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Sep 08, 2011

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Doug B

There is no need for debate over inerrancy. once Geisler has spoken the issue becomes de fide! ;)

Jerry Corbaley

In the past, it seemed that people would just deny that portions of Scripture were authentic. It was notable that these denied portions were mostly dealing with the supernatural record of events purported to occur in real history.

Now it seems that people affirm inerrancy with the intent to "interpret away" the very same kinds of supernatural events.

It is possible that those who just denied inerrancy were more upfront with their willingness to comply with the skepticism of worldly scholarship.

Here is a question that needs to be answered by contemporary Christians, "Does God reveal His words in a way that the average person can understand; or do we need the educated scholar to interpret God's words for us?"

Let me offer a "First Law" of physics.

"God created the Laws of Physics and He can suspend them supernaturally any time He wants to do so."

Tim G

I am seeing this play out in some Books required for Old Testament in at least one of our "Baptist" schools - claiming that there are two accounts of creation given - one in Gen 1 and the other in Gen 2. And the still the old line of Jonah and the big fish was not literal.

Sad days indeed!

Thank God for guys like Geisler! May his tribe increase!

Jerry Corbaley

It is my hope that the faithful faculties who teach God’s Word will take the public stands necessary to resist apostasy in the Seminaries.

It didn’t work out that way in the last century.

Nick

Jerry. To answer your question, why should that be the case? You do realize that the Bible is a book from another culture, language(s) and time. Should there not have to be effort to understand it?

Jerry Corbaley

Hello Nick,

First, I am not on an “anti-Licona” tangent. Until this blog post, I had no knowledge of the controversy whatever. Further, I will not get into a public controversy over individual persons unless the Lord makes it my business.

My choice to comment was based on the post’s conclusion, “It looks like evangelicalism is about to enter a new phase of debate on just what the term inerrancy actually means”. In that context I asked, "Does God reveal His words in a way that the average person can understand; or do we need the educated scholar to interpret God's words for us?"

Your answer to my question is just another question. Please clarify. Is it fair to say that you think Christians must have educated scholars to guide them into the truth of what the Bible says?

RichardLuciano1

I feel the next two evangelical debates are going to be about variant ways of defining inerrancy, and fundamentalism/liberalism within evangelical circles. Methinks TULIP sniffing or the weeding of it along with ID debates on the age of the earth will be visiting the back burners in a few years. Maybe we should stay on top of this new hot button issue. Lines could be drawn anywhere for an alleged crossing of the line (e.g., is hellfire real fire; Can the Leviathan of the Old Testament be interpreted with paganism if Virgil or Greco Roman writing cannot be implemented in a small passage of Matthew's Gospel; Are these additionally resurrected people so interwoven that Romans 10:9 can only imply if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him and others in a co-resurrection from the dead thou shalt be saved? Can six days of creation really be very good with death and suffering thrown in?). I totally accept Dr. Geisler's interpretation of Matthew 27's raised saints, but I cannot accept his charge against Dr. Licona. This is on a level similar to Replacement Theology or Transubstantiation, but it is not as serious the trend of Dual Covenant Theology.

adam cruse

I think to suggest that Licona is trying to explain away super-natural passages, and thus deny that he is a true inerrantist, I think fails to seriously take into consideration everything he has written. THere is no one in the SBC that has more expertise on the physical, bodily resurrection than Licona. Nor is there anyone in the SBC that is more involved in confronting Biblical critics and audiences with the biblical claims of the resurrection than Licona. He is truly on the front lines like no other SBC scholar is. I would even guess that he is debating more people than Geisler is.

So I think it might be better to consider his whole body of work than to just highlight one disagreement. But I am glad that there are people like yourself who are monitering these things. While I don't agree with you here, I do agree with you often.

Nick

Hi Jerry.

Jerry. My stance is that a basic message of Scripture can be understood is just fine. However, the Bible is an incredibly rich work of literature. I'm not denying it being God's Word to us, but it is still a work of literature as well. It is written in various styles and from another culture, time, and place.

If you want to understand the work of that culture, time, and place, then yes, you will need scholarship and education. What to do? You can either go and study the scholars for yourself and see what they say, or you can seek to become a scholar yourself. Many Seminaries will offer courses for you if you wish to educate yourselves that way. In our day and age, it's easier than ever to learn. You can even use your IPod, IPhone, or similar device to listen to ITunes Universities where you can get courses on various topics from actual seminaries for free.

Today, if you want to be someone who really studies the Bible and be able to defend it, then yes, you are going to have to work at it and it's going to take more than just reading the Bible in your own private time. I believe even Spurgeon warned his students to not be so arrogant as to think they're the only ones the Holy Spirit has ever spoken to. I'm not saying you're doing that. I'm just establishing a point.

This is what Jesus told us in fact. We are to be disciples and in Jesus's time, the teacher rarely told the students the answers to the questions. The students themselves had to do the research and study to gain the answers. They really had to work for them. Unfortunately, in our day and age, that's a dirty word. It's far better to say that everything is simple in the Bible.

So yes, we do need scholarship and if you want to really understand the Bible, you will have to familiarize yourself with it.

Tim Rogers

Brother Jerry,

It seems that Nick wants to place the Bible back in the hands of the academics. You see, Jerry, we are just dumb ignorant people that need the elite erudite monarchy to bring us cake so we can enjoy the crumbs from their table.

Brother Nick,

I was just being sarcastic, please do not take offense. I was merely trying to show the natural progression that will evolve within a decade if we all went with your premise. Certainly we gain tremendous insight from the fruits of your Father-in-Laws studies. He has presented invaluable information that I use still today. However, for him to now take the Greco-Roman sources and then for a filter is a deviation in his methodology. That deviation moves him away from inerrancy. That is exactly the point that Dr. Geisler has made and the point those standing in support of Dr. Licona will not acknowledge.

