Archive for August, 2015

Secular assaults on the Bible: The inerrant Bible battles

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

Image result for inerrancy clip art

By Spencer D Gear

Why would other religionists and secularists want to start this kind of topic: ‘Why do some believers of Christ feel the bible is without error?’[1] A Mormon got the topic rolling with this statement:

Since spending a few years in researching the origins of the bible and trying to make sense of the intent of the writers of the bible I have discovered to (sic) much evidence that the bible is far from perfect. Why do people believe it is perfect?[2]

Even though he used the language of ‘perfect’ to refer to the Bible, he did not provide a definition of what he meant by the title of his thread, ‘the bible is without error’. Did he mean it is without error in everything it says, including what the devil said, only spiritual matters, or to include some other limitations? Is it without error when it reports the lies of liars? Is every historical detail in the Bible inerrant? Any fair discussion needs a definition of the meaning of ‘the bible is without error’ and the ‘bible is far from perfect’.[3]

A. Samples of responses

It was nor surprising that this kind of topic had the lemmings[4] coming out of their forum’s ethereal Internet captivity. Here are a few grabs of comments:

clip_image002 ‘Because to see any error in it, to them, would mean it isn’t from a perfect deity’ (Judaism).[5]

clip_image002[1] ‘It was very liberating for me when I finally realized it wasn’t perfect. It allowed me the freedom to explore beyond the small box I had created for myself and truly seek God’ (Taoist).[6]

clip_image002[2] ‘These Christians hold that if one word or verse in the Bible cannot be accepted as true, than nothing in it can be depended on to be true, and that Christianity then becomes a total lie. They paint themselves into a theological corner of their own making’ (Christian).[7]

clip_image002[3] ‘Just as the Catholics must accept Papal infallibility, the Protestants must accept Biblical infallibility. As soon as people begin to question portions of the Bible like Noah’s flood, then it creates an avalanche’ (atheist).[8]

clip_image002[4] ‘It is a method of elevating one’s self to the level of divinity. If Bible is infallible and I can read it (and interpret it to my liking) I am on par with God!’ (Buddhist)[9]

clip_image002[5] ‘Since God is perfect, His written Word is perfect. It is also sufficient for every spiritual need’ (2 Tim 3:16,17) [non-denominational].[10]

clip_image002[6] ‘Please let us know which version, with which verses, with which words, is perfect. I am not sure how one can find perfection amongst hundreds of manuscripts (none of which are close to being originals) and with thousands of variations between them. Which combination is perfect? I am eager to learn’ (Christian).[11]

Are you getting the drift? Non-Christians dislike, even detest, the very idea of Scriptures being perfect, without error. Non-evangelical Christians dislike the very idea of perfection in regard to the Bible.

This last comment is getting a little closer. However, there is still no definition of the exact meaning of an errorless Bible. Does it extend right down to every alphabet letter in every word or only to spiritual matters? What about translations versus original manuscripts?

B. Definition needed

A Christian was seeing the need to define further so he wrote:

For the purposes of this discussion, Scripture is GOD-BREATHED (Gk theopneustos) (2 Tim 3:16). In practical terms it means that every word in the 66 canonical books of the Bible’s original manuscripts (Hebrew and Greek) is a word of God, and a word from God. That ensures perfection. God not only inspired His Word, but He also preserved it in the multitude (and majority) of manuscripts. The thousands of variations come from a handful of corrupted manuscripts.[12]

I responded:[13]

That’s not my understanding of inerrancy. Evangelical theologian, Wayne Grudem, gave this definition: ‘The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscritps does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact’ (Grudem 1994:90).

Grudem’s chapter 6 on ‘The Inerrancy of Scripture: Are there any errors in the Bible?’ (pp 90-104) is covered in 15pp. What is important is that the inerrancy of Scripture states that it is without error/contrary to fact in the autographa (original MSS). It does not refer to the accuracy of any translation such as the Latin Vulgate, Geneva Bible, KJV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, NIV, ESV, NLT, etc.
My own view is summarised in this article, ‘The Bible’s support for inerrancy of the originals‘.

This fellow’s reply was that:

A better definition is given by Stewart Custer in Does Inspiration Demand Inerrancy?[14] Inerrancy is that characteristic of Scripture which renders it without mistake AND THEREFORE INFALLIBLE, not just in religious matters, but also in matters of historic and scientific fact…. The fact of the matter is that a large number of so-called Evangelicals have rejected inerrancy, therefore infallibility. For proof study The Battle for the Bible and The Bible in the Balance, both written by evangelical writer Harold Lindsell many years ago[15]

He conceptualised it as INSPIRED clip_image004 INERRANTclip_image004[1]INFALLIBLE. My rejoinder was[16] that according to dictionary definitions, inerrancy means infallibility:

9780310392811(image courtesy Zondervan)

Harold Lindsell, one of my previous professors, raised the issue that was happening with the downgrade of inerrancy, particularly in Southern Baptist circles, in his 1976 book, The Battle for the Bible. Perhaps the most helpful exposition I have read is by Norman L Geisler’s edited book from 1979. Inerrancy. See also, ‘Does the Bible have errors?’ by Dr Norman Geisler.

My own understanding in affirming inerrancy is that the Bible is without error in all that it affirms in the original manuscripts (autographa). It naturally flows from an understanding of the Greek theopneustos (breathed out by God), 2 Tim 3:16 (ESV), and the perfection of God. How is it possible for a God-breathed book to include error when he is Perfect?

The only Bible books that are NOT God-breathed are the translations. They are imperfect because of the transcribing and translation processes.

People commonly say to me: But we don’t have the originals so it is pointless to talk about the inerrancy of original documents we do not have. Do you think so? I have found R. Laird Harris’s explanation helpful in explaining the need to have authoritative original documents behind the copies, even though we currently do not have access to the originals (autographa). He wrote:

‘Reflection will show that the doctrine of verbal inspiration is worthwhile even though the originals have perished. An illustration may be helpful. Suppose we wish to measure the length of a certain pencil. With a tape measure we measure it as 6 1/2 inches. A more carefully made office ruler indicates 6 9/16 inches. Checking with an engineer’s scale, we find it to be slightly more than 6.58 inches. Careful measurement with a steel scale under laboratory conditions reveals it to be 6.577 inches. Not satisfied still, we send the pencil to Washington, where master gauges indicate a length of 6.5774 inches. The master gauges themselves are checked against the standard United States yard marked on platinum bar preserved in Washington. Now, suppose that we should read in the newspapers that a clever criminal had run off with the platinum bar and melted it down for the precious metal. As a matter of fact, this once happened to Britain’s standard yard! What difference would this make to us? Very little. None of us has ever seen the platinum bar. Many of us perhaps never realized it existed. Yet we blithely use tape measures, rulers, scales, and similar measuring devices. These approximate measures derive their value from their being dependent on more accurate gauges. But even the approximate has tremendous value—if it has had a true standard behind it (Harris 1969:88-89).

C. Paul Feinberg defines inerrancy

Paul D. FeinbergPaul D Feinberg (image courtesy Crossway)

In an outstanding, provocative and comprehensive article on ‘the meaning of inerrancy’ (Feinberg 1979)[17], Feinberg provides this definition of inerrancy:

 

‘Inerrancy means that when all facts are known, the Scriptures in their original autographs and properly interpreted will be shown to be wholly true in everything that they affirm, whether that has to do with doctrine or morality or with the social, physical, or life sciences’ (Feinberg 1979:294, emphasis in original).

Feinberg added two observations (Feinberg 1979:295, emphases in original):

1. No doctrine of inerrancy can determine in advance the solution to individual or specific problem passages.

By this, he meant that this teaching on inerrancy can only give parameters or guidelines to dealing with various passages. It will not guarantee the proper treatment of every problem passage as that involves hermeneutical issues.

2. Inerrancy is a doctrine that must be asserted, but which may not be demonstrated with respect to all the phenomena of Scripture.

In this definition, Feinberg admitted to ‘the explicit recognition of both the fallibility and the finiteness of the present state of human knowledge’, leaving only two choices: (a) ‘Either the theologian will trust the word of an omnipotent, omniscient God, who says that He controlled human agents, making it necessary for the theologian to admit his fallibility as critic’, or (b) ‘in some sense he will declare that the aforementioned control is restricted and will affirm at least his own relative and finite omniscience as critic. Since Christ exhibited total trust in the Scriptures, can we do less? All that is claimed is that there is no final conflict with truth’ (Feinberg 1979:295).

Feinberg provided three qualifications (1979:296-298, emphasis in original):

1. Inerrancy applies equally to all parts of Scripture as originally written (autographa).

2. Inerrancy is intimately tied up with hermeneutics, i.e. the science of biblical interpretation.

3. Inerrancy is related to Scripture’s intention.

These misunderstandings were stated by Feinberg (1979:298-302, emphasis in original:

1. Inerrancy does not demand strict adherence to the rules of grammar.

2. Inerrancy does not exclude the use either of figures of speech or of a given literary genre.

3. Inerrancy does not demand historical or semantic precision.

4. Inerrancy does not demand the technical language of modern science.

5. Inerrancy does not require verbal exactness in the citation of the Old Testament by the New.

6. Inerrancy does not demand that the Logia Jesu (the sayings of Jesus) contain the ipsissima verba (the exact words) of Jesus, only the ipsissima vox (the exact voice).

