Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible


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Book Review – “Inerrancy & Worldview” by Vern Poythress

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Join other followers Follow. It is to the issue of worldviews and inerrancy that Vern Poythress tackles in his recent book Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible published by Crossway. This difference in worldview creates obstacles when modern people read and study the Bible. Through a series of thirty six chapters divided under ten sections, Poythress briefly addresses a number of modern challenges to the traditional view of inerrancy.

The chapters are short and by that I mean the shortest at just under four full pages and the longest at barely eight pages. Undoubtedly, Poythress is writing for the laymen and acknowledges that he is merely scratching the surface with the issues addressed in each chapter. Nevertheless, the succinctness of each chapter enables one to see the broader worldview issue s in view without drowning the reader in a deep theological hole. This is the point of course. Even putting inerrancy aside, one can easily see the stark differences between the worldview of a modern and an Evangelical throughout the book.

For Poythress, at the heart of the worldview focus as it relates to inerrancy is whether ones worldview is open or closed. Further this speaks to whether ne has a personalist or impersonalist worldview. For an impersonalist there is no room for an outside agent. For those who hold a personalist worldview there is room for an external agent to act within the universe and on earth among mankind. An example of how this shakes out can be seen in the hotly debated use of the historical-critical method as it is applied to Scripture more specifically.

Analogies exist due to the constancy and permanency of the created order which was created that way by God. Finally, the principle of correlation as cause and effect is founded in the way in which God made the natural world to operate and well as mankind. The misuse of these principles is summarized as follows: "The historical-critical method rests on unsound foundations. In fact, it denies at the beginning the existence of the God described in the Bible. Over time, generations of very gifted people working with this method can produce plausible explanations for the origins of the Bible by rearranging, hypothesizing, and building layer on layer of plausible sequences of naturalistic explanations.

They end up with naturalistic explanations because naturalistic explanations are the only ones they are searching for and the only ones that count within the framework that they have already adopted. The result, though it contains some positive insights by common grace, is an illusion. Additionally, Poythress goes to the depths of the human condition as affected by sin. For Poythress, the heart of the issue for impersonalists is that sin has corrupted their minds Eph. It is this corruption of the mind by sin and its only remedy in the gospel of Jesus Christ that Poythress spends part eight addressing.

Since God speaks to man in Scripture revealing truths about Himself in it Scripture is a testimony to and bears the marks of the character of God Himself. Poythress elaborates, "The Bible contains many forms of communication, including not only assertions but questions, commands, exclamations, and expressions of personal feeling, which belong to various genres.

God is trustworthy in all the forms of communication that he uses: he uses each form in accord with its own character that he has ordained. His trustworthiness includes the truthfulness of what he implies in these various forms of communication. I do have one issue with the book. While Poythress does address the difference in worldviews through various sides of the issue, he could have done a better job of tying in at least each main section topic to the doctrine of inerrancy itself. I think there were less than ten uses of the word inerrancy in the whole book.

The core thesis of the book could have had more impact and clarity had there been a summary at the end of each section that explicitly connected the discussion at hand to the doctrine of inerrancy. For instance, how, on a personalist worldview, can the fields of sociology and anthropology actually contribute to the defense of inerrancy on a worldview level?

That criticism aside, Inerrancy and Worldview is a view of the debate from 30, feet in the air as it address the worldview issues that underlie the possibility of an inerrant Bible as written by the hands of men and inspired by the Spirit of God. He gets to the heart of the matter in a very short span of pages which speaks to his grasp of the issues he addresses and the doctrine of inerrancy. NOTE: I received this book for free from Crossway and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

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Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible

May 30, Dave Jenkins rated it really liked it Shelves: biblical-theology , inerrancy , apologetics. The past few years have seen the rise of inerrancy--an issue that many thought was resolved in previous generations come to the forefront of current theological debate, once again. Inerrancy is an important theological truth that while not directly tied to the Gospel itself nevertheless affects how one will ultimately understand issues directly related to the Gospel such as redemption, sin, justification among a host of other issues.

