Traditional Biblical Inerrancy Part Three

What the Bible Says about Inspiration
by Farrell Till

Re-posted here by permission from Farrell Till.

Thank you Mr. Till!

In two previous articles in this series, I showed that leading inerrancy spokesmen, past and present, have declared emphatically that the Bible was verbally inspired of God. As I noted, the term “verbal inspiration” denotes that God inspired not the thoughts or ideas in the Bible, but the very words that the writers used. In the second article, I also noted that there are good reasons why biblical inerrantists espouse the doctrine of verbal inspiration, because (1) the Bible itself teaches that God put his words into the mouths of the Old Testament prophets and at times ordered them to write “his words” that had been revealed to them, (2) the New Testament teaches that Jesus sent the “spirit of truth” to guide his apostles so that the words that they spoke were not their words but the words of the Holy Spirit speaking through them, and (3) the NT teaches that “prophecies of scripture” did not come from private interpretation but as men were “moved” by the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of verbal inspiration is the only effective description of the process of guidance that the Bible claims that God used in guiding his inspired ones into “all truth.” This doctrine is the exact reason why so many Bible believers also believe in biblical inerrancy. This belief is a logical consequence of the doctrine of verbal inspiration.

To show how this is true, let’s assume the truth of certain claims that Christians make for their god. They claim that he is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (simultaneously present at all places), and omnibenevolent (unlimited in his love, mercy, compassion, etc.), among many other “omni” attributes. Now if the Christian god really does have all of these attributes and if he verbally inspired the writing of the Bible, then it would logically follow that everything written in the original autographs of the Bible would have been inerrant whether those things concerned theology or not. If you think that this doesn’t logically follow, then think for a moment. Suppose that God had not inspired the writing of the Bible but had sat down himself and personally written every word in the original autographs. If that were the case, would it have been possible for errors in history, geography, chronology, and such like to be in the original autographs? If so, then these errors would have had to result from a conscious desire on God’s part to put the errors into the Bible, because we can hardly imagine how an entity who knows everything there is to know and is able to do anything that is logically possible to do would have made inadvertent mistakes in history, geography, chronology, science, etc. When I was a teacher, it didn’t take me long to figure out that the most intelligent students would submit the most accurately written tests and essays. In other words, those who knew the most about the subject would make the fewest mistakes and earn the best grades. What if I had had an omniscient, omnipotent student? If that had ever been the case, then this student would never have given any incorrect answers or made other mistakes unless he/she had consciously wanted to and, thus, had deliberately written down incorrect answers, but it is hard to imagine why anyone would have wanted to do this. It is even harder to imagine how a god with the characteristics that Christians attribute to their god would have consciously desired to put errors into the Bible if he himself had written the Bible in its entirety.

Consider the following propositions:

1. God is omniscient.
2. God is omnipotent.
3. God is omnibenevolent.
4. God deliberately and consciously put errors into a book that he himself wrote, which book contains information about a plan of redemption that its readers would have to understand and obey in order to be saved from their sins.

How can number 4 be made logically compatible with the first three? If God had put errors into a book that he wrote himself, he would have had to know he was doing this, or else he would not be omniscient. If God had put errors into a book that he wrote himself, he would have had the ability to avoid writing the errors, or else he would not be omnipotent. If God had put errors into a book, knowing that he was writing the errors, knowing that he had the ability to avoid writing the errors, and knowing that the errors could mislead people into believing that which is not true and which would possibly cause them not to understand his plan of redemption, then God would not be omnibenevolent.

In response to this, some Bible believers will argue that God did not actually write the Bible himself but merely inspired its writing, but this in no way explains away the consequences of the doctrine of verbal inspiration. If God verbally inspired the writing of the Bible, as I have shown the Bible to teach, then ultimately the words were not the words of the men who wrote it but, as fundamentalists of the old school argue, the words of God himself, and that is exactly what leading inerrantists of the past and present have taught. So the issue at stake here is not what I believe or what Roger Hutchinson believes or what Robert Turkel or Joe Alward believes or what anyone else may believe but what the Bible teaches about itself and what the doctrine of verbal inspiration necessitates. No one is denying that there are Bible believers who reject the doctrine of verbal inspiration, because many of them obviously do. There are also Bible believers who reject the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. None of this, however, negates the fact that the Bible teaches that when God inspired individuals, he put his words in their mouths, and this is the exact reason why biblical inerrantists declare that the Bible in its entirety, in the original autographs, was completely inerrant in everything, in matters of history, geography, chronology, science, etc., as well as in matters of faith and practice.

