Inerrancy: I think someone forgot to tell the Bible

The Bible is the book of God for the people of God. It reveals and conceals; is clear, yet complex; open to all, but impossible to master.

It is, from beginning to end, a product of the cultures that produced it, and still able to comfort and convict across cultures and across time. It is also a book that tells a grand narrative by means of divergent points of view and different theologies. It tells of God’s acts, but also reports some events that either may not have happened, or that have been shaped and transformed by centuries of tradition.

It presents us with portraits of God and of his people that at times comforts and confirms our faith, and at others times challenges and stretches our faith to its breaking point.

This is the Bible we have, the Bible God gave us. “Inerrancy,” regardless of how the term is defined, does not capture the Bible’s character complex dynamics. Inerrancy sells the Bible—and God—short.

Speaking as a biblical scholar, inerrancy is a high-maintenance doctrine. It takes much energy to “hold on to” and produces much cognitive dissonance. I am hardly alone. Over the last twenty years or so, I have crossed paths with more than a few biblical scholars with evangelical roots, even teaching in inerrantist schools, who nervously tread delicate paths re-defining, nuancing, and adjusting their definition of inerrancy to accommodate the complicating factors that greet us at every turn in the historical study of Scripture.

For many other evangelicals (scholars of other disciplines, pastors, and laypeople), inerrancy is likewise no longer a paradigm of explanatory power, but a fragile theory in need of constant care and tending to survive.

Rather than doing justice to the historical complexity, diversity, and depth of the Bible, inerrancy seems burdened by them. Even when defined with flexibility and nuance, inerrancy is in awkward conversation, if not all out tension, with some genuine and widely (if not universally) accepted advances in our knowledge of antiquity (e.g., Israelite history, human history, various branches of science) easily accessible to all, and shared by non-inerrantist Christian scholars working across the theological, ecclesiastical, and academic spectrums.

The problem faced by evangelicals who are critical of inerrancy is that inerrancy has been a central component of evangelicalism for its entire history, a response to the challenges of biblical higher criticism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Inerrancy is encoded into the evangelical DNA, and conversations, however discreet, about its continued usefulness are rarely valued; more typically, considerable personal and professional fallout follows in due course.

Yet, evangelicalism’s commitment to inerrancy has never been without its internal critics, and in recent years has again come under increasing scrutiny. I say “again,” and many sigh heavily at the thought of having to retrace familiar (and supposedly unassailable) arguments for why logically God can do no other than give his church an inerrant Bible.

But this cycle of evangelical discontent cannot be discounted as a form of incompetence, arrogance, or desertion on the part of those willing to question the evangelical status quo; in my opinion accusations of this sort are simply political rhetorical strategies (not necessarily conscious) that function to neutralize scrutiny.

Recurring dissent from within is a clear indication that inerrancy’s problems will not go away and that it may be high time that a deliberate move be made to bring those discussions openly into the evangelical mainstream, and so to promote an evangelical culture where such critical self-assessment is promoted rather than marginalized or ostracized.

Such a process should never be confused for “attacking the Bible,” and a failure to keep that distinction in mind is part of the reason why such discord abounds.

[This post is a first draft of an essay I have written and that will appear in a year or so in a Counterpoints volume on inerrancy to be published by Zondervan. The Counterpoints series picks topics of interest to evangelicals and asks scholars and leaders from different perspectives to argue their case and then to field responses from the other contributors.

We were asked to comment on three specific issues: the archaeological evidence surrounding the fall of Jericho, the discrepancy in Acts concerning Paul's call, and the extermination of the Canaanites. You can probably guess where on the inerrancy spectrum my essay falls. The other contributors are Al MohlerKevin VanhoozerMichael Bird, and John Franke. If you wondering whether we're going to have some disagreements, I'd say there's a strong chance.]

 

  • Jeff

    I just had a conversation with my Mom (a dyed in the wool fundamentalist Christian) where somehow the topic was focused on Paul. I mentioned that it was disturbing that Paul would agree that Cretans are always liars, vicious brutes, and lazy gluttons. I assumed she was going to make up a defense of Paul somehow, but instead she told me how she probably would not have liked Paul very much if she ever met him!! Maybe that is the way to start the conversation with fundamentalists about inerrancy with verses like this one. If it works on my Mom, I wouldn’t be surprised it could work elsewhere.

    • Mike

      Jeff
      Before making a comment on your comment Jeff I would like to make it clear that I am a layman. That my beliefs are based on arguments from people I trust. For now I will remain an Inerrantist (to coin a term) but I will continue to watch these argument as they play out.
      Having said that I think your comment on Paul fails to catch what Paul is saying here. Don’t you see the problem with a Cretan saying “Cretans are always liars…” It’s a self defeating statement. Plus when Paul says “This testimony is true.” what did he mean? The testimony that Epimenides failed as a logician? I think the more immediate context would mean you can find some truth in unbelievers and that all truth is God’s. In the broader context of the rest of the chapter it would appear to me that he’s merely commenting on the sinfulness of the Cretans & then he expands it out into practically everyone.

      Tit 1:15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.
      Tit 1:16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

      I’m unsure what you’re trying to prove by this statement but if you’re trying to prove Paul was a bigot then it seems to me that you’ve got a lot more work to do.

      In Christian love
      Mike

      • Jeff Martin

        Mike,
        Obviously the quote is an exaggeration, an example of hyperbole. More than likely the person who was quoted by Paul, Epimenides (600 BC) was writing an invective against opponents, probably Cretans as well. Paul was saying that he agreed that Cretans are notorious for being liars, brutes, and lazy. Of course not many back then would have disagreed with that assessment and people back then were less sensitive to remarks like that. But if one were to follow Paul in suit, we would all be free to make mass generalizations about anyone we wanted. This of course would not be wise or right in modern day. I still think that Paul could have toned it down a bit. But God is letting Paul’s personality shine through warts and all. CHeck out this interesting quote from John Chrysostom on this passage