Blessings,

Tim

Tim Rogers

Sorry all,

The above comment"take the Greco-Roman sources and then for a filter" should read; "take Greco-Roman sources and use them for a filter"

Nick

@Tim.

Tim. Yes. I believe the Bible is a work that needs to be taught to people since the Bible is indeed a gold mine. You did not respond to what I said on the argumentative level but on the rhetorical level only. The argument is pretty much "It's wrong because I don't like it."

Furthermore, how do you gain insights from the fruits of my father-in-law's studies considering you yourself told me you have not read his book? You're going out against someone even though you are not familiar with their ideas and their arguments for them? I have a mammoth problem with atheists who do that with theology and philosophy. I have just as much a problem with Christians who do that with one another.

Finally, it might seem hard for you to believe, but the gospels themselves are Greco-Roman biographies. There was a genre of biography and that is the style in which the gospels were written. The epistles of Paul contain the same Greco-Roman rhetoric that was used in letter-writing of the time. NT scholarship has known this for some time.

Licona has not moved away from this. (Keep in mind Craig has said the same thing in that he is not sure if the event is historical. Is Craig going to be the next target?) He is studying the biographies to try to understand the biographies of Jesus in that light.

There has been no move away from inerrancy. As I've said, consider the following syllogisms.

Matthew wrote the account of the resurrections and intended it to be apocalyptic.
Licona interprets it as apocalyptic.
Licona is taking the text the way the author intended.

How can he be violating inerrancy in that case?

Next syllogism.

Matthew wrote the account and intended it to be historical.
Licona takes it as apocalyptic.
Licona is not taking the text the way Matthew intended.

Is this violating inerrancy? Only if you're prepared to say that in Genesis 1 either YECs or OECs are violating inerrancy, or that in Romans 9-11 either Calvinists or Arminians are violating inerrancy.

Not interpreting the text the way the author intended is not a violation of inerrancy.

What it needs is this.

Matthew wrote the text intending for it to be seen as historical.
Licona knows this.
Licona denies that it is historical anyway.

The problem for you is that Licona does not know this and Geisler's arguments do not show it. I've looked at them and I find them lacking. I find the eighth point to be exceptionally problematic and the dismissal of the scholars as something to be concerned with.

And as for those scholars, yes. We do need scholarship in the church to understand the Bible. The role of the Holy Spirit has not been that He tells us what the text means, but rather he convicts us once we understand the meaning of the text.

I highly urge you to reconsider your position and be willing to look at the other side and see what we have to say. I know you were linked to my ministry partner and I see nothing said in reply to his answer of the arguments.

Tim Rogers

Brother Nick,

Not interpreting the text the way the author intended is not a violation of inerrancy.
Here is the problem with Licona's position and the position of those supporting Licona. Anyone claiming the author intended a text to be used in a certain way and agrees the author understood the text to be used in that way, but they claim through "academic research" the scholar knows better than the author of the text concerning the historicity of the text, has strayed from inerrancy.

Dr. Licona says he does not know if Matthew 27 is historical or not. Ok, I accept his position that he is, according to his public statement, 50% sure at best. And here is, whether it be you Dr. Licona me or Dr Geisler, where one strays from inerrancy. If there is 99.99999999% scholarly proof a scriptural text is not historical when the scripture points to it being historical then the scholar must affirm the scripture. Why? The scripture is inerrant. Any deviation from this gives rise for the text containing error.

Also your YEC, OEC, Calvinists, Arminian examples are nothing more than red herrings. It does not contain the same arguments. The argument here is that Dr. Licona, after his scholarly research, has not convinced other scholars and he isn't even convinced, according to his statement. Even you, his son-in-law is not convinced. But he has based his entire ministry and called into question his excellent arguments on the resurrection on a scholarly premise that he is not sure about. A person that holds to the inerrancy of the text will not make any statement or call into question a text unless there is 100% proof this text is what it says it is. Even the scholarly translators that say Mark 16:9-20 are not in the text still place the text in the translated version. Why? They are not 100% sure and as such do not call into question of the historicity of the text.

Blessings,
Tim

Tim Rogers

Brother Nick,

As you think I responded on a rhetorical level I merely responded to your position. I am not going to nuance every sentence you write and respond. I refuse to do this for two reasons. 1.) It is unproductive as you take the words I write and then restate them to set up a strawman you can burn. 2.) I really do not have the time or desire to pursue this. If your father-in-law would have responded to Dr. Geisler privately and not taken a position of what he placed in public view was above reproach, we would not be here at this point. Also, Nick, it is amazing that Dr. Licona is willing to re-word his position. However, he is not willing to change his mind on this. Tell me, what is that about?

Blessings,
Tim

peter lumpkins

All,

I placed a link for any interested in reading Licona's position on my "watchmen" post. Google Books has enough in its preview version of Licona's work to substantiate (in my view) Geisler's concerns.

Hence, anyone wanting to weigh Geisler's concerns raised in his letter(s) and read Licona's interpretations on Matt 27 without reading his entire 700+ page book may do so with benefit here--
http://books.google.com/books?id=rv8xNoRBtxMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Resurrection+of+Jesus:+A+New+Historiographical+Approach&hl=en&ei=7sZbTuKvOdH3gAf1ybmrDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=548&f=false

With that, I am...
Peter

Jerry Corbaley

Hello Nick,

If Peter will allow this booklet response; then please read it with confidence that I respect you and do not want to turn up the level of polarization.

The Bible is Holy Literature, perhaps. But it is a massive mistake to treat it the way scholars treat human literature. All Scripture is ‘God-breathed’ (2 Timothy 3:16). He is the ultimate author, as if He spoke the words Himself. When one comes into the awareness of the presence of God and reads His words, the Spirit of God Himself is the Teacher.

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 15:26 But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about me.

While I agree that it can be useful to understand ancient cultures and languages, such knowledge is not even in the same league as what God offers to everyone. Our culture inflates the importance of ‘higher education’ beyond its real worth. Every Christian has access to the Infinite Creator God Himself, who is the Teacher, the Helper, the Spirit of Truth. No Seminary has such a teacher on staff.

