1498Paul, James, and biblical inerrancy
- Mar 8, 2007Dave,
Biblical inerrancy does not entail that the apostles always behaved
perfectly, that they always got along, or even that they always
agreed on everything. It does entail that what they taught *in
Scripture* is unerring and therefore consistent with each other.
Although Paul expresses the hypothetical concern that his labors
would be in vain if the Jerusalem church were to compromise the
gospel, he also states that in fact they agreed with him and backed
When Paul says that he submitted his gospel to the Jerusalem
pillars, this does not mean that they preached a different gospel.
It means that he went to make sure that they understood that the
gospel he preached was the same one that they preached, though his
field of ministry was largely different (primarily Gentiles instead
of Jews). False brethren had sowed seeds of suspicion everywhere
about Paul, and it was natural for him to go to the Jerusalem
apostles and bypass the rumor mill in order to eliminate any basis
for divisions between his ministry and theirs. Inspiration does not
mean that the apostles were omniscient and knew what each other was
preaching without ever talking to each other!
Your claim that Paul "knew James disagreed with his gospel"
contradicts what Paul himself says. It also contradicts what Luke
reports in the Book of Acts.
<< And doesn't Acts 16 record episodes of mental telepathy,
conveniently overcoming the costly and dangerous problem of needing
to journey to see someone? Yes. >>
No. Do you have a special edition of Acts that we don't?
<< So I believe Paul is fudging his words a bit in Galatians. >>
In other words, you are using Paul's own words in Galatians to prove
that Paul was being dishonest in Galatians, based on a jaundiced
reading of his words. Not very persuasive.
As for James being "a legalist," you are confusing being an
observant Jewish Christian with being a legalistic Jewish Christian.
James was the former but not the latter. If he offered animal
sacrifices at the temple, his doing so would not be inconsistent for
an observant Jewish believer in Jesus living in Jerusalem during the
transition period when the temple was still standing and the church
was itself predominantly a Jewish movement. But even if such a
practice would be inconsistent with Paul's teaching, James's
personal practice is not taught in the New Testament, and so once
again biblical inerrancy is not threatened.
Your whole approach is flat-footed; it is a two-dimensional reading
of texts that come to us within a dynamic, historical period of
transition. The earliest Christians were Jews who took the gospel to
both Jews and Gentiles. Naturally, not everyone agreed with the
leadership all of the time. Naturally, the leaders themselves were
imperfect human beings who went through a learning process. None of
this contradicts biblical inerrancy. It does contradict your
simplistic inferences from biblical inerrancy.
In Christ's service,
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