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Pistic inerrancy


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#1 Alistair

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 05:00 PM

Does anyone know if I can use the phrase pistic inerrancy to mean the belief that the Bible is inerrant in matters of faith only? That is, not in matters of cosmology, genealogy, history, etc.

The question is on the grammatical construction of the adjective pistic, not on the doctrine of inerrancy.

Has anyone seen/hear/used this phrase before, or can anyone recommend an alternative?

God bless!

#2 Robb Brunansky

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 08:05 AM

I've never heard that phrase before. The word pistic means pure, genuine, so I don't think that meaning would apply to what you want to say using that word.

I've always understood that people use the word infallible to reject the Bible's authority/inerrancy about history, &c. I've had people tell me, "I believe the Bible is infallible but not inerrant," with 'infallible' code for "unerring in matters of faith and practice." I guess that's why inerrant is a shiboleth within evangelicalism rather than infallible.
Soli Deo Gloria,
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#3 Alistair

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 11:00 AM

Thanks Robb, that's helpful. I understand that there is some ambiguity in the use of the terms inerrant and infallible, or rather the failure to properly distinguish between the two terms.

#4 Alistair

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 03:19 PM

Dug this out of my old notes. Seems Ryrie disagrees with you :) That's why I said I thought there was ambiguity in the usage of these terms.

"While many theological viewpoints would be willing to say the Bible is inspired, one finds little uniformity as to what is meant by inspiration. Some focus it on the writers; others, on the writings; still others, on the readers. Some relate it to the general message of the Bible; others, to the thoughts; still others, to the words. Some include inerrancy; many don’t.
These differences call for precision in stating the biblical doctrine. Formerly all that was necessary to affirm one’s belief in full inspiration was the statement, “I believe in the inspiration o f the Bible.” But when some did not extend inspiration to the words of the text it became necessary to say, “I believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible.” To counter the teaching that not all parts of the Bible were inspired, one had to say, “ I believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible.” Then because some did not want to ascribe total accuracy to the Bible, it was necessary to say, “ I believe in the verbal, plenary, infallible, inerrant inspiration of the Bible.” But then “infallible” and “inerrant” began to be limited to matters of faith only rather than also embracing all that the Bible records (including historical facts, genealogies, accounts of Creation, etc.), so it became necessary to add the concept of “unlimited inerrancy.” Each addition to the basic statement arose because of an erroneous teaching." (Underlined by me.)

Ryrie, Charles C.: Basic Theology. Wheaton, Victor Books 1986, p. 67

Can anyone else shine some light here? I found the article on authoritas Scripturae in the Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, to be equally helpful and confusing.

Edited by Helen Brown, 08 February 2009 - 12:29 AM.


#5 Robb Brunansky

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 03:38 PM

Ryrie disagrees with me on a lot :rolleyes:

I've never heard the term "unlimited inerrancy," and on the ETS website, the term used in simply "inerrancy' to divide from those who reject the accuracy of Scripture on historical and other like matters. That is also how the terms were used at Master's Seminary when I was there as well. If only people would quit re-defining terms so they can "fit" within orthodoxy, we wouldn't have this problem!! To the inventing of terminology there is no end. :D
Soli Deo Gloria,
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#6 Alistair

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 04:09 PM

Ryrie again:

“Inerrant” means “exempt from error,” and dictionaries consider it a synonym for “infallible” which means “not liable to deceive, certain.” Actually there is little difference in the meaning of the two words, although in the history of their use in relation to the Bible, “inerrant” is of more recent use. If there is any difference in the shade of meaning it is simply this: “Infallible” includes the resultant idea of trustworthiness while “inerrant” emphasizes principally the truthfulness of the Scriptures.

Ryrie, Charles C., art. “The importance of inerrancy”, in Zuck, Roy B. (Ed.), Vital theological issues. Grand Rapids, Kregel, 1994, p. 34

So it seems anyone can take any word and use it to mean anything they want. Perplexing!
No wonder Paul used the expression theopneustic. He probably invented it too! Our problem is in trying to define it.

Edited by Alistair, 12 May 2008 - 04:13 PM.


#7 Jonna Schmidt

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 07:58 PM

Do you have the Creeds module? It contains the 1978 Chicago statement on Biblical inerrancy. They seem to use the terms inerrant and infallible interchangeably.

