Today, I want to give some examples of this methodology from a leading evangelical apologete, Dr. Norman Geisler.
Evangelicals believe that the Bible is without error. They argue that since God cannot lie and since God is the author of the Bible (albeit making use of human instruments); therefore, the Bible must not contain any untruths. Geisler, in his book, When Critics Ask (Victor Books, 1992) offers the following syllogism:
God cannot err.
The Bible is the Word of God.
Therefore, the Bible cannot err.
Once again, this idea goes back to Augustine of Hippo. In his polemical treatise against the Manicheans, he argued: "If we are perplexed by any apparent contradiction in Scripture, it is not allowable to say, "The author of this book is mistaken;" but either the manuscript is faulty, or the translation is wrong, or you have not understood (Bk 11, par.5).
Geisler lists 17 mistakes he believes critics make when approaching alleged errors in the Bible. For our present purpose, I will deal with four of these.
1. Assuming that the Unexplained Is Not Explainable.
Geisler writes: No informed person would claim to be able to fully explain all Bible difficulties. However, it is a mistake for the critic to assume, therefore, that what has not yet been explained never will be explained.
But what does this boil down to? One must by faith believe there is a resolution to the problem even though no one has found it in over 2000 years. Once again, you just "gotta believe."
2. Presuming the Bible Guilty Until Proven Innocent.
Geisler thinks we should approach the Bible in the manner that the US courts approach a person charged with a crime. Presume innocency until guilt is proven.
The problem here is that for evangelicals like Geisler, it is impossible to prove guilt. Nothing could ever be accepted as an error by them; their conclusion is already predetermined by faith.
3. Confusing Our Fallible Interpretations with God's Infallible Revelation.
Geisler says: Human beings are finite, and finite beings make mistakes. That is why there are erasers on pencils, correcting fluid for typing, and a "delete" key on computers. And even though God's Word is perfect (Psalms 19:7), as long as imperfect human beings exist, there will be misinterpretations of God's Word and false views about His world.
Note that Geisler is presupposing the truth of the Scripture. Why? Because the Bible says its perfect in Psalms 19:7. How can one not see that this circular reasoning? He has by faith accepted the Bible as the divine word of God and therefore if there is something in the Bible that appears to be in error, the fault must lie with him not with the Bible.
15. Forgetting that Only the Original Text, Not Every Copy of Scripture, Is
This retreat to the "original text" was popularized by B.B. Warfield in his book, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible.
This retreat to the "original text" is quite convenient. Why? Because the original autographs of the Biblical text are not available. They have long since perished. All we have are copies of copies of the originals. Since no one would ever be able to produce the originals, Geisler, and his evangelical friends, have an unassailable position. By faith, they believe the original documents were perfect and the originals are forever lost; therefore no one, in their minds, could ever demonstrate a definite error in the Bible.
So, as I argued yesterday, for the evangelical, faith trumps reason. They will give lip-service to reason but ultimately their religion, as all other religions, is based on faith.