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The Bible has no errors. It is perfect.

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#1 Aaron R.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 11:49 AM

I have heard some preach strange doctrines in the Orthodox Church about the Bible. The Bible according to the Church fathers is perfect and without error. As fr John Whiteford defends so powerfully here.

 

http://fatherjohn.bl...ipture.html?m=1



#2 Phoebe K.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 12:50 PM

I know of no fathers saying that the scriptures were perfect,  the canon as we know it was not finalized until the first. councle of Nacia.  Only after this did the bilbe as we know it come int being.  The idea that the bile is without error is a recent (last 300 years or so) doctrine of the reformed Protestant church and dose not stand up to any scholarly criticism, the fact we translate the texts being the first point, no translation is perfect.  unfortunately the eronios view of the scriptures had come in with some who converted and are now trying to justify their personal view rather than read what holy tradition and the Fathers are atuly saying.

 

Part of the issue with saying that the Bible is perfect is that we elevate it to a near divine level and it becomes an idol.  we worship God in Trinity and the scriptures show us this along with holy tradition and the services, the Word of God is not the text but Christ himself God incarnate.

 

Phoebe



#3 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 02:07 PM

This is very much a western question, prompted by the influence of Protestantism. Orthodox faith and doctrine are Apostolic and existed, as Phoebe indicates, before the canon of scripture was settled and indeed before the Gospels were written. Questions as to the Bible's (one assumes the Septuagint and NT are meant) being 'perfect' or 'inerrant' are futile since they depend on what is meant by 'perfect' and 'inerrant'.



#4 Aaron R.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 02:27 PM

You are wrong. Did you even read the link I posted.Which quotes the fathers on the perfection of Scripture.Unless you are calling St John Chrystotom protestant.

#5 Aaron R.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 02:33 PM

You are wrong. Did you even read the link I posted.Which quotes the fathers on the perfection of Scripture.Unless you are calling St John Chrystotom protestant. How can any Christian dare call a book written by GOD who is Truth not perfect ?

#6 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 02:46 PM

You have not understood what I wrote. And no sensible person would say that God wrote the Bible.



#7 Aaron R.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 02:48 PM

As St. John of Kronstadt put it:

"When you doubt the truth of any person or event described in Holy Scripture, then remember that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” as the Apostle says and is therefore true, and does not contain any imaginary persons, fables, and tales, although it includes parables, which everyone can see are not true narratives, but are written in figurative language. The whole of the word of God is single, entire, indivisible truth; and if you admit that any narrative, sentence, or word is untrue, then you sin against the truth of the whole of Holy Scripture and its primordial truth, which is God Himself. “I am the truth,” said the Lord; “Thy word is truth,” said Jesus Christ to God the Father. Thus, consider the whole of the Holy Scripture as truth; everything that is said in it has either taken place or takes place (St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ, trans. E. E. Goulaeff (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1994) p

#8 Aaron R.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 02:49 PM

St. John Chrysostom wrote: "Don't worry, dearly beloved, don't think sacred Scripture ever contradicts itself, learn instead the truth of what it says, hold fast what it teaches in truth, and close your ears to those who speak against it" (Homily 4:8 on Genesis, The Fathers of the Church: St. John Chrysostom

#9 Aaron R.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 02:50 PM

St. Augustine said:

"For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it" (Letter to St. Jerome, 1:3).

#10 Aaron R.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 02:52 PM

from the catechism by st Philaret of Moscow approved by the holy synod. http://www.pravoslav...of_philaret.htm

Which states in question 19 19. What is that which you call holy Scripture? Certain books written by the Spirit of God through men sanctified by God, called Prophets and Apostles. These books are commonly termed the Bible.

#11 Aaron R.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 02:54 PM

2 Timothy 3:16-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

#12 Aaron R.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 03:03 PM

2 Timothy 3:16-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

#13 Antonios

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 03:41 PM

Hi Aaron. A blessed Lent to you! Of the quotes listed above, only the one by St. John of Krondstat appears to me to support your position.

