Why is the belief in Biblical inerrancy important to people?

I understand that few Christians have much familiarity with the contents of the Bible. From this, my best guess is that affirming that one believes in Biblical inerrancy is a way of saying that one is aligned with a particular sub-set of Christianity (I don't think the concept applies to Jews and the Tanakh or even the Torah, though it may apply to Moslems and the Qu'ran).

I don't want any discussion on the Dead Horse topic of Biblical inerrancy, but I would like to know why some people find it an important subject to convince others of the truth or falseness of the belief, or understand why others think it is.

For myself, the long step from interpreting the Bible to deciding how I should act in my particular circumstances, which is the enactment of my belief, renders Biblical inerrancy to be a less important matter, or even negating its value altogether. And this would still be the case even should the faith tradition regard itself as having the authoritative interpretation. And, as an extreme example, I would not submit to e.g. voting the way a church leader told me to vote.

So, what is your thinking on this? Please do not stray into Dead Horse territory.
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Comments

  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    I'll be quite interested in following this thread when it lands in Dead Horses. It's a good question, but as far as I can see, there is no way in hell that there can be a discussion of Biblical inerrancy without er, bringing up the details of Biblical inerrancy,

    (If this is too much junior hosting, I apologize.)
  • I'm gonna have a stab at keeping this Purgatorial...

    I think the main answer is one of confidence and security.

    The OP intimates that there is an element of culture identity and I think that's true - the concept of Bible believing church is how some strands of Evangelicalism like to describe themselves. However I think that is only a small part of it.

    The bigger part, I think, is one of how one does religion/faith/world view. (This is the bit that might stray in deceased equine territory:) I believe the Bible is true. I am probably on the more conservative end of biblical intepretation, and I do believe in inerrancy (for a given definition of inerrancy). Now, if asked, I would construct an inductively-reasoned argument for my belief which begins with Jesus of Nazareth. The reason for mentioning this is that I think there are ways of approaching this logically, but having spent a big part of my life in (UK) Evangelical circles, I don't think many people do that. My experience is that they believe it is true (or inerrent) because if you don't what else can you trust?

    As an aside, someone I know from way back who once told me (and sadly, this is literally true) "I don't intepret the Bible, I only read it" (which given he reads neither Hebrew nor Greek is interesting but still...) has been all over my Facebook page this weekendd complaining about something I wrote about refugees. Apparently they are all economic migrants AND an Islamic plot to invade Britain and bring in Sharia law... He is very much an outlier.

    Sorry, back to the point.

    This is my understanding of why inerrency is important to some:
    1) Knowing God is the most important thing
    2) God speaks in many ways and works through his spirit
    3) But it's really easy to get it wrong and be mistaken or misled
    4) Therefore I need something solid to check everything against
    5) That solid thing is God's Word*
    6) Thus I have to believe that the Bible is inerrent or I have nothing.

    I am sure we can all see the processes at work here and the problems with this view but I think this explains why it is so important to people. And to avoid the DH, I won't explain how I think differently about the Bible here.

    AFZ

    *'God's Word' - in conversations with this topic I always begin with the question "What does the Bible call The Word of God?
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Anything to the idea that it originated as a form of intellectual snobbery against Catholics? "Those guys won't even let their people LOOK at the Bible, we take it as the literal word of God and can all quote it chpater and verse?"

    That's being somewhat flippant, but I have heard protestants say stuff like that(even in a diluted for among moderates), so it does seem to be a badge of cultural pride for some of them. And if you live in a world where access to books is rather restricted, EXCEPT for one that gets handed out like chocolates(well, relative to Catholic distribution), you might kinda end up fetishizing that one book.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited January 28
    I'd very much go along with @alienfromzog, I think too there is the fear that, if you start questioning one little bit (such as a very literalistic interpretation to the creation stories), then you've pulled out the rug from under the whole thing and it comes crashing down.

    FWIW I think this specific insistence on "inerrancy" is a relatively modern phenomenon, born (like most fundamentalisms) out of a fear that established norms are changing and need to be shored up. I suspect it is a theological response to allegedly "liberal" approaches to Scripture and a cultural response to a presumed loss of absolute moral values in society.
  • The key concept that comes up several times in the OP is interpretation. For a legacy DH thread on this topic, see here.

    Theological questions aside, I think certain people have a tendency to think very literally in the sense that by temperament, they find it difficult to draw a distinction between Saussure's sign, signifier, and signified (see also here).

