A deistic view is often implied upon the doctrine of inspiration when it is expressed as “verbal, plenary, inspiration of original autographs.” Harold Lindsell wrote, “Most evangelical writers and indeed many of the doctrinal statements that support inerrancy speak of it in connection with the autographs, that is, the original Scriptures.”1)Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI: 1976. 1978), p. 36 In October, 1978, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) sponsored a conference with nearly 300 evangelical leaders (including Harold Lindsell) to design a statement on the doctrine of inerrancy which is known as The Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy. It states, “WE AFFIRM  that the whole of Scripture and all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration.”2)The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, accessible at http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.htmlWE AFFIRM  that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture…”3)The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, accessible at http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.html

Norman Geisler, another signer of The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, gives us a definition of Deism to work with. “Deists hold a view of God very much like the Christian view, except they don’t think God performs miracles—ever. They agree that God made the world, but He just let it run on natural principles. He oversees human history, but He doesn’t intervene. They might compare God to a watchmaker who made the watch, wound it up, and then left it alone to run down.”4)Norman L. Geisler and Ron M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences, Baker Books, (Grand Rapids, MI: 1996), p. 39 Likewise, many conservative views could be held about inspiration, but it is to be understood that God inspired the words of the original inscripturated autographs and left them in the hands of man without His providential care to keep the very words perfectly preserved. Textual criticism becomes the manmade apparatus to produce what God invested no interest in performing—i.e. the preservation of His own inspired words. As The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy “Since God has nowhere promised an inerrant transmission of Scripture, it is necessary to affirm that only the autographic text of the original documents was inspired and to maintain the need of textual criticism as a means of detecting any slips that may have crept into the text in the course of its transmission.”5)The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, accessible at http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.html This is essentially a deistic view of inspiration.

The common defense for the textual criticism is to advance a polemic against the doctrine of preservation by expressing it is established upon a faulty exegesis of Psalm 12. Robert B. Chisholm, Jr. presents this tactic claiming:

Because Hebrew is more precise than modern English, especially in direct address, the interpreter cannot afford to trust an English translation when trying to determine the referent or antecedent of many pronouns….

Psalms 12 provides another example of the importance of observing distinctions in gender and number when interpreting Hebrew texts. Verse 7a (Eng., Heb. V. 8a) states, “You, O LORD, will keep them.” If confined to a translation, one might think that the antecedent of the pronoun “them” is “words” (v. 6, Heb. V. 7). In this case verse 7a (Heb. V. 8a) would be directly affirming God’s faithfulness to his promises. However, “words” (אִמְרוֹת/ אֲמָרוֹת) is feminine in both instances, while the suffixed pronoun “them” is masculine, making this interpretation highly improbable. The antecedents of the pronoun are probably the masculine plural forms “afflicted/needy” (אֶבְיוֹנִים/ עֲנִיִּים) (v. 5, Heb. V. 6). Thus verse 7a (Heb. V. 8a) is affirming that God protects the helpless. This interpretation is consistent with verse 7b (Heb. V. 8b), where a third masculine singular (or perhaps first plural) pronoun is suffixed to the verb “guard” and refers to each member of the oppressed group (or, if first plural, to the whole group, with which the author identifies).6)Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., From Exegesis To Exposition: A Practical Guide to Using Biblical Hebrew, Baker Books, (Grand Rapids, MI: 1998), p. 71-72

It is more likely that the pronoun “them” is referring to “words” because of the immediate context, being a closer more obvious antecedent. Therefore, verse 7b is referring to guarding each individual word,  and the fact that the entire Psalm is carrying the theme of speech—“speak,” “flattering lips,” “speak” (v. 2), “flattering lips,” “tongue that speaketh” (v. 3), “have said,” “with our tongues,” “our lips” (v. 4), “sighing,” “saith the LORD” (v. 5), “the words of the LORD,” “pure words” (v. 6) – and  contrasting the lying words of wicked men with the pure words of the holy God structured as antithetical parallelism common with Hebrew poetry. This argument is also ignoring the fact that gender disharmony exist in Hebrew and is frequently identified within verses that specifically speak of God’s words:

Leviticus 26:3 “If ye walk in my statutes [Fem.], and keep my commandments [Fem.], and do them [Masc.]”

Joshua 1:7 “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law [Fem.], which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it [Masc.] to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.

1 Kings 6:12 “Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes [Fem.], and execute my judgments [Fem.], and keep all my commandments [Fem.] to walk in them [Masc.].

Psalm 78:5 “For he established a testimony [Fem.] in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them [Masc.] known to their children.”

Psalm 119:111 “I have inherited Your testimonies [Fem.] forever, For they [Masc.] are the joy of my heart.”

Psalm 119:129 “Your testimonies [Fem.] are wonderful; Therefore my soul observes them [Masc.].”

Psalm 119:152 “Of old I have known from Your testimonies [Fem.] That You have founded them [Masc.] forever.”

Psalm 119:167 “My soul keeps Your testimonies [Fem.], And I love them [Masc.] exceedingly.”

