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Continuing from the last blog post on the long question asked there for me to answer:

If we hold to infallibility, then the question of inerrancy is avoided without much trouble. This position, in some of the ways it has been formulated, allows for some wiggle room; some would configure infallibility to mean that there could be errors in places in the texts that are not intending to teach something truthful and accurate. For instance, did Jesus just flip the tables in the Temple (Matt 21:12 ff.) or did He make a whip to drive everyone out (John 2:14 ff.) and flip the tables? If we hold to inerrancy, this may be problematic; if we hold to infallibility, in the way some configure it, then we simply say that our biblical author is more interested in presenting Jesus as an imposing and indignant figure than in reporting his precise actions. We still have the question at this point, “Is this a mistake or merely allowing for literary creativity of the biblical author?” The truthful and accurate point of the the Temple-cleansing narrative is that Jesus was intimidating and upset about how God’s house was being used, not about how precisely this played out. We must remember that deciding what is true or truthful has not always been judged in the same way. This is the point of studying the Greek literature during the time of writing of the NT; NT scholars have discussed the literature called ancient Graeco-Roman bios, or bioi. Bios is a Greek word during the time of the NT, and it means a “person’s manner of life,” or “life-style.” It is easy enough to see the common meaning between this Greek word’s meaning and our English word “Biography.” Looking at how historians around the time of the NT  handled reporting historical facts is important for understanding how they saw the world and how they went about reporting it. We trumpet accuracy today because of the marvels such scientific accuracy has given our world. Accuracy has allowed us to stop bleeding people to try to heal them and instead give them accurate antibiotics for their specific ailment. Accuracy made it possible to do math in such precision that man has walked on the moon. Of course, what we can’t forget is that scientific accuracy thought about in these ways is about what is produced from such accuracy; we deem accuracy “good” because it produced such incredible things. Science, however, is about observing impersonal realities that follow general laws that are relative to other influencing factors or laws. Bios and modern biography concern themselves with reporting a human life, which is personal and therefore volitional, active, and intelligent. Ask yourself this question: Have I even been accused of something that I did wrong, but it seems inaccurate without many other points that played into my action?” You might protest, “You have to consider this fact, and then there are all these little actions that had a cumulative effect that led to my actions!” Any husband and wife know about what I am mentioning here. Yes, I may wrong my wife, but when she gives me the opportunity to explain what led to it, I feel much better even if I still admit I committed the wrong. We all know that being human means being complex, and reporting one action accurately of a person apart from all other actions and influences around it makes us feel like an injustice has occurred. Hence, scientific accuracy is not a great method for reporting how humans act because humans cannot be reduced to impersonal entities like scientific laws and laboratory experiments.

Dr. Scalise