    The idea that there might not be a universal one-to-one correlation between signifier and signified is not just theologically disturbing to such people, it's almost conceptually impossible, so as @alienfromzog suggests, such an idea will be very disturbing for them.

    Of course, Saussure's theory is not the only theory of semiotics, and I find the subject hard to hold steady conceptually myself, but it does make a lot of sense to me, especially so as somebody fluent in more than one language. (I recently had a guy giving a talk on machine translation struggling as a result. I think machine translation theorists would probably make good inerrantists).
  • All that slightly passes over my head, but I think I see what you're getting at. However, I wonder if you've slightly missed the point that inerrantists will say that the inerrancy lies in the Scriptures "as originally given", i.e. in the languages they were written in rather than translations (yes, I know that the AV/KJV is often regarded by them as sacred!) Of course this then raises all sorts of questions about the development of the Biblical texts over time, which IME are usually brushed aside as unworthy liberal quaverings.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    Peaople need certainty, especially in uncertain times. If God is unreliable then who can we trust? If we can’t trust what we read about God, where can we find that certainty?

    I think the need is based in fear - just as any other ‘certainty’ is (political certainty and intellectual certainty come to mind)
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited January 28
    I think this comes down to stickiness. Inerrancy is a sticky belief - to the extent that those born into it, or who have experienced it for a long time, find it very difficult to conceptualise any other understanding. Not impossible, just very difficult.

    I think that breaks down to several other factors.

    First it is complicated (or at least sound complex), and many people naturally latch onto complicated sounding ideas.

    Second, it appears to cover all the bases - so alternatives can be dismissed in a way that seems to make sense.

    Third, there are a group of highly motivated mercenary voices who have platforms which encourage the faithful to stay on the straight-and-narrow.

    Of course it is more complicated than this characterisation. But, in general, means that believers are only able to conceive of ideas along narrow lines, dismiss alternatives and have a black/white notion of belief/non-belief.

    Of course they are not alone in this. I suppose it is (or can be seen to be) particularly problematic because the "acceptable" beliefs are so narrow and the company sargeants are so loud and shouty.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited January 28
    Boogie wrote: »
    Peaople need certainty, especially in uncertain times. If God is unreliable then who can we trust? If we can’t trust what we read about God, where can we find that certainty?

    I think the need is based in fear - just as any other ‘certainty’ is (political certainty and intellectual certainty come to mind)

    Problem is that that is a politician's syllogism;

    I need something solid to believe
    This is something solid
    Therefore I will believe this

    Cf.

    Dogs have four legs
    My cat has four legs
    Therefore my cat is a dog.
  • inerrantists will say that the inerrancy lies in the Scriptures "as originally given", i.e. in the languages they were written in rather than translations (yes, I know that the AV/KJV is often regarded by them as sacred!)

    "If [the KJV] was good enough for the Apostle Paul, it's good enough for me!"

    'As originally given' is a cop-out which generally translates into "my guru's interpretation is the only correct one". The absence of any concept of 'signifier-signified' simply erases the problems inherent in translation - that there is no such thing as one-on-one mapping from one language to another - that we have discussed before.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    inerrantists will say that the inerrancy lies in the Scriptures "as originally given", i.e. in the languages they were written in rather than translations (yes, I know that the AV/KJV is often regarded by them as sacred!)

    "If [the KJV] was good enough for the Apostle Paul, it's good enough for me!"

    'As originally given' is a cop-out which generally translates into "my guru's interpretation is the only correct one". The absence of any concept of 'signifier-signified' simply erases the problems inherent in translation - that there is no such thing as one-on-one mapping from one language to another - that we have discussed before.

    In fairness, it's part of the language of belief for them.

    To me it feels like any other regimented belief system that looks bonkers from the outside.

    I think it's.. quite sweet in that "totally bonkers" sense that I get when reading about Shakers and Christian Science.

    Of course, it's also plain to see the darker side of it too.

  • KarlLB wrote: »
    Boogie wrote: »
    Peaople need certainty, especially in uncertain times. If God is unreliable then who can we trust? If we can’t trust what we read about God, where can we find that certainty?

    I think the need is based in fear - just as any other ‘certainty’ is (political certainty and intellectual certainty come to mind)

    Problem is that that is a politician's syllogism;

    I need something solid to believe
    This is something solid
    Therefore I will believe this

    Cf.

