Friday, July 10, 2020

The mirror or the mask

Lydia McGrew has a new series responding to Mike Licona. It's expected to be a seven part series. So far there are two parts. Here's the first one:

Her new book The Mirror or the Mask is available to purchase too.


  1. As a service to T-blogue's readers please keep in mind that Lydia and Licona occupy the same camp, they are in full agreement that the Bible is *not* inerrant.

    The difference is where they pitch their respective tents in the non-inerreantist campsite. Licona thinks the Bible is *a lot less inerrant* than Lydia does. Ho-hum.

    Po-ta-toh - Puh-tah-toh. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Would you prefer to be crushed to death by a ton of bricks, or by a ton of feathers?

    Once one has concluded the Bible contains errors and *you decide*, or you punt and let people like Licona or Lydia decide for you, where the errors are based on human criteria everything is on the table.

    Also as goes inerrancy, so goes inspiration. It's too high a price to pay.

    1. Thanks, CD. I'm an inerrantist.

      That said, I posted and recommended this series (along with the book) from Lydia because Lydia has a number of intelligent and insightful thoughts on the Gospels etc. which don't need to pose a problem for inerrancy. One can be an inerrantist and find considerable value in a lot of what Lydia teaches.

      I guess if someone isn't very discerning, then maybe it could be an issue, but I doubt that's the case for most Triablogue readers.

      It's similar to how, say, I might disagree with a Never Trumper like David French on Trump and politics, but I wouldn't dismiss everything French has to say about Trump and politics because he's a Never Trumper and because his Never Trumpism could color his views on Trump and politics. Obviously Trump and politics aren't nearly as central to my life as God's inerrant word is, but I'm just using this as an illustration.

    2. That nice to know, Hawk, thanks for the clarification. But *this* plug is *specifically* for Lydia's takedown of Licona, or "errantist pot vs. errantist kettle" if you will. It's not a plug for the good things Lydia has to say about the Gospels. In fact her "defense" of the Gospels in contradistinction to Licona is can basically be boiled down to, "While Mike and I agree the Gospels contain errors, I think and can show you why *I believe* they have way less errors than *he believes*!"

      Is studying that type of argumentation a good way for a discerning believer to spend his time? Of course the reader must decide, but he should at least be told what he's getting into I think.

      I agree with the Pope on the Trinity and the deity of Christ among many other revealed truths, but he also happens to believe and teach many horribly error-riddled and spiritually destructive things therefore I don't go around plugging his works because of what we agree about without caveat or disclaimer due to the very serious nature of his errors which we disagree about.

      Hence my service to T-blogue's readers. Maybe some people don't care about these types of things, but I do.

    3. I should clarify I'm not equating Licona or Lydia with the papacy. I was merely using an illustration.

    4. Hi CD,

      Thanks again for the comment. Just a few quick points in reply:

      1. I don't think Lydia's views on inerrancy are secret or hidden. At Triablogue, we haven't been silent about her views either. For example, see Steve's review of The Mirror or the Mask.

      2. I'm sorry but I don't think that's an entirely fair description of what Lydia is doing with regard to Licona. I think you'll have to watch this video series and/or read her book to see what she's doing.

      3. Also, Lydia does more than just critique Licona. For instance, she provides good arguments and evidence for the historical reliability of the Gospels. That's something inerrantists can support.

      4. Actually, I'd have no problem plugging a Catholic if a Catholic is defending, say, the Trinity. That doesn't mean I'd plug the Catholic if he's talking about how to be saved.

  2. As a public service: My reportage model is entirely compatible with inerrancy. I've discussed this many times.

    1. Except that your "reportage model" allows for errors in the text. Which is the opposite of inerrancy.

    2. Coram Deo wrote:

      "Except that your 'reportage model' allows for errors in the text."

      It also allows for inerrancy.

      That the Biblical authors sometimes used scribes, when considered by itself, allows for errors in the text. That doesn't prevent us from arguing for and believing in inerrancy as well and, therefore, taking inerrancy into account when making judgments about scribal issues. If we linked a video of somebody arguing for a traditional view of scribal practices that's consistent with inerrancy and typically advocated by inerrantists, but the person in question rejects Biblical inerrancy, we wouldn't be obligated to explain to our readers that we disagree with him about inerrancy, nor should the comments section that follows become a discussion of inerrancy. If discussions of his rejection of inerrancy had occurred in multiple previous threads, including ones within the last few months, it would make even less sense to try to divert the latest thread into an inerrancy discussion.

