foundation

Please note, there is quite a bit of misunderstanding about what I am trying to say in this post. I have written a very illustrative post to help clarify some of this. It can be found here. So if you are thinking about coming to hang me, please read the follow-up first to make sure you don’t tie the noose for nothing.

I realize that posts such as these have the potential to create quite a bit of heat and get me in a lot of trouble. As well, I don’t really want to be seen as one who is always trying to unsettle things. I like to be settled, and in a very pastoral way, I like to settle others. However, in Christianity, both for our personal faith and our public witness, we need to speak with the emphasis necessary to carry our faith truly. It is my argument that often – far too often – conservative Christians become identified with issues that, while important, do not make or break our faith. This creates extremely volatile situations (from a human perspective) as believers’ faith ends up having a foundation which consists of one of these non-foundational issues. When and if these issues are significantly challenged, our faith becomes unstable. I have seen too many people who walk away from the faith due to their trust in some non-essential issue coming unglued. That is why I write this post. Whether you agree with me or not, I hope this discussion will cause you to think deeply about what issues create the bedrock of our (and your) faith.

Here is a list of what I believe to be eight issues that do not make or break our faith:

1 . Young Earth Creationism

There are many people who spend an enormous amount of money holding seminars, building museums, and creating curricula attempting to educate people on the importance and evidence for a six-thousand (give or take) year-old earth. There is certainly nothing wrong (in my opinion) with holding to and defending such a view. The problem comes when those who hold to this view teach that to deny a literal six-day creation is to deny the Gospel (or close to it). There is simply no sustainable reason to believe that one’s interpretation about the early chapters of Genesis determines his or her status before God.

2. The authorship of the Pastoral Epistles

This is an interesting one. I suppose that the Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) are among the most controversial books in the Bible with respect to their authorship. For various reasons, many do not believe that Paul wrote these letters. While I do believe a sustained argument can and should be made for the inclusion of these in the canon, whether or not Paul wrote these letters does not affect the truthfulness of the Christian faith. While these letters are extremely valuable for issues of personal integrity and ecclesiology, the essence of the Christian faith remains intact without them. This goes for 2 Peter as well – by far the most contested book in the New Testament. William Barclay, author of the Daily Bible Study Series (as far as I know, still the best selling commentary set of all time), did not accept Petrine authorship of Second Peter. While I disagree (like Calvin, I believe that Peter was behind the letter, though he did not directly write it) this did not in any way disqualify Barclay from being a Christian and a committed servant of God.

3. The inerrancy of Scripture

This is a tough one. It is not tough because I have my doubts about it. It is tough because I know how important the doctrine of inerrancy is to so many of my friends and heroes of the faith. Many people believe that a denial of inerrancy (the belief that the Bible is without any errors in the original manuscripts – not the translations!) amounts to a denial of the faith. However, this is nearly impossible to defend. While I believe in and strongly defend the doctrine of inerrancy, a denial of this doctrine is not a test of one’s status before God. I might even go further and say that even if the Bible does have some historical or scientific inaccuracies, this does not mean that Christianity is false. Christianity is based on the historicity of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, not whether or not its chroniclers messed up on a detail or two. All biographers and writers of history err, but this does not mean that we discount their value or discredit their entire testimony. The classic illustration of this is the sinking of the Titanic. When we look to the historical records, we find that the eyewitnesses who survived that night were divided as to how the Titanic went down. Half said it broke in two and went down, while the other half said it went down intact. Someone is wrong. However, no historian would say that the Titanic must not have gone down at all simply because there is a discrepancy in the details.

Ironically, this is exactly what happens to many who study the Bible. Charles Darwin tells about how his faith was initially dislodged due to discrepancies in the Scriptures. Bart Ehrman goes in the same direction. But, like with the Titanic, just because one may be convinced that one author disagrees with another about some details, this does not mean that both authors are wrong or that the main events (Christ’s birth, teaching, sinless life, death on a cross, resurrection, etc.) did not happen. This is about the last thing that the historian would suppose. Therefore, while I believe in the doctrine of inerrancy, it does not make or break Christianity.

4. Whether the flood covered entire earth

This is not unlike the previous entry about Young Earth creationism. There is quite a bit of debate about the “global” flood described in Genesis 6. Some believe that the entire earth was covered with water. Others believe it was a local flood, isolated in Mesopotamia. Some even believe that the whole event did not really take place and is not meant to be taken literally. These believe that the story itself is a polemic against other gods and other flood stories, essentially saying in a parabolic way that God is in charge, not your other gods. Whichever view one takes, this does not affect Christianity. If we were somehow able to prove that a flood was or was not global, this neither adds to nor takes away from the truthfulness of Christianity.

5. The character witness of Christians

I have spoken about this before, but it is important to realize that Christianity is not dependent on the character witness of its followers. Many claim to reject Christianity because of the character of the Christians they know. Whether it is the Crusades, the Inquisition, evil Popes, or the hypocrisy of people in their local church, building a foundation of faith upon the character witness of sinners is not only a mistake, but leads to an ill-founded faith. Christianity’s truthfulness has nothing to do with how Christians act. It is about the historical event of the resurrection of Christ. Ghandi’s statement, “If it weren’t for Christians, I’d be a Christian” is simply not true. One does not become a Christian by trusting in the character of Christians; one becomes a Christian by trusting in Christ. Of course, a Christian’s witness (i.e., gaining an audience) is tied to their character, but Christ’s reality is not dependent on our witness.

6. The inspiration of Scripture

This is connected to inerrancy, but takes it a step further just for the sake of getting me in hotter water! My statement is this: the Bible does not have to be inspired for Christianity to be true. Before you jump all over me, think of it this way: Did God have to give us the Bible in order to be God? Of course not. If he never gave us any written testimony of himself, he would still be God. There was nothing that obligated God to this form of revelation (or any form at all!). Christ could have come and lived a perfect life, gained representation, died on the cross, rose from the grave, and never had it recorded in the Scriptures. How would we know about the Gospel? I don’t know. Maybe angels, maybe word of mouth, maybe direct revelation, or maybe not at all. The point is that God did not have to inspire any books in order for him to be who he is and do what he did. The Bible does not make Christianity true; the Bible simply records true Christianity through inspired words and thoughts.

7. The unity of Christianity

Many people stress quite a bit about the unity of the church. While I understand why this is important, the unity of the church is not a test to the truthfulness of the cross. There are thousands of denominations and many traditions within the Christian faith. It is important to note that all of orthodox Christianity has always been united on many things. There is a certain perspicuity (clarity) to the Scripture which has brought about this universal unity. We call this the regula fide or the canon veritas. It is simply an expression of orthodox belief, arguing that there are certain beliefs shared by all Christians, everywhere, at every point in history. There are too many things to list, but in essence we all agree on the person and work of Christ. But there are also many things that Christians disagree about. Historically, many of these things have been called the adiaphora or “things indifferent.” Many act as if this disunity in the church somehow warrants disbelief in Christ. However, like the others, the unity of the church is not the foundation of the Church. The cross and the resurrection are.

8. The theory of evolution

Unfortunately, many Christians believe that the theory of evolution is somehow an anti-Christian theory invented by Satan to destroy Christianity. Many believe that if evolution is true, Christianity is not. This is not true. While I don’t accept the theory of evolution, there is no reason that God could not have used some sort of evolutionary process to create the world. Yes, it will take some reworking of one’s interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis, but, as many good Christians have demonstrated, it is very possible to be a Christian evolutionist. Evolution is not a make or break issue for Christianity.

(I had two more that may have gotten me burned at the stake. Luckily I have run past my per-post character limit!)

I hope you understand the spirit of this post. In the end, my argument is that our focus should be on the person and work of Christ. In essence, if the resurrection of Christ happened, Christianity is true. If it did not, Christianity is not true. This is why I call myself a “resurrection apologist.” When I am defending my faith to myself and others, ninety-nine percent of the time, this is where I camp. It is not that these other issues are not important or worthy of debate and discussion. It is not as if these other issues don’t have implications. However, none of them make or break our faith. Therefore, we should adjust our thinking and our witness accordingly.

I am comforted to know that I am not really saying something too original here. Paul seems to whistle the same tune.

1 Cor. 15:1
And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

If this creates some conversation, please let the rules of this blog guide you.

cta-free-28min-video-of-apologetics


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    214 replies to "Eight Issues that Do NOT Make or Break Christianity"

    • theo

      Thank you!

    • Jason Pratt

      I’m going to guess that #9 or #10 was soteriology (broadly speaking), since William Barclay was neither an Arminian nor a Calvinist (or was both at the same time rather), but a Christian universalist. {g}

    • Francis Szarejko

      So, are you some kind of heretic? Don’t you know that we are to be separated by these kind of inconsequential matters?

      Truly, and excellent post that couldn’t be more on target. Great work!

    • William Timmers

      GREAT POST! That is why we need to know the mind of Post-Modernism Skeptics and figure out how to reach those souls for Jesus Christ.

    • Tim

      Thank you for this Michael!

    • asker of tough questions

      Since the resurrection is a sine qua non, none of these 8 actually deal with Christology. So do you think there is anything “incidental” and non-essential about Christology? The sinlessness of Jesus? The virgin birth?

      If inerrancy and inspiration of scripture are non-essential, then what if the accounts in Matthew & Luke about Jesus’ birth are not reliable? What if, for example, Jesus was the natural-born, oldest son of Mary & Joseph (who were married)? There’s a good chance that the readers of Mark and John (not to mention Paul himself in Gal 4:4) assumed that to be the case, at least outside of Matthew & Luke, the rest of the NT makes no hint of Jesus having a virgin birth or it being essential to the faith. And even within those 2 gospels, it’s only mentioned in the opening two chapters and never hinted at again in the 20+ chapters that make up the rest of each of those books.

      So just curious. Do you think belief in the virgin birth, something that is important to christology is necessary for salvation?

      • C Michael Patton

        Asker,

        No. I don’t believe the virgin birth is tied so closely with person and work of Christ that it qualifies. Important? Definitely. But frankly we don’t know exactly why Jesus had to be born of a Virgin. We THINK that it has to do with his association with original sin and guilt, but we don’t know. And had Matt and Luke left out this bit of info, the Gospel would remain as it is. Now, if you are asking why Jesus HAD to be born of a virgin, you are asking the wrong man. We can find that out in glory.

        Does that help?

    • asker of tough questions

      Thanks, Michael. For myself, I wonder if we should make a distinction between those that don’t know about the virgin birth (such as the readers of Mark), and those that do but deny it. Seems to be two different things.

      The point of my question was to feel out where do we draw the line between essentials & non-essentials. I know you blogged about that subject a while back and vaguely remember a few of the points you made and issues you raised. But to me, the 8 things you mentioned here seemed to be no-brainers (or at least they should be even though they’re not to some) since I think the line marking the essentials is somewhere in the area of Christology since the core of the gospel really is about Christ. But where exactly is that line? And what does it include or not include?

      Thanks again.

    • C Michael Patton

      Yeah, you are right. I write about this issue all the time.

      These are no brainers, huh? Well, I wish they were. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t see these as non-salvific.

      You could be right about the distinction between those who are ignorant and those who deny.

    • Aaron Walton

      Thank you, CMP.
      I think the one I had most contention with was number 5. Namely because the character of Christians seem intimately connected with the work of Christ. As you quoted Paul, without the resurrection, Christians are “yet in their sins”, but they shouldn’t be by the death of Christ. (edit: by in their sins I mean without the power of sin broken)… Though perhaps this point has the most attestation in scripture.
      I’ll give this whole post and the principles more thought as I’ve been wondering about some of these things recently… Though I am interested, what are the two that you did not list?

    • Bill Sith

      Michael,
      It seems to me that you need to flesh out what you mean by “Christianity.” Are you asking what it necessary for someone to believe, and still experience salvation? Is yes, then salvation from what? Maybe you say salvation by the death and resurrection of Jesus. How do we know that salvation is possible only through the work of Jesus? It seems to me that if the Bible is not inspired (a word from God,) then the Christianity we are left with would not be the Christianity of the Bible, which claims to be based on an inspired testimony. This testimony includes interpretations that are connected with the historical events (forgiveness, atonement, etc.). I would say that if there is no authoritative testimony (inspiration), then we have no classic Christianity. This does not necessarily mean the testimony is innerant.

    • Dr. David Tee

      In reading your 8 issues, I think you are making excuses to allow for false beliefs to be accepted by the church and christians.

      You are also very general, enough so, as to hide your own beliefs while appearing to be Christian. No real Christian can accept evolution and denying the global flood does affect Christianity.

      I think you fail to think through the ramifications of your statements.

    • asker of tough questions

      I didn’t want to use the term “no-brainers” in my initial comment because I didn’t want it to sound condescending towards your blog post, and I hope it didn’t come across that way. I simply meant that for the reasons you laid out, there should not be much debate at all for these 8 regarding salvation, even though they are to some, and that’s why it has to be said (or blogged). But defining the essentials in Christology is a much, much tougher question to ask. Keep up the great blogging.

    • Austin

      It seems to me you’re saying that many of these aren’t “essential” because, with or without them, the historical fact of God existing and Jesus rising from the dead are still reality.

      Well then what is essential? Could someone not believe in Jesus? Because after all, just because they don’t believe that or if a church doesn’t preach it, He still really existed right?

      It seems to me that the “essentials” of Christianity aren’t those issues on which the faith *actually* stands or falls. Because then, like you said, the only *truly* essential thing is the historical resurrection of Jesus (and by implication, the expiation and propitiation of sin).

      Rather, the essentials of Christianity are those things that mark out and delineate our faith from others. If you believe in evolution, the big bang, and believe the Bible is neither inerrant nor inspired, you may call yourself a Christian all day long, but in reality you’re something else, because so much of what we believe rests on those things.

      If you take away those foundations, the house that we call Christianity is incredibly unstable and can collapse into something else. (I mean “you” in a general sense, not you personally).

    • Recovering

      Very interested in your last 2. I promise to lock up all matches and lighters before reading 🙂

    • Aaron Walton

      Dear Mr. Sith and Dr. Tee,
      As one who sees some legitimacy in what Michael is saying, I wanted to offer a few thoughts.

