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Poll
Question: What do you consider the scripture to be?
Both infallible and inerrant - 5 (11.9%)
Infallible but not inerrant - 23 (54.8%)
Neither infallible nor inerrant - 10 (23.8%)
Other - 4 (9.5%)
Total Voters: 42

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Author Topic: Inerrancy and Infallibility Poll  (Read 2442 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: October 25, 2009, 08:51:53 AM »

My curiosity on this subject came mostly from some of the discussion on the textual criticism thread. For the purposes of this poll and thread I will suggest a couple definitions drawn from the book The Debate About the Bible: Inerrancy Versus Infallibility by Stephen T. Davis, which I think are accurate definitions of infallibility and inerrancy...

Infallibility means that the Bible is entirely trustworthy in matters of faith and practice. So, for example, the Bible does not make any errors when it comes to something like salvation, but there could be errors of other types, like attributing the wrong number of daughters to a certain King of Israel.

Inerrancy means that the Bible is entirely trustworthy in all matters. So, the Bible doesn't make any mistakes of any kind at any time. No wrong numbers, no wrong science, nothing is incorrect.

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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2009, 09:00:32 AM »

I voted "other." The Bible is infallible in matters of faith and practice only when interpreted in the proper historical, ecclesiastical, and literary context. One cannot just pick up the Bible, read something, and claim it as backup for a wacky opinion. Well, one can, and many do, but such an opinion is definitely not infallible.
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« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2009, 09:36:44 AM »

I voted "neither inerrant nor infallible" for the following reasons:
God alone is Pure, and even the Bodiless Powers are impure in comparison to Him (cf Job 25:5). God alone is Inerrant and Infallible.
Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit Who is Lord and Life-Giver, but Scripture cannot be understood on its own (2 Peter 1:20; Acts 8:30-31). Without the Church's understanding and interpretation, Scripture is meaningless, and so neither "infallible" nor "inerrant" on its own. What we know as "the Bible" is a collection of individual books of Scripture (some of which have been lost). Each book stands alone as Scripture". Yet if someone outside the Church were to pick up Leviticus and view it as an "infallible" guide in "matters of faith and practice", they would be in error.
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« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2009, 09:40:28 AM »

Gee guys, all I wanted to know is if you thought the Bible had errors in it or not Smiley  I guess I should have specified "when interpreted within the Church, in it's proper context, etc..."
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« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2009, 10:07:08 AM »

It is a good question, and a logical one given the discussion on textual criticism.  It can be quite difficult to understand a given perspective without this information.  I chose infallible but not inerrant.  Perhaps this would better explain my reliance on Tradition and the Fathers for interpretation rather than the text itself.  Belief in the inerrancy of the Bible, I believe, has driven much of Fundamentalist Christianity into error.  Since there are seeming contradictions in the text of the Bible, and since there are differences in the texts used even by the Fathers, holders of inerrancy are forced to either make stuff up to force the texts to fit, or simply ignore parts of the Scriptures that do not fit with their preconceived idea of what they think the Scriptures SHOULD have said. 

In addition, I believe that inerrancy would be nearly impossible.  Even if we could agree that a certain manuscript was, indeed, the one written by Paul or Mark's own hand, we would still be faced with the difficulties of translation as well as being 2000 years removed from the time and culture of the writers.  It would be nearly impossible to simply pick up the text and accurately know what was meant without knowing the person who wrote it and the mindset of that individual at the time he wrote the words.  In other words, even if the author penned the document both inerrantly and infallibly, what are the chances of our interpretations being both inerrant and infallible 2000 years later?  That is why the Traditions passed down by the Church regarding these matters are so important.  The bottom line is this:  The Orthodox Church gave the world the Bible.  She should know what it says and means.  I will grant that my view on textual criticism is somewhat harsh, and admit up front that it may not apply to everyone, but I have always seen textual criticism as an attempt by the Faithless to justify their own unbelief by calling into question the Scriptures.  If there is no absolute Truth, then one can believe whatever they want.  This is pretty much the mantra of modern liberalism and the ecumenism that it spawned. 
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« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2009, 10:08:56 AM »

lol ya, it's not like we're RC's; we don't have to overanalyze everything...  Cheesy
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« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2009, 10:13:14 AM »

