THE ASSAULT ON INERRANCY AND WHAT IS AT STAKE: A Final Word to Nick Peters

© 2017, by John Tors. All Rights Reserved.

WHAT IS AT STAKE

Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it …. The entirety of Your word is truth” (Psalm 119:140, 160a)

We have previously posted some rather pointed rebuttals of the claims of a certain Nick Peters, along with various scholars he champions, regarding the inerrancy of the Bible,[1] and, predictably, it was not well received by some.  There were complaints that our attitude was “uncharitable”.  One reader chastised us, opining that these rebuttals had become “purely intellectual debate and points scoring …. which has nothing to do with proclaiming, what I suppose is your aim, the love of God. Throughout these posts you have certainly failed in this intention.”[2]

While I sympathize with these opinions, I have to say that I disagree.  In these particular posts, the purpose was not to proclaim the love of God but the truth of God and to uphold the trustworthiness of His word.

You see, Christians should certainly demonstrate charity and gentleness as their baseline behaviour when dealing with others (e.g. 2 Timothy 2:24-25) – but not always; there is a time to be harsh.  Both Jesus (e.g. Matthew 23) and the apostles did this on occasion.  Paul actually offered the Corinthians a choice of which they should receive: “What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Corinthians 4:21) and again “Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction” (2 Corinthians 13:10).

In fact, we have the authority to rebuke believers: “Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority” (Titus 2:15), and actually are commanded on occasion to rebuke believers, and to do so harshly:

“Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13b)

δι᾽ ἣν αἰτίαν ἔλεγχε αὐτοὺς ἀποτόμως ἵνα ὑγιαίνωσιν ἐν τῇ πίστει

ἐλέγχω: “to express strong disapproval of someone’s action, reprove, correct” (BDAG, p.315 #3)

ἀποτόμως: severely, rigorously” (BDAG, P.124)

How does one decide when to use gentleness and when to use harshness?  It seems to me to depend on two factors.  First, to whom is one responding?  Is it to a person who is not yet well versed with Christian doctrine?  Or is to a person who should already know the truth of the matter?  One who takes on the mantle of a teacher or apologist belongs in the latter category, and must be judged more strictly (James 3:1).  And has he been admonished about his error and admonished again, yet continues to hold to his error?  Such a person must be dealt with more severely (Titus 3:10).

The second factor must surely be the importance of the issue.  There is a right answer to the question “Does baptism have to be done by full immersion, or is effusion acceptable?” and to the question “Is there a spiritual presence in the elements of the Lord’s Supper, or is it purely symbolic?” but it is not necessary to go to the wall over such issues; they are not matters of moral practice but are held as private opinions that will not cause problems for other Christians.

The nature of the Bible, though, is something else entirely.  Inerrancy is not a salvific belief; faith in the true resurrected Jesus is.  However, everything we know about Jesus and the Christian life comes from the Bible.  Jesus said that “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35) and that “man shall live by every word of God” (Matthew 4:4, bolding and italics added).  And for Christian growth, we must “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2) – and we all know what happens to a baby who does not get milk.

Teaching that downgrades Scripture from the inerrant, perfect “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) word of God that is entirely true (Psalm 119:160), therefore, must indeed by fought to the utmost, as it most certainly not a victimless crime.  It is no secret that churches in the Western world are hemorrhaging members, and particularly young people,[3] and the eroding of inerrancy among the leadership is certainly forefront in culpability for this.

As I noted in another article,[4] Britt Beemer’s professional study analyzing why young people were leaving the church found that 44% said they did not believe that “all of the accounts and stories in the Bible are true and accurate,” and of these, 18% cited issues related to evolution, while 24% selected “It was written by men” (the very view that Peters and his champions are falling all over themselves to emphasize), 15% chose “The Bible contradicts itself” and 11% chose “The Bible has errors.”

And it is impossible to deny those latter two ideas if Peters and his champions are correct – if it is indeed insane to believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a great fish, as Dr. Craig Blomberg intimates;[5] if Old Testament saints indeed did not rise out of the tombs when Jesus died, as Dr. Michael Licona claims, regardless of what is clearly stated in Matthew 27:52-53;[6] if Judas did not actually hang himself, as the librarian James Patrick Holding asserts, regardless of the clear statement in Matthew 27:5 (“Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself”);[7] or if, as Peters and so many other evangelicals claim, Mark indeed wrote that “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you” is “written in Isaiah the prophet,” when in fact it is not written there but in Malachi 3:1.[8]

In sum, then, it seems clear that half of the young people who leave the church do so because they believe the Bible has errors in it, a view that is buttressed by the sort of nonsense that is peddled by Peters and his heroes. It seems that young people, at least, are smart enough to know that a statement that is not in accordance with the facts (such as “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face) is an error – and they will not listen to any siren song about the Bible being “inerrant” if it has errors.

