Linking Inerrrancy and the Resurrection

There is an area of theology where I tend to agree with Christian fundamentalism as opposed to more liberal Christians. I think that if Jesus rose from the dead, then the Bible is inerrant. A major difference is many fundamentalists think that resurrection is evidence for inerrancy (Modus Ponens), where I think errancy is evidence for the fact the resurrection didn’t happen (Modus Tollens). I have some liberal Christian friends who think that the inerrancy doesn’t follow from the resurrection and shouldn’t play into my assessment of the resurrection. I think there are good reasons to side with the fundamentalists on this issue.

A deductive argument for the inerrancy is given below. The argument entails that an error in the Bible is incompatible with the resurrection of Jesus.

  1. If the gospels are reliable in their central claim, Jesus was raised from the dead.
  2. If Jesus was raised from the dead, he was vindicated (marked as a perfect sacrifice and endorsed) by God.
  3. If Jesus was vindicated by God, everything he said and was true.
  4. If everything Jesus said was true, the Old and New Testament are true (Jesus indicated that the Old Testament was true and the New Testament would be true).
  5. If the Old and New Testaments are true, they are not in error about matter of fact (be the facts historical, spiritual, etc.) in other words, inerrant.
I would also add that if God made the effort to inspire an inerrant work as guidance throughout the ages, he would ensure that we would be able to reliably reconstruct that work.

There is the question of should a Christian think that the argument is sound? Given Christianity, is there good reason to believe each of the premises is true? Another way to frame the question is how likely is Christianity to be true if any of the premises are false. I think rejecting any of the premises is very damaging to Christianity.

I don’t know of anyone who disputes the first premise. The same goes for the second premise. If a resurrection doesn’t indicate God’s approval, it is hard to imagine what Christians would regard as approval by God. In support of this, see Acts 17:31. The fifth premise seems to be obvious as well.

The third premise is a little more controversial, but not much more so. A resurrection could only be brought about by God. It seems exceedingly unlikely that God would intervene and bring back to life someone who taught things God didn’t endorse. God vindication of someone who taught errors would imply that God endorses at least some falsehood. If God endorses falsehood, we shouldn’t necessarily belief what God proclaims. That idea seems incompatible with Christianity. Another way to look at this is if Jesus made error regarding things that can be checked, why should we believe him with regard to things that can’t be checked like the requirements for salvation.

The fourth premise is perhaps the most controversial. Some of it is based upon one of the perceived purposes of the incarnation. If God were to be incarnated, it would be expected that he would indicate the path to salvation. If there were literature that was inspired by God that would guide us in the correct path, He would be expected to indicate it.

Greg Koukl also supported the idea that Jesus indicated that the Bible is inerrant here:
More than that, we also see in the person of Jesus, His stamp of approval on virtually the entire Old Testament. He quotes from every section of the Hebrew Bible: the Pentateuch, the Wisdom Literature, the Poetry, the Prophets (both major and minor), the Historical material. He quotes them as if they were authoritative, from God Himself.

In fact, sometimes Jesus refers to the text itself as "God said." Sometimes He says "Scripture says…" sometimes He says "Moses says…" or whatever writer. But clearly, when you examine the words, in His mind those terms are interchangeable.
In addition, the following passages lend support to the idea that Jesus indicated the Old and New Testaments are true.

Matthew 5:18
I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

John 17:17
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

II Peter 1:20-22
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

John 14:26
But the Counselor, 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.

John 16:13
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

I have heard some Christians say that Jesus did endorse parts of the Bible as God’s word, but they didn’t think that his endorsement applied to the entire Bible (particularly the parts with demonstrable errors). However, if Jesus should have indicated what God’s word was, why wouldn’t he have indicated the parts that are not? An omission of this type would indicate that Jesus would have been tolerant of error. His tolerance of error would undermine any salvation message contained in the writings he endorsed.

Another objection is that perhaps Jesus didn't say the things that would indicate he endorsed the Old Testament. Of course if that is the case, the Gospels we have are unreliable, and that undermines the plausibility of anything they claim, like that Jesus was resurrected.

The issue of inerrancy was probably the biggest factor in my realization that Christianity was probably false. When I closely examined several difficult passages, I had no choice but to conclude that they were in error. When I tried to make enough qualifications to the doctrine of inerrancy to sustain it, that made it seem like I was making allowances for my beliefs that I wouldn’t allow Mormons or others to make. In the end I couldn’t maintain my belief in Christianity.

I know that liberal Christians disagree with the argument that I have put together here. In addition, I know some skeptics who don’t think that inerrancy has a significant tie to the resurrection. If you don’t think that belief in inerrancy follows from the resurrection, which premise could a Christian plausibly deny? I ended up agreeing with fundamentalists that one should not simultaneously belief the resurrection happened and the Bible contains errors.

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