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1498Paul, James, and biblical inerrancy

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  • Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
    Mar 8, 2007

      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
      his ministry.

      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.

      You wrote:

      << 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?

      You wrote:

      << 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,
      Rob Bowman
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