    Dogs have four legs
    My cat has four legs
    Therefore my cat is a dog.

    Of course it is. But that doesn't matter. People hold on to the certainty. It's mistaking the certainty of certain theologies for the certainty of God.

    @eutythus is right but that's definitely drifting into an ex-horse territory.

    AFZ
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    Boogie wrote: »
    Peaople need certainty, especially in uncertain times. If God is unreliable then who can we trust? If we can’t trust what we read about God, where can we find that certainty?

    I think the need is based in fear - just as any other ‘certainty’ is (political certainty and intellectual certainty come to mind)

    Problem is that that is a politician's syllogism;

    I need something solid to believe
    This is something solid
    Therefore I will believe this

    Cf.

    Dogs have four legs
    My cat has four legs
    Therefore my cat is a dog.

    Of course it is. But that doesn't matter. People hold on to the certainty. It's mistaking the certainty of certain theologies for the certainty of God.

    @eutythus is right but that's definitely drifting into an ex-horse territory.

    AFZ

    I think this is being a tad unkind, tbh. It's a belief that others don't share. Which others see as mistaken.

    But there is a level of vehemence leveled at this subsection of Christianity that one doesn't normally hear about the other weird beliefs in other corners.

    I dunno. Maybe it's just a reaction to the volume of this kind of message.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    KarlLB wrote: »
    Boogie wrote: »
    Peaople need certainty, especially in uncertain times. If God is unreliable then who can we trust? If we can’t trust what we read about God, where can we find that certainty?

    I think the need is based in fear - just as any other ‘certainty’ is (political certainty and intellectual certainty come to mind)

    Problem is that that is a politician's syllogism;

    I need something solid to believe
    This is something solid
    Therefore I will believe this

    Cf.

    Dogs have four legs
    My cat has four legs
    Therefore my cat is a dog.

    Of course it is. But that doesn't matter. People hold on to the certainty. It's mistaking the certainty of certain theologies for the certainty of God.

    @eutythus is right but that's definitely drifting into an ex-horse territory.

    AFZ

    I think this is being a tad unkind, tbh. It's a belief that others don't share. Which others see as mistaken.

    But there is a level of vehemence leveled at this subsection of Christianity that one doesn't normally hear about the other weird beliefs in other corners.

    I dunno. Maybe it's just a reaction to the volume of this kind of message.

    You have a point. I was trying to be kind. I think it reads better if you read all my posts as a whole.

    I am coming at this from a position of still describing myself as an evangelical. I do hold the Bible to be true. Whilst at the same time believing is serious scholarship both in terms of theology and all the other disciplines that inform our understanding of the Bible.

    Most people I know who hold the view that the Bible is inerrant because it has to be don't suffer as a consequence; they follow Jesus. It's just that they haven't thought it through.

    That's life. I am always discovering things that I haven't thought through. Often doing so confirms what I believed before, just now with more depth. Sometimes I was completely wrong and now I know more...

    AFZ
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited January 28
    I think this is a Dead Horse. There may be some wider Purgatorial topics covering the "why" questions of belief. But this focuses on an aspect of inerrancy, which is a DH topic, and here is the key line from the DH guidelines.
    If you want to discuss any aspect of those subjects, post your thread here. (i.e. in Dead Horses).

    So I'm going to ask Admin to move the thread.

    Barnabas62
    Purgatory and Dead Horse Host
  • The question was why. I've tried to suggest some non-theological answers.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    I think the simple answer to the OP is that folks fight hard because they fear the loss of faith if they lose. And this is not a trivial point. My personal escape from fundamentalism happened in about 1981 and I did suffer a loss of faith as a result. Wandered in a personal wilderness for over a year. Got reconnected and have remained a Christian for almost 40 years since. But that year was painful and confusing both for me, and for those who loved me. There is a loss involved.

    My own journey back was greatly helped by the observation of a local Anglican vicar, for whom I have great respect. He said that God was in the business of breaking false images, and refining imperfect ones. The breaking and/or refining processes were indeed painful, but they were necessary. He pointed to the conversion of Saul, observed that Saul's relentless pursuit of Christians brought him to a crisis point, within which he saw that his persecution which he thought was just was in fact wrong. And he was subject to a catastrophic personal collapse.