      Do you realize that the sort of language and characterizations you're using in this thread - "you decide", "human criteria", "everything is on the table", "too high a price to pay", etc. - are similar to what many King James Onlyists and Roman Catholics, for example, will say about people like you who don't accept all of the infallibility, certainty, etc. that their belief system offers? Just as people like Lydia McGrew and Mike Licona are making judgments about matters like genre, literary devices, and the implications of inerrancy (in the case of Mike, who considers himself an inerrantist), so are you. When inerrantists make the judgment that the Bible is inerrant, that's their judgment ("you decide"), largely involving arguments and evidence arrived at through human reasoning and common in human interactions ("human criteria"). Before an inerrantist makes judgments about the Messiahship of Jesus, the inspiration of scripture, the inerrancy of scripture, the canon of scripture, etc., "everything is on the table". A King James Onlyist or Roman Catholic could tell you that something like your not believing in the textual inerrancy of any modern Bible translation or your relying on your own interpretations of scripture without an infallible interpreter is "too high a price to pay".

    3. Thanks for your opinion, Jason.

      My initial comment was simply to point out the fact that Lydia and Licona believe the same thing, that the Bible contains errors. They're errantists. The difference is just one of degree. That's all they're talking about, the extent of the errors in the Bible.

      If T-blogue has readers that don't believe the Bible is 100% true and need someone to tell them the Bible has a lot less errors than they might otherwise believe it contains, it seems like Lydia is a good source for that. Maybe Mike Licona would be too, if the person thinks the Bible even less reliable than Mike thinks it is.

      If other T-blogue readers, like me for example, happen to believe the Bible is actually 100% true, then they might not find it helpful to watch someone who doesn't believe the Bible is 100% true argue about why she thinks it's more true than a man who thinks it's less true than she thinks it is.

      To be a bit more explicit, the topic of Hawks post and link is *errancy*, so how you can conclude that *inerrancy* is a non-sequitur for combox discussion is pretty hard for me to understand.

      Obviously if you don't like the direction of the combox, then as an Admin you can delete the offending comments, or block the commenter, or just say, "hey pal, that's enough, knock it off".

      It's your blog after all, collectively.

      And I don't care what KJV Onlyists, Roman Catholics, or you say or think about "people like me". It's completely irrelevant.

    4. Coram Deo,

      You haven't given us any reason to think that "the topic of Hawks post and link is *errancy*", and he explained to you that the topic is other than what you're claiming it is.

      You write:

      "If other T-blogue readers, like me for example, happen to believe the Bible is actually 100% true, then they might not find it helpful to watch someone who doesn't believe the Bible is 100% true argue about why she thinks it's more true than a man who thinks it's less true than she thinks it is."

      Hawk explained to you how the work of somebody who doesn't believe in inerrancy can be useful to an inerrantist. There are more issues in life than inerrancy, and somebody who rejects inerrancy doesn't have to argue against it in every discussion of every topic or when discussing the topic of this thread in particular. If Lydia were to produce a video about the historicity of a passage in Acts, for example, it would be absurd to say that a post linking that video is on "the topic of errancy" and that an inerrantist couldn't have any good reason for linking it. The New Testament authors and other early Christians frequently cited non-Christian sources who didn't believe in the inerrancy of the New Testament documents (e.g., citations of Jewish acknowledgement of the empty tomb, citations of pagan authors). That sort of hostile corroboration is part of the means by which people justify various conclusions that can then be used in the process of arguing for inerrancy, among other beliefs. So, not only can somebody like Lydia be helpful on issues other than inerrancy, but she can also be helpful in making a case for inerrancy without her intending to do so.

      You write:

      "Obviously if you don't like the direction of the combox, then as an Admin you can delete the offending comments, or block the commenter, or just say, 'hey pal, that's enough, knock it off'."

      Or you could improve your behavior.

