Not the Intended Use

I am committed to the inerrancy of Scripture. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy states that, “Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches.” In the affirmation and denial section, article 12, it further states:

WE AFFIRM that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

WE DENY that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

The question is whether the Bible touches upon a certain subject. Does scripture touch upon chemistry? Does it touch upon processed foods? There are many questions that we want answered and so we go to the Bible in search of answers. It is commendable to look for answers in scripture, but that can also be a dangerous approach. We need to take steps that we not read into a passage what was never its intent.

Every generation has battles that it needs to fight. Every generation has its own characteristic biases and predispositions that it needs to guard against. Each generation stands on the shoulders of those who have gone before them. But each generation also has the responsibility to examine afresh the teachings of scripture on their own terms to see where the previous generation may have mistakenly read their culture back into the text. Let’s consider a few examples.

Rabbits “Chew their Cud”

In Leviticus 11:6 we read, “And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you.” But critics of the Bible have tried to find an error here since rabbits do not chew their cud. An animal that chews its cud usually has four stomachs. They will eat their food and swallow it into one of their stomachs where it will be partially digested. They will then regurgitate that food, chew it again and swallow it again into a different stomach for further digestion.

Simply put, rabbits don’t do this. So is the Bible in error? No. These critics have taken our modern concept of chewing the cud and cast it back into scripture to try to find an error. The rabbit, does partially digest its food and then eat it again to complete the digestion process. The difference is that the rabbit will pass its food completely through and then eat it again instead of regurgitating it. These animals that redigested their food were considered unclean. These critics err by reading our modern definition back into a 14th century BC Semitic text.

Snakes “Eating Dust”

Another area that critics have attacked in the past is Genesis 3:14 which says:

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.

They laugh at how little these primitive people understood. Snakes don’t eat dust. They flick out their tongue as a way to “smell” the air. To the critics this is just another example of how you can’t take the Bible seriously because it is full of mistakes.

Snakes do crawl on their bellies, but they do not actually eat dust. However, the image of both of those is one of defeat and subjugation. For instance:

Psalm 72:9 May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust!

Isaiah 49:23 Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.”

These critics are forcing the Bible to answer questions of anatomy and diet which it was not addressing. The point is that God is going to defeat the serpent. He will be subjected before the Lord God almighty!

The Smallest of all Seeds

In Matthew 13:31-32 we read:

[31] He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. [32] It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Once again, critics attack the Bible’s trustworthiness. They point out that the orchid seed is smaller, so Jesus made a mistake. They desire Jesus to speak on the subject of botany so that if he slips up they can condemn him.

But Jesus was not speaking about botany. They are forcing the passage to answer a question that it was never designed to answer. It was commonplace for Jews to discuss something’s size in comparison to the mustard seed. As such it acted as an idiom of sorts. When we say “older than dirt” we aren’t making a genuine estimate of age. When we say “the sharpest tool in the shed” we are speaking of intelligence, not a blade’s edge. “Slower than molasses in January” draws a comparison without intending a literal measurement of velocity.

For most of these we can easily see that the critics have missed the point of the passage. We can easily see that they are forcing it to answer questions of diet or geography or botany which were never part of the intent of the passage. But at other times, because we are so caught up in a cultural war, we unwittingly follow the critics in their assumptions. The following are a couple of examples.

A Flat Earth

In Matthew 4:8 we read, “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” Again the critics point out that it doesn’t matter how high the mountain is, the earth is a globe and you can’t see the other side of it. So the Bible is mistaken because Jesus couldn’t see “all the kingdoms of the earth.”

But once again, they take our 21st century concept of “world” and read it back into the text. We live in the age of space exploration. We are familiar with NASA images of the Earth along with many other celestial bodies. The problem is that this passage is not about geography or astronomy or the shape of the earth in general. “World” (kosmos) had many different definitions in Greek. These critics want the Bible to teach on the shape of the earth so they can discredit it, but that is not what the passage is about.

They add to their critical repertoire by citing passages like Isaiah 11:12 in support of a square earth:

He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Yet Isaiah is speaking of the four points of the compass, not of the shape of the planet.

But some Christians have tried to defend a flat earth. They are eager to fight against the attacks of the unbelievers so they commit themselves to defending what they shouldn’t be defending – a bad interpretation. Thankfully not many Christians have done this (although there still exists a flat earth society). While most Christians have not tried to defend a flat earth, many have taken the same approach in trying to defend a spherical earth. They cite passages like Isaiah 40:22 to support the globe interpretation.

[22] It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

But this is no more about the shape of the earth being a circle than the four corners passage. In our zeal to defend we have unwittingly capitulated to the skeptics approach.

Geocentrism

Perhaps most famously, the Bible started being attacked for teaching geocentrism. Faithful believers again took the bait. They accepted the approach of unbelievers (and some believers of course) that the Bible taught about astronomy and then lined up on the opposite side.

At that time Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” [13] And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. [14] There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for the LORD fought for Israel. (Joshua 10:12-14 ESV)

Many believers, committed to the inerrancy of the Bible accepted the premise that this passage spoke about the motions of the heavens. Once that is accepted, they have to defend geocentrism.

Dr. Faulkners has admirably addressed this issue saying:

It is also important not to base doctrines upon any passage that at best only remotely addresses an issue. That is, if cosmology is clearly not the point of a passage, then extracting a cosmological meaning can be very dangerous.

It is better to understand what the text is about and then see if it is appropriate to ask secondary questions. Dr. Faulkner’s words are part of his critique of geocentrism, which is one of the best responses I have read.

What Did God Intend?

Leviticus talked about chewing cud, Genesis talked about eating dust, Jesus talked about the smallest seed, Isaiah spoke of the four corners, and Joshua talked about the sun standing still. Even though all of that verbiage was used, each of those passages was not about astronomy, botany, etc. They were pressed into service to answer a question that was not their design. I think we have fallen prey to the same kind of thinking in Genesis 1.

Darwin was highly influential. He help unbelievers to become “intellectually justified atheists.” His work was well employed by critics during the age of modernism and into the present to discredit the Bible. “Time” became a kind of genie in a bottle for them. Answers in Genesis has pointed out that it is absurd to think that a frog can become a prince when kissed, but for some reason it becomes reasonable if you add millions of years. I don’t think the science of evolution works.

However, many Christians, with a desire to defend the Bible, saw “time” as the answer. They pressed the genealogies and the days of creation into service to arrive at a date of creation. With that in hand, evolution’s genie in a bottle was gone. But I don’t think that this was the intent of either the genealogies or the days of Genesis. They were never intended to give us an age of the universe.