I guess I should have specified "when interpreted within the Church, in it's proper context, etc..."
Even then, my answer remains the same for the same reasons.
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« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2009, 10:26:11 AM »

ozgeorge,

Fair enough. Didn't you use to believe in inerrancy, though? You did say in a thread 4 years ago that: "If Scripture can't get simple, verifiable facts right, I'd be a fool to entust something as complex as finding the way of Salvation to it." (Source)


Punch,

Thank you for posting that, I think I understand your position on textual criticism much better now as well. I probably should have understood in the other thread, but sometimes it takes me a while to catch on.
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« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2009, 01:33:57 PM »

Ultimately, I put "infallible, but not inerrant."  That's pretty much where I come down on the subject after some recent reflection.  I blogged about it HERE and followed up HERE after reading some Fathers who were more sympathetic to "inerrancy," so I'll let that stand as my "why."
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« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2009, 05:15:06 PM »

Fair enough. Didn't you use to believe in inerrancy, though?
No.
Lets apply some textual criticism to the post in which you claim I did so which occurs in the thread l "Can God Inspire Forgeries?"
The thread sought to suggest that the Gospel is a forgery because it was claimed that Quirinus was not the Govenor at the time of the first census. Using textual criticism (eg on Luke 2:2) among other tools, I show that Quirinus was most probably Governor twice, and thus provide an alternate explanation to the Gospel being a forgery.What I am saying (and still say) is that if the text of the Gospel makes an historical claim which is verifiable (such as the timing of an historical event placing the Incarnation in a particular time in human history), and this claim is proven impossible, then the reality of the Incarnation based on the Gospel is questionable. I never said the Gospel is "inerrant".
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« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2009, 01:43:10 PM »

I would have voted inerrant.
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« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2009, 03:12:44 PM »

I voted "neither inerrant nor infallible" for the following reasons:
God alone is Pure, and even the Bodiless Powers are impure in comparison to Him (cf Job 25:5). God alone is Inerrant and Infallible.
Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit Who is Lord and Life-Giver, but Scripture cannot be understood on its own (2 Peter 1:20; Acts 8:30-31). Without the Church's understanding and interpretation, Scripture is meaningless, and so neither "infallible" nor "inerrant" on its own. What we know as "the Bible" is a collection of individual books of Scripture (some of which have been lost). Each book stands alone as Scripture". Yet if someone outside the Church were to pick up Leviticus and view it as an "infallible" guide in "matters of faith and practice", they would be in error.

I generally agree with you. On the other hand, Biblical scholars tell us that there are several types of passages in the Scriptures. Some passages can be understood fairly easily I (You cited one from Acts). Some others employ allegory and other literary devices to make a point (many such examples in the Gospels). Finally, there are some passages that are difficult to understand period (Book of Revelation is replete with them). Therefore, this is a small caveat, but I think your statement "Without the Church's understanding and interpretation, Scripture is meaningless, and so neither "infallible" nor "inerrant" on its own." is too broad. There are many instances where one does not need the Church's understanding and interpretation. Of course, there are many instances where the Church's understanding and interpretation are absolutely necessary.
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« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2010, 05:34:25 AM »

I disagree that the Bible is "inerrant" in the absolute way you describe it.

As for "in-fall-ible" in faith or practice, I can't say. Are the words "able to make a mistake"? Yes! The words can cause a mistake because a person with bad ideas and bad understanding can read things in the Old Testament out of context and the words in conjunction with his confused approach can cause a mistake.

On the other hand, maybe this is semantics. What if we accept the view of skeptics who say the Bible is all myths and poetry when it comes to faith? How can "myths" be wrong? How can a poem completely in and of itself be wrong? If they are just stories describing things in a mythical way, then they can't be wrong. So whether you are atheist or Christian, if you look at it that way, it is "in-fall-ible". "The poem itself is not wrong" sounds very eastern meditative.

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« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2011, 09:16:00 AM »

Bump for more discussion.
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« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2011, 09:32:32 AM »

Wouldn't the term "divinely inspired" be an appropriate description of the Orthodox Church's understanding of scripture?
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« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2011, 01:50:56 PM »

Wouldn't the term "divinely inspired" be an appropriate description of the Orthodox Church's understanding of scripture?

I'm wary of the term infallible, and don't think the term inerrant can be applied, but "divinely inspired" works for me.  angel
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« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2011, 09:52:27 PM »

I would have voted inerrant.

I was very curious in this response. Do you still hold this view?