So I ask: Do you believe what God has said in John 14:26 regarding ‘He will teach you all things’?

So I ask: Do you believe that God will ‘bring to your remembrance’ what He has said?

It is easy for me to assume that you do.

2 Peter 1:3, 4 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption of the world because of sinful desire.

So I ask: Do you believe God has already granted us (past tense) all things that pertain to life and godliness, and that God has already granted us (past tense) the grace of participating in the divine nature?

If God has already (past tense) given us everything we need for life, godliness, a participation in the divine nature, and this through His own perfect Spirit who will teach us; then what magnitude of help do we get from an institution of ‘higher learning’?

You say, “My stance is that a basic message of Scripture can be understood is just fine”. This seems to understate the reality, does it not?

Is the Bible accurate when it gives us these facts, or do we need a human teacher also?

1 John 2:27 But the anointing that you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie- just as it has taught you, abide in Him.

Since we do not ‘need’ a human teacher (if we have received the Words of God), what is the purpose of the prophet, the evangelist, and the pastor? Simply to lead people to think the thoughts of God by calling attention to what He has said; and occasionally daring to apply what God has said to the behavior of people. Teachers, or professors, are following God’s Spirit when they call attention to what God says (always lovingly) and then apply what God says to the lives of the hearers in the way that God says it should be applied (always lovingly).

A person can assert they believe in ‘inerrancy’ without considering the Bible to be ‘authoritative’ and ‘sufficient’. It is a mental self-deception to conclude that the Bible is ‘inerrant’ and then dare to sit in judgment on what God meant to say. It amounts to “the Bible is inerrant when rightly interpreted". This is NOT what inerrancy has been about. The Bible is inerrant whether or not “the ignorant and unstable twist (it) to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16.

While our Lord Jesus Christ is ‘more than just the Bible’, He is never ‘less than the Bible’. For all eternity He has been the Word of God. He has never ceased being the Word of God. The Word is alive (Hebrews 4:12). In what accurate sense can He be called ‘literature’?

What is a faithful institution for ‘higher’ learning?

One where the faculty is not self-deceived: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves”(James 1:22). Some professors live this; yes. Others; not so much. Kind of like in a local church. The professors who are doers of the word will confront those who are not, including administrators and trustees. Otherwise, they are not longer ‘doers of the word’, and they deceive themselves. In this way they are also unfaithful to those do worship the Lord God with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength.

I think the best holy reason to attend an institution of ‘higher' learning is for the fellowship one might find among those who inspire, teach and encourage one another in Biblical faithfulness. It is my hope that many of these people will be the faculty.

Now it is possible we do believe the same things. Or it is possible we have been shown different facets of the truth as we live our pilgrimage. Let us point each other to what God has said in order to ‘make our point’; shall we?

Does the Bible affirm your beliefs about higher education? An exposition of such Scripture could go a long way in convincing those who love the Words of God that your point of view is actually God’s point of view.

By the way; there are some things I would like to run by you in private. Would you email me at “my-name-lower-case-at-gmail”?

peter lumpkins

test...

All

I had one commenter write me via email and express the inability to log comments. This test obviously posted. Is anyone else experiencing difficulty?

To my knowledge no IP addresses are blocked. I do have filters on all comments which prohibits certain words which, if logged, immediately pitches the comment in the spam bucket. However, the words are fairly considered vulgarity & etc.

Let me know if you have problems posting.

Have a wonderful Lord's Day.

With that, I am...
Peter

Nick

In comes Tim again! Let's see what was said.

Tim: Here is the problem with Licona's position and the position of those supporting Licona. Anyone claiming the author intended a text to be used in a certain way and agrees the author understood the text to be used in that way, but they claim through "academic research" the scholar knows better than the author of the text concerning the historicity of the text, has strayed from inerrancy.

Reply: Yeah. if anyone claims that they know what the author intended but that the author is wrong, they would have a problem. That's the distinction. Licona is not saying Matthew intended the text to be read as historical. He's saying that Matthew is through apocalyptic imagery showing the effects of the death of Christ on the world.


Tim: Dr. Licona says he does not know if Matthew 27 is historical or not. Ok, I accept his position that he is, according to his public statement, 50% sure at best. And here is, whether it be you Dr. Licona me or Dr Geisler, where one strays from inerrancy. If there is 99.99999999% scholarly proof a scriptural text is not historical when the scripture points to it being historical then the scholar must affirm the scripture. Why? The scripture is inerrant. Any deviation from this gives rise for the text containing error.

Reply: Circular reasoning anyone? Licona has shown in his book that he has reasons for thinking Matthew did not intend that. (You'd know this if you actually read the book) Do you know any of those arguments or do you just automatically know that none of them can be right since ipso facto, the text just has to be historical even though the text never once says it is historical?

Tim: Also your YEC, OEC, Calvinists, Arminian examples are nothing more than red herrings. It does not contain the same arguments. The argument here is that Dr. Licona, after his scholarly research, has not convinced other scholars and he isn't even convinced, according to his statement.

Reply:Um. No. What he is is what any good scholar is. Open. That's what happens in the world of scholarship. You don't just look at what is believed by someone but why they believe it.

Of course the other positions don't contain the same arguments, but they contain arguments. There are arguments that are given to show Paul meant Romans 9 to be Calvinistic. Some meant to show that it was meant to be Arminian. Some arguments are given to show Genesis 1 shows an Old Earth. Some are given to show it teaches a Young Earth. Here's what scholars do at this point. They debate the reasons why. They don't call into question each other's orthodoxy because they realize that in evangelical scholarship, the goal is to get to the truth of why the author wrote what he wrote and what we should get out of it.

Tim: Even you, his son-in-law is not convinced.