It used to be that only liberal opponents of Christianity insisted the Bible had errors in it; church leaders staunchly maintained that it was the inerrant, perfect “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) word of God that is entirely true.  No longer is that the case; now, young people hear the claim from skeptics that the Bible has errors in it, and when they turn to their leaders for reassurance, far too many of them say, “Yes, it has errors in it – but don’t worry, the Bible is inerrant” (‘cause, you know, it’s not an error if you’re just following the contemporary practice of putting errors into written works).  No wonder we are losing young people in such huge and tragic numbers.

In light of this, Christians who teach that the Bible is just like any other book, with errors and made-up material in it, must be opposed in the strongest possible terms:[9] “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8).  People’s souls are at stake.

It is perhaps not surprising, for the word of God warns that “For there will be a time when they will not put up with sound doctrine, but according to their own lusts they will heap up for themselves teachers tickling their hearing; and they will turn their hearing away from the truth, and be turned aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  That certainly seems to be the case today regarding the sound doctrine of Biblical inerrancy; there are many who will not put it with it, and plenty of teachers tickling their ears with myths about it.

And make no mistake about it; this is a crucial issue for the health of the church.  Each one of us must decide which side he is on; either you stand with those Christians who believe and teach the Bible to be the inerrant, perfect “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) word of God that is entirely true in all that it touches, including all historical and scientific propositions it makes, or you stand with those who believe and teach that the Bible is just like any other books, with errors and made-up material in it, who may affirm that it is “inerrant” but use a fanciful definition of inerrancy that allows for errors in historical and scientific propositions.  Choose you this day which side you will stand on.

A FINAL WORD TO NICK PETERS

Nick Peters is a small-time blogger and podcaster who has chosen which side he stands on; he has positioned himself as an enthusiastic defender of the black hats[10] who profess to believe in inerrancy but redefine it to allow for errors in the Bible and glibly state that there are, indeed, statements in the Bible that are not in accordance with the facts or truth but posture as if these are not really errors.  In other words, Peters defends what I have called “the evangelical betrayal of the Bible.”

The wrongheadedness of Peters approach has been clearly exposed in our articles, so he has indeed received “a first and second admonition.”  His response to the latest was another blogpost[11] in which he continues to defend “the evangelical betrayal of the Bible.”  There is little new here; Peters mainly repeats his same old bald assertions, erroneous arguments, and logical fallacies, and inasmuch as he has rejected the “first and second admonition,” there is no compelling reason to make a point-by-point response.  There is certainly no reason at all to pay any attention to his childish ad hominem attacks, which only make him look bad.

Most of his assertions herein have already been made by him previously and debunked by me, and I will not waste time debunking them again; the reader is invited to check my earlier articles and comments to see old Nick’s arguments demolished.

All we will do now is simply respond to a few of Peters’ most ludicrous claims and arguments as a final demonstration of the utter incoherence of his views; I trust that after this no rational person will take old Nick seriously.  (Peters’ comments are in italics and bolded, and my responses in regular type.)[12]

“Tors …. is also convinced he knows better than the experts in the field and I mean the ones who are working out of their specialty.”

And herein is a fundamental difference between my approach and that of old Nick.  I insist that every matter should be settled on the basis of facts and reason; Peters simply follows his favourite scholar.

It has, of course, been pointed out that, unlike with hard sciences, New Testament scholars with equal academic training and qualifications argue vigorously for diametrically opposed views – which means these issues cannot be settled simply by an argumentum ad philologos.  That seems to have escaped Peters, who prefers simply to be a fanboy.

“If you suggest anything different in the accounts, then you’re going against the truth! Unfortunately, one doesn’t have to look hard at the Gospels to know that they are quite different. If you mean every story has to be exactly the same in every detail, then no, the stories cannot all be true.”

Peters actually claims to hold to the “Correspondence Theory of Truth,” yet he says such drivel as this.  I did not suggest that anything different in the Gospel accounts goes against the truth, but that anything that is not accordance with the facts goes against the truth.

Matthew, for example, records that Old Testament saints rose and came out of their graves after Jesus died (Matthew 27:lo52-53), and none of Mark, Luke, or John record that fact.  That is a difference, but it does not go against the truth.  To say that it did not happen, however, as Licona does, does go against the truth.  It is difficult to see how Peters cannot grasp this difference.

Of course, I have picked a minor example. Others could be found. What did Peter say at the Great Confession of faith? Did the voice at the baptism of Jesus speak to Jesus or to the crowd? How many times did the rooster crow at Peter’s denial? If you want more, just go look up your favorite skeptical website and see all the “Bible contradictions.”

Most of these are of course minor deals. They rely on ancient practice and such.

And there you have it, folks, a smoking-gun admission from old Nick that the Bible does indeed have errors, but – he says – they are only “minor deals” and, hey, we can embrace epistemological relativism (which, by the way, is utterly incompatible with the “Correspondence Theory of Truth”) and blame the errors on “ancient practice and such,” which is then used as the pretext for saying they are not errors.

