My second set of questions deals with this quote:
***** Begin Quote *****
If I were to take my bible to a construction site, and no other tools, and attempt to build an ice skating rink with nothing but my bible, how would that work out?
It wouldn’t. Why? Because in that context, the bible is ERRANT. It is wanting. It offers no help. It cannot be used to hammer nails, or to install drywall, or to lay ice. So, how, pray tell, can the bible be both inerrant and errant at the same time?
The answer is: it cannot.
***** End Quote *****
I assume that you are using the term context in its technical philosophical meaning (I had to look it up):
“Context is the idea that a statement or thought has meaning in relationship to its setting or background.”
Okay, given that definition these paragraphs don’t sound that profound. Let’s take Jesus’ statement that “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” Using your definition of inerrancy, that statement is not inerrant since I can’t hammer a nail or install drywall with it. Fair enough. What matters to me is if you believe that statement is reliably true. Can anyone other than the people that heard Jesus say that take it to be true? Is it true for me, you, the man down the street, all people at different times and places? Can you even take it for a given that Jesus said that?
If all the statements in the Bible are not true individually and collectively then where does that leave us? Do we use our reason, however defined, to determine what is individually true for us?
Again, great question. Thank you.
“Let’s take Jesus’ statement that “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” Using your definition of inerrancy, that statement is not inerrant since I can’t hammer a nail or install drywall with it. Fair enough. What matters to me is if you believe that statement is reliably true.”
Something being “reliably” true is not the same thing as claiming that it is inerrant. A cookbook is “reliably true”. The DMV website is “reliably true”. So why do we not claim inerrancy for these sources like we do the Bible?
Well, my answer to this and the question overall is in three parts:
The first is simple: in Christianity, mysticism/cultism has replaced reason as a means for interpreting reality. The phrase “biblical inerrancy” is thus used as a bulwark for absolute ecclesiastical authority (and for the “authority” of any other “lesser” tyrant on the street who wants to claim the right to use violence (force/threats/punishment/terrorism) rather than reason to force other human beings into his subjective reality). It is used as a means of implying that the Bible ITSELF is the primary consciousness to which all humanity must sacrifice itself…and/or be sacrificed. Of course the Bible cannot interpret itself, so the mystics must conveniently claim “divine gnosis”; the special, direct-express revelation concerning what it “really” means. The appeal to inerrancy then is nothing more than an appeal to the idea that Pastors and Priests OWN their laity. Biblical inerrancy is “proof” of their divine mandate to rob and murder in service to their own power (worldly lusts).
Next, there is no reason to claim “biblical inerrancy” if reason and rational argument can show the Bible to be demonstrably true. This of course requires a standard of TRUTH outside the Bible, however. And since Christians are philosophically Platonist almost to a man, with every doctrine rooted in the simple idea that all actual reality (read “morality” and “truth”) is completely exclusive to man’s existence due to his “fallen nature”, they cannot possibly conceive of any such standard. God alone is “absolute TRUTH”, which means, ipso facto, that whatever is perceived and confessed to be a direct, non-contextual function of God MUST be as inerrant as God is. As John Immel would then say, “Alakazam, poof!”, the Bible is inerrant as well. Which is just another way of saying that the Bible, like God, defies ALL external contexts as proper venues for vetting its TRUTH. And since the only relevant context is man’s life, man becomes utterly subservient to whatever the Bible says. But the problem which logically follows is: who is in the position to know what the Bible really says, since we have already conceded that its inerrancy precludes it from being interpreted according to any standard other than itself?
See point one.
Once again, “inerrancy” becomes nothing more than a cudgel used in service to the absolute power of the mystic despots who claim unopposed and absolute power over the barbarian masses.
Further, the obvious (well…it should be obvious) problem with the notion that absolute TRUTH is outside of man’s existence is that as soon as man is introduced as a character within the cosmic play of divine whimsy, absolute TRUTH is no longer absolute, by definition. An absolute truth must demand the destruction of anything NOT itself in order that it may continue to be absolutely true. In other words, if absolute truth must be contextualized (to man), then it can no longer claim to be absolute. Which means that man must, somehow, integrate himself into what is already perfectly absolute without him.
This is naturally impossible. The ethical and epistemological conclusion thus must be: man’s death = man’s greatest moral good, since an absolute truth can only really be absolute when man is completely out of the picture.
