6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful book on the issue of inerrancy from a historical-theological perspective.
Inerrancy is one of the hot button issues of our generation. The early church fathers to the 16th century Protestant Reformers across Europe and up to the present day evangelicals have all affirmed verbal plenary inspiration and the total inerrancy of the Word of God.
Clement of Rome (A.D. 80-100) stated that the Scriptures contain nothing "unrighteous or...
Published 20 months ago by Dave J. Jenkins
74 of 105 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Evangelical McCarthyism
Norm Geisler is a well-known and respected Apologist. He has contributed much to the defense of the Scriptures and the gospel in this post-Christian western world. It is clear that he is man who cares deeply for the faith and desires to see it defended. He has shown that in his many others works and it is present in his most recent volume Defending Inerrancy...
Published 22 months ago by Jacob Sweeney
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74 of 105 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Evangelical McCarthyism,
This review is from: Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation (Paperback)Norm Geisler is a well-known and respected Apologist. He has contributed much to the defense of the Scriptures and the gospel in this post-Christian western world. It is clear that he is man who cares deeply for the faith and desires to see it defended. He has shown that in his many others works and it is present in his most recent volume Defending Inerrancy.
Geisler begins this defense of inerrancy by examining the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. He looks at the document itself, the events which culminated in its creation and its influence upon western Christianity. His purpose in this book is not necessarily to present a new argument in support of inerrancy, but to re-affirm the previously established view as represented by the Chicago Statement.
From here he moves on to explore recent challanges to inerrancy and their respective works. There are many included here who are of little surprise to evangelicals: Bart Ehrman, Clark Pinnock and Peter Enns. But, there are also some which left me scratching my head: Kevin Vanhoozer and Darrell Bock. I found Geisler saying on a number of occasions that these two particular authors denied such accusations, but because of their association with this person or that idea, they were suspect at best. For an established apologist I couldn't help but see this as a mild form of the 'guilt-by-association' fallacy. Because Vanhoozer accepts speech-act theory (or parts of it) he is guilty of denying inerrancy. Because Bock wrote a book with someone who denies inerrancy, he is now suspect.
I found this part of Geisler work disappointing. It seems that he has begun a 'witch-hunt' to root out all those who deny inerrancy. He is insistent upon finding these culprits and exposing them even if they vehemently deny the charges. It also leads me to question the reason for writing this book and its value. Both Bock and Vanhoozer are employed by evangelical schools which make the affirmation of inerrancy a requirement for employment. Are we to question the orthodoxy of these institutions as well?
What could have proven to be a helpful and valuable resource for another generation of evangelical pastors and scholars has instead proven to be nothing more than evangelical McCarthyism. As a committed conservative evangelical studying at a conservative seminary (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) I affirm inerrancy and understand the importance of the issue. However, I cannot support these sorts of unfounded accusations against brothers in Christ and these well-established and well-respected evangelical educational institutions. I only hope that those who read this work will accept his arguments but not follow in his accusations.
NOTE: In accordance with the regulations of the Federal Trade Commission I would like to state that I received a complementary copy of the aforementioned text for the purposes of review. I was not required to furnish a positive review.
6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful book on the issue of inerrancy from a historical-theological perspective.,
This review is from: Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation (Paperback)Inerrancy is one of the hot button issues of our generation. The early church fathers to the 16th century Protestant Reformers across Europe and up to the present day evangelicals have all affirmed verbal plenary inspiration and the total inerrancy of the Word of God.
Clement of Rome (A.D. 80-100) stated that the Scriptures contain nothing "unrighteous or falsified in them" (1 Clement CLV. 2:3) and Augustine (A.D. 394) stated that the Scriptures contain nothing "false" (Cited by James Olive Buswell, Outlines of Theology, 24.) John Calvin believed that Scripture was the "inerring standard" (John D. Hannah, ed., Inerrancy and the Church (Chicago: Moody, Press, 1984), ix.). In 1949 the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) was founded and had a singular doctrinal statement at its founding that affirmed inerrancy: "The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs." The 20th century inerrancy debates came to a head when scholars and pastors, including Carl F.H. Henry, James M. Boice, J.I. Packer, John MacArthur (Sr. and Jr.), Francis Schaeffer, Paige Patterson, Robert D. Preus, and W.A. Criswell, gathered together during October 1978 to finalize the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.