        For this reason he (Paul) says, “Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, to them that are without law, as without law, to those that are under the Law, as under the Law.” (1 Cor. 9:20, 21.) Thus does God too, as in the case of the wise men, He does not conduct them by an Angel, nor a Prophet, nor an Apostle, nor an Evangelist, but how? By a star. For as their art made them conversant with these, He made use of such means to guide them. So in the case of the oxen, that drew the ark. “If it goes on the way to its own borders by Beth-Shemesh, then He (the LORD) has done us (the Philistines) this great evil” (1 Sam. 6:9.), as their prophets suggested. Do these prophets then speak the truth? No; but he refutes and confounds them out of their own mouths. Again, in the case of the witch, because Saul believed in her, he caused him to hear through her what was about to befall him. Why then did Paul stop the mouth of the spirit, that said, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation”? (Acts 16:17.) And why did Christ hinder the devils from speaking of Him? In this case there was reason, since the miracles were going on. For here it was not a star that proclaimed Him, but He Himself; and the demons again were not worshiped; for it was not an image that spoke, that it should be forbidden. He also suffered Balaam to bless, and did not restrain him. Thus He everywhere condescends.
        And what wonder? For He permitted opinions erroneous, and unworthy of Himself, to prevail, as that He was a body formerly, and that He was visible. In opposition to which He says, “God is a Spirit.” (John 4:24.) Again, that He delighted in sacrifices, which is far from His nature. And He utters words at variance with His declarations of Himself, and many such things. For He nowhere considers His own dignity, but always what will be profitable to us. And if a father considers not his own dignity, but talks imperfectly with his children, and calls their meat and drink not by their Greek names, but by some childish and barbarous words, much more doth God. Even in reproving He condescends, as when He speaks by the prophet, “Has a nation changed its gods?” (Jer. 2:11.), and in every part of Scripture there are instances of His condescension both in words and actions.

        • Jeff

          This is a reply to Mike and all others and myself! I will have to take back the bit about Paul’s quotation. Though I still agree with the basic premise that there are things in the Bible that are not accurate. I like the link someone provided http://www.crivoice.org/lewisbib.html

          After reading Philip Towner’s comments on Titus 1:12 I think I would side with him – “But how does Paul mean the citation to be understood? Cretans had acquired the name liars because of their claim that the tomb of Zeus was on Crete. Thus a reference to religious deceit is at the heart of the saying. These false teachers have fulfilled Epimenides’ prophecy in their own generation by propagating a religious lie. The rest of the quotation, evil brutes, lazy gluttons, associates the false religious claim with uncontrolled, wanton behavior. Notice how closely Paul’s description of the errorists corresponds to the three-part saying: they are deceivers (v. 10), rebels and disrupters (vv. 10-11), with minds set on money (v. 11). Clearly, in the case of these Cretan heretics, the ancient forecast held true. Today the religious lies propagated by cult leaders (those that draw attention away from the gospel) belong to the same category. Their purpose is to attract attention to the leader or the cult’s ruling elite”.

          So Paul could very well have simply been saying that the testimony of Epimenides was true for the false teachers specifically. Though I still think that gives no justification for making mass generalizations about people. In this day and age even Paul would have realized its inappropriateness.

          I also still agree with Chrysostom’s view of Scripture as well

  • Just Askin’

    Does this plethora of “Four/Five Views” books really achieve anything?

  • C.J.W

    Dr. Enns,

    I know Mohler is a Old Princeton School Enlightenment rationalist that will defend inerrancy from the viewpoint of the Chicago Statement, but how do you see, at this point, you, Bird, and Vanhoozer significantly diverging on the issue. I would see them as more in line with infallibility. Vanhoozer and maybe, Franke I know must be careful as any member of the ETS must because what he writes must be in line with the Chicago Statement or he may be the next to face excommunication charges as Dr. Pinnock did. I know the essasys are evolving at this point, but how do you see some of this playing out?

    • peteenns

      I haven’t sen they essays yet, so I can’t be sure. My sense is that KV and MB will want to defend a nuanced definition of inerrancy. I am not sure about Franke, but I don’t think his ETS membership is an issue for him.

  • Don Johnson

    I do not think the Bible is (always) clear, in quite a few cases I think it is not. I am wondering why you wrote that what you meant by it.

    • peteenns

      IN paces it’s clear, in places it’s not.

  • Anna Lopez

    Want an article that really cuts to the chase on this topic?

    http://freebelievers.com/blog-entry/stuff-worship

  • Nick

    For those individuals who are still firmly entrenched on the inerrancy side but who are not familiar with the scholarship describing the tensions, what resources would you suggest? While I think the mini-historical approach you give here is an important point to keep in mind, the essay taken on its own would undoubtedly reaffirm a fundamentalist’s belief that non-inerrantists are more focused on reception history and cultural criticism than they are in ‘straight-forwardly’ reading Scripture.

  • RG

    But we still have the original language. And the root language of that language….

    If we don’t trust how our ancestors translated it, we have the ability to do it ourselves.

    Sorry, argument is easily countered by simply studying the original content and reviewing the translators. It becomes sort of clear after that.

    • http://www.verifiedwriter.net/ The Believer

      RG – I agree! That would have been the most practical thing to do, indeed.

    • Paul D.

      What do you mean by “original language”? We have the Old Testament in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, and though common wisdom considers the Hebrew to be the original most of the time, the Old Greek versions preserve much older traditions than the medieval Masoretic texts. Some books, like Samuel or Jeremiah, differ hugely between different manuscript traditions. Even if textual critics can reason backward to what the common source documents must have looked like, even those were patchwork quilts of editing and revision, as Bible scholars have demonstrated through over a century of meticulous research and study.

      But even given all that, so what? The text is manifestly not the dictated quotations of a god, but the diverse writings of scribes, priests, poets, and (later) evangelists within a complex and often contradictory religious tradition. Of course it is full of contradictions and errors, along with all the good stuff. How could it be otherwise?

  • Just Askin’

    I know of no equivalent of ‘Who Wrote The Bible?’ from an orthodox Christian perspective. [Your own books have more specific purposes.] Is there one? If not, why not? Must we really continue to have to settle for Bart Ehrman’s rather sensationalised populist works?

  • http://Whatyouthinkmatters.org/blog Andrew Wilson

    Didn’t you affirm inerrancy yourself, albeit in a very redefined way, in JETS about five years ago? I seem to remember an exchange with Greg Beale in which you did. What am I missing?