“Inerrancy” itself, like every other conceptual abstraction man uses to organize his environment, and to express the relative relationship between himself and other objects/people, is an utterly meaningless idea when taken out of the context of MAN’S life. The logical contradiction is that the concept of inerrancy defies this necessary contextual relationship. Inerrancy thus is an absolute concept without context. Understanding that inerrancy means “incapable of error”, you will notice that within this definition there is no context implied, ever. Contextualizing inerrancy results in logical gibberish…because as soon as you contextualize what is “without error” you are contradicting the very definition. You are claiming that “inerrancy” has inherent ERRANCY within its conceptual definition because inerrancy must be contextualized (to the Bible, for instance). This means that out of its purely abstract “self”, inerrancy becomes wholly errant; so again errancy is implied within the general definition. Which makes “inerrancy” in any and all contexts patently false; irrelevant; useless. This rationale is the presumption behind my “you can’t build a house with the Bible” example. The notion of inerrancy is in and of itself patently absurd. There is no context where it has any efficacy or reason. It can only have one purpose: to promote the destruction of the many in service to the power of the few.
Inerrancy is a wholly irrelevant concept all together. There is no such thing in the context of man’s life…and if there is no such thing in the context of man’s life then there is no such thing, period. Because outside of man’s life no concept has any meaning whatsoever, and thus can never be defined as “inerrant” by definition. Everything must conform to a standard of TRUTH (individual LIFE), and as soon as this becomes the philosophical foundation then nothing NON-CONTEXTUAL to the standard can be claimed to be “inerrant” because its “inerrancy” can never be verified, first; and even if it could, it would be completely irrelevant to man since inerrancy is only inerrancy as an absolute OUTSIDE of man. The very concept of “inerrancy” has no efficacious purpose to either man or God. It is purely a tool of the tyrant; a means to coddle the barbaric, despotic, violent, and disdainful inclinations of the devotee to Augustinian/Lutheran/Calvinist theological madness.
If you say the Bible is inerrant, then you are on the hook for explaining WHY it is inerrant. Any denial of the necessary explanation makes one a rank liar and an advocate of evil, because this can only mean one thing: you concede that there is no “why” necessary, because man is wholly besides the point.
But if one must declare why the Bible is inerrant then its inerrancy must be qualified…it must be measured against a standard in order that its inerrancy can be validated. But as soon as that is conceded then it is proved that the Bible then is not inerrant, again because inerrancy can only be inerrancy when it is absolute, and NOTHING absolute can be qualified/contextualized. So…if anything is truly inerrant–that is, incapable of error in and of itself with absolutely no context required because it, itself IS the context–it is individual human LIFE. There is no other rational standard anywhere in the universe.
So, the question I have for you Glenn, since you asked me so many, is:
What is the standard of TRUTH you proclaim?
16 thoughts on “The Philosophy of Reason: Response to Commenter Glenn (two)”
Argo, I’ve really enjoyed these last 2 posts.
Glenn, you have excellent, thoughtful questions. I’ve enjoyed reading them. I hope you keep them coming. 🙂
This is what I’ve come to on the word inerrancy. It may not be obvious, but pastors don’t appeal to reason. They appeal to Biblical authority which they call inerrancy. Think about it.
Pastors typically don’t teach/help/train congregants to learn or grow their reasoning/thinking muscle. Why? You might go wrong & that would be catastrophic. You don’t ever want that to happen, do you? So what’s the alternative, then? What you do MUST be interpretation based (typically called inerrancy of Bible). Who issues the interpretation? Whoever is in the pulpit.
Don’t be scared, let’s just go there then. In truth & reality, which is worse? A wrong interpretation from the pulpit or someone’s own wrong reasoning? In reality, we are taught (subtly, not outright) someone’s wrong reasoning is far worse, = leading to hell worse. So we are taught to never go there. We are too scared to even think it through. If we take time & have courage to think it through, wrong interpretation from the pulpit IS what is worse. The Bible says so. 😉
It is this teaching that authoritative interpretation is required, and not an individual’s God-given ability to reason. And it breeds the fear which causes us to let go of reason, knowing right vs. wrong, & to blindly follow unreasonable teaching. When inerrancy is used, it usually means stop thinking, my interpretation is correct.