    In his very fine book "Join the Company", Adrian Plass, reflecting on his own collapse, observed that he cried out "I can't lock them up in any more". He was working in a secure residence for children which required him to make sure they were locked in for the night. He hated doing that, even though it was necessary, but he observes in the book that his cry was a a metaphor for things he was locking up inside himself. All sorts of questions of faith and personal identity which were in conflict with his perception of the faith he had received. In his own terms, he went off the rails for months.

    Escaping fundamentalism can be a very painful journey. There is a lot more involved than simply adjusting your thinking.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited January 28
    All that slightly passes over my head, but I think I see what you're getting at. However, I wonder if you've slightly missed the point that inerrantists will say that the inerrancy lies in the Scriptures "as originally given", i.e. in the languages they were written in rather than translations.

    I realise I may not have addressed this objection fully.

    I think the issue of translation is a secondary although related one. I think some people think that before we even begin to consider issues of translation, words in and of themselves have an intrinsic, set meaning; that they are inseparable from a specific concept they refer to. How something is said is inseparable from the underlying reality, so the idea of any room for doubt or interpretation of a word suggests that reality itself is uncertain.

    (It's really hard to actually put this in words!).
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited January 28
    No, I see just what you mean and I'm sure you're right. Of course, as far as Scripture is concerned, the danger can be that one focuses on the words themselves rather than passing through the words to see the reality they describe. As far as translation is concerned, you probably know better than I that the shades of meaning and associations linked with a word in one language are very rarely continuous with those in another - hence the "dynamic equivalence" approach to Bible translation so hated by Fundamentalists.
  • Certainty is a highly addictive experience
  • No, I see just what you mean and I'm sure you're right. Of course, as far as Scripture is concerned, the danger can be that one focuses on the words themselves rather than passing through the words to see the reality they describe.

    I think it's even more, um, fundamental than that.

    Some people seem to think solely in words. Others don't. I suspect people who do have more of an inbuilt tendency towards inerrantism.

  • AnteaterAnteater Shipmate
    There are clearly lots on this ship, who (like me) at one time found it essential to have a certain knowledge about what life and the universe is all about.
    As a JW I believed that the Bible was infallible but not that it's interpretation was plain, and so really had the Watchtower Society as guide, even though they persuaded us it was really the Bible.
    Then I got exposed to critical theories of the Bible, and ended up having lost my belief that the Bible was reliable, but this landed me in the loss of faith scenario described by others, which as a socially isolated and introverted 17 year old, I couldn't handle. A friend of mine says that in her family people are Christian or insane, and there is something in this, as I am from a family that is near the edge. So I did sort of retreat back into a safer world (read Orwell's essay "In the whale") and this was a genuine but probably wise failure of bravery.
    I end up as a Banner of Truth Calvinist and that stayed with me for the best part of 25 years. It is a very attractive belief system, (especially if you are relatively non-empathic and can cope with predestination). And I do now look back with a slight shudder at some of the totally horseshit I signed up to. But to be honest, that journey did me a lot of favours. I got and remain married, I got my life reasonably on track, and the tradition I was in was not whacky. There was no flogging of controversial doctrine. I think I only heard one sermon that was dedicated to predestination. Most of the teaching was zeal for God and love of the brethren. But it was in the background.

    Basically I got to the stage where I could psychologically handle losing my infallible guide. And if you get there, the rest is, sort of, easy. Because the quality of credentials of would be infallible guides is pretty poor. I think conservative Christianity is a socially acceptable delusional community for people who aren't ready to accept the real world. Or to put it another way "I came not to call the healthy but the sick". And I'm grateful for it.

  • GracieGracie Shipmate
    This is an interesting discussion. It appeared to me a few years ago, when I discovered that the CNEF and the World Evangelical Alliance had replaced the notion of inerrancy with that of infallibility, that one of the major unspoken and probably unacknowledged reasons for the doctrine was to counter their perception of the doctrine of papal infallibilty.

    As others have said, there is a need for certaintly so if the Pope isn't infallible it must be the Scriptures.
  • For me, brought up in UK evangelicalism with the likes of Jim Packer and CS Lewis as mentors/inspiration (through their writings) I emphatically take the Bible seriously as "Word of God".

    But over the years I've concluded that 'inerrant', though well-meant, is an inappropriate term because it invites a 'dumb wooden literalism' approach where the Bible is far more flexible in its use of figures of speech, different genres, and other literary devices. Packer does accept the term 'inerrant' but qualifies it by pointing out that Reformation Bible interpretation was not 'literal' in the modern sense, which tends to use 'literal' to mean what I'd call 'dumb wooden literalism'.

