Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy is Just About Out!

The book Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy is just about ready for release and will be available at ETS which is having its conference theme on the topic.

The book features Al Mohler, Peter Enns, Kevin Vanhoozer, John Franke, and Michael Bird. It is edited by James Merrick and Stephen Garrett.

Here is a video from Peter Enns and Al Mohler about the book:


My favourite line from the book is “Don’t cry for me Chewbacca” which I wrote in response to Kevin Vanhoozer. You’ll have to purchase the book to learn the context!

Here is a quote from my essay in the volume:

To say that the Bible is authoritative is to affirm that the Bible is divinely authorized because the Holy Spirit speaks to us through it—exactly what the Westminster Confession and London Baptist Confession both affirm.[1] Therefore, Scripture must be obeyed in its entirety and not treated as an item for negotiation. There is the story about Adolf Schlatter, who, when interviewed for a professorial appointment in Berlin, was asked by a churchman on the interview panel if he as an academic “stood on the Bible.” Schlatter replied, “No, I stand under the Bible.”[2] As followers of Jesus, we do not sit in judgment of God’s Word; we allow it to stand in judgment of us. We strive to obey its precepts and live out its story. Indeed, a focus on the Bible’s authority moves us from the abstract toward the practical. For how we live under the Bible is the ultimate test of what we believe about God and the Bible. John Stott wrote, “The hallmark of authentic evangelicalism is not subscription but submission. That is, it is not whether we subscribe to an impeccable formula about the Bible, but whether we live in practical submission to what the Bible teaches, including an advance resolve to submit  to whatever it may later be shown to teach.”[3]


[1] WCF I.10; LBC I.10.

[2] Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles Quarles, The Lion and the Lamb: New Testament Essentials from the Cradle and the Cross (Nashville: Broadman, 2007), 16–17.

[3] John Stott, Evangelical Truth: A Personal Plea for Unity, Integrity, and Faithfulness (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1999), 73–74.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Ken Schenck

    I’m reading the galley but very slowly. About done with Mohler and the responses. Very much liked your response to him and will hopefully blog on it soon, if I can say things that are beneficial.

  • Well done, Peter. I look forward to reading more about your view.

  • Matthew Williams

    I have no time for the doctrine of inerrancy, at least until it is so qualified that it doesn’t really mean what the word means. The doctrine is philosophically incoherent.

    The Chicago doctrine of inerrancy is, essentially, a doctrine of transubstantiation. It requires God’s words to possess both a rigidity and plurality of property that words cannot and do not by nature possess, and thus turns them into something else. Therefore it requires words, upon being ‘breathed out’ by God, to have taken on a different substance or property to the usual nature of the instrument. And even if this were (miraculously) true, the words would be untranslatable as we would have no way of replicating this miracle in other languages subject to the usual vagaries. Such inerrancy would do us no good, for we do not know how to access such a perfected mode of language. It would be a strangely unloving indulgence by God to create a perfect literary product that could not be appropriated in this perfection by us. (So such a view of inerrancy is even less defensible than eucharistic transubstantiation.)

    So the problem with inerrancy is not merely that it claims too much for the bible, but that it claims too much for words (and, to supply the inevitable gap, smuggles in acts of interpretation as carrying scriptural authority by sleight of hand). I believe that Roman Catholicism has erred in claiming bread and wine first become other than their natural substances in order to be the instrument of our feeding on Christ, and some evangelicals have likewise erred in claiming words to acquire properties usually alien to them in order to be the instrument of God’s salvation and sanctification.

    I believe the Spirit of God uses created instruments, in their natural states (but set apart for a holy purpose) to regenerate, sanctify, nourish and heal his people – whether bread, wine, water or words. I don’t need these elements to become something else first. I just need a God who graciously deigns to use limited things to achieve limitless purposes, and to use temporal things to achieve eternal things.

  • This might be one of the few (or only) times Mohler & Enns are found in the same video advertisement. 😀

  • dougchaplin

    I’m struck by how Quranic that sounds. Especially John Stott’s definition of evangelicalism as “submission” or as he might have said in Arabic, “Islam”.

    But Mike, I also have no idea what this sentence actually means except as a shibboleth of doctrinal purity “Therefore, Scripture must be obeyed in its entirety and not treated as an item for negotiation.”

    How do you construe that entirety? By speaking the language of obedience, you have already privileged law over narrative, and commandment over poetry. Yet more of Scripture is story than any other genre. How do you “obey” a story, never mind a prayer or a poem?

    • Josiah

      In ‘Old Testament Ethics for the People of God’ Christopher J. H. Wright suggests a paradigmatic approach to the ethical application of (Old Testament) scripture:

      “In the Old Testament we have repeatedly observed that Israel’s experience of liberation through the exodus functions as a paradigm for a wide variety of social and ethical obligations that were laid upon them. Even in ancient Israel itself this was not a matter of literal imitation or replication: Israel could not recreate an ‘exodus, parting of the sea and all’ for every social context of need or injustice they encountered. But the exodus was certainly a paradigm, calling for a certain pattern of response to oppression that would reflect in different circumstances what the historical particularity of the exodus had demonstrated about the LORD.”

      “Or consider one of the most powerful narrative paradigms ever created – Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-39). It has entered into the ethical consciousness not just of Christians but of a whole culture affected by the Gospel narratives. But two things are interesting. First, Jesus told the story as a way of modelling the full significance of a particular law, which was the subject of the question raised to him – ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (v27). So the narrative, though fictional, embodies the law in a paradigmatic case. But second, Jesus concludes the conversation with the telling phrase ‘Go and do likewise’ (v37). Now
      that seems to me to be the essence of what I intend by a paradigmatic approach. Clearly, Jesus did not mean that the young lawyer who had asked him the question should hire a donkey, buy some bandages, oil and wine, keep some change for friendly inn-keepers, and set off immediately on the road to Jericho to look for victims of robbery with violence. Jesus’ words did not mean ‘Go and do exactly the same’. They meant ‘Go and live your life in a way which expresses the same costly and barrier-crossing neighbourliness that my story illustrates – that is what it will mean to obey the law (since you asked).” Pp. 71-2.

      “By speaking the language of obedience, you have already privileged law over narrative, and commandment over poetry.” It seems to me that you are presupposing that ‘obedience’ implies law, and rules out narratives and poems. Yet if, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16), then it follows that the disciple cannot pick and choose which genres they are to be obedient to. If you honestly want to know how one goes about obeying the ethical imperatives of narrative and even poetry, and the foregoing quotes are insufficient for you, then I recommend that you read the whole book.

      Also, while ‘Islam’ does mean ‘submission’, it does not follow that ‘submission’ implies ‘Islam’. The danger of such an interpretation could conceivably lead one on a witch-hunt (for instance, if the quintessential ‘anti-intellectual fundamentalist’ was to overhear you, you wouldn’t want that on your conscience).

      IMO ‘Inerrancy’ (however one chooses to define it) is a philosophical
      construct forced upon the text. The application of which necessitates
      eisegesis. But, in agreement with Stott, that doesn’t mean that you don’t do your best to live in accordance with the ethical challenges and convictions in those texts.