Monday, June 08, 2009

The Ghost of Rogers/McKim

I said to Jim that in the last interactions, I observe that the responses given against Scriptural inerrancy is a resurrection of the Rogers/McKim proposal.


What is the Rogers/McKim Proposal?

This proposal was formulated by two Presbyterian theologians Drs. Jack Rogers and Donald McKim and is found in their book The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach.

In a nutshell here are their theses, and I summarize these from the works of John D. Woodbridge's, Biblical Authority, a Critique of the Rogers/McKim Proposal and in his essay at Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon, edited by D. A. Carson and himself.

  1. That the Bible is infallible for faith and practice but may contain "technical mistakes".
  2. That the Bible is infallible in accomplishing its saving purpose, but not infallible for matters such as history, science, and geography.
  3. The purpose of God's written Word is to reveal salvation truth about Christ, not for technically correct information about the world.
  4. Small errors made by the Bible authors do not detract from the Bible's authority because they are not associated to its form or words but with Christ and his salvation message to which they point.
  5. That the above are the central beliefs of the Church.
  6. That the present view on inerrancy only began in late 16th century.

Of course, I reject the above.

I am not able to reply in so many words so I will just use some Augustine quotes found in the above works also of Woodbridge:

  • I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error.
  • Therefore everything written in Scripture must be believed absolutely.
On the last point I have suggested that, sure enough we may not know each and every statements being made by Scripture, but when a passage is shown to us with sound interpretation of its meaning, then we are obliged to confess and believe it, even if it may seem "insignificant". For there are really no insignificant words in Scripture. For if each word came from God's mouth, it is utterly significant - Mt 4:4.

24 comments:

Jim Pierce said...

Thank you for this synopsis, Lito.

One thing that interests me is if someone is to accept the idea that the scriptures can be in error in matters of history and science, then on what basis is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus factual? Why would the resurrection of Jesus be accepted as a fact, but a 24 hour creation day be rejected?

Acroamaticus said...

Lito,

The collection of Sasse essays I sent you has a lot to do with this issue. Sasse changed his position quite a bit after coming to Australia from Germany but he always had difficulties with inerrancy as historically defined by usage in the church, as per the Augustine quote (which is one I was going to quote on my blog series 'Lutheran Catholicity', btw).

Adrian said...

I can't tell you how many times in the 1980's when I was reading several commentaries, how the assured archeological truth contradicted the Scriptural witness. In 2009 almost all the assured archeological truth has been compromised. I am with you.

L P said...

Jim,

Exactly.

I see your point and the connection but some people don't seem to see it like we do.

LPC

L P said...

Pr. M.

The book is being red by Pr. B.

Seems like Sasse is neo-orthodox on this topic then?

I am sorry to hear that but nobody is perfe. LOL.

LPC

L P said...

Adrian,

I get ya bro. I remember a few years listening to a radio broadcast on how now archeologists are lauding St. Luke for his accuracy but before they were rubbish him.

LPC

Acroamaticus said...

No, I definitely wouldn't put Sasse in the neo-orthodox camp, Lito! He saw the errors of neo-orthodoxy after coming to Australia and dialoguing with confessional theologians here. He subsequently tried to find a middle-way between neo-orthodoxy and the old orthodox position, which is what makes his writings ion scripture so fascinating. The question is, was this endeavour successful?

In today's terms, when even conservative "plenary inerrancy" evangelicals are in a minority in their own camp, the post-Letter # 14 Sasse (refer to the book for the contents of this letter) would be judged too conservative for neo-orthodoxy. Basically, he wanted to modify the old orthodox view to take more account of the "human-ness" of the biblical authors (especially in the area of scientific understanding, modern standards of accuracy in reporting, etc); other confessedly conservative scholars (e.g. Robert Preus) thought Sasse was insufficiently familiar with Lutheran orthodoxy.

Be that as it may, Sasse's work on scripture made its way into the Theses of Agreement which eventually led to the union of the two Lutheran church bodies in Australia in 1966.

L P said...

Pr. M.

I will have a read at it.

I am skeptical though of incorporating science into the doctrine of scripture, I see no necessity of it. So I am pessimistic at the enterprise.

I say this because science always goes through a period of adjustment.


LPC

Acroamaticus said...

I'm describing Sasse's position, not necessarily mine, btw.

Yes, the influence of science on hermeneutics is a big question that is not yet resolved. many theologians, it seems to me, have been quite naive in their judgments about the objectivity of scienctific endeavour.

Jim Pierce said...

Hi Lito,

Chris Rosebrough wrote an excellent article on this topic posted here at "Extreme Theology".

I have also read what Francis Pieper had to say about inerrancy in his "Christian Dogmatics" volume one, under "Holy Scripture". Pieper points out that the idea the scriptures could be in error regarding history and matters of science is foreign to the writers of the biblical texts, and also to Luther and the "old dogmaticians".