    In contrast Packer in his book "Fundamentalism and the Word of God" uses an informative quote from the translator Tyndale - certainly a person who took the Bible seriously - which explains how the 'literal sense' was understood in the late-medieval/Reformation era as one part of the 'four-fold sense' system of interpretation, in contrast to other somewhat exotic senses like the 'allegorical'. As then understood, 'literal' or 'according to the letter' meant something more like what we'd phrase as 'reading it like an ordinary book' and therefore not just making allowances for but positively glorying in all those "figures of speech, different genres, and other literary devices" which are normal human use of language. And as I understand it, the original early C20 'Fundamentals' did intend that kind of view rather than the 'dumb wooden literalism' that we tend to associate with 'fundamentalism' nowadays.

    To take a modern example to make my point, one might explore the Russian Revolution via detailed historical records; or one might read Orwell's "Animal Farm". Orwell's view is 'true' and 'valid' etc in important ways - but describing the 1917 Revolution in terms of a revolt by animals on an English farm is not realistically an 'inerrant' account!
  • Anteater, I'm not a Christian but your post above is psychologically compelling, and utterly authentic, so kudos.

  • In contrast Packer in his book "Fundamentalism and the Word of God" uses an informative quote from the translator Tyndale - certainly a person who took the Bible seriously - which explains how the 'literal sense' was understood in the late-medieval/Reformation era as one part of the 'four-fold sense' system of interpretation, in contrast to other somewhat exotic senses like the 'allegorical'. As then understood, 'literal' or 'according to the letter' meant something more like what we'd phrase as 'reading it like an ordinary book' and therefore not just making allowances for but positively glorying in all those "figures of speech, different genres, and other literary devices" which are normal human use of language. And as I understand it, the original early C20 'Fundamentals' did intend that kind of view rather than the 'dumb wooden literalism' that we tend to associate with 'fundamentalism' nowadays.

    It's highly unlikely that Tyndale or Wycliffe were in any sense on the same page as Packer, though.
    To take a modern example to make my point, one might explore the Russian Revolution via detailed historical records; or one might read Orwell's "Animal Farm". Orwell's view is 'true' and 'valid' etc in important ways - but describing the 1917 Revolution in terms of a revolt by animals on an English farm is not realistically an 'inerrant' account!

    Not a great example. Nobody learns much about Russia from reading Animal Farm. Indeed, it is perfectly possible to read it and to be unaware it is even an allegory about Russia.
  • It's not a great example of what is usually understood by "inerrancy", no. Present-day inerrantists would accept allegory in Scripture, but they would still say the original texts were "without error" - or indeed, according to @Gracie, they would now go so far as to declare them infallible :flushed:
  • @Steve Langton That's pretty much my position.

    AFZ
  • Thinking about the OP some more, maybe there are two different questions.

    First, why is this doctrine such an integral part of (some) the corporate package of many people's faith.

    Second, how is it that people who believe this doctrine cling onto it so hard.

    They seem to me to be tough questions to answer, but the one is not quite the same as the other.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »

    In contrast Packer in his book "Fundamentalism and the Word of God" uses an informative quote from the translator Tyndale - certainly a person who took the Bible seriously - which explains how the 'literal sense' was understood in the late-medieval/Reformation era as one part of the 'four-fold sense' system of interpretation, in contrast to other somewhat exotic senses like the 'allegorical'. As then understood, 'literal' or 'according to the letter' meant something more like what we'd phrase as 'reading it like an ordinary book' and therefore not just making allowances for but positively glorying in all those "figures of speech, different genres, and other literary devices" which are normal human use of language. And as I understand it, the original early C20 'Fundamentals' did intend that kind of view rather than the 'dumb wooden literalism' that we tend to associate with 'fundamentalism' nowadays.

    It's highly unlikely that Tyndale or Wycliffe were in any sense on the same page as Packer, though.

    Obviously the argument had moved on by the 1950s when Packer wrote his book in response to, inter alia, if I remember rightly, reaction to the Billy Graham Crusades. But the basic point stands that the medieval/Reformation idea of the 'literal sense' was not the 'dumb wooden literalism' we often associate with 'literal' interpretation, but something more subtle. Packer may be on a later page but he's clearly in the same book.
    To take a modern example to make my point, one might explore the Russian Revolution via detailed historical records; or one might read Orwell's "Animal Farm". Orwell's view is 'true' and 'valid' etc in important ways - but describing the 1917 Revolution in terms of a revolt by animals on an English farm is not realistically an 'inerrant' account!

