Monday, June 08, 2009

I do believe in inerrancy after all

First, a plug for James White's debate with Bart Ehrman:

This is an excellent debate (easy for me to say since it's the only debate on this topic I've ever watched, and I liked it, so my approval is a given).

I do believe in Biblical inerrancy, after struggling for a couple of months with this issue. I just do not accept certain passages are truly genuine and canonical (such as the pericope on adultery in John 7:53-8:11, the last twelve verses of Mark in 16:9-20, and the Johannine Comma in 1 John 5:7). Though I grew up with the KJV, and still tend to prefer it by habit if nothing else, my favorite translations now would focus on the ESV, NASB, and NRSV probably (I like the NKJV too, to a lesser extent).

This is just a personal observation; it's not a statement of personal inerrancy (I could be wrong, and I admit it). So, if you disagree with me, please don't write me off as without hope.


Vinny said...

You might want to check out the 2008 Greer-Heard Forum at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. There is a debate between Dan Wallace and Bart Ehrman, some interesting Q&A sessions, and presentations from two more liberal scholars and two more conservatives.

As an agnostic, I always think that Ehrman wins these things, but it is much more interesting when he goes up against a scholar of Wallace's caliber. It looked to me like White relied on Wallace for some of his arguments, but did not make them as effectively.

Byroniac said...

Hey, Vinny; thanks for stopping by!

I've never heard Dan Wallace, but James White did use some of Dan Wallace's argumentation apparently. Bart Ehrman is more entertaining to listen to as a speaker than James White, but of course I have to vote in favor of James White. Unfortunately, I think the cross-examination showed that some of James White's arguments might not present as strong a case as at first. But, I'll have to check that out sometime. Thanks.

Byroniac said...

I meant, I'll have to check out the 2008 Greer-Heard Forum sometime.

Vinny said...

There were several interesting points that Wallace made at the Greer-Heard debate to which Ehrman didn't respond simply because he wanted to use his time to talk about other issues. I think White expected to score some points with these these arguments because he assumed that Ehrman was ducking them out of fear. He found himself with egg on his face when it turned out that Ehrman had reasonable responses to them. I think White simply tried to put too much weight on arguments that were actually a fairly small part of Wallace's overall position.

One reviewer who was unimpressed with White's performance said the problem was that when someone is needed to examine a newly discovered manuscript, Ehrman is at the top of the speed-dial while White's not even in the phonebook. I would venture that Wallace is most definitely in the phonebook and possibly in a very respectable slot on the speed-dial.

Byroniac said...

Vinny, your viewpoints might be right. I think the reason that James White is not on the speed dial list as you put it, would probably be because he does not have the same educational background as Dan Wallace, and his career is that of an apologist and theologian, not primarily concerned with textual criticism. I like Bart Ehrman, and I believe he was very fair in the debate, and an entertaining speaker but more importantly, a good teacher. However, in my book, James White is unique, and he is the only one I know of who would go around with a P52 tie! I love it.

Vinny said...

White is most certainly unique.

Byroniac said...

I think it is interesting to point out that Bart Ehrman flatly stated in the debate that out of 9 theses in his book Misquoting Jesus, James White agreed with 8.5 of them, a statement that James White did not deny. I don't know why, but somehow that makes me feel better. I have to reject fundamentalism due to my changing beliefs and personally, I feel like the KJV belongs in a museum, as a product of literature. Like James White said, if his position is right, we have a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle but we have 1,010 pieces in the box. It's not a matter of deleting from Scripture, then, but adding unto it.

Vinny said...

That’s an interesting point but I think Ehrman is probably right about it not enjoying wide acceptance in the field. One of the conservative presentations at the Greer-Heard Forums was given by Michael Holmes of Biola University. Like Ehrman, Holmes studied under Bruce Metzger at Princeton. He did not follow Ehrman’s spiritual path though. In his talk, however, he was critical of Kurt Aland’s theory that all the original readings are in the manuscripts somewhere and he explained why he did not think it held water.

I’m certainly not qualified to say who is right about Aland, but I think White probably should have spent a little more of his preparation time getting up to speed on the current thinking in textual criticism and a little less combing through Ehrman’s writings.

Byroniac said...

Ehrman's point (which I have no reason to doubt) was even worse than that, if memory serves. He said something about only evangelical scholars holding to the preservation of the Scriptures, which I find to be simultaneously believable and troubling.

I would like to hear that bit from Holmes perspective.

In defense of James White, I think he probably did not have sufficient time to prepare in that area and so chose to follow the most reasonable option of focusing study on your opponent (that's just conjecture on my part, though). I was thinking this morning that Bart Ehrman probably won the debate, but I am not sure. If James White did win it, I believe he won it by a small margin. I don't know how to say this, because I am sure it is obvious to you and to other readers, but I want to make a confession that I see this too: I am not at all objective in this, and I have to admit my bias. So there, the cat's out of the bag!

Vinny said...

Actually, you seem pretty fair minded to me. I have seen several bloggers who claim that White whipped Ehrman from start to finish, a conclusion that I consider absurd. You are objective enough to see the shortcomings in White's approach.

I think my evaluation is shaped by several debates in which Ehrman faced more forbiddable competition like Dan Wallace, William Lane Craig, and even Mike Licona (who I would rank below Wallace and Craig but ahead of White).

If you get a chance to check out the other three debates, I think you will see how much better the conservative side can be handled. If you do so and still think White won this one, then I might deem you hopelessly biased.