  • http://hoxeyville.blogspot.com/ Eric

    I think I’ve heard from you, Ben Witherington, and Roger Olson how evangelicalism seems to want to hold onto inerrancy as a dogma (not just doctrine or opinion) but in effect kill it by a thousand qualifications, sometimes resulting in a claim “inerrant in all it teaches (or taught) in its original autographs.” In other words, we get to determine what the inerrant teaching is. And that, I can imagine, can be used to defend whatever teaching one wants to dogmatize. Can’t we imagine someone (maybe they need to have some sort of scholarly credentials) taking some passage that states what strongly appears to be a falsehood and divining what the original autograph might have said or meant such that it (the original) expresses something true or correct or factual? They have to save the bible we have from falsehood.

    Then, too, it seems they need to save the Jesus we have from falsehood. Mark 2.25-26 Jesus is recorded as stating that David and his companions took consecrated bread and ate it, during the time when Abiathar was the high priest. Yet in 1 Samuel 21.1-7, Ahimelech is recorded as the high priest. Lots of options here (at least five I can think of), two of which are a) the writer of Mark put a falsehood into the character of Jesus, b) Jesus stated a falsehood and the gospel writer reports accurately what Jesus said. Much has been written on it, some of it I find very entertaining.

    Rather than having to save the Bible (or Jesus) from error, why not just hold the view that Jesus stated a falsehood? Should I think that whenever Jesus was playing the first century equivalent of baseball, he batted 1.000, never made a fielding error, always made it home without getting called “out”? Or that when he was learning how to spell, or do mathematical calculations, he never made a mistake?

    An inerrantist might accept that, and still maintain the inerrancy of Mark 2.25-26 by claiming that it is inerrant in what it teaches. The inerrantist then has to employ interpretive principles to claim that the intent of the passage is not to teach about David, or about who the high priest was at some specific point in history. The intent is to teach about some deeper significance of the Sabbath. To me, it does souind like a death by a thousand qualifications.

    • peteenns

      Have you read Kent Sparks’s God’s Word in Human Words? He says something similar. I blogged a lot about that book over the summer and fall.

  • http://TheBereanObserver Bob Wheeler

    The question is, do we have a revelation from God Himself, what shape and form does it take, and how do we know what it is?
    If we say that the Bible is inerrant ( or infallible, if you prefer) in what it affirms, the way we know what it affirms is through sound exegesis. What did the author intend to say? What was the point that he was making? Is the alleged error germane to the argument?

  • Jim

    Dr. Enns, I’ve been reading your blogs for about a year now, but have never commented before. I usually don’t disagree with what you say – nor do I in this post. However, I have noticed a trend. Both you and Sparks (both at Eastern University now) level quite biting criticism (and in the case of Sparks, insulting scorn) on your fellow evangelicals that I never see leveled on those who are in academia who take similar positions to yours with respect to Biblical interpretation, but go one step further and assume that Christianity is bunk (Ehrman). To me, an evangelical exploring such issues, I have far greater respect for N.T. Wright who seems unafraid to take on his fellow academics head on (Crossan, Funk, etc.) and demonstrate where THEY are wrong as well as providing constructive criticism of his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ with whom he disagrees. I think both you and Sparks would find a little more openness among certain evangelicals such as myself if I saw evidence that your viewpoint of Biblical inerrancy can be held without the “slippery slope” to Erhman being the end result. Convince me that in 10 years, I won’t be reading about Enns converstion to atheism or agnosticism. N.T. Wright has accomplished this quite well – why not you and Sparks.

    • John I.

      Isn’t part of the problem that inerrantists are hypocritical or inconsistent or illogical or unreasonable in how they deal with problematic texts, whereas the Barts of this world are consistent with their beliefs and presumptions? To disagree with Bart one must disagree with many of his starting premises and assumptions, rather than how he consistently / inconsistently deals with the text.

      • Jim

        If what you are saying is that Bart is consistent with his beliefs and presumptions, then you are saying that essentially you cannot view the Bible as Dr. Enns and Dr. Sparks do and remain a Christian. Enns and Sparks will agree with Erhman’s analysis of the text to a large degree, yet they argue that the analysis does not demand disbelief. Erhman argues that it does. So, where are the differences? As I said in my original post, N.T. Wright does an excellent job of pointing out where he agrees with Crossan or Funk, but also where he starkly disagrees – especially when it comes to the ultimate conclusion – is any of this really the word of “God.” Crossan, Funk, Erhman would say – your own analysis proves that it isn’t. What I see a lot of from Enns and Sparks is, we see the validity of the analysis, but then they simply say “but we still believe.” Often they throw in a “the analysis does not demand that we reject belief,” but they never say why as far as I’ve read. N.T. Wright says why.

        • peteenns

          Jim, NTW is talking about the heart of the faith. Sparks and I are talking more about things like OT historiography, origin of biblical books, etc. We agree here with mainstream biblical scholarship basically has it right (though with always more to explore). The reason we don’t reject belief in our work is because we are addressing issues not at all central to that belief. Also, speaking for myself, I try not to think too much in terms of camps, though that is hard to avoid entirely. “You will likely listen to me more if I lob bombs at the other side for a while” is not something that energizes me.

          • Jim

            I’m not saying you should lob bombs, and I think that your characterization of what I said as encouraging this is unfair. There are two points I am making. First, your agreement with mainstream biblical scholarship means that you will challenge the typical evangelical arguments and apologetics, and you and Dr. Sparks do that regularly. I’m not saying you shouldn’t. However, the second point is that there are many among the followers of mainstream biblical scholars that would argue that such scholarship proves the Bible to be no more than human words – not words of God or any god. Ehrman, as just one example, uses mainstream biblical scholarship to prove that in almost all of his publications. I do not see how refuting his statements that mainstream biblical scholarship equates to agnosticism or atheism is “lob[bing] bombs.” With regards to NTW – he isn’t simply talking about the heart of the faith – he uses the historical setting of the NT to demonstrate how to read the NT anew (just like what you do with the OT). However, in his books and blogs he concludes in the end that the heart of the faith remains in tact because of the scholarship and refutes efforts by other scholars to argue that the scholarship demands disbelief or belief in allegory. That is not lobbing bombs in any sense of the word.