This is why the word inerrancy is so important to doctrines which support spiritual authority/hierarchy. Think about it. Do you normally hear inerrancy discussed among believers who don’t believe in spiritual authority/hierarchy? It’s not because they are heretics & don’t take the Bible seriously, as those who appeal to authority want everyone to believe.
Lighbulb: Truth outside of man’s existence is evil has taken a while to grasp. This is what I think it means: So you (an individual) doesn’t & can’t know truth ON YOUR OWN. It has to come only from the Bible (external source). And then it has to be interpreted. It comes from somewhere else. This horrible belief denies conscience, Holy Spirit, being born with the knowledge of right & wrong, empathy, sympathy, happiness, etc. All aid us in knowing truth. Our loving God already equipped each one of us & it’s up to us if we use what God gave us/what we have.
This horrible belief gives you nothing but total depravity, man is a worm, man is rotten to the core, man needs to be whipped into shape, you can’t figure it out & don’t try this at home.
One more: Tere is nothing good in man. If there is, it’s Jesus doing it & not them.
Amom, I am loving your comments! You articulate it so well.
You can literally track the rally cry of inerrancy with what happened within the SBC back in the 80’s with the so called “conservative resurgence”. A certain segment wanted power so they used inerrancy as their war cry to rally the troops. it worked. And one reason it worked is because there was some teaching in some of the seminaries that some took offense to such as Mary not being a virgin, etc. It was not rampant but enough to make war over and scare people that liberals were corrupting our young men. (boy are they being corrupted now!)
When I look back, I can see how the concept of inerrancy became so accepted and ingrained that people never really thought it through. There is a huge difference even between Inspired and Inerrant but even that was not allowed. The lines were drawn. If you did not accept inerrancy as truth then you were a “liberal”. The lines drawn— many good decent thinking people had to leave.
So I have seen upclose the tyranny of “inerrancy”.
BTW; Many refer to the Chicago statement on inerrancy as their belief. It was devised by some of the well known theologians out there. But it has some serious cognitive dissonance in it that makes you wonder if these theologians weren’t some really good spin doctors. Article 10 is the one that really baffles me.
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.”
Huh? So, to what extent do these translations represent the “original” and how would we know since “the” original doesn’t exist anymore? Talk about spin.
Wow. You are absolutely right. That’s is some full on cognitive dissonance. It’s almost as bad–as in, barely equivocated at all–as I have ever seen.
Thanks for that reference.
Your question, as usual, is merely answered by nodding in the general direction of “God’s mystery”.
Yes and yes and yes again.
Like I say, at the root of reformed theology is the separation of man from himself. The presence of the individual in any capacity at all completely topples the apple cart of “sound doctrine”. Power is maintained in ALL collectivist ideologies by convincing humanity that the individual self is purely an illusion. Nay…a lie. An absolute extension of evil incarnate. There is no YOU in the bible narrative.
Which means that God never created humanity. Which means that God never created you. Which means you cannot possibly know God as Savior.
Do you see the devil at work here? This whole thing cries deception from the father of such farce.
And who are the authorities that so easily usurp God, by speaking on His behalf, to declare Article X?
Who made them the authority on what God is saying to man?
They can answer that God did. But they cannot answer how.
And the unanswerable ” how” is the root of the inherent and all-consuming philosophical contradiction.
If all you’re looking for is Jesus as an immunity idol or get out of jail free card, AND want to fit in (security in numbers) then an official statement from slick-tongued authority on high will do. In the rush to click the “I agree to the terms” button, the terms don’t get or need to be read. And don’t ruin the party with your cognitive dissonance blather, just chill. 😉
“Who made them the authority on what God is saying to man?”
They went to seminary where they were taught orthodoxy. You know, Orthodoxy, the 4th member of the trinity. Or is it the 5th & the Bible is the 4th? 😉
Who’s on first? Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Who, What or I don’t know made them the authority. lol
On another SBC pastors blog (one arguing against Calvinism) a serious Calvinist who was having major problems with me comments on David/Psalms asked me where I studied hermeneutics. :o)
This is a guy who has a title of “ruling elder” in a Presbyterian church so I had to laugh. They take themselves way too seriously. And my take is they have to ask this because the Holy Spirit is AWOL. A mere pew peasant is not supposed to understand. They have to be told what to think/believe.
