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Thread: Benjamin Warfield and ethereal inerrancy

  1. Default Benjamin Warfield and ethereal inerrancy

    sister threads

    Ted Letis - infallibility and inerrancy - the Benjamin Warfield shell game - astronomy as inerrancy source?

    Inerrancy and Textual Criticism - ETC blog

    Ehrman presuppositional approach - the early church was adoptionist and ebionite

    This post

    Benjamin Warfield and ethereal inerrancy

    This thread will start from a recent discussion on CARM (generally they do not last more than a year or two, so they have a type of priority in having studies mirrored) starting with believing:

    "Every single word from Genesis to Revelation." - SA

    The Only Available words of God we have today - December, 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by Peanut Gallery
    Actually, if they set aside the bibles which contained a word, phrase, or a sentence which they thought God probably not meant to have said, they would all be left with absolutely no Bible which they could hold in their hands and claim it contained every inspired word of God.
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Avery
    This is why the claim changed to having God inspiring only the original autographs, ages ago. With no tangible, readable text today living up to that inspiration, despite 2 Timothy 3:16. This shift in position came along at the same time as the Westcott-Hort text, one reason being that the Critical Text has so many hard errors and the supposed reliable manuscripts behind the CT have even more blunders.
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Avery
    And I have in other writings reviewed how the textual apostasy of the late 1800s was accompanied by the well-known Benjamin Warfield (1851-1921) change of the "inerrancy" doctrine in the same period. ... Warfield specifically changed the doctrine to not refer to any specific text, in any language (a position you know as it matches your references to "preserved scripture".) It is what can be called "ethereal inerrancy". Warfield was so tricky that he even insisted that the critic of inerrancy would have to produce and prove the specific autographic text that he thought was errant! Warfield would not produce the text that he was supposedly defending.

    In a sense, Warfield was the forefather of the modern writing of the author Rick Norris, as pointed out in the thread:

    does The Unbound Scriptures by Rick Norris identify the preserved word of God?

    Thus ethereal inerrancy is a sister doctrine to ethereal preservation.
    We even had a reference to how the Reformers saw the Vulgate as corrupt:

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Avery
    And this (Fulke and Whitaker) was before the excellence of English Bibles had been established and accepted. The context was the specific pure Bible text compared to another specific text.

    Here is the context.
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Avery
    A Disputation on Holy Scripture (1588)
    William Whitaker

    The Latin Vulgate is most certainly and most plainly corrupt. And the corruptions I speak of are not casual, or slight, or common errors ...

    Warfield later mangled inerrancy to be ethereal inerrancy.
    Similar to the Rick Norris ethereal preservation.

    Note that the learned men supporting the Reformation Bible called the Vulgate a corrupt text. Yet Rick Norris claims that this is a fallacy! ie. When we point out the corruptness of the far more corrupt Alexandrian text.

    Consistency, the jewel.
    All this led to various challenges and harumphs and diversions by Rick Norris, you can see some on the thread.
    And thus I decided to document the basics, this is a start:


    Benjamin Warfield, Ethereal Inerrancy and Impossible Stipulations

    Benjamin Warfield was simply a logical trickster, and he was nabbed by writers on both sides.

    Warfield, with Hodge, thereby shifted the arena of discussion away from what the actual Bible said and was. They based their entire apologetic case on the inability of anyone to bring forth evidence from the nonexistent autographs. With such an unassailable, though artificial, position Warfield felt secure, Individual facts that arose from critical study could never topple the Princeton theory of inerrancy.
    The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach
    p. 347, 1979, Jack B. Rogers, Donald K. McKim
    Rogers and McKim rip the Warfield position to shreds on p. 350:

    The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach
    Ch. 6 - The Defense of Reformed Scholasticism in America
    Princeton Scholasticism's Resistance to Biblical Criticism:
    B. B. Warfield versus C. A. Briggs
    written by Jack B. Rogers, Donald K. McKim

    Warfield, in his part of the article, narrowed the burden of proof to one demonstrated error. He insisted:

    "A proved error in Scripture contradicts not only our doctrine, but the Scripture claims and. therefore, its inspiration in making those claims."

    He removed any practical possibility of testing his claim, however, by setting up conditions that were impossible to fulfill. He qualified his claim, saying:

    We do not assert that the common text, but only that the original autographic text was inspired. No 'error' can be asserted, therefore, which cannot be proved to have been aboriginal in the text."

    Although in debate the burden of proof is always with the affirmative proposal, Warfield, as part of his apologetic, asserted that all the burden rested with critics of his position. The question the critics were opening for inductive examination was what doctrine of Scripture would actually best accord with the character of the biblical data. But the Princeton theologians begged the question and assumed as proven what their opponents were challenging. Hodge and Warfield reiterated the historically false claim that their position was both primitive and perpetual in the church. Thus by their definition, inspiration had to mean scientific and historical inerrancy, and the only way for this to be disproved was for someone to prove that an error existed in the original (lost) autographa or original text of Scripture.
    Added 2018: The burden of proof element is oversimplified


    For those opposed to tangible inerrancy (e.g. Charles Briggs, Ernest Sandeen, Rogers and McKim) the absurd Warfield position is a duckshoot.