            While your books (which I have read) and Sparks books make cogent arguments for your view of the OT, they are not highly academic works intended to be read only by scholars. You are clearly trying to reach a wider audience. What I am saying is that that audience would be more receptive if they knew that how to accept your scholarship while retaining their faith in the Bible as God’s Word, especially when they are told in numerous other works, like Erhman’s, that this is not possible. You and Sparks don’t think these are central to belief, but Bart Erhman and his colleagues surely make that argument. Why is he wrong? I’m really struggling with why what I am talking about is so difficult and categorized as asking you to lob bombs. In Christ, Jim

      • Jon G

        I think what John I is asking is (and if so I share this question) – Pete, you’ve adeptly demonstrated why our American, Evangelical, Reformation slanted, Post-Enlightenment, literalist way of reading the Bible is self contradictory and problematic. In light of all the evidence you’ve presented in I & I and Evolution of Adam, I’ve let go of my the faith I used to have in the Bible – the faith that told me it was a Direct Dictated Word from God. But then what is left? I’ve concluded that what’s left is a “word about God from people with whom God interacted”. And yet, I can see the slippery slope that leads to Ehrman.

        So, this is the question I think John I is asking – What about the Bible makes you believe that it speaks evidentially for a real God? It seems that all your work makes me approach the Bible with a “well, they saw things differently back then, so we don’t need to really believe fire fell from the sky…it could have been a volcano…but God was behind that volcano” type of feeling. Don’t get me wrong…I have bought into what you have written. You seem to make a lot of sense. But I want to know what makes you continue to have faith in the Bible.

        For me, I’ve come to the point where I’m no longer thinking evidence will help me…the only choice I have is to live out the Bible’s prescriptions and see if they lead where they say they will lead.

        • peteenns

          Joe, the simple answer to your very good and complex question is the Episcopalian three-legged stool and/or the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. Scripture is part of the complex of our lives by which we gain, let’s call it, “theological information,” which includes also our experiences of God, our setting in the human drama, our ability to reason.

          Not to slight Ehrman, but as others have pointed out, he has transferred his foundationalist fundamentalism to another arena. For someone like him, I would say he has not adequately questioned the proper role the Bible plays. For people like me, my journey has taken me to where I conclude that I was expecting things from the Bible it was not prepared to deliver. Although simply stating this does not end the discussion, I don’t follow Ehrman (or Mohler) because I have gotten off of that slope.

          Another way of putting it–and I mean this not in a breezy way but in tuned to the gravitas of it all–I am on a journey, as I think in the end we all are.

          • Caleb

            Peter I think I can add to what you are saying here. First these questions of historical accuracy are not intended by the authors to be the point of the story (minus a few instances i.e. Jesus’ death and resurrection.) It doesn’t matter if God created the world in 7 twenty-four hour days, it only matters that God created the world and what the story teaches us about God, an example God is a God of rest. I tend to believe Job is an Old Testament parable. But regardless if Job is a real person or not doesn’t change the fact that parables are a very useful way of teaching. I do not mean to speak for Peter here but I see this as his argument. We need not worry about the historical accuracy of events when they are not the point the author is presenting.

        • Jim

          Thank you, Joe, for simplifying my question. I’m still not sure why the way I phrased it was so offensive to Dr. Enns, but c’est la vie, he answered it. I just wish I found that same answer more fully stated in the books more often. When trying to reshape how evangelicals think about the cornerstone of an entire method of living, I think we all owe it to this community of brothers and sisters to try to tie all of this together, explaining “how now shall [they] live.” Needless to say, I’ll hold my tongue (or fingers, to be more accurate) and let more suscinct writers such as yourself ask such questions.

          • peteenns

            I wasn’t offended. Alas, the inflexibility of internet communication. I tried to take steps in that direction in I&I. I think the question is the viability of the evangelical paradigm, and finding other paths—I’ve always been convinced–is a grassroots effort. I’m mulling things over just like a lot of people.

    • Mark Chenoweth

      Jim,

      You want proof that Enns isn’t going to end up an atheist? Why not look at Christians who have similar views to Enns regarding inspiration: for one, C.S. Lewis. He didn’t end up an atheist and he NEVER believed in inerrancy. Scott McKnight, N.T. Wright, Richard Bauckham, and I. Howard Marshall do not believe in inerrancy and would agree with Enns on a whole lot. The difference is, they are NT Scholars and focus on different things that are more faith affirming, like the gospels being based on eyewitness testimony, etc. Enns probably wouldn’t disagree with Wright and Bauckham’s “conservative” scholarship regarding the NT, that’s just not his “thing.” I could be wrong but that’s my guess. Also, I don’t think most Eastern Orthodox priests and bishops are atheists, and very few of them believe in inerrancy. Same with a good portion of Catholics.

  • Leigh Copeland

    Ive been trying to get at the sel-referential quality of this doctrine. The Doctrine points to the Bible and says, “He’s always right!”. The Bible, addressing the same audience, responds, “Not always, but in this case I am.”. Inerrancy seems like a doctrine about the I admissibility of discussing itself. It supports the bible with the self-serving hope that the bible will return the favor. It is a defense of the bible that exposes the bible to unique attack.

  • Christian

    Even if the Bible is “inerrant” according to the popular definition, how would anyone know? Wouldn’t they have to:

    1) have the entire Bible memorized
    2) understand all the original audiences
    3) understand all the original historical context
    4) understand the motive of God speaking in that context
    5) understand the mores and customs of the original audience’s culture
    6) understand the context for that particular translation (what bias could have been affecting the translator(s), historical or cultural?)
    7) have a complete understanding of the lanuage the original text was written in

    etc etc etc

    Plus, don’t Hebrew scholars teach that each verse has 70 layers of understanding/interpretation? What if I’m viewing a passage from layers #1-5, 17, 65 and 70, but someone else is viewing it using their lens constructed of layers #5, 12, 17, 20, 22, 55-60, and 68. Even with 2 overlapping layers in our “lenses”, wouldn’t we expect to come up with different interpretations, different foci/priority for the passage?

    After all that, judging inerrancy seems impossible.

    For me, it’s not whether or not the Bible is inerrant. I’m not sure we could know that. But it’s about whether or not the God of all creation gave it to us purposefully (that’d be a terrible accident, eh?). I believe He did, that it’s not a fabrication of man. So I’m gonna study it in the hopes of falling more in love with my Creator. Inerrancy isn’t a factor in that.

  • http://pandasthumb.org RBH

    Bob Wheeler wrote:
    “If we say that the Bible is inerrant ( or infallible, if you prefer) in what it affirms, the way we know what it affirms is through sound exegesis. What did the author intend to say? What was the point that he was making? Is the alleged error germane to the argument?”

