How does one know that the Bible is inerrant?


#1

How does one know that the Bible is inerrant?

Don’t confuse inerrant with infallible.


#2

The same way we know that any article of faith and morals is correct–because the Church says so. And before you call that circular reasoning, tell me how else we are to know if the Bible is inerrant? Besides, what do you mean by the term inerrant? And why are you asking this very basic question now?


#3

[quote=Della]The same way we know that any article of faith and morals is correct–because the Church says so.
[/quote]

The OT Jews recognized Scripture without the benefit of the Church. They also recognized the “inerrancy” of Scripture without the benefit of the Church.


#4

Adapted from Catholicism and Fundamentalism (Chapter 9: Inspiration of Bible)

  1. First we approach the Bible as any other ancient work. From textual criticism, we conclude that we are more certain of this work than any other ancient work.

  2. Next we look at what the Bible and particularly the Gospels, as history, says. We can conclude that Jesus was either Lord or Lunatic.

3 With Further analysis, we conclude we was Lord after we examine the works, teachings and the results of these teachings including the martyrdom of his followers.

  1. We know from the Bible (still taking the Bible as just another ancient work) and from other ancient works that Christ setup a Church with all the parts that we see in the Catholic Church today - papacy, hierarchy, priesthood, sacraments and teaching authority.

  2. From these and other historical works, still treating them as historical works, we conclude the Catholic Church is the Church Jesus founded and it has teaching authority.

  3. The Catholic Church, in her teaching authority, declared the canon of the Bible and asserts that it is inspired and inerrant


#5

From ***DEI VERBUM ***DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION
ON DIVINE REVELATION:

11…
Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation. Therefore “all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).


#6

[quote=Richard_Hurtz]The OT Jews recognized Scripture without the benefit of the Church. They also recognized the “inerrancy” of Scripture without the benefit of the Church.
[/quote]

Actually, the Hebrews did have exactly the same way of guarantying correct interpretation. The Sanhedrin, which had teaching and interpretation Authority roughly parallel with the Magisterial.

Pax vobiscum.

Your brother in Christ


#7

[quote=Ignatius]Actually, the Hebrews did have exactly the same way of guarantying correct interpretation. The Sanhedrin, which had teaching and interpretation Authority roughly parallel with the Magisterial.
[/quote]

Some might even say “foreshadowed”…Deu 17:8-13, Matt 18:15-18…what was it about the Law not passing away, but rather being “fulfilled”?

God Bless,
RyanL


#8

[quote=Maranatha]Adapted from Catholicism and Fundamentalism (Chapter 9: Inspiration of Bible)

  1. First we approach the Bible as any other ancient work. From textual criticism, we conclude that we are more certain of this work than any other ancient work.

  2. Next we look at what the Bible and particularly the Gospels, as history, says. We can conclude that Jesus was either Lord or Lunatic.

3 With Further analysis, we conclude we was Lord after we examine the works, teachings and the results of these teachings including the martyrdom of his followers.

  1. We know from the Bible (still taking the Bible as just another ancient work) and from other ancient works that Christ setup a Church with all the parts that we see in the Catholic Church today - papacy, hierarchy, priesthood, sacraments and teaching authority.

  2. From these and other historical works, still treating them as historical works, we conclude the Catholic Church is the Church Jesus founded and it has teaching authority.

  3. The Catholic Church, in her teaching authority, declared the canon of the Bible and asserts that it is inspired.
    [/quote]

With all due respect this is the definition of a circular argument.

This starts with an appeal to Scripture to prove the Church so that you can prove that the Church defines that Scripture is inspired.

The tactic in this argument of “witholding inspiration” until the Church “is proven” is merely “stealing from Paul to pay Peter”.

The Bible is “kept” in a category of “any other (fallible) book” to “prove” the Catholic Church so that the Catholic Church can elevate Scripture by fiat. A question begging exercise to say the least.

And if the layman can detect the Catholic Church in Scripture and construct the above argument, why couldn’t the layman also detect the inerrancy of Scripture as well? Has God’s revelation of His Word been so insufficiently revealed as to require a further revelation?


#9

[quote=Richard_Hurtz]With all due respect this is the definition of a circular argument.

This starts with an appeal to Scripture to prove the Church so that you can prove that the Church defines that Scripture is inspired.