Today, as scholars mix evolution with Christianity and question the historical personhood of Adam, evangelicals need to be reminded of the importance of the doctrine of inerrancy. By providing a coherent defense of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy in their Defending Inerrancy Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation, Norman L. Geisler and William C. Roach do exactly that.
Defending Inerrancy presents a defense of total inerrancy, the view that the Bible is inspired and true including the history, geography, dates, names and every single word. The book examines the history of the inerrancy controversy, recent challenges to inerrancy, and a reexamination of inerrancy that includes an examination into the nature of God, truth, language, hermeneutics and inerrancy. Perhaps the best description of the book is as a historical-theological defense of inerrancy. The authors engage the Scriptures, but their primary defense comes from an examination of church history.
Defending Inerrancy is a much-needed book for our time and will be a helpful book for the serious Bible student, seminarian, Pastor and scholar. We cannot ignore the implications of rejecting inerrancy; this book will explain why. I recommend you read this book to gain understanding on the issue of inerrancy from a historical-theological perspective.
Title: Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation
Authors: Norman L. Geisler and William C. Roach
Publisher: Baker Books (2012)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Baker Books review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent book from Dr. Geisler,
This review is from: Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation (Paperback)Geisler pulls no punches in outing scholars who hold to limited inerrancy, and other bogus views on the infallibility of Scripture.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Investigative Report on the Subject of Inerrancy,
This review is from: Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation (Kindle Edition)This publication is an excellent tool to use for authentication of the errancy/inerrancy debate. The author weighs the claims made by both sides of the subject matter and then dissects with precision. The content in this work, is more a deep study than an easy read. It takes you deep into every argument imagined. It is mind opening to be sure.
32 of 61 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Norm Geisler: Ever On the Hunt!,
This review is not concerned with the pros and cons of the inerrancy debate, other than to mention briefly that one is not always entirely certain that the important distinction between "inerrancy of scripture" and "inerrancy of interpretation" is always necessarily front and center. Not too many years ago the creation research people lobbied to have a literal understanding of early Genesis included in the inerrancy definition. It was a close call, but it does serve to highlight the difficulty. (I remain uncertain how Enns and Waltke are regarded throughout the wider evangelical world these days; however, their "interpretive" views did not exactly win them warm praise from the Geislers of the world.)
That said...we continue to feel decidedly uneasy about the many "Geislers" who seem to cheer the hunt ever onward and upward, and why this particular Geisler ever keeps his scattergun close at hand - just in case someone within the fold suddenly decides to play 'fast and loose' with a Hebrew verb. There are any number of inerrantists who manifest a kind and gracious spirit toward those who (for their own perceived valid reason) elect to opt out - Tremper Longman comes to mind as one of these more "gracious." Norm Geisler, however, is clearly not one of these.
Defending orthodoxy down to the nth degree perhaps has the full support of the Amighty Himself - but I tend to doubt it. (In any case, it's a truly valid question to pray intently about, prior to launching one's assault.) The NT is clear that the heart and soul of the Gospel is the incarnation, the atonement, and the resurrection. Movement away from any of these three within evangelicalism would clearly call for a Geisler to step forward so as to 'cock 'n' load.' (Few would then complain about his love for the hunt.) Unfortunately, Geisler seems to sense perceived enemies within every nook 'n' crany of the theological world, ever heading toward another book while seeming insufficiently sensitive to the potential damage he may be causing.
That he is aggressive we willing grant. That he is a man of wisdom we do at least question.
(Note: Readers who may have an interest in a critical analysis of Tremper Longman's recent book on science and the bible can access this review - titled "Genesis One: Is There Any "Science" To Be Found" - by clicking on "See All My Reviews" directly above, or by accessing his book on Amazon.) Science, Creation and the Bible: Reconciling Rival Theories of Origins
22 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Claims not equal to evidence,
Also, I almost got the impression that the Chicago Statement and Commentary were viewed almost as authoritatively as the Bible at times.
Almost invariably, the Bible texts used to support inerrancy are either very weak and subject to very different interpretation than that of Geissler/Roach or they could be countered by passages with a different slant. They rely on the pick & choose method for support and conveniently never mention passages that go against their views.