    Bob is missing a key component: the immediate audience to which the Bible was addressed. Wh was the audience? What did the audience know as they entered the process of reading and understanding? What conceptual categories did they have available to hear and interpret what was written?

    In a comment on James McGrath’s Facebook remarks on this essay I wrote:

    “”Error” (as in ‘the Bible is without error,’ which is my interpretation of “inerrancy”) is a relative term; it’s context-bound. To a 1st century listener, a mustard seed was in fact the smallest seed that he knew of. So calling a mustard seed the smallest seed was not an error in that context. Now we know that orchid seeds are smaller, so calling a mustard seed is an error to us. All of which reinforces [what I read as] Enns’ main point, which is that the Bible must be interpreted in the light of the conceptual apparatus of the audience to which it was [originally] addressed.

    That doesn’t help with my main reservations about religion in general and Christianity in particular (I’m an atheist), but it’s good advice for Christians.”

  • rvs

    Indeed, inerrancy is a puny concept, Peter (puny god, as Hulk says about Loki in the Avengers). The inerrant claim reminds me–in many respects–of C.S. Lewis’s analysis of “unselfishness” in The Screwtape Letters. “Unselfishness” is to replace charity, if all goes well, by the calculus of the Lowerarchy. Similarly, inerrancy is to replace inspiration.

  • http://www.yeshua21.com Wayne

    Keep up the good work, Peter–the sooner we acknowledge that the emperor has no clothes, the sooner we can begin to worship in spirit and in truth…
    http://jeshua21.wordpress.com/skeptics-corner/critical-reflections-on-bible-based-belief-systems/

    • http://www.yeshua21.com Wayne

      p.s. I think people on both sides of this issue will find this collecion of material helpful:
      “C. S. Lewis on Inerrancy, Inspiration, and Historicity of Scripture”
      http://www.crivoice.org/lewisbib.html

  • James

    “An evangelical culture where such critical self-assessment is promoted” does mean openness to better interpretive methods alone, though this is necessary. It is more a question of authority. We needs a paradigm shift from Word-centered authority to God-centered authority (though we are often told they are one and the same). Word-centered authority requires inerrancy. Until we are able to shift to something more organic (like God revealed in the people of God), we are stuck with inerrancy.

  • Pingback: this went thru my mind |

  • yeldan

    I should say this:

    Be certain of this, that the highest aim of creation and its most important result is belief in God. The most exalted rank in humanity and its highest degree is the knowledge of God contained within belief in God. The most radiant happiness and sweetest bounty for jinn and human beings is the love of God contained within the knowledge of God. And the purest joy for the human spirit and the sheerest delight for man’s heart is the rapture of the spirit contained within the love of God. Yes, all true happiness, pure joy, sweet bounties, and untroubled pleasure lie in knowledge of God and love of God; they cannot exist without them.
    The person who knows and loves God Almighty may receive endless bounties, happiness, lights, and mysteries. While the one who does not truly know and love him is afflicted spiritually and materially b y endless misery, pain, and fears. Even if such an impotent, miserable person owned the whole world, it would be worth nothing for him, for it would seem to him that he was living a fruitless life among the vagrant human race in a wretched world without owner or protector. Everyone may understand just how forlorn and baffled is man among the aimless human race in this bewildering fleeting world if he does not know his Owner, if he does not discover his Master. But if he does discover and know Him, he will seek refuge in His mercy and will rely on His power. The desolate world will turn into a place of recreation and pleasure, it will become a place of trade for the hereafter.

    From Risalei Nur collection by Said Nursi.
    http://www.nur.gen.tr/en.html#leftmenu=Risale&maincontent=Risale&islem=read&KitapId=499&BolumId=8783&KitapAd=Letters+(+revised+)&Page=262

  • http://practicingresurrection.wordpress.com Bill

    I’m looking forward to seeing the essay. I wrote an essay on the Caananite genocide that relied heavily on the Christotelic hermeneutic your recommend in Inspiration and Incarnation.

    http://practicingresurrection.wordpress.com/2010/04/30/conquest-and-christianity/

    I’m studying Mark these days and struck by the apparent errors in OT references as well as the ocassional inconsistencies with the other gospels. The folks who established the canon obviously couldn’t have been unaware of these things. It seems to me that it just must not have mattered as much to them as it does to many of us. I also suspect that stubborn insistence on “inerrancy” and tortured attempts to harmonize Biblical inconsistencies do nothing to advance the kingdom of God, and can do a lot to hinder it.

    peace

  • Pingback: Stories I’ve Found, 11/9/2012 « homiliesandstraythoughts

  • Curt

    All inerrancy means is that the Bible is God’s Word and I will submit to its authority in whatever it teaches, no matter how unpopular it is to my heart, my mind or to whatever culture or subculture I belong too. All inerrancy means is that I am not able to create my own god according to my own fancy. This does not solve all the problems associated with biblical interpretation and application. But it does mean I will approach the Bible with the desire to trust and obey whatever it teaches. If inerrancy is not true, it basically means I can pick and choose what I want to believe and make a god in my image that will confirm me in my viewpoints and practices. If this is the case, all religion is just a silly human game and so why bother with it

    • peteenns

      “If inerrancy is not true, it basically means I can pick and choose what I want to believe and make a god in my image that will confirm me in my viewpoints and practices.” That is where you misstep, Curt.

      • Curt

        Please help me understand how I misstep. I am unable to see a flaw in my reasoning. If inerrancy is not true, then it means there are errors in what the Bible teaches. Then it falls to us to decide what is an error and what is not. I am a pastor and I was counseling someone who said said they did not believe the Bible was inerrant. I went to the meeting with them prepared to deal with questions about science, history, literature. The person quickly told me that they had no problems with these questions. She believed the Bible had errors because the Bible taught that God was a judge that punished people. She said God was a God of love and therefore the Bible could not be trusted. This what inerrancy is all about. It supports the integrity of God’s self revelation. It means I have to accept him as he really is and not just create a self projection of my wishes on the screen on the infinite. I realize this doesnt answer all the questions raised in historical and scientific inquirers. I think we ought to engage these questions with academic and intellectual excellence. It may mean our best answer to some of these things is “I dont know” instead of giving impausible, contrivied solutions. But if we allow that there are errors in the Bible, God becomes a prostitute who becomes and does whatever we want him to do–he’s not real, he’s a fake. He becomes like the wife whose husband cant accept her for who she is, but who insists she be like his mother . We force our will upon him and refuse to allow him to have his own self integrity. Healthy human beings accepts others for who they are, not who we want them to be. When we reject inerrancy, we open the door for just making God a projection of what we want, shaping him like play dough to meet our fancies, not dealing with him as he really is.

