? Even to paraphrase a statement, a biographer must have the original statement to paraphrase. 

"I would actually go so far as to suggest, in fact, that any person who truly believes that the bible must be inerrant because the written communication is foundational to the Christian faith should, to be logically consistent, object to such practices as preaching. After all, preaching, no matter how biblical, is not itself inerrant. If God cannot, then, honour an errant verbal communication, he cannot honour preaching. Nor, for that matter, the singing of hymns, nor evangelism, nor anything else where God is spoken of in potentially (necessarily?) errant terms."

i) So you're regurgitating Bart Ehrman's objection. For starters, I'm not arguing a priori for divine verbal revelation. Rather, that's the self-witness of Scripture. People can reject that, but they reject the Judeo-Christian faith in the process. 

ii) You're comparison is fatally disanalogous inasmuch as the preacher is not a prophet. There's no expectation that he should be inerrant. By contrast, the Bible draws a categorical distinction between true and false prophets. True prophets speak God's words. Not their own words. They repeat what God told them to say. They relate what God revealed to them. 

Do you think we ever have divine speech? Or is it always a fallible human interpretation of what a prophet or apostle or Bible writer thought God was attempting to convey? Does God ever get through? If it's always a fallible human interpretation, then it's never a divine communication at the receiving end. 

iii) Let's reverse your logic. Sometimes patients misread or misconstrue the directions on a prescription. Therefore, there's no point in having accurate prescriptions in the first place. It's just as well if the pharmacist gives you the wrong medication or the wrong dosage.
14 hrs · Like · 2

Jim Stone If I may return to the original topic, D. Dennett says that Darwin didn't murder God, but Mother Nature. That is, the Darwinian picture of nature is of something horrifically cruel, wasteful and costly, not of a beneficent nurturer. I think this is why the conflict with theistic belief won't go away. The Darwinian picture presents us with a particularly virulent form of the Problem of Evil (which is not to say it can't possibly be answered). There is an underlying tension between that picture and the Genesis idea that creation is God's work, God's goodness overflowing. That's why talking about two realms and so on isn't going to help. Murder Mother Nature and God seems to go too, so the theist and the Darwinian cannot easily abide one another.
7 hrs · Like
Patrick Chan Jim Stone, you might be interested in this post:

Jim Stone Thanks, Patrick. You know, one of my first experiences with these issues was when I young Jewish fellow, who longed to study biology, expressed powerful concern that he would have to accept Darwinism. I think Gould's “non-overlapping magisteria.” is a non-starter, even if the theist doesn't subscribe to original sin and redemption. Short of the kingdom of heaven, this lion ain't gonna lie down with the lamb.
5 hrs · Like
Steve Hays Jim Stone,

Dennett is basically paraphrasing Darwin. 

i) I agree with you that there's tension between Gen 1-2 and theistic evolution. 

ii) To say nature is "cruel" is anthropomorphic. That projects human feelings, human reactions, onto nature. Kinda like, "How would I like that to happen to me if I were a caterpillar?"

But, of course, that's imaginary. A caterpillar lacks that viewpoint. 

iii) To say it's "costly" is nonsensical. Costly to whom? Not to God. It doesn't cost God anything to produce the world that way. It's not like God is on a budget. 

iv) To say it's wasteful is ambiguous. Is that synonymous with "unnecessary"? If so, the very existence of creatures is "wasteful." Creatures are contingent beings. Unnecessary. 

v) Likewise, "beneficent" to whom or what? That, too, is an anthropomorphic projection. Is it beneficent to a mosquito to be eaten by a Dragonfly? What does that even mean? A mosquito never had that viewpoint in the first place.

vi) Aside from the conflict with Gen 1-2, the primary objection to theistic evolution is that it's ad hoc. The Darwinian picture looks like a directionless process. Empirically, it's hard to distinguish theistic evolution from atheistic evolution. 

Of course, many Christians, including Christians trained in the sciences, think evolutionary theory (i.e. macroevolution, universal common descent) is a failure.
1 hr · Unlike · 2
Patrick Chan In addition to what Steve pointed out, there are many secular scientists who dissent from key tenets of neo-Darwinism.

Moreover, an organism might as well be a robot as far as evolution is concerned. Maybe this is a bit much but what I mean is on neo-Darwinism it ultimately doesn't seem to matter what goes on inside a particular organism so long as reproductive advantage is achieved. An organism may or may not feel this or think that, but these feelings or thoughts are only fundamentally relevant inasmuch as they lead to a particular outcome but fundamentally irrelevant otherwise. As such, it would seem what occurs consciously within an organism could just as well occur unconsciously if the same results are achieved.
12 hrs · Like · 2
Patrick Chan "Look at the time! I have to go meet with my friend who is sure that her baking soda and ginger tonic will cure her advanced kidney disease and then with my friend who is sure that she will need dialysis for hers."