I have to admit that, though I know that Peters is on the side of the black hats, I was taken by surprise to see him say, “If you want more, just go look up your favorite skeptical website and see all the ‘Bible contradictions.’”[13]  Imagine that; a professing Christian pointing Christians to skeptical websites to prove that the Bible has errors in it!  Truly, no Christian should ever listen to any teaching from old Nick ever again.

Jesus give the Sermon on the Mount twice and just use second person and third person both? Again, for many of us, it’s not a problem to say that one writer could have adapted what was said to apply it better to the audience. It’s also not unlikely that Jesus would have given this talk more than once. …. One highly doubts that Jesus was the only speaker in history who only gave every sermon or parable one time.

Since Jesus gave His sermons and parables on multiple occasions and different Gospel writers recorded different occasions, then there will be differences in the account, but they will all be true.  This, too, is something I already pointed out to Peters, so why he now presents it as some new solution is unclear.

More to the point, it obviates the need to posit that “one writer could have adapted what was said to apply it better to the audience,” which would then not be true.  Since Peters himself recognizes that there is no need to posit such a thing, then, why does he posit it anyway?  Does he even listen to himself?  It almost seems as if he wants to insist that there could be errors in the Bible, even where there is not so much as an apparent need for one.

“We want to get to what the original text said and not what is easier for us. The rule is all things being equal, if you have two readings, the more difficult one is to be preferred. It’s more likely that a scribe would try to smooth out a reading than to make it more difficult.”

Here, old Nick shows that his knowledge of textual criticism is limited to parroting back the bald assertions of a German rationalist from 1796, as passed to him by his heroes such as Wallace.  Does he stop even for a moment to ask where that “rule” came from or whether hard evidence upholds it?  Obviously not.  He glibly asserts that scribes would take it upon themselves to alter the text of Holy Writ, but has he ever even thought of asking if the evidence bears out that belief?  Obviously not.

In fact, what the evidence shows is the opposite.[14]  But, hey, why go with actual evidence that acquits the Bible of the charge of having errors, when you can simply slavishly follow the diktats of Wallace et al and save yourself the trouble of thinking?

“I pointed Tors to Ehorn’s work on composite quotations which includes Jewish sources to show that the practice that was done was a Jewish practice. We can be quite confident that Tors will likely never read it.”

This comment smacks of intellectual dishonesty.  The issue has never been about composite quotations simpliciter but about whether Jewish writers ever attributed the composites of quotations made by more than one original writer to only one of them.

Now, I have not yet read that particular book, though I checked various reviews and summaries and the table of contents online, and nowhere can I find a hint that it offers evidence that Jewish writers ever attributed composites of quotations made by more than one original writer to only one of them, which is the thing Peters needs to show.

Old Nick actually shows some rather breathtaking chutzpah here by trying to reverse the onus probandi; it is he who makes the positive claim that there was such a Jewish practice in Jesus’ days, and so it is he who must supply proof.  If there is any such proof in Ehorn’s book, Peters should show it by quoting it or at least referring us to the number(s )of the page(s) in which such proof is given.  But he does nothing of the kind – which suggests either that he himself has never read the book or that the book contains no such evidence.  Either way, simply to adduce a book without showing that it supports one’s argument is blatant intellectual dishonesty.

It is clear, then, that pointing to Ehorn’s book without showing that it has the evidence needed to support Peters’ claim does nothing to justify that bogus argument advanced by Peters and others to try to explain that attributing Malachi’s quotation to Isaiah is not an error.  It obviously is.[15]

“I point out that Wallace goes after a magic wand approach that treats the Bible like a science book. Tors won’t have any of that! Inerrant means the Bible is without error! That’s it! …. Nice to know we have the word from Sinai here. At any rate, the question becomes, what constitutes an error?”

Once again, we see old Nick mocking the idea that “inerrant means the Bible is without error”; take note of this, folks.  He can now stop claiming that by inerrancy he means “no errors.”

As to “what constitutes an error”?  Even children can answer that.  Here it is again, Peters; there is only one definition of “inerrancy”, and that is what the word actually means: without error, in accordance with the truth and the facts, not untrue, true.  Inerrancy is not a matter of opinion, such as which is the best sport or the most flavourful food.  It has a specific definition, so there is no other “view of what that is”; any other “view” of it is not inerrancy.  Or does old Nick think he knows the meaning of words better than The Oxford English Dictionary?

In fact, someone like Jason Lisle would argue that since Geisler denies a young Earth, that he denies inerrancy. It’s amazing to me that Mike Licona uses ancient writing techniques to interpret the Bible and that’s disallowed, but Geisler uses modern science to interpret that the ancients had no access to, and that’s okay!

Actually, it’s not okay; the belief that the Earth is billions of years is old is most certainly incompatible with Biblical inerrancy.  It may come as a surprise to Peters and his fellow travellers who seem to think I am an aficionado of Norman Geisler[16] that I posted an article taking Geisler to task for his attempt to accommodate the Bible to fit a 4.6-billion year-old Earth and showing that to be incompatible with inerrancy[17] – and I posted this article on May 20, 2015, which was before the time at which I posted articles disputing Licona, Holding, and Peters’ approach.  At least a few Christians are consistent in their belief in Biblical inerrancy.