I found this quote from Pieper particularly helpful to me. "The point at issue over against the Sacramentarians was the words of the institution of the Lord's Supper, and Luther adds: "If they believed that the Word is God's, they would not play with it in such a manner, but would hold it in the highest esteem and without any dispute or doubt regard it as credible, and would know that one word of God is all words of God and all words of God are one word of God." (I p.222)

The above quote brought it home for me, since every Sunday I affirm that the words of institution are literally true; even though science and logic would tell me that it is impossible that a finite body can be omnipresent.

L P said...

Jim,

Thanks for the link and the quote.

Indeed, it is very strange for someone who confesses the literal bodily presence of Christ at the Supper and yet deny or simply tolerates 24, even if there are passages elsewhere in the Scripture that explains it that way!

Somehow, I can only assume that such a folk believe that truth may be inconsistent.

Also quite right, the old Lutherans did not allow for Scripture to be in error even in matters pertaining to non-salvific topics. I have found strong words to this effect in the BoC as well.


LPC

Lucian said...

Snow is actually blue. But the Bible says it's white (Matthew 28:3; Mark 9:3; Revelation 1:14). As You can see, the first two examples are right in the middle of the resurrection accounts (people rising from the dead; seeing angels; thinking that snow is white -- You get the drill).

You remind me of that Catholic fellow, Loyola, who said that if the Church says it's black, but You think it's white, listen to the Church. -- only in Your case it's the Bible.

L P said...

Lucian,

At least snow is always white in Australia. You must be color blind. I do not know where you got that idea that snow is blue. Your eyes are playing tricks on you.

Yes, whatever the Bible says is true because it is God who says it.

We do not give a rat's ass who says otherwise.

LPC

Lucian said...

Lito,

if You like physiscs and maths the way You say You do, then You've probably heard by now that the colors which our eyes perceive and the actual colors of objects are not one and the same thing. Snow is blue -- and I don't mean that in the Jim Carey "Liar, Liar" way (the scene with "this pen is blue")

So, the Bible lies. Your faith is doomed. Bye bye!

(Seriously, man, get a grip before writing stuff like this). :-)

L P said...

Lucian,

Since when is science the father of truth when in fact it does not know anything.

I happily function in life without the input of sophisticated physics regarding colors. Whatever physics says, the effect of snow to my eyes is white.

My Bible does not lie, my senses do but may be your Bible contains errors, but mine does not.

Physics and maths are my slaves I do not pay homage to them.

LPC

Lucian said...

My religion exists in truth and in reality. I don't know where Yours can be found.

The point is that maybe expressing itself in a super-scientific fashion wasn't (obviously) the purpose of the Bible's authors either. But You sure want to make it to be so. Except when You don't.

L P said...

Lucian,

There are many things that might exists but are just illusions.

To say the Bible lies as you just did in the last comment is to say your religion is based on something but certainly it is not based on the Bible.

It is you who should be careful before uttering stupid statements like..."So, the Bible lies".

Jesus said that the Scripture cannot be broken. Yet as a Christian, by your statement such as the above, you just contradicted the Jesus whom you call "Lord".

By your statement, you just effectively called Jesus a liar.

I'd repent if I were you.

2 Cor 5:7.

But it is the reverse with you. So certainly you have a religion based on the senses as perceived to be reality.

Actually, your religion does not need faith at all, it is wordly and sense oriented.

LPC

Lucian said...

Litto,

*I* didn't "say" anything: YOU did!

You're ultra-hung-up on the must-necessarilly-be-interpreted-literally days of Creation ... yet You fail to apply the same brilliant logic to some other stuff.

Genesis 1 MUST be understood scientifically, because otherwise God/the Bible is lying to us, and that can't be right. But Matthew 28:3 or Mark 9:3 CAN'T be understood in the SAME manner, because then the SAME thing happens: So You're caught in a dilemma *of Your own working*. (And You also don't allow for various passages to be understood in different manners, so the problem only *deepens*). And instead of choosing to repent of Your convoluted thinking, not found anywhere in the Bible, You rather like to stay further in darkness: which is cool, BTW. I'd just wished You haven't taken this path, that's all. :-|

L P said...

Lucian,

Readers here can investigate and observe what you just said.

It was you who said the Bible is false when it comes to snows. I did not say .So, the Bible lies. Your faith is doomed. Bye bye!

You did.

I respect the language of the Scriptures, I have given reasons why in Gen 1 it should be read as 24 by virtue of Ex 20:11, Scripture interpreting Scripture.

There is no scientific reading on my reading of 24, in fact it is the opposite.

Re:Mt 28:3.

I believe snow is white! It is you who says snow is blue by virtue of physics. So who is being scientific? Not me.

So I have been consistent.

