Science in Christian Perspective
Letters to the Editor
Others Were Not
Steiner, Hartzler, Geisler
Bradford E. Steiner, M.D.
376 River Glen Avenue
Elmhurst, Illinois 60126
I received the June 1979 issue of the Journal ASA a few days ago and am commenting on the articles on the inerrancy of the Bible.
The statement of faith of the ASA reads: (1) The Holy Scriptures are the inspired Word of God, the only unerring guide of faith and conduct. For all practical purposes unerring and inerrant mean the same thing: making no mistakes, not erring, accurate, infallible (Britannica Dictionary). Members of the ASA endorse the inerrancy of the Bible, or are supposed to.
Attacks on the inerrancy of the Bible are not new. Fifty years ago Bible scholars ridiculed the inerrancy of the Scriptures with teachings that the hook of Jonah was a fable, the Hittite people did not exist, Isaiah and the Pentateuch had multiple authors, Jesus was only a man and divine to the same extent that man is divine and has a spark of God in him, all religions lead to God and salvation, the world is getting better and all men will some day be good, God is a loving God and all men will reach heaven and there is no hell, etc. I was confronted by these teachings and influenced by them as were the other young people of my day. I praise the Lord that He was with me during this confrontation and that He helped me to reject these false teachings and commit myself more strongly to the fundamental doctrines of the Bible including the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection of the Dead, Salvation through Christ alone, the inerrancy of the Bible, and the Second Coming of Christ.
If you do away with the inerrancy of the Bible, you are free to throw out any portion or teaching of the Bible that you do not like. I feel that the ASA should strongly support the inerrancy of the Bible which is part of the doctrinal statement of the ASA. I believe that this was the intent of the founders of the ASA. I think that it is an error to publish articles in the Journal in a favorable light that are opposed to the doctrinal statement of the ASA.
H. Harold Hartzler
1311 Warren Street
Mankato, Minnesota 56001
I am wondering how far we should go in our eagerness to be scientific to start
to undermine the authority of Scripture. When we think of the Bible
I wonder just how far this will take us. In our doctrinal statement
we state that
the Bible is "the only unerring guide of faith and conduct." We also
'the Holy Scriptures are the inspired Word of God." To me this has meant that the Bible is always reliable and that it contains no errors in the autographs. However by the June issue of the Journal I see a quite different position.
I am asking what this may lead to in the long run. Is this not the beginning of a departure from the faith? I know that you have done a fine job in defending your position but it does not satisfy me. I believe that there are others who will agree with me. You have properly emphasized the fact that we may have only partial truth. However when it comes to the Word of God, this is not partial truth. When Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the life," he is not stating a partial truth, if I understand the meaning.
As I see your position, it leads to more and more departure from the truth that we do have in the Bible. If the Bible contains errors, where do we stop. Perhaps the Bible is in error in many areas which are important in the matter of salvation. Was Jesus truly human and truly divine? I know many so-called Christians who declare that he was only human. And so it goes from one bad thing to another. So I am wondering what is our guide. Do you have an infallible guide as to which part of the Bible is in error and which is perfect?
This is a matter of deep concern to me and I think that it should be of concern to all.
(Ed. Note - In subsequent correspondence. Dr. Hartzler has graciously responded as follows, "I feel well now that you have explained your point of view with regard to errors in the Bible. I agree with you that we need to understand the real meaning of the term 'inerrancy' and! now am satisfied with your interpretation of that word. I have read and reread your article in the September 1963 issue of the Journal ASA, "A Perspective on Scriptural Inerrancy, "and now feel that I can agree with most of what you have said. ")
Norman L. Geisler Director, Publications Division International
Council on Biblical
Inerrancy P.O. Box 13261, Oakland, California 94661
As Editor of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy I would like the
privilege of equal space to reply to your attack on inerrancy in the June issue
of the Journal ASA. I assume you are open to all sides.
(Ed. Note - See March 1980 issue.)
(Ed. Note - To interpret the articles in the June 1979 issue of the Journal ASA as any kind of departure from Christian orthodoxy, or to suppose that any of the authors would advocate a position in which there were errors in the Bible, can be the result only of a serious misunderstanding. To challenge a particular interpretation of what inerrancy means, is not to challenge the real meaning of inerrancy. The question raised by the authors of the June issue is not the question of whether the Bible is inerrant, but what it means to assert that the Bible is inerrant. Our desire is to be faithful to the Bible itself, not to some relatively modern interpretation of what inerrancy ought to mean. We maintain that the difficulty with the word "inerrancy" is that we cannot know what we mean unless we are able to define an "error." This rapidly gets to be a problem in philosophical nit-picking. We don't want the authority and reliability of the Bible to rest on philosophical nit-picking. What the authors of the June issue say is not very different from the statements in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy in Article XIII and in the Expositions portion, as quoted in the June issue. Readers will do the ASA a serious disservice if they represent these papers as an attack on the concept of inerrancy, or as advocating a position in which errors exist in the Bible. On the other hand, if they can see the distinctions that are being made by many evangelicals in an effort to remain truly biblical instead of being boxed in by a nonbiblical philosophical insistence on some kind of "absolute inerrancy," they will do the Christian position and the ASA a great service in making this known.)