And Licona does not “use ancient writing techniques to interpret the Bible,” as Peters puts it.  What he does is ignore the fact that the Bible is qualitatively different from all other ancient writings because it is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:15) and the fact that the Gospel writers were not limited as all other ancient writers were because the Gospel writers received supernatural assistance from the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).

Licona simply (and wrongly) treats the Gospel books as if they were just like any other ancient books and then tells us that they have the same sorts of limitations and errors as any other such books, while singing a siren song of epistemological relativism so that we can hold onto an inerrancy which is not inerrancy at all.  No serious thinking Christian should accept this.

Because I asked a queston [sic], I actually mocked the idea of the text being God-breathed. At this, we wonder what color the sky is in Tors’s world. Does he see an enemy behind every bush. I hold the text is God-breathed. What I deny is saying that “God-breathed” answers every objection. It doesn’t.

Tors also says I make no effort to find out the answer to the question, this one being the census in Luke. You see, if I’m writing a response, I’m meant to deal with every single objection. Well, no. I’m not.”

Once again, old Nick either shows extreme intellectual incompetence or he descends to intellectual dishonesty.

“Because I asked a queston [sic], I actually mocked the idea of the text being God-breathed.”  No, as I clearly stated in my article, old Nick mocked the idea of the text being God-breathed not by asking a question but by saying, “Are we to think God just breathed one day and ‘Poof!’, here is the Gospel of Luke!”  That is plainly mocking the idea of the Bible being God-breathed, and I do not think I have to convince people of that; it is obvious.

“I hold the text is God-breathed. What I deny is saying that “God-breathed” answers every objection. It doesn’t.”  Whatever Peters means by “God-breathed,” he must think it is compatible with the text saying things that are untrue.  That is not any sort of reasonable definition of “God-breathed.”

“Tors also says I make no effort to find out the answer to the question, this one being the census in Luke. You see, if I’m writing a response, I’m meant to deal with every single objection. Well, no. I’m not.”  No, I said that Peters made no attempt to ask the question he himself raised, which was “How does that [i.e. the concept of Scripture being God-breathed] deal with writing?”  I even gave him some suggestions in this regard.  How he can say that I was asking him about the census in Luke is beyond comprehension.

However, if Tors wants to know about what I’ve done on the question, well this is the beauty of having a podcast. I have interviewed Ben Witherington on the birth narratives and if anyone wants more on Luke, I interviewed Darrell Bock on that as well. After all, these scholars are much more specialized than I, so why not listen to them?

There is nothing wrong with listening to them, but there is with simply following slavishly the diktats of scholars instead of examining the evidence for himself and applying critical thinking.  In point of fact, Bock’s view of this question is something we have listened to, and we have found it to be completely inadequate; if old Nick wants to learn why, he could actually read our article.[18]  And Witherington follows the same sort of epistemological relativism that Licona does.[19]

But notice this! As soon as Tors brings up other points about the Bible, then saying “God-breathed” is no longer sufficient to make the case. The Bible is true because of XYZ. I fully agree that this cannot be done with the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon. Tors is actually arguing my point. With advanced knowledge though, Tors makes the mistake that I have pointed to earlier of concordism in this article.

Good grief!  Is old Nick really this out of it?  Neither I nor anyone else takes as a presupposition that the Bible is God-breathed; its authenticity must indeed be established by evidence.  But once its authenticity has been established, the fact that it is God-breathed certainly determines how we should take it, and that includes genuine inerrancy; if Peters claims that God breathed things that are not true into his word, he is wrong.

He is more than merely wrong, though, when he says that pointing to advanced knowledge in the Bible is a “mistake” that he “pointed to earlier.”  One of the consequences of being “God-breathed” is that, yet, God can direct writers to insert facts into the text that the people of time had no way of knowing,[20] and that is an excellent authentication of the Bible as the word of God.  It is lunacy to say that pointing to such facts is a “mistake,” and it is impossible to see why any professing Christian would want to avoid this powerful apologetic – unless he not only sees the Bible as “just another book” but wants to see it as “just another book,” in which case it really is not the word of God.  “Lunacy” does not seem to be a strong enough term to describe this, and if anyone needed any further reason never again to listen to old Nick, he has just provided it.

Not surprisingly, Peters rails yet again against the straw man of “reading the Bible as a science textbook.”  In light of the fact that this straw man has already been shown to be false, old Nick by raising it again demonstrates once more that he is intellectually dishonest – or he is truly incapable of grasping what I wrote.  But he doesn’t stop there; he goes on to hint that there are actual scientific errors in Scripture – and this from a man whose knowledge and understanding of real science could be inscribed on the back of a business card, with room left over for the U.S. Constitution.  And you would only have to remove one or two of the amendments from that Constitution to add the sum total of such knowledge possessed by Licona, Wallace, Blomberg, and the rest of old Nick’s heroes to the back of that postage stamp.

