PM3102: A Rejection of the "Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy"

The "Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy" is inherently contradictory. It claims to have such a high view of scripture, yet never seeks to support its points with anything more than the most vague and general reference to scripture. Most of its points simply cannot be supported from scripture at all, or only by scripture-twisting. "Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy" is unscriptural, and therefore self-refuting.

Article I says that "We deny that the Scriptures receive their authority from the Church, tradition, or any other human source." However, this betrays an ignorant view of the relationship between Scripture and Tradition. Scripture is part of Tradition, and has no existence apart from Tradition. If we declare Tradition to be a mere "human source", then Scripture must be also; if we declare Scripture to be the "authoritative Word of God", then we must declare the same of Tradition also - not necessarily of the whole of Tradition, but certainly at least of that part which constitutes Scripture, and even necessarily of some further parts that lie beyond its bounds.

We affirm that "the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God"; however, we do not claim to know the proper bounds of True Scripture. We believe that scriptures as received have been subject to many corruptions; we believe that True Scripture may be corrupted into falsehood. We hold to a threefold process of generation of texts: first authorship, redaction, dissemination; we suggest that corruption may have entered into them during either the second or third phases; this disposes of the arguments of those who point to the number of manuscripts as evidence against the corruption of the text - it is evidence against corruption in the third phase, but is no evidence against corruption in the second.

We affirm that the True Scriptures, insofar as their bounds are presently knowable, are to be received as the authoritative Word of the Divine.

We affirm that Scripture is part of Tradition, and to speak as the two as separate is to commit a grave error.

We affirm that if Scripture is of divine origin, then Tradition must be also; but if no Tradition is of divine origin, then no Scripture can be either; if

We deny that Tradition in its better portions - which cannot be contained by Scripture - is any more a human source than Scripture, and that Tradition in its better portions is any less the Word of the Divine than Scripture.

We deny that "the authority of the Church is subordinate to that of Scripture".  We hold all forms of Tradition to be inherently equal - written (of which Scripture is part), oral, and institutional (the succession of offices, "apostolic succession", which is "the Church".

We deny that the Bible has greater authority than "Church creeds, councils, or declarations". The Maratrean Christian Church accepts the Apostles' Creed, and the Nicene Creed (without the filioque clause); it has not definitively accepted any Scripture at the present time; therefore, we view these two creeds as a higher authority than Scripture.

We reject the statement that "the written Word in its entirety is revelation given by God", on the ground that this claim is meaningless and circular.  Obviously, not all of the "written word" - as in all written texts - is revelation given by God - indeed, most of it is not. But what then is meant by capitalising "Word"? Does it mean some particular text or collection of texts?  If so, which? And why not then say "Text X in its entirety is revelation given by God"? Alternatively, if "Word" simply means whatever God has revealed in written form, then this statement is circular: "the written revelation of God in its entirety is revelation givenh by God". "A is in its entirety A"? That is the sort of insightfulness for which Ayn Rand is famous!

We affirm that all Scripture is a "witness to revelation", rather than revelation itself. Revelation is a personal encounter with the divine, a matter of the heart; mere words on the page can never amount to revelation. They can only be a record of past revelation, and an occassion for the same truths to be revealed once again.

We affirm that all Scripture "only becomes revelation in encounter". We cannot know any Scripture as Scripture unless it is vouchsafed to us by the voice of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, which is a form of personal revelation.  Scripture cannot be known as Scripture without personal revelation authenticating it; or else, through Tradition, yet in the same way, Tradition requires authenticating private revelation as much as Scripture (which is but part of Tradition) does.

All Scripture "depends on the responses of [human beings] for its validity".  Scripture is only valid for you if the Holy Spirit authenticates it to you in your heart; without this authentication, it is without profit and void.

We affirm that language is "a means of revelation", but we deny that it is the only means, or even the principal means. God speaks truths into our hearts which are beyond words; it is this revelation beyond all words which authenticates the merely linguistic revelation.

We affirm that language is so limited by the very nature of language itself that it is inadequate to be a sole or principal vehicle for divine revelation; which does not exclude its usefulness and fitness to be used as a secondary or subsidiary vehicle of said revelation.

We affirm that "the corruption of human culture and language through sin has thwarted God's work of inspiration" - not fully, but to a substantial degree.  And yet, it has thwarted God's work only to the extent that God has permitted his work to so be thwarted, for the sake of the many great beauties to thereby be purchased.

