I shouldn’t have to go to my local church [!] and end up having to defend the accuracy and authenticity of the Biblical texts. Unfortunately, this happened more than once. In a casual conversation one Sunday with someone I assumed was a kindred spirit, a heated discussion erupted over the reliability of the biblical texts. This prompted me to post some thoughts that hopefully illustrate the central importance of maintaining and defending, not just the accuracy and inerrancy of the texts, but also of the patristic and Traditional understanding of the texts as inerrant and historically reliable.
This is not a strict “scientific” treatment. This defense is more practical, patristic and presuppositional in nature. So please, no comments about an “unscientific” approach. I am familiar with different codices and their histories. That is the subject of another blog post or a whole series. And, on top of that, please, no comments about “fundamentalism.” I know firsthand what fundamentalism is (having been raised a Baptist “fundamentalist”), and I’ve read liberal higher critics. I’ve also read the Church Fathers, and conservative biblical scholars. I hope to show a couple presuppositional flaws that are apparent in the higher critical approaches, that it’s completely foreign to Tradition, and that the patristic tradition is unequivocally clear concerning inerrancy.
The first error made by my friend in conversation Sunday was the same error made by virtually all higher critics: because there are similarities in pagan texts and rituals in comparison with Christianity, the various biblical authors must have borrowed from these pagan sources. So, for example, the Gilgamesh Epic has a flood myth. Other pagan narratives have a first man or woman, so, the argument runs, the biblical account must have been borrowed and redacted these Ancient Near Eastern traditions. Note first of all that this rests on an obvious assumption—that the biblical authors borrowed from their pagan neighbors. Why not the other way? What if the devil inspired his minions to borrow from the true account and obscure it. “Absurd,” you say—”unscholarly and unscientific.” Beware, lest you come to find the hard way that “there is no wisdom or counsel against the Lord” (Prov. 21:30), and that “He overthrows the words of the faithless” (Prov. 22:12). Continue reading