      Mr. Sith, I’m not sure that Christianity hinges that much on the issues as you suggest. Once when I was questioning what “the Word of God” was, I saw that if I had written the same things Matthew or Paul had, it would not be the Word of God while what Paul and Matthew wrote would be. This made me wonder if our idea of the “word of God” should be something more. If I were to write the things Paul wrote, it could still be a testimony to the truth. I think in part that is Michael’s point. The “inspiration” isn’t what makes the things true. The matters are true without the “inspiration”. Now, we hold that the Spirit did lead the authors just as the Holy Spirit spoke through David; but Michael’s point seems to be the one I made before, the statement can be true without the Spirit’s inspiration.

      Dr. Tee,
      Even until yesterday, I was largely ignorant of Evolution’s claims until yesterday. As a result, I saw clearly how some such as Bruce Waltke said it was necessary to acknowledge the claims to a degree. Obviously neither Waltke or Michael would say the exclusion of God were permissible. I also acknowledge there are difficulties with the Young Earth theory and the Global Flood in light of the Biblical Witness itself, so that I’ve held different positions because of the Biblical Witness more than anything else. Michael’s point is that the range of the flood does not invalidate what Jesus did, nor does the age of the earth.

    • Paul T

      The number 3 (Inerrancy of Scripture) and 6 (The inspiration of Scripture) are key aspects to true faith. I’m very sure that if these are denied then it is really difficult to be a true Christian. If one has this view of scripture, then that person is going to buy into a lot of lies in his entire life and if he/she is not corrected, then there is enough reason to doubt their faith. And if you look closely, all the other points which you have mentioned seem irrelevant to you because you are okay with points 3 and 6. You can see how your view of inerrancy has watered down your own views on other important topics. I mean, there is no reason to doubt the flood unless you believe that the scripture is in error. You don’t believe in theory of evolution unless the truth of scripture matters. Why should we believe what men say more than what God reveals in his Word? Remember that Jesus’s defense against the Devil was only the scripture (even though he himself was God). That itself should make us understand the importance of believing in the power of scripture and that belief is not going to come to anyone who thinks that the scripture can be in error!

      Joseph Smith wrote the book of Mormon because he believed that the scriptures were with error. So if you believe that the innerancy of scripture is inconsequential, you will also have to deny that fact that so many heretics have been formed just because they believed that. The Mormon church with its entire beliefs exist today because they can argue that the scripture is not fully true. So when Christians reduce the inerrancy of scripture as to being non important we are going the way of the Downgrade controversy and secularism which is very dangerous!

    • R David

      Austin-

      “the essentials of Christianity are those things that mark out and delineate our faith from others. If you believe in evolution, the big bang, and believe the Bible is neither inerrant nor inspired, you may call yourself a Christian all day long, but in reality you’re something else, because so much of what we believe rests on those things.”

      Those things mark out our faith from others? I thought who Jesus was, what He did, how we love one another, etc…” was what marked out our faith. Our faith does not rest on our view of evolution, the Big Bang, etc… Now, those things may cause us to tweak or adjust some of our theology, but not regarding the essentials. A person can believe in evolution, and still hold the essentials of the faith, and still have a marked out faith.

      Likewise, you seem to be combining how our faith is expressed with the essentials (such as the resurrection).

    • Don Fisher

      Label me an old school ignorant idiot. While a person coming to Christ will not encounter all of these issues it does seem that your attempt to capitulate to the academic culture lowers the bar for people in the faith. Inspiration and inerrancy when properly understood have huge consequences if not true. Does a believer need to be able to answer every detail in these doctrines? Not at all. But to communicate to the world that Christians are jettisoning (my take) large parts of the faith will not endear them to Jesus. I appreciate this ministry but posts like this leave me wondering about the direction of Credo House.

      Don

    • C Michael Patton

      This issue has to do with what creates the sin quo non (“without which not”) of Christianity.

      For example, if Balam’s donkey never spoke, Christianity would still be true. If Christ never told the parable of the minas, Christianity would still be true. If 1 Cor were never written, Christianity would still be true. If John made a mistake in how many angels were at the tomb, Christianity would still be true. If God used evolution to create the world, Christianity would still be true. If God never inspired any Scripture, Christianity would still be true. If Christ did not rise from the grave, Christianity would not be true. If Christ did not become incarnate, Christianity would not be true.

      It is an issue of apologetics, not necessarily determining who is saved and who is not.

    • C Michael Patton

      I think many of you may be associating this too closely with the post on essentials and non-essentials. Think of it this way: when you are trying to convince an atheist about Christianity, what should we focus on? THE issue that makes or breaks the faith.

    • Bill Smith

      Michael,
      Again, it is difficult to know what you are talking about when you use the word “Christianity.” What do you mean when you use the word Christianity?

      • C Michael Patton

        Bill, by Christianity I mean the Gospel. We as Protestants define the faith by the Gospel.

    • C Michael Patton

      Asker,

      I knew that. I did not take it as condescending. I wish they were all no-brainers.

    • C Michael Patton

      I’m keeping the final two close to my heart, reserving the right to post again on this subject.

    • Bill Smith

      Michael,
      I might focus on the evidence for the historical Jesus and the evidence for the resurrection but this is not the gospel. The gospel (1 Cor. 15) also includes interpretation of the events. These interpretations (forgiveness of sins, eternal life, etc.) are not negotiable and they depend on the Bible’s claim to be God’s interpretation of the events. A person who met the historical Jesus and was present at his resurrection would not be necessarily be a Christian. It seems to me that he (she) must believe the divine interpretation of these events.

    • Austin

      This may be an interesting and useful discussion to have amongst ourselves, but in reality if I were talking with an atheist I would never be willing to compromise on these things.

      However we may equivocate on what “essential” means, as mentioned in this very post atheists don’t need an excuse to reject Christ. So to compromise on the pillars of the belief (whether or not they’re “essential”) in the hopes that it will be more likely to convince an atheist is disingenuous and destructive to our own cause.

      If I were an atheist and a Christian friend tried to convince me that what he believes is true yet doesn’t hold fast to the hallmarks of the faith, I would question what he believes and why he believes it. He would appear to me to be confused and ignorant and certainly not an effective apologist for the faith.

    • Bill Smith

      Michael, You raise some good questions about what are the essential beliefs for a person to be considered a Christian. I just don’t think that a person can be a Christian without holding to some form of inspiration because the gospel message includes some truths that are not discernible from history alone.

    • C Michael Patton

      Let me try to further clarify (as I fear I may be getting in trouble for the wrong thing!):

      If Christ had not died as a substitution for our sins to satiate the wrath of the Father, Christianity would not be true. (Which, as a consequence, is what makes the resurrection so central—it evidences the Father’s satisfaction).

      On a completely different issue from this post, if someone holds to a ransom to Satan theory rattan than a vicarious substitution theory (like Augustine), they are wrong but they can still be saved.

      The second has to do with the necessary epistemology of salvation, the first has to do with the necessary ontology of the Gospel.

      See the difference?

    • Bill Smith

      Micheal,
      I think I understand the issue, but still find it hard to see how a person can be a Christian (which you admit includes certain truths known only through the Bible) and still deny that the Bible is in any sense inspired. I know that you are not claiming that your list is of no importance. You are asking what is necessary for a person claim saving faith. Again, I am saying that believing certain events happened will not do it. We must also submit to the inspired interpretation of these events.

    • Don

      So the emperor is wearing no clothes? An interesting notion. However, naked or not, he is still the emperor.

      Everything you say flows from #6, or at least in the excellent way you have presented the issue there.

      We Christians are notorious for majoring on minor points. For example we fought a pointless biological evolution battle (and some are still tilting at that windmill), but allowed the Trojan horse of Social Darwinism to enter the gates of church and society with hardly any notice.

    • Austin

      I see what you’re trying to do. You’re dealing with what really *is* regardless of what we may *think* about what really *is.* I understand it and appreciate it.

      Like you mentioned in a previous post, a guy who had once believed in inerrancy realized he no longer did and walked away from the faith because of it. Your point in that post, and here too if I’m not mistaken, is that in *reality* he didn’t *have* to walk away from the faith because he could no longer believe in inerrancy. The person and work of Christ didn’t change one iota because his views on a particular doctrine changed. I get all that.

      However, when the rubber hits the road, at least in this particular case, the perception is often as important as the reality. The fact remains that he did, in fact, actually walk away from the faith because one of the key tenets of Christianity was compromised.

      So I see what your point is, but at the same time, it seems like at best a null and moot argument (because yes, that which is objectively true will never change- got it), and at worst a very very dangerous one because it can lead the weaker brothers into a crisis of faith (if what I’ve always believed to be true may not be true, then what is?).

    • C Michael Patton

      Bill,

      “You are asking what is necessary for a person claim saving faith.”

      No I am not. I am claiming that there are issues that make or break the Gospel. What you are talking about is the previous post.

    • Paul T

      Michael, you mentioned

      “For example, if Balam’s donkey never spoke, Christianity would still be true. If Christ never told the parable of the minas, Christianity would still be true. If 1 Cor were never written, Christianity would still be true. If John made a mistake in how many angels were at the tomb, Christianity would still be true. If God used evolution to create the world, Christianity would still be true. If God never inspired any Scripture, Christianity would still be true. If Christ did not rise from the grave, Christianity would not be true. If Christ did not become incarnate, Christianity would not be true.”

      But Michael, God put Balam’s donkey in the Bible, God put the parables in the bible, we as Christians believe that the entire Bible is God’s spoken word. If you mention that if the only thing important was Christ’s resurrection, and you are ready to say that all these other incidents in the Bible don’t really matter, you are putting more fuel into people who think that parts of the Bible like Leviticus or the OT where God punishes entire cities are really not important. You are giving an excuse for people to skip parts of the Bible and read only parts which they think are important or makes sense. That, in essence is asking people to read only the parts of the Bible which they think are relevant. That means that a person who is committing adultery can skip the part which convicts him of his sin and only concentrate on the part which says that Christ saves from sin. When unbelievers ask questions about God’s judgement, one can be a skeptic because he feels he does not need to believe God as a judge! Can’t you see the danger of doing that? You are giving an excuse to people who want to believe in the Bible selectively and already most Christians are doing that. Is there anyone who is not going to go the way of secularism and stand up for the entire truth of God?? Don’t you see that even the first sin was about doubting the whole word…

    • Paul T

      How can a man become a Christian without the word of God, it is impossible!! So if faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God, then faith comes by the word of God and doubting the word, cannot lead to faith!!

    • C Michael Patton

      Lots of people became Christians before the NT. before the Apostles wrote it, people were traveling all over telling people about who Christ is and what he did without the Bible. Rome was evangelized by non-apostles who just went and told people about the Gospel.

      Other ways that God COULD have done it: angels, only unwritten tradition, donkeys, or direct encounters.

    • Bill Smith

      I thought the discussion was about what creates “the bedrock of our (and your) faith.” I stand by my point that without some belief in inspiration (God has given us a divine interpretation of the Christ event) we have no faith. If you are merely claiming that the resurrection is the grounding for the gospel proclamation (not the doctrines of creation, inspiration, etc.), then you are saying nothing controversial.

    • Bill Smith

      Michael,
      How do you know they became Christians? You are assuming some standard by which you distinguish Christian from non-christian. For the early Christians (prior to the NT) this standard was the apostolic gospel (oral). This oral tradition was passed on and written (NT). No persons experience outweighed the revelation given through the apostles. At least this was the view of those who set out to refute the Gnostics (Irenaeus), who argued on the basis of experience alone.

    • SRQTom

      CMP –

      I agree with you. I think that the most essential truth to Christianity is Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, because if that has not happened then our faith is indeed worthless. And none of these things you mentioned in this post affects that at all since they are all essentially theological constructs. What distinguishes Christianity from other religions is the fact that it is not rooted in theological or philosophical constructs, but in a historical event! It seems that this is often obscured by our theology and we lose sight of the Gospel [didn’t we accuse those heinous Roman Catholics of doing the same thing… :)].

      If Inspiration or Inerrancy were somehow proven to be false I think that it would certainly mean the death of Protestantism because we would have to locate infallibility somewhere else, but Christianity would still stand. While it certainly wouldn’t mean that what the Bible says is false it would mean that we couldn’t trust it to be infallible. We would certainly have to rework our theology, but not our faith.

      Our faith is (or should be) in Christ and his atoning work, not in our theology, epistemology, etc. Theology is not the faith, Christ’s redemptive work is the faith. Theology can fail and the faith will still go on, but if Christ’s work failed then the faith cannot go on.

    • Austin

      Scripture existed before the New Testament and was understood to be the inspired, authoritative, inerrant word of God (2 Tim 3:16 [referring to the OT]). They absolutely used Scripture as a tool of evangelism (Acts 17:11, Luke 1:2) because after all, it’s these OT scriptures that point to Christ.

    • Paul T

      @SRQTom you commented “Christ’s redemptive work is the faith”.

      How did you come to know about Christ’s redemptive work? And if you don’t believe in inerrancy / inspiration, why should you even believe in Christ’s redemptive work? Because it can be a story conjured up by some literary genius much greater than Shakespeare?

      The basis of knowing Christ’s redemptive work is the scripture alone! And denying the truth of the scriptures is denying the work of Christ, because it is the scriptures that reveal Christ’s work and God’s plan of salvation!

    • C Michael Patton

      SRQTom,

      Exactly!!

      Except, I don’t think it would mean the death of Protestantism as we don’t necessarily have to have infallibility. Or we could just all become charismatic!

    • Dave Z

      Michael, you are a brave man. I admire that. I also agree with you on each point.

      It seems some readers have trouble with the idea that some beliefs or doctrines are more important than others, but Paul himself specifically lists that which is of first importance, which, by definition, means other things are less important.

      I can’t help but think that if it were not for the insistance on inerrancy, Ehrman or Darwin might have remained in the faith. It’s only because they had been taught that there cannot be a single discrepancy that they were so disillusioned when they thought they found one.

    • Carrie Hunter

      The only historical account of Christ rising from the grave is in the Bible. If we deny that it is inspired and thus inerrant, then what authoritative evidence do we have for the resurrection? Why would we pick the Gospels out and say “well the bits about Jesus rising from the grave are true but other things…well it doesn’t matter.”

    • z

      Excellent post, and a much needed reminder to Christians about what is really important in our faith!

      Related to the issue of unity, I think that it is generally easier to convince people that we don’t need to agree about some of these points which are ultimately very academic and unrelated to how we live our lives on a daily basis, such as the age of the earth and whether there was a global flood. It’s much harder, but, in my view, just as important (maybe more important) that we be willing to accept that people on both sides of other divisive issues can still be Christians.