The tactic in this argument of “witholding inspiration” until the Church “is proven” is merely “stealing from Paul to pay Peter”.

The Bible is “kept” in a category of “any other (fallible) book” to “prove” the Catholic Church so that the Catholic Church can elevate Scripture by fiat. A question begging exercise to say the least.
[/quote]

I not sure I understand your point. First, we prove the historicity of the Gospels and the Church. Then, when we have determined the the authenticity of the the CC’s teaching authority, we accept what she says.

And if the layman can detect the Catholic Church in Scripture and construct the above argument, why couldn’t the layman also detect the inerrancy of Scripture as well?

That goes against the historical evidence that they layman has reconstructed.

Has God’s revelation of His Word been so insufficiently revealed as to require a further revelation?

Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle. The CC teaches how we should apply our faith and morals to new situations like, say, human cloning. The Bible does not comment on the morality or immorality of human cloning.


#10

[quote=Richard_Hurtz]With all due respect this is the definition of a circular argument.
[/quote]

…Uh…no it isn’t.

Step 1: Historical work
Step 2: History
Step 3: Jesus is God
Step 4: Jesus made claims when starting His Church
Step 5: Jesus’ Church now makes claims about the historical work from Step 1.

It’s not circular, it’s spiral. There’s a difference.

Circular:
How do you know the Bible is the word of God? The Bible says so, and the Bible can’t be wrong because it is the word of God.

Examples of Circular Logic employed:

  1. Fundamentalist position on Biblical inerrancy (see above example)
  2. Muslim position on the inerrancy of the Koran
  3. LDS position on the writings of Joseph Smith

None of these three groups first appeal to their writings as objective history to begin analysis - they look first at their writings as being inerrant and then work their way to the conclusion.

See the difference?

God Bless,
RyanL


#11

The Sanhedrin made many errors in teaching, read the talmud.

I am asking the question about inerrancy because I am seeing people in discussions that think protestants believe that they believe the scriptures are infallible when in fact they believe the scriptures to be inerrant. I am hoping this discussion would expose exactly what is believed about the scriptures by us all.

I am seeing a protestant who is making the error of confusing the doctrine of illumination with infallible teaching authority.


#12

Along the lines of this thread, does any one know when the Church first defined and declared that the Holy Scriptures are inerrant? Was it a Magisterial or Council declaration?That would be a very valuable piece of apologetics evidence to have available.

Your brother in Christ.


#13

[quote=Daniel Marsh]The Sanhedrin made many errors in teaching, read the talmud.

I am asking the question about inerrancy because I am seeing people in discussions that think protestants believe that they believe the scriptures are infallible when in fact they believe the scriptures to be inerrant. I am hoping this discussion would expose exactly what is believed about the scriptures by us all.

I am seeing a protestant who is making the error of confusing the doctrine of illumination with infallible teaching authority.
[/quote]

The Catholic teaching on infallibility could be summarized:

It is a protection against doctrinal error.
It is a “negative” gift of the Holy Spirit.

The “office” of the pope is protected from teaching doctrinal error in the matters of faith and morals as being Truth.

The “office” of the magisterium (bishops in union with the Pope) has the same protection.

“… the gates of hell (in a word: lies) will not prevail…”
"… whatsoever you bind on earth, shall have been bound…etc…" To Peter’s office as first among equals
and then to the Apostles in union with him.

Thus the Bible is inerrant (without error) only when properly understood, and it will never contradict itself when properly understood.

This is a positive gift, unlike the “negative” protection of infallibility.


#14

This is an incredibly bad argument.

Which means that you have to pay attention to the consensus of *secular *scholarship. If you are treating it “as any ancient work” you can’t just jump to the conclusions that will support the argument you want to make. But without doing that, the whole argument fails.

From textual criticism, we conclude that we are more certain of this work than any other ancient work.

More certain of what about it? Textual criticism can’t tell you much about the historical authenticity of the text.

The consensus of NT scholarship is that the Gospels contain valid historical material. But there is no consensus on the details. You can’t use purely historical scholarship to “prove” that Jesus was divine or established the Church or anything like that.

  1. Next we look at what the Bible and particularly the Gospels, as history, says. We can conclude that Jesus was either Lord or Lunatic.

