Sunday, July 18, 2010

We are Not Infallible!

Recently a friend gave me a copy of a work by J.C. Ryle entitled The Fallibility of Ministers. Based on Galatians 2.11-16, it is of course directed primarily against the dogma of Papal Infallibility. But the title reminds us that the truth is not merely that the Pope both can and does err, but that all ministers and teachers are subject to error. God alone is inerrant and infallible - and that is why His Word does not err and contains no mistakes. The Biblical authors were "Carried along by the Holy Spirit", as Peter says. We are not.

Whenever a teacher gets it into his or her head that he or she is infallible, that person is in for trouble. Firstly, because he or she has become a fanatic, and secondly because he or she has just placed his or her self above all criticism. In other words, that person has become a little pope, no matter how opposed to Rome he may be, or how warm are his protestations of protestantism.

Ministers are not infallible, we make mistakes. This is plainly seen when we consider that some men are Presbyterian, others hold to Independency to be the church order instituted by God. Some of us believe Baptism is rightly administered only to those who profess faith in Christ, others that it is rightly administered to their children as well. Both of us cannot be right (though both of us may of course be wrong). So neither my teaching, nor that of any other man should be regarded as in and of itself true. Ordination does not confer infallibility, any more than faith does.

So beware the man or woman who refuses to admit mistakes. One suspects that this idea that the minister is infallible has contributed to the cover-up over Ergun Caner - his defenders feel they must at all costs conceal the fact that they were so mistaken about the man! And, at the risk of re-opening an old controversy, this is Part of Gail Riplinger's problem - she refuses to admit she is capable of basic factual error, resulting in New Age Bible Versions still being in print, riddled with all the errors it contains! When I contacted AV Publications concerning a factual error in Hazardous Materials, I received a reply that was nothing less than a defence of a demonstrable factual error. What was it? Well, I pointed out that R.C. Trench did not choose to put the sybol on his title page, and it was in fact the publisher's logo. The reply, instead of accepting that an error had been made, said words to the effect of "well, why was he using an occult publisher?" The answer was that he wasn't, he was using a general publisher!

Beware the infallible teacher - and doubly beware the infallible female teacher!

1 comment:

Cammie Novara said...

"But the title reminds us that the truth is not merely that the Pope both can and does err, but that all ministers and teachers are subject to error." I am completely in agreement with that.