7. Inerrancy does not guarantee the exhaustive comprehensiveness of any single account or of combined accounts where those are involved.

8. Inerrancy does not demand the infallibility or inerrancy of the noninspired sources used by biblical writers.

Feinberg reached this conclusion at the end of his chapter (1979:304):

Concerning the doctrine of inerrancy may be summarized as follows: (1) the term inerrancy, like other words, is subject to misunderstanding and must be clearly defined; (2) inerrancy should be defined in terms of truth, making a number of the usual problems mute; (3) while inerrancy is not the only word that could express the concept here associated with it, it is a good word; and (4) inerrancy is not the only quality of the Bible that needs to be affirmed…. One cannot do better than to close with the words of Isaiah:

The grass withers and the flowers fall,

Because the breath of the LORD blows on them.

Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers and the flowers fall,

But the word of our God stands forever.

(Isa. 40:7, 8)

D. Pressing on: Still no definition

Now back to the Christian Forum. Posters continued their examination of each other’s views but without defining inerrancy. A neopagan wrote: ‘In my opinion the Bible is probably MORE valid if its perceived as inspired but not inerrant simply because focusing on the central message of the text seems to be more compelling than fighting over how old the Earth is and if that is an essential belief’.[18] My response was:[19] How can we focus on your emphasis, ‘the central message of the text’, if the text cannot be understood as being reliable?

‘Fighting over how old the earth is’ relates to interpretation (hermeneutics) and not to the quality of the original documents.
Don’t you also have another worldview[20] from which you are trying to judge the Bible? Which Scriptures have you used to teach and/or reject the infallibility of Scripture?

It was not surprising that he did not want to deal with the specifics I raised. He came back with (part of his reply),

I use the scientific knowledge and experience provided to me over the course of my life. I’ve been in a variety of churches who require an infallible, literal acceptance of the Bible and then others that are in more of an inspired, less literal camp. The less literal camp appeared to make more sense if one is evaluating the Bible as a description of everything in the world. The more literal interpretation loses me on it’s (sic) history and scientific aspects.[21]

Some concerning emphases come out of some Christian thinking on this topic. Here’s one example:

I believe them to be perfect in every way.

That said, I don’t believe it matters. Why? Subjection to opinion of the reader causes various errant interpretation (sic) of even that which is perfect.

Inerrancy of the scriptures then simply becomes a tool to divide rather than edify.

I NEVER discuss inerrancy when ministering to someone in need.[22]

There are some loose ends here to which I responded.[23] Neither do I discuss inerrancy when ministering to a needy person. That’s not the environment for such theological discussion.

However, I do deal with inerrancy of the original documents when teaching or preaching on a core Christian doctrine, the authority or otherwise of Scripture.

I’m not of the view that inerrancy does not matter. I’m interested in what the Scriptures teach. That’s where I begin and finish, remembering that there are established principles for interpreting any document, whether that be Scripture or the local newspaper.

E. We don’t have the originals

When antagonists attack the Bible, it’s not uncommon to get this kind of response: ‘We don’t have the originals, only many copies of copies of copies. And, the vast majority of scholars agree, there are errors in the copies’.[24] The following is my reply:[25]

clip_image005Dr Bruce Metzger died in 2007 at the age of 93 (photo courtesy Wikipedia).

He was one of the world’s most eminent examiners/critics of the Greek text of the NT in the 20th century. His book, last revised in 1992, The Text of the New Testament, has a chapter and many other details on ‘The practice of New Testament textual criticism’ (Metzger 1992:207ff).
One of his conclusions was:

Let it be emphasized again that no single manuscript and no none group of manuscripts exists which the textual critic may follow mechanically. All known witnesses of the New Testament are to a greater or less extent mixed texts, and even the earliest manuscripts are not free from egregious errors. Although in very many cases the textual critic is able to ascertain without residual dou8bt which reading must have stood in the original, there are not a few other cases where he can come only to a tentative decision based on an equivocal balancing of probabilities. Occasionally none of the variant readings will commend itself as original, and he will be compelled either to choose the reading which he judges to be the least unsatisfactory or to indulge in conjectural emendation. In textual criticism, as in other areas of historical research, one must seek not only to learn what can be known, but also to become aware of what, because of conflicting witnesses, cannot be known (Metzger 1992:246). ?

However, there is another part of the story. One of the editors of the RSV of 1946, F C Grant, wrote,’It will be obvious to the careful reader that still in 1946 [when the RSV was published], as in 1881 [ASV publication] and 1901 [RV publication], no doctrine of the Christian faith has been affected by the revision, for the simple reason that, out of the thousands of variant readings in the manuscripts, none has turned up thus far that requires a revision of Christian doctrine’ (Grant 1946:42).

FF Bruce.jpg

(F F Bruce, photo courtesy Wikipedia)

F F Bruce’s comment on this statement was:

If the variant readings are so numerous, it is because the witnesses are so numerous. But all the witnesses, and all the types which they represent, agree on every article of Christian belief and practice. [The 20th century] has seen no greater authority in this field of New Testament textual criticism than Sir Frederick Kenyon, who died in August 1952, and we may take his words to heart in confidence: “It is reassuring at the end to find that the general result of all these discoveries and all this study is to strengthen the proof of the authenticity of the Scriptures, and our conviction that we have in our hands, in substantial integrity, the veritable word of God” [Kenyon 1936:144]. And again: “The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established [Kenyon 1940:228ff] (Bruce 1963:189-190).

You have stated that we don’t have the originals and that is a true statement. If we don’t have the originals, is it pointless to talk about the inerrancy of documents we do not have? I do not think so. I have found R. Laird Harris’s explanation helpful in explaining the need to have authoritative original documents behind the copies, even though we currently do not have access to the originals (autographa). He wrote the statement given above (Harris 1969:88-89).

F. Limited intention of Bible

It was not long before another kind of emphasis would arise from a Christian:

The Bible is accurate for what it is. It is not accurate for what it is not.

It is (in my opinion) the set of spiritual instructions from God to mankind. Even within this narrow scope there is still many variations as to what the instructions say. We should not try to focus on the parts we disagree on but instead focus on the parts we agree on.[26]

So the Bible is only accurate in its ‘spiritual instructions from God’ to human beings, but even that allows for some variations. Don’t focus on disagreement but on things with which we agree. Wow! Who invented that one? He provided not one piece of supporting biblical evidence to arrive at such a view.

What an opportunity to rebut such a view.[27]

Wayne Grudem Photo 2014.jpg

(Wayne Grudem, photograph courtesy Wikipedia)

I’m pleased that you stated that this was your opinion because it does not match the facts. Here’s some evidence to confute what you stated:

Evangelical theologian, Dr Wayne Grudem, knows the Scriptures well and he refutes your perspective with this evidence:

In this section we examine the major objections that are commonly made against the concept of inerrancy.

1. The Bible Is Only Authoritative for “Faith and Practice.” One of the most frequent objections is raised by those who say that the purpose of Scripture is to teach us in areas that concern “faith and practice” only; that is, in areas that directly relate to our religious faith or to our ethical conduct. This position would allow for the possibility of false statements in Scripture, for example, in other areas such as in minor historical details or scientific facts—these areas, it is said, do not concern the purpose of the Bible, which is to instruct us in what we should believe and how we are to live. Its advocates often prefer to say that the Bible is “infallible” but they hesitate to use the word inerrant.

The response to this objection can be stated as follows: the Bible repeatedly affirms that all of Scripture is profitable for us (2 Tim. 3:16) and that all of it is “God- breathed.” Thus it is completely pure (Ps. 12:6), perfect (Ps. 119:96), and true (Prov. 30:5). The Bible itself does not make any restriction on the kinds of subjects to which it speaks truthfully.

The New Testament contains further affirmations of the reliability of all parts of Scripture: in Acts 24:14, Paul says that he worships God, “believing everything laid down by the law or written in the prophets.” In Luke 24:25, Jesus says that the disciples are “foolish men” because they are “slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” In Romans 15:4, Paul says that “whatever was written” in the Old Testament was “written for our instruction.” These texts give no indication that there is any part of Scripture that is not to be trusted or relied on completely. Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 10:11, Paul can refer even to minor historical details in the Old Testament (sitting down to eat and drink, rising up to dance) and can say both that they “happened” (thus implying historical reliability) and “were written down for our instruction.”

If we begin to examine the way in which the New Testament authors trust the smallest historical details of the Old Testament narrative, we see no intention to separate out matters of “faith and practice,” or to say that this is somehow a recognizable category of affirmations, or to imply that statements not in that category need not be trusted or thought to be inerrant. Rather, it seems that the New Testament authors are willing to cite and affirm as true every detail of the Old Testament (Grudem1994:93).?