Their quotation pattern is both misleading and deceitful. Quoting Albright, Kenyon, Agassiz, etc and predominantly ultraconservatives is pathetic. The former quotes come from sources very old & without benefit of modern discoveries; the latter are quoted as if they are evidential & close the argument. I saw this pattern repeated, too: they ALWAYS call a conservative scholar "noted". And they mislead by calling Hemer a "noted Roman historian". I am not maligning him or saying he is not a good historian, but come on, he is a trained Christian apologist rather than a dispassionately trained secular historian of note.
Well, enough about the shoddy scholarship which blames all those who deny inerrantism as deluded by false philosophical presuppositions and under the lure of gaining academic respectability. I won't even get into the laughably juvenile defense of "apparent contradictions" and errors - they all amount to re-writing the Bible because God couldn't inspire the writers to write clearly.
What really ticks me off is the evolution/creationism/BioLogos sections. I am a trained evolutionary biologist. Geissler/Roach are totally ignorant of biology. Totally. Why would anyone go to conservative theologians for an explanation of biology, especially when they don't seem to understand even the basics of evolution? To say that belief in evolution is akin to dropping red, white & blue confetti from a plane and expecting it to form a US flag on the ground is an appropriate characterization of the depth of their biology knowledge. It might impress a 6th grader, but that's about it. That and declaring the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics denies evolution.
Can someone explain why they seem enamored of lawyers who argue the Bible is good evidence? Can it be cross-examined? Are there signed affadavits? Is hearsay considered good evidence? Would the Koran or any other religious book also be good courtroom evidence?
All in all: bad book. Repetitious book. Shoddy quotation practices. Using quotes as evidence to close arguments. Picking & choosing Bible passages. Using Chicago Statement as litmus test and outing those who fail it in their estimation. Very weak in defending Bible as inerrant, merely selectively quoting Bible and telling us what God meant to inspire.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening book on this topic,
This review is from: Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation (Kindle Edition)I like Geisler's writing. This book presents facts, uses good logic, and is written in a clear and concise manner.
47 of 92 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Example of How to NOT Do Competent Apologetics,
Chapters 5 and 11 (vs Bart Ehrman and Darrell Bock/Robert Webb) make the inadequacy of this tome most apparent. Geisler and Roach are preserving an authoritarian, obscurantist mode of faith whose time of viability has long passed. (It was never much use in the first place, but at least easy to preserve before the information age made it vulnerable.)
The problems in Ch 11 are the greatest and only a typical sample can be offered in the space permitted. Particular distrust is expressed in four stages in Gospel composition described by Bock/Webb (BW):
1) eyewitness observation
2) oral transmission
3) collection and categorization of oral material
4) Literary composition of Gospels using written and oral material
BW's their general outline of stages is both sound and fully in accord with the social, literary, and cultural evidence. However, once past 1 above, DI will have little to none of it. Their arguments in this regard are obscurantist to the point of embarrassment.
1) Luke 1:1-4 does not reflect the four stages noted.
This is patently misguided. Luke's prologue does, despite DI, offer a description inclusive of oral material when it speaks of Luke consulting eyewitnesses. The credible historian of Luke's caliber knew that interviewing witnesses was one of their essential tasks, and since nearly all witnesses to Jesus' ministry would be illiterate, it is inevitable that Luke was in some way reliant on oral material for his history. To say otherwise would require inevitable contrivances, such as: a decision by Luke to forego the normal historical process of interviewing witnesses and sources and choosing solely to rely on written sources; and a further decision by all Gospel authors to completely ignore oral sources -- in complete contradiction to normal practice for their day, and at the expense of 90% of potential sources (e.g., illiterate persons who were eyewitnesses).
2) Because NT books claim to be based on eyewitness testimony, there was "not enough time for the oral tradition and changes to occur" that BW argue for.
This argument, too, is misguided. Such changes could even occur quickly and intentionally, as material was structured and modified for memory (as would be necessary in a society where, again, illiteracy was above 90%). Such changes would be primarily to format, as opposed to content, so that there can be little to no concern from Geisler and Roach that there is some threat of history being lost or falsified.