Let me ask you a question, on that passage, lightning is mentioned, is lightning blue?

You should never speak of the Bible as if it has lied which you just did. Because each time you say something derogatory against it, you are actually attacking Jesus because He believed Scripture to be infallible i.e. without falsehood or error.

LPC

Xan said...

Readers investigating will find that Lito has trouble picking out meaning from a text, instead reading it hyper-literally. This happens both to Genesis and to Lucian's posts.

Lito, Lucian's point was that if you take the Bible as if it were delivering a lecture on every topic that it brushes on, you'll ultimately find something that doesn't line up 100% with what you know to be true, and, since you've hung your faith on "inerrancy", will then lose it entirely because of an insignificant trifle.

Snow is blue because water is blue, and in exactly the same way, that is, not very. In quantity you can see it: the oceans are blue, and the sky is blue.

Brag about being non-scientific all you like, but you do agree that oceans and skies are blue, right?

L P said...

Xan,

Let me remind that you and Lucian are on record as saying that the Bible is effectively has errors.

Yet you believe it in some aspects. Somehow you can distinguish when the Bible is making errors and when it is not.

No such thing in Jesus's way of things.

I will agree the sky is blue and the ocean is blue,

The text in Mt 26:3 is not talking about skys or oceans. It talks about lightnings and snows.

I will never agree that snow that is covering our mountains in the ranges between our states of Victoria and New South Wales is blue.

Try telling kids the snow is blue yonder in the mountains, they will conclude - you are a cookoo.


LPC

Xan said...

I'm on record that requiring that it be inerrant in a scientific sense, as you do, is at best unnecessary.

Of course one would describe snow as white, but its tint is certainly blue, and by your standards, that means the Bible is wrong.

By my standards, where I look at what it's trying to tell us, it doesn't.

Wait a minute, I thought you liked being laughed at and called cookoo?! You brag about it all the time, how it means you're on the right track or something.

L P said...

Xan,

Your lastest comment is totally incomprehensible.

By my standards??? What standard? I affirm that snow is white and the Bible describes it that way, I never said or qualified it has a tint of blue etc. You are the one introducing tint etc etc.

Who is finding it hard to accept the Scripture me or you guys?
I think it is you guys. You find the Bible wrong but you make excuses for it.

I find it never wrong so I do not have to make excuses for it. Comprende?

What kind of logic is operating in you guys?

The situation is simple, the Bible says snow is white, physics, so is claimed by Lucian says, it is blue.

Heck, away with physics, it is false, I will never declare the Bible wrong.

Yet you guys do, for example Xan, you said Jesus was "wrong" in the mustard seed, then Lucian says it is wrong when it comes to snows.

The proper way of handling the Scripture is to lock step with it in the way it uses our language and let Scripture interpret Scripture.

I do not mind being laughed at and be a fool for Christ. Calling snow blue as you guys are doing is being a fool for science, not a fool for Christ.


LPC

Jim Pierce said...

Lucian wrote: "Snow is actually blue."


Well, technically speaking, snow isn't a color at all. In fact, modern physical theory tells us that objects in the world do not have secondary properties. Color, taste, sound, and smell are all constructs of the central nervous system. Indeed, even the primary properties of objects such as solidity, extension, motion, etc. may not be attributed to objects themselves; they might actually be the vibrations of quantum particles that are being picked up in a particular way by our nervous systems.

The above can be used by skeptics and relativists to point out that there is no such thing as absolute truth in language, period. What you may mean by "white" and what a Spaniard may mean with "blanco" aren't precisely the same. And, surely—as the argument could go—neither the english speaker or the spanish speaker is using the word to mean "a particular quantum vibration" or "this wavelength of light perceived by the human central nervous system". So, both speakers are wrong. If scientific theory determines truth and meaning, then the whole idea of accurate descriptions of primary or secondary properties conveyed in an ordinary language, such as english or spanish, as being truth bearers must be abandoned, since none of those descriptions actually refer to what modern physical theory may describe. But, this sort of thinking is clearly not intuitive. Statements such as "This snowflake is white" are meaningful and true apart from what the latest physical theory may tell us. When a German asks me for a glass of "wasser" I don't have to turn to him and ask "Do you mean H2O?" in order to know he means the same thing as my english word "water". There is much more that should be discussed, but I hope I have made my point.

Lucian, the whole idea that the sentence "snow is white" is false, or can't be a bearer of truth, because the latest scientific theory tells us our experience of "white snow" is actually false, doesn't make your case that the scriptures aren't inerrant. You have only managed to raise a point that if followed to its logical end entails all statements receive truth and meaning from what you think physical theory tells us they should mean. If that is the case, then inerrancy is the least of your problems, since all descriptions in the scriptures would be meaningless without a theory in science providing those meanings. Never mind whether or not there is an error in the text, the text would be reduced into a relativistic pile of crap.