Debate: Is the Bible Inerrant? Licona vs. Howe

Overall, Richard Howe is on the more correct side of  this dialogue / debate.  Licona seems fuzzy on what his position on Inerrancy is.  Some of the examples from the gospels are explained by harmonization, which Licona just dismisses as unreasonable.

There is much more that I could write, but don’t have the time.

This is very good for more documents on Inerrancy.

Richard Howe’s notes from the debate.

Especially good was this list by Richard Howe:

D. Ways a Statement Can Correspond to Reality

1. Literally “And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.” (Mark 1:16)

2. Allegorically (Allegory) “But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic [ἀλληγορούμενα]. …” (Gal. 4:23-24a)

3. Metaphorically (Metaphor) “For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isa 55:12)

4. Similarly (Simile) “So his heart and the heart of his people were moved as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind.” (Isa 7:2)

5. Analogically (Analogy) “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7)

6. Symbolically (Symbol)

“… the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic [παραβολὴ] for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience—” (Heb. 9:7-9)

7. Hyperbolically (Hyperbole) “Now the Midianites and Amalekites, all the people of the East, were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude.” (Judges 7:12)

8. Phenomenologically ” … for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, …” (Matt. 5:45) “The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.” (Joel 2:31)

9. Informally “… All who were numbered according to their armies of the forces were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty.” (Num. 2:32) “And Moses said, ‘The people whom I am among are six hundred thousand men on foot; …'” (Num. 11:21)

10.Synecdochically (Synecdoche) “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matt. 6:11)

11.Metonymically (Metonymy)

For it happened, when David was in Edom, and Joab the commander of the army had gone up to bury the slain, after he had killed every male in Edom” (1 Kings 11:15)

“After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained “Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus with them and baptized.” (John 3:22) Himself did not baptize, but His disciples),” (John 4:1-2) “Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him … {8} The centurion answered and said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. …'” (Matt. 8:5, 8) “… the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, ‘Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof.'” (Luke 7:6)

Richard Howe

See also here for a good article by Tim Challies:

Inerrancy by Tim Challies

The conclusion and Addendum is especially good:


My intent for this series was to do two things. First, I wanted to define inerrancy and seperate it from the other doctrines of Scripture such as authority, inspiration and transmission. While the basic sense of the word “inerrancy” is clear, the theological meaning is not always as lucid. Second, I wanted to answer some objections to inerrancy and show why this is a critical doctrine and why it is important that the church continues to affirm it.

Ultimately, inerrancy is true because perfection is consistent with God’s character and because He has told us it is true. We must be careful with any objections to this doctrine, for if we indicate that we believe there are errors with the original manuscripts, we strike at the very character of God. The Bible is inerrant because it was breathed out by an inerrant God. Because of this we can have full confidence, today and always, that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.


Before I close this series, I would like to add one brief exhortation: We need to be certain that we do not confuse our issues. In reading ongoing discussions of inerrancy I often found objections to inerrancy based on deeper objections to other issues, and most notably, to young earth creationism. I had to ask myself the question, “Does a belief in inerrancy necessarily mean that we are forced to believe in a young earth?” I believe that it does not, for I know that many old earth creationists hold a high, inerrant view of Scripture. While I have not researched this issue extensively, and while I affirm my belief in a literal six-day creation, I believe that a case for old earth creation can be built from an inerrant view of Scripture. These differences may owe to hermeneutics or exegesis, but not necessarily from a lowered view of Scripture. Thus we must not confuse the doctrine of inerrancy with other doctrines, allowing ourselves to unfairly do away with one doctrine on the basis of another.

Tim Challies, (with my bolding and italics for emphasis. )

About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
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1 Response to Debate: Is the Bible Inerrant? Licona vs. Howe

  1. Pingback: Great discussion on Inerrancy | Apologetics and Agape

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