The inspired Gospel texts themselves clearly evidence such changes accommodating oral/aural sensitivities, in the way they report parallel accounts, sometimes with different ordering of events (e.g., the withering of the fig tree) or differing details (e.g., one blind man or two; one demoniac or two).
Relatedly, even an eyewitness like John (21:24) would be sensitive to the needs of his audience, and particularly the requirements of memory. The original composer of a Gospel -- especially a teacher like Matthew, or even Jesus -- would be among the first to design suitable oral structures, and to make such changes and collections as specified in BW's steps 2 and 3. DI creates an automatic and unjustified tension between reliable eyewitness reporting and oral transmission that simply does not exist, especially when the setting is a didactic one. Oral tradition can be a varied process in some settings but in other cases it can remained closely controlled whole permitting a minimal amount of variation that closely preserves the message (e.g., the rabbinic models offered by Gerhardsson). The NT model is closest to the latter.
An even more embarrassing point for Geisler and Roach is their disdain for any quest to get back to the original words of Jesus in Aramaic. They say, we have the inspired words of Jesus in (translated) Greek, so why would we bother to try to figure out what Jesus may have said in Aramaic? Such naivete goes beyond disdain for scholarship and into the realm of willful ignorance and fear. Geisler and Roach disdain what they see as a quest for something "more ultimate" in trying to reach back to the Aramaic. But since Jesus spoke Aramaic, what possible reason could they have for rejecting such a quest? What do they fear will be found by it? Such an attitude reflects an implicit lack of confidence in the inspired Greek text -- an assumption that if we dig too deeply, we might find some problem because of it. But if such problems did exist, what service would we do if we simply ignored them? Do Geisler and Roach think they are doing the frightened Christian reader a service by protecting them from Jesus' original words in Aramaic? Or do they think that serious scholars cannot be trusted to pursue this matter (even though they themselves are by no means competent to make such judgments)?
It is also declared that the seeking after of oral sources in some way "neglects the role of the Holy Spirit..." In this Geisler and Roach simply err in assuming that the role of the Holy Spirit in inspiration was thoroughly mechanistic. For DI, either it was a "fax from heaven," or else, the apostles had to "depend on their fallible memories" or those of others. Luke says in his prologue that he consulted eyewitnesses - did he forget to ask the Spirit instead?
This is also an assessment that vastly underestimates the ability of persons in an oral/aural society to memorize material, especially in a didactic (teaching) setting. DI suggests that after 40-50 years, memory would be insufficient to preserve the teachings of Jesus, but this is simply false -- perhaps more a reflection on the fallible (rather, untrained) memory of a modern than a reflection of serious study of oral transmission practices. (Oddly, DI contrarily does admit that ancient memories were indeed better than ours -- which undermines their own argument against BW's arguments!) Beyond this, formal memory studies indicate that something remembered well after only 3-5 years, which is also a significant event, can be retained in memory for decades.
Second, it implies that memories must verge on, or even be, perfect in order to satisfy the demands of inspiration. But this is a modern idea as well, as Jocelyn Small notes in Wax Tablets of the Mind:
"Exact wording is rarely crucial in oral societies, but often of great importance in literate ones, though this aspect took centuries to develop...Most oral societies are not only uninterested in the detail of the words per se, but even unaware of the unit of the word...for oral cultures it is not the words but the story or the gist that count. "
Geisler would no doubt come up with some contrived and quite pious response such as, "the Holy Spirit affected the apostles so that they became concerned with exact wording, unlike everyone else." To such deus ex machina contrivances, there can be no reply - nor is one really necessary.
In support of their mechanistic understanding of inspiration, DI offers the expected candidate, John 14:26: "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." But this is a highly abusive and misleading appeal. First, nothing about this indicates a remembrance in exact words. Indeed, based on the comment by Small above, the remembrance would be expected to be one of content, not exact words. Second, even if it did indicate exact words, this does not require any expectation that the exact words ought to be preserved as they were, as opposed to being crafted, redacted, or edited for various purposes.
Indeed, if we are to admit (as Geisler and Roach must) that the NT was inspired in Greek, then if they are right about John 14:26 referring to a mechanistic remembrance of Jesus' words, these words will have been in Aramaic -- not Greek! And that means DI absolutely cannot argue that John 14:26 has anything to do with the transmission and composition of the NT text.