Joshua is not about cosmology. Genesis is not about the date of creation. Yes, Genesis does use the words evening morning, day and night. But Joshua also uses the terms for sun and moon and it says that they stopped and then later set. Since Joshua was not intending to give a cosmology, then forcing it to answer that question is misguided. Since Genesis was not intending to give a date or duration, then forcing it to answer that question is misguided.

I’m sure some will disagree with me on that mark and insist that it did intend to give us a duration. Why did Moses tell us it was day one and then day two all the way to day seven if he didn’t intend to tell us how long it took? I would turn the question around and ask, “Why does Joshua say that the sun stopped and that later it hurried to set if he didn’t want to tell us about the motions of the heavens?” But my answer is not merely negative, I just want people to realize that even though the text uses actual words like day and night, sun and moon, these texts may have a different aim than whatever question we want answered.

“Speak!” Say the astronomers to Joshua 10. “Tell me whether heliocentrism or geocentrism is true.” But the text is silent. It refuses to answer. God demands we pay attention to what he wants to say in the text. But we keep insisting that God talk about the things we want to know. But it doesn’t work that way. “Speak!” says the 21st century clock-oriented westerner to Genesis 1. “Tell me whether the days were long or short.” But the text is silent, it refuses to speak.

Utmost in our minds needs to be understanding what God wanted to say in a passage.

Time Tensions Part 5

There are Time Tensions with Science

This is the last “time tensions” post I will do before moving on to discuss more positively the Analogical Day View. I saved this for last because I consider it almost irrelevant to my position. The Analogical Day View does not hing on science, it is based on the text of scripture. However, we shouldn’t ignore what God has revealed in nature either.

This is a vast subject. Thousands of books have been written on the subject and I have only read a fraction of them (however there can be a lot of overlap from one book to the next). The science will range from that which is intuitive and straightforward to highly technical. Some measurements are highly variable and are therefore unreliable. For instance, measuring the amount of silt deposited in a river delta. In theory if a river deposits X tons per year, then we can measure the total tons of deposits and then get the total number of years. However, the amount of silt the river carries may vary from year to year. Maybe for the first thousand years it was just a tiny creek which carried almost nothing. But then again maybe it was huge and flooded regularly depositing massive amounts. There are other ways that we can discern certain aspects of its history, but the point is that this is so variable that it is not a reliable guide.

Most measurements that are used, however, are not that way. Scientists try to use measuring tools that have little to no discernable variation in them. The speed of light is a good example. As far as we know, the speed of light does not change (yes I have read Barry Setterfield’s work, and yes I am familiar with passing light through highly refractive medium, no I don’t find them convincing or relevant).

Radiomentric dating is another method that yields vast ages. Some elements show striking variations in decay rates (which would severely mess it up as a clock) such as dysprosium and rhenium. But these are not the ones used to date things (I am also aware of the RATE study). Many other elements show very little variation and therefore serve as good measuring devices. Initial amounts of daughter isotopes can sometimes be eliminated as a factor by using isochron dating. On the whole I consider this to be a reliable dating method.

There are many more methods for measuring the age of the earth. Many of these are completely independant of one another. Yet they all correlate to give dates well beyond what most young earth creationists are willing to concede. One may quibble with some of these measurements, but for the most part I consider them to represent good science, and trying to discredit all of them starts to look like desperation.

It is like measuring your table with a wooden ruler. That has some problems, because how do you know you placed the start of the ruler exactly at the same spot as the end of the ruler from your previous measurement? Then you measure the table with a tape measure. This also has problems because metal can expand and contract with temperature. Then you measure it by rolling a 2” diameter cylinder with a paint stripe across the table and counting how many times the stripe comes up. And so on. Each of these may have some problems, but they all seem to give an answer that more or less agrees with the others at around 8’ or 96 inches. Suppose further that someone says they think the table is only .00005” long (that is about the size of a virus). That is the level of error that has to be in each of these measurements to yield a date similar to what YEC proponents would accept.

I was not one who was ready to accept the vast ages. I read through a lot of material trying to debunk the ages. But there was no way I could credibly deny the validity of all of the measurements, and I certainly could not prove that they were off by a factor of a million. There are a number of unresolved problems with the standard paradigm. However, most of these problems still represent ages far beyond the 6-10,000 year timeframe.

The maturity view takes the position that God created the universe mature which means that it has the appearance of age.  Adam was created as an adult, so he looks old even though he was just created. I find no objections to this view as far as it goes. But problems arise when we consider things that are not necessary to maturity. Adam was created mature, that is fine. But if Adam’s skins had scars which indicated a healed cut, or knits in his tibia which indicated a healed fracture, then we have a problem. These things indicate a history that never happened. The same is true in the universe. Just to take one example, supernova are stars that have exploded (click the above image for reference). If we see a supernova of a star too far for its light to reach us in 10,000 years, then we have just seen a video of something that never happened.

Since the Analogical Day view does not take an official position on the date of creation, then it has no fight either with those who say it is old, or those who say it is young. Although personally I think an old earth is easier to defend.

But science can never determine your interpretation. The Bible is a written text. The law of gravity has no effect on the meaning of a passage. Genre, grammar, lexical analysis, historical and cultural context, comparative literary analysis, structure of the text, mood, all of these determine meaning – not science.

So why bring it up? Because people err. Maybe we missed that our text is arranged in a chiastic structure. Maybe we missed that our passage is in an abecedarian structure (easy to miss if we are not reading it in the original languages). Maybe we are unaware the the semantic domain of a certain word. All these and more can lead to a wrong interpretation. If our interpretation is incorrect, then it may conflict with other parts of the Bible, or with our experience in nature. These conflicts are red flags. Red flags to not solve the problems, they only highlight that there are problems. It gives us pause to consider if we may have missed something in our interpretation.

Time Tensions – Part 4

Tsamach – “grow” (Gen 2:5, 9)

Chapter 2 is describing the 6th day of creation. One of the textual indicators that this day is longer than 24 hrs is the kind of things that are here described. Verse 5 is in the perfect which, at the beginning of a pericope, typically indicates background material. In that verse we are told that the circumstance before the creation of man were that there were no plants for the Lord had not cause it to rain.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, (Genesis 2:5, ESV)

The conditions were described by way of negation, nothing had grown for there was not yet rain. Later, in verse 8-9, we read that God planted a garden.