      The example I have in mind is homosexuality. There are good arguments that Christianity says modern homosexual relationships are sinful. There are also good arguments that Christianity says modern homosexual relationships are not sinful. Most people weigh in very strongly on one side or the other, and we’re each pretty convinced we’re right and the other side is wrong, with scriptural backing, etc. There are many Christians who say “If you are gay, you cannot be a Christian, and you will go to hell.” Assuming for sake of argument that homosexuality is unambiguously sinful, that still leaves us with the fact that everyone in the church is a sinner will continue to sin until the day we day. Christ didn’t say that the unforgivable sin was homosexuality, he said it was not believing in him. But many Christians will alienate gay people, stigmatize and discriminate against them, be unwelcoming toward them, sometimes stand in picket lines telling them how much God hates them. This should never be the case! We have to accept that somebody can be wrong and still be a Christian, and we also have to acknowledge that *our side* might be wrong (we can explain why we think we’re right, where we’re coming from, why we believe what we believe, etc., but we have to agree we aren’t perfect). What really matters is Christ! The rest is all details.

    • theoldadam

      The Christ +, folks can certainly be saved, too.

      But then those who must add something to the finished work of Christ on the Cross (such as Popes, historic episcopacy, inerrant Bibles, good works, feelings of being saved, etc.)…really aren’t free. Almost, maybe…but not quite there.

    • C Michael Patton

      I agree Dave. Even as a Calvinist, I agree. We need to take responsibility for the things we put in italics.

    • C Michael Patton

      Carrie, why would the Gospels have to be inspired and/or inerrant to be true?

    • Dave Z

      @Paul T:
      Let’s imagine that the only scripture we have is Luke’s gospel, and let’s say it was not a result of inspiration, but did reflect accurate investigation, and was correct regarding the events of Jesus’ life, would the Christian faith be valid?

    • Bill Smith

      Here goes my controversial statement, the proclamation that Jesus was raised from the dead (as a purely historical event) is not the gospel (See 1 Cor. 15).
      “the gospel I preached” (vs.1),” Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures” (vs.3), that he that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (vs. 4). . .”

      The event of the resurrection always required interpretation such as; Christ died for our sins, God accepted his offering on our behalf, etc. How do we know these things? We believe that God has told us through his divine spokesmen. Even an angel’s testimony can not dispute the testimony of the an apostle (Gal. 1).

    • Bill Smith

      Michael,
      Why would the gospels have to be inspired? The answer is that they make claims about God’s interpretation of salvation history. “The word became flesh and dwelt among us,” Christ died for our sins” and such. If they are true, then they would have to be inspired because they make truth claims about God’s actions that go beyond historical events. I find it hard to believe that a person living in first century Jewish culture (with the OT background) would imagine that you could have documents that claimed to represent God’s point of view that were true but not inspired. I would also argue that this is not what happened. This is why we have a canon which the early Christians sought to distinguish from good books that had helpful christian writings and the inspired books.

    • Dave Z

      Bill Smith wrote:

      I find it hard to believe that a person living in first century Jewish culture (with the OT background) would imagine that you could have documents that claimed to represent God’s point of view that were true but not inspired.

      Based on that statement, can you explain what category the book of Enoch, quoted by Jude, falls into? According to your statement, if Jude thought it was true enough to quote, he also thought it was inspired. If inspired, why is it not in our canon?

    • Paul T

      @Dave Z

      Lets imagine that all we had was Luke’s Gospel and whatever you said was the case. If I were an unbeliever why should Luke’s Gospel be any different for me than the Gospel of Judas or the Gospel of Thomas which are totally written by Gnostics, who are now considered heretics. Luke’s Gospel wouldn’t even have made it among all the other gospels if it were not divinely inspired. The Bible stands out because its has been divinely inspired! If the Bible were not divinely inspired and sustained by God, why shouldn’t have God let it be destroyed several times when empires tried to destroy it. The reason we have the faith we have today is because men whom God raised chose to believe that God’s word was true even when the whole world did not do so. So the anwer to your question is if Luke were not divinely inspired, we would not even have Christianity today! These men have all died, but all that remains is the inspired word!

      If scripture were not inspired the only Christians who would be present would be people who research the truth of the Gospels. However that is not how 90% of people become Christians, if you and I are believers it is only because God actively sought us when we were sinners. And our faith is not the result of our finding that the Gospels are true. Our faith is a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in us to reveal that God’s word is true and it is the sharp two edged sword of God’s word which has convicted us of our sins.

      So the Bible is not powerful because it contains man’s interpretation of Jesus’ work, but the Bible is powerful and stands out because its is God’s revelation of himself, and because it is the message which he has given us. The bible itself claims to be divinely inspired (2 Tim 3:16) and hence even going to the argument wondering if we would have had faith were the Bible not divinely inspired or if the bible were different is just going into unnecessary speculation.

    • C Barton

      I think when Jesus gave the command to lift up the bread and wine to declare his death until he returns he gave us a clear sign that his death is important. This is the blood of the new covenenant, without which we have no “sola fide” in Christ. Jesus taught other things about the OT, such as creation in six days, etc., which we might accept as independent verification of the veracity of these writings.
      If all one ever heard was the Gospel, with the proper amount of history for it to make sense, would that person be denied salvation for not knowing the whole of scriptures? I think not. You don’t even need to read and write to know God loves you and died for you.

    • Paul T

      @C Barton . Someone does not need to know how to read or write to be saved, but that someone cannot deny the truth of the scriptures and be saved.

      And the fact that you are using an incident from scripture to put forth your very argument shows why you have to believe in the inerrancy of the scriptures if you are to defend the true faith.

    • Asker of tough questions

      Michael:
      Just curious, do they 2 you’re not revealing deal with Christology? Just curious. Thanks.

    • C Michael Patton

      No. They are two of the solas. 🙂

    • C Michael Patton

      And that is as far as I will go. 😛

    • Dave Z

      Paul T writes:

      If I were an unbeliever why should Luke’s Gospel be any different for me than the Gospel of Judas or the Gospel of Thomas

      If you were an unbeliever, why would the doctrine of inspiration mean anything to you?

    • Paul T

      Exactly! the doctrine of inspiration is nothing for unbelievers, in fact nothing about scripture makes sense to an unbeliever, so just because something does not make sense to an unbeliever it is not reason to reject it. But the fact that reading scripture can change an unbeliever is the reason to believe that it is inspired! Otherwise why would so many lives be changed by the scripture, when so many other things they have read have resulted in no change?

    • C Michael Patton

      I think Steve nailed it as well.

      “But then those who must add something to the finished work of Christ on the Cross (such as Popes, historic episcopacy, inerrant Bibles, good works, feelings of being saved, etc.)…really aren’t free. Almost, maybe…but not quite there.”

      This expresses so much of what we do in nuanced ways to try to add to the Gospel.

    • Caleb

      Michael,

      Would a presuppositionalist agree with these points, especially point 3? If not, how would you argue against his perspective?

      Thanks,

      Caleb

    • Robert A.

      Though this is a minimum, we do not have to live with this minimum. We can go beyond the milk of the gospel and make conclusions to make up a systematic theology. It is consistent with the Bible that God has continued to reveal himself more fully through the ages. That is why I have a high view of scripture so that I can learn more of God.

      Rob.

      • C Michael Patton

        Rob, far from being a minimum, this is our Troy Aikman to Michael Irving. The rest are play for when we are up 77-0.

    • Lisa Robinson

      #9) Dispensationalism

      Can we throw that one in too?

    • C Michael Patton

      A presup would not put things this way as evidence is not an issue as it is here. I would not necessarily argue against the presup argument as I would first have to show that presup itself is illegit. But I think presup is fine so long as it only forms the theological backdrop to your thinking. This way, it is only an ambient philosophy that can be carried along with my “resurrection apologetics.”

    • Dr. David Tee

      So many replies that demand a response but I will limit myself to 4. @ #16– Jesus did not separate Genesis from the Gospels. In fact in John 5:45-47 he made a point about how can you believe his words if you do not believe Moses’ words.

      if you doubt the global flood how can you believe Jesus when he says he is the way the truth and the life? The points above, seem to lead towards cherry picking what you want to believe and rejecting those passages the secular world hates.

      @#21 We focus on the truth. We do not have the authority to say God did say this and he did not say that. We are not to edit the word of God nor its message. Jesus didn’t so why do some think they can? Doesn’t matter if they are atheist or not, they need to hear the truth and they need to see people actually believe what they say they believe.

      @31 Minor points are major when it comes to the Bible. We cannot say God spoke the truth here in this passage but lied over there n another. Genesis 2:1 says that creation was complete thus there can be no ongoing process in existence. 2 Peter 3:5 says at God’s word everything was created, supporting Hebrews 11:1-3 and Genesis 1. We are not fighting a useless battle over origins, we are fighting false teaching with the truth. Evolution is a lie.

      @#33 There are no real issues that make or break the Gospels unless one lies about the Bible and God or they cherry pick what they want to believe. We stick to the truth as Jesus said to do ‘ the world can do nothing against the truth’ and it is the truth we are to speak. We do not change the message to appease those who do not believe in hopes of winning their souls. We don’t win their souls by giving them a false message.

    • Dave Z

      You know, Michael, regarding point 2, the authorship of the pastorals (and 2 Peter), it would bug me a lot if Paul and Peter were not somehow directly responsible for those letters, even if they did not personally write them. If they are unrelated to the apostles, the fact that the author (forger) used their names destroys the credibility of the contents, IMO. If the guy starts off by lying…

      If I were convinced they were later forgeries, I’d stop using them. And in losing them, we’d lose a couple of the biggest “inerrancy” support scriptures.

      Still, I don’t guess it’s a make or break issue. The rest of scripture is still overflowing with the gospel.

      • C Michael Patton

        All,

        Dave said concerning the pastorals that is would be problematic and discouraging to say the least if these were forgeries. However Dave nailed it:

        “Still, I don’t guess it’s a make or break issue. The rest of scripture is still overflowing with the gospel.”

        This post is not meant to instigate or express doubt in any of these issues. It is a philosophical/theological exercise in prolegomena. Yes, all of these issues have implications. But (and here is my point) none of the implications discredit the cornerstone of our faith, the resurrection of Christ.

        What does this mean? In our apologetics we shouldn’t be taking too much time trying to defend inerrancy or a literal creation, as those things do not make or break the faith, but we go straight to the resurrection. That is not to say that there won’t be legitimate hang ups that we need to deal with here and there in other areas, we just want to make sure that these only serve as stepping stones to more central issues.

    • It’s the Pauline Authorship of the Pastorals for me! This major to my mind! And though I may not be able to explain it fully, also the Inerrancy of Holy Scripture!

      And oh yes, always “Dispensationalism”, though I am Progressive here. The Salvation History and Covenant/covenants of God are first Jewish, Rom. 15: 8, etc.

    • And yes, 2 Peter is “Peter’s” to my mind also. But then hey the case for pseudomymity has never been convincing to my mind.

    • RazorsKiss

      I think I can say with at least a modicum of authority that presuppositionalists would be aghast at several items on this list. I know I am.

      I think Michael sees the repercussions here, if not in full, given his previous comment. If taken to the logical conclusion, it’s a denial of all 5 Solas. Without inspiration, for example, there is an explicit denial of Sola Scriptura, no object for Fides, no authority for the knowledge of or work by Christus, no means of Gratia, and an explicit denial of Deo Gloria, as the Scripture is Theopneustos.

    • RazorsKiss

      The errant or inerrant gospel? The inspired or uninspired gospel? The errant or inerrant account of the resurrection? The inspired or the uninspired account of the resurrection?

      I submit that the difference DOES make or break the faith – because it’s faith according to the Scriptures – as they themselves attest to frequently. Whether the Scriptures are theopneustos is itself a make or break issue – because the entire subject of the Reformation revolved around two issues: One, according to Calvin, the sufficiency of Scripture – which is not a negotiable – this requires inerrancy as well as inspiration. First, does God err when speaking? Second, is this God speaking? The answer to those two defines whether or not you’re a Christian. You cannot say that God errs, or does not speak, and claim to be His child. Two, the bondage of the will – according to Luther, who obviously carries some weight when discussing what the Reformation was *about*. Obviously, #2 depends on #1. Theology matters, and it matters far more than this article presents.

    • C Michael Patton

      Razors,

      Did you know that CS Lewis rejected inerrancy yet still believed as much as anyone I have ever known in Christ? Do you think his faith was false?

      FF Bruce rejected inerrancy. So does Roger Olson, I Howard Marshall, and NT Wright. And even when you get deeper into the issue like the ipsimma verba/ipsissima cox debate, you have about half to the inerrantist crew claiming that the other half don’t really hold to the doctrine. Why? Because people like me (ipsissima cox) beleive that many/most of the words of Jesus that have been recorded are redacted summaries, not technically precise. So, you may not think I hold to inerrancy either.

      Does that help?

    • Carrie Hunter

      Why should we trust them to be true? On what grounds are we believing the events recorded are truthful?

      And if they are not inerrant, then how do we know that Christ really rose from the grave? What keeps those passages from being in error? Why should we believe that over and above anything else recorded?

      And if it is not inspired, then on what authority does it have over our lives? By whose words are we living?

      As far as other methods God could have used to communicate His truth, sure He could have done anything He wished. He could have sent macrame owls to our doorstep to communicate the Gospel through interpretive dance, but He didn’t. He revealed himself through Scripture.

      That being the case we should take it seriously and hold it in the highest regard. We should certainly recognize it as inspired, inerrant and subsequently the Author/authors of it as infallible.

    • C Michael Patton

      Do you think I am arguing against inerrancy or inspiration? If so, we need to back up and reestablish that this is not what this post is about and I do believe in both. It is about whether inspiration and inerrancy are required in a recording document in order for the event recorded to be 1) true and 2) worthy of belief.

      The first is really what this post argues for. We don’t have to have an inspired Bible for the Gospel to be true. The Gospel is true due to its own merits of historicity.

      The second is an epistemological issue of warrant. Here as well we don’t NECESSARILY have to have an inspired inerrant record of the central events of the Gospel for belief to be warranted. Do you require infallibility of other authors of history before you believe them? Can a historical event be reliable without inerrant records? Do you have your doubts about the Holocaust since the records, both living and dead, are not inspired? Do you really believe the Black Death happened? Do you really believe the battle of Tours happened? If so, why?