        • Rev Larry Robinson

          I am in agreement with Curt and fail to find the logic when Dr Enns calls your conclusions a misstep. All of the critics of inerrancy have yet to put forth a convincing argument that we are not left with selective Christianity.
          The more we approach scripture through the lens of those whom it was spoken to and in the light of their understanding, the more clear the scriptures become in their absolute truth.
          While not the primary intention of Paul in the following passage, it does in context with other scripture reveal what I have learned over the past 5 decades of studying the Word of God, as I mature in my faith,things that were confusing or seemed contradictory fall into place with a more Christ-like understanding.
          When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13:11-12
          and
          Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding[c] being enlightened; Ephesians 1:15-18

    • rnash

      In practice, inerrency means people take their cultural and political beliefs and project it into the Bible.

      If you were to trust and obey the Bible as it was written and intended, your life would be a heck of a lot different.

      • Curt

        You are correct that people who believe in inerrancy do this. This is the great sin of the human heart. But when they do so they are contradicting their own beliefs. If we reject inerrancy, we institutionalize and give structural integrity to simply picking and choosing what we believe is true. So the conservative can say loving our enemies, the alien, the widow and the orphan do not fit with out modern theories of economics. It just doesnt work. In those areas the Bible is in error and thus I am free to reject it. The liberal can say, sex is only about our personal choices for recreation and self fulfillment. It has nothing to do with bringing children into the world and the moral responsibilities that follow. The Bible just doesnt fit the modern age. In that part it is in error. I will not believe that part.

  • Bob

    Inerrancy was a good idea, especially in the 15th century when it was used to overthrow the hegemony of the Catholic Church. Obedience to the Law was a good idea, especially in the 5th century B.C. when the founders of Judaism established the religion on it. Jesus had a different idea from the founders of Judaism. I like ideas different from inerrancy.

  • Pingback: Inerrancy: I think someone forgot to tell the Bible | Mormon Apologia

  • Daniel M

    In a comment above, Christian said:

    ” For me, it’s not whether or not the Bible is inerrant. I’m not sure we could
    know that. But it’s about whether or not the God of all creation gave it to us
    purposefully (that’d be a terrible accident, eh?). I believe He did, that it’s
    not a fabrication of man. So I’m gonna study it in the hopes of falling more
    in love with my Creator. Inerrancy isn’t a factor in that.”

    BINGO!

    I have profited greatly from James Kugel’s “How to Read the Bible” (he is an Orthodox Jew so the book is about the Old Testament). It I not an easy read, but well worth the effort.

    On his web page, Kugel tells a story about a man in olden times who was fascinated by his King. Every time he could, he came into town and stood outside of the Palace in hopes of catching a glimpse of the King. One of the Kings aides saw this, asked to hear the man’s story and then invited him to become one of the King’s servants

    Of course the man accepted, and now he saw the King every day! And one day, the King called him by name!

    By serving King Jesus through acts of mercy, leading a life of humility, prayer and taking the Bible seriously as scripture and not as just another text to be deconstructed, I know that one day he will call me by name.

  • cken

    When it comes to modern theological philosophy I am not as erudite as many of the other commenters here are. What I try to do is apply common sense when reading the Bible. To say the Bible is not inerrant, logically means it is errant. Neither can be literally true and therefore either view would be a matter of interpretation. Those who claim the Bible is errant tend to reject it entirely due to apparent contradictions or misinformation it contains. Those who claim the Bible is the inerrant Holy Word of God are generally literalists. In my opinion neither position is logically sustainable.
    When I read the Bible and the meaning of the words on their face are clear and unambiguous I accept them literally. If, and this is a big if, they don’t disagree with the immediate context or the larger overall context. The larger overall context includes not only the Bible itself but how the passage would have been understood in the culture at the time it was written; and how does it comport with the present knowledge we have acquired. A caveat is required here. One cannot assume science is inerrant, and if it disagrees with the Bible, the Bible is wrong.

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and this was accomplished in six calendar days. Further on in the scripture it states a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is but a day with the Lord. We now know creation continues daily because stars (suns) die and are created everyday in our universe. Obviously based on scripture Gods concept of time is much different than ours. Therefore, we can’t take that portion of the Bible literally, but it doesn’t mean allegorically the spiritual meaning of that passage of scripture isn’t true. If one rewrote the first verse, in the beginning God created the big bang, would it change any of the spiritual truth of the rest of the Bible? Suppose Adam and Eve weren’t the first humans, and there was no Garden of Eden with a forbidden tree in it. Assuming it was an allegorical story wrapped in an enigma, would that change the spiritual truth represented therein.

    What do you think Paul would have said if someone had come to him and said, you know those letters you are writing to these churches, someday they are going to edit them and include them in the scripture. Paul would have likely brushed the whole idea off as ridiculous. That doesn’t mean however, there isn’t much spiritual wisdom contained in Paul’s letters. However, when reading his works we must take into account his Jewish indoctrination, his occasional misogynistic view point, and the audience he was trying to reach.

    To conclude this synopsis, if we accept some of the Bible as literal and some as allegorical, we can logically conclude the spiritual truths it contains are inerrant. We shouldn’t construe the Bible as being God’s dictum, nor should we disregard it in its entirety based on some superficial incongruities.

    • http://whataboutseo.com The Believer

      Cken – Thanks for that one, very sound and acceptable to my part.

    • peteenns

      cken, I appreciate your thoughts. But some would say that inerrant/errant gets the discussion off in the wrong direction to begin with and so land us in a particular kind of logical landscape that you survey here. What is inerrant/errant are the wrong–or at least not the dominant–category for thinking about the Bible?

      • Curt

        You are right that the inerrant/errant debate gets us off on the wrong foot if start with it. We should start the Bible as God’s self disclosure, that God wants us to know him, that God wants a relationship with us. Inerrancy is a secondary doctrine that only comes into play when we decide we dont like what he reveals and decide we want to engage in idol making, picking and choosing from the Bible what we want to believe about God and thus create a designer God in our image. This is evident in the comment that you commend where the person says there are spiritual truths in Paul, but of course we reject his misogynistic views. I reject the idea that Paul is misogynistic, but that is not the point. The problem is approaching the Bible as its judge instead of letting the Judge of all judge me through it. All inerrancy means is that I approach the Bible with humility letting it serach me to see if there be in wicked way in me instead of me approaching it as its superior to purge it of its wickedness.