You see, they cherry pick the Psalms verses to shore up their determinism but then agree the next verse is a metaphor or else they look like idiots. They want the power to cherry pick and decide for us what is literal. But then, ignoring that Psalms are man talking to God in poetry.
One thing I have learned talking to Calvinists on blogs over the years is they have a fancy term/definition for every single cognitive dissonant thought/belief/contradiction. That is why they have been so successful. People are impressed at first, feel unable to debate their pseudo intellectualism and are intimidated. And mainly because it is confusing and it looks as if one needs some special understanding so they stick around and try while being fed the term “grace” and sovereignty as a constant diet. This is exactly how Calvin did it in Geneva.
But the internet, which the YRR used to grow, is NOW becoming their biggest albatross. The pew peasants are talking too much.
If they claim God told them that they have authority then they are no different than Charismatics whom most of them seem to despise. Do they not see . . . blind leading thr blind.
The bible is the 3rd. It seems to trump the HS. Since the HS is God, maybe the bible really ends up #1 😦
And the problem is…how does the “absolute and inerrant divine revelation” of Scripture get transferred into the minds and and lives of mortal man? If one man claims divine revelation as the source of his “knowledge”, the source of his “truth”…well, fine, but that then that still leaves the rest of the masses who have NOT received divine revelation and thus have not been (somehow) integrated into the divine absolute truth.
I guess my question is: how does the ABSOLUTE knowledge of the “divine”, which cannot be learned and is incompatible with humanity’s existential moral failure become “translated” into a philosophy which the average layperson can efficaciously apply to their own lives? The barbarian masses are an anathema to the divine revelation, by their very existence according to the doctrine (their “sin nature” constantly denies and resists God’s “truth”…hence the need for a Pastor-in-the-stead). Thus, there can be no inclusion of them into the truth of the perfect, absolute divine revelation. There will ALWAYS be an irreconcilable breach ween the “truth” which is outside of the layman and man himself. So, if the only means of transference is some mysteriously imputed ability to apprehend God’s absolute “truth”, this would mean that EVERYONE who claims to have “saving grace”, or God’s “truth” must be equally called and specially dispensed to receive the perfect revelation. Which means that any Pastor or Priest could never be in a position to claim authority over any other believer. Either one is an un-elected lost soul, or one is a wholly called and fully inspired receptacle of the “truth”.
At what point does absolute truth become whittled down to fit man’s mortal and inadequate existence and still be “absolute”? Answer: at NO point. The dichotomy is always man as SELF vs. absolute truth. Thus, there can be no claim to any hierarchy of “authority” without some serious gaping holes in the rationale.
Sorry that I am commenting so late but I have down with a nasty bug for the last several days. It’s tough to comment when sleeping 20 hours a day.
Okay, I will answer your question: The standard of truth that I proclaim is Jesus Christ. He said on more than one occasion that he is the truth and I believe that. I am fairly certain that is what you are expecting me to say and you have a rebuttal prepared.
I am going to have to study your ideas on context a bit more because the central tenets of it still escape me. Very abstract stuff and not intuitive for me.
Of course many leaders in historic “Christendom” have used inerrancy to acquire power for themselves. This isn’t too surprising. Men have been using any excuse to gain power over others since the dawn of time. Confucians, Buddhists, Muslims, and atheists have all shown the desire to gain control. Just because something is abused isn’t proof that it is bad.
Okay, you won’t agree with I am about to say and I am not able to defend it. I know I am leaving myself open but what the heck. I have thought a lot about where the freedom in the United States came from, what is the “fountainhead?” I believe it is directly related to the Scripture becoming available to everyone without being filtered through a priest or pastor. The RC Church rightly feared the bible being translated into the native languages of the unwashed masses, they knew it would destroy their monopoly on power. I also know that Luther and Calvin were no Boy Scouts, they had no problem killing dissenters. When the people could read scripture for themselves it put limits on how far Christian “leaders” could push their power grabs. The ability to study scripture for oneself, and have confidence in it, is truly empowering. The U.S. took this farther than any other place on earth and I believe it shows.
I also don’t believe that enlightenment intellectuals were a source of freedom as many contemporary atheists claim. The French Revolution was the fruit born of the Enlightenment tree and the blood flowed, there was no freedom. Ditto for the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, etc.
I do believe in the inerrancy of scripture but not the inerrancy of creeds, popes, priests, reformers, or anyone else. I’m running low on energy right now. I look forward to your next post.