Is this just something that Farrell Till is imagining about what the Bible says about inspiration? Well, in this series, I have supported all of my points with quotations from the scriptures, so those who would pooh-pooh what I have said about what the Bible teaches about inspiration have an obligation to show that the scriptures I have quoted did not mean what they say. They should also take note that I have their savior-god Jesus Christ on my side, because he too apparently thought that the scriptures are inerrant.

John 10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

When Jesus said that “the scripture cannot be broken,” what did he mean if he did not mean that whatever the scriptures say has to be true and cannot be false? If, however, the scriptures recorded only what Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Ezra, Amos, Joel, Malachi, etc. thought or what they “chose” to say or what they knew only from personal experiences or “oral tradition,” then what basis did Jesus have for saying that “scripture cannot be broken,” for if what scriptures say are not the words that God himself directed his chosen writers to say, then scripture can indeed be broken, because it would be no more authoritative than what unknown writers put into pseudepigrapha like the books of Enoch, the Apocalypse of Daniel, or the Testiments of the Twelve Patriarchs.

In a follow-up series, I will examine the different theories of the new fundamentalists to show that they do not offer satisfactory alternatives to the traditional biblical inerrancy doctrine and in no way satisfactorily explain why a book purporting to be the “word of God” in any sense would have vagueness, ambiguity, and inconsistencies in it. I have already dismantled some of these new theories of inspiration in articles like “The Paper Shortage” and “It Doesn’t Matter?” but more are forthcoming. I have already completed detailed replies to Robert “No Links” Turkel’s attempt to “eviscerate” Dan Barker’s Easter Challenge and to Turkel’s attempt to prove that “Mark” did not end his gospel at 16:18 but had continued his resurrection narrative in an ending that has been lost.

These rebuttals show the absurdity of trying to justify ambiguities and inconsistencies in allegedly inspired works on the grounds of paper shortages, variations in “oral traditions,” individual “choices” of the writers, and such like.

My Religious Profile

After taking a religious profile test over at beliefnet I decided to write this short story of some of my beliefs.

I will attempt to record everything that I have went through and had happen to me through my religious journey.

I think I will write a little and update as I can.

My earliest memories of the spiritual are of attending a “Holy Roller” church when I was very young (maybe 3 or 4 years old). I remember seeing things in the spirit realm that others didn’t see. One night in particular I remember seeing a man at the front of the church and a bunch of people around him praying for him. It seems that there was another man standing right beside the man that they where praying for. They ladies started rebuking him and chasing him down the center aisle. The man stopped at the back of the church for a moment and then he ran out the doors with the ladies chasing him and stopping just inside the church with the exception of one or two of the ladies who continued in pursuit outside and returned within a few moments. I still remember this vision. The things is, when I asked my mother about it, and asked why those women were chasing that man she didn’t know what I was talking about. She said that I was asleep and didn’t know how I could have seen anything and that nothing like that happened accept that they were praying for a man and he “prayed through” (this is a term they use for when people are over taken by the “Spirit” and begin to speak in “other tongues” (a language that is different from their native tongue that was not learned)). This is a sign that they have repented of their way of life and have given over their will to “God’s” will and that “God” has accepted the invitation and has filled them with the “Holyghost”.

Please don’t think that I am proselytizing because I am not. I do not believe in the bible now. Please understand I am just trying to lay some foundation of who I am and what I have seen and where I have come from. To those of you who would try to convince me of the bible’s absoluteness and how infallible it is I have to warn you that I have been where you are and it is not likely that there is anything that you can say that I haven’t said to someone else at some point in time and later found to be false or in the very least open to subjection and speculation.