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 8And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:8-9, ESV)

For a tree or other plant to grow would be more than a day. There are terms like `alah and Gadal and Hayah which are broad in their uses and were used to describe the growth of the plant for Jonah in a day. However, even those when used of plants normally describe a normal growth. Yet, the word for “spring up” in both verse 5 and 9 is the Hebrew word tsamach which simply means “grow.” When we look at other places that we see this verse, it is clear that this is a normal growing process.
Gen 3:18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field ;
Ex 10:15 They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They will also eat the rest of what has escaped -what is left to you from the hail -and they will eat every tree which sprouts for you out of the field.
Lev 13:37 “If in his sight the scale has remained, however, and black hair has grown in it, the scale has healed, he is clean ; and the priest shall pronounce him clean.
Deut 29:23 ‘All its land is brimstone and salt, a burning waste, unsown and unproductive , and no grass grows in it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger and in His wrath.’
Jud 16:22 However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off.
2 samuel 10:5 When it was told David, he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, “Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown and then return.”
Job 38:27 To satisfy the waste and desolate land And to make the seeds of grass to sprout ?
Ps 104:14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
Ps 147:8 Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who provides rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.
Ecc 2:6 I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees.
Isa 44:4 And they will spring up among the grass Like poplars by streams of water.’
Isa 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater
Isa 61:11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise To spring up before all the nations.
Eze 16:7 “I made you numerous like plants of the field. Then you grew up, became tall and reached the age for fine ornaments ; your breasts were formed and your hair had grown. Yet you were naked and bare.
Eze 17:6 Then it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine with its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and yielded shoots and sent out branches.

Whether it is used of the growth of grass, or trees, or hair, or even of humans (as a metaphor for national growth) it always has a normal growing process in mind. For God to plant, water, and grow these plants and trees would take far longer than 24 hrs. This is the normal, straightforward reading of the text. In order to make this work for a 24 hr period, one has to posit a superfast growth like one can see in time-lapse videos that cover weeks, months, or years. In order to make the 24 hr day view work, one has to ditch the standard definition of tsamach.

This is just how we harmonize a passage. We assume that God wrote in a coherent way. The normal definition of day would be 12-24 hrs. The normal definition of grow (especially for trees) takes much longer than 24 hrs.

Time Tensions – Part 3

The Sixth Day - General Activities

On the sixth day, God created animals. We are not told how that happened whether slow or fast. Presumably it was fast (possibly immediate). God also created man. If there is anything to the order from chapter one, then man was created after the animals. We are told more about the creation of man. Specifically, God formed him from the dust of the ground. The term “formed” comes from the Hebrew Yatsar which is used of potters and of forming in 1 Chron 4:23 and Isa 29:16. It is used of the making of an idol in Isa 44:9-10. This would normally communicate a process of a certain amount of time. Certainly God could have done it quicker, but he could also have inspired different words that did not indicate a process. The most reasonable interpretation is that the creation of man did take some time. Once man has been formed, God breathes life into him, plants a garden, and places man into the garden giving his the command to “work it and keep it.” It is possible that Adam did not obey but simply waited for God to give him a different task. However, it seems more reasonable to believe that Adam actually obeyed and worked the garden. Depending on one’s garden, this is a task that will require several hours a day for many days. That need not be the view however, since it seems that the context is one “day.” Still there would be some passage of time in this activity (hours?).

The next task that God gave to man was to name the animals. In Genesis 1 were are told that God created the plants and the animals according to their “kinds.” The word “kind” translates the Hebrew term Miyn. It is hard to know just how broad the categorization of “kind” was. In Leviticus 11, God is giving directions on what animals Israel was to consider as clear or unclean.

“And these you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14 the kite, the falcon of any kind, 15 every raven of any kind,16 the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl, 18 the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture, 19 the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

20 “All winged insects that go on all fours are detestable to you. 21 Yet among the winged insects that go on all fours you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground. 22 Of them you may eat: the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind. (Leviticus 11:13-22, ESV)

Looking at this list which uses Miyn to refer to these animal’s “kind” we can see at some level how broadly Israel understood the term Miyn or kind. Verse 17 lists 4 kinds of owls. We could look for other classifications, but it seems that the term “kind” roughly corresponds to what we would understand as species. We ought not read our taxonomy back into the text, but there is a rough correspondence between our classification level “species” and their classification level “kinds.”

We have approximately 10,000 species of birds in the world. Mammals hover around 5500 species. If we include all animal species, we are looking at 8.7 million species, but given that Genesis only mentions what appear to be birds and mammals, our number would be closer to 15,000 species. In a 24 hour period, Adam would have to name more than 10 species every minute. It is unlikely that Adam was trying to identify animals in the dead of night, so his available time is closer to 12 hrs. This makes for 20 “kinds” every minute.

After Adam is done naming the animals and it is clear that there is no one for him, God puts Adam into a deep sleep. God certainly could have done this with Adam while he was awake with no pain, but God chose to put him to sleep.

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:21-23, ESV)

These are a lot of activities to squeeze into one day. It strains credibility to suggest these were accomplished in one day. Some suggest that before the fall Adam had superhuman abilities. But that is nowhere to be found into the text. It is something that has to be added in order to make it work.

Nye-Ham Debate

I saw this a few days ago and I thought I’d say a few things about it. First some background of where I am coming from. I grew up in reading a lot from organizations like Answers in Genesis and ICR. I was encouraged to seek the intellectual side of my faith from many of the scientists and theologians from young earth creationist organizations. They are willing to stand on what they think the Bible teaches no matter how unpopular it is. So I have a lot of respect for them at that level.

Grace Baptist church takes  no official position and another of our elders is convinced of the calendar-day view that AIG espouses. I have since parted ways with the typical YEC camp and find myself more comfortable with the analogical day view espoused by people such as John Collins & Vern Poythress. I have had issues with how much emphasis they place on the age of the earth as opposed to simply giving evidence for God or pointing out problems with evolution without mentioning the number of years. When I search their site for evolution it comes up with 9,080 results. When I search for “years” it comes up with 9,380 results. It is hard to find an article that addresses the creation/evolution issue without reference to the number of years. I have also taken issue with they way they have sometimes conducted the conversation (more on that later). Suffice it to say, while I can respect them, I have also parted from them in some significant ways – ways that they would label as compromise.

I have seen many atheists (or evolutionists, or even some old earth creationists) lament this debate. Bill Nye is no friend of creationism and he is a well known figure. So many have lamented his acceptance of this debate on the grounds that it will give too much credence to this “fringe pseudo-science” group. They don’t want to give any YEC person or organization the time of day. They are the wackos. They are the intellectually backwards religious nuts. Making fun of them is acceptable. Mocking them is great. Marginalizing them is the current strategy. So Bill Nye accepting this debate is out of keeping with the prevailing mindset. To a certain extent, I think AIG has brought this on themselves. For years they would make fun of evolutionists. They would declare the end of evolution. They would joke about how stupid someone would have to be to believe in evolution. They produced comics portraying their opponents as simpletons. But now that is being returned on their head.

