[ref001] Skeptical Review (Volume One, Number One) [ref002] [ref003]The Skeptical Review:
Skeptical Review (Volume One, Number One)
[ref003]The Skeptical Review: 19901: Number One: The
Inerrancy Doctrine Is Found To Be Impregnable
It is with great pleasure that I lift my pen in defense of God's word.
Surely it is an act of grand benevolence that men can be allowed to so
serve an all-powerful God. But God's goodness toward us is surely equaled
by His love and patience toward skeptics in that He allows His eternal
existence and His act of revealing His will to man to be so loudly but
ineptly challenged by what must appear to Him to be but microscopic specks
in the universe. Yet, I do not want to take away from the fact that the
editor of _The_Skeptical_Review_ graciously invited me to respond to
the article "[ref005]The Last Hurrah of the
Inerrancy Doctrine." On the editor's part, it is truly an act of
justice, honesty, and fairness, all of which traits Mr. Till learned from
the Bible rather than from skepticism.
As a soldier of Christ ([ref006]II Tim. 2:3),
whose weapons are not of the flesh ([ref007]II Cor.
10:3-5), I do not want to appear crass, cold, or vituperative.
However, Jesus dealt with different people in different ways, so in this
situation I choose to be bold, frank, and bluntly honest throughout. Mr.
Till's article seems to me to be little more than several pages of
orchestrated malarkey. It is held together with bubble gum and kite
string. He comes to us bent over double with wild assertions, and if he
has one keen ability, it is to invent imaginative straw men none of us
ever believed. The article starts off "kind of funny in the
head" and then it gets even worse. Let me quickly deal with all that
sort of "stuff," and then I want to deal with the two best of
what could be called arguments.
He claims there are discrepancies, absurdities, scientific errors, and
contradictions in the genealogical records and the synoptic gospels that
make the Bible a veritable maze of irreconcilable contradictions. He
claims that an age of increased scientific enlightenment has cut deep
inroads into the inerrancy doctrine. Now if such assertions were facts,
inerrancy would be in extremely deep trouble. But such boastful claims
are not new. [ref008]Thomas Paine
thought his _[ref009]The Age
of Reason_ would destroy the Bible. He predicted that within one
hundred years Bibles would be found only in "museums or in musty
corners of second-hand bookstores." He died in 1809, and today the
Bible remains a bestseller. [ref010]Voltaire
said it took centuries to build up
Christianity and "I'll show how just one Frenchman can destroy it
within fifty years." Twenty years after his death, the Geneva Bible
Society purchased his house to be used to print the Bible. Later it
became the Paris headquarters for the British and Foreign Bible society.
I do not wish to be unkind, but I sincerely believe Farrell Till is no
[ref011]Voltaire, and _The_Skeptical_
Review_ is no _[ref012]Age of Reason_. I
challenge Mr. Till to continue to invite me and his other opponents to
review every so-called discrepancy, absurdity, and contradiction he
imagines. We will, by God's help, show that there are no true
contradictions proven to be in the Bible. Further, we will be glad to show
just how kind archaeology has been to the Bible. But this one thing we
will admit: the Bible predicted that there would always be apostasy and
false teaching ( [ref013]II Tim. 3:13; [ref014]I Tim.
Jn. 4:1; [ref016]II Pet. 2:1-3).
Liberalism, modernism, and higher criticism fulfill, in part, those
predictions. We do not find it strange that liberals deny inerrancy.
Knowing that they also deny almost every other major doctrine of
Christianity as well makes it useless that Mr. Till the skeptic seeks help
from them. Liberals do not believe in inerrancy, true. They also do not
believe in biblical miracles, hell, heaven, that Jesus Christ was God, or
that there is a personal devil. The problem is not the Bible; it is a
problem of liberalism, which is simply the age-old problem of unbelief.
Mr. Till asserts that early Christian apologists claimed all copies and
translations were inspired. We all, even today, speak in similar language
of copies and versions. That does not mean we do not recognize tampering
exists, that parts of a version may not have been rendered faithfully by
translators, or that only the originals were inerrant. The apostles knew
their words could be twisted ([ref017]II Pet. 3:16).