Furthermore, this argument falls apart because God’s promise to preserve His word is not limited to this one passage contrary to the lie set forth in The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy “Since God has nowhere promised an inerrant transmission of Scripture…”7)The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, accessible at http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.html

Psalm 89:34 “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.”

Psalm 105:8 “He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.”

Psalm 119:89 “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.”

Psalm 119:160 “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

Isaiah 59:21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.”

Matthew 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

God chose faithful men to preserve His word being overseen by His providence.

Ezekiel 48:11 “It shall be for the priests that are sanctified of the sons of Zadok; which have kept my charge, which went not astray when the children of Israel went astray, as the Levites went astray.”

God has even supernaturally brought forth His words when men had tried to destroy it.

Jeremiah 36:32 “Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.”

The promises of God are referred to as “the immutability of his counsel” (Hebrews 6:17) because God cannot lie (Hebrew 6:18); “…there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.” (1 King 8:56) Since God has promised to preserve His word, it also stands that He has preserved it as inerrant.

Consider for example how Paul told Timothy “that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures” (2 Timothy 3:15). The original autographs had long since ceased to exist by this time, yet the Scripture that Timothy was personally familiar with Paul described as having been “given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). They remained God’s inspired words for centuries after the original autographs were gone.

Now, if God’s very words are preserved then so is inerrancy. This is what draws a line between fundamentalists and evangelicals. Certainly, no evangelical is willing to vouch that they believe in preserved inerrancy. Theologian Charles C. Ryrie, another signer of The Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy, writes, “We do not possess any of the original manuscripts of the Bible, and the doctrine of inerrancy like inspiration, is predicated only on the original manuscripts, not on any of the copies. The two premises in the statement above are correct…”8)Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, Victor Books (Wheaton, IL: 1986), p. 80 Thus he stands to reason that we do not have the inerrant, inspired word of God today contrary to what the Bible itself says.

Dr. Henry Morris gives us an example of an evangelical who takes a strong stand though he is standing on wobbly legs. Dr. Morris rightfully rejected the modern Bible versions based on the revised Greek text of textual critics9)Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), Appendix 21 “A Creationist’s Defense of the King James Bible,” pp. 2146-2153 and refused to sign The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics (1982)10)Clarke Morledge, “Henry Morris and the Case of the Missing Signature,” March 28, 2015; https://sharedveracity.net/2015/03/28/henry-morris-and-the-case-of-the-missing-signature/ because men like Francis Schaffer, Norman Geisler and others who allegorized the first eleven chapters of Genesis. However, Henry Morris himself hardly held a strong position on inerrancy as he frequently speculated “copyist errors” to answer alleged contradictions. He writes, “…the original writings of Scripture were inerrantly correct as divinely inspired, transitional scribal errors in copying older manuscripts possibly occurred in some instances.”11)Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 395 He evokes copyist errors in 1 Samuel 12:11;12)Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 455 2 Samuel 8:4;13)Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 499 2 Samuel 10:18;14) Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 501 2 Samuel 15:7;15) Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 509 2 Samuel 21:19;16) Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 521 2 Samuel 23:8;17) Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 524-525 2 Samuel 24:13;18) Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 526 1 Kings 4:26;19) Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 536 1 Kings 7:15;20) Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 541 1 Chronicles 29:4.21) Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 670 In the introduction to 2 Chronicles, he reminds us that “inerrancy only applies to the original autographs”22) Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 673 and continues to speculate about them in his comments in 2 Chronicles 3:4 where he tells us “the doctrine of verbal inerrancy applies specifically only to the original documents, not to copies thereof, and the original manuscripts have long vanished.”23) Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 676 Hence the Bible today is not inerrant according to him. Again claiming more copyist errors in 2 Chronicles 22:2;24) Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 701 2 Chronicle 36:9;25) Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 725 Jeremiah 27:1;26) Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 1123 and Zephaniah 1:14.27)Henry Morris, The New Defenders Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing Inc. (Nashville, TN: 1995, 2006), p. 1343 He also informs us, “Whereas errors of copying or translations can always be considered as possible explanations of apparent difficulties, this explanation only rarely needs to be employed, and then usually only as a last resort unless clear evidence of a positive nature does in some way favor this explanation.”28)Henry M. Morris with Henry M. Morris III, Many Infallible Proofs: Evidence for the Christian Faith, Master Books (Green Forest, AR: 1974, expanded and revised 1996), p. 226

This is deistic inspiration. God can give us His inspired words but is unwilling to intervene in preserving those words, leaving it in the hands of man to corrupt by multiplying error upon error over multitudes of generations throughout history. What about God’s promises to preserve His word? Are all the promises made by error since God is unwilling to intervene in preserving His word, or are these promises just products of man corrupting God’s word? As Dr. Jack Moorman asks, “if we ignore the special providential preservation of the Bible, how can we be sure that the extant Bible text is a trustworthy reproduction of the divinely inspired original text?”29)Dr. Jack Moorman, Forever Settled: A Survey of the Documents And History of the Bible, The Dean Burgon Society Press (Collingswood, N.J.: 1999), p. 56-57 Furthermore, it is necessary to recognize that God’s promise of His words preserved is also relevant to fulfill His command to carry His word to all nations, thus an accurate translation of the actually words (compared to the corruption of paraphrases and dynamic equivalences) is also inspired and inerrant. “but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26).