        • peteenns

          How do you know the Bible is God’s self-disclosure?

          • Curt

            Now we have come to the real issue that once answered solves all problems. If the Bible is not God’s self disclousure, then of course it is not inerrant. It is just a human document and is not special in any sense. Some people will find it intersting but the vast majority will not. But we need not worry about inerrancy anymore. The issue simply disappears. Of course, Christianity then becomes meaningless. Why go to church to hear someone moralize about how I ought to live my life when it is just their opinion which is of no more worth than mine. This is what mainline denominations have found out by adopting the above solution. I can just do what I want to do without all the time and trouble of religion.
            Inerrancy is only a problem for those who want to maintain some kind of identifcation with the Christian faith, but want the freedom to reject anything about God they dont like. Eventually this group devolves into the group above for once you start down this path, you begin to find more and more about God that is unappealing and that can be set aside.
            How do I know the Bible is God’s self disclousure and thus is trustworthy in everything that it teaches? Lots of arguements from history, philosophy, literature, etc can be given that show this belief is reasonable, but none of them can prove that it is true. The only thing that shows this is true is the gospel: that I am a moral being that constantly falls short of moral standards and that I deserve condemnation. But the God who has the right to condemn me, had compassion on me in my miserable condition and came to earth as a human so that he could fulfill the demands of justice that my failure deserves by taking my place upon the cross. And he offers full pardon and reconcilation to me as a gift of his grace. This so powerfully speaks to the reality of the broken human condition, esp my own, that it compels me to believe everything that comes with it: the Bible as God self disclosure and thus its inerrant nature, etc.
            If the gospel does not make sense, then nothing else about Christianity will seem true.

          • peteenns

            Curt, for what it’s worth, remember that I went to seminary (as I assume you did) and a little more after that. I do understand where you’re coming from, the importance of things like the self-attesting nature of Scripture, Scripture being God’s only sure self-revelation, etc. But, the question remains on what basis do we say that other than theological necessity. There are also the age old questions of how things like psalms of lament and ecclesiastes are God’s self-revelation (and there is much more)

            You also shifted in your argument in the second paragraph from the Bible as God’s self disclosure to the gospel as the true foundation. They are not the same.

  • http://www.mismeret.wordpress.com Jane Almond

    IMHO, I think this discussion is important for today’s generation in the West (including us), partly because each generation has to work this out for themselves with delicacy and wisdom (otherwise we often don’t appreciate what we’ve been given) but also because, in our current climate of transition and eclectic post-modernism, there is major retreat into a so-called evangelical mindset of inerrancy as the only place we can go. It’s part of what a friend of mine calls a “retreat to the familiar”.
    This retreat to the familiar, I see this partly as an older generation wanting a return to “the good old days” and partly a retreat into structured Christendom as their security. Some have indeed come out of a ‘Rome’ mindset but there are “former barbarians” who would love to jump the walls and live in its fading glory.
    But I suggest we need to see what God is doing in this transition time and engage with that rather than harking back to days that are clearly gone forever (no matter how much golden sunlight there seemed to be around then).
    The bible is indeed God-breathed but so is man! And God isn’t fazed by us whether we’re wrong or right…

    • peteenns

      Wonderful thoughts, Jane. Thanks.

  • Bill S

    “One cannot assume science is inerrant, and if it disagrees with the Bible, the Bible is wrong.”

    The scientific method is by its very definition inerrant. When something is proven by the scientific method, it is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    The Bible, on the other hand, is filled with primitive stories and philosophies that have one by one been proven to be wrong.

    So when science and the Bible conflict, there is absolutely no reason to conclude that the Bible is right and science is wrong. That doesn’t happen in the real world.

    • Stephen Hesed

      I’m sorry, but your statements about science entirely contradict mainstream scientific philosophy. The scientific method by definition never proves anything, much less proves things in an inerrant way. Instead, it only corroborates or falsifies theories. No matter how much corroboration a theory receives, scientists still allow for the possibility it might be falsified – although in practice, some things become so extensively supported that they are basically accepted as certain.

      Now, that’s not to say that we still can’t use science to inform our interpretations of the Bible.

  • Bill S

    Thank you for that clarification. What I had in mind was the long conflict between science and religion. It seems that science always came out on the right side of history. I know of no dispute between science and religion where science ended up being wrong.

    • http://spiritualmeanderings.wordpress.com/ Sentinel

      It’s a little off the topic of the post, but I can give you an example of a dispute where science was revised into line with Christian theology. In the early 20th century science was still wedded to the idea of an eternal steady-state, unchanging universe. Georges Lemaitre published a paper in 1927 describing the theoretical basis for an expanding universe, and two years later Hubble discovered empirical evidence for it. In 1932 Lemaitre published a paper describing the origin of the universe at a single distinct point in space-time, which ran totally against prevailing theory. Fred Hoyle, the leading figure in astronomy at the time, scoffed and ridiculed the idea, derisively coining the term “Big Bang” to emphasise how silly the idea was.

      Hoyle’s major objection was that a created universe would introduce the question of a Creator. As a devout atheist, he couldn’t tolerate that. Hoyle never accepted the Big Bang theory, but the rest of the scientific community moved firmly to the position which happens to align with the doctrine of creation.

      As a side note, I think you’ll find that the notion of “conflict” is pretty much a myth. Orthodox science and orthodox Christianity have very little disagreement.

  • Katie

    I admit to being totally new to this type of conversation. I agree with those who have said that they would really like to understand more about how, having left inerrancy behind, you then approach the Scripture. (Is it revelation? Unique revelation? If it doesn’t accurately portray events, does it accurately portray God’s character? His thoughts? The things we are to understand about him? Is it authoritative? Are we expected to live according to its commands? Etc. And if not, then what?) I always assumed, as an evangelical, that my beliefs about the Scripture, the yes answers to those questions, stem from inerrancy. Do they? Or am I missing something crucial? I think I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t think I understand its implications. Is this type of discussion going to be included in the essay? If so, it’s a book I’d be very intrigued to read.