Then, briefly, on Chapter 5: I am compelled to give this chapter a D plus -- and much of what is positive in that comes of places where DI is quoting or using someone else's work. In contrast, when they are "on their own," Geisler and Roach are mostly reduced to pullstring canards; eg, "Ehrman is an antisupernaturalist who doesn't believe in miracles," which are designed to raise red flags among Christian readers who have already made up their mind.
The chapter has a patent slapdash, "oh that's good enough" quality, which makes it clear that little or no serious or original research was done. Badly dated and (these days) seriously questioned pull quotes by authors like Albright, Glueck, and Kenyon, made popular by Josh McDowell's Evidence collection, are mixed in with the less common appeals to a few -- very few -- up to date sources like Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. From the way the latter is used, it is doubtful that it was sought out specifically for research; rather, its usage suggests that at some time in the past, one of the happened to read it for other purposes, and came back to it for some pull quotes upon remembering their potential relevance.
The use of sources like Albright and Kenyon, however, is reflective of why authoritarians like Geisler should not be doing apologetics. The authoritarian cares little how accurate, up to date, or relevant an authority is. All that matters is that a Great Man Has Spoken. Who dares controvert them? Geisler and Roach grant what is practically Biblical authority to these sources - timelessly inerrant and infallible. It would never occur to them that e.g., Albright's quoted conclusion about the dates of the NT has been frequently challenged, and that there are things that need to be answered before it can be supported.
The level of argumentation seldom passes the level of McDowell, either. Here, for example, is a typical "argument":
"...we have no other contemporary writings from the first century even claiming to come from an apostle or his associate. And the ones we have from close to the end of the first century (like Ignatius, Polycarp, and Clement of Rome) do not contradict the apostolic writings but support them."
And that is all. While, arguably, a much longer examination would reach the same general conclusion, against a foe like Ehrman, this is kindergarten stuff -- Ehrman himself has much more to say in dispute of these conclusions, and so again, the Christian reader is left vastly unprepared. It would be nice to see developed arguments concerning NT authorship, including epistemic tests for authorship of ancient documents, and a look at the NT books individually. But DI deems it "sufficient" (!) to provide only two points, one of which is rather useless in context:
1) That many NT books are widely accepted as being by the authors named. This is true, but Ehrman himself would hardly dispute this, and the certainty of Romans being by Paul does nothing to add confidence to the authorship of Ephesians.
2) Apart from Bauckham, only one other source -- Carson and Moo's New Testament intro -- is recommended; it is pointed out that a handful of people agree to early dates for the NT books (with little to nothing offered in terms of WHY they believe this), and it is declared, "there is sufficient evidence" -- the end. Throughout the chapter, the method is clear: make an authoritarian pronouncement or summary judgment, and provide only token nods to serious scholarship.
In the epilogue, Geisler advises scholars on how to avoid what he calls "pitfalls" -- wanting to become famous; wanting to be unique; dancing on the edges; seeking respectability; seeking fraternity or unity. Such is Geisler's condescension that he does not even consider it possible that any scholar might hold to some view because that is where the evidence leads them.
DI will not prepare us for a robust defense of the Christian faith as challenges grow from a range as wide as scholars like Ehrman on one hand and YouTube atheists on the other. Rather, DI will only benefit those whose way of faith and life is to withdraw into a turtle shell with their thumbs firmly planted between their lips, repeating to themselves mantras of vain self-assurance.
1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inerrancy,
5 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some problems with this book, and the Author,
So why isn't this the teaching of the Catholic Church?
Did they change? Why did the Protestant Reformation come up with 'Sola scriptura', since this would have been the norm for centuries at that time? See: [...]
Also, Fred Clark at Slacktivist pointed out that
current 'evangelical' doctrine on abortion is less than 30 years old, and names Mr. Geisler as one of the people whose view of 'inerrant' scripture has changed.
And this is not touching on the other problems, like what to do when verses contradict each other ('thou shalt not kill' vs. the laws in Leviticus, or vs. the teachings of Christ).
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Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation by Norman L. Geisler (Paperback - January 1, 2012)