While many lament this debate, I for one welcome it.

There are a lot of people who really don’t know what to believe. They are genuinely confused. While some may like to simply wave their hand and shew off the YEC’ers as backwoods anti-intellectuals, it is a lot harder to actually demonstrate that they are wrong. Walt Brown set forth a hydroplate theory. I read the book. I don’t agree with him, but how many people have actually taken the time to do the equations for the heat transfer in an event like that? I’d wager not very many. Russ Humphries has proposed a gravitational time dilation theory. Is he right? It is one thing to dismiss him with a wave of the hand, but how many people have actually tried to work through the calculs necessary to disprove it? How many people have even tried to understand it? The RATE scientists have written a study on radio-isotopes that is over 400 pages long. How many people have read it? How many actually try to understand the science behind it? I expect very few.

Most of us have other jobs besides keeping current with all of the literature on this vast subject. The vast majority of people who are not young earth creationists have never read or interacted with the literature at any respectable level. Rather, the vast majority only disagree with YEC because they are following the popularity bandwagon. They have no clue how to sort through the science. They are blind followers just as much as any YECer. The difference is that the YECer is blindly following the Bible (or their understanding of it) while those who disagree are blindly following the popular vote, or their favorite scientist, or their favorite theologian. In fairness, the same can be said of many YECer. They are simply following the people in their circles. However, I can’t see how just a surface reading of the Bible will get you anything other than a calendar day position. While I do differ from the calendar day view, I did not find it to be an easy study.

So what are we to do? Most people simply cannot, and if they can they usually won’t work through the matrix calculus of gravitational time dilation. Most people will never immerse themselves in the world of the ancient Near-East. They will not read Atrahasis, the Gilgamesh Epic, the Akkadian tablets, let alone the volumes of commentaries that attempt to elucidate them. So what shall we do? This is where I find debates to be helpful. True, even debates have problems (presidential debates anyone?). But debates offer us a rare opportunity to see the positions side by side. Rather than having to search for all of the research data, assemble it together (for both sides), read the interpretations, look for possible responses to each side’s conclusions (and then any possible rejoinders to that) we can get it all in one tidy debate packet.

For that reason, I applaud Mr. Nye’s acceptance of this debate. I applaud Mr. Ham for reaching out to him. I’m sure neither participant will be persuaded. I’m sure that each side will trumpet that “their guy” won. I’m sure that excerpts will appear on Youtube with the title “Nye pwnd creationist fundie” or “Ken Ham destroys evolutionist.” For all of that, there will be thousands that aren’t of the hardcore troops from either side. These minds are the reason for the debate. It provides an opportunity for learning. So to Mr. Ham and Mr. Nye, thank you for being willing to advance this discussion. Thank you for caring about the majority of people who simply can’t devote the time to study it as it deserves. Thank you for showing respect.

Getting Transcendental at LiB’s Lucent Temple of Consciousness

 

This summer the Peace and Loveism staff (sister organization of SHIFT>) will be immersing itself and documenting the wonderful Lucent Temple of Consciousness at Lightning in a Bottle! We are incredibly excited to share our experiences of this transcendental and transformational element of Lightning in a Bottle. We’ll be highlighting some amazing speakers, workshops, and meditations so stay tuned for our coverage next month!

The LIB Lucent Temple of Consciousness is a place to expand your mind and explore science, playfulness, and the inner and outer reaches of spirituality. Come bend and twist your body and hear the sounds of sweet harmonizing instruments calling us to rise up.


So what’s in store July 11-15 in Temecula, CA? Read on for the inspiring lineup of speakers, workshops, yoga teachers, and music that will be on offer throughout the weekend at the temple this year.

Speakers

David Wilcock: Divine Cosmos – The Synchronicity Key: Hidden Intelligence Guiding Us  

Alex Grey w/ Allyson Grey: Entheogeneration – History of Visionary Culture

Ocean and John Robbins: Why We Need A Food Revolution

John Perkins: Dreaming a New World – Confessions of an Economic Hit Man & The Prophecies

Jamie Janover Unified Field Theory

BASHAR Channel: Leading Edge Thinking

Dream Rockwell Success comes with understanding You Are the Light of the World

Alexis Neely Sovereignty in the New Economics

Melanie St.James 7 Stages of Sustainability: Social Permaculture in Action

Yoga

Ashley Turner – Koshas – 5 Layers of Self
Bryan Kest – PowerYoga
Mark Whitwell – Heart of Yoga
Tamal Dodge – “Enhance your Practice” (Guided Vinyasa Power Yoga)
Daniel Stewart – Rising Lotus Yoga
Kia Miller – Radiant Body Yoga
Kishan Shah – Vinyasa Flow Love + Bhakti Yin Kirtan w/ live music by Dear Beloveds
Michelle Nayeli Bouvier – Circle Sadhana: Dance our Nature
Shawni – Yoga Meditation & Music
Patti Quintero – YogaWorks
Gigi Snyder w/ The Human Experience
Cristi Christensen w/ DJ Marques Wyatt – Deep Exhale
Rachel Tratt – Let Your Soul Shine
Gianna DeFlice – Your Brightest Self– Yoga to Upshift your Vibration
Nicole Doherty and Marques Wyatt – Sonic Shamanic

1 Giant Mind Meditation & The Earth Harp

The 1 Giant Mind Mission

To reduce the impact of the global stress epidemic and its effects on health and wellbeing, society and culture, the workplace, economy and the world at large through:

  • promoting the practice and benefits of meditation
  • teaching as many people as possible how to meditate
  • advancing scientific research into the practice of individual and collective meditation
  • motivating 100 million people worldwide to regularly practice meditation by 2020.
The Experiment
On Sunday, July 14, 2013, in partnership with Dr. Paul Zak, Director of the Centre of Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California, 1 Giant Mind and The Do LaB will be conducting a world first study on brain-chemistry produced during mass meditation experiences at The Lightning in Bottle Festival.
The study involves a series of blood draws before and after a mass meditation experience to be held on the 21st of July at the main stage. They will then test this blood for the amount of oxytocin, seratonin and dopamine released to determine what the neurological impacts are when large groups of people meditate together.
Dr. Zak (aka Dr. Love) Professor of Economics and Department Chair, as well as the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Zak also serves as Professor of Neurology at Loma Linda University Medical Center, and is a Senior Researcher at UCLA. Dr. Zak specialises in monitoring Oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is the chemical of morality, empathy and love.