Therefore, the Bible confirms that not only matters of Judeo-Christian faith and practice are affirmed as inerrant in Scripture, but this perfection in the original documents extends to all details in Scripture. Even the citing of error and unrighteousness is truthful in its accuracy.

G. False view: Teachings come through

It’s natural in this kind of public discussion that some far out views will arise. This one came from a Mormon:

This does not mean there are not errors. It means that many of the teachings came through. It does not mean that they came through unscathed. Every word translated is not “God breathed”. Believers can take what they want to believe and leave out what they don’t like or do not understand.[28]

How does one reply? Here is what I observed?[29] You have not demonstrated your premises. You have given us your presuppositions that need to be tested (and a short thread like this is hardly the place to do it). Your presuppositions emerge from this statement:

  • The Bible contains errors;
  • Many Bible teachings came through in spite of errors;
  • These teachings have been affected (i.e. not unscathed) by the errors in the text;
  • ‘God breathed’ does not apply to every word of the Bible;
  • Believers can pick and choose what they want to believe from the Bible.

These presuppositions need to be tested for verification or falsification from the biblical text because you are talking about ‘the Bible’.
However, your presuppositions do seem to have some dimensions of a doubting, skeptical worldview.

Here’s a perspective that is not so distorted, but it has problems:

Then you have thrown out a majority of the Christian churches. Because most don’t teach inerrant also many of the church fathers didn’t teach inerrancy. I’m not saying the Bible isn’t inerrant I’m saying that it doesn’t have to be inerrant to be true. Furthermore providing a quote/source of a theologians opinion doesn’t equate to facts. I could also go to my bookshelf and provide an example of the other opinion. Finally, it is presumptive to assume that the person you quoted knows the scripture better than someone of this site. People that publish books aren’t the only ones with degrees in Biblical/Theological studies.[30]

These problems include:[31] His statement affirms the ‘appeal to common practice‘ logical fallacy.

If the ‘majority of Christian churches’ do not agree with this position, it does not deny the accuracy of such a position. In addition, you presented not one example to support your case for the ‘majority’.

To say that ‘it doesn’t have to be inerrant to be true’ is asking me to affirm the accuracy of Scripture without its being prefect/inerrant.

I also can go to the 2,500 volumes in my personal library and choose books that do not affirm inerrancy. That proves nothing. Our issues are: (1) What’s the biblical evidence? (2) Can the God of perfection make available a document for everyday consumption that is not perfect?
So are you suggesting that Harold Lindsell, John W Montgomery, Wayne Grudem, Norman Geisler, and others who accumulate evidence in support of inerrancy, are presumptive and don’t know what they are talking about? You stated, ‘many of the church fathers didn’t teach inerrancy’, but you provided not a shred of evidence to support your claim. Derek J Brown (n d) in his article, ‘Inerrancy and church history: The early fathers’, demonstrated that ‘the early church fathers through explicit statements and in their theological practice affirmed the error-free nature of Scripture’.

H. Church fathers on inerrancy

1. Clement of Rome (ca. AD 30-100) wrote ‘Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit. Observe that nothing of an unjust or counterfeit character is written in them’ (Letter of Clement to the Corinthians, ch 24, emphasis in original).

2. Justin Martyr (100-165), an apologist with Platonic leanings, wrote in his Dialogue with Trypho:

But if [you have done so] because you imagined that you could throw doubt on the passage, in order that I might say the Scriptures contradicted each other, you have erred. But I shall not venture to suppose or to say such a thing; and if a Scripture which appears to be of such a kind be brought forward, and if there be a pretext [for saying] that it is contrary [to some other], since I am entirely convinced that no Scripture contradicts another, I shall admit rather that I do not understand what is recorded, and shall strive to persuade those who imagine that the Scriptures are contradictory, to be rather of the same opinion as myself (ch 65).

3. Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150-215), speaking of the Scripture, stated:For truly holy are those letters that sanctify and deify; and the writings or volumes that consist of those holy letters and syllables, the same apostle consequently calls “inspired of God, being profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work” [ 2 Tim 3:16]’ (Exhortation to the heathen, ch 9).

4. Irenaeus (ca. 120/140-200/203),[32] in his seminal publication, Against Heresies, wrote: ‘We should leave things of that nature to God who created us, being most properly assured that the Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and His Spirit’ (Against Heresies 2.28.2).

Johnchrysostom.jpg

(A Byzantine mosaic of John Chrysostom, image courtesy Wikipedia)

5. Chrysostom (ca. 347-407) discussed incidents in the Gospels to help people understand ‘the difference between statements that are diverse and contradictory’, an example being Christ carrying the cross and Simon, the Cyrene, carrying it. He showed how ‘there is no contradiction’ as both took place. His conclusion is that ‘it is possible to collect many other instances of this kind from the Gospels, which seem to have a suspicion of contradiction, where there is no real contradiction’ (Works of St. Chrysostom, The paralytic let down through the roof, p. 214)

It has been cited on the Internet that Chrysostom wrote that ‘there is divergence in the historical narratives of the Gospel – a fact which disarms the suggestion of collusion which might be made by the enemy, if the agreement between the Four Evangelists were too minute – but there is no contradiction’.[33]

In Homily 1 on Matthew, Chrysostom wrote concerning the four Gospels:

What then? Was not one evangelist sufficient to tell all? One indeed was sufficient; but if there be four that write, not at the same times, nor in the same places, neither after having met together, and conversed one with another, and then they speak all things as it were out of one mouth, this becomes a very great demonstration of the truth….

But the contrary,” it may be said, “has come to pass, for in many places they are convicted of discordance.” Nay, this very thing is a very great evidence of their truth. For if they had agreed in all things exactly even to time, and place, and to the very words, none of our enemies would have believed but that they had met together, and had written what they wrote by some human compact; because such entire agreement as this comes not of simplicity. But now even that discordance which seems to exist in little matters delivers them from all suspicion, and speaks clearly in behalf of the character of the writers.

But if there be anything touching times or places, which they have related differently, this nothing injures the truth of what they have said…. In the chief heads, those which constitute our life and furnish out our doctrine, nowhere is any of them found to have disagreed, no not ever so little….

The harmony between them [the four Gospels] we will establish, both by the whole world, which has received their statements, and by the very enemies of the truth…. With regard to the Scriptures, in each portion of what is there stated, one may see the connection with the whole clearly appearing…. But that they are not opposed to each other, this we will endeavor to prove, throughout the whole work. And thou, in accusing them of disagreement, art doing just the same as if you were to insist upon their using the same words and forms of speech (Matthew, Homily 1:5, 6, 8, emphasis in original.

He wrote that ‘the Scriptures were all written and sent, not by servants, but by God the Lord of all’ (Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, Gal 1:8, 9).

Speaking of the paralytic man in the Gospels who was let down to Jesus through the roof (see Mark 2:1-12; Matt 9:2-8; Lk 5:17-26), Chrysostom explained:

It is possible to collect many other instances of this kind from the Gospels, which seem to have a suspicion of contradiction, where there is no real contradiction, the truth being that some incidents have been related by this writer, others by that; or if not occurring at the same hour one author has related the earlier event, another the later; but in the present case there is nothing of this kind, but the multitude of the evidences which I have mentioned proves to those who pay any attention whatever to the matter, that the paralytic was not the same man in both instances. And this would be no slight proof to demonstrate that the evangelists were in harmony with each other and not at variance. For if it were the same man the discord is great between the two accounts: but if it be a different one all material for dispute has been destroyed (Homily on the Paralytic Let Down Through the Roof, section 4).

Elsewhere he wrote in his commentary on Galatians 1:7, ‘For the oneness of a work depends not on the number of its authors, but on the agreement or contradictoriness of its contents. Whence it is clear that the four Gospels are one Gospel; for, as the four say the same thing, its oneness is preserved by the harmony of the contents, and not impaired by the difference of persons’ (Homily 1 on Galatians).

6. St. Augustine (ca. 354-430) wrote to Jerome,

On such terms we might amuse ourselves without fear of offending each other in the field of Scripture, but I might well wonder if the amusement was not at my expense. For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the Ms. is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it. As to all other writings, in reading them, however great the superiority of the authors to myself in sanctity and learning, I do not accept their teaching as true on the mere ground of the opinion being held by them; but only because they have succeeded in convincing my judgment of its truth either by means of these canonical writings themselves, or by arguments addressed to my reason (Letter 83.3, Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers, First Series, vol 1, p. 350, emphasis added).

In Letter 28 to Jerome, Augustine presented his further understanding of the nature of Scripture:

It seems to me that most disastrous consequences must follow upon our believing that anything false is found in the sacred books: that is to say, that the men by whom the Scripture has been given to us, and committed to writing, did put down in these books anything false. It is one question whether it may be at any time the duty of a good man to deceive; but it is another question whether it can have been the duty of a writer of Holy Scripture to deceive: nay, it is not another question— it is no question at all….

To speak well of a falsehood uttered on behalf of God, was a crime not less, perhaps even greater, than to speak ill of the truth concerning Him? We must therefore be careful to secure, in order to our knowledge of the divine Scriptures, the guidance only of such a man as is imbued with a high reverence for the sacred books, and a profound persuasion of their truth (28.3.3, 4).