There is a great deal more ranting in the rest of Peters’ blog post, but it is mostly repeating the same nonsense that I debunked previously, and there is no point in wasting any more time on it.  Old Nick has already shown amply which side he stands on; he stands with the black hats.  If he were willing and able to respond to facts and logic, he surely would have modified his arguments and discarded the ones that were debunked.  But he did not; he simply kept repeating them like some sort of demented parrot.

CONCLUSIONS

We have noted that the word of God warns that “There will be a time when they will not put up with sound doctrine, but according to their own lusts they will heap up for themselves teachers tickling their hearing; and they will turn their hearing away from the truth, and be turned aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  That certainly seems to be the case today regarding the sound doctrine of Biblical inerrancy; there are many who will not put up with it, and plenty of teachers tickling their ears with myths about it.

God has given us His word the Bible as His self-revelation and the revelation of His Son and His Gospel, and as “pure milk of the word” by which we grow, and the absolute authoritative standard of the Christian life so that “the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).  It is perfect and inerrant: “Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it …. The entirety of Your word is truth” (Psalm 119:140, 160a).

In light of the crucial importance of Scripture, it is not surprising that it has been under attack for a very long time by liberal scholars who have set themselves against God by denying the truth and trustworthiness of His word.  What is surprising and tragic is that lately so many evangelical scholars have followed their lead like lemmings off a cliff, treating the Bible as just another book, complete with errors, and eroded its authority.  We have seen that this is not a victimless crime, but has cause havoc and devastation in the church.

It is reasonable to expect, therefore, that the division between the faithful church and the faithless church will centre on their view of Scripture.  It is the faithful remnant that will hold to genuine inerrancy, and each Christian will have to choose the side with which they will stand.

Old Nick and his heroes have made their choice clear.  We hope that you, on the other hand, will make the right choice.


 

[1] Tors, John. “The Three-headed Monster and the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible: Exposing the Major Weapons Levied Against the Trustworthiness of the Bible (Part 2).” At

http://www.truthinmydays.com/the-three-headed-monster-and-the-evangelical-betrayal-of-the-bible-exposing-the-major-weapons-levied-against-the-trustworthiness-of-the-bible-part-2/2/; Tors, John. “Drowning in Deeper Waters: A Response to Nick Peters and Another Look at the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible.” At http://www.truthinmydays.com/drowning-in-deeper-waters-a-response-to-nick-peters-and-another-look-at-the-evangelical-betrayal-of-the-bible/

[2] Unposted comment received and on file

[3] For one example of many, “Since 1984, the percentage of teens who call themselves ‘Christian’ has been almost cut in half, while the numbers who call themselves ‘atheist’ has grown to 16 percent, up from just 6 percent in the mid-1980s.” (Lunau, Kate. “Youth Survey: Teens lose faith in droves.” Maclean’s, April 7, 2009.  The same article tells us that “Islam and atheism are on the rise while Christianity fades.”

[4] Tors, John. “Creation Ministries International and the Three-headed Monster: Why the Monster Wins (Part 4) http://www.truthinmydays.com/creation-ministries-international-and-the-three-headed-monster-why-the-monster-wins-part-4/

[5] Details and references in Tors, Three-headed Monster, Part 2, op.cit.

[6] Details and references in ibid.

[7] Details and references in Tors, John. “Creation Ministries International and the Three-headed Monster: Why the Monster Wins (Part 3).” At http://www.truthinmydays.com/creation-ministries-international-and-the-three-headed-monster-why-the-monster-wins-part-3/2/

[8] Tors, John. “Why There is an Error in Mark 1:2 in your Bible: Another Example of the Evangelical Betrayal of the Bible (Part 1).” At http://www.truthinmydays.com/why-there-is-an-error-in-mark-12-in-your-bible-another-example-of-the-evangelical-betrayal-of-the-bible-part-1/; Tors, John. “Mark 1:2 Revisited: A Response to James Patrick Holding.” At http://www.truthinmydays.com/mark-12-revisited-a-response-to-james-patrick-holding/.  Note Peters’ comments on this latter article.

[9] Kid gloves won’t work; it’s been tried, but studiously ignored.

[10] http://www.dictionary.com/browse/black-hat?s=t, meaning 1.

[11] Peters, Nick. “A Further Response to John Tors.” At http://www.deeperwatersapologetics.com/?p=10154 (Accessed April 7, 2017).

[12] All quotations hereon (until or unless otherwise noted) are from Peters, “A Further Response,” ibid.

[13] None of those are actual errors, and the claims have all been answered adequately.  I myself demonstrated clearly in a response to old Nick himself that there is no problem attendant with the different accounts of Peter’s Great Confession.  How he missed that is unclear.

[14] Tors, John. “A Primer on New Testament Textual Criticism (In Manageable, Bite-Sized Chunks).” At http://www.truthinmydays.com/a-primer-on-new-testament-textual-criticism-in-manageable-bite-sized-chunks/; Kruger, Michael J. “Early Christian Attitudes toward the Reproduction of Texts.” In Hill, Charles E. and Michael J. Kruger. Eds. The Early Text of the New Testament. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, pp.63-80

[15] There is no error in Mark 1:2, though, as the original did not read “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet” but “As it is written in the prophets,” which is perfectly correct.  See Tors, “Why There is an Error,” op.cit.