    And the ethereal preservation of Rick Norris is akin to the ethereal inerrancy of Warfield.

    For the original 1881 Warfield absurdity, with the quote above:

    The Presbyterian Review, Volume 2
    (April 1881)
    Archibald Alexander Hodge
    Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield

    The part of this that is the ultimate in non-scholarship chutzpah is:

    "proved to have been aboriginal"

    Where the "proof" has to be supplied by the skeptic or non-believer! Thus if no text at all is proven (the Rick Norris position on preservation) the non-text becomes inerrant ... simply by the fact that no text is declared as true and defended! Reductio ad absurdum is easy when such an absurd position is taken.


    I'll try to build on this in the days ahead. Including more about Warfield and the resulting Chicago Inerrancy, and looking at some of the writings of Theodore Letis.

    And I plan to extract from one interesting thread a few years back:

    ethereal inerrancy - no verse is sure - Matthew 27:9 - Jeremy
    FFF - Feb, 2010 (defunct)

    Facebook discussion of this topic at:

    Benjamin Warfield and ethereal Inerrancy

    Steven Avery

    Last edited by Steven Avery; 01-07-2019 at 04:07 PM.

  2. Default Inerrancy Ehrman and the Text of the New Testament - Steve Young - 2018

    Here is a modern youngish seminary scholar, following the ethereal inerrancy line, trying hard to rebut the Ehrman (totally valid) attack on the doctrine of ethereal inerrancy.

    Inerrancy Ehrman and the Text of the New Testament (2018)
    Steve Young

    The doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture, according to one simplified definition, “means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact .” 1 According to some, however, the doctrine is laden by so many qualifications as to render it irrelevant. 2 Particularly troubling for New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman has been the doctrine’s demand that inerrancy be restricted to the original manuscripts. 3 His complaint is that those original manuscripts no longer exist and there is, as a result, no inerrant, authoritative source for Christian faith and practice.4

    1 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 91.
    2. I Howard Marshall, Biblical Inspiration (Vancouver: Regent, 1982), 72.
    3 Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (New York: HarperOne, 2005), 4-5.
    4 Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus, 13.



    Bart D. Ehrman, highly regarded New Testament scholar and textual critic, without referencing the doctrine directly in Misquoting Jesus, homes in on the “autographic text" qualification in Article X of the CSBI:

    [H]ow does it help us to say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God if in fact we don’t have the words that God inerrantly inspired, but only the words copied by the scribes— sometimes correctly but sometimes (many times!) incorrectly? What good is it to say that the autographs (i.e., the originals) were inspired? We don’t have the originals! We have only error-ridden copies, and the vast majority of these are centuries removed from the originals and different from them, evidently, in thousands of ways.18 18

    Ehrman, Misquoting.Jesus, 7. This view is not wholly dissimilar to that held by Majority Text advocates (of whom the most extreme are known as “King James Only”) who see a necessary link between inspiration (and, so, inerrancy) and the preservation of Scripture. The
    particulars of their view will not be analyzed here, suffice it to say they imagine themselves to have circumvented the problem with the number of variants by focusing on the far more uniform Byzantine text, no matter that it is far more removed from the autographs than 2-3 centuries. (Daniel B. Wallace, “Inspiration, Preservation, and New Testament Textual Criticism,”GraceTheological Journal 12:1 [1992], 21-50.)
    Ehrman is correct in his attack on ethereal inerrancy. The Wallace quote is factually wrong and conceptually bankrupt. And the Steve Young attempt to bypass the AV position with the Wallace errant quote is the typical textcrit charade.

    The AV and Reformation Bible defender totally disagree with the Ehrman "error-ridden copies" claim.

    The AV defender will especially defend the Bible he reads as God's pure and perfect word, inspired and preserved.

    While most of the paper is ho-hum stumbling modernist psuedo-apologetics for the ethereal text, the normal Daniel Wallace style clap-trap, I will highlight some nice quotes:

    As Loveday Alexander writes, assessing the evidence of early Gospel transmission among Christian communities, “It is clear that we are dealing with a group that used books intensively and professionally from very early on in its existence.’26

    26 Loveday Alexander, “Ancient Book Production and the Circulation of the Gospels,” in The Gospels for All Christians: Rethinking the Gospel Audiences (ed. Richard Bauckham; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 71-111.
    ... Tommy Wasserman, after evaluating Ehrman’s text critical conclusions relating to Christology in The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, writes, “Ehrman too easily identifies one reading as the original and another as ‘orthodox corruption.’”47
    47 Wasserman, “Misquoting Manuscripts,” 349.
    However, only one writer (present company excepted), Tony Costa, actually helped pinpoint the reader to the Ehrman presuppositions that created this scholastic textual mess.

    Ehrman presuppositional approach - the early church was adoptionist and ebionite

    The paper artfully dances around all the real issue. It never addresses the basic issues. Using a common logical fallacy, the paper assumes that attempting to weaken some of the Ehrman statement's can serve as a rebuttal. Even when the basic position of Ehrman is cleary true -- against the ethereal inerrancy view.

    We have the normal distressing faux claims of 99% accuracy for the Critical Text, which we discuss on this forum.
    And an absurd, spiritually sick, statement that 99% accuracy will give 100% truth.

    These gentlemen go to seminaries to learn how not to think.

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