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March 29, 2005


Bob Robinson

I like it.

We often think that the story ended at the close of the Canon. So what we end up doing is to merely go back to that Canon in order to mine it for "principles" for living our lives today, instead of as the "the foundational documents" of a church that continues through today.

We are, in a sense, writing a "fifth gospel" with our lives today. We need to see God's grace of creating a People for Himself and of Kingdom building through us as a CONTINUATION of what we read on the pages of Scripture, not as something somehow different.

(Of course, you can only push the analogy so far. Shakespeare is not still alive [as God is] and Shakespeare is not sovereign, omniscient, and offered as a Paraclete to walk beside us while we act out the next act of the play. This needs to be factored in someplace).


Good point about God being alive, Bob. I like how Dr. Wright describes the actors as "highly trained, sensitive and experienced." That implies that we've got to really know our story. Using the analogy of acting, it also implies that we need to be regularly acting it out. Actors don't just sit around and endlessly memorize or talk about their roles. They get out their and they act!

Bob Robinson

I've linked to your blog, because I'm really enjoyed this series. Thanks!

Bill Arnold at Poet in Motion has been running a series discussing an article by N. T. Wright's somewhat controversial take on Biblical Authority.


St. Augustine wrote, “I would not believe the authority of the Scriptures except for the authority of the Catholic Church.”

It is unreasonable to believe, as most Protestants do, that the Bible is infallible but the Church is not. For

a. Why would God leave us an infallible book in the hands of fallible teachers and interpreters? That would destroy the whole purpose of an infallible book: to give us certainty about the things God knew we needed to know.
b. It is a matter of historical fact that the Church (the apostles) wrote the New Testament. But a fallible cause cannot produce an infallible effect
c. It is also a historical fact that the Church “canonized” the Bible (defined which books belong to it). If the church is merely fallible, how can we be sure what this infallible book is?
d. The Bible itself calls the church, not the Bible, “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (I Tim 3:15).
e. Scripture never teaches the Protestant principle of sola scriptura (Scripture alone). Thus sola scriptura contradicts itself.



What's your definition of infallible?

I have trouble using the word infallible or inerrant to describe the Bible OR the church.

In this series, I'm trying to discuss how we can look to the Bible as authoritative without deifying it. I think we can look to the church as an authority, also, but I would argue that where the church contradicts scripture I'm going to side with scripture.

You wrote: "c. It is also a historical fact that the Church “canonized” the Bible (defined which books belong to it). If the church is merely fallible, how can we be sure what this infallible book is?

I wrestled with the issue of the canon in previous posts here and here. That's a tough issue for me precisely because I don't consider the church or tradition to be infallible. Who gets to decide what constitutes the canon? Who DOESN'T get to decide?

Bob Robinson

StorminNorman seems to be regurgitating the apologetics of Karl Keating, Jimmy Akin and the rest of Catholic Answers’ arguments against Protestantism.

I hope we can get beyond this. Catholic apologetics is now where evangelical fundamentalist apologetics was 30 years ago: Using modern-age reason to counter fundamentalist arguments that were being used against Catholics years and years ago.

Now that we are entering postmodernity, I think that we can learn start to LISTEN TO EACH TO EACH OTHER and LEARN FROM EACH OTHER.

I think that NT Wright is a wonderful bridge between Roman Catholic and Evangelical thought on the Bible.
Norm: I recommend your reading this lecture from Wright and look for things that Catholics can AGREE with. I think you’ll be surprised.


Bob, I'm sorry I wasn't listening. What did you say?

2ndly, I am not Catholic. I want answers to the points I bring up and the best you can do is, "we need to learn to listen to each other." Well who is the one not listening? You are. Unless, of course, you can answer my concerns regarding Biblical Authority instead of pulling the the old "evangelical bread and butter" page out of the playbook, which is "you should read x,y or z." Well, two can play at this game. You should read "the Catechism of the Catholic Church" and you should read the "catechism of the eastern orthodox church," and you should read about 50 other books and articles i could recommend for you. But no, you don't want to. You don't want to listen. You are caught in your own logic.

The truth is I don't want to read all that shit either. I don't want to read NT wright this or that. That is why i am dialoguing with you. Why don't YOU tell me yourself what he says. I am talking to you, not NT WRIGHT. I want to know what YOU have to say from your mouth/pen/keyboard.

Who is the postmodern now? That's what I thought. Now go make me a sandwhitch.

your pal,



Whole wheat, rye, or white bread? ;-)

I was actually thinking you were catholic, too. Let's not get too upset here. Nothing wrong with recommended reading as long as we're being nice about it. I really think N.T. is great, by the way, if you ever get the chance.

In the meantime, let's play nice boys!

Bob Robinson

I did think that this was a discussion forum on NT Wright's article...
...or did I miss something?
To suggest to somebody to read the article that the forum is discussing must be out-of-line.


Bob, stop whining.

By the way Bob, i still have yet to see you demonstrate how one can "get beyond" the concerns i raise about biblical authority.
your pal,

PS: Stop whining!

Bob Robinson

I apologize for not seasoning my original comment with enough grace. I am sorry that I got us off on the wrong foot. Please forgive me.

I do not plan to argue with you. I've gone round after round in the past with a prominent national Roman Catholic apologist over the issues you raise, and, quite frankly, I'm tired of it. Not that the points you raise are not legitimate, its just that at this time and in this context, I don't plan to go there. Sorry again.

Besides, I think that this line of posts at Poet in Motion is more suitable for speaking directly about the Wright article. Maybe Wright, in the article, helps address your concerns. With that in mind, where do you see Wright arguing in favor of evangelical notions of infallibility in the article?

He, too, seems critical of evangelical claims of "infallibility:"

"...the regular views of scripture and its authority which we find not only outside but also inside evangelicalism fail to do justice to what the Bible actually is—a book, an ancient book, an ancient narrative book. They function by tuning that book into something else, and by implying thereby that God has, after all, given us the wrong sort of book. This is a low doctrine of inspiration, whatever heights are claimed for it and whatever words beginning with ‘in-’ are used to label it. I propose that what we need to do is to re-examine the concept of authority itself and see if we cannot do a bit better."


I'm confused. Is Norm saying:
1. Both the Bible and the Church are infallible.
2. The Bible is infallible but the Church is not.
3. The Church is infallible but the Bible is not.
4. Neither are infallible.
5. Nothing, he's just asking questions intended to be provocative or antagonistic.

My guess is either 1, 4, or 5, but I'm not sure. Actually, I think it's kind of funny that this is the first time (I think) that infallibility has come up in this conversation.


folks - the bible and the church are clearly fallible....need we say anymore on this

and bob, sounds like you lost that argument with the national catholic whatever.

ps...i'm no catholic, but just a curious person. I've still yet to hear any good answers to these "catholic" questions...i see you people can't answer them intellegently either so you just say, "i do not plan to argue with you. ...I'm tired of it. ... its just that at this time and in this context, I don't plan to go there."

sounds like you are now 0-2 against these concerns over biblical infallibility. Again, i agree with NT wright if he is pointing out the obvious point that sola scriptura and scriptural infallibillity is complete nonsense


I don't think he would say they're "complete nonsense," Norm.

I think you're trying a bit too hard to be contentious...I hope the other commmenters here won't take your provocations too seriously.


I was going to respond, but I still can't figure out what he's saying.

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