Biblical Inerrancy and Infallibility is a Failed Theology
This debate will have five rounds. Round one is for introduction, while round two is opening arguments only. Round three and four are rebuttals and counter-rebuttals while round five is closing statements.
1. Use well-reputed sources. Tertiary sources with an obvious bent, and poor sourcing themselves, such as Answers in Genesis, cannot be used. You can, however, use the secondary or primary sources that they cite (Assuming they are not citing themselves). This applies to me as well. I will not be allowed to use poor sources like a skeptic blog, skepticpedia, or similar poorly-composed sources.
2. "God did it" in any way, shape, or form, is not an acceptable response. This is included in topics related to canonicity, preservation of texts, etc.
3. Simply rebutting attacks does not prove inerrancy. Instead, you also have to provide arguments, both theological and otherwise, for innerancy.
4. I would like to point out that I am a liberal Christian who believes Jesus Christ is the only Son of God who died to take away the sins of the world. That being, theological arguments are open and viable as well.
I am glad that I have been give the position of arguing in favor of an inerrant and infallible Word of God, as I am an Evangelical Christian myself, and fully believe that the Bible is without error.
Many thanks for the rule guidelines, this will allow me to question my sources and work on my thesis with an open mind. I certainly hope to achieve a higher level of academic debating skills, and I assure you I will not lean on the "God did It" argument.
This will be certainly interesting, as I am a Conservative Evangelical Christian. Of course, since we have a common faith in God, this should provide a nice common ground, so I am very happy to be debating with you for my first official debate.
Without further ado, I welcome your opening statement!
I am excited that my opponent has accepted this debate. We are both Christians, similar to age, and from no doubt similar backgrounds. I was born and raised in an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church, but during my senior year, I began to doubt my faith. By the summer, I was an agnostic. However, I am now a liberal Christian, with more faith in Jesus than faith in a book.
I will build my argument off of five ideas 1) The Bible has a faulty view of cosmology - 2) The Bible has a faulty view of ethics - 3) The Bible contains contradictions - 4) The Bible shows a polytheistic world - 5) The Bible's loss of textual integrity, poor canon, and poor composition make it difficult to view it as the "Word of God."
In this opener, I will lay down 1-4 while devoting another portion next round to dealing with the theological questions behind 5.
To begin, let's start with
1) The Bible has a faulty view of cosmology
To most fundamentalists and evangelicals, the Bible is a perfectly composed book that not only gives spiritual insight, but also shows us science and history as it truly is. The egregious view of Young Earth Creationism is a perfect view of that. Instead of turning this into a Creation v. Evolution debate, I would like to instead concentrate on verses that show a view of cosmology in which the earth is a flat disk with the dome sky surrounding it.
Starting in Genesis, we see a lot of this idea. Genesis chapter one starts off telling us about Creation. Take a moment and look closely at some of the statements it makes:
Genesis 1:1-2 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”
Genesis 1:6-9 “Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.
Starting right there in Genesis 1, we see the general idea of pre-exilic cosmology. Notice for a moment something that is forgotten by literalists: God never created water. He manipulated it, He commanded it, but He never created it. It was already in existence. The eternal water.
Notice also that God created an “expanse” to divide water “above the expanse” from waters below it. Is there an ocean above the sky? Hardly. The historian Josephus gives a little commentary to show that this view of a solid dome sky was not dead even after Jesus’ own death: “he placed the heaven over the whole world, and separated it from the other parts, and he determined it should stand by itself. He also placed a crystalline round it.”
On the third day, according to the text, God gathered the waters and land, respectively, into one place, a single pangea continent surrounded by a single, giant ocean. God did not create land in this story. Rather, God moved the water to allow dry land to appear. This is very different from the way we were taught in Sunday School, but it is what the text actually describes.
Another good text to show this view is Isaiah 40 :22
"It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;"
Some Evangelicals will honestly try to tell me that this is saying that the earth is round. No, it is stating that God sits on what is essentially a floating throne above a flat earth. This is made equally clear by the Hebrew words used. The first Hebrew word used for circle, if it were describing a sphere, is דּוּר (Dur) while the Hebrew word in Isaiah 40:22 is ח֣וּג (Hug), which literally means "flat circle." Also, this is not a metaphor or simile, because we see in the next part of the sentence "like grasshoppers," "like a curtain," and "like a tent." These are symbolized by Hebrew prepositions that are lacking in the part about the earth. For now, these are the two passages I will lay out for examination.
2) The Bible contains a faulty view of ethics
The Old Testament especially views women as objects, slavery was accepted, violence was rampant, and "family values" were at an all time low. Consider a few of these verses with my commentary of why they are abhorrent
Exodus 21:20-21 "When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod, and the slave dies under his abuse, the owner must be punished. 21 However, if the slave can stand up after a day or two, the owner should not be punished because he is his owner’s property."