They even warned against adding to or taking from them, ([ref018]Rev.
22:18-19). Pickering (_The_Identity_of_the_New_Testament_Text_,
p. 107) says the following:
Marcion's truncated canon evidently stirred the faithful to define
the true canon. But Marcion also altered the wording of Luke and
Paul's Epistles, and by their bitter complaints it is clear that the
faithful were both aware and concerned...
Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth (168-176), complained that his own
letters had been tampered with, and worse yet the Holy Scriptures
Irenaeus defended 666 over 616 as the correct number in
He warned of future punishment for those who changed the text. No, they
did not argue that every version or copy was inspired, inerrant, untampered
with or unchanged; they knew certain versions, like Marcion's, could deviate
from the original.
Till asserts that after losing a decisive battle on all copies and
translations being inspired, we retreated to the position that only the
original manuscripts were inspired. The above quotations regarding
Marcion's version prove that claim silly, and for lack of a better
name we will call all that &uqot;unremittent hokum" and go on
toward more responsible claims.
As for higher criticism, the more we study it the less confidence we have
in it. Spawned by German liberalism, which denied the miracles of the Bible,
its roots lie in the attempt to explain away miraculous prophecy. To do that,
they must try to prove the prophecy was made at the same time or after, not
before, the event. Thus, they have to claim the prophecy wasnot made at
the time it claims or by the prophet it claims. Having first settled all that in
their minds, they then set out to prove it by higher criticism. Again, I do
not want to be uncharitable, but I suspect that regarding such writers the
more warm and overheated their imagination, the more the editor of _The_
Skeptical_Review_ will cherish them.
He claims that the theist who says, "You cannot disprove the existence
of God, so it must be true that God does exist," is guilty of the argument
from ignorance. So he says that to demand that those who question the
inerrancy doctrine prove that inerrant original autographs did not at
one time exist is a resort to the argument from ignorance. Will someone
inform him it is equally true that to demand proof from opponents of his
errancy doctrine that errant original autographs did not at one time exist
is a resort to his argument from ignorance? What's sauce for the goose is
sauce for the gander. The truth is, what we say is this: he must take the
multitude of copies that do exist and show that no other explanation is
possible than that they came from errant originals. If he fails to do this,
he utterly fails to disprove the Bible is inspired and inerrant in the
He argues through Paul Achtemeier that the inerrancy doctrine makes God
look perfectly ridiculous for this reason: "If God thought errorless
Scripture important enough to inspire its composition, he would surely
also have further inspired its copying, so that it might remain error
free.... If it is not important for us, why was it important
First, we are not so bold as to decree what is and what is not important
to God. For all we know, He may well have gotten across His will to man
through errant originals if He had chosen to do so. The originals may just
happen to be inerrant because in the truest sense of the word they are God's
word, and God cannot lie
and neither can the Spirit of truth
Second, God often brings an original thing into existence--as He did
Adam and Eve--by miracle; then He wants that item to carry on and produce
naturally, under mere providence. Third, on top of that, we have a Bureau
of Standards on which we may check all copies. God may have wanted perfect
standards to be available to those who really seek. We believe that in the
thousands of manuscripts available today, we have all the original readings.
The science of textual criticism assures us of that very fact. After all,
Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass
Another "Argument"--Exodus 6:16-20
Mr. Till says according to [ref023]Exodus 12:40 the
Israelites sojourned in Egypt 430 years. But [ref024]Exodus 6:16-20
indicates that there were only three generations between Levi and Moses
and Aaron. That would stretch things to get even 352 years from those
generations. We agree with that, if there were
only three generations, but the Bible often gives genealogies by listing
the main characters in the genealogies according to the general purpose of
the writer. Notice [ref025]Matthew 1:1:
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David,
the son of Abraham.
Between Christ and David 26 ancestors are left out. Between Abraham and
David 12 ancestors are left out. That was the way they abbreviated
according to their own individual purposes.