There is an article from a about week ago on the National Catholic Register about an attack on Biblical inerrancy. I was curious. Is there a different opinion on Biblical stature in Roman Catholicism, or is this a case of "same word, different meaning"?
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« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2011, 10:49:26 PM »

I would have voted inerrant.

Then you can vote for inerrant and infallible, because if you think it's inerrant, then (under the definitions provided) you would think that it's both inerrant and infallible Wink
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« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2011, 12:11:51 AM »

I voted infallible, not inerrent, but then I read the first response which made a good point, if you don't read it within the popular context it is completely and utterly useless.
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« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2011, 12:22:22 AM »

"when interpreted within the Church, in it's proper context, etc..."

Under these circumstances I would say infallible but not inerrent. Infallible becaue it's being read in it's proper context, but then again that speaks about how it is interpreted and requires correct interpretation. Not inerrent because it was never meant to be used as a literal history or science text book, and that's what inerrency requires it to be. How old was Ahaziah when he became king?

A note on "infallibility", it seems to be "scripture vs Pope" thing that Protestants and Catholics like to use to argue with each other.
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« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2011, 04:37:51 PM »

I think there are some issues in the Bible & in the Torah.  Sorry.  Not all "huge issues".

Noah for example, not the ark, but he enslaved his son for life because he saw him naked?

I have trouble believing that the same God who said "one such as these belong to the kingdom of Heaven" would test Abraham & Issac that way.  It's like "son I'm going to tie you up, stick you on this here altar, raise my knife to kill you".  what did we say in the 80's? ---- SIKE.  Just kidding.

Poor Issac thought his daddy was going to stab him while tied up.

And we have Christian Counseling?

Sorry, some of the stuff doesn't add up.  The gospel of John holds a lot of radiance and beauty to me.
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« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2011, 05:09:06 PM »

Infallible in so far as all parts of the Bible having to be interpreted in light of each other, in light of their context, and in light of the Tradition of the Church.
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« Reply #22 on: May 05, 2011, 05:17:02 PM »

Perhaps I need to read the book referenced to better understand the definitions given, but I would have to say at least the NT if not the entire bible is inerrant and therefore also infallible WITHIN the context that it is Divinely Inspired. I believe that with limited exceptions of poor translations or human mistakes imposed on certain editions, the entire canonized Bible is exactly as God wanted to give it as a gift to His Church, through His Church.

So I guess I believe it is fully inerrant for what it is, which is not always an attempt at accurate history.
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« Reply #23 on: May 05, 2011, 05:38:46 PM »

Perhaps I need to read the book referenced to better understand the definitions given, but I would have to say at least the NT if not the entire bible is inerrant and therefore also infallible WITHIN the context that it is Divinely Inspired. I believe that with limited exceptions of poor translations or human mistakes imposed on certain editions, the entire canonized Bible is exactly as God wanted to give it as a gift to His Church, through His Church.

So I guess I believe it is fully inerrant for what it is, which is not always an attempt at accurate history.

This is where the "infallible"/"inerrant" distinction starts to become useless, because some people speak of it being inerrant in matter of faith and practice, and also some acknowledge that the Bible conveys God's message with perfect accuracy. But the standard connotation of "inerrant" is that there is no matter in which the Bible contains errors, whether it be history or science, etc. What you are describing is closer to the standard meaning of "infallible", but you are literally correct in saying that this qualifies the Bible being inerrant in matter of faith.
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« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2011, 08:58:47 PM »


This is where the "infallible"/"inerrant" distinction starts to become useless, because some people speak of it being inerrant in matter of faith and practice, and also some acknowledge that the Bible conveys God's message with perfect accuracy. But the standard connotation of "inerrant" is that there is no matter in which the Bible contains errors, whether it be history or science, etc. What you are describing is closer to the standard meaning of "infallible", but you are literally correct in saying that this qualifies the Bible being inerrant in matter of faith.
Oh I see. I was misunderstanding the OP's distinction of matters of faith vs. all matters since all matters of teaching are not strictly matters of faith (headcovering, etc). Does ANYONE actually believe the bible is inerrant in terms of historical and scientific accuracy? Is it even possible to have an orthodox understanding if you are bound to literal accuracy?
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« Reply #25 on: May 06, 2011, 11:45:24 PM »

This is the problem that I have, is this picking and choosing. How does one know a certain thing in Genesis for example is allegorical and the other is literal.
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