1. Just so readers are aware I didn't miss this: Linda edited what she originally said (which anyone can see if they look at her edit history). Originally she said: "Look at the time! I have to go meet with my friend who just knows she has a past natural life and then with my neighbor who builds engines based on the laws of mechanics."

2. As an aside, I'm not sure if these are real cases or made-up cases involving Linda's "friends," but that's another story.

3. First off, Linda claimed, "I hope there is only one uniformly adopted method of scientific discovery." She expressed this in a passive voice, but given what else she has said I take it her intent here is anything but passive. Anyway, her assertion is "there is only one uniformly adopted method of scientific discovery" i.e. "empirical observation." But does she argue for this assertion here? Not that I can see.

4. What do Linda's friends' cases - i..e one using "baking soda and ginger tonic" for CKD and the other using dialysis for CKD - have to do with there being "only one uniformly adopted method of scientific discovery"? I could easily agree that using "baking soda and ginger tonic" is a bad idea for CKD, while using dialysis is part and parcel of a standard treatment and management regimen for CKD, but at the same time think there is more than "only one uniformly adopted method of scientific discovery." Again, Linda will have to spell out her argument if she has one.

5. Obviously any reasonable person would disagree with using solely "baking soda and ginger tonic" for CKD and agree with dialysis for CKD. 

But I'm curious how Linda herself has reached this conclusion? There are several questions to be asked. Does Linda think "baking soda and ginger tonic" has zero empirical support, while dialysis always has empirical evidence behind it? What about in terms of mild symptomatic relief or at least as a placebo in conjunction with dialysis? 

Is Linda a physician? Has Linda studied the relevant literature on management for renal disease (e.g. systematic reviews, meta-analyses)? Or is she taking it on the authority of physicians (e.g. nephrologists)?

We can move on from here if she responds to these questions.

6. Is Linda attempting to demarcate pseudo-science from science with her case-examples? If so, how so? What exactly would make "baking soda and ginger tonic" pseudo-science (or along those lines) and dialysis science, according to Linda? 

Also, if so, she's picking extreme cases. But one could conjure up examples in which it's more difficult to demarcate pseudo-science from science.
4 hrs · Like · 1
Patrick Chan "I do not see how the scientific method, which is based on empirical observation, can be applied to anything that is not available to empirical observation."

1. Take the big bang theory. We've never observed the big bang itself. We can't replicate the big bang in a laboratory setting. Sure, we can infer the big bang from indirect empirical data (e.g. cosmic microwave background radiation). But technically speaking the big bang itself is "not available to empirical observation."

2. Likewise, take the human mind. We presumably know it exists, or at least we know our own mind exists. But how do we know other minds exist? We can't exactly poke and prod the mind. Brain imaging scans (e.g. fMRI) tell us about the physical brain, but what about the mind itself? It's also a highly contentious debate to argue the mind emerged from the brain - and how would we detect or otherwise measure this with certainty? In any case, the mind is quite arguably "not available to empirical observation" either. I suppose a hard atheist could bite the bullet and deny the mind altogether, but I don't quite see how this option is available to an orthodox Christian.

3. Neo-Darwinism is another example. Is neo-Darwinism "based on empirical observation"? Microevolution largely is. We can observe it happening such as in bacteria or other microorganisms. But not so macroevolutionary processes. (And yes, the terms "macroevolution" and "microevolution" are part of the scientific literature if you search academic scientific journals. They're not terms invented by creationists to draw a false dichotomy.) True, we have evidences like the fossil record, the findings of cellular and molecular biology, etc. However, this isn't the same as observing macroevolution in action as we do with microevolution. Instead, neo-Darwinists have built a narrative involving macroevolution and universal common descent based on other lines of scientific inquiry like inference to the best explanation, not solely "based on empirical observation."
4 hrs · Like · 1
Maul Panata Brooks,

1. I find it very interesting that you seek to justify Paul's tone and behavior but are not likewise interested at all in offering a justification for inerrantists. No, you blame *inerrantists* for Paul's behavior. "Paul's normally so nice and kind and sweet, but you inerrantists just drive him crazy!" 

2. Notice that up until Paul called me a mean inerrantists who thinks he's inerrant in my lighthearted respond to Adam, which Adam got, I hadn't been rude to Paul. What's more, I have not endorsed inerrancy. I view myself here as defeating some of Paul's arguments against it. It is the immature thinker who, knee-jerkingly, says to someone who has just defended Descartes from a bad objection, "You're a Cartesian!"