Augustine’s Reply to Faustus, the Manichaean (11.2) was:[34]

When these men are beset by clear testimonies of Scripture, and cannot escape from their grasp, they declare that the passage is spurious. The declaration only shows their aversion to the truth, and their obstinacy in error. Unable to answer these statements of Scripture, they deny their genuineness….

Should there be a question about the text of some passage, as there are a few passages with various readings well known to students of the sacred Scriptures, we should first consult the manuscripts of the country where the religion was first taught; and if these still varied, we should take the text of the greater number, or of the more ancient. And if any uncertainty remained, we should consult the original text. This is the method employed by those who, in any question about the Scriptures, do not lose sight of the regard due to their authority, and inquire with the view of gaining information, not of raising disputes.

I. Conclusion of church fathers on Scripture

From the above sample of evidence from the church fathers, we can conclude that they had a very high regard of the authority and trustworthiness of Scripture. Of Scripture it is stated:

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Trustworthy and from the Holy Spirit;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Inspired by God;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small No Scripture contradicts another;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Scriptures are perfect, spoken from God and His Spirit;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small A very great demonstration of truth; evidence of their truth;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Written and sent by God, the Lord;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small No real contradiction but harmony in the Gospels;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small The four Gospels are one Gospel;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Authors are completely free from error;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Apparent opposition to truth indicates the MSS is faulty, the translator has not translated correctly, or the reader has failed to understand.

blue-corrosion-arrow-small A writer of Scripture cannot deceive or promote falsehood on behalf of God;

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Those opposed to the clear testimonies of Scripture declare a passage is spurious and are being obstinate in error.

blue-corrosion-arrow-small The Scriptures have authority.

Robert Preus, after examining the evidence of the views on the inerrancy of Scripture in the early church, concluded that ‘whether the Fathers speak of the inspiration of the writers of Scripture or of the inspiration of the Bible itself, they are affirming one fundamental truth, that Scripture is really and truly God’s Word, all of it, even its minute details. Scripture is therefore divinely authoritative – and infallibly true’ (Preus 1979:364-365).

In my article, ‘the Bible’s support for inerrancy of the originals‘, I have provided scriptural evidence to demonstrate the Bible’s own support for its infallible authority.

J. Along comes a skeptical philologist[35]

This woman later identified herself as a philologist. She said:

In sharp contrast to the Qur’an (which claims to present the direct, verbatim words of Abraham’s deity, unadulterated by the fallible mortal who merely repeated these revelations), the Bible never masks its status as a vast anthology of heterogeneous texts written by human authors over an extended period of time. How fundamentalists could possibly end up believing that it’s all basically “GOD’S WORD” mystifies me. (And yes, I am familiar with the Pauline epistle that answers the question of whether Christians ought to read Jewish scriptures in spite of having discarded Mosaic law. It does not pertain to the “New Testament”, and it does not claim infallibility, either.)[36]

That’s inviting me, a supporter of inerrancy, to offer a counter argument.[37] So I wrote: These are your assertions. You have provided no defence of your position. It’s expected that that short response would get her pulses increased:

Well, what exactly do you want me to refute and/or prove?

That the Bible is a heterogeneous anthology instead of a single text written (or dictated verbatim) by a single, divine author? A single glance at the table of contents suffices for that.

That the books of the Bible do not claim to represent God’s words (except for passages that explicitly state: “Thus says the LORD”)? Again, the text itself suffices.

Or maybe that the Pauline epistle in question does not make the claim that the whole anthology is inerrant? For that, you only need to do one thing: read the epistle in its historical context. For starters, the New Testament did not exist at that point. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Secondly, the letter addresses a specific question, as I pointed out before: should Christians read the Septuagint, or shouldn’t they? Paul’s answer: yes, read them, they’re all inspired and good for instruction. It doesn’t even claim inerrancy, let alone direct verbal inspiration.[38]

K. More fuel for the debate

(image courtesy dreamstime.com)Holy Bible

How should I respond?[39] Would you have any difficulty with a Shakespearean anthology in determining that Shakespeare was the author. Simply because the Bible is – in your understanding – ‘a heterogeneous anthology’ should not deter you from determining the nature of inerrancy from WITHIN the contents of this ‘anthology’. That’s not such a difficult task. What’s the barrier to wanting to determine the nature of the authority of Scripture in relation to inerrancy?

You state: ‘That the books of the Bible do not claim to represent God’s words (except for passages that explicitly state: “Thus says the LORD”)? Again, the text itself suffices’. Do Shakespeare’s works have written through them, ‘thus says Shakespeare’, to affirm that Shakespeare is the author? I think not.

You state: ‘Or maybe that the Pauline epistle in question does not make the claim that the whole anthology is inerrant? For that, you only need to do one thing: read the epistle in its historical context. For starters, the New Testament did not exist at that point. Zilch. Zip. Nada’.[40] I presume you are referring to 2 Tim 3:16, ‘All Scripture’. If you did your homework on this text, you would discover that this verse is referring primarily, but not exclusively, to the OT Scriptures. Here are a couple examples:

  1. William Hendriksen: ‘All scripture, in distinction from “(the) sacred writings” (for which see on verse 15) means everything which, through the testimony of the Holy Spirit in the church, is recognized by the church as canonical, that is, authoritative. When Paul wrote these words, the direct reference was to a body of sacred literature which even then comprised more than the Old Testament (see 1 Tim 5:18)…. Later, at the close of the first century A. D., “all scripture” had been completed. Though the history of recognition, review, and ratification of the canon was somewhat complicated, and virtually universal acceptance of all the sixty-six books did not occur immediately in every region where the church was represented – one of the reasons being that for a long time certain of the smaller books had not even reached every corner of the church’ (Hendriksen & Kistemaker 1957:301).
  2. Edwin Blum: ‘These sacred writings are what we know as the Old Testament books and are so valuable because they have the ability to give the “wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”‘ (Blum 1979:45)

There is teaching on inerrancy in this passage, based on the nature of God, but you don’t seem to want to acknowledge that.

The reply came with vengeance:

Well, I am a philologist, so the first task would be to analyze the separate texts for telltale signs of authorship: if they’ve all been written by the same person, it’ll show – and indeed, it does. There are some scholarly debates as to whether Bill Shakespeare wasn’t just a cover for somebody else (Philipp Marlowe, Edward de Vere, Francis Bacon, etc.), but one thing’s for certain: these texts *were* written by a single author.

The same cannot be said about the Bible – and the Bible never disguises that fact. Its separate books bear the names of those people who (in some cases only supposedly) wrote them – both in the New and in the Old Testament. It doesn’t claim that God wrote the psalms – David did. It doesn’t claim that God wrote the gospel of Luke – the greek physician of that name did, etc.

It does not collect the texts of a single author – it collects texts written by very different people with very different perspectives and theologies, composed over a period of a thousand years. And it shows. No philologist would ever conclude that, say, the Song of Songs was written by the same person as Ecclesiastes….

That must be the WORST rationalization I’ve ever seen, ignoring historical context, authorial intent and even the very text in question. The scripture Paul’s talking about here is the Septuagint – nothing more, nothing less. He’s simply addressing the question of whether Christians ought to read Jewish scriptures or not. [41]

She thinks she has the high water mark. This was my reply:[42] You state:

  1. ‘It doesn’t claim that God wrote the psalms – David did’. That is not true. Many of the Psalms are attributed to David but many are not, e.g. Ps 1, 2, 10, 42 (sons of Korah), etc.
  2. ‘It doesn’t claim that God wrote the gospel of Luke – the greek physician of that name did’. No early MSS tells who wrote the Gospel of Luke. The inference is the Greek physician who was Paul’s accomplice.
  3. ‘No philologist would ever conclude that, say, the Song of Songs [SoS] was written by the same person as Ecclesiastes’. SoS is attributed to Solomon (SoS 1:1) and Eccl to ‘the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem’ (Eccl 1:1). Many scholars identify ‘the Preacher’ as the son of king David, Solomon, and that of an old man. Your philologist friends don’t like the same author, but the Hebrew scholars Keil & Delitzsch state of SoS, ‘we believe we have proved that it distinctly bears evidences of its Solomonic origin’ (n d:6.11). In the same volume, their commentary on Ecclesiastes concludes very differently from your position: ‘It is written as from the very soul of Solomon; it issues from the same fountain of wisdom’ and they give their reasons for that conclusion (ibid., The Book of Ecclesiastes, p. 188). I’m sticking with Hebrew scholars and their conclusions.
  4. You don’t like my explanation of 2 Tim 3:16 (ESV), but that’s OK with me. There is not a word in that verse that says it was referring to the ‘Scripture’ of the LXX (although it could have been by inference) but it was referring primarily to the OT Scripture. Your view is that in this verse, ‘he’s simply addressing the question of whether Christians ought to read Jewish scriptures or not’. No he’s not! He’s telling the nature of the authority of Scripture. It is theopneustos, God-breathed. I do note that you forgot to mention how this happens and 2 Peter 1:20-21 (ESV) articulates the particulars: ‘knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’.