      Is this my Carrie???? It can’t be.

    • C Michael Patton

      This is B&H. You never had a problem with this oh my prized student. Or are you just causing trouble?

    • Carrie Hunter

      Michael, after reading more of your answers to others I see what you are saying.

      The problem however is that if we are defending the resurrection, the issue of the evidence for it is called into question.

      Apart from Scripture, what are our other sources that give detailed accounts of the Lord rising from the dead?

      And if Scripture is our primary source yet its validity is called into question, an apologetic for the credibility of the Bible inevitably ensues.

      At that point, the inerrant and inspired nature of Scripture has to be defended. Otherwise, we are essentially saying “well parts of it are true, you know the bit about Jesus rising from the grave, but other parts, not so much.”

      It won’t jibe with the hostile atheist. And they will call out such sophistry.

    • Danny

      Michael,

      You’re brave..lol. I liked the article and agree with every point—and I am a conservative evangelical. Most points would be difficult to teach in my church though.

    • Carrie Hunter

      haha! No.

      Prized student, and assistant, and friend, and the hamster in the Credo House wheel…

      I am not in anyway seeking to cause a problem. I am really engaging you on this. We don’t really get to talk much like we used to when I was a student!

      It is all clicking now. I am seeing where you are coming from. I am only pointing out the potential problems that can and will be encountered.

      As far as inspiration and inerrancy, I do realize these things have a very broad meaning (in that they are not monolithic) so debates on what either of those entails can be problems in themselves.

      Let me ask you this…

      How do we say that the parts regarding the resurrection are true but the other parts may or may not be?

      I think ultimately that is where I see a problem when we encounter scoffers.

      (I promise I am not intentionally causing problems, and I am not even raising my voice -metaphorically speaking- we aren’t arguing Lordship salvation here. If we were then the gloves come off! :D)

    • C Michael Patton

      When presenting evidence for the resurrection Carrie, it is best, especially in an apologetic context, not to speak of the Scripture as “Scripture” (i.e. a unified canon). In reality, the New Testament is just 27 separate first century documents that stand and fall on their own. From the standpoint of the resurrection and from the standpoint of historical value, they vary from book to book. Nevertheless, it is not one line of evidence, but many.

      These do provide the bedrock of the testimony for the resurrection, but were they lost in time, there would still be enough evidence from other witnesses to warrant a belief in resurrection.

      But your question requires a whole book as there are so many pieces of evidence that are all woven together (as all historical event of this nature are and should be).

      1. Primary witness docs (Gospels)
      2. Secondary witness docs (Paul’s writings, the rest of the “New Testament”, early church fathers, other historians, etc)
      3. Cultural impact (does the event produce a response from culture sufficient to substantiate its claims—most historical events will not have this as the event is usually not too impactful)
      4. Archeology (if relevant)

      The thing that historians don’t bring into the evidential mix are contaminants such as philosophical and theological presuppositions.

    • C Michael Patton

      I AM raising my voice!!! Ahhhhhh, Grrrrrr, Ahhhhhh!!!

    • C Michael Patton

      Thanks Danny. First time commenting?

    • Carrie Hunter

      I get it.

      If everyone else here who disagrees with Michael, could simply talk to him on the phone, you would all understand and not be in such disagreement with him. Sorry to rub it in though, but hey its the perks of working for the ministry. 😀

      I have to get to bed now. I have a very long drive ahead of me starting in 6 hours.

      Night. 🙂

    • Gary Simmons

      The point of this post was not:
      1. Let’s see what kind of heresies we can lace into the ministry.
      2. Let’s strive to be just Christian enough to be acceptable. What can we drop?
      3. Let’s kill inerrancy!

      No. The point was:
      1. What are central elements of Christianity?
      2. See point 1.

      But Michael, you forgot to mention the important non-central Gospel issue of the eternal destination of pets. That’ll be number ten.

      In all seriousness: part of Michael’s point is that Christianity is not as weak as people think it is. Even if you treat the four canonical gospels as non-inspired but basically legit accounts, and even if you added in the sketchy rejected gospels, you would STILL have enough reason to be convinced of the truth of Christianity and the resurrection.

      Everyone who is offended by this is dogmatically arguing that Christianity is weaker than it really is. Yes, all Scripture (including DCs) is God-breathed. That’s not the same as inerrant. Adam was God-breathed, and was he inerrant? Maybe not. A better parallel might be Jesus breathing on the apostles in John. I guess that means the apostles themselves were inspired always, even if inerrant seldom.

    • z

      To the defenders of strict inerrancy, you’d agree that every other document in the world besides the Bible is not inspired or inerrant, right? But we still actually know, as facts, a lot of things about the world and about history that are not in the Bible, don’t we? All non-inerrant documents are not automatically false, it’s not a slippery slope toward denying all evidence about everything, but people do have to apply some critical thinking in how they evaluate the evidence.

      Yes, some of the people who deny Biblical inerrancy say we can’t believe anything the Bible says about anything without some kind of external evidence, but that’s not the only position! I’d say those people are applying different criteria to the Bible than they do to other historical documents, and maybe have an axe to grind and aren’t being totally fair. (Perhaps the literalist inerrancy crowd has inspired this equal but opposite movement….)

    • Mike Johnson

      Not to speak for everyone else too, but I think the main point of contention with your post is pretty clearly centered on inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture. Whether or not the Bible is inerrant and inspired does not have bearing on whether the things in the Bible are objectively true and historically factual. If they are, they are, and I agree that we can have faith in Christ and not hold to inerrancy and inspiration.

      But you have to wonder how we would know the Gospel to begin with if we can’t presuppose the truth of 2 Tim. 3:16 on Christianity. If God had used angels or word of mouth to convey the Gospel instead, how would the inerrancy/inspiration of that revelation be any less critical? If the Bible isn’t inerrant and inspired then it loses divine authority and is no more trustworthy than the writings of, say, Josephus, on the essentials as well as everything else it teaches.

      You can also be saved and believe in evolution, an old earth and local flood, but ultimately we are responsible for what we learn. I am YEC and oppose ToE not because I think they’re essential issues but because I see that’s where the authority of inspired/inerrant scripture leads. Jesus’ statements in Mat.19:4, Mark 10:6, 13:9, Luke 11:49-51, and Paul’s in Rom.1:20 don’t try to teach science, but since what they teach puts the creation and activities of mankind in the same timeframe as the creation of the earth, this excludes the possibility of millions or billions of years of earth history or evolutionary ancestry before Adam. I conclude a global flood based on a similar line of reasoning from Gen. 6.

      Again, those aren’t central doctrines, but if “all scripture is God breathed” then we can know that truth with confidence as well as “all scripture”, essential or non-. We can be saved without holding to Biblical inspiration and inerrancy, but that logic leads to us not really knowing the Gospel in order to preach it to ourselves or anyone else. That’s kind of a…

    • Matt

      Amen, amen, amen.

    • anonymous

      “In the end our focus should be on the person and work of Christ.”

      amen!!
      Rom 10:10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

    • anonymous

      “I have seen too many people who walk away from the faith due to their trust in some non-essential issue coming unglued. Many claim to reject Christianity because of the character of the Christians they know. Many act as if this disunity in the church somehow warrants disbelief in Christ.”

      excuses aren’t they? this is why some walk away:
      1 John 2: 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.

    • anonymous

      “God did not have to inspire any books in order for him to be who he is and do what he did; the Bible simply records true Christianity through inspired words and thoughts.”

      how kind and helpful though, necessary it seems, that God has let us in on how He is working- the Bible does more than simply record

      2 Peter 13 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

      Heb 4:12 For the WORD of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart;

      2 Cor 5 17 if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the WORD of reconciliation.

      I often think of Eve saying, as we all do , what’s the big deal-did God really say/mean….
      2 Tim 3:15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 21 no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

    • anonymous

      2 Peter 3 5 it escapes their (mockers) notice that by the WORD of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 7 But by His WORD the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men;
      …..some things are hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

      18 but we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

    • Aaron B

      I have two thoughts:
      1. If a person does not believe “all scripture is given by God” how can we expect them to believe “he made him sin for us who knew no sin”?

      2. Can a person be saved and still committ adultery? Yes, it is not to be preferred (stating the point mildly) and it is definately not something we should promote, and if they continue on after being informed and confronted, we should seriously call their faith into question.

      I’ll let you make the connections.

    • anonymous

      reminded, forgot to include prayer for us all…
      2 Cor 10:4 the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ; 1 Cor 2:16 for we have the mind of Christ.

    • Dave Z

      I think I see a recurring theme in the comments of some who differ with the inspiration and inerrancy parts of the post. It’s a theme I detect in many discussions of this nature. It’s the assumption that the only way God speaks is through scripture. As if the written word is God’s only communication option.

      I consider myself a “soft continuationist” but that’s not what I’m referring to here. I am not, not, not trying to put forth a continuationist argument.

      I’m convinced that all believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. I think it follows, naturally and scripturally, that God communicates directly to our spirits through his Spirit. It may be as subtle as the “still, small voice,” or that uneasy, cautionary feeling in our hearts when we’re about to do something we know we shouldn’t. It can also be more dramatic.

      The point is that I think much of evangelicalism ignores the direct internal ministry of the Holy Spirit, focusing instead on scripture exclusively.

      Take a look at the first half of Romans 8 and Paul’s emphasis on the Spirit. He says we’re led by the Spirit, controlled by the Spirit, the Spirit testifies to us, gives life to us. The Spirit helps us and intercedes for us. It’s by the Spirit that we put to death the deeds of the body.

      I think we can lose the fear that if scripture is either not inspired or not inerrant that we have nothing to rely on. We have the source of scripture dwelling in us. The work that God is doing in us ultimately depends on God himself, not on us or on scripture. We can be confident that he who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion. We are neither the author or the perfecter/finisher of our faith.

      Sometimes I think we make the same mistake Jesus tried to correct in John 5:39 when he said “you think that in the scriptures you have eternal life…”

    • Mike Johnson

      Dave Z @46

      “Take a look at the first half of Romans 8 and Paul’s emphasis on the Spirit. He says we’re led by the Spirit, controlled by the Spirit, the Spirit testifies to us, gives life to us. The Spirit helps us and intercedes for us. It’s by the Spirit that we put to death the deeds of the body.
      I think we can lose the fear that if scripture is either not inspired or not inerrant that we have nothing to rely on. We have the source of scripture dwelling in us”

      What you say of the Spirit is true… However we only really know that this is true because we rely on the inerrancy and inspiration of Romans 8. Of course the truth of scripture is not dependent on it being written down and passed on reliably, but when it comes to exegesis and apologetics and actually knowing what it says, everything comes back down to being able to count on the special revelation of scripture being accurate and from God.

    • C Michael Patton

      Dave Z, email me when you get a chance. Michaelp at reclaimingthemind.org

    • Nick Peters

      Michael. Kudos to you. This is just excellent. The approach we take today does more damage to the faith. If anyone believes any of these other things are true, then welcome study to them. Allow them to be challenged. I believe in the Inerrancy of Scripture, but it’s not a hill I’m going to die on. Unfortunately, I know too many Christians that say if Inerrancy isn’t true, Jesus didn’t rise from the dead! Too many atheists think if they can show one error in the Bible, Jesus didn’t rise!

      As for evolution, you know what? I’m not a scientist, so I don’t care. As someone who does history, I do know Jesus rose from the dead and that will not change depending on evolution or not. If evolution is true, study will show that. If false, it will show that. I can be open to the study because I have already confirmed for myself that Jesus rose from the dead.

      When I encounter an atheist, I am not trying to convince them of something about the Bible. I am trying to convince them of something about Jesus. If I have to say Inerrancy is required to believe in the resurrection, then I am saying it cannot be established by pure historical study. May such a thing never be said!

      And yes, I jump on Inerrancy the most because as you know, I have seen firsthand the damage that can be done when this doctrine is put before the resurrection.

      And yes, I realize I am jumping into a hornet’s nest. It’s fine with me. I figure I’ll take a few stings also in support of your stance.

    • Lisa Robinson

      One of my profs recently said that we should careful in defining Christianity in a way that would have eliminated inclusion of the NT saints of the first few centuries. I think he is right.

    • @Michael: Quoting scripture scholars is a slippery slope and somewhat subjective. Outside of F.F. Bruce, the list means little to me anyway, as Marshall does not believe Paul wrote the Pastorals, (my old R. Catholic scripture scholar friend, Joseph Fitzmyer SJ, Jesuit, is here too. He is generally a pretty good exegete. But our theological presuppositions do matter!) And who knows where Wright is? Btw, we must beware of a “Deconstructing” so-called Evangelicalism, seems popular today! And btw Ipsissima Vox and Ipsissima Verba are surely useful, but they are theological construct’s. But I would not want to completely challenge the veracity of the latter!

    • Paul T

      My wife made a very important point the other day. Unless you believe in Genesis, you can’t believe in the New testament either. If you believe in evolution, then you certainly cannot believe that God created one man Adam and one woman Eve. If you don’t believe that, then certainly you cannot believe in Sin, because the Bible is very clear that Sin entered the world, through one man, Adam. And of course, if you don’t belive in sin, Then there is no point in believing in Jesus.. Iff you claim that the world was created through evolution, you are denying Sin as well, and then the whole question arises as to why Jesus even came. If there was no literal Genesis, there was no reason for Jesus to have come!! Think carefully. If you think you don’t care about evolution, your theology is skewed. The answer to the question as to how Sin entered the world, and why Jesus came and died will all become a big question mark? So belief in a literal genesis is very inportant for the right understanding of why Jesus came and died. And well, someone said, they don’t care about evolution, because they are no scientist. God did not write Genesis for scientists. He wrote it for the simple minded, and you don’t have to be a scientist to believe in God’s word!

    • Nick Peters

      Paul T. Did you ever consider that just maybe Genesis isn’t a scientific account? Maybe it was never meant to be? Maybe we’re reading that through post-Endarkenment lenses? I think John Walton has made an excellent case on how to interpret Genesis. This also does not mean there is no real Adam and Eve. I know a number of theistic evolutionists who hold to a literal Adam and Eve and believe sin came through them.

      Bottom line is all truth is God’s truth. I don’t have to run in fear of evolution. If it is false, that will be shown and it will be shown scientifically. If it is true, that will be shown and it will be shown scientifically. If I know Jesus rose from the dead on a separate basis, that of history, then the answer to evolution doesn’t concern me and I don’t have to worry about it. I can grant the atheist so much of their worldview and they STILL have to deal with mine in that I still have Jesus rising from the dead.