[16] I am not an aficionado of Dr. Geisler.  I have far more respect for him than I do for Licona, Wallace, Blomberg, or any of the black hats, because he sincerely holds to genuine inerrancy, but he does not do a good job of defending it, as he himself has been misled by “science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20, KJV) regarding the age of the Earth and has certainly been misled by mainstream textual criticism.

[17] Tors, John. “Is a 4.6-Billion Year-Old Earth Compatible with Biblical Inerrancy? A Response to Norman Geisler.” At http://www.truthinmydays.com/is-a-4-6-billion-year-old-earth-compatible-with-biblical-inerrancy-a-response-to-norman-geisler/

[18] Tors, John. “Is Luke Wrong About the Date Of Jesus’ Birth? A Case Study in How to Do Serious Evangelical Apologetics” (Part 1). At http://www.truthinmydays.com/is-luke-wrong-about-the-date-of-jesus-birth-a-case-study-in-how-to-do-serious-evangelical-apologetics-part-1/

[19] Witherington, Ben. “Bart Interrupted— A detailed Analysis of ‘Jesus Interrupted’ Part One.”  At http://benwitherington.blogspot.ca/2009/04/bart-interrupted-detailed-analysis-of.html (Accessed April 9, 2017)

[20] And, yes, Bible writers sometimes did “write better than they knew” (1 Peter 1:10-12)

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4 Responses to THE ASSAULT ON INERRANCY AND WHAT IS AT STAKE: A Final Word to Nick Peters

  1. Mike Pond says:

    Thank you for posting an article which responds to comments I made earlier. I appreciate that you feel you need to make a stand in the way that you do. (As an aside I regret that you continue to use a phrase in your post such as ‘Old Nick’ [an also ‘The Librarian’]. This style (light-hearted mocking) does nothing to enhance the seriousness with which you present your arguments.)
    My final comment relates to one of your paragraphs which I reproduce here:
    “The second factor must surely be the importance of the issue. There is a right answer to the question “Does baptism have to be done by full immersion, or is effusion acceptable?” and to the question “Is there a spiritual presence in the elements of the Lord’s Supper, or is it purely symbolic?” but it is not necessary to go to the wall over such issues; they are not matters of moral practice but are held as private opinions that will not cause problems for other Christians.”
    I am surprised that you feel there is no need to make a stand on these. As I understand it Baptists certainly do so with the first and Catholics would even hold that the actual presence of Christ’s body (‘This is my body…’) is to be found in the host.
    If scripture clearly presents the correct answer/practice should this not be advocated with the same strength that you
    would do with other issues?
    I bow to your superior knowledge of scripture in relation to all of these issues. I should be interested in knowing if you have already posted on whether the host actually becomes Christ’s body.

    • John Tors says:

      Perhaps I was unclear about this, so allow me to elaborate. I think every doctrine is important and certainly we should make a stand to teach the right thing in each matter, including baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But they are not all of equal importance.

      There are certain doctrines that are “salvific” i.e., that must be believed to be saved: The Triune God of the Bible (Hebrews 11:6, John 17:3) – and Him only; no false gods are allowed along with Him (Micah 5:2); Jesus Christ fully God and fully man (John 8:24, 1 John 2:23), the physical bodily resurrection of Christ (Romans 10:9), and salvation by grace alone through faith alone (Galatians 5:2-4) in the true Christ alone. Rejection of even one of these puts one outside of Christianity.

      The other doctrines are not salvific, but they differ in their import and effect on the church. Some, for example, are moral issues, involving a command to do or not to do something, and people teaching error in such matters can lead people into sin (e.g. denying 1 Timothy 2:12-14 and teaching that women can hold authoritative/teaching positions vis-à-vis Christian men). We must go to the wall on such issues.

      Other issues are not moral issues but intellectual, but even among these some can cause devastating destruction to the faith of Christians (e.g. denying inerrancy, denying six-day young-earth creationism) and we must go to the wall on these issues, as well.

      Whether there is a “spiritual presence” in the Lord’s Supper or it is purely symbolic, however, does not involve a moral component, nor does it damage the faith of others. The correct view should be taught to those holding an erroneous view on this, but it is not a cause for church discipline or breaking fellowship. His error will be on his own head alone.

      The Roman Catholic view of “transubstantiation,” however, is another matter. Not only is it wildly wrong, it is a central part of Rome’s false gospel wherein “grace” is a quantity gathered piecemeal by works, primarily by eating the elements of the “Eucharist,” which were transubstantiated into the actual body and blood of Christ (“under the appearance of remaining bread and wine”) by the priest. This false gospel is completely out of the pale of Christianity.