3. On to your specific point. Paul implied that UK Evangelicals did not endorse inerrancy, such is a uniquely "American corruption." I then responded by pointing to older UK evangelicals who endorsed inerrancy. Paul responded, "No! I'm talking about contemporary ones! Harrumph!" I then cite one who represents the contemporary stance, and we find that "inerrancy" is eschewed by them largely for political reasons; however, that doesn't mean the *basic idea* is rejected. Rather, says Bird, it's largely accepted! This is a direct response to Moser's point. So repeating what Bird says has no bearing on how *Moser* used the "UK evangelicals don't speak of the word inerrancy" line. I'm defeating that line of reasoning. Or are we really going to quibble about *words*? No, it's clear Moser is at odds with the UK evangelicals' view of scripture, not American evangelicals, but that's not how Moser tried to paint the situation.
Yesterday at 3:31am · Unlike · 3
Paul K Moser Robert, That's too close to Hell for me; can't go there. Oh, a Jesus Disciple does not have a god who wills certain people to go to eternal damnation without a real choice. It's a morally refreshing alternative in this regard, at least. I recommend it highly.
Yesterday at 5:29am · Like · 1
Maul Panata Paul, Do you know of any putative Jesus disciples who believe that God wills certain people to eternal damnation without a real choice?
Yesterday at 5:41am · Edited · Like
Patrick Chan "Here's why I don't justify certain responses. There is a difference between calling a *position* far-fetched or rickety, and from calling *someone* 'intellectually immature' or a 'poor example for their students.' Don't you think? If you notice above, near the top somewhere, the conversation took a nose dive shortly after those gloves came off."

1. Does this mean Brooks finds some of the biblical persons or authors' "responses" "unjustifiable" as well (e.g. when the apostle Paul called the Galatians "foolish"; when the apostle Paul thinks it's true "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons"; when Jesus called some of the Pharisees "white-washed tombs")?

2. I notice Moser "liked" this comment. I find this ironic because it's been Moser who has contributed to much if not most of this (e.g. by poisoning the well against nearly anyone who disagrees with him - and, yes, from the beginning of this thread).

3. As for Brooks, he's regrettably too partisan to be objective, despite pretenses to the contrary.
Yesterday at 6:44am · Like
Maul Panata *Sigh* Brook, I did not ask for examples from *others* I asked for examples from *me*. Apparently you think it's alright for Moser take a "tone" with me, even though *I* did nothing to warrant it, but then you complain about the "tone" I took with him *after* he took his unjustified tone with me. You have yet to offer a coherent story.

Here's a cool irony too: Moser advocated for libertarian free will. I assume he also thinks theologies which say that we can be morally responsible for Adam's sin are "atrocious" and "repugnant." You may believe these things too, yet here you and here are, subjecting me to sanctions for what others did *before* me, and then also denying my right (indeed, faulting me) to impose sanctions (my change in tone toward Moser) *in response* to Moser's unjustified tone he took toward me.

The bias and in-group mentality here is simply amazing, but what's more amazing is that you guys can't see it. It may be that you do see it but don't care, though I'd rather not consider that.
Yesterday at 7:51am · Edited · Like
Maul Panata Brooks, I figured it out. When faced with reasoned arguments, you and Paul get nasty. Anyway, I'm satisfied showing your faux civility. We now know you introduced tone as a cudgel in an attempt to emotionally bully people.
11 hrs · Unlike · 3

Maul Panata Schopenhauer nicely explains why the errantists here became rude, and offers sound advice for why the inerrantists here should be the ones to go dark. I henceforth bow to Schopenhauer's wisdom and bow out of this "discussion." Radio off.


"As a sharpening of wits, controversy is often, indeed, of mutual advantage, in order to correct one's thoughts and awaken new views. But in learning and in mental power both disputants must be tolerably equal: If one of them lacks learning, he will fail to understand the other, as he is not on the same level with his antagonist. If he lacks mental power, he will be embittered, and led into dishonest tricks, and end by being rude. 

The only safe rule, therefore, is that which Aristotle mentions in the last chapter of his Topica: not to dispute with the first person you meet, but only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to cherish truth, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong, should truth lie with him. From this it follows that scarcely one man in a hundred is worth your disputing with him. You may let the remainder say what they please, for every one is at liberty to be a fool - desipere est jus gentium. Remember what Voltaire says: La paix vaut encore mieux que la verite. Remember also an Arabian proverb which tells us that on the tree of silence there hangs its fruit, which is peace."


  1. One of the most frustrating conversations I have ever been in.... ever. My question about Romans 5 at the beginning of the thread was never responded to. A simple dismissal along the lines of, "well, just because there is no Adam doesn't undermine redemptive history." I found that response odd.... It seems it would have been a problem for Paul, and Luke who traced Jesus' ancestry back to Adam. Hey, what do I know? I'm not a professor of philosophy.

    Blake Reas

  2. BTW, here is first Moser thread.

    If anyone wishes to see the original thread in full, here it is.

  3. Really fascinated. Thanks for organizing and posting this exchange, and for engaging Moser and his posse in the first place. They were pwned by the T-bloggers, IMO.

  4. The "inerrancy is an American shibboleth" argument needs to be retired once and for all. As Steve and Jason (among others) have pointed out tirelessly here, a quick read of everyone from Irenaeus to Augustine will disprove this lame argument in a jiffy. Great responses on this thread, BTW.