Reply: That's also because I think for myself and I don't just say "Well geez. Mike says it and he's my father-in-law so I guess I'd better agree." No. Was that supposed to happen? Are you going to tell me every family member of yours must be convinced with you on every point? I'm allowed to disagree. He and I have such discussions where we discuss matters we disagree on. It's a great freedom!

Tim: But he has based his entire ministry and called into question his excellent arguments on the resurrection on a scholarly premise that he is not sure about.

Reply: Licona's not someone to also just walk the line and say I believe X just to pacify someone. He wants to be sure of his position. That's why he actually wrestles with the text. Do you want him to just keel over and say he believes X even though he doesn't so the rest of you can be happy?

Tim: A person that holds to the inerrancy of the text will not make any statement or call into question a text unless there is 100% proof this text is what it says it is.

Reply: He is not calling into question a text. He's calling into question an interpretation of a text. There is no wrong in that. We've had that happen many times in church history. How will we determine if Licona's right? I say through further research. You apparently say "Don't bother! I'm right! Just agree!"

Tim: Even the scholarly translators that say Mark 16:9-20 are not in the text still place the text in the translated version. Why? They are not 100% sure and as such do not call into question of the historicity of the text.

Reply: No. They do it because they want the readers to know that some manuscripts do contain that. I do not think at all that Mark wrote that and most NT scholars would agree with my statement. Even though they are sure, they want others to know there are other opinions.

And to your next post:

Tim: As you think I responded on a rhetorical level I merely responded to your position.

Reply: An incoherent sentence, but yes. I do think you just used rhetoric instead of evidence from the text. However, I can look at both sides and say that I am open to persuasion on any level and do not see Licona violating inerrancy since he honestly believes Matthew intended for the text to be taken that way. Again, you'd know this if you'd read the book.

Tim: I am not going to nuance every sentence you write and respond. I refuse to do this for two reasons. 1.) It is unproductive as you take the words I write and then restate them to set up a strawman you can burn.

Reply: That's a good accusation right there. Accusations however require something called evidence. Can you show any evidence? Note that in my arguments I do not recall you saying I gave a straw man. In fact, feel free to put up a link to our first dialogue so everyone can see how you didn't answer my arguments.

Tim: 2.) I really do not have the time or desire to pursue this.

Reply: No. You don't. You just have the time to meet with Geisler and to be posting everywhere you can on this and to keep dialoguing on it and to keep writing on it and to call people and warn them about Licona's unorthodoxy, but you just don't have time for this. (You also don't have the time to read Licona's book. Convenient)

Tim: If your father-in-law would have responded to Dr. Geisler privately and not taken a position of what he placed in public view was above reproach, we would not be here at this point.

Reply: Tim. Can you tell me what it was my father-in-law was doing in July since you happen to know his calendar so well? Are you saying that whatever he had on his calendar, that he should have immediately dropped everything that he was doing and just dealt with it.

Since you're so sure of that, please tell me what he was doing at the time.

Tim: Also, Nick, it is amazing that Dr. Licona is willing to re-word his position. However, he is not willing to change his mind on this. Tell me, what is that about?

Reply: It's about something called evidence. He looks at it and he only decides when he's convinced. He doesn't decide because he's being threatened into being decided. Is that the way you want people to come to conclusions in the world of biblical studies? "Believe what we say or pay the price!"

Nick

Jerry: If Peter will allow this booklet response; then please read it with confidence that I respect you and do not want to turn up the level of polarization.

Reply: Well we'll see what happens

Jerry: The Bible is Holy Literature, perhaps. But it is a massive mistake to treat it the way scholars treat human literature. All Scripture is ‘God-breathed’ (2 Timothy 3:16). He is the ultimate author, as if He spoke the words Himself. When one comes into the awareness of the presence of God and reads His words, the Spirit of God Himself is the Teacher.

Reply: I have no problem with the second part, but I do not see how it affects the first part. God spoke the words, therefore all will be simple? Keep in mind when Ezra preached in Nehemiah, the Levites and priests were there to explain to the people the meaning of the words. Ezra was seen as an expert in the law himself. Scholars have always existed.

Jerry: John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.


John 15:26 But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about me.

Reply: Tell me Jerry, were you with Jesus when he said this? I believe he said it to the apostles. After all, for the first one, you and I weren't there when Jesus said what he said to the apostles so how could it be brought to remembrance? Note also that if this is the way you want to operate, the Mormons will be all the more pleased to tell you how the Holy Spirit is teaching them.

Jerry: While I agree that it can be useful to understand ancient cultures and languages, such knowledge is not even in the same league as what God offers to everyone. Our culture inflates the importance of ‘higher education’ beyond its real worth. Every Christian has access to the Infinite Creator God Himself, who is the Teacher, the Helper, the Spirit of Truth. No Seminary has such a teacher on staff.

Reply: Behold the fall of the church. The church has ALWAYS valued the life of the mind and the academic community. Now in America we are saying "We do not need that. We have the Holy Spirit and He will teach us everything." If such is the case, the Holy Spirit must be confused since so many people say He is teaching contradictory things! How could we know what the text really says? By studying the text. That is the work of the scholars.

After all, how would it be if it went this way.

Jerry: Well Nick, are you an OEC?

Nick: Yes I am.

Jerry: Why?

Nick: The Holy Spirit told me that's what the text means. I have Him as my teacher. You need to repent if you are YEC and be OEC.

Jerry: Well I'm YEC and I am that because the Holy Spirit told me that.

Nick: You are obviously deceived and following another spirit since it was the Holy Spirit who told me otherwise.

Jerry: No. Obviously, you are the one who does not listen to the teaching of the Spirit. You must have sin in your heart.

Nick: I suspect that you are in immense darkness to not recognize the Holy Spirit in me.

This dialogue could go on ad infinitum.

Or we could just study the text.

Jerry: So I ask: Do you believe what God has said in John 14:26 regarding ‘He will teach you all things’?

So I ask: Do you believe that God will ‘bring to your remembrance’ what He has said?

It is easy for me to assume that you do.