      You write:

      "And I don't care what KJV Onlyists, Roman Catholics, or you say or think about 'people like me'. It's completely irrelevant."

      No, your inconsistencies are relevant.

    5. Yes, Hawk explained that Lydia has good things to say about the Bible. That's commendable. So does the pope.

      Maybe you missed it, but I replied to Hawk and pointed out *this post* is about two errantists arguing about how the degree or extent of errors that exist in the Bible, a subject they are in total agreement about. That the Bible contains errors.

      Where people have nice things to say about the Bible, but don't actually believe it's entirely true, that's faint praise. It's like the old Bill Cosby joke. Bill's mother told him to always say something nice when he took a girl on a date. Bill met a nice, but very overweight girl for a date, and they went roller skating. After finishing their sake session and sitting down to chat over a snack Bill struggled with a nice thing to say because he wasn't terribly smitten with his date, so all he could think of to say was, "You don't sweat much for a fat girl." Faint praise. "You don't inspire and inscripturate many errors, God."

      Errantists like a lot about God and Jesus and what the Bible has to say about those topics. But they don't believe it's all true. There are some things in there that just aren't true. And they teach that to other people.

      Would you say that's a virtue or a vice? Unless you're soft in the head the question is pretty easy to answer.

    6. Coram Deo wrote:

      "Yes, Hawk explained that Lydia has good things to say about the Bible. That's commendable. So does the pope."

      And we've spent years citing Roman Catholic sources when they make good points. You'll have to explain why that's allegedly inappropriate and why you haven't been making an issue of it the way you're making an issue of citations of Lydia McGrew.

      You continue:

      "Where people have nice things to say about the Bible, but don't actually believe it's entirely true, that's faint praise….all he could think of to say was, 'You don't sweat much for a fat girl.'"

      Given how much Lydia, sometimes with her husband, has produced over the years on philosophical issues, the historicity of the resurrection, undesigned coincidences, the historicity of the gospels, etc., you'll have to explain why we should think that's "faint praise", like "You don't sweat much for a fat girl." It's much higher praise than the praise of the Jewish opponents of Christianity, pagan philosophers, and such who have been cited for many centuries by the Biblical authors and later Christians. You ignored that portion of my previous response.

      If whether the girl in question sweated much were as important an issue as matters like the historicity of the gospels and the resurrection, it would make sense to cite the comment that she doesn't sweat much. But you're trying to poison the well with a poor analogy. An argument by analogy minus the argument, as Steve would say.

      You write:

      "Errantists like a lot about God and Jesus and what the Bible has to say about those topics. But they don't believe it's all true."

      They don't have to believe it's all true in order to do valuable work. That's why many pre-Christian Jews and Christians for many centuries, from the Biblical era onward, have been citing corroboration of their beliefs from sources they partly, often radically, disagree with.

    7. Just wanted to remind everyone that I have never heard of anyone subscribing to a completely unqualified view of inerrancy. I'm not even sure what that would look like.

      The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy states the following:

      "We deny that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage and purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations."

      As any mathematician or bored schoolboy will tell you (I once memorized it to 500 places to compete with other foolish high schoolers), pi is equal to 3.1415926535 and so on. It is not equal to an even "three" as the OT asserts. Coram Deo doesn't believe that the Bible is as accurate as it could be. I'm not sure how you call that 100%.

      Some "limited inerrantists," as Fuller Seminary used to call themselves, move away from inerrancy in order to update or contextualize Scripture. In other words, to be able to reinterpret it. McGrew, on the other hand, moves away from technical inerrancy in order to DEFEND the authority of Scripture. These are entirely different enterprises! As she notes, there are plenty of self-proclaimed inerrantists who have a (far) lower view of the historical reliability of the New Testament than she does.

      Fundamentalists boast that they believe in plenary verbal inspiration--that they are "literalists" when it comes to Scripture--and then they hold to an untenable view with regards to the consumption of alcohol. Albert Mohler has admitted as much but keeps in place a teetotaling policy at Southern Seminary for "pragmatic reasons." Many, if not most, fundamentalists are dispensationalists, a theology that has been shown to be about as innovative as it is possible to be.