      Are you going to tell me that if you found out that evolution was true tomorrow that that would mean the historical case for the resurrection of Jesus is completely false?

    • Dave Z

      @Paul T:
      When you build on a shaky foundation, the whole building is unstable. Your first few sentences contain faulty assumptions that compromise everything that follows.

      Follow your own advice – think carefully. Investigate what other people really think about these issues and why. It may not be the simple progression of logic that you think it is.

    • St. Paul loved to quote from Genesis! (2 Cor. 4: 6) Btw Paul T. see and old book by Andrew Jukes, Types in Genesis. I think the American publisher Kregel has re-published it. A sweet read! Here are the many figures of spiritual truth in the book of Genesis.

    • Danny

      “Thanks Danny. First time commenting?”

      Hey Michael,

      It’s not my first time commenting here. This is my third time in over a year. I do read a lot of the articles and comments made though, and have often recommend this website—especially TTP. I thank God for the kind of ministry he is working within you to do.

    • Paul T

      Nick, Why do you have to feel that I have to hold the Bible through scientific lenses in order to interpret it? I believe in Genesis as being literal because there are more than enough evidence for that. And you can easily a difference between Genesis and Revelation where the Bible does speak in signs and images. But genesis is very clear, God spoke to Adam, Adam named the animals, Adam named Eve, there is no different interpretation for Genesis. And even if Science went on ahead and proved that Evolution was true, I would still not believe it because Science says so. I would still believe God’s word, because it says so.

      According to science, there cannot be a Virgin Birth, no one can be raised from the dead, so does that mean Jesus did not have a Virgin Birth, and does that mean Jesus did not rise from the dead? No, science is not the Authority, the Bible is and always has been. So I am not going to let science dictate what I should believe (By God’s grace).

      Do you believe in the Resurrection because of scientific evidence? Or through faith? The same way, genesis also requires faith and not scientific proof! So science proving evolution true or wrong will have nothing to do with my belief in the Bible!

    • Paul T

      @Dave Z, can you please point out to me what faulty assumptions I have made. I would like to know… Also I want to say that I have made a lot of investigations and even logically evolution does not make sense.. I read a lot of science, I read a lot about astronomy, physics and am a big science fan, but still its God’s word above science! I would rather bend science to fit God’s word, rather than bend God’s word to fit science!

    • Nick Peters

      Paul: Nick, Why do you have to feel that I have to hold the Bible through scientific lenses in order to interpret it?

      REply: I don’t. Why do you? You’re making a case for Genesis and having it rely on scientific evidence. Why not historical evidence?

      Paul: I believe in Genesis as being literal because there are more than enough evidence for that.

      REply: This is problematic since literal is vague. Literal means the way the author intended it and too many of us think he attended it to be scientific. I don’t. I think he meant it to be functional.

      Paul: And you can easily a difference between Genesis and Revelation where the Bible does speak in signs and images. But genesis is very clear, God spoke to Adam, Adam named the animals, Adam named Eve, there is no different interpretation for Genesis.

      Reply: I think you should consider reading people like John Walton and Henri Blocher. If you say there is no other interpretation, you have a problem. Your interpretation could be right, but there are others. I have no definitive interpretation.

    • Nick Peters

      Paul: And even if Science went on ahead and proved that Evolution was true, I would still not believe it because Science says so. I would still believe God’s word, because it says so.

      REply: There is no place for the double theory of truth. If something is true, it is true regardless. There is no bifurcation between reality and the Bible. Are you saying history could demonstrate Jesus did not rise but you would still believe He did?

      Paul: According to science, there cannot be a Virgin Birth, no one can be raised from the dead, so does that mean Jesus did not have a Virgin Birth, and does that mean Jesus did not rise from the dead?

      Reply: No. Science does not say that. Scientists do. A number of scientists hold to miracles and have no problem with it. Read a book about the medievals, such as “God’s Philosophers.” You’re assuming science must be naturalistic. This is highly problematic.

      Paul: No, science is not the Authority, the Bible is and always has been. So I am not going to let science dictate what I should believe (By God’s grace).

      Reply: If something is true, it is true regardless. Do you take this same approach when you go to a doctor, get a mechanic to work on your car, or consider the weather report?

      Paul: Do you believe in the Resurrection because of scientific evidence? Or through faith? The same way, genesis also requires faith and not scientific proof! So science proving evolution true or wrong will have nothing to do with my belief in the Bible!

      Reply: Of course not. How could it change the faith of a fideist? I don’t use scientific evidence for the resurrection. I use historical evidence. Also, I do not use faith. Faith is not a means by which one believes. Faith is active trust in that which has been shown to be reliable. If you think faith is otherwise, go even better! Believe in Genesis without any evidence! That way you’ll have more faith!

    • Paul T

      Nick. I am not making a case for Genesis using scientific evidence. I just read the scientific evidence and scientific arguments against genesis in order to understand the thinking of those people, I don’t do it in order to support what Genesis says.

      Also Nick, I could read books in which people interpret Genesis in different ways, I agree, but should I ask God to show me what is right or try to figure out what is right by trying to understand the best possible interpretation? I think people depend too much on intelligence and pride themselves too much on their intelligence in how they have figured things out themselves instead of a simple faith in God’s revealed word. I would ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance in understanding God’s word, instead of seeking Men’s interpretations!

    • Nick Peters

      Paul: Nick. I am not making a case for Genesis using scientific evidence. I just read the scientific evidence and scientific arguments against genesis in order to understand the thinking of those people, I don’t do it in order to support what Genesis says.

      Reply: Why even do that? You’re still under the impression that Genesis is scientific. I’m not. It’s historical and it’s not a scientific account, but a functional account. Moderns care about the science of an event. Ancients didn’t.

      Paul: Also Nick, I could read books in which people interpret Genesis in different ways, I agree, but should I ask God to show me what is right or try to figure out what is right by trying to understand the best possible interpretation?

      Reply: You should do the latter.

      That’s right. You heard me.

      God is the master. You are the slave as am I. He is the teacher. You are the student as am I. You do not ask the teacher/master to give you the answers. You ask Him for wisdom in finding the answers. Personally, God gave me a brain to evaluate evidence. I intend to use it. You can just sit back and say “God told me this is the interpretation that’s correct.” I can meet someone else who says God told Him the opposite. Why should I believe your experience over His?

      Paul: I think people depend too much on intelligence and pride themselves too much on their intelligence in how they have figured things out themselves instead of a simple faith in God’s revealed word. I would ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance in understanding God’s word, instead of seeking Men’s interpretations!

      Reply: The hubris reaches high in this post. Yes. Because no other great people have studied the Bible before we came along and left their wisdom. Silly me. I won’t bother to see what other Christians have thought! I’m good enough that God will just give me the answers!

      Stances like yours will kill the church in America within a generation.

    • Paul T

      @Nick

      You quoted ..

      “Of course not. How could it change the faith of a fideist? I don’t use scientific evidence for the resurrection. I use historical evidence. Also, I do not use faith. Faith is not a means by which one believes. Faith is active trust in that which has been shown to be reliable. If you think faith is otherwise, go even better! Believe in Genesis without any evidence! That way you’ll have more faith!”

      If you think you don’t need faith to believe these things, I really don’t know how you interpret the Bible.

      Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

      Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

      So belief in God and Jesus does require faith, not just historical evidence.

    • Dave Z

      Paul, I will not point out your (IMO) false assumptions, but I’d encourage you to examine your statements and look for holes in your thinking. Actually, I already gave one pointer in my last comment – things may not be as simple as you assume. Explore how that applies to your points.

    • Paul T

      @ Nick you said

      “Stances like yours will kill the church in America within a generation”

      God is the one who sustains his church and it is not my stance which is going to dictate the way the church is moving. So rest assured that God is going to keep his true church even if I’m wrong/have a terrible stance! 🙂

    • Paul T

      Thanks Dave Z, I know I’m not all correct, and yes, things are not so simple, so I’ll definitely try and do some more investigation 🙂

    • James

      I’m surprised dispensationalism/covenant theology & Cesationalism/Continualism didn’t make the list over some of the others you listed.

    • david carlson

      Christianity may not rise or fall based on belief in Young Earth Creationism and – Anti Science Fundamentalism, but the faith of many young Christians is being destroyed by both of them

    • C Barton

      Paul: I’m not sure why you press me about belief in inerrancy, but in fact I do believe. It is a matter of faith, yet we have evidence of its veracity which would stand up in court. (forensic vetting, archeology, etc.)
      Another thing to consider is that “scriptures” are written documents. When it is written, it is fixed as a public record. Yet, many of the truths and stories were held as oral traditions for months, years, even perhaps generations before writing them down. How does our belief in inerrancy hold up to this?
      My point is that inerrancy is not a quality of the document, but of the Spirit which keeps its fidelity to the Author’s intentions. Otherwise, as soon as it is translated into English (for example) it is no longer the verbatim scriptures. But we inherently understand that it is not the written word, but the Spirit which imparts truth. And again, this is a matter ultimately of faith, regardless of the preponderance of evidence in favor of it.

    • Tim

      So long as we’re talking about young earth creationism, I would just like to register my belief that YEC is quite possibly a demonic deception that exploits the church’s desire to find God’s truth in the Bible so as to maker her look foolish to the world and thereby weaken her witness.

    • z

      Regarding Adam and Eve, I don’t see any functional difference between seeing them as two literal people who did exactly what Genesis says compared with seeing them as archetypes of all humanity, illustrating a theological truth that humanity has a sinful nature and has had it since the beginning, depending on our own will, prioritizing ourselves over God, etc. Both scenarios seem quite consistent with later Biblical teaching about the need for Christ, but the more literal scenario just doesn’t make that much sense given what we know from other sources about science and history. God is behind science and history as much as he is behind scripture, so we should expect the truth to be consistent across all areas on knowledge.

    • z

      Another thought related to Genesis, if you were God and were trying to teach us some abstract theological ideas about yourself and your relationship with us, is a straight-forward literal narrative always the best way to communicate those ideas? Given that parables were one of Jesus’s favorite didactic tools, I would say the answer is no.

    • Nick Peters

      Paul: If you think you don’t need faith to believe these things, I really don’t know how you interpret the Bible.

      Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

      Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

      So belief in God and Jesus does require faith, not just historical evidence.

      Reply: Had you paid attention to what I said, you would have known faith is not the means by which one believes. Faith is a result of what one believes. One believes based on evidence. Instead, look at faith in the Handbook of Biblical Social Values edited by Pilch and Malina. My longer writing on this can be found here:

      http://deeperwaters.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/what-does-faith-mean/

      Paul: God is the one who sustains his church and it is not my stance which is going to dictate the way the church is moving. So rest assured that God is going to keep his true church even if I’m wrong/have a terrible stance!

      Reply: Once again, you’re not reading what is said. I said the church in America. The Church universal will never die, but the church in America can. The gospel does not need America. America needs the gospel. Too many Christians today seem to have your kind of attitude. I’m quite thankful the apostles didn’t. If I was told I was doing something that was harmful to the church, I’d want to know. I wouldn’t want to have an attitude of “Well even if I make a mistake, it’s all in the hands of God.” Yes. It is. Still, I want to give Him my best. I want to avoid as many mistakes as possible. I want the gospel to thrive in America and the fundamentalism we’ve tied it to is killing it.

    • MK

      ” I want the gospel to thrive in America and the fundamentalism we’ve tied it to is killing it.”

      Do you really think that you(or fundamentalism) have the power to kill the Gospel?

    • Jeff Ayers

      Michael,

      Your list of items (at least 5 out of 8) would be accurate ONLY if God had not chosen to reveal Himself to us THROUGH HIS WRITTEN WORD.

      Once God chose to speak through his written word, He bound Himself to its integrity , continuity and veracity.

      Therefore the reason that #3 and #6 ARE a “sin quo non” (sic) [it is sine qua non] is exactly because God CHOSE to reveal Himself through His word and his words.

      1 Samuel 3:21 And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh BY THE WORD OF THE LORD.

      Michael- the ONLY reason you can say that the resurrection of Christ is an essential (sine qua non) is because the WORD OF THE LORD told you so.

      In this mythical world where the inerrancy and inspiration of scripture are relegated to non-essentials such as the age of the earth; then the incarnation would be rendered as inconsequential as whether or not Billy Graham wore black socks when he preached.

      God could “make us Christians” via a savior who was not fully God and fully man. THE ONLY REASON YOU THINK THAT THE INCARNATION AND RESURRECTION ARE ESSENTIAL IS YOU HAVE THE WORD OF THE LORD WHO MADE THESE DISTINCTIVES ESSENTIAL.

      Once we realize the #3 and #6 ARE essential, it will follow that #2, #4 and #8 are also essential because THE WORD OF THE LORD directly speaks to these issues: Paul DID write the Pastoral Epistles because he wrote that he did. The flood did cover the earth because he wrote that it did. And God did create all things in 6 days and not via evolution or a big bang because he wrote that He did.

    • C Michael Patton

      Jeff, your missing my point just like about half of the other commenters. Whose fault? Mine, obviously!

      This has to do with where to start with apologetics, not about how we build our theology that got us there. I don’t need to make someone believe in inspiration and inerrancy in order to put them at the Christian fork in the road. “Resurrection Apologetics” simply attempts to get people to study the historicity of this event just as they would any other event of history. Once they do this, if they are truly open, then they will be compelled to believe. Once this happens, then one can disciple them in these other areas.

    • C Michael Patton

      Greg, you won’t believe what else we Calvinist do: we evangelize! And if that was not inconsistent enough, we do so in the language of the evangelized. And if THAT were not enough, we try to be persuasive! Crazy stuff man.

    • C Michael Patton

      Oh, one more thing .. . On a serious note, I am teaching a course on rhetoric. It is really interesting as things change so much in the way people listen. And it is not so much an issue of tolerance or shortened attention span (as so many people like to say in disgust regarding our generation). I am also taking a course on rhetoric at the same time. I have so much to learn.

      However, this is a lost art, no matter if you are Calvinist or Arminian. My basic argument comes primarily through the natural order, yet there are many examples in Scripture. Christ was really great at rhetoric and he was definitely a Calvinist! 🙂

    • […] sort of thing we are doing – but from a vastly different perspective, theologically. As such, his teaching can be clearly contrasted with our […]

    • Tim

      Greg,

      “She’s SUPPOSED to look foolish to the world.”