Reply: You assume wrongly. For instance, when it says the Spirit will teach all things, does that mean my wife who wants to be an artist should not seek a tutor? Should I just tell her "Honey. You sit down and pray. The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and when you are done praying, you will be an artist."

No. The Holy Spirit does not encourage laziness. In ancient education, teachers rarely taught. They guided. They did not give direct answers to questions. They made the students do the work to find the answers. Memorization was also a part of it. Is it any shock then that we have "Bring to remembrance?" Keep in mind that this is also after THREE YEARS of the disciples being in training under Jesus. He invested three years of teaching into them and we're to suppose that the apostles needed an education in the things of God, but we don't?

Jerry: 2 Peter 1:3, 4 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption of the world because of sinful desire.

So I ask: Do you believe God has already granted us (past tense) all things that pertain to life and godliness, and that God has already granted us (past tense) the grace of participating in the divine nature?

Reply: Yep. No problem.

Jerry: If God has already (past tense) given us everything we need for life, godliness, a participation in the divine nature, and this through His own perfect Spirit who will teach us; then what magnitude of help do we get from an institution of ‘higher learning’?

Reply: You're confusing moral will with intellectual knowledge. The role of the Holy Spirit is not to teach us Greek and Hebrew, or to teach us about hermeneutics or to teach us about the metaphysics of the doctrine of God or to teach us how to defend the resurrection. The Spirit is to lead us into righteousness. You don't need to attend Seminary to be holy, however, we should be thankful for those in Seminary who do look at what the text means and that knowledge of the text can help us be holy.

Jerry: You say, “My stance is that a basic message of Scripture can be understood is just fine”. This seems to understate the reality, does it not?

Is the Bible accurate when it gives us these facts, or do we need a human teacher also?

Reply: Jesus taught his disciples for three years and before you say "He was God" keep in mind he was human also. Paul wrote to the churches. Apparently, they needed teaching. James, Peter, the Hebrews writer, John, and Jude all did the same thing. Yes. You do need human teachers. Ephesians 4 says he gave some to be teachers and James 3 talks about those who teach.

Jerry: 1 John 2:27 But the anointing that you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie- just as it has taught you, abide in Him.

Since we do not ‘need’ a human teacher (if we have received the Words of God), what is the purpose of the prophet, the evangelist, and the pastor? Simply to lead people to think the thoughts of God by calling attention to what He has said; and occasionally daring to apply what God has said to the behavior of people. Teachers, or professors, are following God’s Spirit when they call attention to what God says (always lovingly) and then apply what God says to the lives of the hearers in the way that God says it should be applied (always lovingly).

Reply: Thank you for refuting John! John is saying "I a human teacher am writing to say you do not need a human teacher." So it is a human teaching to not need human teaching? John is refuting Gnosticism in there. The Gnostics said there was secret knowledge about God you could not know through study. That had to be revealed through experience and you needed a teacher there. John says you don't need that. He is not against teaching.

Jerry: A person can assert they believe in ‘inerrancy’ without considering the Bible to be ‘authoritative’ and ‘sufficient’. It is a mental self-deception to conclude that the Bible is ‘inerrant’ and then dare to sit in judgment on what God meant to say. It amounts to “the Bible is inerrant when rightly interpreted". This is NOT what inerrancy has been about. The Bible is inerrant whether or not “the ignorant and unstable twist (it) to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16.

REply: Correct. Because something is inerrant, it does not mean it is authoritative. The phone book can be inerrant. It does not mean it is authoritative. However, to interpret what it means is not the same as to sit in judgment on what God has said. It is not a question of determining the truth of Scripture but the meaning of a Scripture, and surely you know there is debate on the meaning of Scripture. I believe it is inerrant, but I also believe it needs to be rightly interpreted. Who wouldn't?

Jerry: While our Lord Jesus Christ is ‘more than just the Bible’, He is never ‘less than the Bible’. For all eternity He has been the Word of God. He has never ceased being the Word of God. The Word is alive (Hebrews 4:12). In what accurate sense can He be called ‘literature’?

Reply: I hate to say it, but this is darn close to idolatry. Jesus is not the Bible and I can't think of any place in Scripture where it is called the Word of God. I don't include Hebrews 4:12 in that. The Word of God to the Hebrews would have been any message that came from God and not simply Scripture. They refer to it as the Scriptures repeatedly.

In John 1:1, God is not saying He has eternally been with a book. The book came in time, unless you want to be a Muslim. I pay great respect to the book. I love the book. I hold to its inerrancy and infallability, but I do not worship it. The book is not my Lord. The book points to my Lord.

Jerry: What is a faithful institution for ‘higher’ learning?

One where the faculty is not self-deceived: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves”(James 1:22). Some professors live this; yes. Others; not so much. Kind of like in a local church. The professors who are doers of the word will confront those who are not, including administrators and trustees. Otherwise, they are not longer ‘doers of the word’, and they deceive themselves. In this way they are also unfaithful to those do worship the Lord God with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength.

Reply: Actually, I think it's helpful to read all sides. I think by reading the sides that disagree with our interpretation be they conservative or liberal, we can come to a better understanding. Someone can understand what is said in a text without the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit's work is essential to that person's reading leading them to being transformed.

Jerry: I think the best holy reason to attend an institution of ‘higher' learning is for the fellowship one might find among those who inspire, teach and encourage one another in Biblical faithfulness. It is my hope that many of these people will be the faculty.

Reply: I think the best reason is so you can learn the things of God better. It is like wisdom that must be mined out as in Job.

Jerry: Now it is possible we do believe the same things. Or it is possible we have been shown different facets of the truth as we live our pilgrimage. Let us point each other to what God has said in order to ‘make our point’; shall we?

Reply: My above dialogue involving the Holy Spirit shows why this is a problem without doing study.

Jerry: Does the Bible affirm your beliefs about higher education? An exposition of such Scripture could go a long way in convincing those who love the Words of God that your point of view is actually God’s point of view.

