Why Inerrancy Matters…

6 02 2008

A.T.B. McGowan’s latest book ‘The Divine Spiration of Scripture’ published by Apollos/IVP is causing something of a stir amongst evangelicals. Surprisingly McGowan, who is known for his commitment to Reformed evangelical doctrine, has a strange view of inerrancy and infallibility. This is something of a hot potato in current evangelical theology, and McGowan follows the early twentieth century scholar James Orr in his view that upholding the original autographs of Scripture as faultless is an unneccessary move, prompted by fundamentalist concerns. This represents something of a departure from traditional Reformed formulations and concepts of Scripture’s authority, although other Reformed scholars have held similar views as McGowan points out (Kuyper and Bavinck among them). As feedback and responses begin to unfold in the world of journals and monographs in the coming months, I’ll post a little bit more on this vital issue.

One writer whom I find very beneficial on the issue of inerrancy is Wayne Grudem. In his standard ‘Systematic Theology’ he writes of the problems entailed in denying inerrancy, and I find them pretty compelling. They are:

1. If we deny inerrancy, a serious moral problem confronts us: May we imitate God and intentionally lie in small matters also?

2. If inerrancy is denied, we begin to wonder if we can really trust God in anything he says.

3. If we deny inerrancy, we essentially make our own human minds a higher standard of truth than God’s Word itself.

4. If we deny inerrancy, then we must also say that the Bible is wrong not only in minor details but in some of its doctrines as well.

By anyone’s standards, those are pretty major issues and hurdles for a non-inerrancy position to deal with. It is a doctrine which really does matter, and which is vitally important to how we read, value, and understand the message and meaning of Scripture.

More posts on this issue will follow…




6 responses

7 02 2008

Another useful book on this is “Scripture Alone” by R.C. Sproul. Begun it last week and it has been such an enforcer to me of the infallibility of Scripture.Thanks for posting on this, and i’m looking forward to further posts

7 02 2008
Exiled Preacher

Thanks for commenting on this. It’s on my wishlist as one to order, but I haven’t got it yet. I had heard McGowan he was uncomfortable with inerrancy, so it will be interesting to look at his proposals.

9 02 2008
Singing Bear

First, I’ve just discovered your blog and find it very interesting and thought provoking. Thanks for that!Infallibility of Scripture? Personally, I believe it’s the ‘spirit’ found in Scripture that’s infallible. You may then say that we fall into the trap of mere human interpretation of the Word of God. However, I have no hang-up about this. Do you really believe Jonah was swallowed by a whale? Do you think the world was created only few thousand years ago? I know I don’t but I consider myself to be a Christian. For me, it’s vital to meditate on Biblical truth, search deep inside yourself for The Lord to speak to you, trusting in His unshakable love for each of us, and you’ll come to the deep truth of Scripture.Peace.

11 02 2008
Andrew and Carolyn

Hi Singing Bear,Thanks for your kind comments about the blog, and for dropping by.I have no qualms whatsoever in asserting the inerrancy of Scripture, and nor did Jesus. He spoke in factual terms about the very events which you highlight as being somewhat unbelievable. I think that the approach to Scripture which you advocate is too subjective, and places the Bible under the authority of human reason, rather than vice versa.I offer these comments with respect, but also with a strong belief in the integrity, infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture.Best regards,Andrew

11 02 2008
Singing Bear

Andrew: I take your point and, with The Lord’s backing, it’s a pretty strong one! However, I don’t feel uncomfortable with accepting scientific discoveries that may cast some doubt on the ‘literal’ truth of certain aspects of Scripture. The more I find out about how the Universe works (as far as we are able to know) the deeper my faith becomes.I know I’m in danger of being tarred as a ‘pick and choose’ type of Christian but that’s not how I feel personally about my faith. The meaning of Christ’s birth, teaching and resurrection are never in question. Jesus sees into our hearts and leads us to the ultimate understanding of His truth. Wouldn’t you agree?Peace.

4 06 2008
The Seeking Disciple

Great post. The debate over inerrancy raged in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s but I believe is once again coming to the forefront as the evangelical church must deal with the emergent church movement and their liberal theology. Inerrancy is often being thrown out the window in favour of culture and the so-called present day wisdom of men. I agree with you completely (and with Dr. Grudem) that inerrancy is a major issue that must not be placed on the sides but we must hold firmly to inerrancy or we err in other places of doctrine and practice as well.

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