It really shouldn't surprise Christians that inerrancy is becoming an issue again at all—since the issue of inerrancy is directly tied to the question of who is authorative God or man. Theological liberalism has convinced many parts of Christianity today that inerrancy is unimportant because according to them the Bible is a book full of errors. This is exactly why the issue of inerrancy is so important because it deals definitively not just with whether the text of Scripture is with or without error but rather with the larger question of who is authorative, God or man.

This is also the reason why I was excited when I heard about Dr.

Christian Worldview - Subject Guide: Christian Worldview - Research Guides at Cedarville University

Through my study, I have become increasingly convinced that this issue will be one of the biggest theological battles in our generation. What it says is deeply at odds with much of the thinking in the modern world. Modern worldviews are at odds with the worldview put forward in the Bible. When some people read the title Inerrancy and Worldview they will think that they are reading a book about inerrancy itself, but such an idea would be mistaken. This book is not all about inerrancy but rather deals with the effects of inerrancy as it relates to how people view the world.

In other words Inerrancy and Worldview was not written to address the question of inerrancy, as much it was in understanding how inerrancy is under attack from competing worldviews. Every chapter is condensed and could very easily be made into entire book length treatments on the topics the author examines. Since this book addresses the effects of inerrancy on our worldview, I want to focus the remainder of our time together examining the last chapter.

The issue of worldviews is one that we are increasingly seeing become a bigger issue in our day whether be it with the statements of politicians, or religious leaders—we are seeing many people reveal where exactly they stand on the issues. In many ways this is good because it tells us whether we as Christians can support them or not as Christians. The issue of worldview is important because Jesus has transferred us from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus—He has transformed our worldview from one that is sinful to one is centered on Him and all for His glory and praise.

When we have a low view of God and of His Word—the natural result of this is to push God out of our lives which is also to commit high-handed rebellion against Him. Many of them are not philosophical reasoners. They may not be intellectually brilliant.


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They have come to know Christ. They trust him because they know him personally. Christ teaches them through the Holy Spirit, and they grow in discernment. They come to distrust much of what claims to be knowledge in the mainstream culture around them, because it does not seem to help them in understanding the world in a biblically informed way.

And some of what they hear from modern culture directly contradicts what they find in the Bible. They may end up rejecting a lot of modern culture, because once suspicion grows, they do not know where the falsehoods stop. Many people in the mainstream then look at these exceptional faithful people as ignoramuses. Biblically based Christianity seems to the mainstream to be a threat to intellectual life. And some of the faithful have indeed become anti-intellectual.

By examining the worldviews of our day, the author successfully and wonderfully accomplishes his goal to provide the first worldview-based defense of inerrancy, showing how worldview differences create or aggravate most perceived difficulties with the Bible. I highly recommend you pick up this book as it gets to the heart of an issue that Christians will see not decrease, but increase.

Sep 04, Adam Omelianchuk rated it it was ok. The central thesis of Vern Poythress's Inerrancy and Worldview is that "modern people" challenge the authority of Scripture by bringing presuppositions from a materialistic worldview to its pages. That is, modern people, or those who think the Bible is errant, read it through the lens of an "impersonalistic" view of natural laws, moral properties, and regularities in thought and speech.

Poythress guides the reader through topics such as the natural sciences, sociology, linguistics, historical cr The central thesis of Vern Poythress's Inerrancy and Worldview is that "modern people" challenge the authority of Scripture by bringing presuppositions from a materialistic worldview to its pages. Poythress guides the reader through topics such as the natural sciences, sociology, linguistics, historical criticism, and cognitive psychology so as to demonstrate how an impersonalistic worldview affects modern thinking, and hence the handling of Scripture as an errant human text.

