Religious scripture and sacred writings

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Religious Scripture

Naural Theology- Information that is available about God to all people at all times. The use of philosophical reason is prominent.

(Cosmological argument, Teleological, Ontological, Moral arguments).

Revealed Theology- God reveals himself to certain people at certain time and places. Eg. Particular religious experiences, miracles.

Scripture (sacred writings):

Propositional Revelation- God-facts are revealed, characterised by 'Belief that...':

The Bible is a revelation, it is understood as a collection of statements or propositions that have been revealed about the Divine, God is revealed through words.

Non-Propositional Revelation- God himself is revealed, characterised by 'Belief in...':

The Bible is not a revelation, God has revealed himself. Therefore, the Bible is understood as a collection of statements made in response to the personal revelation.The Bible itself is not the revelation.

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The Inerrancy View (Critical evaluation included)

The Inerrancy View (Propositional Revelation)

Biblical inerrancy is the position that says the Bible is a source of accurate knowledge, free from error. The Bible is claimed to be inerrant, there need be no debate about certain things, such as miracles, where the Bible is a source of certain knowledge and is completely true. 

Arguments For:

  • It is in keeping with parts of the Bible. (2 Peter 1:20-21) it seems that we are being told that when the words of Prophets we are reading the actual words of God. However - this could be considered circular - this passage lends support to the inerrancy view only if the passage itself is inerrant!!
  • It sees the Bible as an infallible source of information. For some people, the advantaged and usefulness of having such a source are all important. However - 'pragamtist' evaluations are not universally accepted.
  • It is able to account for why things are in the Bible that could not have been experienced by human beings (e.g the creation of the world).

Arguments against:

  • Could the role of scribe reduce human beings to being robots? What has happened to our ability to think? Could this downplay the fact that we have freewill?
  • There is a clash between parts of the Bible (e.g the creation story in the first book of Genesis) and modern science - 
  • There are internal inconsistencies within the Bible!! LIGHT BEFORE SUN.
  • The 'access' concern. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Ancient Greek. It then underwent a major translation into Latin, and from Latin into Vernacular languages. Because things get lost in translation and words change, only a very small minority of linguists can access God's true words.
  • How do we account for the presence of human voice in scripture? (e.g. Psalm 13:1-3?)
  • Although God might not make mistakes, Human beings most definitely do. How can we be sure that the scribes didn't make mistakes when writing down what was being Divinely dictated to them?
  • Different religions make different and sometimes conflicting statements about God - e.g. Christianity and Islam. If they both claim scripture is inerrant revelation, how do we resolve this?
  • There are passages in the Bible that many Christians would not live by today (especially from the book of Leviticus). it is not clear how this rejection could be tolerated. 
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Non-Propositional Revelation- Arguments For and Ag

In Support:

  • Some philosophers and theologians say that religious experience of the Divine is ineffable - God is beyond words.
  • For Christians, the Word of God is Jesus Christ, not the Bible.


  • The lack of an ultimate infallible source for adjudicating on theological debate is unpalatable for some.
  • Because sacred writings on this view are written responses to Divine revelations, the full meaning of these writings is dependent on the original non-propositional revelations. But we have access only to scripture and not to the original non-propositional revelations, and so perhaps the full meaning of scripture forever escapes our grasp.
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The Inspired View (Critical Evaluation included)

The Inspired View (Propositional Revelation)

This view holds the belief that God controlled the production of his work. The writers of the Bible had special supernatural supervision when they penned the words of God. The Holy Spirit was said to have preserved them from all kinds of errors, errors of fact, errors of doctrine and errors of judgement (e.g. 1 Corinthians 2:13).

Relates to the inerrancy view - The view that Christians have of the Bible is that it is not inerrant in every syllable. Although humans have recited the Bible through words of God, the exact wording could have been lost in translation and as a result, the Bible is not inerrant. The extent of scriptures being inerrant is therefore diminutive and that the Bible is not free from error. 

In support of the view:

The Bible contains many different writing styles, which suggests different human authors rather than one Divine author - (e.g. Mark's gospel is written in poor Greek; John's Gospel has a mystical, theological and philosophical flavour).

Opposing the view (and propositional revelation in general)

Human beings applied criteria in order to decide what constitutes the Bible. Inclusion in the New Testament demanded that the writings be apostolic: written by one of the twelve disciples (apostles), or by St.Paul, or by someone associated with him. Unless these criteria were themselves a matter of propositional revelations, they could seem arbitrary.

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