#8 T. David Gordon

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 10:18 AM

Does anyone know if I can use the phrase pistic inerrancy to mean the belief that the Bible is inerrant in matters of faith only? That is, not in matters of cosmology, genealogy, history, etc.

The question is on the grammatical construction of the adjective pistic, not on the doctrine of inerrancy.

Has anyone seen/hear/used this phrase before, or can anyone recommend an alternative?

God bless!


This is probably too late for anyone to care, but I think the issue is conceptual/theological: What constitutes a "matter of faith"? That is, if we affirm inerrancy "in matters of faith," but don't agree what constitutes a "matter of faith," the distinction is meaningless. Is, for example, the historicity of Adam (Rom. 5) a "matter of faith" or a matter of "history"? Recall that Bultmann famously affirmed the creedal language "resurrection of the body," but denied the "resuscitation of a corpse." For Bultmann, faith could not require such (debated) "historical" matters as whether a corpse was revived or not. Most of orthodox Christianity, on the other hand, would say that whether Christ died and was raised is an essential "matter of faith."

Blessings on you.

#9 Lawson Stone

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 10:31 PM

Ryrie again:

“Inerrant” means “exempt from error,” and dictionaries consider it a synonym for “infallible” which means “not liable to deceive, certain.” Actually there is little difference in the meaning of the two words, although in the history of their use in relation to the Bible, “inerrant” is of more recent use. If there is any difference in the shade of meaning it is simply this: “Infallible” includes the resultant idea of trustworthiness while “inerrant” emphasizes principally the truthfulness of the Scriptures.

Ryrie, Charles C., art. “The importance of inerrancy”, in Zuck, Roy B. (Ed.), Vital theological issues. Grand Rapids, Kregel, 1994, p. 34

So it seems anyone can take any word and use it to mean anything they want. Perplexing!
No wonder Paul used the expression theopneustic. He probably invented it too! Our problem is in trying to define it.


It's important always to know when one is quoting from a player in the debate, ie. an adovocate of one system or view, and when one is quoting from a more even handed survey of positions. Ryrie is definitely an advocate of one particular construal of this issue, but a more comprehensive historical analysis of the debate might suggest he is "baking into" his definitions the positions wants to argue for. We all do that to a certain extent, but I would not cite him as an overall authority on this topic, only as a voice, a respected and admired voice, but one from a very specific perspective on the debate.

I've been in biblical studies for some time, and I always took inerrant and infallible as different, but complementary ideas. Infalliblity, I thought, had to do with the fact that the Bible will never lead us astray, whereas inerrancy relates to the accuracy of the Bibles statements. For example, the Bible might (in theory only) have a scientifically inaccurate explanation of why it rains, but if it teaches you that you better stay inside when it rains or you'll get wet, that "error" doesn't lead you astray. So infallibility became the preferred term for those who wanted to affirm (a) that nobody who sincerely orders their life by the principles of scripture will be led astray but ( b ) some statements in scripture do not conform strictly to our notions of factual accuracy.

Naturally such a distinction becomes a bone of contention, with some saying "if errant, then fallible" while others continuing to argue as I suggested above.

I personally find myself affirming inerrancy on all points, but confessing I have absolutely no idea how the Biblical writers get there on some points and figure my measley PhD just isn't enough learning to demonstrate how the Bible dodges the bullet of error on every point. I confess it does, but don't feel like I have to always be arguing how that happens, harmonizing every difficulty, etc. Sometimes we just live with the tensions and wait on God to uphold his own honor.

Edited by Lawson Stone, 06 February 2009 - 10:33 PM.

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#10 Tom

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 10:06 PM

From the Forum Guidelines

In part . . .

Discussion of Biblical interpretation, points of theology, and personal beliefs is inappropriate for this board . . .

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#11 Joel Brown

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 07:03 AM

From the Forum Guidelines

In part . . .

Tom


I agree, this topic has strayed a bit too far from the grammatical construction of pistic, and a bit too much into the doctrine of inerrancy (despite Alistair's initial wishes!). Though I appreciate the conversation remaining civilized, I will close this topic to maintain the focus of this board and the forum guidelines.
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