Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Inerrancy, deity, and resurrection, oh my!

I heard this from a caller on STR’s radio broadcast (April 15, 2007): Since Jesus thought the OT was inerrant, and since we know it has factual and moral errors, He cannot be God – and thus probably didn’t rise from the dead.

1) I’m not sure this argument holds up at all. Is the resurrection necessarily a vindication of every word that came out of Jesus’ mouth, or is it a vindication of His mission and teaching in that regard? It’s something to think about.

2) But let’s say it’s a valid argument. We want to start from our strongest position: The evidence that Jesus rose from the dead is too good (I’ll blog about this in detail next week) to set aside based on one objection, so let’s consider this objection from the assumption that Jesus did, indeed, rise from the grave. Assuming again that the NT is reliable, Jesus taught that His resurrection would be the vindication of His teaching and mission – including His claims to deity.

If Jesus did rise from the dead and is God, then, given the caller’s statements, either Jesus didn’t claim the OT was inerrant or the caller is wrong about the OT having errors. I’m not convinced Jesus taught the OT was inerrant, but I’m in a minority position among evangelicals, so let’s say that he did.

It is now up to us to prove errors in the OT.

3) Regarding factual errors in the OT, whole books have been written on the question, and so there’s little I can do but scratch the surface here. Let me just say this: From Genesis 1 to the walls of Jericho to pi, there is no “error” that cannot be explained to someone who’s willing to listen. To those who are determined to find errors, no explanation will ever be rational enough because they want there to be errors.

4) It is interesting that the caller spoke of the OT’s factual and moral errors. This is an all too common accusation, and it boils down to this:

There are things in the OT that we don’t like, therefore the OT is wrong.

The truth is, we often don’t like things in the OT because we don’t like seeing sin as sin. When the Bible records God ordering the destruction of the Amalekites or striking down Uzzah, we don’t understand, and we don’t like it, so it must be wrong. (The pride is so thick you couldn’t stir it with a blender.) The truth is, a holy God is occasionally going to decide it is time to smite some sinners. This is something modern Americans (including many modern Christians) and the “nice” god they worship need to hear.

(Incidentally, after this writing, the conversation continued on the radio, June 10th, and recently on their blog.)


Jon said...


I really like your blog. I stumbled across a response you posted on Doug Groothuis' blog. I haven't had time to read much of your stuff yet, but I will try to do so soon.

ChrisB said...

Thanks, Jon.