Not long after that, my mother and father divorced and my mother and myself found ourselves in very hard times and my mother no longer attended church. I had not attended church from that time (about age 5) until later on just after my thirteenth birthday. My stepfather who was anything but religious woke us up one Sunday morning and said we were going to church. Everyone was completely amazed and confused because he was not someone you would think ever thought about religious matters at all. The next thing we know we are sitting in the parking lot of a church on the other side of town that is just like the one my Mom and I attended when I was very young. My step father got the “Holyghost” and our lives changed dramatically.

Fast forward about twenty two years. I will come back and fill in more between here and the beginning and after here when I have time.

At this point in my life (about 2005 or 2006 or so) I have been supremely dedicated to finding out the truth about my “religion” and about what the truth is regarding the bible and how I should live my life in a pleasing way to my God. Through the years I noticed that there were inconsistencies with what people believed and what the bible actually said so I was a bit of an odd ball even in my religious circles. I was super conservative and full of faith and had compassion for other beliefs. I understood how others could believe in something ( that was not entirely true, unbeknownst to them) and believe enough to tell everyone else that it was true and that it was the way to follow so I was open to the possibilities that I might not have all of the “truth”.

I was very active on the christian forums telling other christians the “error of their ways” and helping them to see “the truth” along with encouraging others to not give up faith just because of whatever was going on in their life or what they saw around them. It was during one of these episodes that God opened my eyes to something that severely shook the very foundations of my entire religion and belief system. It was such a simple thing that I could not believe I had not noticed it before. It all revolved around one word in the bible and that word was LORD. You see, in the “Old Testament” it is known that the original name of “God” was hidden from the gentiles because the Jews believed that it was blasphemy for the gentiles to even speak the name of the most high, so they replaced the actual name of “God” with the all capitol word LORD or actually before the bible was translated into English it was written YHVH or something close to that. There is much debate on that matter but it really isn’t important once you learn it is all a lie anyway. So, I was looking up scriptures to encourage this gentleman when I went from Old Testament to New Testament and I noticed a big change in how LORD was used. This was like a red flag to me. Alarms and buzzers went off and it was like something was pointing out the truth to me. As I noticed the huge difference in how the word LORD was used between New and Old Testaments and the difference between the original (as far as we can know anyway) translations of these words in the New and Old Testament. I began researching the supposed fulfilled prophecies of the New Testament only to discover that all of the “prophecies” that where supposed to be fulfilled in the christ where all made up and unrelated. All of a sudden it was like a vale was lifted from my eyes and I began seeing more and more truth of the lies propagated in the “New Testament” and I could see it for the farce that it was. Needless to say this was quite an upsetting time in my life. I can not explain to you how troubling, how upsetting, how helpless, cheated, mistreated, abused, and more I felt when these revelations came to me. Everything that I had based my life on, everything that I had strove to live and believed with unwavering faith was a pile of lies. Both my wife and my self went through months of depression and soul searching trying to figure out what we were supposed to do now. My wife eventually had a nervous breakdown and we almost lost our family life to divorce.

As time passed  I began to search inside for answers and I began to discover that my “religion” had not changed much. I still believe in God, I still believe in the supernatural and I still believe that I can find the right way to live.

Even when I was “super spiritual” and I was very much caught up in the “Holly Roller” religion I still did not buy into the lie that if everyone didn’t believe like me then they were destined to burn in a lake of fire for all eternity. I knew that a wise and all powerful God would not be that stupid. How could you destine everyone that ever lived to a lake of burning fire if they did not follow “your way” when they never even heard of you. That is just asinine and very small thinking. Not only that but how could you expect everyone that had heard of you to follow a strict set of rules that are left up to interpretation and could be interpreted wrongly which would have you end up burning for all eternity? I never bought into that. I also never bought into the asinine idea of everyone having their own mansion in heaven. How stupid is that? OK, I live my whole life in total devotion to you (God) so that when I die I can spend all eternity in my mansion all by myself, without my friends and without my family? So, eternity in a lake of fire or eternity in solitude of your own mansion of which has no use? I didn’t believe that.

So I began searching within myself to come to an understanding of what I actually do believe and I am coming to some conclusions of which I am certain and other of which I am somewhat certain but not completely convinced there couldn’t be more to what I know.

For now, this is what I believe. 2013 – Updated.