      In general, I would include Lydia McGrew as an inerrantist (though she claims not to be one) and push Michael Licona out of the inerrantist circle (though, from what I understand, he claims to be one).

    8. Good points, Eric!

    9. Been away for a few days, I must say I'm surprised to see Jason deploy the Planned Parenthood defense on behalf of erreantism. PP: "98% of our services are for women's health issues such as mammograms, pap smears, and OB-GYN services with only 2% being related to abortion."

      Many, maybe most people don't have issues with the's the 2% that's problematic. Again, as I've repeatedly pointed out, the nice things Lydia has to say about the Bible are commendable. That's good as far as it goes. That's a nice start, real nice. But it stops short because the ultimate conclusion is that the Bible is a mixture of truth and error.

      Also as for Eric's comments I don't know much about Fundamentalists, but I've read similar things about them, so what he says probably at least anecdotally true.

      Also to Eric's point, regardless of what *inerrancy* is, or how we define it, it isn't *errancy*. I assume there's no disagreement on this fundamental tautalogical distinction.

    10. Coram Deo,

      Moving from a Bill Cosby joke analogy to a Planned Parenthood analogy doesn't address what I've already said about the underlying problems with that sort of analogy. You're still being evasive.

    11. Hi CD,

      Thanks again for the comment. If I could say more:

      1. All that I see Lydia doing in the video I linked to in my post is criticizing the compositional or literary device view. Licona is her main foil, though her criticisms aren't limitd to Licona. So, for instance, Lydia criticizes Licona's position that John deliberately moved the cleansing of the temple to the beginning of Jesus' ministry. That John deliberately moved the dates of last supper and the crucifixion by several months. That John may have either fabricated the entire doubting Thomas episode or more probably that Luke conflated Jesus' appearences to his disciples. That it's possible Matthew added an extra demoniac and added an extra blind man to his narrative (cf. doublets). And so on. Lydia criticizes Licona (among others) on each of these and other examples. That's all I see Lydia doing in this video.

      2. In this video, Lydia isn't arguing the Bible has errors. She isn't arguing against the historical reliability of the Gospels. She isn't arguing the Bible is not worthy to be trusted. She isn't arguing the Bible isn't true. She isn't arguing the Bible isn't God's word. In fact, she's arguing the Bible is reliable. In short, what Lydia says in the video is perfectly consistent and compatible with inerrancy. Her points are good points that inerrantists can use.

      To put it another way, a person would not know she's not an inerrantist solely from watching the video. Lydia has publicly stated multiple times that she's not an inerrantist, but a person wouldn't know this from watching this video. What she says in this video is, again, perfectly consistent and compatible with inerrancy.

      3. I guess you could argue this video (or video series) could be a gateway into Lydia's views on inerrancy, which you would presumably think is dangerous for unsuspecting Christians (among others). However, "could be a gateway" isn't "will be a gateway". And this would seem to assume the person viewing the video isn't very discerning. Yet why assume that?

      4. Again, some Triabloggers (especially Steve) have offered their arguments on the debate over inerrancy including with regard to what Lydia has said. I'd agree with what Steve has said over the years on inerrancy.

      5. If I recommend Craig Keener's critique of an atheist who denies miracles, it doesn't at the same time mean I'm recommending Keener's views on inerrancy. If I recommend Craig Evans' critique of Bart Ehrman on the empty tomb or resurrection, it doesn't at the same time mean I'm recommending Evans' views on inerrancy.

    12. (That's not at all to suggest Lydia's views on inerrancy are anything like Keener's or Evans'.)

  3. Sometimes I wonder about what's going on in the background on Youtube. I finished 1/7, and Youtube then summoned a video titled, "Top 50 YouTube Live Sub Count - PewDiePie VS T-Series & More!" Ah, yes, you've understood my tastes so well.

    1. Lol. :) Admittedly I get some strange things too.

  4. When was it a popular view (I believe it fell out of favor, I can't pretend to have my finger of the pulse on New Testament scholarship) that Jesus was really a Greek figure? When Lydia McGrew was discussing that there are good reasons to think that the Jews weren't big fans of Greek culture/writing practices, that question popped into my head.