Your discipline of philology seems to want to deny how God can take many human authors, to whom God spoke by his Spirit, and carried them along in writing 66 books of OT + NT. I have a high regard for the meaning of theopneustos.

L. Exact word ‘inerrant’ not necessary

Scripture states:

Psalm 12:6 (NIV), ‘And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times’.
Psalm 18:30 (NIV), ‘As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him’
Proverbs 30:5 (NIV), ‘Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him’.

What do these 3 verses teach about the nature of Scripture/the Word of God? It is as clear as crystal that the words of the Lord/God are ‘flawless’. That means without flaw, without error, having no fault. How else do you want me to put it? There is no need to state that the Scripture is inerrant when it states that it is ‘flawless’, which is a synonymous term. That should be the end of the story, but it is not for those who want to stir the theological pot as non-believers.

Now the discussion took another turn.

M. To avoid dealing with issues

Notice what people do to avoid dealing with matters with which they do not agree. Here’s but one example:

“Liberty University”? Ah, yes, a private Christian fundamentalist college that teaches creationism as “science”. Yyyyeah, that sure is a reliable academic source.[43]

What could provoke such a reactionary response? I was the culprit. I had quoted Brandon Carter’s (2007) thesis in support of the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles.[44] This was from Brandon’s bachelor’s degree honors’ programme at Liberty University. What was this promoter of Gaia doing with the above negative statements about Liberty University?

N. Genetic logical fallacy to divert attention

The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)(logical fallacies)

My reply to Jane was: ‘Why must you commit a genetic logical fallacy with this statement? It’s a typical tactic to avoid dealing with the subject at hand’.[45]

How do you think she might reply? She began with:

It’s a fundamentalist argument provided by a fundamentalist author from a fundamentalist university whose academic credentials can be summarily dismissed because they favour biblical literalism above the scientific method.[46]

I replied:[47] You give me another logical fallacy, a red herring fallacy this time. You did not address the issue I raised that you used a genetic logical fallacy when you denigrated the origin of the argument and did not deal with the issue itself.
We cannot have a logical conversation when you continue with these fallacies because you are using fallacious reasoning.

O. Eminent scholar supports Pauline authorship of Pastorals

I wrote that Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (1971:584-624),[48] an eminent NT scholar, had no difficulty and complications in demonstrating the Pauline authorship of the pastoral epistles.[49]

A Bahai religionist was quick to jump on this one: ‘You are relying on one guy from 44 years ago, to latch onto? Clearly, you have been quite selective in reviewing the works of well credentialed NT scholars and historians’.[50]

P. Support for Pauline authorship of Pastoral Epistles

File:P46.jpg

Papyrus 46, one of the oldest New Testament papyri, showing 2 Cor 11:33-12:9 (image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

I replied:[51] Neither do I support just one researcher who defends Pauline authorship, but I gave one outstanding example of a scholar of international repute who demonstrated the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles. Here I provide much more additional information in support of Pauline authorship, as well as some who oppose it.

Read this thread and you’ll see where I supplied support from the Church Fathers who also accepted Pauline authorship, including Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus and Tertullian.

It is false of you to state that I rely on only one opinion. Please quit your false accusations against me. Nevertheless, Donald Guthrie has summarised: ‘The unbroken tradition of the church until the nineteenth century was to regard the pastorals as the work of Paul and therefore authentic’.[52] [53]That changed with Schleiermacher (1807) and he became the leader of a school of modern criticism to reject them as the work of Paul, based on stylistic and linguistic grounds.

For an Internet accessible assessment of the objections to Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles, see Donald Guthrie’s, ‘The Pastoral Epistles and the Mind of Paul’ (1956:3-44). Guthrie’s conclusion is: ‘It seems more reasonable to regard the Pastorals as true products of the mind of Paul’.

Those who have followed Schleiermacher in rejecting Pauline authorship have included Eichhorn (1812), F C Baur (1835), de Wette (1844), Holtzmann (1880), Moffatt (1901), Bultmann (1930), and Dibelius (1931). There have been a few deniers of Pauline authorship but they want to maintain there are fragments of Paul in the Pastorals. These include Von Soden (1893), Harrison (1921), Scott (1936), Falconer (1937) and Easton (1948).

HOWEVER, for the last couple of centuries there have been careful scholars who supported the Pastorals as authentically Pauline in authorship. These scholars have included: Ellicott (1864), Bertrand (1887), Plummer (1888), Godet (1893), Hort (1894), Bernard (1902), B. Weiss (1902), Zahn (1906), J. D. James (1906), Ramsay (1909-11), White (1910), Bartlet (1913), Parry (1920), Wohlenberg (1923), Lock (1924), Menertz (1931), Schlatter (1936), R C H Lenski (1937), Spicq (1947), Jeremias (1953), Simpson (1954), Hendriksen (1955), Guthrie (1957; 1971), J N D Kelly (1963), Earle (1978), and Fee (1988).
Eusebius (ca. AD 265-339) wrote:

Thus after he [Paul] had made his defense it is said that the apostle was sent again upon the ministry of preaching, and that upon coming to the same city a second time he suffered martyrdom. In this imprisonment he wrote his second epistle to Timothy, in which he mentions his first defense and his impending death. (Ecclesiastical History 2.22.2, emphasis added).

Guthrie noted: ‘The fact that so impressive a list of scholars can be cited in favour of Pauline authorship serves as a warning against the tacit assumption of some scholars that no scientific grounds remain for the traditional position, and that all who maintain it are obliged to resort to special pleading’.[54] However, he also acknowledged in an earlier publication that ‘No-one can seriously entertain a study of this problem without being acutely aware that the many differing opinions which have been advanced during the last century and a half make it difficult, if not impossible, to arrive at any solution which would convince every school of thought’.[55]

Church fathers support Pauline authorship of Pastorals

[56]Let’s keep on topic and why 2 Tim 3:16 is reliable and Pauline (and hence inerrant as God’s theopneustos). There is ample evidence to affirm the Pastoral Epistles as Pauline. Here is some further evidence:

Irenaeus (ca. AD 125-202) and one of Polycarp’s disciples stated this of the Pauline authorship of the pastorals in Against Heresies (3.3.3), ‘Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy…. Such was the horror which the apostles and their disciples had against holding even verbal communication with any corrupters of the truth; as Paul also says, A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sins, being condemned of himself [a citation from Titus 3:10]’ (emphasis added).

Tertullian (ca. AD 160-220) wrote, ‘It is the same Paul who, in his Epistle to the Galatians, counts “heresies” among the sins of the flesh [Galatians 5:20] who also intimates to Titus, that a man who is a heretic must be rejected after the first admonition, on the ground that he that is such is perverted, and commits sin, as a self-condemned man [Titus 3:10-11] (Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics, ch 6).

Clement of Alexandria (b. ca. 150) wrote, ‘You, therefore, be strong, says Paul, in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things which you have heard of me among many witnesses, commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also [2 Timothy 2:1-2, emphasis added]’. And again: Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth [2 Tim 2:15]’ (The Stromata, Bk 1, Ch 1)
Brandon Carter’s (2007) thesis investigated the Pauline authorship or otherwise of the Pastoral Epistles and concluded:

Having investigated the arguments for and against Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles, several conclusions can be made. First, theories of pseudonymity create more problems than they solve and are not viable solutions for the problem of authorship. A pseudonymous writing is inherently deceptive and cannot be considered authoritative. Second, in regard to the historical evidence, the information within the epistles does not have to be forced into the timeline of the book of Acts. Paul’s release from his first Roman imprisonment and then a second arrest is entirely plausible. Furthermore, the numerous internal references to various historical circumstances only strengthen the case for authenticity while the external witness of the church fathers is overwhelmingly in favor of Pauline authorship. Third, the conclusion that Paul wrote the letters is not undermined by their theological content. The ecclesiology found in the letters does not conflict with church structure evident in Acts and the other epistles of the New Testament. Also, the heresy addressed in the letters is Jewish in nature and contemporaneous to the time of Paul. Finally, the differing vocabulary and literary style of the Pastoral Epistles and the undisputed Pauline corpus can be accounted for by the various circumstances and purposes surrounding the Pastorals’ composition. The use of hapax legomena [i.e. a term occurring only once] is dictated by the content of the letters, and statistical studies have demonstrated that the percentage of hapax legomena in the Pastoral Epistles is comparable to that of other Pauline writings. Moreover, the literary style of the Pastorals exhibits many similarities to the undisputed writings of the apostle. Thus, while the view of Pauline authorship is not without difficulties, readers have every reason to believe that the epistles to Timothy and Titus are, in fact, genuine writings of the apostle Paul and authoritative for the church today (Carter 2007:34-35).

Marcion and Tatian, two heretics of the 2nd century, rejected the Pauline authorship of the pastoral apostles (see Carter 2007).
Thus, it is reasonable to conclude:

‘If such situations and contacts with people were fabricated by a pseudepigrapher pretending to be Paul, surely the fraud could have been easily exposed. However, none of the church fathers doubted the letters’ authenticity. Thus, Knight argues that the self-testimony of the Pastoral Epistles makes clear in each introduction that the author was in fact Paul the apostle, and the extensive personal allusions that permeate each letter substantiate that claim’ (Knight in Carter 2007:14).