This text is a great double-whammy, showing both slavery as ownership of another human being, but also that this owner could beat that human being to near death without consequence, only at death or permanent maiming is there a mention of punishment. This is despicable. Note also that this is the direct law from God, not out of context. The direct words of God according to tradition.
Psalm 137:9 "Blessed is he who takes your little children and dashes their heads on the rocks!"
In this passage, found in a Psalm about revenge, shows graphically not only was the writer of the Psalm propagating revenge by killing babies and children, he also says you will be "blessed" because of it. If that's not sick, I do not know what is.
1 Samuel 15:3 "Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’
This time, the call to kill children via genocide is not from a mouthpiece of God like a Psalmist, but in context from God Himself. God commands the genocide of a people-group, including infants. That is wrong.
3) The Bible Contains Contradictions
This one will be a straight forward as well. I will lay out contradicting passages and offer my commentary
Matthew 3:17 "and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” "
Mark 1:11 "And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” "
These are obvious contradictions. What did the voice speak directly to Jesus, or to the crowd. To make matters worse, the author of Hebrews, Psalms, and the more likely variants in Luke indicates that it said "You are my beloved Son. Today I have become Your Father."
The second contradiction I want to call attention to is not in detail, but in broad storyline.
In John, the entire book is laid out with Jesus' signs
The seven signs are changing water into wine, healing the royal son, healing the paralytic, feeding the 5000, walking on water, healing the blind man, and raising Lazarus. The Greek word for "sign" is not the same for "miracle." The word for sign is σημεQ50;ον (sēmeion), while the word for miracle is δa3;ναμις (Dunamis).
According to John, Jesus did many, more signs to have us believe! How does that mesh with Jesus saying He will not give any signs at all?
4) The Bible Shows a Polytheistic World
There are several words for "God" used in Hebrew. Yahweh is the name of God (also called Jehovah). Adonai is a name meaning "Lord." Elohim means "God or gods" while El means "God, god, mighty one." To start, let's look at the word Elohim, and by extension, El. אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) is essentially the pluralization, using the hireq-yod-mem masculine plural suffix, of the word אֵל (El). Keep that in mind as we go that Elohim both is used as a plural word meaning gods and also a name for the Hebrew God. One way we can tell if it's being used as a plural or a singular is if another name for God (like YHWH) is used in the same passage. take a look at these polytheistic passages that I have transliterated the names of God and pluralization in order to have a clearer understanding.
It is also worth noting that El is a Canaanite god, so read it in that context as well.
Elohim takes His stand in His own congregation;
An El greatly feared in the council of the gods,
Much like yourself, I will build upon my thesis with a few fundamental points.
A) Scripture is Without Error or Fault
B) The Bible Is Historical Fact
C) The Authority of God Trumps Inaccuracies
D) Jesus Was a Sinless Deity
My opening statement will briefly touch each of the above mentioned ideas
Scripture is Without Error of Fault-
The fundamental ideas of Christianity are, and always have been, sculpted around scripture. The Holy Bible lays down many laws and regulations that form the Ideology of our faith. Of course, one might question the legitimacy or accuracy of Biblical passages, much like the Old Testament is often neglected as true law.
So how do we know that we can fully rely on Scripture? The simple answer would be because the Son of Man has no fault, therefore, the Word of God is without fault. I will touch on the Sinless nature of Jesus more heavily in my fourth fundamental, so for now, I wish to visit a few passages of Scripture to further evaluate my point.
1 John 3:5- You Know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in him there is no sin
From the get go, we are faced with the undeniable fact that the Son of Man was on a mission to cleanse the sinful nature of mankind, in order for that to happen, all sin must be removed from him. Therefore, if we believe in a perfect and Sinless God, we must also believe that his Word is absolute truth.
Psalm 12:6- The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times
In this passage the Word of the Lord is described to be as pure as silver tried in a furnace of earth, therefore, if it is believed that God is without sin, then the Lord himself must be pure. If any scriptural text is a lie or inaccurate, then our Lord has sinned, which is fundamentally impossible.
Proverbs 30:5- Everything God says is pure
Once again, scripture confirms the pureness of God, allowing us to conclude that all his works are without fault, meaning that the Bible is perfect in every way.
The Bible is Historical Fact-
Another way that we can confirm the infallible Word of God is through the History of the Bible itself. The Word of God is written in a historical tense, which describes names, places and events.
Through our human history, we have constantly worked to prove the Bibles canon through biblical archaeology (which I will elaborate further in upcoming arguments). For example, in 1907-1909, the ruins of Jericho where discovered at the base of a valley in Jordan, its collapsed state was presented in the same manner it was recounted in Biblical Texts.
So where am I going with this? Well, if we can believe the Bible to be true in some aspects, then should we not view the Bible as completely and utterly believable in all aspects?
John 20:31- But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name
This verse tells us that these things where written so that we may believe. The History of the Bible, was written in order to let us believe, so why would God purposely inject inaccuracies into his word that would deny us our assurance?