    Not a great example. Nobody learns much about Russia from reading Animal Farm. Indeed, it is perfectly possible to read it and to be unaware it is even an allegory about Russia.

    Of course - though I don't think Orwell's original readership would have easily missed the point of his allegory. It is one of the values of the work, hinted at in calling one pig Napoleon, that though clearly an allegory of the Russian events, and a help in understanding them, it is much more widely applicable.

  • Well, I read "Animal Farm" as a teenager without knowing what it was abou!t - but, then, people do that with the Bible too!

    Steve, I agree with most of what you say, especially where you set what one might call "free literalism" over and against the flights of allegorical fancy so common in the Middle Ages (though I have come across something not too different in some Evangelical writings). I also very much agree about recognising Biblical figures of speech as such: I'm sure that the Psalmist, for example, was perfectly aware that trees in fields don't have hands with which to clap!

    Having said that, I think the nub of what this post is about is contained in Mr. Cheesy's pertinent questions.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited January 28
    mr cheesy wrote: »

    In contrast Packer in his book "Fundamentalism and the Word of God" uses an informative quote from the translator Tyndale - certainly a person who took the Bible seriously - which explains how the 'literal sense' was understood in the late-medieval/Reformation era as one part of the 'four-fold sense' system of interpretation, in contrast to other somewhat exotic senses like the 'allegorical'. As then understood, 'literal' or 'according to the letter' meant something more like what we'd phrase as 'reading it like an ordinary book' and therefore not just making allowances for but positively glorying in all those "figures of speech, different genres, and other literary devices" which are normal human use of language. And as I understand it, the original early C20 'Fundamentals' did intend that kind of view rather than the 'dumb wooden literalism' that we tend to associate with 'fundamentalism' nowadays.

    It's highly unlikely that Tyndale or Wycliffe were in any sense on the same page as Packer, though.

    Obviously the argument had moved on by the 1950s when Packer wrote his book in response to, inter alia, if I remember rightly, reaction to the Billy Graham Crusades. But the basic point stands that the medieval/Reformation idea of the 'literal sense' was not the 'dumb wooden literalism' we often associate with 'literal' interpretation, but something more subtle. Packer may be on a later page but he's clearly in the same book.
    To take a modern example to make my point, one might explore the Russian Revolution via detailed historical records; or one might read Orwell's "Animal Farm". Orwell's view is 'true' and 'valid' etc in important ways - but describing the 1917 Revolution in terms of a revolt by animals on an English farm is not realistically an 'inerrant' account!

    Not a great example. Nobody learns much about Russia from reading Animal Farm. Indeed, it is perfectly possible to read it and to be unaware it is even an allegory about Russia.

    Of course - though I don't think Orwell's original readership would have easily missed the point of his allegory. It is one of the values of the work, hinted at in calling one pig Napoleon, that though clearly an allegory of the Russian events, and a help in understanding them, it is much more widely applicable.

    There was a famous book reviewer when it came out who couldn't understand what the fuss was about. He thought it was a not-very-good children's story.

    I'm not sure I can be bothered to look for the reference, but I'm fairly sure I remember that correctly.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Gracie wrote: »
    This is an interesting discussion. It appeared to me a few years ago, when I discovered that the CNEF and the World Evangelical Alliance had replaced the notion of inerrancy with that of infallibility, that one of the major unspoken and probably unacknowledged reasons for the doctrine was to counter their perception of the doctrine of papal infallibilty.

    As others have said, there is a need for certaintly so if the Pope isn't infallible it must be the Scriptures.

    If that really was the reason, the CNEF and WEA might have wanted to research exactly how infallibility is applied in the RCC. To make a long story short, papal infallibility has only been invoked in regards to a tiny number of issues. Whereas evangelicals usually suggest that biblical authority is meant to cover everything discussed or described in the entire Bible.

  • GracieGracie Shipmate

    If that really was the reason, the CNEF and WEA might have wanted to research exactly how infallibility is applied in the RCC. To make a long story short, papal infallibility has only been invoked in regards to a tiny number of issues. Whereas evangelicals usually suggest that biblical authority is meant to cover everything discussed or described in the entire Bible.