Chronicles 6:1-3, and
Chronicles 23:6-16, let us notice it is a similar case. Gleason
Archer (_Encyclopedia_of_Bible_Difficulties_, pp. 111-112) says:
In common with almost all the genealogies of this type recorded in
the Pentateuch (cf. [ref029]Numbers 26:28-34),
the general practice is followed in Exodus 6 of listing a person's
family tree by tribe, clan, and family group.
Archer further points out that
3:27-28 says the combined total of Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites,
and Uzzielites came to 8,600. If Amram claimed one fourth of those and
if that same Amram fathered Moses and Aaron, as Till argues, Moses and
Aaron (by Till's argumentation) would have had around 2,150 brothers.
That should be hard for even a dedicated skeptic like Farrell Till to
swallow. No, these figures indicate the genealogy of
is listing only the main links just as Matthew does in
The first Amram is a kind of clan head of a person's family tree.
Furthermore, Archer points out that other genealogies in I Chronicles
indicate that there were nine or ten generations between the sons of Jacob
and the time of Moses. There were ten links between Ephraim and Joshua
([ref033]I Chron. 7:25),
seven between Bezalel and Jacob
([ref034]I Chron. 2:1-20),
and nine between Elishama and Jacob
([ref035]I Chron. 7:22-27).
Nine or ten links fit the 430-year time span perfectly.
Agreeing with all this, Arndt says (_Bible_Difficulties_, p. 80),
"It was not at all uncommon in the Hebrew genealogical tables to
omit names which were considered unimportant." In the old classic
work of John Haley (_Alleged_Discrepancies_of_the_Bible_, p. 420),
Haley says, "It has been conclusively shown by Kurtz and others
that the omission of several names in a genealogy was common; and the
words 'bear' and 'beget' are used with reference to somewhat remote
So all that is the best Mr. Till can bring up, and it has all been
answered time and time again, long, long ago, over and over.
The truth is that the Bible is inerrant, absolutely so in all its original
autographs. God cannot lie and scripture is His word (
[ref039]I Jn. 2:21;
[ref040]II Tim. 3:16-17).
Notice a few quotations:
"Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law
is truth," (Ps. 119:142).
"The sum of thy word is truth," (Ps. 119:160).
"And now, O Lord Jehovah, thou art God, and thy words are
truth," (II Sam. 7:28).
Jesus said not one jot or one tittle would pass away from the law till all
things be accomplished,
A jot was not only a single letter; it was the smallest letter in the
Hebrew alphabet. Some Hebrew characters looked alike, so writers
distinguished between them by putting a little horn out on the ends of
some of them. That tiny horn was called a tittle. It is Jesus' way of
saying the dotting of the i's or the crossing of the t's would not pass
away until all things were accomplished. Truly, "the scripture
cannot be broken,"
(Jerry Moffitt's address is 709 Cass, Harrisonville, MO 64701.)
EDITOR'S NOTE: With a few inches of available space left in this issue, we
were tempted to comment on Mr. Moffitt's "explanations" of the
contradictions identified in the article he replied to, especially the
old "skipped-generations" theory he used to reconcile the
Exodus-6 genealogy with the Bible claim of a 430-year Israelite sojourn
in Egypt. Not wanting to take unfair advantage in a situation Mr.
Moffitt could not immediately react to, we proposed another exchange
on the subject for our spring issue that will be mailed in late March,
and he has accepted the invitation. Farrell Till will show that,
contrary to the Archer-Haley-Arndt-Moffitt theory of skipped generations, a
proper interpretation of the Bible proves that the writer of the Exodus-6
genealogy intended for readers to see it as a complete family tree from Israel
(Jacob) through Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron. Mr. Moffitt will respond.
We suggest that readers keep this issue of TSR available for
In his article, Mr. Moffitt challenged us to continue to invite him and
others to "review every so-called discrepancy, absurdity, and contradiction
he (Till) imagines." We hope this second invitation will convince
him that we intend to do just that.
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