      Yes, but not in the sense of saying things that are almost certainly false, which is the case with YEC. Christians who are more established in their faith (particularly older ones) may not be fazed by the fact that their doctrine of creation flies in the face of the relevant evidence from modern geology, chemistry, astronomy, etc. However, I have a hard time imagining that YEC will remain a significant aspect of evangelical theology for much longer as God continues to engender and sustain the faith of his people in an increasingly information-driven, post-Christian society.

      “There will always be a remnant and always a large visible backslidden church for you to fit right into to.”

      You don’t know me, I try to maintain a close walk with Jesus and remain obedient to whatever I think God’s spirit is telling me. Indeed, he has recently given me victory over certain sexual sins, for which I am very thankful.

    • Tim

      CMP,

      “Christ was really great at rhetoric and he was definitely a Calvinist! :-)”

      No, he was a Christian universalist. 🙂

    • […] Eight Issues that Do NOT Make or Break Christianity – I realize that posts such as these have the potential to create quite a bit of heat and get me in a lot of trouble. As well, I don’t really want to be seen as one who is always trying to unsettle things. I like to be settled as well as, in a very pastoral way, settle people. However, in Christianity, both for our personal faith and our public witness, we need to speak with the emphasis necessary to carry our faith truly. It is my argument that often—far too often—, conservative Christians become identified with issues that, while important, do not make or break our faith. Parchment and Pen Blog […]

    • C Michael Patton

      TO ALL

      I have written a follow up post here: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2013/03/what-about-evolution-and-errors/

      Please let me know if it clarifies some of the confusion.

    • Mike Bird

      Michael,
      Good stuff. I think you’re basically right. On #3, watch out for “Five Views of Inerrancy” published by Zondervan. I’m arguing for a position similar to your own!

      • C Michael Patton

        Cool is it called “reasoned inerrancy”?

        And how did they come up with five views! Three, maybe. But five?! Wow.

    • Paul T

      Michael, what you did was the right thing, but it was ultimately God’s work to save the people whom you mentioned in your stories. The way you go about it makes me feel like you are saying that they would not have been saved had you chosen to go another way about it. Surely you can’say that they became believers because you acted smartly? It was God’s work and it was because God’s Spirit led you to do the right thing! Sure, these issues about evolution and inerrancy are used to sidetrack talking about the true gospel, and I agree preaching the cross is the true Gospel but ultimately these topics have to be addressed, especially inerrancy and inspiration, Otherwise on what basis are you going to tell a new believer to read their Bible? The Word is what sustains a new believer and if they don’t think it is God’s word, how are they going to hear what God has to say? How is their lives as a believer going to grow without God’s word? No one who thinks that the Bible is not God’s word can continue being a believer.

      Even in the example that you gave, you can clearly see that its not what you said, but what he read that changed his heart! In the other case its the word, preached by you which caused the girl to believe. So for us it all comes back to the written word and, without it there would be no Gospel or salvation.

    • Nick Peters

      MK: Do you really think that you(or fundamentalism) have the power to kill the Gospel?

      Reply: What part of “In America” do you not understand? The gospel will always thrive somewhere, but whether it does in America or not does also rely on us. If no one in America does the work of evangelism, the gospel will not thrive. Personally, I want it to thrive here and that means we need to follow the adage of Augustine. Work as if everything depends on us. Pray as if everything depends on God.

    • MShep2

      Salvation or Christianity?

      Michael, your post would have been much more useful if your subject would have been, “Eight issues that do not determine whether or not you are a Christian.” Since there are so many errors out there being taught I can easily believe that someone may truly give himself to Christ but not believe or understand any or all of these issues.

      However, saying these issues do not make or break Christianity stretches the argument well beyond the breaking point. Yes, some of them, such as belief in an old earth and/or evolution are not complete deal-breakers. However, Christianity would be “broken” without the inspiration and/or inerrancy of the Bible, the virgin birth, and a few other things you mention.

      I feel like you are doing the same thing as Steven Hawking who thinks that because he can imagine a multiverse where one of the infinite universes has laws which allow something to come from nothing – and that universe created ours, there is no need for God. Yes, one can imagine a Christianity without the inspiration/inerrancy of the Bible, no virgin birth, etc. but that doesn’t make it so.

      We must work within the parameters of the Christianity which we have and here there are a number of non-negotiables. Any other type of Christianity wouldn’t work or God would have done it that way (or made it an option).

    • Nick Schoeneberger

      You lost me with 3 and 6, Mike. I can’t see how you can function as a Christian in the realm of Orthodoxy without the God-breathed nature of scripture at the forefront. All of our “biblical doctrine” stands on those truths.

    • Nick Peters

      Do some people here really think that the only way you can show Christ is risen from the dead is if the Bible is Inerrant?

      I wonder how they did it before the NT….

    • MK

      @43…You didn’t answer my question. Try again, please.

    • Aaron Snell

      Here’s a thought experiment for you, Michael, that might help to bring clarity: since you do in fact affirm the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, if Scripture actually contradicted any of your points or logic, would you retract?

      • C Michael Patton

        Aaron, you will have to flesh that out. Give me an example.

        If Scripture said that salvation was based on a belief in a literal six-day creation, then that would be part of my Gospel message. Same thing with inerrancy. Same thing with the world-wide flood. Same thing with the inspiration of 2 Peter.

        Is that what you mean?

        • C Michael Patton

          Sorry Greg. I trashed your comment to Marv. This post is too important for it to run into an evolution/creation post which goes on for a thousand comments. Plus, it was a bit too polemic to fit the mold of this blog (or do your position any justice).

    • Daniel

      Michael,
      I’ve got to say that this kind of discussion both fascinates and repulses me all at the same time. It fascinates me in that fine lines and absolute minimums seem to tax my intellectual capacity. I’m not a bright man (no false humility either). And reading other people get down to stuff that I’m constantly trying to work through in my own mind and seeing how they can strip away things with such fluidity and intellectual athleticism really makes me marvel. I feel like a fat short guy with little to no coordination watching an NBA game (btw – the analogy is very close to home).
      But this is what repulses me. This discussions of Christian sine qua non can seem to me nothing more that Christian minimalism, a bunch of us trying to represent the absolute minimal Christianity. But what kind of Christianity is that?
      Can this kind of Christianity really be what Christ means when he tells Nicodemus, “You have to be born again – of water and the Spirit.” Is that essential? Can this kind of sine qua non Christianity be what He meant when He told the wealthy ruler, “Sell all that you have and follow me”? I honestly don’t know. I obviously have an opinion. But I don’t know.

    • C Michael Patton

      Daniel,

      Did you read the post that follows? I think it will help put some skin on what I am saying here. http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2013/03/what-about-evolution-and-errors/

      At the very least, it will help show that I am not presenting a minimalistic Christianity. (I think!)

    • Nick Peters

      Daniel. I’m honestly confused. How can it be that what is affirmed is a Christianity where the Son of God walks among us, dies, and rises again, and that is considered minimal?

      Michael. Maybe you should write a post on beliefs that do make or break Christianity.

    • Daniel

      Nick, I think “sine qua non” questions are specifically formulated to find out what is the absolute “minimum” necessary. Isn’t that by definition minimalistic? I’m certainly not in any way intending to imply that the majesty of the person and work of the Messiah is trivial. But if I understand correctly (and this is not always the case), minimal and trivial are not similar.

    • Dave Z

      @Daniel: Michael is not the first to attempt to define what you call “Christian minimalism, which is really another way of saying “the essentials of Christianity.” Some 60 or so years ago another guy did the same. He called his version “Mere Christianity,” and it’s pretty well respected.

      And he was not the first either, he borrowed the term from a man who wrote in the 17th century.

      And as I mentioned in an earlier comment, Paul kind of did the same in 1 Cor. 15 by prioritizing our beliefs – some are of first importance, others, somewhere further down the list.

    • Dave Z

      Ha! It just occurred to me that the much-loved Mere Christianity does not mention any of the 8 issues CMP listed, with the exception of a brief mention similar to Michael’s point 5, the character witness of Christians.
      As I recall, the summary of that part is that we shouldn’t base too much on it.

      Well, I guess he also mentions number 8, evolution, but only in passing.

      You’re in good company, Michael.

    • Daniel

      @Dave
      Thanks!

    • […] This week, Michael Patton presented a list of Eight Things that Do NOT Make or Break Christianity. […]

    • Daniel

      Michael, Yes, I read the other post. Then I read it again. Something stuck out to me (twice).
      I get the “don’t pick fights that are not the gospel” method as an apologetic/evangelistic technique. But “inspiration” did seem to play a part in both of the stories. You used the Scripture. Even when you “set aside all other Christian presuppositions” I don’t think you really did. You still presented from Scripture. When you shared the gospel with your sister’s friend you presented from information you got from Scripture. If you are not working from a Christian presupposition that the Bible is inspired why not use Church fathers or some other source less objectionable? Why reference Scripture at all?

      Also, it seems to me that the same Paul who wrote that Christ died according to the Scriptures also wrote, that those very Scriptures were “inspired” (assuming Paul wrote the pastorals :-)). Wouldn’t the principle of authorial intent lead us to believe that the when Paul wrote “Scripture” in 1 Cor. 15 and included their fulfillment as part of “first things” (whatever that may mean) that he meant the same “Scripture” which he believed to be inspired in 2Timothy 3?

      And as for the issue of minimalism, it seems to me that if you use the argument that “the apostolic church didn’t have it” then you open the door for further contracting. For example the thief on the cross knew nothing of the bodily resurrection of Jesus yet he was explicitly told that he was going to paradise. Do we extrapolate from this that the resurrection of Christ does not make or break his Christianity?
      Sorry sometimes I ramble . . .

    • C Michael Patton

      Daniel,

      I don’t understand the argument about “minimalism”. However, in this case I call it “essentialism”. In the case of witnessing, skip the non-essentials and get to the essentials as quick as possible.

      You said: “If you are not working from a Christian presupposition that the Bible is inspired why not use Church fathers or some other source less objectionable? Why reference Scripture at all?”

      Because the “Scriptures” in this case are the 27 primary historic documents. I just don’t, in these cases, need to assume they are inspired. But I must use them. However, I certainly DO use the early church fathers, along with much secondary material. Cultural impact material, which is more incedental, is extremely important (do we see the claims impacting the broader culture?).

      Finally, with Paul: his “according to the Scriptures” does not affect this argument unless the purpose was prophecy and connecting it back to the broader plan of God. Once someone is convinced of the resurrection, this is very important. But again, that comes second. What if someone said “according to the Scriptures? I don’t even believe he rose so what do I care about something that did not really happen being ‘according to the Scriptures’?” You see, Paul was saying that as a point of theology, I beleive, not a point of apologetics. As a point of theology, it is indeed essential that we see Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s plan, not some divine anomaly.

      Does that help?

    • Aaron Walton

      Daniel, CMP,
      In talking with someone recently, they commented that N.T. Wright sometimes footnotes scripture to make the same point that I think Michael is trying to make: that it is a historical document and a primary source, just as others will regard historical writings as having merit, the New Testament documents need to be regarded this way too.

      Sometimes people write off the New Testament documents because they are just “religious literature”; they fail to see that they are also historical documents. They may fail to see that Jesus isn’t just a person from religion either, he is a historical person. The fact of inspiration doesn’t affect the historicity of the documents, they are historical whether or not they are inspired so arguing about inspiration is a non-essential in sharing the gospel.

      Am I communicating what you are saying, Michael?

    • C Michael Patton

      Sounds right. This is definetly the way that scholars, evangelical or liberal, use the Scriptures in these kind of context.

    • C Barton

      Few people would argue about the historical significance of the Bible, and a few bold souls of the world might even attest to the historical veracity of It. But divine inspiration is essential if the Gospel has the authority it claims for itself. A mere historical document cannot claim the supernatural claims that the Gospel does without divine authority. Thus, the belief that the Holy Spirit guided the writing of the testimonies, oral traditions, etc. to make our formal writings, approved and authenticated as the Bible.
      An example: Apostle Paul traveled to Jerusalem to validate his gospel with others, to make sure he got it right. This was, as many believe, before he committed it to parchment. So, the message was already there, just the writing down of it had to wait.

    • Dave Z

      I think the entire concept of inspiration has gotten itself kind of sideways in people’s minds. IMO, we have taken theopneustos, God-breathed, and turned it into “God-spoken”. I think that if Paul had intended to say God-spoken, he would have, but that is not what he said.

      The breathing terminology calls up a different image, and if you search scripture, you’ll find that God breathing, or God’s breath, usually relates to him bringing things (and people) to life. And regarding scripture, that concept fits in so nicely with Hebrews 4:12.

      So the power of scripture lies not in it’s own nature, but in the nature of it’s source – God (Isaiah 55:11). God fills scripture with his power, breathing life into it on a continuous basis, not just once way back when it was written. I think that’s the reason scripture can survive translation with it’s power intact.

      We talk about verbal inspiration, saying God gave the very words he wanted us to have, but if that’s the case, how dare we tamper with them by translation? That’s the approach to inspiration that Islam takes (IIUC) and frankly, it seems more locically consistant than ours, if we want to insist on this verbal thing.

    • C Barton

      Dave Z: I think you hit an important concept: the Word of God is a living word, and as such will “defend” itself against impostors. Scripture says that God inhabits our praises, so why not the very word He breathed to us?

    • […] Parchment & Pen on Eight Issues that Do Not Make or Break Christianity. […]

    • Daniel

      Michael, what I am saying is that Jesus didn’t use His own resurrection in His interaction w/ the thief on the cross. Does that imply in anyway that the resurrection of Jesus is not essential? If we are defining “essential” as the parts of Christianity that get a person to heaven, then it seems that we can trim the resurrection of Christ from that list. But I would never do that. If there is no resurrection than Christianity is broken. In the same way it seems to me that if there is no “inspired Scripture” then Christianity is broken. I know that the argument is “could Christianity exist if God had never inspired Scripture?” But the point is that He did. This is the Christianity that He gave to us and how He gave it to us?