But I ask you, which version of the Scriptures are you referring to being inerrant? Which translation and written when and by whom? Or is your position that the Scripturs are inerrant irrespective of which translation and which publisher wrote it?

Edited by Antonios, 12 March 2014 - 03:41 PM.


#14 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 04:45 PM

Antonios asks the question I was going to ask. Certainly, the GOARCH website states that only the original language version of the Holy Scriptures is inspired by God, and not the translations most of us must use:

 

God's inspiration is confined to the original languages and utterances, not the many translations. There are 1,300 languages and dialects into which the Holy Bible, in its entirety or in portions, has been translated. This does not mean that the translations do not convey the meaning of the Bible for spiritual uprightness of the readers in their own language. On the contrary, the Bible should be spread and preached to "all nations." The missionaries in foreign lands learn the language or the dialect of the new area into which they bring the Bible and other religious teachings. 

 

As to the word 'perfect', the OED has eighteen definitions, before one arrives at the list of technical definitions.


Edited by Andreas Moran, 12 March 2014 - 04:46 PM.


#15 Aaron R.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 05:31 PM

Here is a very interesting comment by St. Peter of Damascus from the Philokalia, Volume 3, p. 144f:

THAT THERE ARE NO CONTRADICTIONS IN HOLY SCRIPTURE

Whenever a person even slightly illumined reads the Scriptures or sings psalms he finds in them matter for contemplation and theology, one text supporting another. But he whose intellect is still unenlightened thinks that the Holy Scriptures are contradictory. Yet there is no contradiction in the Holy Scriptures: God forbid that there should be. For some texts are confirmed by others, while some were written with reference to a particular time of a particular person. Thus every word of Scripture is beyond reproach. The appearance of contradiction is due to our ignorance. We ought not to find fault with the Scriptures, but to the limit of our capacity we should attend to them as they are, and not as we would like them to be, after the manner of the Greeks and Jews. for the Greeks and Jews refused to admit that they did not understand, but out of conceit and self-satisfaction they found fault with the Scriptures and with the natural order of things, and interpreted them as they saw fit and not according to the will of God. As a result they were led into delusion and gave themselves over to every kind of evil.

The person who searches for the meaning of the Scriptures will not put forward his own opinion, bad or good; but, as St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom have said, he will take as his teacher, not the learning of this world, but Holy Scripture itself. Then if his heart is pure and God puts something unpremeditated into it, he will accept it, providing he can find confirmation for it in the Scriptures, as St. Antony the Great says. For St. Isaac says that the thoughts that enter spontaneously and without premeditation into the intellects of those pursuing a life of stillness are to be accepted; but that to investigate and then to draw one's own conclusions is an act of self-will and results in material knowledge.

This is especially the case if a person does not approach the Scriptures through the door of humility but, as St. John Chrysostom says, climbs up some other way, like a thief (cf. John 10:1), and forces them to accord with his allegorizing. For no one is more foolish than he who forces the meaning of the Scriptures or finds fault with them so as to demonstrate his own knowledge -- or, rather, his own ignorance. What kind of knowledge can result from adapting the meaning of the Scriptures to suit one's own likes and from daring to alter their words? The true sage is he who regards the text as authoritative and discovers, through the wisdom of the Spirit, the hidden mysteries to which the divine Scriptures bear witness.

The three great luminaries, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom, are outstanding examples of this: they base themselves either on the particular text they are considering or on some other passage of Scripture. Thus no one can contradict them, for they do not adduce external support for what they say, so that it might be claimed that it was merely their own opinion, but refer directly to the text under discussion or to some other scriptural passage that sheds light on it. And in this they are right; for what they understand and expound comes from the Holy Spirit, of whose inspiration they have been found worthy. No one, therefore, should do or mentally assent to anything if its integrity is in doubt and cannot be attested from Scripture. For what is the point of rejecting something who integrity Scripture clearly attests as being in accordance with God's will, in order to do something else, whether good or not? Only passion could provoke such behaviour.

