The Truth of #Inerrancy

Matthew Parker, Archbisop of Canterbury, forme...

Matthew Parker, Archbisop of Canterbury, former chaplin of Anne Boleyn (Photo credit: lisby1)

For background, you can visit the Bible Gateway’s record of their live blogging of the event, here:

5 Views on Biblical Inerrancy (A Live Discussion from ETS) | Bible Gateway Blog.

The Evangelical Theological Society met to discuss inerrancy, part of a confession statement one must sign in order to be a member of the ETS. This among other reasons is why I will never be a part of ETS.

Inerrancy is a great motivator to sell bibles. Why? Because inerrancy has made Scripture the ideal, the center of Christianity. Suddenly, the bible is the most important part of our faith, rather than Christ or the Apostolic word. Because Scripture is inerrant all you need is it and you are done. Inerrancy thus excludes serious study, critical thinking skills, and any meaningful theological development.

Inerrancy is nuanced. Some believe only the original autographs are inerrant, without error. To accomplish this, they must dismiss redaction criticism (and historical criticism in general) and assert an unprovable tenant, that there were original autographs. Textual Criticism is no more. Real archaeology is chided as the devil’s work and science is dismissed as witchcraft. Others believe the bible is inerrant in what it teaches. Even this is nuanced. What does the bible teach? We go from polytheism to henotheism to monotheism. Women are near-slaves. Rape is sometimes okay. I could go on, but you get the picture. Some simply state the bible is inerrant in what it teaches about salvation, not that this picture is any clearer.

I have written about my stances before, but let me encourage you to read Henry Neufeld’s "When People Speak for God" and Edward Vick’s "From Inspiration to Understanding: Reading the Bible Seriously and Faithfully" for some rather deep insight into better views. I hold to an inspired view of Scripture with just enough nuance to escape any serious challenge to my position. Scripture is not the revelation of God; it is a human response/record to God’s revelation of himself either in word, deed, or creation. This may include records, poems, songs, or rampant and ill-conceived speculation. God uses this clay to bring about his ultimate reality while having had incarnated it and enlivened in the only inerrant and infallible Word, Jesus “Logos” Christ. Thus, Scripture becomes.

The Chicago Statement of Inerrancy is a farce, leaving me wonder what Luther with his creation of sola scriptura would have said about it.

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Post By Joel Watts (10,051 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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4 thoughts on The Truth of #Inerrancy

  1. Inerrancy is an excuse to not think. Thus, along with fundamentalism and public education, it can be used to complete a triangle necessary for creating minions necessary for carrying out nefarious designs.

  2. Ah! Having in the last few years left such a denomination, I’ve just been observing that the group I left seemed to make the Bible a member of the Trinity, apparently replacing the Holy Spirit.

    I appreciate your specificity about the implications and effects of declaring inerrancy.

    Know more than I should,
    For many of the people I knew/know from that denomination, they do think and study. Some people study all. The. Time. But they do so in their little fenced-in areas, with books and other materials by their approved theologians/authors. They don’t seem to realize they’re fenced in and the intellectual level (read:presumed high) of the faith of my former denomination is a point of pride for the people in it. No intellectual honesty involved. I am very thankful that Carolyn Custis James has a heart and a gift for writing to this audience ever so carefully about the inequality of the sexes that is perpetuated in the very denomination of which she is a member.

  3. That’s interesting, I just watched Vanhoozer’s presentation on Augustinian Inerrancy, and he said the opposite: That inerrancy forces us to think. That the easy way out is simply to deny the validity of the text, while the more provocative stance is one which forces us to work through it and wrestle with the text.

    I feel uncomfortable with marking off inerrantists as anti-intellectual (even if its only implicit here). Neither Bird or Vanhoozer seem anti-intellectual.

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