Other Wonderment

MOVEMENT Dance, ritual movement, fitness, slackline and more!
FOOD AND TEA Raw & vegan food, sustainable preparation, chocolate!
KIDS AND FAMILY Gring the whole family to creation stations, playshops & kids yoga!
TECHNOLOGY 1 Giant Mind, ancient languages, alternative economies, biobeats!
SUSTAINABILITY Natural building, earthships, emerging environmental technologies!
THRIVING Heal naturally, express yourself through voice, sex, sound, and more!

Temple Music

Once again the Temple of Consciousness will have its own musical experience with world, devotional, and calming live music offering a soundtrack to the journeys within.


Liberation Movement: The Shaman Project
Elijah and the Band of Light
Agape Love Ensemble
Shawn Barry
Shaman’s Dream
Steve Gold
Srikalogy
Human Experience
Imagika Om
Fabian Alsultany
Janover & reSunator
LYNX
Youssoupha Sidibe
Fanna-Fi-Allah
Marques Wyatt
Lucent Dossier (Temple Set)
Shyla Ray Sunshine

CelloJoe
Shawni + Band

Getting Transcendental at LiB’s Lucent Temple of Consciousness

 

This summer the Peace and Loveism staff (sister organization of SHIFT>) will be immersing itself and documenting the wonderful Lucent Temple of Consciousness at Lightning in a Bottle! We are incredibly excited to share our experiences of this transcendental and transformational element of Lightning in a Bottle. We’ll be highlighting some amazing speakers, workshops, and meditations so stay tuned for our coverage next month!

The LIB Lucent Temple of Consciousness is a place to expand your mind and explore science, playfulness, and the inner and outer reaches of spirituality. Come bend and twist your body and hear the sounds of sweet harmonizing instruments calling us to rise up.


So what’s in store July 11-15 in Temecula, CA? Read on for the inspiring lineup of speakers, workshops, yoga teachers, and music that will be on offer throughout the weekend at the temple this year.

Speakers

David Wilcock: Divine Cosmos – The Synchronicity Key: Hidden Intelligence Guiding Us  

Alex Grey w/ Allyson Grey: Entheogeneration – History of Visionary Culture

Ocean and John Robbins: Why We Need A Food Revolution

John Perkins: Dreaming a New World – Confessions of an Economic Hit Man & The Prophecies

Jamie Janover Unified Field Theory

BASHAR Channel: Leading Edge Thinking

Dream Rockwell Success comes with understanding You Are the Light of the World

Alexis Neely Sovereignty in the New Economics

Melanie St.James 7 Stages of Sustainability: Social Permaculture in Action

Yoga

Ashley Turner – Koshas – 5 Layers of Self
Bryan Kest – PowerYoga
Mark Whitwell – Heart of Yoga
Tamal Dodge – “Enhance your Practice” (Guided Vinyasa Power Yoga)
Daniel Stewart – Rising Lotus Yoga
Kia Miller – Radiant Body Yoga
Kishan Shah – Vinyasa Flow Love + Bhakti Yin Kirtan w/ live music by Dear Beloveds
Michelle Nayeli Bouvier – Circle Sadhana: Dance our Nature
Shawni – Yoga Meditation & Music
Patti Quintero – YogaWorks
Gigi Snyder w/ The Human Experience
Cristi Christensen w/ DJ Marques Wyatt – Deep Exhale
Rachel Tratt – Let Your Soul Shine
Gianna DeFlice – Your Brightest Self– Yoga to Upshift your Vibration
Nicole Doherty and Marques Wyatt – Sonic Shamanic

1 Giant Mind Meditation & The Earth Harp

The 1 Giant Mind Mission

To reduce the impact of the global stress epidemic and its effects on health and wellbeing, society and culture, the workplace, economy and the world at large through:

  • promoting the practice and benefits of meditation
  • teaching as many people as possible how to meditate
  • advancing scientific research into the practice of individual and collective meditation
  • motivating 100 million people worldwide to regularly practice meditation by 2020.
The Experiment
On Sunday, July 14, 2013, in partnership with Dr. Paul Zak, Director of the Centre of Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California, 1 Giant Mind and The Do LaB will be conducting a world first study on brain-chemistry produced during mass meditation experiences at The Lightning in Bottle Festival.
The study involves a series of blood draws before and after a mass meditation experience to be held on the 21st of July at the main stage. They will then test this blood for the amount of oxytocin, seratonin and dopamine released to determine what the neurological impacts are when large groups of people meditate together.
Dr. Zak (aka Dr. Love) Professor of Economics and Department Chair, as well as the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Zak also serves as Professor of Neurology at Loma Linda University Medical Center, and is a Senior Researcher at UCLA. Dr. Zak specialises in monitoring Oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is the chemical of morality, empathy and love.

Other Wonderment

MOVEMENT Dance, ritual movement, fitness, slackline and more!
FOOD AND TEA Raw & vegan food, sustainable preparation, chocolate!
KIDS AND FAMILY Gring the whole family to creation stations, playshops & kids yoga!
TECHNOLOGY 1 Giant Mind, ancient languages, alternative economies, biobeats!
SUSTAINABILITY Natural building, earthships, emerging environmental technologies!
THRIVING Heal naturally, express yourself through voice, sex, sound, and more!

Temple Music

Once again the Temple of Consciousness will have its own musical experience with world, devotional, and calming live music offering a soundtrack to the journeys within.


Liberation Movement: The Shaman Project
Elijah and the Band of Light
Agape Love Ensemble
Shawn Barry
Shaman’s Dream
Steve Gold
Srikalogy
Human Experience
Imagika Om
Fabian Alsultany
Janover & reSunator
LYNX
Youssoupha Sidibe
Fanna-Fi-Allah
Marques Wyatt
Lucent Dossier (Temple Set)
Shyla Ray Sunshine

CelloJoe
Shawni + Band

Deconversion

Back in 2009 Steve Hays was asked to comment on the apostasy testimony of some kid named Luke. I found the analysis insightful and thought I’d reports large segments of it here before I continue my look at Biblical inerrancy:

It’s a stereotypical deconversion testimony. And it’s striking how formulaic these deconversions stories generally are. A young man grows up in a legalistic, fideistic, insular Christian environment. At some point he’s exposed, for the first time in his adult life, to a teacher or writer who’s hostile to the Christian faith. The instant he encounters an opposing view, his childhood faith evaporates on contact. And he finds this a liberating experience.
This phenomenon raises a number of interesting questions:
1.It’s a mystery to me how any American living in the age of cable TV and the Internet could ever be that sheltered to begin with. You’d think these apostates were Amish farmhands. . . . The average apostate acts as if he’d been hoodwinked all these years. Kept in the dark. He acts as though, if the Bible were true, then everyone would believe the Bible was true. When he then discovers the hitherto unsuspected existence of unbelievers, this is followed by a sense of betrayal and disillusionment. He says to his elders, “How could you lie to me! Why didn’t you ever tell me!”
2.As I’ve often said, apostasy is frequently the result of false expectations. If you entertain a false expectation, then sooner or later rude experience may dash your false expectations. It’s not as if the Bible cultivates this expectation. It’s not as though the Bible paints a picture of a word in which everyone is a fellow believer. Bible history actually records the existence of unbelievers! You have to be incredible naïve to think that no one has ever written a book before attacking the Bible or the Christian faith. Why does first-time exposure to this sort of material so often lead to instant loss of faith? Why does this catch the reader completely off-guard, as if he never imagined the possibility of someone attacking the Bible? I think one reason is that a lot of folks read the Bible without bothering to apply it to themselves or the world around them. They don’t stop and ask whether there’s something in their own experience or observation that corresponds to what the Bible is describing. Somehow, in their reading of Scripture, they compartmentalize what the Bible says about the world from the world around them.
. . . .
4. Another stereotypical feature of deconversion testimonies is their very wooden approach to the inerrancy of Scripture. They think the Bible must be in error unless every speech is a full, verbatim transcript of what was said. Somehow, they can’t wrap their head around the idea that a Bible writer might summarize or paraphrase what was said. They think the Bible must be in error unless every quote is a verbatim transcription of the source. Somehow, they can’t wrap their head around the idea that a Bible writer might paraphrase another writer, or combine quotes from two or more writers. They think the Bible must be in error unless every narrative is strictly sequential. Somehow they can’t wrap their head around the idea that a writer might arrange some of his material topically rather than chronologically. They make no allowance for hyperbole, round numbers, or numerology. They make no allowance for narrative compression. Or paradox. Put another way, they read the Bible at the level of a child. The simplistic literality of a child who’s too young to comprehend verbal shortcuts, figures of speech, or double entendres. In other words, a lot of apostates a functionally illiterate. They know nothing about the art of writing. About basic literary techniques which are frequently put to use in expository writing.
5.So often they don’t even bother to read conservative Christian scholarship. They only read one side of the argument: the liberal side. Or, by the time they do get around to reading the conservative side of the argument, it’s too late. By then they’re already committed to their defection. By then it’s a question of saving face. How to rationalize their apostasy. So even if they do read some competent conservative writers, they automatically dismiss their explanations as special pleading. They discount whatever a conservative writer has to say based on his tainted apologetic motives. Anyone who presumes to defend the Bible is suspect for that very reason. And somehow they manage to exempt opponents of Christianity from the same suspicion.

I have seen this a few times myself. Usually as kids become twenty-somethings they are seeing the world for the first time on their own. They are thinking through things on their own. They discover new ideas that they had never been exposed to before. Or they discover new people who can give an articulate defense to some idea that they previously dismissed. This, as Steve said, has a psychological effect on them. They begin to wonder what else they have been hoodwinked in. They rebel against their upbringing to a certain extent as they chart their own course.

This is pretty natural behavior and there is nothing wrong with re-thinking things as you come into your own. However, this re-thinking is often very superficial. Following an impulse or what “rings true” replaces rigorous thought. Often there is no real growth in the individual, just a shift in allegiance. The “backwoods” Christian becomes an atheist, but he still reads the Bible like a “backwoods” Christian. There was no growth, just a shift in allegiance. Hitchens or Dawkins replace his pastor, but he still just parrots what he is told just like he did when he was a Christian.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

Preface

The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian church in this and every age. Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are called to show the reality of their discipleship by humbly and faithfully obeying God’s written Word. To stray from Scripture in faith or conduct is disloyalty to our Master. Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority.

The following Statement affirms this inerrancy of Scripture afresh, making clear our understanding of it and warning against its denial. We are persuaded that to deny it is to set aside the witness of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit and to refuse that submission to the claims of God’s own Word which marks true Christian faith. We see it as our timely duty to make this affirmation in the face of current lapses from the truth of inerrancy among our fellow Christians and misunderstandings of this doctrine in the world at large.

This Statement consists of three parts: a Summary Statement, Articles of Affirmation and Denial, and an accompanying Exposition. It has been prepared in the course of a three-day consultation in Chicago. Those who have signed the Summary Statement and the Articles wish to affirm their own conviction as to the inerrancy of Scripture and to encourage and challenge one another and all Christians to growing appreciation and understanding of this doctrine. We acknowledge the limitations of a document prepared in a brief, intensive conference and do not propose that this Statement be given creedal weight. Yet we rejoice in the deepening of our own convictions through our discussions together, and we pray that the Statement we have signed may be used to the glory of our God toward a new reformation of the Church in its faith, life, and mission.

We offer this Statement in a spirit, not of contention, but of humility and love, which we purpose by God’s grace to maintain in any future dialogue arising out of what we have said. We gladly acknowledge that many who deny the inerrancy of Scripture do not display the consequences of this denial in the rest of their belief and behavior, and we are conscious that we who confess this doctrine often deny it in life by failing to bring our thoughts and deeds, our traditions and habits, into true subjection to the divine Word.

We invite response to this statement from any who see reason to amend its affirmations about Scripture by the light of Scripture itself, under whose infallible authority we stand as we speak. We claim no personal infallibility for the witness we bear, and for any help which enables us to strengthen this testimony to God’s Word we shall be grateful.

— The Draft Committee

A Short Statement

  1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.
  2. Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms: obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.
  3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
  4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.
  5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.

Articles of Affirmation and Denial

Article I.

WE AFFIRM that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God.
WE DENY that the Scriptures receive their authority from the Church, tradition, or any other human source.

Article II.

WE AFFIRM that the Scriptures are the supreme written norm by which God binds the conscience, and that the authority of the Church is subordinate to that of Scripture.
WE DENY that Church creeds, councils, or declarations have authority greater than or equal to the authority of the Bible.

Article III.

WE AFFIRM that the written Word in its entirety is revelation given by God.
WE DENY that the Bible is merely a witness to revelation, or only becomes revelation in encounter, or depends on the responses of men for its validity.

Article IV.