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#16 Aaron R.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 05:40 PM

father John Whiteford:


There are two basic problems with making the concession that the Scriptures contain actual errors:

1. The Fathers never make such a concession. You will never find a single Father of the Church that concedes that there are real errors or real contradictions in the Scriptures. When they encounter things that on surface appear to be contradictions on some level, they always explain how they are not contradictory rather than concede that they are real contradictions.

2. Once you go down that road, it does not stop with inconsequential errors. If you have followed some of the recent discussions about homosexuality that have been going on, particularly within the OCA, you will see that people are suggesting that St. Paul was a misogynist 1st century Jew, who had a limited understanding of sex in general and homosexuality in particular, and so perhaps some of his statements on the subject just got it wrong, or perhaps we was only talking about homosexuality in negative terms because he associated it with paganism. Had he only understood what a loving committed homosexual relationship could be, perhaps he might have come down differently on the question. This is the fruit of those who teach that the Scriptures are full of contradictions.

This is also a fundamental denial of the real inspiration of the Scriptures. If the Scriptures really are entirely inspired by God, then by that very fact, no error could be contained in it, because God does not err. If you allow that the Scriptures contain real err, then you are allowing that the Scriptures are not completely inspired, and then the question is, what parts are inspired, and what parts are not.

Now, we have to ask: In what sense the Scriptures are inerrant? The Scriptures contain quotes from the Devil, which are not truth, but truly quoted. There are differences between passages of Scripture that are not contradictory, but provide different details.

We believe that Scripture does not contain any error in anything that it intends to convey. I think St. Augustine put it about as well as anyone has:

"For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it" (Letter to St. Jerome, 1:3).

St. Gregory Nazianzus also wrote;

“We however, who extend the accuracy of the Spirit to the merest stroke and tittle, will never admit the impious assertion that even the smallest matters were dealt with haphazard by those who have recorded them, and have thus been borne in mind down to the present day: on the contrary, their purpose has been to supply memorials and instructions for our consideration under similar circumstances, should such befall us, and that the examples of the past might serve as rules and models, for our warning and imitation” (NPNF2-07 St.Gregory Nazianzen, Oration II: In Defence of His Flight to Pontus, and His Return, After His Ordination to the Priesthood, with an Exposition of the Character of the Priestly Office , ch. 105, NPNF2, p.225).

St. John Chrysostom wrote: "Don't worry, dearly beloved, don't think sacred Scripture ever contradicts itself, learn instead the truth of what it says, hold fast what it teaches in truth, and close your ears to those who speak against it" (Homily 4:8 on Genesis, The Fathers of the Church: St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis 1-17, trans. Robert C. Hill (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1986), p. 56).

St. Clement of Rome wrote: "Ye have searched the scriptures, which are true, which were given through the Holy Ghost; and ye know that nothing unrighteous or counterfeit is written in them" (1 Clement 45:2-3).

The Fathers would never attribute error to Scripture, but unlike the Fundamentalist Protestants, they did not feel the need to be able to explain everything in Scripture. There are questions one can ask about Scripture, particularly with reference to apparent contradictions, and affirm that the Scriptures are without error, but not claim to know with any certainty how to explain a given problem.

That the Scriptures are the inspired word of God is a faith affirmation for which we can give reasons and evidence, but which is incapable of empirical verification of falsification. And so for example, I do not have to reconcile Genesis 1-2 with the current science of the day. I can try, but since I am not inerrant, my conclusions on that may or may not be accurate. But I can confess with St. Augustine that "...if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it." The Truth of Scripture does not depend on my ability to fully comprehend it, but to be faithful to the Orthodox Tradition I must confess that the Scriptures are fully inspired, without error, and that it is I who need to be corrected by the Scriptures, rather than the Scriptures that need to be corrected by me.

Now some contemporary Orthodox writers accuse anyone who says that the Scriptures are without error of being Protestant and/or Fundamentalist. The problem with this claim is that the position these people espouse has no basis in the Orthodox Tradition, but rather is itself a position taken wholly and uncritically from Protestant Liberalism... and Protestant liberalism and Protestant fundamentalism both have much more in common with each other than either has with the Orthodox Tradition.