The antidote to this state of affairs, he says, is to recast these disciplines along the lines of a "personalistic" worldview, which envisages our lawlike world of regularity as one that is upheld by God's sustaining word. In short, given the reality of a personal God, we should expect an inerrant Bible. Along the way, he addresses certain challenges to particular problem passages and admonishes readers to take account of their spiritual pride that might hinder one's reading of Scripture.

If one is looking for a general overview of how materialistic thinking affects various disciplines assuming he has represented them fairly and the conclusions drawn from them, one might find Poythress's book helpful. But if one is looking for a defense of inerrancy, one should look elsewhere. In my estimation, this book woefully falls short of a robust defense of inerrancy, because the assumption of a personalist worldview is not sufficient for believing in an inerrant Bible.

Perhaps Poythress only intends to show that a impersonalistic worldview is sufficient to undermine inerrancy, and that a personalistic one is necessary for upholding it.

If this is the case, then his argument is rather trivial. Everyone knows that if materialism is true, the Bible errs, and that the Bible is inerrant only if God exists. But I suspect, Poythress is up to something different, namely showing the reader that, despite confessing a personalistic worldview, one might inadvertently imbibe impersonal presuppositions at work in the disciplines that furnish challenges to inerrancy.

Even if this is the case, however, he gives is no good reason to believe the Bible is inerrant. Why think he gives is no good reason to believe the Bible is inerrant? Because one can affirm all that Poythress wants us to affirm-namely that God exists as a personal subject in whom all truth, beauty, and goodness are rooted-and still deny inerrancy.

Consider this argument that I will put in the fictional mouth of Wes: [1] God exists and is morally perfect. Whether or not one agrees with all the premises of Wes's argument is beside the point; Poythress shows no awareness of the fact that one of the strongest arguments for the errancy of Scripture faced by Christians today is entirely compatible with a personalistic worldview. To be sure, the response to Wes would be to charge him with putting the judgments of unaided human reason above the judgments of Scripture and that the truthfulness of premise [2] ought to be challenged.

This would be no surprise as Poythress, following Van Til, presupposes that the Bible is inerrant; to argue for the authority of Scripture without appealing to it would be to undermine it. Wes might reasonably think this just amounts to begging the question, but the response will be that everyone begs the question at some point, since everyone has to posit some ultimate authority by which truth values are judged. Suppose this is right: what should we make of this? As far as I can see, the dialectic amounts to another instance of one man's modus ponens being another man's modes tollens; thus neither Wes nor Poythress are more rational or irrational than the other.

But stalemates do not result in victory. In any case, affirming a personalistic worldview is insufficient for establishing biblical inerrancy. Here ends my main complaint with the book. Other complaints are relatively minor, but worth noting. Poythress spends four chapters interpreting Psalm , which obliquely refers to "gods" other than YHWH, as a text that does not affirm the existence of any such "gods. Apparently, this is some great challenge posed by Peter Enns who thinks that the ancient Israelites were probably polytheistic.

Poythress develops a complex line of response that incorporates the broader context of the passage, and themes developed later on in the canon, all of which is fair and reasonable. But as I was reading this section I kept wondering, "So what if the psalter thought there were other gods? One final complaint is the self-referential character of the book.

Poythress references himself and his other works no less than 69 times! Thus the reader is deprived of primary resources that might better establish or represent his claims, particularly with respect to other disciplines. If the reader should be directed to his books on science, sociology and linguistics so often, why not just read those instead? Perhaps Inerrancy and Worldview is intended to be a more accessible introduction to lay people, but I maintain it is too truncated of a work to be helpful to them.

View 2 comments. Jul 27, Forrest Schultz rated it it was amazing. Schultz Vern Poythress by now has become known for his in-depth studies of all kinds of things. His latest triumph is his treatment of Biblical inerrancy, which is sorely needed due to the great confusion which still exists about this all-important subject.