It is interesting to note that the apologists in the creationist movement that pride themselves on upholding inerrancy seem more than eager to call the Bible corrupted when it is beneficial to defend the early chapters of Genesis. For example, Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., discussing the phrase “the son of Cainan” in Luke 3:36, states, “the name was probably not in the original autographs”30)Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., Refuting Compromise, Master Books, (Green Forest, AR: 2004), p. 295 and follows with a “plausible reconstruction how the error crept into copies.”31)Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., Refuting Compromise, Master Books, (Green Forest, AR: 2004), p. 296 Sarfati also cites The Chicago Statement of Inerrancy to justify his argument that “inerrancy is not affected in the least by the Cainan difference. As shown, it is not an error in the original autographs of Scripture…”32)Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., Refuting Compromise, Master Books, (Green Forest, AR: 2004), p. 297 But how did he show this when he does not have the original autographs? He showed nothing but his conjectural opinion. Decades earlier, Dr. Henry Morris mentioned this passage as a possible gap in the genealogy, saying:

At least one such gap is specifically suggested by the genealogy in Luke 3, which inserts the name Cainan between Arphaxad and Salah. This name is actually found in the Septuagint translation of Genesis 11, with an additional increment of 130 years….

This “genealogical gap theory” is Biblically permissible if kept within bounds. There are a number of other instances in Scripture where similar gaps can be found (e.g., Matthew 1).33)Henry M. Morris, Scientific Creationism, Master Books (Green Forest, AR: 1974, 1985, 2006), p. 248-249

Just as Dr. Morris acknowledged that the name appears in the Septuagint (LXX), in a later writing of Sarfati he indicates, “The LXX was in widespread use by Jews outside Israel in New Testament [NT] times. This explains why it was commonly (but far from exclusively) cited in the NT–if not, then people like the noble Bereans of Acts 17:11 might have checked the Apostles’ teachings by the OT and said, ‘That’s not how we find it in our Bible.’ Interestingly, by inspiring the NT authors to use the LXX translation in the NT, God apparently inspired parts of the Greek translation that differ slightly from the Hebrew original.”34)Jonathan Sarfati, The Genesis Account: A Theological, Historical, and Scientific Commentary on Genesis 1-11, Creation Book Publishers (Powder Springs, Georgia: 2015), p. 8 So Sarfati is willing to believe parts of the Septuagint were inspired of God even if they differ from the Hebrew original but not if it effects the date of creation as calculated from the genealogies. He instead claims the Scripture has been corrupted and has errors as based on the desire to preserve the Genesis genealogy and rescue a whole 130 years from the gap as if that would cause an unbiblical interpretation of long ages.

Bodie Hodge follows Sarfati, claiming, “This appears to have been one of a few copyist mistakes that have crept into the manuscripts after Luke wrote the original, inspired manuscript. Others have pointed out how this error could have occurred rather easily. There is no legitimate reason to introduce gaps into the genealogies—other than the desire to extend the dates based on extra-biblical ideas.”35)Bodie Hodge, The Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors, Master Books (Green Forest, AR: 2013), p. 203 So they would rather introduce errors in the Bible than to allow a brief gap in the genealogy that would not increase the ages to millions of years anyways. They allow 6,000-10,000 years as an age of creation and this gap would not expand beyond 10,000 years, so how is it he presents a strawman argument that the only reason to think that accepting this additional name in Luke is for the purpose of extend the dates beyond their own allowable Biblical age? Or how is it based on extra-biblical ideas when it is right there in the Bible? Actually, it is the thought that the Bible could have been corrupted that is an extra-biblical idea. But if the Bible has been corrupted then God is not capable of keeping His promises, nor is the Bible reliably preserved in which case it cannot be defended beyond speculative arguments. Do they not believe the God who spoke all things into existence can preserve His word? They are not standing on presuppositional apologetics as they would have us to believe.

Why are the contemporary apologists who are supposed to defend God’s word relying on textual criticism? As Dr. Jack Moorman asserted:

Why should we Christian study the New Testament text from a neutral point of view rather than from a believing point of view?…

In the first place… [if we use a neutral point of view] we are seeking to convert unbelievers by a strange method of participating  in their unbelief. In the second place, when we approach unbelievers from the neutral position, we are endorsing their false method of textual criticism, a method which does not apply to the real, divinely inspired, providentially preserved Bible but to a false Bible of their own imagination, that is to say, an uninspired Bible whose history is basically the same as that of any other book. And in the third place, when we take up this neutral position, we are not doing anything to convert unbelievers to the orthodox Christian faith. On the contrary, we are confirming them in their confidence in the essential rightness of their unbelieving presuppositions.36)Dr. Jack Moorman, Forever Settled: A Survey of the Documents And History of the Bible, The Dean Burgon Society Press (Collingswood, N.J.: 1999), p. 51-52

There is no reason to doubt the word of God, for it is God’s word perfectly preserved from the day the original autographs were inscripturated onto this day; for it remains the inspired and unerring word of God.

 

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