We express our agreement with the notion of progressive revelation; however, we deny that the New Testament in any way constitutes an end to the process of progressive revelation; progressive revelation, including the potential for the revelation of new scriptures, will continue until the Last Days are upon us.

While later revelation never directly contradicts prior revelation, we affirm that the textual embodiment of a revelation may succumb to such a degree of corruption, that it becomes necessary that a later revelation be given in order to restore that earlier revelation to its original glory.

We deny that every word of Scripture is a product of divine inspiration. We affirm that the ideas Scripture conveys are the product of revelation, but the choice of words in which they are expressed are in most cases the work of limited human beings.

We affirm that, given the process of corruption to which true Scripture is subjected, that it is necessary and proper to affirm of parts of scriptures as presently received as inspired, yet other parts of the same scriptures as the product of corruption; and we should rely on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in this great task.

We deny that "human insight", or "heightened states of consciousness of any kind", can be meaningfully distinguished from the work of God.

We deny that God, in the act of revelation, caused human writers to choose particular words instead of others; the message was of divine origin, but its embodiment in particular words was the product of the individual voices, styles and personalities of those to whom God chose to reveal.

We deny that Scriptures are inerrant on matters divorced from their principal purpose, which is matters of faith and morals. On questions of history or science, we affirm that they may err.

We deny that the autographic texts of ancient scriptures can be ascertained from the available manuscripts with any degree of accuracy. We affirm that while "copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original", we believe that the currently existing manuscripts distort the original autographs in numerous ways, and that we must rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what was in the original autographs and what was not.

We reject as inherently self-refuting the arguments of those who would rely upon secular history for the accuracy of our knowledge of the autographs - as being justified in the same way as may be justified with respect to works not claimed to be inspired - while at the same time ascribing to these autographs a special property of inspiration or inerrancy which they would deny for those other works. To claim an inspired or inerrant status for any text is fundamentally incompatible with taking any secular historical approach to it.  Either the texts are inspired - in which case we may rely on the revelation of the Holy Spirit in our day to determine the contents of the autographs - or they are not, in which case we may turn to secular history in an attempt to answer that question, however limited the answers it may give.

We affirm that "essential element[s] of the Christian faith [are] affected by the absence of the autographs". We further affirm "that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid [and] irrelevant".

We deny that any ancient scripture, as handed down to us, is infallible; on the contrary, we hold that they have been subjected to such corruptions so as to mislead us and to render them unreliable in many matters which they seek to address. We affirm, that while the original autographs of some of these purported scriptures were given by divine inspiration, they have since been subjected to various corruptions such that they can no longer be considered divine inspiration, save that by further divine inspiration they be purified of these corruptions.

We affirm that Scriptural "infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science". We furthermore affirm that Scriptural claims regarding creation can be subjected to scientific appraisal, provided the presuppositions underpinning such an appraisal are properly understood.

We reject the use of the term "inerrancy", as representing an extremist position which is un-Godly and unhelpful. "Inerrancy" is a false doctrine taught by false prophets who are not of God.

We affirm that the original autographs of true Scripture are without any substantial contradictions; however, we declare that purported scriptures as they have come down to us are full of numerous irresolvable contradictions, due to the corruptions to which they have been subjected.

We affirm that the doctrine of "inerrancy" lacks support in scripture, even in scripture in its corrupt state. We affirm that inerrancy is an unscriptural innovation without any scriptural support.

We affirm that the Gospels, as they come down to us, have ascribed to Jesus several things which he did not say, including implications that the Jewish scriptures, in the state in which they existed in his day, were incorrupt.

We deny that the doctrine of inerrancy has any substantial antiquity in Christianity. We affirm that it is "a doctrine invented by Scholastic Protestantism", which was further developed as "a reactionary position postulated in response to negative higher criticism".

We affirm that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the deficiency and corruption of purported scriptures as they now exist, assuring true believers that God would never utter such lies and atrocities as these purported scriptures contain.

We affirm that the Holy Spirit will render assistance, to all those who have renounced the unholy idea of inerrancy, in discerning which true scripture from false scripture.

We affirm that Scripture is to be interpreted by the Holy Spirit. We reject the idea that "Scripture is to interpret Scripture" as meaningless and circular.

We affirm that the doctrine of "inerrancy" is a false doctrine, which leads to grave folly and evil. We deny that belief in inerrancy puts an individual beyond salvation; at the same time, we affirm that this false belief gravely endangers the salvation of both the individual and the community.