Zakir Naik and the Inerrant Bible

The controversy arising from Zakir Naik’s visit to Malaysia reminds Christians that it is crucial to uphold the inerrancy of the Bible. First, it is well known that Zakir Naik and other Islamic dakwa-gandists unceasingly attack the Bible as a corrupt text. They further assert that the Bible cannot be the Word of God in the light of the alleged errors and contradictions found in it. It is self-defeating and futile for a Christian to try to witness to Muslim critics like Zakir Naik if he agrees that the Bible is corrupt.

Second, critics like Zakir Naik do not respect Christians who simply appeal to authority. They expect Christians to give a rational defence of the truth claims of the Bible. Naturally, they hold Christianity in derision when Christians concede that the Bible contains errors. Furthermore, it comes across that Christians are irreverent when they suggest that God does not always speak the truth. Such irreverence will not impress Muslims who are well known for their reverence for God. The only authority that Christians may rely on is the authority of the truth of the Bible. J.I. Packer explains, “Biblical veracity and biblical authority are bound up together. Only truth can have final authority to determine belief and behavior, and Scripture cannot have such authority further than it is true.” [J.I. Packer, Truth and Power (Eagle 1996), p119.] Continue reading “Zakir Naik and the Inerrant Bible”

Historical Criticism and Textual Interpretation – Part 2/3

Part 2: Archaeological Evidence – A Reality Check

Related Post

Part 1: Contested Foundations of Archaeology

Part 3: Biblical History and Textual Interpretation

Why do controversies rage among archaeologists whose expertise is of the highest order? Perhaps a reality check on the nature of archaeological evidence is in order. Edwin Yamauchi points out in his book The Stones and the Scriptures that archaeological evidence is inherently fragmentary because of the following contingencies of history:

1) The fraction that has survived (this is self-evident).
2) The fraction that has been surveyed. All told, close to 2,000 sites were examined by the Israeli teams, of which about 800 were previously unknown.
3) The fraction that has been excavated. Way back in 1963, only 150 of 5000 sites were excavated and only 26 were major excavations. More than 1000 new sites have been identified since then.
4) The fraction that has been examined. With limited sampling from excavation, negative conclusions can be premature and dangerous. Continue reading “Historical Criticism and Textual Interpretation – Part 2/3”

Historical Criticism and Textual Interpretation – Part 1/3.

Part 1: Contested Foundations of Archaeology

Related Posts:

Part 2: Archaeological Evidence – A Reality Check

Part 3: Biblical History and Textual Interpretation

One of my readers suggests I have been too simplistic when I dismissed the Documentary Hypothesis and questioned the validity of historical criticism. After all, rational discourse demands interrogation of texts. He submits that my rejection of historical criticism is erroneous as Christianity is a faith grounded in the “God Who Acts in history”. Worse still, insulating the Bible from rational historical criticism amounts to adopting a dogmatic mindset that is no different from that of the Islamists.

It is true that I reject the Documentary Hypothesis for literary and historical reasons. However, my assessment of historical criticism is more nuanced. Unlike the Islamists and other extreme fundamentalists, I make careful use of the historical method. To be sure, there is historical method and there is historical method. The historical method that I reject is that based on the Enlightenment rationality championed by Ernst Troeltsch who taught that history is a closed continuum that precludes reference to divine revelation. Human reason becomes sovereign in historical judgment with pretensions of neutrality in interpretation. Not surprisingly, critical scholars who elevate human reason above divine revelation display skepticism towards the reliability of biblical history and its truth claims. However, their claim of neutrality has been debunked by the hermeneutical critique of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur.

My presuppositions for relating history and the biblical texts is one of believing criticism and post-critical hermeneutics. I seek to apply a historical method that is consistent with belief in God’s manifestation of himself through mighty acts, prophetic interpretation of the vicissitudes of the history of biblical Israel, and the final inscription of God’s Word in the Bible. Such a belief is rejected by critical scholars who then deploy a critical historical method that takes liberty with the biblical text which they do not regarded as inspired or authoritative. Continue reading “Historical Criticism and Textual Interpretation – Part 1/3.”

Inspiration, Scripture and Reason: An Appreciation of J.I. Packer’s Fundamentalism and the Word of God

1. For a defence of the inspiration and authority of the Bible. I first go to B.B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible because of its solid exegetical analysis. Next, I turn to E.J. Young Thy Word is Truth for its engagement with modern criticism. Finally, I refer to John Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God for a sober and theologically integrated formulation of the doctrine that meets headlong the latest theological assaults on the authority of Scripture. However, for an engaging read, I recommend J.I. Packer, Fundamentalism and the Word of God (Eerdmans reprint, 1977).

Packer describes ‘fundamentalism’ as “maintenance in opposition to modernism, of traditional orthodox beliefs such as the inerrancy of Scripture and literal acceptance of the creeds as fundamentals of protestant Christianity.” [p. 29] **See below for a longer discussion of the definition of fundamentalism, liberalism and evangelicalism. Continue reading “Inspiration, Scripture and Reason: An Appreciation of J.I. Packer’s Fundamentalism and the Word of God”

Two Must Go-to Reference Books on the Defence of the Authority of the Bible

New and Theologically Significant Book from Eerdmans: The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures ed., D.A. Carson.

In response to contemporary challenges to the infallibility and authority of Scripture, thirty-seven first-rate evangelical scholars defend Scripture with renewed vigor as they present robust essays on relevant historical, biblical, theological, philosophical, epistemological, and comparative-religions topics.

This comprehensive volume by a team of recognized experts will be the go-to reference on the nature and authority of the Bible for years to come.

Watch the video interview with D.A. Carson for highlights of the book:

Eerdmans Author Interviews: D. A. Carson

For an equally massive resource in defence of Biblical authority see:
Thy Word is Still Truth: Essential Writings on the Doctrine of Scripture from the Reformation to Today, ed., Peter Lillback & Richard Gaffin (Presbyterian & Reformed, 2013).

The two works nicely complement one another. If necessary, downgrade your smart phone and switch from bistro to mamak coffee shop to save money for these books.