    • Daniel

      Michael, Also, you said, ” I just don’t, in these cases, need to assume they are inspired.” But the point of my argument/ramble was that you may not need to assume it but you do assume it. You may avoid speaking in overt inspiration terms when talking to someone for whom the concept of “inspiration” is offensive, but you cannot truly stop assume what you do indeed assume to be true. And, yes, I am amazed myself at the tenacity of the text of such an ancient document. It seems to attest to the unique nature of this collection of documents (of course, w/ my presuppositions solidly in place).
      (I had to separate the two comments to stay under the 1000 character limit. I am very much a recovering legalist)

    • Ask Mr. Religion

      This blog entry was a disappointing post to read. Wrong on so many levels and one day you will come to regret what you have written. Too many today seem to think that the Bible is parseable for essential and non-essential topics. It is as if God was rambling at times so we can excuse ourselves from the conversation. Talk of essential and non-essential is the rationalization of the man who has created a standard from which to judge the deposit of our faith in God’s general and special revelation. In short, man becomes God’s judge and assigns a grade on the two “books” God has written to us. May it never be.

      Patrick
      Founder, Reformed Theology Institute

      Admin Staff and Faculty: The North American Reformed Seminary
      http://www.tnars.net

      Seminary Faculty Needed:
      http://www.tnars.net/about/mentor-information/

    • C Michael Patton

      Patrick,

      Thank you and I appreciate your perspective. I am sure there are going to be a lot of thing I regret teaching when I stand before Him.

      I’m curious for you to flesh this out a bit. Are you saying that there is not really gnats and camels, “weightier things of the law”, or issues of first importance? That is the first question. Second is this: do you think that God spoke with the same clarity on all issues?

    • Reece

      I’m just curious. To the haters:

      Suppose the Flood was not global. Suppose the Flood never actually happened. I guess that’d also imply either that the Bible isn’t inerrant or that the initial passages weren’t literal.

      Is the logical conclusion to this really that “Therefore God never became man, Jesus never died to be a ransom for his people, he never rose again to signify the assurance of the forgiveness of sins, no one who believes on him has eternal life”?

      Christ’s atonement is only as true as the Flood? Christ’s atonement is logically connected to the Flood? Atonement if and only if Flood?

      Another question.

      Suppose I were an unbeliever. I denied the Flood, and I denied Jesus’ work of atonement. You sit down with me one day, and after much arguing and persuasion, convince me that, actually, the Flood happened. I am now convinced, *convinced*, that the Flood happened and was global. And my position on Jesus’ work has not changed. Am I saved now?

      This post by CMP is not a list of things that it’s okay to deny despite being true. It’s a list of things whose truth value does not directly impact the truth value of Christ’s atoning work on the Cross, and yet which (apparently) often get directly tied to it in our presentation of the Gospel.

      Jesus will save all who turn to Him in repentance, and the actual historicity of the Flood will not hinder him from so doing.

    • Reece

      “Then it wouldn’t be reported in a collection of books graciously given by the King of the universe as His very mind.”

      I guess that would mean that collection of books wasn’t given by the King of the universe, wouldn’t it?

      And so… therefore Jesus never rose from the dead? Therefore there’s no God and no sacrifice and no outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Is that the logical conclusion of the hypothetical non-occurrence of the Flood?

      “Why would I believe a book that lies to me in one place about anything it says in another?”

      Why would you consider the Bible to be one book? The people writing Genesis lived thousands of years earlier in a much different cultural setting than the guys who write the gospels. Pre-Temple Judaism versus Second Temple Judaism during the Hellenic era are pretty different.

      If the Bible wasn’t inerrant, wasn’t inspired, the early passages of Genesis in conflict with modern archaeology weren’t true, etc., then God still exists as three divine persons, the second person still became man and took up the sin of a fallen humanity, and still rose from the dead. Those things can happen without an inerrant, inspired Bible, or without the events described in an inerrant, inspired Bible.

      CMP wasn’t denying those things. If those elements of our theology proved false, the Gospel of Christianity is still true. I mean, isn’t it?

      Or if the Flood never happened, then Christ is not raised?

      You probably like presuppositional apologetics. So try this on, then. In presenting the Gospel, the other person will not have the same presuppositions as you. You need to counter them. You can set aside *most* Christian presuppositions and their consequences (inerrancy, etc.) and *still* prove to the unbeliever, from their own world view, that Christ is raised. This shows an error in the unbeliever’s world view and commends instead the Christian one. Does that work better for you?

    • DeMarcus Tripp

      Bad article. Dr. James White destroys it on his radio show.

    • C Michael Patton

      White did not argue with the post. He just argued for each point, which, theologically speaking, I agree with him. Yet another person who did not understand the point of this article. However, this is probably not his fault (even though there is a significant number of people who did get it). But that is why I wrote the second post.

      So saying that he “destroyed” this seems to only suggest that you did not quite understand what this is all about.

    • Daniel

      @Reece Let me fervently and publicly declare my love for CMP. I’m not a “hater” (such an ugly term). If anything I’m more of a “head-scratcher”.
      @Demarcus Tripp I didn’t even know that James White mentioned this. I’m going to have to put it on my ipod and go for a bike ride.

    • MShep2

      @CMP – After reading your comments and followup post, I think I am in basic agreement with what you said. If you only had written your followup post, or if you had made “In evangelism, focus on the resurrection rather than peripheral issues” I think you would have gotten much more agreement from the peanut gallery (us). (But what would be the fun in that?!!) Sometimes, when witnessing, one may be forced to defend creation, inspiration, etc. but if you can get the person to put aside some of those concerns (at least temporarily) and get him to focus on the Resurrection or forgiveness of sins, etc. the Holy Spirit can use this to soften his hard heart. But I cannot agree to generally call these “Eight Issues that Do NOT Make or Break Christianity.”

      @Reece “To the haters” Really? Are you going to use the language of the world against people who disagree with you? (haters, -phobes, etc.) Labeling those who disagree with you in this way is not a biblical method to discuss differences with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

    • C Michael Patton

      A good example of the “make or break” issues explicitly mentioned in Scripture is Paul’s “I determined to know nothing else among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

      “To know” means “to talk about.” One can imagine all the important but not essential issues that they, the intellectuals of the Greek culture, wanted to talk about. But Paul forced himself to set aside all else but the person and wor of Christ.

      I think this is the best way to understand this passage. And yes, I suppose I did take something non-extraordinary and make it sound extraordinary. But again, this is nothing new.

    • z

      I’m glad I agree with point 5, the character witness of Christians, because the judgmental, confrontational, legalistic attitude of a lot of these commenters really pisses me off.

    • Reece

      I can listen fine, Greg. I asked two questions, hoping to understand why this post was so hard to get, as to me it’s crystal clear. You made as though you were going to answer them, but actually didn’t. So I asked again. If you don’t want to answer, then that’s fine, just don’t pretend to be addressing me.

      Or if you still wanna give it a shot:

      Is it the logical conclusion of the non-historicty of the Flood that Christ is not risen?

      If an unbeliever came to believe in a global Flood while still denying Christ, is that person now saved?

      To everyone else, “hater” is a slang term for someone who likes to give people a hard time. “Haters gonna hate”. I guess I didn’t realize how much older the other commenters were. To me it’s a humorous appellation. Sorry if it offended you.

    • Ask Mr. Religion

      Michael,

      All Scripture is perspicuous. That does not mean there are not difficult things therein and that everyone will fully understand what they are reading, but this in no way undermines the fact that all Scripture is able to be understood.

      For more on this topic I recommend:
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0820470570/

      “Gnats and camels” is not a reference to non-essentials and essentials, but to as you call it “weightier” matters of Scripture. To take these to mean essential and non-essential is going beyond the bounds. If something is non-essential then it is necessarily not needed and can be ignored.

      All Scripture is basic, indispensible, and necessary. There are no non-essentials in what God has deposited in his general and special revelation.

      Aside from the book linked above, a more accessible reference for your consideration may be read here:

      http://thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/the_perspicuity_of_scripture/

      Patrick
      Founder, Reformed Theology Institute

      Admin Staff and Faculty: The North American Reformed Seminary
      http://www.tnars.net

      Seminary Faculty Needed:
      http://www.tnars.net/about/mentor-information/

    • Ask Mr. Religion

      Michael,

      I consider you a man of keen intellect and when I say you will regret your words I do not mean when we all stand at the judgment seat. I believe that once you dig deeper into this topic you will see the error of this post of yours while you still walk this mortal coil.

      Over the years, I have observed how your tendency for navel-gazing (self-talk) often winds up on paper for all to see and then later requires you to qualify what you have previously written.

      Your enthusiasm and occasional impetuousness needs some tempering. You can begin to this tempering by having a few “old guys” in your life that you can test your thoughts against, and who will mentor you in your walk of faith.

      Patrick

    • C Michael Patton

      Mr Religion,

      That is what I means. I will stand before God and have so much that I got wrong. This could be one of them.

      And I do think out loud, but please know that everything I write about and forever will, will be thinking out loud. Definitely, a blog affords much more unrefinement on many areas, but you have probably noticed that this is not a typical blog.

      But, if you would allow me to “temper your words” a bit on a few things:

      1. Don’t you think that a message such as the one you just gave me would serve much better as a private email or something? As it stands, to me, it comes across more like an arrogant public reprimand.
      2. This appeal to personal wisdom due to my youthful rashness could be true, but you have failed to take into account that the majority of the people here agree with me. This has no bearing on the truthfulness of my argument, but it basically says everyone who agrees with me can be accused of the same lack of wisdom. Not only is it impossible for you to know this, but it may, again, come across as quite insulting (you may even regret writing it!
      3. How do you know I don’t have any old guys in my life who are encouraging me to write this. Say hi to Tom, John, and Brett.
      4. This did not really deal with the substance of anything. It was just “I am older and smarter” therefore you should change.
      5. Imagine this: What if I changed my position based on what you have said here? Think about it. I came on the blog tomorrow with a recantation saying that some commentor I don’t know, have never met, don’t even know if they are believers, told me that I would come to regret this post. Therefore, I regret it now and henceforth change my opinion. What then? Well, I am sure that you along with the mass majority of my readers would become forer readers. THAT would be volatile and rash!

      Okay, Mr. R. you got me at a wrong time. I will probably regret posting this comment!

      God bless my friend.

    • mbaker

      To all,

      I do not think it is a matter of age, (Jesus being only 33 at the time of his ministry) but of being true to the context of scripture. True, we may not have all the details of the OT stories, but even the OT more importantly always points to the rise of the Messiah. Then why do ANE, cultural studies always seem to take precedent with some folks?

      The most important thing we can look is at Christ as the Son of God and His promises. Are we going to go to go back in time to when they had to go by works alone or go forward in both grace AND truth as Christ preached, and was representative of. See John 1:14. One cannot exist without the other.

      Do you really think, for example that trying to disprove OT stories is going to make you a better Christian, or evangelist for Christ for that matter? Lots of folks seem to concentrate on that unfortunately, both for defending our witness to the gospel and to the veracity of the Bible to atheists, or other doubters.

      Big mistake, IMO.

    • C Michael Patton

      Greg, go to the epistemology category on this blog. I think there are close to 100. Prolegomena and its subset in theology, epistemology, are the primary focus if this blog.

      Although I have been involved in the comments on this blog for the last week or so, I have been down at home. My back went out. Anyway, while I will probably get involved in the next post, I doubt will be able to do too much more.

    • C Michael Patton

      I don’t know Greg. There are just so many articles I have written. Over 2000!

      In my course in The Theology Program we go through epistemology for five sessions. It, as I said, is my primary area of study. Unless you are living and studying on Mars, I promise we have the same definition. It is not that hard to figure out. In these courses we go through
      Subjectivism
      Foundationalism
      Cartesianism
      Relativism
      Pragmatism
      Perspectivism
      Objectivism

      We talk about rationalists and empiricists

      We talk about Hume l, Kant, Pascal, and Neitzche

      We talk about the cataphatic west and the apophadic east

      And we have an extensive theme called the stage of truth, which is a live visual that takes only 25 min that carries us through the history of “how we know.”

      Again, I’m fairly familiar with the subject. In fact, my book is simply a modernization of Turretin’s biblical epistemology. You can purchase that through our store.

    • Ask Mr. Religion

      Michael,

      I apologize if my words came across as arrogant. My rebuke was as gentle as I could muster. The topic is a serious one and you, who hold yourself out as a teacher, have made public statements that I feel admonished from Scripture to not let pass unchallenged. I felt my response was muted given the gravity of the matter at hand.

      I realize that maybe I am in the minority within the population that regularly follows your blog who have commented herein. But I am hoping you do not take such a small sampling to be a mandate, for I assure you that what you have stated is not reflective of the historical heritage of those that have come before us and upon whose shoulders we are all standing.

      Michael, you took my comments about wisdom to imply a grander motive than my intent. My point was that it would be wise for someone like yourself to “check in” with those you respect that are older and wiser than yourself before making public your views on a topic that you admitted would be controversial. You argue that my comments essentially accuse those that agree with you similarly yet you miss the fact that you have held yourself out as a teacher and the standard is higher for you.

      If as you say you have some senior mentors and they have all agreed with you on this topic, then I encourage you to seed your circle of mentors with more men who will not. Did you run this blog entry by them before you posted? Did you seek any guidance from your own pastor, church elders, before doing theology in the large here?

      I am not asking you to change your opinion based upon my or anyone else’s call for you to do so. It is my hope and prayer that you will take what you have read here and elsewhere that your post is being called into question under serious advisement. Go back to the books, review links provided by others, search the Scriptures, and lift up prayers for guidance by the Spirit as you do so.

      An unprofitable servant,

      Patrick

    • C Michael Patton

      Ask,

      Thank you but I am the one who should ask for your forgiveness. I don’t know why I reacted like that.

      Maybe I missed your points of correction sometime back? I don’t see where you believe I went wrong

      And yes, I do have people—older people who look give me feedback. In fact, I was on the phone with my Pastor Mark Hitchcock about my these posts today. He reads my blog. There encouraged me in them. As well Dr Sam Storms is someone I discuss stuff with regularly. They are both older and very well-respected. .

    • Reece

      Greg says:

      “Reece, you and your homeys are indeed languishing under a spirit of slumber. No thanks. You’ll have to forgive my lack of desperation that you listen to me. I know the type and know better than to try.”

      … the type who are right when you are wrong? That type? 😛

    • Dave Z

      @Patrick (aka “Ask”)

      Some of your statements to Michael make me suspect that you are unaware of the extent of his qualifications and ministry. You have written as if you think he is a rookie in the theology field instead of a well-educated veteran endorsed by some of the most respected names in American theological circles.