    Exactly - there is a need to feel that their infallibity is superior. The appearance of the word infallible in this context is really very recent and has made its way in without most people even noticing.
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Hell Host
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    Not a great example. Nobody learns much about Russia from reading Animal Farm. Indeed, it is perfectly possible to read it and to be unaware it is even an allegory about Russia.

    I'd argue that this is exactly why it's a brilliant example. Just like when people read the Bible, and completely miss the allegory.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    I have the feeling that belief in Biblical inerrancy is sometimes related to people having a strong cause-consequence, if-then-else kind of thinking.
  • Sorry, I don't understand.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Well, I read "Animal Farm" as a teenager without knowing what it was abou!t - but, then, people do that with the Bible too! ...
    I would have thought it was quite difficult to read any of the four gospels without realising they are about Jesus. He does rather figure quite a lot in all four of them.

  • I wasn't just thinking about the Gospels, but I take your point ...
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    First it is complicated (or at least sound complex), and many people naturally latch onto complicated sounding ideas.

    It's interesting you say this because to me it looks like it's simple and simplistic.
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Some people seem to think solely in words. Others don't. I suspect people who do have more of an inbuilt tendency towards inerrantism.

    I can accept this as long as you say "tendency" and not "certainty." I am a words-thinker; I cannot think in pictures at all. But I have an inbuilt revulsion at inerrantism.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    Not a great example. Nobody learns much about Russia from reading Animal Farm. Indeed, it is perfectly possible to read it and to be unaware it is even an allegory about Russia.

    I'd argue that this is exactly why it's a brilliant example. Just like when people read the Bible, and completely miss the allegory.
    People miss the allegory in Animal Farm because it is a well crafted, single work that is coherent even without the subtext.
    The Bible is a conglomeration of multiple styles, authors and intents. I think missing allegory in it comes from different places.
  • Now you're here, perhaps you'd like to slake my curiosity: what's the extent of your knowledge of the Bible? Is it a book you grew up with, one you read only in later life, once believed in, have read in its entirety...?
  • Is it that various groups wanted to inherit the Chosen People of God mantle? So they read the OT particularly as applying to them. Often in support of ideas of conquest, empire, extermination. It justified a lot. Then we move along to inherited cultural memes.
  • I've resisted saying anything, and I'll probably be sorry, but these kinds of threads bother me. So many of you are theorizing about what drives other people (and much of the theorizing is negative). You have inerrantists on board. I'm one. You could ask. And maybe respect the answers?

    I really don't think I'm an insecure, imperialist freak.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    Some people seem to think solely in words. Others don't. I suspect people who do have more of an inbuilt tendency towards inerrantism.
    I think in terms of words; my wife thinks much more in terms of imagery and story. There's not much to choose between us on (in)errancy, though.

  • You have inerrantists on board. I'm one. You could ask.

    OK. I'm asking.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    Now you're here, perhaps you'd like to slake my curiosity: what's the extent of your knowledge of the Bible?
    I've read much of it and read a bit by those trying to understand it.
    Is it a book you grew up with,
    Yes, however not likely in the way you did. I don't really do biographical info, but I've a long association with Christians discussing the texts and their meanings. In no way do I make the claim to be an expert, but then nor do I think most Christians are either.
    I'm curious as well. As your question came after my statement:
    The Bible is a conglomeration of multiple styles, authors and intents. I think missing allegory in it comes from different places.
    Is there anything in that you dispute? Or is it coincidental to your curiosity?
  • No, I just leaped on your contribution to the thread to ask :)
  • Okay, I'm going to try to do this in bits and pieces throughout the day. (Sick but at work today)

    First of all, we need to do something about our vocabulary. I'm hearing some people say "inerrantist" and by that they seem to mean "wooden literalist, fool". Others allow for a limited amount of allegory.

    I don't know how to fix this, but I will say that I have never met an inerrantist (I'm LCMS) who does NOT recognize that parables are fiction, symbolism and allegory exist, there is such a thing as metaphor, poetry has different rules than straight reportage, and the like. We may disagree on whether a specific passage was meant as metaphor/symbol/fiction or whatever, but we're not going to scream "lie!" when someone points out the non-factual nature of (say) "Thy breasts are two fawns, twins of one mother."

    More later.
  • It is more than literary style, though. It is a denial that subjective cultural rubbish (yes, like the gay thing) is mixed in despite it being incompatible with either reality or a loving God.
    Things like slavery and beating your child to death are explained away, yet other things are inerrant. It is well more than “wooden literalism” that is problematic.
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