WE AFFIRM that God who made mankind in His image has used language as a means of revelation.
WE DENY that human language is so limited by our creatureliness that it is rendered inadequate as a vehicle for divine revelation. We further deny that the corruption of human culture and language through sin has thwarted God’s work of inspiration.

Article V.

WE AFFIRM that God’s revelation within the Holy Scriptures was progressive.
WE DENY that later revelation, which may fulfill earlier revelation, ever corrects or contradicts it. We further deny that any normative revelation has been given since the completion of the New Testament writings.

Article VI.

WE AFFIRM that the whole of Scripture and all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration.
WE DENY that the inspiration of Scripture can rightly be affirmed of the whole without the parts, or of some parts but not the whole.

Article VII.

WE AFFIRM that inspiration was the work in which God by His Spirit, through human writers, gave us His Word. The origin of Scripture is divine. The mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us.
WE DENY that inspiration can be reduced to human insight, or to heightened states of consciousness of any kind.

Article VIII.

WE AFFIRM that God in His work of inspiration utilized the distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers whom He had chosen and prepared.
WE DENY that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that He chose, overrode their personalities.

Article IX.

WE AFFIRM that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical authors were moved to speak and write.
WE DENY that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, by necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God’s Word.

Article X.

WE AFFIRM that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.
WE DENY that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.

Article XI.

WE AFFIRM that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.
WE DENY that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated.

Article XII.

WE AFFIRM that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.
WE DENY that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

Article XIII.

WE AFFIRM the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.
WE DENY that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or 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.

Article XIV.

WE AFFIRM the unity and internal consistency of Scripture.
WE DENY that alleged errors and discrepancies that have not yet been resolved vitiate the truth claims of the Bible.

Article XV.

WE AFFIRM that the doctrine of inerrancy is grounded in the teaching of the Bible about inspiration.
WE DENY that Jesus’ teaching about Scripture may be dismissed by appeals to accommodation or to any natural limitation of His humanity.

Article XVI.

WE AFFIRM that the doctrine of inerrancy has been integral to the Church’s faith throughout its history.
WE DENY that inerrancy is a doctrine invented by scholastic Protestantism, or is a reactionary position postulated in response to negative higher criticism.

Article XVII.

WE AFFIRM that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the Scriptures, assuring believers of the truthfulness of God’s written Word.
WE DENY that this witness of the Holy Spirit operates in isolation from or against Scripture.

Article XVIII.

WE AFFIRM that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.
WE DENY the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.

Article XIX.

WE AFFIRM that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ.
WE DENY that such confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences, both to the individual and to the Church.


Exposition

Our understanding of the doctrine of inerrancy must be set in the context of the broader teachings of the Scripture concerning itself. This exposition gives an account of the outline of doctrine from which our summary statement and articles are drawn.

Creation, Revelation and Inspiration

The Triune God, who formed all things by his creative utterances and governs all things by His Word of decree, made mankind in His own image for a life of communion with Himself, on the model of the eternal fellowship of loving communication within the Godhead. As God’s image-bearer, man was to hear God’s Word addressed to him and to respond in the joy of adoring obedience. Over and above God’s self-disclosure in the created order and the sequence of events within it, human beings from Adam on have received verbal messages from Him, either directly, as stated in Scripture, or indirectly in the form of part or all of Scripture itself.

When Adam fell, the Creator did not abandon mankind to final judgment but promised salvation and began to reveal Himself as Redeemer in a sequence of historical events centering on Abraham’s family and culminating in the life, death, resurrection, present heavenly ministry, and promised return of Jesus Christ. Within this frame God has from time to time spoken specific words of judgment and mercy, promise and command, to sinful human beings so drawing them into a covenant relation of mutual commitment between Him and them in which He blesses them with gifts of grace and they bless Him in responsive adoration. Moses, whom God used as mediator to carry His words to His people at the time of the Exodus, stands at the head of a long line of prophets in whose mouths and writings God put His words for delivery to Israel. God’s purpose in this succession of messages was to maintain His covenant by causing His people to know His Name—that is, His nature—and His will both of precept and purpose in the present and for the future. This line of prophetic spokesmen from God came to completion in Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Word, who was Himself a prophet—more than a prophet, but not less—and in the apostles and prophets of the first Christian generation. When God’s final and climactic message, His word to the world concerning Jesus Christ, had been spoken and elucidated by those in the apostolic circle, the sequence of revealed messages ceased. Henceforth the Church was to live and know God by what He had already said, and said for all time.

At Sinai God wrote the terms of His covenant on tables of stone, as His enduring witness and for lasting accessibility, and throughout the period of prophetic and apostolic revelation He prompted men to write the messages given to and through them, along with celebratory records of His dealings with His people, plus moral reflections on covenant life and forms of praise and prayer for covenant mercy. The theological reality of inspiration in the producing of Biblical documents corresponds to that of spoken prophecies: although the human writers’ personalities were expressed in what they wrote, the words were divinely constituted. Thus, what Scripture says, God says; its authority is His authority, for He is its ultimate Author, having given it through the minds and words of chosen and prepared men who in freedom and faithfulness “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). Holy Scripture must be acknowledged as the Word of God by virtue of its divine origin.

Authority: Christ and the Bible

Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is the Word made flesh, our Prophet, Priest, and King, is the ultimate Mediator of God’s communication to man, as He is of all God’s gifts of grace. The revelation He gave was more than verbal; He revealed the Father by His presence and His deeds as well. Yet His words were crucially important; for He was God, He spoke from the Father, and His words will judge all men at the last day.

As the prophesied Messiah, Jesus Christ is the central theme of Scripture. The Old Testament looked ahead to Him; the New Testament looks back to His first coming and on to His second. Canonical Scripture is the divinely inspired and therefore normative witness to Christ. No hermeneutic, therefore, of which the historical Christ is not the focal point is acceptable. Holy Scripture must be treated as what it essentially is—the witness of the Father to the Incarnate Son.

It appears that the Old Testament canon had been fixed by the time of Jesus. The New Testament canon is likewise now closed inasmuch as no new apostolic witness to the historical Christ can now be borne. No new revelation (as distinct from Spirit-given understanding of existing revelation) will be given until Christ comes again. The canon was created in principle by divine inspiration. The Church’s part was to discern the canon which God had created, not to devise one of its own.