For an excellent chapter in support of inerrancy of the original documents, see: ‘The Inerrancy of the Autographa’, by Greg L. Bahnsen.

Q. Conclusion

There is sound biblical evidence to support the inerrancy of Scripture in the original manuscripts. Inerrancy means that the Bible is without error in all that it affirms. Even though the exact word, inerrancy, is not found in Scripture, the teaching is. When the Word of God is affirmed as ‘flawless’ and all Scripture is breathed out by God, there is strong support for inerrancy as the biblical doctrine at the heart of inspiration of Scripture.

The Pauline authorship of the Pastorals was supported by the church fathers and church teachers until the early nineteenth century when Schleiermacher instigated skeptical criticism, promoting non-Pauline authorship. However, since that time there has been a strong representation until the present time of support for Pauline authorship of the Pastorals.

It has been demonstrated here that a person’s worldview determines his/her approach to the Bible. Only evangelical Christians with a solid understanding of the God-breathed nature of the Bible – from the perfect God – will ever arrive at an inerrant doctrine of biblical authority.

Works consulted

Barry, G D 1919/2013. The inspiration and authority of Holy Scripture. London: Forgotten Books.

Blum, E A 1979. The apostles’ view of Scripture, in N L Geisler (ed), Inerrancy, 39-56. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Bruce, F F 1963. The books and the parchments: Some chapters on the transmission of the Bible, rev ed. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company.

Cairns, E E 1981. Christianity through the Centuries. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Carter, B 2007. The Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles (online). A Senior Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for graduation in the Honors Program, Liberty University, Fall. Available at: http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1023&context=honors (Accessed 17 August 2015).

Feinberg P D 1979. The meaning of inerrancy, in N L Geisler (ed), Inerrancy, 265-304. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Geisler, N L (ed) 1979. Inerrancy. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Grant, F C 1946. The Greek text of the New Testament, in An introduction to the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament, 37-42. New York: International Council of Religious Education.

Grudem, W 1994. Systematic theology: An introduction to biblical doctrine. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Guthrie, D 1956. The Pastoral Epistles and the Mind of Paul (online). The Tyndale New Testament Lecture. London: The Tyndale Press. Available at: http://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/pastorals_guthrie.pdf (Accessed 30 August 2015).[57]

Guthrie, D 1957. The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: The Pastoral Epistles. R V G Tasker gen ed. London: The Tyndale Press.

Harris, R. L. 1957, 1969. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Hendriksen, W & Kistemaker, S J 1955, 1957, 1984. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Thessalonians, the Pastorals, and Hebrews. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.

Keil, C F & Delitzsch, F n d. Commentary on the Old Testament: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, vol 6 (3 vols in 1). Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
Knight, G W 1992. The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary). Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Metzger, B M 1992. The text of the New Testament: Its transmission, corruption, and restoration, 3rd ed. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Oxford Dictionaries: English 2015. Oxford University Press. Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/ (Accessed 18 August 2015).

Preus, R D 1979. The view of the Bible held by the church: The early church through Luther. In N L Geisler (ed), Inerrancy, 357-384. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Notes


[1] Christian Forums, Christianity and World Religions, Why do some believers of Christ feel the bible is without error? (online) 6 August 2015. Available at:

http://www.christianforums.com/threads/why-do-some-believers-of-christ-feel-the-bible-is-withou-error.7901181/ (Accessed 18 August 2015).

[2] Ibid., fatboys#1.

[3] Ibid.

[4] The word is used here to refer to ‘a person who unthinkingly joins a mass movement’ (oxforddictionaries 2015. S v lemming, available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/lemming).

[5] Christian Forums, op cit, Loammi#2.

[6] Ibid., gordRedeemed#4.

[7] Ibid., Martinius#5.

[8] Ibid., Cloudyday2#6.

[9] Ibid., kit#7.

[10] Ibid., Job8#13.

[11] Ibid., Martinius#17.

[12] Ibid., Job8#18.

[13] Ibid., OzSpen#80.

[14] This book was published in 1968 in Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press.

[15] Christian Forums, op cit., Job8#81, emphasis in original.

[16] Ibid., OzSpen#82.

[17] Part of this article/chapter is available as a Google book HERE (this means that some pages are missing).

[18] Christian Forums, op cit, Zoness#79.

[19] Ibid., OzSpen#83.

[20] He had labelled himself as ‘Neopagan Cryptoanarchist’.

[21] Ibid., Zoness#85.

[22] Ibid., Gdemoss#90.

[23] Ibid., OzSpen#91.

[24] Ibid., bhsmte#98.

[25] Ibid., OzSpen#101.

[26] Ibid., Americanvet#102.

[27] Ibid., OzSpen#103.

[28] Ibid., fatboys#104.

[29] Ibid., OzSpen#108.

[30] Ibid., americanvet#111.

[31] Ibid., OzSpen#114.

[32] Lifespan details from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Irenaeus 2015. Available at: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Irenaeus (Accessed 25 August 2015).

[33] This citation was located at Barry (2013:121). However, I have been unable to locate this quotation in Chrysostom’s works which can be located at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/chrysostom (Accessed 25 August 2015).

[34] ‘Manicheanism, which was somewhat similar to Gnosticism, was founded by a man named Mani or Manichaeus (216-76) of Mesopotamia, who developed his peculiar philosophical system about the middle of the third century. Mani worked a curious combination of Christian thought, Zoroastrianism, and other oriental religious ideas into a thoroughgoing dualistic philosophy’. In AD 373, Augustine pursued Manichean teaching ‘in his search for truth’ but found it to be insufficient for him and he turned to Cicero’s philosophy and Neoplatonic teachings before his crisis conversion to Christ in 386 (Cairns 1981:100, 146).

[35] Philology is ‘the branch of knowledge that deals with the structure, historical development, and relationships of a language or languages’ (oxforddictionaries 2015. S v philology).

[36] Ibid., Jane_the_Bane#115.

[37] Ibid., OzSpen#116.

[38] Ibid., Jane_the_Bane#119.

[39] Ibid., OzSpen#126.

[40] Ibid., Jane_the_Bane#119.

[41] Ibid., Jane_the_Bane#182.

[42] Ibid., OzSpen#183.

[43] Ibid., Jane_the_Bane#194.

[44] Ibid., OzSpen#192.

[45] Ibid., OzSpen#197.

[46] Ibid., Jane_the_Bane#201.

[47] Ibid., OzSpen#230.

[48] It is now in its 4th ed (2009, IVP Academic).

[49] Op. cit., OzSpen#190.

[50] Ibid., bhsmte#200.

[51] Ibid., OzSpen#220.

[52] Guthrie 1957:15.

[53] The following information is from Guthrie (1957:15).

[54] Guthrie (1957:15-16). Here Guthrie referred to A M Hunter’s comment in Interpreting the New Testament (1951:64).

[55] Guthrie 1955:3.

[56] This was based on my post, Christian Forums, Christianity and World Religion, Why do some believers in Christ feel the Bible is without[t] error (online), OzSpen#192, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/threads/why-do-some-believers-of-christ-feel-the-bible-is-withou-error.7901181/page-10 (Accessed 18 August 2015).

[57] This was the Tyndale New Testament Lecture, 1955, delivered in Cambridge onJuly 8th, 1955, at a meeting arranged by the Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical Research’ (Guthrie 1956).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 10 April 2016.

False Christian teaching on Internet forums

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Net Neutrality by openclipart

(courtesy openclipart)

By Spencer D Gear

‘Walking away from forums’ is the title of a thread started on an Internet forum.[1] One replied with this provocative comment:

3d-red-star-small ‘That’s the whole problem, its (sic) the bible that is argued about, not necessarily scripture’.[2] My reply to this was: ‘That’s part of the issue that drives me away from forums, your quibbling over Bible being different from Scripture. They are one and the same. It’s only your invented difference’.[3]

3d-red-star-small Another response was: ‘Seems you folks are a bit arrogant…. the forums should be considered a learning experience, getting another persons’ (sic) opinion, and quotes from the Bible, and conveying your own opinion. It is not about winning or losing, it is about sharing knowledge and information, especially about the Bible’.[4] My response was: ‘I think you have a point. I don’t think it’s a matter of arrogance but of seeing little being achieved. Perhaps we should look at Christian forums this way: ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.’ (Prov 27:17 NIV). But it too often turns into a battlefield of one wanting to defeat the other’.[5]

A. Mature comment by the owner

The owner of Christianity Board forum had some perceptive observations to make. He didn’t see any ‘real’ disconnect between the forum and the world though on forums, there could be more overt in rudeness mixed with being more open than in face-to-face interaction.

He admitted to getting frustrated with people regularly and has thought of walking away from forums as he did with Facebook, but he regretted that decision because of memory of great discussions he has had with people. He tried to use the medium to point people to Christ but he admits to being too political and wanting to score points at times. The better view, he claimed, was that of Andy Stanley who thought for the long-term and the desire to make a difference.