As St. John of Kronstadt put it:

"When you doubt the truth of any person or event described in Holy Scripture, then remember that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” as the Apostle says and is therefore true, and does not contain any imaginary persons, fables, and tales, although it includes parables, which everyone can see are not true narratives, but are written in figurative language. The whole of the word of God is single, entire, indivisible truth; and if you admit that any narrative, sentence, or word is untrue, then you sin against the truth of the whole of Holy Scripture and its primordial truth, which is God Himself. “I am the truth,” said the Lord; “Thy word is truth,” said Jesus Christ to God the Father. Thus, consider the whole of the Holy Scripture as truth; everything that is said in it has either taken place or takes place (St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ, trans. E. E. Goulaeff (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1994) p. 70).

I should also state that I respect Fr. Thomas Hopko. I have heard him say things that were so insightful that I have regularly quoted him to others. However, I could not disagree with him more on this question.

#17 Salaam Yitbarek

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 06:02 PM

I preface by saying I'm not a theologian.

 

Aaron R, I don't think you mean anything different from what Andreas is saying.

 

I have no problem saying the Bible is perfect. I would say that the Bible is 'perfect' and therefore 'inerrant' because it is inspired by God. But it is not 'perfect' and 'inerrant' without the Church, which correctly interprets it. It is perfect in the hands of the one holy and apostolic church.

 

Is contradiction a measure of imperfection? Then I would say the Bible does NOT contradict itself, again, if in the hands of the one holy and apostolic church.

 

Does this make sense.


Edited by Salaam Yitbarek, 12 March 2014 - 06:02 PM.


#18 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 06:28 PM

We must say that in its original language the Bible does not contain mistakes and contradictions; it is inspired by God. That does not mean that we can take a Protestant or Evangelical view of literalness. What I think is the problem is the use of the word 'perfect' since it is not clear what this denotes.



#19 Antonios

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 06:38 PM

Aaron, I read the quotes you listed above, but I still do not believe you answered my earlier question. Which version/translation do you consider to have no errors or do you believe that all versions/translation are inerrant?

As for what book God wrote, the only book I know that God directly wrote was the first edition of the Ten Commandments (the same writing which Moses smashed to the ground because of the unworthiness of the idol worshipping people of Israel). Since then, God has used chosen vessels to be the writers and scribes of the Law and the Scriptures - inspired men no doubt, with the Holy Spirit working in them and through them, but fallible men nonetheless.

That is not to say that there are errors in the Scriptures, as the Orthodox faith as I understand it is that the Holy Scriptures are indeed inerrant in its message and revelation in written form, but nevertheless, this is still (to me) not the same as equating the Scriptures or what is often coined 'The Word of God' in the same perfection of the true Word of God Who is Jesus Christ. Christ alone is the perfect Word of God.

We must remember that being without errors does not by necessity mean being perfect. For example, my eight year old might write a book report about bicycle riding and it's content be inerrant but it does not mean that the book report is perfect or even sufficient! Of course, if she was inspired by the Holy Spirit in the writing of this 'inerrant' book report then it would indeed be profitable for instruction and worthy to read and study, but only if the reader actually sat on a bike and rode it could the knowledge of bicycle riding even begin to approach perfection.

But still I am interested in learning from you which translation or version is it which you believe contains no errors?

#20 Aaron R.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 06:54 PM

The Bible is the Word of GOD and written by the Spirit of GOD through Prophets and Apostles as stated in this Orthodox Catechism :

from the catechism by st Philaret of Moscow approved by the holy synod. http://www.pravoslav...of_philaret.htm

Which states in question 19 19. What is that which you call holy Scripture? Certain books written by the Spirit of God through men sanctified by God, called Prophets and Apostles. These books are commonly termed the Bible.

Edited by Aaron R., 12 March 2014 - 07:08 PM.





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