The word canon, signifying a rule or standard, is a pointer to authority, which means the right to rule and control. Authority in Christianity belongs to God in His revelation, which means, on the one hand, Jesus Christ, the living Word, and, on the other hand, Holy Scripture, the written Word. But the authority of Christ and that of Scripture are one. As our Prophet, Christ testified that Scripture cannot be broken. As our Priest and King, He devoted His earthly life to fulfilling the law and the prophets, even dying in obedience to the words of Messianic prophecy. Thus, as He saw Scripture attesting Him and His authority, so by His own submission to Scripture He attested its authority. As He bowed to His Father’s instruction given in His Bible (our Old Testament), so He requires His disciples to do—not, however, in isolation but in conjunction with the apostolic witness to Himself which He undertook to inspire by His gift of the Holy Spirit. So Christians show themselves faithful servants of their Lord by bowing to the divine instruction given in the prophetic and apostolic writings which together make up our Bible.

By authenticating each other’s authority, Christ and Scripture coalesce into a single fount of authority. The Biblically-interpreted Christ and the Christ-centered, Christ-proclaiming Bible are from this standpoint one. As from the fact of inspiration we infer that what Scripture says, God says, so from the revealed relation between Jesus Christ and Scripture we may equally declare that what Scripture says, Christ says.

Infallibility, Inerrancy, Interpretation

Holy Scripture, as the inspired Word of God witnessing authoritatively to Jesus Christ, may properly be called infallible and inerrant. These negative terms have a special value, for they explicitly safeguard crucial positive truths.

lnfallible signifies the quality of neither misleading nor being misled and so safeguards in categorical terms the truth that Holy Scripture is a sure, safe, and reliable rule and guide in all matters.

Similarly, inerrant signifies the quality of being free from all falsehood or mistake and so safeguards the truth that Holy Scripture is entirely true and trustworthy in all its assertions.

We affirm that canonical Scripture should always be interpreted on the basis that it is infallible and inerrant. However, in determining what the God-taught writer is asserting in each passage, we must pay the most careful attention to its claims and character as a human production. In inspiration, God utilized the culture and conventions of His penman’s milieu, a milieu that God controls in His sovereign providence; it is misinterpretation to imagine otherwise.

So history must be treated as history, poetry as poetry, hyperbole and metaphor as hyperbole and metaphor, generalization and approximation as what they are, and so forth. Differences between literary conventions in Bible times and in ours must also be observed: since, for instance, non-chronological narration and imprecise citation were conventional and acceptable and violated no expectations in those days, we must not regard these things as faults when we find them in Bible writers. When total precision of a particular kind was not expected nor aimed at, it is no error not to have achieved it. Scripture is inerrant, not in the sense of being absolutely precise by modern standards, but in the sense of making good its claims and achieving that measure of focused truth at which its authors aimed.

The truthfulness of Scripture is not negated by the appearance in it of irregularities of grammar or spelling, phenomenal descriptions of nature, reports of false statements (e.g., the lies of Satan), or seeming discrepancies between one passage and another. It is not right to set the so-called “phenomena” of Scripture against the teaching of Scripture about itself. Apparent inconsistencies should not be ignored. Solution of them, where this can be convincingly achieved, will encourage our faith, and where for the present no convincing solution is at hand we shall significantly honor God by trusting His assurance that His Word is true, despite these appearances, and by maintaining our confidence that one day they will be seen to have been illusions.

Inasmuch as all Scripture is the product of a single divine mind, interpretation must stay within the bounds of the analogy of Scripture and eschew hypotheses that would correct one Biblical passage by another, whether in the name of progressive revelation or of the imperfect enlightenment of the inspired writer’s mind.

Although Holy Scripture is nowhere culture-bound in the sense that its teaching lacks universal validity, it is sometimes culturally conditioned by the customs and conventional views of a particular period, so that the application of its principles today calls for a different sort of action.

Skepticism and Criticism

Since the Renaissance, and more particularly since the Enlightenment, world-views have been developed which involve skepticism about basic Christian tenets. Such are the agnosticism which denies that God is knowable, the rationalism which denies that He is incomprehensible, the idealism which denies that He is transcendent, and the existentialism which denies rationality in His relationships with us. When these un- and anti-biblical principles seep into men’s theologies at [a] presuppositional level, as today they frequently do, faithful interpretation of Holy Scripture becomes impossible.

Transmission and Translation

Since God has nowhere promised an inerrant transmission of Scripture, it is necessary to affirm that only the autographic text of the original documents was inspired and to maintain the need of textual criticism as a means of detecting any slips that may have crept into the text in the course of its transmission. The verdict of this science, however, is that the Hebrew and Greek text appear to be amazingly well preserved, so that we are amply justified in affirming, with the Westminster Confession, a singular providence of God in this matter and in declaring that the authority of Scripture is in no way jeopardized by the fact that the copies we possess are not entirely error-free.

Similarly, no translation is or can be perfect, and all translations are an additional step away from the autographa. Yet the verdict of linguistic science is that English-speaking Christians, at least, are exceedingly well served in these days with a host of excellent translations and have no cause for hesitating to conclude that the true Word of God is within their reach. Indeed, in view of the frequent repetition in Scripture of the main matters with which it deals and also of the Holy Spirit’s constant witness to and through the Word, no serious translation of Holy Scripture will so destroy its meaning as to render it unable to make its reader “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).

Inerrancy and Authority

In our affirmation of the authority of Scripture as involving its total truth, we are consciously standing with Christ and His apostles, indeed with the whole Bible and with the main stream of Church history from the first days until very recently. We are concerned at the casual, inadvertent, and seemingly thoughtless way in which a belief of such far-reaching importance has been given up by so many in our day.

We are conscious too that great and grave confusion results from ceasing to maintain the total truth of the Bible whose authority one professes to acknowledge. The result of taking this step is that the Bible which God gave loses its authority, and what has authority instead is a Bible reduced in content according to the demands of one’s critical reasonings and in principle reducible still further once one has started. This means that at bottom independent reason now has authority, as opposed to Scriptural teaching. If this is not seen and if for the time being basic evangelical doctrines are still held, persons denying the full truth of Scripture may claim an evangelical identity while methodologically they have moved away from the evangelical principle of knowledge to an unstable subjectivism, and will find it hard not to move further.

We affirm that what Scripture says, God says. May He be glorified. Amen and Amen.

A Path to Enlightening Self-Realized Understanding

Before one goes through the gate

One may not be aware there is a gate

One may think there is a gate to go through and look a long time for it without finding it

One may find it and it may not open

If it opens one may go through it

As one goes through it one sees the gate one went through was the Self that went through it

No one went through a gate

There was no gate to go through

No one ever found a gate

No one ever realized there was never a gate

Even so, the perception that there is no gate is a subjective perception

There is no way of knowing except to go through it