He pointed to the need for maturity in forums to realize people needed a Damascus Road experience like Paul and there are so many who can be reached through forums that, like Jesus’ use of the parable of the seeds, germination may come later, in God’s time.

He wanted to develop the wisdom to know that beyond disagreement, people are made in God’s image and are fallen human beings just as we are. That’s the hard part in dealing with people. He admitted that too often his opinion of the Bible is used to trump anyone else’s and that leads to squabbling and name-calling, just as it does in real life where Christians have been known to shoot their wounded.[6]

I commended him for such a mature response:

That’s an exceedingly mature observation and I commend you for such penetrating observations.

I find the forum to be a place where considered views can be expressed that are not possible with instant conversation. Research is possible for the forum but not in person-to-person. Many are not able to give off the cuff comments about: (1) Why there are objections to Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles; (2) Why didn’t Jesus say more about homosexuality? (3) What kind of national health scheme is best for the country? etc.[7]

B. A bit arrogant

To the earlier comment that some folks in this thread were a bit arrogant, someone replied: ‘That’s what I thought, too…. Very few people seem to be here to discuss.  Almost everyone fancies him/herself to be a teacher…the “Ultimate Authority” on all things Christian. That idea that what we are doing here is “arguing about Scripture” seems pretty prevalent here’.[8]

C. A bigger issue

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openclipart

 

My response to this perspective was:[9]

In any forum, we are dealing with several issues that Paul addressed in his letter of 2 Timothy:

1.    ‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth’ (2 Tim 2:15 NIV).

This is a challenge to all workers (Christians?) to be people who ’cut straight’ (i.e. rightly handles), a metaphor that probably means doing something correctly (but there has been considerable discussion over its exact meaning). The call is for those who deal with the Word of truth to do it in a correct manner.

2.    ‘Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will’ (2 Tim 2:23-26 NIV).

Gently dealing with arguments and controversy is critical for any discussion on the ‘Word of truth’ but opponents of the truth, nevertheless, need teaching, and to be ‘gently instructed’ so that they come ‘to a knowledge of the truth’ and not slip into ‘the trap of the devil’. It is serious business in teaching God’s people ‘the word of truth’ whether in a church or here on Christianity Board.

3.    ‘Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths’ (2 Tim 4:2-4 NIV).

These are ominous verses for the Internet gives unlimited opportunities to ‘preach the word’ but such preaching requires people who will ‘correct, rebuke and encourage’ but ‘with great patience and careful instruction’. This is a difficult calling. Many on the Internet do not like this kind of correction.

In fact, the time is coming when ‘sound doctrine’ may be prevented from being aired on the Internet. Could a time be coming when some Christian leaders may have to establish orthodox Christian forums because of the lack of sound doctrine being perpetrated on other forums? I’m not suggesting that is happening here.

There is an awesome responsibility for forum owners and moderators to maintain vigilance in upholding biblical orthodoxy in doctrines on forums.

D.  Conclusion

Honestly, I’ve encountered some trite and heretical responses on 6 different Christian forums over the last 10 years. I think that these forums are places for interacting over biblical issues and may be used as outreach. However, it is hard to see how that can happen with so much ‘fighting’ over doctrines.

I see my place in forums as to present the case for evangelical Christianity while correcting some false doctrine. Even today, I’ve been interacting on another forum on the topic, ‘Why do some believers of Christ feel the bible is without error?’[10] The topic I’ve been dealing with has been the denial of the authorship of the pastoral epistles by Paul.[11] The view presented was that of theological liberalism and its denial of Pauline authorship. Another view needed to be presented and nobody seemed to be doing it so I put up my hand.

Notes:


[1] ATP started the thread, ‘Walking away from forums’, on 15 August 2015 at: http://www.christianityboard.com/topic/21806-walking-away-from-forums/#entry257399. However, his original post is no longer on the thread, except as answered at #2. He is no longer participating in the thread (Accessed 17 August 2015).

[2] Ibid., mjrhealth#4.

[3] Ibid., OzSpen#10.

[4] Ibid., heretoeternity#7.

[5] Ibid., OzSpen#11.

[6] Ibid., Hammerstone#17.

[7] Ibid., OzSpen#18.

[8] Ibid., The Barrd#19.

[9] Ibid., OzSpen#22.

[10] Christian Forums.com, fatboys#1, 6 August 2015, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/threads/why-do-some-believers-of-christ-feel-the-bible-is-withou-error.7901181/ (Accessed 17 August 2015). Fatboys stated that he is a Mormon.

[11] See ibid., OzSpen#183, OzSpen#185, OzSpen#189, OzSpen#192, OzSpen#197.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Traditional marriage = anti-marriage equality

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Wedding Rings

(courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

I was alerted to what SBS television had done with censoring heterosexual marriage by an item on news.com.au. The heading of the article was, ‘Anti-marriage equality ad pulled from SBS TV’ (March 09, 2015).

AN ADVERTISEMENT critical of same-sex marriage was pulled by SBS management ahead of their telecast of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on Sunday night, the ad’s sponsors say.

The Australian Marriage Forum said in a statement that the ad was booked and scheduled for broadcast during a Sunday night Mardi Gras special.

Dr van Gend says the ad was booked and paid for before he received an email on Friday to inform him it had been pulled from the Sunday night schedule. “I’ve unfortunately been instructed to advise you that we choose not to run this TVC for the Marriage Forum during the Mardi Gras telecast,” the email from SBS sales manager for Queensland, Nick Belof, said….

Dr van Gend said: “It is outrageous for a taxpayer funded broadcaster like SBS to apply censorship to one side of the debate on same-sex marriage.”

“SBS is funded by taxpayers on both sides of the same-sex ‘marriage’ debate”, Dr van Gend said.

Dr van Gend called the cancellation of the ad a “suppression of free speech on a matter of public importance”.

An SBS spokesperson told Fairfax Media that it reserved the right “to determine what advertisements it broadcasts” (emphasis in original).

My complaint about this censorship

Image result for clip art marriage public domain

(courtesy clker)

SBS TV is an Australian public broadcaster. It receives government funds to the tune of approximately $275,000 a year (see below) from the Australian taxpayer. So, on 11 March 2015, I sent this email:

The manager,
SBS television comments@sbs.com.au

Dear manager,
I object strongly to what SBS, a publicly funded broadcaster, did to an advertisement by the Australian Marriage Forum (AMF) on SBS on Saturday evening, 7 March, when SBS was telecasting the Gay Mardi Gras.

Here is a link to the advertisement that your network censored: youtu.be/s80wL5al5NA.

The AMF advertisement was booked and paid for to be shown on Saturday night, 7 March, during the SBS delayed broadcast of the Parade – but only on Friday 6 March did the AMF agent receive this message from SBS management: ‘We choose not to run this TVC for the Marriage Forum during the Mardi Gras telecast’.[1]

No explanation was given. This is disgusting discrimination against the heterosexual community and traditional marriage. It is censorship to be condemned.

Please advise me why your publicly funded network engaged in this kind of discriminatory censorship of an advt that had been paid for and scheduled to be telecast?

Yours sincerely,
Mr S Gear

SBS reply

On 11 March 2015, SBS replied:

Dear Spencer,

Thank you for contacting SBS.

SBS reserves the right to determine what advertisements it broadcasts.

Regardless, I have passed on your comments to our relevant departments as viewer feedback.

Regards,

SBS Audience Relations

In other words, SBS continues to promote its censorship with ‘SBS reserves the right to determine what advertisements it broadcasts’. That’s not how Sam McLean of The Drum saw it.

‘SBS should have run this offensive ad’

Sam McLean of ABC’s, The Drum, even though he objected to the content of the advertisement, complained that SBS should have telecast the ad:

I was offended by the Australian Marriage Forum’s new anti marriage equality TV ad, but we shouldn’t censor any one side of a political debate, writes Sam McLean.

A lot of people have been in uproar over the Australian Marriage Forum’s new anti marriage equality TV advertisement – chief among them, my fellow progressives.

The ad, which the AMF pitched for a provocative first run on the night of Sydney Mardi Gras, implies same-sex marriage poses a danger to children. I was offended by the ad, but frankly, so too by SBS refusing to run it.

Yes, the ad is incendiary. Yes, it is wrong. But yes, the AMF has absolutely every right to run it – and no broadcaster should be able to deny them that. An email from SBS sales manager for Queensland, Nick Belof, reads:

Our review board has instructed that SBS has the right to choose what ads we run, and I’ve unfortunately been instructed to advise you that we choose not to run this TVC for the Marriage Forum during the Mardi Gras telecast (Mclean 2015, emphasis in original).

The following represents a summary of the ABC and SBS funding from the Australian government over the next 5 years (Turnbull 2014):

clip_image001

Therefore, for the 2014-2015 financial year, $287,023 was funded from government proceeds to run this operation. The conclusion is that ‘80 per cent of funding for the SBS Corporation is derived from the Australian Government through triennial funding arrangements. Funding is legislated annually through the Budget Appropriation Bills…. The remainder of SBS revenue is derived from independent sources. These include advertising and sponsorship, production services and sale of programs and merchandise’ (Jolly 2007).

