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Conservative_Christian_Apologetcs_Regarding_the_Bible_-_Logical_Fallacies_and_the_Need_to_Adjust_the_Apologetic_-libre.pdf

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Conservative Christian Apologetics Regarding the Bible: Logical Fallacies and the Need to Admit a Tentative Certainty in Belief (a brief survey) Darren M. Slade 23 July 2013 Admittedly, conservative Christians cannot conclusively demonstrate that the Bible is divinely inspired. Christians themselves can only be tentatively certain about their faith because personal assumptions and biases influence everyone’s worldview. Similarly, evidentiary documentation is o
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   Conservative Christian Apologetics Regarding the Bible: Logical Fallacies and the Need to Admit a Tentative Certainty in Belief (a brief survey) Darren M. Slade 23 July 2013   Admittedly, conservative Christians cannot conclusively demonstrate that the Bible is divinely inspired. Christians themselves can only be tentatively certain about their faith because personal assumptions and biases influence everyone’s worldview. Similarly, evidentiary documentation is open to interpretation, reasoning can be flawed, and the noetic effects of sin can impact human behavior and thinking. 1  Therefore, absolute objectivity is impossible; an element of faith is required. However, this does not undermine the Christian’s position regarding the Bible. All people – skeptics and believers alike – must be critical realists and acknowledge that everyone bases their moral and epistemic schema on a certain amount of faith. In order to provide an adequate argument that the Bible is God’s word, Christians will ultimately have to rely on the direct revelation of Christ Himself. The standard apologetic arguments for Scripture’s divine origin do not diminish a skeptic’s scrutiny. For instance, the premise that the Bible is God’s word because biblical writers claimed divine inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21) is guilty of arguing in a circle. Millard Erickson suggests that Christians possess God’s word because Paul, Peter, and the early church believed the writings were infallible. These proofs, of course, come from within the Bible and do nothing to answer the possibility that they were wrong. 2  Wayne Grudem admits that this claim is a logical fallacy; he then attempts to rely on “the actual experience of life” as the deciding factor for the Bible’s truthfulness. 3  This appeal to personal circumstances is a creative rationalization, but a person’s experiences have little relevance on a statement’s validity or falsehood. The Book of Mormon 1  For a detailed explanation of a Christian’s epistemological framework, see David N. Entwistle,  Integrative Approaches to Psychology and Christianity: An Introduction to Worldview Issues, Philosophical Foundations, and Models of Integration , 2nd ed. (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2010), 69-91. 2  Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology , 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998), 226-29. 3  Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine  (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 78-80.  and the Qur’an can have just as much practicality as the Bible. Likewise, the Bible can appear to have just as many inconsistencies and shortcomings as other sacred texts. Even Norman Geisler and William Nix recognize that internal evidences for the Bible’s inspiration are purely subjective and prove nothing outside the Christian circle. To combat this, they list multiple external evidences that demonstrate the Bible is likely   divine, such as the historical reliability of biblical details, fulfilled prophecies, the Bible’s influence on the world and individual lives, and its enduring legacy through textual transmission. Geisler remarks, “Of course these arguments do not rationally demonstrate the divine srcin of Scripture beyond all question….if the Bible—with its clear-cut claim to be inspired, as well as its incomparable characteristics and multiple credentials—is not inspired, then to what else can one turn?” 4  The argument that the Bible is divinely inspired because it is the best available option is the fallacy of false alternatives. This would not satisfy a skeptic, and it should not satisfy a believer. Christians simply may not have exhausted all the plausible alternative worldviews. Plainly stated, the biblical prophets and apostles could have been mistaken, delusional, or deceitful about their claims to speak for God. The writers could have fabricated the miracles recorded in the Bible, and so-called predictive prophecies could be the result of historical revision, eschatological anachronism, faulty hermeneutics, or sheer lucky guessing. The fact that the Bible is internally consistent, historically accurate, eloquently written, educationally profound, and spiritually impactful is not proof enough that Christians possess God’s word. After all, other religions make these same claims, as well. 5  Finally, the two reasons that Lee Fields provides as defense for conservative Christians are weak. He first states that the reliability of the Hebrew Bible is extremely high and then 4  Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix,  A General Introduction to the Bible , Rev. ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), 195-200. 5  See Grudem, 78.  comments that no major doctrine of Scripture depends on any one variant reading. 6  While both facts are impressive, they hardly demonstrate that the Bible is God’s word. In the latter case, the Bible’s dogmatic assertions are a non sequitur   to the issue of divine inspiration. It does not logically follow that the Bible must be God’s word because its doctrine is not in dispute. In the former case, the reliability of an ancient text is also not proof of its divine srcin. A skeptic could firmly hold that the Bible is merely a well-preserved forgery.  Do conservative Christians have a reason for believing the Bible to be God’s word?   Ultimately, the best argument relies on the testimony of Christ, which is taken on faith as well. The general premises suggest that (1) Jesus claimed to be divine, (2) He said the Bible is God’s word, and (3) Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates He is God, thereby (4) authenticating that the Bible is divinely inspired. 7  Of course, this requires presupposing that Jesus existed in the first century, began a religious movement with Him as the focal point, was eventually executed, and that this God-man is not intentionally deceiving humanity about the Bible. These presuppositions would have to be proven to the skeptic before being able to demonstrate the premises above. Once this is accepted, then the Christian can further demonstrate Jesus’ claims. Why do conservative Christians believe Jesus claimed to be God? There are multiple instances throughout the Gospels where Jesus claimed to be divine (see, e.g., John chs. 4-10). For instance, one of the most startling quotes in Scripture appears in John 10:33 by Jesus’ own critics, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God” (NLT). This text appears in several early documentary 6  Lee M. Fields,  Hebrew for the Rest of Us: Using Hebrew Tools Without Mastering Biblical Hebrew  (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 44. 7  For details of this argument, see Norman L. Geisler,  Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics  (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 99-102.

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