Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
October 1st, 2015 by Joel Watts

The Unsettled Christianity #Podcast, Episode 2

The Creation

The Creation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Unsettled Christianity Podcast is NOW on iTunes, where you will now find it NOW.

In this episode, Josh (author of The Witch at Sparrow Creek) and I begin with a brief discussion of apophatic prayer and then move into inerrancy.

Now, some of you may not agree. I tried to be mindful of that — because I’m at a point in my own journey that I have no need to disparage inerrantists as I understand them BECAUSE I recognize the value of inerrancy.1

[tweetthis]The Unsettled Christianity Podcast, Ep 2 – Biblical Inerrancy[/tweetthis]

However, I am not an inerrantist. As a Christian, I am an infallibilitist although I’ve heard that described as a functional inerrantist. In other words, I affirm that Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation and is without error in what it teaches — i.e., doctrine, nature of God, revelation of God, etc…

I like the Orthodox position. I like this Catholic position:

The early Fathers held that the Bible was inerrant. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches affirm this as well. However, this is the case only when the Bible is properly understood, interpreted by the Church. This is inerrancy by ancient standards and not modern, fundamentalist standards. The early Fathers did not think that minor contradictions rendered the Bible errant, nor did they insist all stories were meant to be interpreted literally. For instance, the creation stories were often allegorized, interpreted in ways so as to prefigure Christ, or interpreted through the lens of the science of the day (or all three!). Thus St. Augustine could say each day in the Genesis creation story was equal to a thousand years, or that the science of the day should shape our understanding of the creation stories, without ever denying the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. So when a Catholic affirms the inerrancy of Scripture, the idea has far less baggage than the fundamentalist understanding.

Some may disagree with this on all fronts. That’s fine.

But, I am interested in your thoughts.


  1. The value of inerrancy is to affirm a strong loyalty to the teachings of the Church. My issue is when the “nothing contrary to fact” becomes “nothing contrary to how I read Scripture.” This can be seen in a wide range of views, not just Protestant. For example, I would point to Genesis 1, 2-3 as pointing to the “Fact” of God as Creator rather than any type of recollection of how God did it. Scripture teaches God is Creator, that it is planned, has a purpose, and is Good. It is not that the authors of Genesis got it “wrong” only that we at times fail to read it as they intended. I place a high value on John 16 when Christ promises that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth. This is manifest in Hebrews when this Spirit reads Psalms fully.
Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. 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).

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