Reply: While I think it does, it is also irrelevant. I do not believe the Bible was written to tell us that. It was written in a high-context society where people already knew the value of education and in a world where boys growing up got thorough education in the Torah come NT times.

Jerry: By the way; there are some things I would like to run by you in private. Would you email me at “my-name-lower-case-at-gmail”?

Reply: I will try to do so.


Jerry Corbaley

Wow, Nick; Please don't ever speak in my name. Please don't ever speak for my name.

Jerry Corbaley

You are unpleasant, Nick. I find interaction with you so distasteful that I will avoid the experience altogether.

I apologize for ‘assuming wrong’; I thought we might have more in common.

Your comment linking me with Mormonism in any way is offensive to me.

Your comment linking me with the ‘fall of the church’ is offensive to me.

Your comment implying I do not appreciate the ‘life and mind of the academic community’ is offensive.

Your comment linking me to the notion that ‘the Holy Spirit must be confused’ is offensive.

Your illustration that puts words in my mouth is offensive.

Your linking me in any way to ‘encouraging laziness’ or that ‘the apostles needed an education and we do not’ is offensive.

Your assertion that I am confusing ‘moral will and intellectual knowledge’ is offensive.

Your assertion that I am ‘refuting John’ is offensive.

Your comment linking me in any way as being ‘against teaching’ is offensive.

Your assertion that I am ‘close to idolatry’ is offensive.

Your comment implying that I believe ‘Jesus is the Bible’ is offensive.

Your comment that I affirm a faith that relies on the Holy Spirit ‘without doing study’ is offensive.

In my opinion, your condescension from virtual anonymity is difficult to ignore.

By worldly rules of debate you may declare yourself the winner, for I withdraw.

Tim Rogers

Brother Nick,

It is once again that you have taken this to the extreme. Your parsing my ever sentence and thought and then placing it in the words you want it to say is par for the course. The bottom line is that Dr. Licona has forsaken biblical inerrancy in favor of Jewish Midrash. It appears that Dr. Licona has taken Dr. Robert Gundry position in this text. Bottom line I pray he recants of his position instead of trying to re-word it so it covers up what he believes.

Blessings,
Tim

Randy Everist

Guys, this is pretty much out of control. Just sayin. Even if Licona's position somehow logically entails that biblical inerrancy is false, it does not follow that Licona believes biblical inerrancy is false. Why? Simply for the fact that people can be inconsistent; it happens all the time. Licona is a great scholar with grat work who, as a brother, should be believed as long as he is trying to preserve inerrancy and affirms it (whether or not we think he succeeds).

Geisler has done a wonderful job with inerrancy over the years, and this issue is important. I think we ought to explore the logical implications of both sides, and seek to persuade whichever side turns out to be incorrect. However, using terms like "recant," "deny" and the like simply aren't helpful, and are borderline destructive. Let's take a nicer tone to this, shall we?

peter

Randy,

Thanks for your caution. On the other hand, I do not think it has gone far enough to be quite honest. Nor do I see inconsistency among SBC scholars "all the time" as you suggest, at least inconsistency of the sort you imagine.

As for Licona, of course it does not "follow" that he believes his position to be false even if it is demonstrated to be false. But I'm afraid that proves nothing worthy of comment except to say you just negated your own statement about Licona being a great scholar doing great work. For my part I could not classify as a great scholar someone who embraced a position which entailed biblical inerrancy as a falsehood.

With that, I am...
Peter

Tim Rogers

Brother Randy,

I also thank you for your word of caution. I so desire to see Dr. Licona return from the position he has taken on this matter. I have never met him personally, but what I am being told about him is very good. Everyone who knows him tell me that he is a very nice person with a wonderful outlook on life. He loves to have fun and is very enjoyable when engaged in a social setting. Certainly, no one desires to see him hurt. However, his position is what is driving this. Just two examples make my point. First, he writes a book that has been out nearly a year and is questioned about something as serious an issue as inerrancy. How does he respond? It is a "I am too busy to engage someone on this matter" response. When expressed it is open to public scrutiny because he has it in the public view he agrees and directs the inquirer to engage it publicly. The enquirer, Dr.Geisler, engages it publicly with his first open letter. Some in the academic world pick up on this and begin to find his book to read the section in question. Another open letter and other scholars begin to respond and take positions on the issue. Dr. Licona has yet to respond and then the blog articles begin. When Dr. Licona does respond he responds that he has revisited his research and he is 50% certain that Matthew meant the section as historical. It is evident that Dr. Licona is trying hard, not to change his position but cover it up through re-wording it. Second, those defending him are doing so, not for purposes of inerrancy but because he is victimized by someone who doesn't like him. I personally do not know anything about either Dr. Licona or Dr. Geisler. If there is some behind the scenes feud that is being played out publicly I cannot say. However, I do know that Dr. Geisler has raised a legitimate concern that no one is dealing with. Regardless of the reason this issue is made public the issue is Dr. Licona has taken a scripture that is tied directly to the resurrection of Jesus Christ and assigned it the status of poetic used as a device to affirm some type of legend.

Now, Brother Randy, two questions for you. Where are the defenders of inerrancy? When Rob Bell wrote a book he was raked over the coals and declared a heretic before the book even made it to the book store. He didn't even deny a historical use of scripture he merely added his opinion to the scripture that was there.

Does it not raise a question in your mind the reason Dr. Licona desires for this issue to be played out in the theater of an academic forum? This is the papacy chaining the bible to the altar of academia. I mean, can he not come out and say "dumb redneck preachers, any more plain?

Blessings,
Tim

Tim Rogers

Brother Randy,

I wanted to add something to the Rob Bell issue. I agree that Bell was completely wrong in his position.

Blessings,
Tim

Randy Everist

Hi Peter, thanks for your response. I just don't see how the rest of his work would become poor if another part of it was incorrect.

