Thursday, April 14, 2005

Infallibility of the Scripture

Most christians will honestly assert that they are not infallible. In fact they will often speak at leangth to their weaknesses and fallibility in judgement and action.

These same people will take a sinsere position that they believe the Bible to be infallible. Many even go as far as holding to a loose understanding that God directly created the literary work.

There are several points to notice in this discussion. One, you can not be both infallible and completely assured that you are correct about the bible's infallibility. Two, other christians chose what was included in the bible and what was not. Three, other christians authored the individual documents that comprise the bible. Four, these documents have changed over time with many differences in versions being found. Five, the collection of documents called the bible is translated and in many cases we do not have a draft more recent than hundreds of years after our assumed original pen dates.

Let me first address the extreme opinion that holds the divine to have directly written the documents through the human hosts. Firstly, the reason that the documents were written was often personal or for teaching purposes. None of the authors claimed divine inspiration, in fact they more often seemed as humble as their modern counterparts. If the authors themselves do not claim perfect divine inspiration then why claim it for them. This seems to be a critical point of fallibility; asking these documents to be something that they were not originally intended to be. Secondly, we know that these writings are not directly inspired without the effect of the human host. We can differentiate writing style between authors. We can identify word choice and intellectual approach that reveal educational and cultural differences between the authors themselves. They also record events limited to their experience or second hand knowledge as well as events that seem significant from their perspective. This extends to the context they place events in, how they lead up to it and frame it. The imprint of the author is clear and undeniable. The humanity and therefore fallibility of the author is also clear.

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