  2. Jonathan Carlyle says:

    Since you reject the Deuterocannonical books, don’t you deny the inerrancy of Scripture? So why you go on to act as if you defend it, I don’t quite know.

    Okay, maybe that’s not quite relevant – save that, just as we need to know which books are inspired, we need to discern what the meanings of the various passages in the Cannon are, which might not be obvious to people estranged from the immediate context of Scripture by centuries.
    This debate all seems to be going back and forth like the arguments in the book of Job, and it seems clear enough to me that Nick is winning and it is you that misunderstand. Likewise this point seems reasonable enough: Anyone who says ‘Matthew (or the Bible) didn’t intend X by saying Y, and X is wrong’ isn’t saying their are errors in the Bible.
    Yet you are saying this claim is wrong, I don’t see how. Now, in a sense they might be denying what is objectively the meaning of the text and/or saying that what is, in fact, meant by the text is false; however, the problem is not over inerrancy per se, but over interpretation. To insinuate that Nick Peters, Blomberg, Holding and the rest belong to the faithless church (which is strange enough, for as you say inerrancy is not essential for salvation), is quite inappropriate, as you ought to know. Though, surely wisdom will die with you!

    Let me illustrate the problem thusly, as you know some, esp. Jehovah’s Witnesses think that the Bible is inerrant and that it imposes as normative ‘you must abstain from blood.’ This they take to CLEARLY include drinking blood, eating unbled meat, taking a blood transfusion. ‘Abstain just’ – one might say CLEARLY – means ‘abstain.’ Plenty of JW children will be puzzled by your obliviousness to the CLEAR meaning of such passages; ‘What, he thinks the Bible contains an error about what what we are allowed to do?’
    Here comes typical Christians who say, well no, of course blood transfusions aren’t included in that. (Catholics will even say that the prohibition isn’t binding any more, though the Bible is inerrant.) Okay. Do any of these Christian (or putatively Christian) groups deny inerrancy? NO, at least concerning the blood issue.

    If a JW said, ‘You deny inerrancy, since the Bible says that one ought to abstain from blood transfusions, but you say that there is no such obligation.’ That would be ridiculous! You’d say, ‘No, that’s not what the writer meant, but what he did mean, well that is true (whether or not is binding on us today).’

    But apply this reasoning to the raising of the OT saints in Matthew and your mind slips. ‘You can’t deny that this is what happened, since Matthew CLEARLY says that.’
    There is the problem, of course, that while the text is inspired, interpretations are not; the question is ‘clear’ to whom? Take this illustration:

    God commands me to write this: ‘Bob said to his friends, ‘Today we’ll have to burn the midnight oil.’ And that it gets included in some newly inspired book of the Bible. Two hundred years from now everyone is like Data from Star Trek, at least insofar as they don’t understand idioms, or are hyper-literal in interpreting all manner of communication.
    A dispute about the inerrancy of this passage arises. Some deny that Bob actually went on to burn oil, since in another passage it says, ‘They accused Bob of burning a building down, but he asserted, ‘I’ve never burnt anything in my life.’ The typical position, however, is to hold that Bob failed to burn the oil, or that Bob was lying later on; that’s how the contradiction is solved.

    However, some scholars note that the people of Bob’s day used a strange devices called “idioms” or exaggerations. Some even suggest that ‘burning the midnight oil’ means that he worked late.

    The response of their opponents is that they are denying the clear meaning of Scripture (specifically the book of Bob). They deny the “obvious” and “clear” meaning of Bob 3:23 – he burnt a flammable fluid they called “midnight oil.”
    Then apologist Tom Rot says, ‘Whatever [these ‘idiomists’] means by “God-breathed,” he must think it is compatible with the text saying things that are untrue.” Do you see why that would be a foolish claim to make, even a dishonest one? If not, I wouldn’t be putting to much weight in your pronouncements on what is “clear” or “obvious” or not in need of explanation.

    • John Tors says:

      I appreciate the work you did assembling this response, but I must say there is nothing new here; you are simply repeating Nick Peters’ points. They were wrong when he said them, and they remain wrong now.

      Let us look at your claims. First, you say, “Since you reject the Deuterocannonical [sic] books, don’t you deny the inerrancy of Scripture?” Of course not. The doctrine of inerrancy holds that there are no errors of any sort in any part of Scripture; it does NOT look at the doctrine of canonicity (i.e. what is included in Scripture). Those are two separate issues. For the record, though, I reject the “deuterocanonical” books because they are not Scripture. They are certainly not inerrant, either; for example, Judith 1:1a says, “It was the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled over the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh.” In fact, Nebuchadnezzar was the king of the Babylonians, not the Assyrians, and he could not have ruled from the great city of Nineveh in twelfth year of his reign, as Nebuchadnezzar’s father, Nabopolassar, had destroyed Nineveh in 612 BC, seven years before Nebuchadnezzar ascended to the throne.

      Now, you said this is “not quite relevant” anyway, so let’s move on, and your error becomes evident almost immediately. You say, “Likewise this point seems reasonable enough: Anyone who says ‘Matthew (or the Bible) didn’t intend X by saying Y, and X is wrong’ isn’t saying their [sic] are errors in the Bible.”