      He is not one to toot his own horn, so I’ll do it for him, by directing you to the Credo House website (www.reclaimingthemind.org), of which this blog is a small part. There you’ll find his bio and the extensive resources he’s developed, as well as endorsements by those who are familiar with Michael’s work over the years and have affirmed it, including Chuck Swindoll, J.P Moreland, Daniel Wallace, Roger Olson, and John Frame, who has called Michael’s The Theology Program “the best he’s ever seen for laymen in this area.”

      If you are aware of Michael’s work, then I’m puzzled by a statement such as the following. IMO, it just sounds disrespectful. Or perhaps you’re just unaware of the respect that Michael has earned among his peers.

      Your enthusiasm and occasional impetuousness needs some tempering. You can begin to this tempering by having a few “old guys” in your life that you can test your thoughts against, and who will mentor you in your walk of faith.

    • Gary Simmons

      Plenty of patronizing and childish comments on this thread, and for once it’s not me!

      Seriously: can’t we play nice?

    • Jeremy

      hello, i am a first time visitor to this blog, i have found the current post interesting, i m pretty sure i understood the point being made without the need for further explanation. I have a question arising from the discussion, why do so many commentators “assume” that a modern literalistic historical narrative “understanding” of an ANE text written in and by a culture completely different to our own is necessarily going to arrive at the truth. Inerrant doesnt mean “fits in with the culture, education and thought patterns of early 21C westerners”
      As a young friend of mine said recently, contemporary english speakers need education on culture context language and original audience to help them understand Shakespeare ( theorectically written in the same language with a time separation of only 400 years). To insist on a ‘modern literalistic historical narrative’ understanding is simply ignorant and arrogant. We end up defending positions and fighting fights God doesnt ask us to!
      Even coming all the way forward to the Gospels, St John the Apostle makes the point that his own gospel is only a summary, saying ( with considerable exageration) that if everything Jesus said and did was written down, the books would fill the whole world.

    • Jeremy

      I meant to add that the Bible claims to be inspired by God and profitable for teaching rebuking correction and training in righteousness it doesnt claim to be a video tape of history or even of the life of Christ. It is sufficient for its purposes, to reveal some of the nature of God, the nature of our relationship with Him, and to point us to Christ.

    • […] 27:30-47:50 Response to Michael Patton’s secondary issues post […]

    • verymerryseven

      It only takes a little twisting or a subtle turning to create a cult.

    • Ben Masters

      Believing that Jesus was resurrected cannot be the core issue because Mormons and other cults believe that and they cannot be considered orthodox Christians. The sole deciding factor to receiving Everlasting Life is believing and knowing that Jesus Christ is Lord/God.

    • harmonno98

      I think this article does much damage to the basis of our faith. The authority of scripture..man’s word vs. God’s Word. No, a person doesn’t need to understand inerrancy, or inspiration, or 6 day 24 hr. creation, to be saved, but when they are presented with the truth of God’s Word, we must receive it as it given..else we are God’s enemies. As I believe Michael Patton has become!

    • Bob R

      Your titanic comparison falls flat for point 3. None of the witnesses words were god-breathed, as were all the words in the bible. So in reality there is only one account, or perspective, in the Bible, and that is God’s, so you would logically expect no inconsistencies.

    • smurray

      You just lost all credibility as a ministry, Credo House.

    • Joli Beevers

      To be saved, believe like a five year old would believe. Remember what that was like? Very, very simple.

      Great post.

    • Gary

      I am truly astounded at the article and most comments all I will say is that I will pray for you all ! Oh ye of little faith !

    • Mike

      John 5:46,47 KJV
      For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

      John 3:11,12
      Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know , and testify that we have seen ; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe , if I tell you of heavenly things?

      If we do not believe Jesus, can we be saved, or are we only fooling ourselves? If we do not believe Moses (Genesis) can we believe Jesus? He indicated in many passages that Genesis was literal history. What are we saved from? God’s wrath. Why God’s wrath? Adam’s (man’s) sin. Judgement is coming as it had before, but this time with fire and Jesus is the door. What door is He referring to? The door of salvation (the ark). If we do not believe Genesis, or the prophets what do we base our need for salvation on?

      If you do not believe in the innerrancy of the Word (and the Word became flesh), or inspiration (the Spirit will lead you in all truth) or Moses ( “for in six days…” written in stone by the finger of God) what will you be left with on judgement day? Will you say “Lord, did we not compromise to encourage more people to join the church and not offend them in your name?” What will His answer be?

      John 5:44 KJV
      How can ye believe , which receive honour one of another , and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

    • Nick Peters

      Mike. Did you really read the prologue to John? Believe it or not, the Word in the Gospel of John is not the Bible, but it’s Jesus. To refer to the Bible as the Word of God is fine, but then to say “The Word became Flesh” and say that’s about the Bible is going entirely against what John wrote and is a horrible misuse of his words and gets you really close to a kind of Bibliolatry.

    • Ben Masters

      Bibliolatry= worship of the Book. Ascribing to the scriptures properties that belong only to God, then unconsciously worshiping the Bible as the WORD of God. It is primarily due to the confusion in English speaking people because Christ is the Word of God, and the Scriptures are called the word of God. It is a serious error, but very common. Most other languages do not have this problem because they are able to differentiate between the word as a person and the word as a written text.

    • Ben Masters

      The word Logos has been translated as “Word” in English, but it is a very poor translation. I believe “truth” is more appropriate. In the beginning was the Truth, and the Truth was face to face with God, and the Truth was God. You might want to visit my website to see more about the nature of truth. When Jesus said I Am the Truth, he was saying nothing less than that I Am God, because the natures of Truth and God are identical.

    • C Barton

      “Your word is truth” – John 17:17. In Jesus’ prayer, he uses logos, and rhema, both translated into “word(s)”. But Truth is aletheia (Strong’s 225). My point is that those who spoke Greek knew which word to use in context. There is no need to change the definitions to understand that when God breathes a word, it is always Truth. And His Word is living and eternal.
      I share your zeal in knowing that God’s word is eternal Truth and that part of our reward in Heaven is to know Him!

    • Dave Z

      I agree that it’s common to get confused over the term “word of God.” IN the NT, it’s usually used to refer to the message the apostles preached – the kerygma. When referring to scripture, they typically said “the writings.” Scripture as “the Word of God” is not really a usage that shows up in scripture. So, IMO, calling scripture “the word of God” is not supported scripturally. 🙂

      Ben Master’s definition of bibliolatry as ascribing to scripture attributes that belong only to God is very interesting. My first thought is that’s exactly what the inerrancy position is based on; God is inerrant, and we assign that same attribute to scripture. Do we assign any of God’s other incommunicable attributes to scripture? That’s very thought-provoking. Maybe one of the best points I’ve ever heard on the topic.

    • C Barton

      We can show reverence and respect towards the written word without slipping into idolatry.
      Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
      God’s word to us is represented by symbols on paper, but the Living Word is he who occupies our hearts.
      We can worship him and the Father who sent him.

    • Bill Greenhaw

      I wonder if a truly blood bought born again Christian can be so out of touch with the Holy Spirit that they deny the “full gospel” of Jesus Christ? He is preaching a different gospel than the Gospel that Jesus would recognize. As the Apostle Paul declares in the first chapter of Galatians, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” Jesus’ genealogy goes all the way back through David to Adam on both sides of his family. So at what point do you break that genealogical line and what does that do to Jesus’ credibility as Lord and savior? (Bill G)

    • Joli

      Not everyone is a “Josh McDowell” that has to have all the evidence dots connected before he believes.

      No knowledge of science, genealogies ,or other historical facts are necessary besides the cross/resurrection is needed.

      I think this is what is being said here.

    • Bill Greenhaw

      Our ChristianFaith is not a blind faith. Christianity and faith is not based on fairy tales or superstitions.
      Faith is not subjective, based on feelings or personal ideas; rather, it is substantive, based on fact and reality! 
      Faith is based on knowledge given by God. 
      Our faith is based on historical evidence, logical reasoning, the confidence in who God is, and valid testimonies.

      Faith is simple but not simplistic; it is not just simple belief, because even the demons believe (James 2:19). 
      Faith is not blind trust, because we know the One who is leading! 
      Faith is still trusting what is not seen and believing our God.
       It combines belief with trust; we are to believe in Christ-not just about Him. 

    • Bill Greenhaw

      Christian witnessing is not just sharing our spiritual  journey and testimony but also having the knowledge and ability to explain how the Bible is relevant to history as well as our our physical world. Because if the Bible is not relevant or accurate about the world of biology, geology, astronomy, physics, history and archeology, then how can we trust it about spiritual things? Seeing Biblical events as reality elevates Christianity from an esoteric “faith” to actual truth. Knowing that scientific and historic facts line up with the Biblical history and events encourages Christians to continue on a mature and effective faith.

    • Bill Greenhaw

      The evolution dogma is a atheistic religious world view and its philosophies and presuppositions totally undermine the biblical worldview. Many people have abanded their Christian beliefs after being indoctrinated in evolution in the secular education system. Science + evolution = science fiction. Science fiction makes for fun movies but has no place in the Biblical worldview. Although, now, our cosmos functions by natural laws, these same natural laws could never have created this cosmos to begin with. God supernaturally created our cosmos by his spoken Word over a period of six literal 24 hour days according to the Genesis account. So, to think God somehow would have used a process of evolution to bring everything into being is absurd. And there is absolutely no evidence to support that notion but just misplaced lofty intellectualism.

    • Joli

      Bill Greenshaw,
      Did you read the addendum to this article? One of the people he witnessed to used to believe in evolution.
      Something I learned from the two witnessing stories that M. Patton told is that the Holy Spirit can put blinders on someone, just for a little while, to all the false things they believe in like evolution and humanism and then focus them on the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If someone is willing to focus on just those Truths for just a little while – his death, burial and resurrection – they can trust in Christ and receive the Holy Spirit. Then, after this most important decision is made, they can start tackling their false suppositions about evolution, etc. with the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit to help them. I think it would be a lot easier to tear down evolution, humanist philosophy, etc. as a new creature in Christ than as someone who has not trusted in Him yet.

    • Bill Greenhaw

      Joli,
      I do agree with you because that is basically what I experienced also in my Christian conversion. But for some, especially in America, it requires that their basic secular presuppositions be realigned to see that evolution does not govern our universe but that God and His Word are soverign. Many have become so skeptical and indoctrinated in secular humanism that they see no need for Christ or the Cross. They need to understand that it is God that is soverign in earth history when He Created everything in the beginning; He was sovereign when He created man in His image; He was soverign in earth history when He destroyed the world with the Flood; and He was soverign in earth histiory when He raised the incarnate Son from death and the grave. According to I Peter 3:15, “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;”

    • C Michael Patton

      Greg,

      I tend to agree with you about the interpretation of death before sin, however it is not as conclusive as one might suppose, exegetically or theologically. Just bear hearing something you seem totally predisposed to reject.

      Suppose that the death brought about by the curse was spiritual death primarily. After all, “the day” they ate of the fruit, they did not die. So we are forced to see this death in terms of their relationship with God and an ensuing death that began that day which would eventually take their physical life

      As well, assume that the death God pronounced was the death of humanity at this stage (post the “breath of life”). In this, it would not have to do with any other creatures that were not in Gos’s image. This seems to be the case as the only reason people die physically was that access was restricted to the Tree of Life. I doubt that other animals had access to this tree, much less plants. So, if plants and animals dd not have access to the tree of life, they were always programmed to die. In this, they had not been granted the type of everlasting life as man is/was. Again, the solution to this could be fairly simple as they were not created in God’s image (at least as humans were/are).

      Therefore, whatever humanity was in the process of evolution did not qualify for the “image of Godness” that followed the “breath of life” act.

      At the very least, while you or I may not subscribe to such things, it does make some since and CAN be held to with biblical intergrity. And I think, at this point, we could at least turn our guns upon a common foe.

    • Rob Holler

      Michael, I get it. I just disagree that a Biblical account of creation is a non-essential to the Gospel. If we play “loose” with origins of man, we make God the Holy Spirit through His inspiration of human writers. There is so much to say here about the implications of thinking that the Biblical account of creation is not necessary to the Gospel. To some, I may be viewed as a “hay seed” fundamentalist. That’s okay with me. How can we in one breath affirm that God is Sovereign, and in the next breath consider that He inspired or decreed a bogus account of creation. Is God now a man, that he could lie? Have we spent so much effort to be irrenically evangelical with skeptic post-moderns that we are attempting to “lower the bar” for them. My faith has been deepened by your ministry, but I must part ways with you on this matter. In my opinion, to suggest that the Biblical account of creation is a not inherently tied to the Gospel is dangerous. Are we not pulling upon a loose thread that will unravel far more of this tapestry than we might realize. Without the Fall, we have no doctrine of the sin nature of man. Without a clear teaching of the sinful nature of man, there is no need for a Savior.

    • Chris Brownwell

      Evolution really is incompatible with Christianity. If there was no death before sin, and no sin before man, how can the fittest survive and the non fittest die off before man? Evolution diminishes the reality of sin and the need for a savior.

      • C Michael Patton

        I don’t believe in evolution, but I suppose all one has to say is that the death of man in the image of God came with sin. Obviously plants were always meant to die. So the death coming by sin has to be contextualized.

    • Dan Guinn

      I understand what he is trying to do but strongly disagree with this: “My statement is this: the Bible does not have to be inspired for Christianity to be true. Before you jump all over me, think of it this way: Did God have to give us the Bible in order to be God? Of course not.” ~ Let’s make one thing clear. The Word of God (Christ) is the revelation Jn 1:1. It is His character to reveal himself in this way. To say something different is to challenge the character of Christ.

    • Trevor Ray Slone

      Dan Guinn,
      Hey bud! I hope to see you at the ISCA conference again this year! I think what Michael is saying, and I agree with him, is that God could have chosen to reveal Himself in a different way, or not at all, at least in written form. You are using the presupposition in your argument in your post here that the Bible is inspired to make your argument in the first place, but the fundamental premise of Mike’s argument here is assuming, for the sake of argument, that it might not be, and if it is not then one cannot use such a presupposition that necessitates it’s inspiration to argue against it, for then those arguing are using different ontic referents for their basis of argumentation, thereby creating an impasse that is impossible to overcome, because at that point they are arguing on the level of two relativists with different views and no way to resolve them coherently.

      On another note, WELL SAID MICHAEL!

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