I think a major part of Purgatory for C. S. Lewis must be/have been knowing how badly people misuse his arguments–and this is a particularly flagrant example. Liar/Lunatic/Lord does not work unless you assume the historical accuracy of the Gospels (Lewis was dealing with a semi-Christian audience who had reverence for the Bible without a commitment to the orthodox Faith–his argument is not a logical argument at all, but a wake-up call to people who thought they were “Christians” but had dropped everything that makes Christianity Christian). As I’ve said, this cannot be assumed on the basis of secular historical scholarship (by “secular” I don’t mean “non-Christian” but “the whole range of scholarship including both religious and non-religious scholars”).

3 With Further analysis, we conclude we was Lord after we examine the works, teachings and the results of these teachings including the martyrdom of his followers.

Sure, if you get that far. But no one is going to get that far without having some spiritual hunger and being guided by the Spirit. Simple historical analysis is unlikely to get people to that conclusion. The evidence simply is not that overwhelming. It leaves plenty of loopholes.

As for the martyrdom–first of all people do die for all sorts of crazy things, and in the second place most of the stories about the martyrdoms of the Twelve are pious tradition and scholars don’t put any weight on them (Peter is probably one of the most solid–which I guess is fitting for the Rock!).

  1. We know from the Bible (still taking the Bible as just another ancient work) and from other ancient works that Christ setup a Church with all the parts that we see in the Catholic Church today - papacy, hierarchy, priesthood, sacraments and teaching authority.

And that is ridiculous. The NT can be interpreted in such a manner as to prefigure all these things. But you can’t prove them from the NT (well, not papacy or a sacrificial priesthood at any rate).

Look, many Catholic scholars don’t think that historical scholarship shows that Jesus established a Church. Some of them use that to undercut Catholic orthodoxy, others try to reconcile it with orthodoxy. But you simply can’t appeal to Jesus establishing a Church as historically proven. That flies in the face of the actual consensus of scholars.

The whole argument is spurious. It’s a particularly sorry example of the sorry enterprise of Christians trying to prove their faith by quasi-scientific methods.

In Christ,

Edwin


#15

[quote=Contarini]Which means that you have to pay attention to the consensus of *secular *scholarship. If you are treating it “as any ancient work” you can’t just jump to the conclusions that will support the argument you want to make. But without doing that, the whole argument fails.
[/quote]

Hi Edwin,

I’m happy to discuss each point with you. To follow the argument, you need to accept each step, one at a time.

The first step in the argument simply shows that we have more physical copies which are closer to the original writings than any other ancient document. We have copies in multiple languages from which we can cross reference to find copy and translation errors. The cross reference can also be used to work out the original meaning of the authors.

When you presuppose only secular scholars are you saying that you’ll only accept conclusions from people who have already made up their mind on the efficacy?


#16

follow up question, if Jesus taught in aramaic, then how do we know that the disciples accurately presented what he taught in greek?


#17

[quote=Daniel Marsh]follow up question, if Jesus taught in aramaic, then how do we know that the disciples accurately presented what he taught in greek?
[/quote]

I think it’s reasonable to assume that contemporaries from the same region, after three years of instruction, can as a group, get the message correct.


#18

[quote=Ignatius]Actually, the Hebrews did have exactly the same way of guarantying correct interpretation. The Sanhedrin, which had teaching and interpretation Authority roughly parallel with the Magisterial.

Pax vobiscum.

Your brother in Christ
[/quote]

Really, at what point (date) did the “Sanhedrin” “define” the OT Canon?

Is there some source of evidence that you can cite for this assertion?

Thanks,
Richard


#19

[quote=Daniel Marsh]How does one know that the Bible is inerrant?
[/quote]

If Scripture is inspired, then its claims about itself are also inspired. But if we can’t rely on the Bible when it testifies about its own composition, then we cannot trust it in any other matters of consequence.

Peace to you,
Richard


#20

[quote=Richard_Hurtz]If Scripture is inspired, then its claims about itself are also inspired. But if we can’t rely on the Bible when it testifies about its own composition, then we cannot trust it in any other matters of consequence.

Peace to you,
Richard
[/quote]

If the Koran claims to be inerrant, do you accept that and trust it in all matters of consequence?


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.