We must allow for authorial intent. Now there is a great case to be made for Matthew 27 as historical, but I think Licona has made it clear he believes in inerrancy. If Matthew did intend the passage as non-historical, how does inerrancy fail? Inerrancy only fails if Matthew does in fact intend it as historical fact, but is really only making up the narrative to serve a purpose. If he is simply using a poetic device and does not intend for it to be historical, then inerrancy is preserved on such a view.

In short, we would be punishing him for having the wrong interpretation of a text. Now I once again wish to affirm that I think we have great reasons to think it is historical. But as I see it, Licona's not even remotely suggesting he thinks the Bible is in error; he is, at worst, guilty of an incorrect interpretation. This ought to be corrected, but not with hysterics (as seen in some comments above). Grace to you all brothers. :)

Randy Everist

Thanks so much for your irenic comments Tim! I appreciate very much your gracious tone. I just think it never occurred to Licona to be an issue of inerrancy, precisely for the same reason it wouldn't have occurred to me. In fact, I still think it is an issue rather of hermeneutic, which can still be quite serious. I happen to think Licona is incorrect in saying Matthew 27 was not literal, but I don't think it then follows he denies inerrancy.

I almost never get involved in personality conflicts, as I call them. I just rarely am interested in defending someone or getting them. That said, the idea of what constitutes inerrancy, its affirmation, and its denial intrigues me, and I think is very important. So I wrote a blog post on it; if one wishes I can reproduce the relevant part in this comments section.

Thank you and Peter for your much-valued thoughts on this matter. God bless. :)

volfan007

Randy,

The passage in Matthew 27 is historical. It's very plain and clear that is historical fact. How can you just take that one sentence out....calling it just some poetic speech...while every phrase and sentence before it and after it is plainly meant as historical fact? This is a clear denial of a supernatural account in the Bible.

And, if you deny that something is accurate and true, then you are...in essence....denying inerrancy. Because, either the Bible is completely true, or none of its true. If I cant believe it when it tells me that the dead, OT Saints came out of their graves and walked the Earth; then how can I believe that its accurate when it tells me that Jesus came out of the grave? If I cant believe that the OT Saints came out of the grave...that this is just some poetic type speech...then how can I believe that Jesus ascending back into Heaven isnt just some poetic type of speech?

David

Randy Everist

Hi David, thanks for your interaction. I do not deny inerrancy, and as it happens, I do think Matthew 27 is quite literal and historical. I will therefore assume you mean "you" not in reference to me specifically, but anyone in general. Also, when it is said, "if you deny that something is accurate and true, then you are...in essence....denying inerrancy," I assume there is the implied "the Bible teaches as accurate and true" inserted in between the words "something" and "is."

That being said, I think Licona believes the text is not teaching a literal resurrection but a theological point of emphasis. Consider that if your standard account of those who deny inerrancy is true, then you should regard literally everyone who disagrees with you on a particular interpretation as oen who denies inerrancy. For you, being committed to inerrancy, believe the Bible teaches some proposition, fact, or event P as true, and you further believe your interpretation on what the Bible teaches is true and corresponds with the Bible's teaching on P. Hence, they are identical. Therefore, anyone who holds an interpretation that is or implies the negation of your interpretation should be said to deny biblical inerrancy. This is a consequence I am not willing to embrace, for I think we'll find us all calling each other inerrancy-deniers! Again, if anyone is interested, I can post some proffered definitions or axioms of value concerning inerrancy and its denial. Thanks for your comments friend. :)

peter

Randy,

Thanks for the kickback.

First, I’ve not said anything about the rest of Licona’s work specifically (unless, of course, you’re referring to my denial that a scholar could be classified as great if he or she held a position which negated inerrancy). The issue is not his entire work (as Al Mohler now has publicly granted). Rather the issue focuses on one snippet of his work. I find it curious why you think we apparently should drop the issue when you yourself find fault with Licona’s view of Matthew 27. I mean, please, Randy; if a particular scholar’s interpretation of but a single passage of Scripture poses a threat to a major doctrine of Scripture, why should we drop the matter potentially posing a threat to a major doctrine of Scripture and simply affirm his or her value as a scholar in other passages of Scripture? Why this makes sense to you I am at a loss.

Second, you assert that we must “allow for authorial intent” which, of course, no one criticizing Licona here denies. On the other hand, “authorial intent” according to the ETS (via the ICBI) is limited to the words expressed in the text itself not an intent gleaned by getting into the author’s mind (i.e. Matthew’s mind) which fairly well reduces to pure speculation. After all, who can know what Matthew actually intended apart from the very words he penned? But that’s precisely the issue with Licona in his book; he flat says Matthew “added” the resurrection of the saints as a “poetic device” to show a great king had died (i.e. the “Son of God”), and consequently judgment awaited Israel (p.553), none of which is expressed—either explicitly or implicitly—in the text itself. Rather he allegedly gleans this from Matthew’s mind and other Jewish and Greco-Roman sources.

Now, for you, Randy, this may not be a big deal. However, for some of us—indeed I don’t think it is too much to say, for most Southern Baptists--it most certainly is. Judging the biblical author’s words as “added” for “special effects” concerns more the integrity of Scripture than the interpretation of Scripture.

Third, no one disputes whether Licona boldly proclaims he believes in inerrancy. But neither should one dispute whether Mormons believe they embrace the Trinity. Nor does anyone dispute whether Robert Gundry believed he affirmed inerrancy even when he flat out denied Matthew's historicity in major portions of Matthew's narrative, a methodology which is the very type upon which Licona depends in dealing with the Matthew 27 pericope.

Hence, you’ve hit on the crucial issue with Licona on Matthew 27: the issue is the meaning of inerrancy according to ETS and the hermeneutical implications which are derived from the meaning, which, from the way I understand Norm Geisler, is precisely the issue he raises. If I am correct, we would not be, according to you, “punishing him for having the wrong interpretation of a text” but “punishing him” for de facto denying, via his interpretation, the inerrancy of Scripture.

