Norm Geisler, Inerrancy and Definitions

Everyone knows that Norm Geisler is a strong defender of inerrancy. He has spent much of his ministry championing this cause. His latest weapon in this war is a new website called Defending Inerrancy.

Let me make myself clear, I am a believer in inerrancy. I believe that the Bible is completely without error in all that God intended it to be. But that is not the way Geisler defines inerrancy. The website states in the petition, “I affirm that the Bible alone, and in its entirety, is the infallible written Word of God in the original text and is, therefore, inerrant in all that it affirms or denies on whatever topic it addresses.”

This of course refers to matters of theology, the nature of God, means of salvation and so on. But for Geisler, it also means that the Bible is without any error in history, science, mathematics, astronomy and everything else.

My problem with this is that the Bible was inspired as an ancient document according to their forms and genres. Those ancient documents, while attempting to be accurate in their main purpose, did not seek to be accurate in every subject that they talked about. There was much flexibility in details.

Geisler and others suggest that an error in geometry is impossible because of the character of God. Since God is holy and righteous, he would never attempt to mislead us with a geometrical error. Of course that is assuming that God wants us to learn geometry from the Bible which I suggest is not a good assumption.

I have another problem with Geisler’s definition of inerrancy. Many people rightly compare the Bible with Jesus. Both are divine and human at the same time. Here is a question. Did Jesus ever make a mistake? I do not mean a theological mistake. Did Jesus ever make a grammatical mistake while learning to speak Aramaic? Did he ever stumble while trying to learn to walk? Did he ever make a bad cut while becoming a carpenter? If we take the incarnation seriously, we should accept that Jesus made these sorts of mistakes.

If we can accept that God the Son was incarnated into a real human body with all of its limitations, why can we not accept that God inspired the Bible through the ancient literary standards with their limitations?

 

Again, I want to assure you that I believe the Bible is inerrant. God did not make any mistakes when he inspired the Bible. But I do not think that God was a cosmic editor that checked the human authors on every geographic or other nonessential statement that was made.

This is why I will not be signing Geisler’s petition. It is not because I have a low view of the Bible. It is because I have a high view of the Bible and I see Geisler’s definition of inerrancy as a human definition imposed on the Bible.

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