I concur with John Frame who states that Poythress "gets deeper into the question of inerrancy than any other book that I know. This is so obvious, yet has usually not been taken into account. There are two and only two orders of reality: God and His creation. God is a person in fact the supreme Person and the very standard and source of personhood ; and His creation was planned and produced and is ruled over by a person, God. Therefore all of reality is personal. Therefore all truth about reality is personal, because it is truth about a Person and His creation.

Therefore truth must be handled accordingly, i.

Inerrancy and Worldview

This is what Poythress does in this book, and he contrasts it with the impersonalistic views found in the modern challengers of Scriptural inerrancy. The result is a good and very helpful read! All kinds of confusion are straightened out when this personal context is taken into account. The Biblical worldview is rightly seen to be sophisticated in contrast with the simplistic impersonalistic treatments by the modern worldviews!

For example, his discussion of the "historical-critical" method is the best I have ever seen, and it too gets down to the depth of the matter, the foundational principles of the thing. Fortunately, there is one thing which makes it easier to gain a general audience for the discussion of deep stuff which is actually philosophy and that is the term "worldview", which Poythress wisely uses in his title, rather than philosophy, which most people think of as something abstruse and impractical, in contrast to worldview, which is considered as dealing with important stuff about practical daily life.

In fact, the term was originally called "world-and-life view". Poythress also writes in language easy to understand, and he is quite personal in doing so. For instance, he talks about a typical modern man named "Bob", who thinks this way and that. So, Poythress is not only personal in his philosophy and epistemology, but also in his writing style. The next book Poythress will be publishing deals with Inerrancy specifically in reference to the harmony of the Gospels matter. It is expected to be out in October.

I am planning on reading and reviewing it also. Jan 15, Paul Bruggink rated it liked it. If you are looking for a book on biblical inerrancy, this isn't it. The author barely touches on the subject of biblical inerrancy. Even the subtitle, "Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible" is misleading, because Poythress fails to address or even mention modern challenges to biblical inerrancy. Poythress almost totally ignores the current Christian literature on biblical inerrancy, except for Peter Enns' "Inspiration and Incarnation. So much for "answering modern challenges to the Bible.

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When discussing days of creation, Poythress proposes the mature creation apparent age theory in this book and refers to chapters of his book "Redeeming Science," in which he appeared to support analogical days of creation. After Chapter 7, only chapter 31 finally gets back on the topic of inerrancy. There is a lot of worthwhile material in this book, just not much about biblical inerrancy. It needs a more accurate title and subtitle. Jan 08, John rated it liked it Shelves: , kindle. This book has gotten a bit of a bad rap on Goodreads because readers seem to be expecting a book that deals primarily with defending the inerrancy of the Bible.

The book is not written to defend inerrancy primarily, but to demonstrate how one's worldview presupposes a worldview where the Bible can or cannot conceivably be viewed as innerant. Poythress examines how the presuppositions of one's worldview, define the possibilities for a personal or impersonal world. He looks at a variety of standard This book has gotten a bit of a bad rap on Goodreads because readers seem to be expecting a book that deals primarily with defending the inerrancy of the Bible.

He looks at a variety of standard modern objections to the Bible and the God of the Bible and then answers them not by arguing within their framework, but by examining the presuppositions inherent in the worldview. Poythress thus follows the methods of Van Til in exposing the presuppositions in unbiblical worldviews and objections.

These objections are not limited to inerrancy, but the wide field of modern objections to the Bible. The book does deal with innerrancy, especially toward the end. But this book is not a thorough defense of biblical innerrancy. Those interested in that should look elsewhere. This book, however, does a very good job of presenting a presuppositionalist critique of modern worldviews that assult the Bible's credibility and innerrancy. I recommend the book, just know be prepared to look for another volume for a more thorough defense of innerrancy if that's what you're looking for.

Jan 21, E rated it it was ok.

Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible
Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible
Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible
Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible
Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible
Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible
Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible
Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible Inerrancy and Worldview: Answering Modern Challenges to the Bible

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