There is a God and I believe he/she or it is all powerful (for lack of knowledge and a better way of referring to God I will defer to the he and him reference but I do not necessarily believe that God is a he).

I believe that God does not change the past to fit you.

I believe that God exist in all times in every place at every time at the same time and it is all the same to him.

2013 – I believe that anything is possible. Well… mostly.

2013 – I believe (as I always have) that every man woman and child has a inner voice or guidance that tells them wrong from right and that everyone makes a choice every day and every moment if they will follow the wrong or the right path 2013 –  (whatever that might mean).

2013 – I believe that wrong and right can be subjective in some (if not all) circumstances depending on which side of the decision you are on.

2013 – I believe that everyone has to make their own choices and has to follow their own path and if you follow your path you will be content in your life. You may be deluded and blind but you’ll be one happy S.O.B..

I believe that when you die there is more. More of what I do not know. — 2013 – Maybe.  I believe that when you die there could be more. More of what I do not know and it may be that no one will ever know whether this is true because there is no direct communication that we know of that exist between life and “after life”. Maybe someday there will be. Regardless, it really doesn’t matter because there is nothing you can do to keep from eventually finding out for yourself. 😉

I believe it is required that I do good to others and wish the best for others. — 2013 – Required? Well, not required but certainly the preferred way to live for the positive energy it returns.

I believe that you reap what you sow, what comes around goes around, karma if you will. — 2013 – hmm… well, I am not so sure about reaping what you sow cause if that were the case, my life would be a hell of a lot different. I have done so much good in my life, unselfish good even, you would think that if you reap what you sow then I would be reaping all kinds of good stuff by this point in my life. Karma… maybe, but I am not real sure what Karma really is. I think I need to learn more about karma before I accept or discount karma.

I believe that faith is more powerful than many know and that by and through faith you can do anything. Faith in what is not relevant. The degree of faith is. — 2013 – Well, in that it causes wars and murders. Yep, beyond that, not so much anymore.

I believe that everyone will have to answer in some way shape or form for the wrongs that they have done. Not the wrongs that others perceive but the wrongs that they knew were wrong. — 2013 – If only that were true… but somehow, I don’t think it is.

I believe that a man can love (actually love not lust) more than one woman at the same time and it not defer from his love for any of them. I am not talking about bigamy either. — 2013 – Yep, I still believe this. Not only do I believe this, I believe that a Woman can too. It actually goes beyond belief to knowing. I know that poly relationships can function well and do, even in our wonderful Monogamous states of America. Oh, and it doesn’t have to be religious for it to work. I know Atheist that are Poly.

I believe if you have sex with someone you are married to them regardless of what the state or anyone else says. 2013 – LOL!! haha… funny. Sex is a spiritual experience that bonds the two on a spiritual level that can not be explained through science. Sex is more meaningful than the tabloids and the tv propaganda machines intend for us to believe or at least can be if you approach it correctly.

2013 –  I believe that there is an spiritual unseen world all around us that can be more greatly perceived through faith and prayer/meditation that may someday be proven and measured through verifiable, empirical evidence.

2013 – I believe that we are all a part of each other and of everything. God is in us and we are in God. There is an energy (or something) that exists that connects everything and we are all effected in some way (no matter how small it is) by our decisions.

I believe that there are no coincidences and that there are reasons for what happens. They may not be good reasons or bad reasons. Just that there is a reason. 2013 – Nah.

I believe that anything is possible with strong and proper faith in God and I really do mean anything.  2013 – Nope!

I am sure there is more and I will add to this when I have a chance. 2013 – Probably not, I would say that I am done with updating this and if you want to know me better, meet me.

I have seen many wonders in my journey and I know there is more to the spiritual than many will ever know and I am very interested in exploring that aspect of my religion to the extremes. I have been a religious loner since 1999 (or maybe even sooner) even though I was surrounded by “like minded” believers so I already know that I can not expect to be surrounded by 100s of people that actually believe as I do. It would be nice though, to find others that believe at least in some similar fashion. I welcome all correspondence and I am eager to hear what others believe and more about others encounters with the unknown realm. I will not endeavor to convince others to believe as I do as everyone has their own path to follow and must discover truth on their own, but I would be glad to share my life experiences and would like to here about others experiences as well.

Gary