    • Katie

      Oh, never mind. Looks like maybe you already wrote a whole book on the topic. :)

  • pedantic_pete

    Why are we arguing about the meaning of a word that isn’t even in the Bible? The Bible doesn’t call itself the word of God IMHO. John 1 and Hebrews are clearly referring to the living Word, Jesus Christ. It does say that all scripture is God-breathed. And I take that to mean not just the OT which existed at the time, but the widely accepted teaching of the apostles which ultimately became the NT. We need to stop making the Bible into the fourth person of the Trinity! It is there to be helpful, to equip the people of God for every good work. It can do that if we hear its words humbly and with reverence to the God who inspired it.

  • Curt

    Dr. Enns,
    Thank you for entering into this dialog with me. You help me think deeper and I hope more clearly about my faith. I am certainly aware that you have more training in and knowledge of the Bible than I do. I tremble every time I punch the rely button that you will expose my ignorance. If I have carried on this conversation in a way that is not respectful, then I beg your forgiveness. I am full of self righteousness and pride that are forever crouching at my door.
    My understanding is that the story of the gospel of God’s grace in Christ in the story of Scripture from Gen to Rev. Once I have experienced a new relationship with God through the gospel, I learn to trust Scripture as God’s revelation because the Bible is simply the gospel writ large. To accept one is to accept the other for they are the same. You are right that inerrancy and some of the other doctrines you listed above flow out of my experience of the gospel. I do not believe the gospel is true because people have proven to me the Bible is true. I believe the Bible is true because the gospel has revealed God and the truth about myself to me.
    Christianity is a relationship, not an academic, intellectual system. Academics and intellect are put in use to serve the relationship. I think Christianity makes he best sense of the world intellectually, but its truth cannot be proven by academic exercises, only through an encounter with God in the gospel. Also, I think the questions you raise about the psalms of lament, etc are answered when we interpret the Scriptures Christocentrically through the gospel.
    So I think there are bascially two ways of looking at the Scripture, the revelation of God to which I submit or the creation of man that I am free to ignore or to just pick and choose the parts I like. In first sense God is a living being who has a reality a part from me. Yes, it means I have to struggle wih parts of his personality that I dont like, make me uncomfortable, that I dont understand. That’s the way it si with any real person I have a relationship with. In the 2nd sense, God is a human creation that is constantly being changed by new social conditions and moralities. I can just change him if there a parts about him I dont like. If the 2nd sense is reality, why bother with religion or Christianity at all. Its really just a silly game.

    • peteenns

      Stop trembling :-)

      I will try to get back to this soon. Currently getting ready for a conference.

    • pedantic_pete

      Maybe there’s a third way of looking at Scripture: a creation of humans which was (and still is) inspired by God (God-breathed). God used imperfect humans to communicate His message of grace in ever greater clarity up to His ultimate revelation – Jesus Christ, the living Word of God. If we see it not as a text full of complete and perfect propositions about God, but as a story – the story of a people of God through whom God spoke to the whole human race about Himself, then we don’t have to get tied up in knots trying to defend every minute detail, but we can still come to it with open hearts and minds to hear what God wants to say to us through it.

      • Barb

        If Scripture is a creation of humans how can it be God-inspired? If you cannot accept what He said at the beginning as clear, how do you know that what He said at the time of Christ was clear? If what He said at the beginning was obscure then He could be accused of misleading mankind, would He not? If the propositions of God are not complete and perfect then how can we trust Him in anything that He says? How can you hear what God wants to say to you if you have already determined that what He had to say in the past was not clear, perfect and complete?

    • Rev Larry Robinson

      amen brother Curt! Well said

    • Barb

      I agree :-)

  • Pingback: Best of the Rest (Nov 19th)

  • Pingback: Inerrancy and Explanatory Power » Jason Coleman

  • BC

    We need to approach the Bible as the story of human’s ever-changing understanding of God that is written from the perspective of people and is not written from God’s point-of-view but from people’s points-of-view. The Bible is an evolution in the understanding of God from the tribal chief in the Abraham and Isaac stories to the understanding of God as transcendent in the traditions from Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Jonah. We also need to have a clear idea of the difference between myth (Adam and Eve, Noah) and history. They are not the same. Biblical criticism teaches us that the story of Garden of Eden and world-wide flood were taken from the Babylonian exile, long after the Moses stories.

    • Barb

      Or maybe those stories were taken from the original of the Creation and the Flood. When the people were dispersed from Babel they took with them these original accounts which, over time, were changed to suit their developing culture.

      • peteenns

        That’s been tried. You’d need to present an argument.

  • http://denishsebastian.blogspot.com Denish Sebastian

    When Jesus left this world to be with his Father he left behind a community of disciples with the authority and not a collection of papyruses or parchments. So any authority any later written record might possess totally depends upon the recognition given by this community to those writings. Something like this could also be said about Old Testament. End of the day the inerrancy of the early Christian community’s decisions regarding the scriptures are a prerequisite for any form of the inerrancy that can be claimed for the Books included in the collection we call Bible. If a community guided by Holy Spirit could choose the books suitable for church use then why can’t a contemporary disciple of Jesus guided by the same Holy Spirit can’t make decision regarding which verses should be inerrant and which verses needn’t be for these books to be useful for “teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness”? After all the early Christian community didn’t choose some books (such as Didache or Shepherd of Hermas) because they lacked some of the necessary properties to consider them as “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness”.

  • Pingback: The 5 Books for Which I’m Most Thankful

  • Pingback: Theology Round-Up | Cheesewearing Theology

  • Pingback: More Enns on Inerrancy « Old School Script

  • Paula

    As someone who was raised fundamentalist but at 60+ considers herself a neo-Gnostic Christian I have to confess that I always relied on prayer, intellect, and the interpretation of Spirt (not necessarily in that order) when deciding what those black, red and white letters on the page meant in terms of my own Spiritual development.
    Perhaps I have always been a Gnostic….

  • JB

    Peter, would you please explain this statement, “The problem faced by evangelicals who are critical of inerrancy is that inerrancy has been a central component of evangelicalism for its entire history, a response to the challenges of biblical higher criticism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries?” It seems grammatically difficult to parse. Are you re-defining the term evangelical here? If so, in which usage?

  • Pingback: Commonplace Holiness Blog

  • Pingback: Google

  • Pingback: get free instagram followers & likes with instadominate


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X