The Authority of God Trumps Inaccuracies -
We are told that God's Word never leads astray. It is important to recall that language used in the Bible may be used for many different purposes, and not to state facts only. For example, verses that may appear controversial may in fact be just a simile, or have a double meaning.
Matthew 13:31- He presented another parable to them, saying, the kingdom from heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in his field.
The overall point being, while scripture may appear to be flawed, God always has a reasoning behind his mentality, which trumps inaccuracies. Now I know this may be viewed as the "Because God said so" argument, but I assure that it is more than that. For Example,
Romans 8:28- And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose
We are told God has a reason for everything, for the greater good of those who love him. Implying the double meaning principle, we can also apply this to scriptural controversy.
Jesus Was a Sinless Deity-
The one thing that all Christians can agree about Jesus is his undeniable purity. The only reason that we have the assurance that our sins will be forgiven is through the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
2 Corinthians 5:21- He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him
If Jesus was impure, then the sins of the world would not have been able to be put on his shoulders
1 Peter 2:24- And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed
The point, once again, is that if our Lord was impure, than any works spoken through his tongue are failed by default. Therefore, the Bible itself would be false.
However, this is not the case, because our Lord is a perfect deity, anything he says or does is perfect, otherwise, our sins would not be forgiven.
That is my basic outline, I look forward to continuing the debate. Much like yourself, I believe this is enough text for now, I too shall save my sources for a later date (possibly the closing statement). Good luck to yourself, friend.
I appreciate my opponent's argument and look forward to the rest of this debate. Since my opponent's arguments were all theological, my fifth argument will also serve as a rebuttal, with specific applications to my opponent's arguments later on.
This last and final argument deals with the humanity of the Bible. When people say the Bible is the "Word of God," they usually imagined that it fell out of the sky one day, but this is not the case. Piece by piece, I will show how the Bible we have fails horridly to be called inerrant or infallible.
This argument will be broken down into three parts
1) Questionable Composition
Most people assume these books were written by one author, probably a prophet like Jeremiah, However, when we look at the books, we can clearly see that, although there certainly is scribal and editorial work, a good majority of the text of the Kings comes from earlier sources, some of which are named in the book, including the “Chronicles of the Kings” (1 Kings 14:19), “Acts of Solomon” (1 Kings 11:41), and “Annals of the Kings of Judah” (1 Kings 14:29). The same goes for the Samuels.
There are more textual variants in the New Testament Greek than words in the Greek. Variants mean that in one text, the passage says or is written one way, but in the other it changes. This is mostly based on pre-fourth century fragments and 4th and 5th century codexes, or complete copies of the New Testament. Here are some major variants, although there are many more
To my opponent, I thank you for your patience and your understanding, I assure that I will continue the argument regardless, and make a more in depth rubuttle in later arguments.
For now I hope this will suffice.....once again, I apologize, and hope that I can still provide some insight through my following comments.
Let us first consider the actions of the Holy Spirit. Numerous times in the Bible, the Holy Spirit has been mentioned and has directly interfered with mortal beings. Being that the Holy spirit is one of the tri-personalities of God, it is not only plausible, but highly likely that the Holy Spirit hold athority among men. We know from Biblical texts that the Word of God was in fact "God Breathed", even though mortal men physically scribed the Bible, the Word itself was inspired through God.
From my previous arguments, I debated the fact the because God is perfect all his works are perfect. I think that we need to look at this in a context, specifically the context of salvation.
First of all, how can we know we are saved? It is very clear in the Bible that our sins where forgiven on the cross. Now, in order for all the sins of the world to be cleansed by a single sacrifice, the sacrifice would literally have to be a "perfect" sacrifice. In the Old Testament it was common practise for a sinner to slay ox, sheep and goats in order to appease God. However, these animals where unclean, unperfect and would not suffice for an eternal salvation.
What God did was provide a perfect sacrifice, In order to cleanse sin.
So what's the point? Well, simply, if we believe we are saved then we must also believe in a perfect God, because without a perfect God, we would not be saved.
I think we are focusing too heavily on the technicality of the Word, and simply disregarding the basic fundementals of Christanity. If we are to be divided in the opinion that God is perfect, then we are in turn, doubting our salvation, doubting God and doubting our faith. If we so heavily disregard the Bible is unfactual, we are disregarding our entire Religion.
The Book of God was granted to humanity so we might be saved, it's not a tool for lies, trickery and misconseptions. It's our means for salvation, something that Jesus died for.
So I ask, if we can have faith in salvation, can we not have faith in God's Word? Because if not, then our entire belief system is a flawed doctrine.
Thank you for tolerating my very short rant, once again, I hope this will suffice.
God be with you, Brother.
1 John 5:13- "I write these things to you who believe in the name of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life
1Samuel15-3 forfeited this round.
Akoluthos forfeited this round.
1Samuel15-3 forfeited this round.
Akoluthos forfeited this round.