Conclusion

Image result for clip art marriage public domain

ringsview.com

Several issues are playing out in our Australian culture and the promotion of homosexual marriage:

6pointblue-small The promotion of heterosexual marriage in the language of anti-marriage equality, is deconstructing language to make heterosexual marriage mean something else.

6pointblue-small SBS has censored one side of the debate, the discussion that supports traditional marriage. That is abhorrent for a public broadcaster that receives 80% of its funding from the Australian government. It is supposed to represent ALL Australians and not just the homosexual community and its supporters.

6pointblue-small Those who support ‘marriage equality’ are ‘fellow progressives’ (Sam McLean). This again is deconstructing language. In an era of political correctness, to be conservative and supporting traditional marriage is to be radical in a mass media environment that wants to silence the traditional marriage voice.

6pointblue-small Sam McLean rightly concluded, ‘The anti marriage equality lobbyists said it was unfair for SBS to apply censorship to one side of the debate on same-sex marriage, and I agree’ (McLean 2015). I would have stated it this way: Those promoting traditional marriage consider the censorship of their advertisement was unfair for SBS to withdraw the advertising.

6pointblue-small It’s impossible or extremely difficult to get through to public mass media with an alternate message to their allegedly progressive, anti-conservative views. Penetrating the barrier is like pounding a brick wall with a foam hammer.

Image result for hammer brick wall public domain

hanglogic

Works consulted

Jolly, R 2007. Special Broadcasting Service (SBS): Operations and funding. Parliament of Australia: House of Representatives, 28 March. Available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/Publications_Archive/archive/SBS (Accessed 10 August 2015).

McLean, S 2015. SBS should have run this offensive ad. The Drum (ABC), 13 March. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-13/mclean-sbs-shouldnt-censor-anti-gay-marriage-ad/6314748 (Accessed 10 August 2015).

Turnbull, M 2014. Communications and Broadband: FAQs on the ABC and SBS, How much do the national broadcasters receive from taxpayers in the budget each year? (online) Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for Communications, 19 December. Available at: http://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/communications-broadband/faqs-on-the-abc-and-sbs#budget (Accessed 10 August 2015).

Notes:


[1] Included in McLean (2015).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

When should a person be baptized?

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

water baptism

(courtesy HD Wallpaper)

By Spencer D Gear

I’m convinced that baptism is for those who believe. Therefore, believer’s baptism is the biblical mandate according to Scripture and it relates to making disciples:

‘And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:18-20 ESV).

Does a pastor have a right to reject a person’s baptism?

I met a person on a Christian forum who asked a sensible and practical question: ‘Does a pastor have a right to say when you can get baptized?’[1]

There were some provocative and hostile responses:

  • ‘No unless he is God, is he??’[2]
  • ‘No a pastor does not. If he will not, leave him and find a priest that IS ordained by the Holy Spirit, for that one is NOT’.[3]
  • ‘A pastor has an obligation to teach those who attend his church what the Bible says about baptism and who should be baptized.  He has the right and the duty to say when you can be baptized as long as he is passing along the teachings of the Bible and not just acting on his own authority’.[4]

Remember Paul, Silas and Philippian jailer?

I wrote:[5]

I’m reminded of what happened with Paul, Silas and the Philippian jailer’s conversion:

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized (Acts 16:29-33 NIV).

There are some fundamental biblical principles taught in this passage:

  1. A person must be saved (v 29);
  2. Salvation comes through continuing to believe in the Lord Jesus – it’s the Greek present tense of ‘believe’ (v. 31);
  3. There was teaching/speaking of the word of the Lord to those who believed (v. 32);
  4. That foundation means there is adequate belief and teaching to be baptized (v. 33).

Therefore, this should be all that is necessary for believer’s baptism to occur.

However, I speak as a former pastor who is ordained with a Christian denomination. I’ve seen some people who confess faith in Jesus and are baptized but within months or years they have fallen away from the faith and are no longer serving Jesus. Therefore, some pastors take a cautious approach to allow for people to be established in their faith and to continue to ‘bear fruit in keeping with repentance’ (Matt 3:8 ESV) before they baptize them.

I was baptized by immersion at age 16, but I can tell you that that was too early for me. I was not mature enough to demonstrate fruit of repentance. My wife was baptized at the same age, but both of us agree that for some youth at age 16, it can be too young as lack of knowledge of the faith and immaturity can influence this decision.

I’m not suggesting that this is the case with you because I don’t know you. For how long have you been a Christian and are you growing in your faith? If I were to speak with someone in your congregation who knows you and ask the question, ‘How strong is David in his faith?’ what would he/she say? Sometimes a pastor is demonstrating wisdom when he asks for baptism to be delayed.

Remember the truth of Hebrews 13:17 (ESV), as a demonstration of fruit of repentance, ‘Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be no advantage to you’.

I think it would be unwise to leave a congregation because the pastor (one of your leaders) does not think you are ready for baptism. Obey and submit will demonstrate that you understand Scripture and are growing in your faith.

Some oppose delaying baptism

Mack Tomlinson considers ‘reasons why withholding baptism from younger believers is wrong’ (August 29, 2013). M Wayne Benson writes of ‘The urgency of water baptism’ (2015. Enrichment Journal).

Others support delaying baptism

Early church father, Tertullian, wrote:

‘And so, according to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children…. If any understand the weighty import of baptism, they will fear its reception more than its delay: sound faith is secure of salvation. (New Advent, ‘On Baptism’, ch 18).

Is baptismal regeneration biblical?

Image result for immersion baptism clip art public domain

(courtesy christianholisticcenter)

Paul recounts his conversion experience in Jerusalem:

‘For you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name’ (Acts 22:15-16 ESV).

However, the original explanation of what happened on the Damascus Road in Saul’s-Paul’s conversion was, ‘And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized’ (Acts 9:18 ESV). There is no mention of baptismal regeneration here, but there seems to be when he recounts the conversion in Acts 22:15-16. That is not Greek grammarian, A T Robertson’s, interpretation. His Greek reasons are:

22:16 By baptized (baptisai). First aorist middle (causative), not passive, Get thyself baptized (Robertson, Grammar, p. 808). Cf. I Cor. 10:2. Submit yourself to baptism. So as to apolousai, Get washed off as in I Cor. 6:11. It is possible, as in 2:38, to take these words as teaching baptismal remission or salvation by means of baptism, but to do so is in my opinion a complete subversion of Paul’s vivid and picturesque language. As in Rom. 6:4-6 where baptism is the picture of death, burial and resurrection, so here baptism pictures the change that had already taken place when Paul surrendered to Jesus on the way (verse 10). Baptism here pictures the washing away of sins by the blood of Christ (Robertson 1930:391-392).

For examples of church fathers who accepted the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, see this article by Bryan Cross, ‘The Church Fathers on Baptismal Regeneration’ (June 15, 2010).

Is Jesus the sole leader?

What kind of response do you think my above comment would receive on a Christian forum? One person wrote, ‘One should have only one leader and that is Christ’. He then gave references to Luke 22:24-26 (KJV 2000) and Isaiah 8:4-7 (KJV), but affirmed the helpfulness of my posts on this forum.[6]

However, this person did not address the specifics of what I wrote.

Violation of Hebrews 13:17

Therefore, I wrote:

‘What you have stated here violates Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) as this verse speaks about “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls”. “Leaders” is plural. And there are multiple Christian leaders around the world.

Thanks for your encouragement, brother. Or, are you sister?’[7]

Conclusion

(courtesy hopnews.com)

When should a person be baptized? I leave that with the leaders of the church and the need for believers to submit to that leadership (this is not submission to abusive elders but submission to caring, pastoral leaders in the church). Has a person bearing fruit in his/her life that is in keeping with repentance (Matt 3:8 ESV)?

This will be demonstrated over a period of possibly years of Christian growth. As for me, I’d rather wait some months – even years – to be sure a person’s faith in Jesus is real and he/she is growing in the faith before baptising in water.

For the Philippian jailer, baptism was soon after his salvation. For others it may be years later. I pray that church leaders will be given wisdom in making these kinds of decisions and that they will engage in open communication – with feedback – with the person seeking baptism. This will include giving wisdom if there is a delay in baptism.

See also my other articles on this topic:

Works consulted

Robertson, A T 1930. Word Pictures in the New Testament: The Acts of the Apostles, vol 3. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press. Also available HERE.

Notes


[1] Christianity Board, Christian Forums (Christians only), Christian Debate Forum, ‘Regarding baptism’, June 21, 2015, davidnelson#1. Available at: http://www.christianityboard.com/topic/21615-regarding-baptism/#entry256758 (Accessed 9 August 2015).

[2] Ibid., mjrhealth#2.

[3] Ibid.,pom2014.

[4] Ibid., theophilus#8.

[5] Ibid., OzSpen#13.

[6] Ibid., mjrhealth#14.

[7] Ibid., OzSpen#15.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.