      Look at what you said carefully, and then understand this: Peters and his champions are NOT saying “Matthew (or the Bible) didn’t intend X by saying Y,” which indeed might not be a problem; what they are saying is that “Matthew (or the Bible) didn’t intend X by saying X” – and that is absolutely ridiculous:

      “Matthew didn’t intend ‘OT saints rose from the grave’ by saying ‘OT saints rose from the grave.’”

      “Mark didn’t intend ‘“Behold I send my messenger before your face” is written in Isaiah’ by saying ‘“Behold I send my messenger before your face” is written in Isaiah.’”

      It should be obvious that this is ridiculous. Veracity is judged by what one says, and if what one says is factually wrong, it is an ERROR; Veracity is not judged by some putative “intention” invented out of whole cloth by a desperate apologist twenty centuries later. It was Jesus who said, “By your WORDS you will be justified, and by your WORDS you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37), not by some ad hoc intention imputed to you by such an apologist.

      It would be interesting to see you try that approach in school and see how far it would get you: “Yes, I wrote ‘Lincoln was the first President of the United States’ on the test but you can’t mark it wrong because I didn’t INTEND ‘Lincoln was the first President of the United States” by saying ‘Lincoln was the first President of the United States,’ so it’s not an error, see?” As I said, this is simply ridiculous.

      Frankly, your view is not well thought out. You say, “Now, in a sense they might be denying what is objectively the meaning of the text and/or saying that what is, in fact, meant by the text is false; however, the problem is not over inerrancy per se, but over interpretation.” Now, inasmuch as you admit that there is an OBJECTIVE meaning of the text (and there certainly is), then it is not a matter of “interpretation,” is it? And, yes, saying that what is “objectively …. meant by the text is false” is indeed saying that there is an error in the text and denying inerrancy. No sophistry will change that fact, and it is passing strange that you do not see that.

      Your attempt to draw an analogy between this situation and the Jehovah’s Witnesses misunderstanding of Acts 15:29 (“They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, to the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings …. it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, FROM BLOOD, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality (Acts 15:23, 28-29)) is a false analogy.

      The issue there is one of hermeneutics, specifically what is meant by abstaining “from blood.” It would be a valid analogy to our situation only if they were saying that “the apostles, the elders, and the brethren” did NOT write such a letter at all. Licona et al are not talking about the proper understanding of passages, but are saying that what some passages say is factually the case is not, in fact, true. That is certainly a denial of inerrancy.

      Regarding your other analogy, of Bob “burning the midnight oil,” that, too, is wrong. There are certainly idioms in every language, but an idiom is not a “get-out-of-jail-free card” that can be slapped down to explain away every error, as in, for example, claiming that “Saying that ‘Lincoln was the first President of the United States’ is not an error; it’s just an idiom!”

      Now, an idiom has two definitional features: (1) it is commonly used, and (2) there is a conceptual, etymological link between the idiom and its reference, whereby the original literal meaning becomes extended. “Burning the midnight oil” comes from the days when oil lamps were the usual means of lighting houses, so if one had to stay up late to work, he would have to do so by oil light, and would have to burn oil to work at midnight. So “burning the midnight oil” became an idiom for working late, because of the conceptual, etymological link.

      Do you understand now? An idiom is this specific type of figure of speech; it is NOT a term that can be used to explain away any error.

      Now, can you explain the conceptual, etymological link between saying that “OT saints were raised and came out of their tombs” and meaning that “OT saints were NOT raised and did NOT come out of their tombs”? Of course not; the idea is ludicrous. Can you demonstrate a conceptual, etymological link between saying that “X is written in Isaiah the prophet” and meaning that “X is NOT written in Isaiah the prophet”? Again, of course not. Again, the idea is ludicrous.

      Finally, regarding your cavil that “To insinuate that Nick Peters, Blomberg, Holding and the rest belong to the faithless church (which is strange enough, for as you say inerrancy is not essential for salvation), is quite inappropriate, as you ought to know,” you are wrong yet again. There is faith that is trust in the one true Christ and His Gospel, and it is this that brings salvation (e.g. John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9). If one is faithless in this sense (i.e. not trusting in the one true Christ and His Gospel), then he is not saved.

      But there is also being faithful on our part to our Lord (Matthew 25:21,23), doing what He commands and, yes, loving His word (“Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it.” (Psalm 119:140)) and accepting it as “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). Those who treat the Bible as just another error-ridden human product are not faithful in this sense. Period.

      Last word here: You asked why I defend inerrancy. It is because (a) the Bible is the “God-breathed” word of God Himself, and (b) because how we view the Bible is crucial to the health of the church. But all this was explained in detail in my articles.
      A more germane question that YOU need to think about is this: Why do YOU defend errancy? Why are you so eager to promote the idea that there are errors in the Bible, and to try to justify that idea with gambits that are clearly nonsensical? Think about it.

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