According to Geisler, there exists an undeniable tension between Licona’s published position and at least two denial sections from the 1982 Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics:

XIII: WE AFFIRM that awareness of the literary categories, formal and stylistic, of the various parts of Scripture is essential for proper exegesis, and hence we value genre criticism as one of the many disciplines of biblical study.

WE DENY that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual.

XIV: WE AFFIRM that the biblical record of events, discourses, and sayings, though presented in a variety of appropriate literary forms, corresponds to historical fact.

WE DENY that any event, discourse, or saying reported in Scripture was invented by the biblical writers or by the traditions they incorporated (embolden added)

As one can easily see, Licona’s position imposes "generic categories" which de facto negate the historicity of an event in Matthew’s resurrection narrative, a narrative which obviously presents itself as historical.

The truth is, Licona appears to be doing nothing more than following Robert Gundry’s “Matthew as Midrash” thesis which was thoroughly debunked by evangelical scholars in the early 1980s.

Hence, Geisler’s criticisms should not be narrowed to be about inerrancy alone, but include hermeneutical methodology.

Finally, as for “hysterics” I’m afraid I do not get your meaning.
With that, I am…
Peter

peter

Randy, et al

Take a look at the new post I put up. I'm afraid others think it's hardly gone far enough either.

With that, I am...
Peter

Randy Everist

Hi Peter, I'm sorry if I gave you the impression I am asking those who disagree with Licona to drop the issue. What I am saying is that it is not an issue of inerrancy. You say Mormons believe in the Trinity, but not only do they believe in other, prior gods to Elohim, but they also don't do very well with the Trinity as an ontological being when they attempt to discuss it.

What we need are necessary and sufficient conditions for inerrancy, and so far I don't see any that are non-arbitrary. What, for instance, is wrong with saying the following:

Inerrancy is true if and only if for any proposition, fact, truth, or event P that the Bible affirms, P is true and not false.

Inerrancy is false in the case that for any P that the Bible affirms, P is false and not true.

Any agent X believes in inerrancy in general just in the case X believes for any P that the Bible affirms, P is true and not false.

Any X believes in inerrancy specifically just in the case X believes the Bible has affirmed P, and X believes P is true and not false.

X’s belief about P entails inerrancy’s falsehood in the case the Bible affirms P and X believes not-P.

As to Licona's scholarship, we still don't have any reason why we should think he is not a great scholar. Perhaps it is in the use of great; I am using it not in a moral or even spiritual sense, but in the sense as fulfilling the conditions in ideal scholarship. Perhaps you are using it in a different way, and hence I am sorry for creating the confusion.

Please understand I am no enemy of you or the SBC or inerrancy, but I refuse to "toe the line" for the sake of toeing the line. I am and always will be committed to biblical truth, and I think Matthew 27 is literal (I keep stressing this, because, for whatever reason, people will get the impression I don't).

Randy Everist

I do note one problem with one statement I made, and I would like to submit a correction: the one concerning an agent X's belief in inerrancy specifically. It must include in the background information that he also already accepts inerrancy generally. Otherwise, anyone who believes anything about the bible and believes the bible affirms it is an inerrantist, even if he denies being an inerrantist!

peter

Randy,

Good. I'm glad you're not suggesting this is not an important issue.

Unfortunately, you entirely missed the point I was making about Mormons' view of the trinity (and completely ignored the point about Gundry). Mormons embrace--they fully confess--what they believe to be a trinitarian understanding of God. In an analogical sense, Licona confesses what he believes is an orthodox understanding of inerrancy. So, yes, it *is* about inerrancy contrary to your assertion but it's not only inerrancy. It's also about hermeneutical methodology as Geisler points out.

And just why do we need "necessary and sufficient conditions for inerrancy" when the ETS (ICBE) has accepted a detailed statement defining inerrancy (statement on inerrancy proper) as it's teased out in hermeneutical methodology (statement on hermeneutics)? Recall Geisler's point is not about what you and I think inerrancy is. Rather his point is and remains Licona's understanding is sorely deficient in its understanding compared to the way ETS understands inerrancy, and hence poses a dilemma for Licona

Now, as for your little logical quiz on P and non-P, please, Randy. I am completely uninterested in creating an atmosphere where we begin to make things more complicated than they actually are. We don't have to put things in formal logic, etc to make good sense. Just drop the academic aura and speak your mind, brother.

And, I affirm for the third time now the issue is not whether or not Licona is a "great scholar." Please do not bring this back up to me for I've not denied such a description about Licona barring his approach in understanding a single verse--albeit an approach which seems sure to undermine his confession to biblical inerrancy.

Nor am I asking you to "toe the line" on anything really. Believe as you wish. Licona can too. But for my money he is not going to teach a view in our seminaries and on our nickel which definitively undermines the Word of God.

Finally, I don't know what others have done. As for me and my house, I've acknowledged from the beginning of my exchange with you your disagreement with Licona.

With that, I am...
Peter

P.S. I suggest you read Al Mohler and even pose your P/non-P games to him. Maybe as an academic, he'll more appreciate them. I pretty much gave them up after Logic 101 ;^)

Randy Everist

Games? I'm borderline offended, friend. :) I know this is your blog, and I am loathe to even appear to be disparaging to a brother on his own blog, but you seem to come off as condescending.

Now that certainly was not addressing the issue by me, and I have much to say about it, but I suspect (as with my axiomatic statements) that it shall be ignored. I wish you well, and much appreciate your ministry. :)

peter

Randy,

Sorry, you are offended, brother. But, come on: dubbing a P-X-non-P-point as a logical quiz [which, in point of fact, *was* a quiz. Did you not ask me a question about it?] comes across as "condescending"? Oh my...

Anyways, I'll say it again: I'm thoroughly uninterested in chasing weird little exercises which inevitably end up losing the real point in the process. In fact, it most certainly happened in your response to me which kinda ignored the points I was making.

I trust your evening is a good one.

With that, I am...
Peter

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