As a follow up to my post last week on the question, “Did Jesus believe the Bible is Inerrant?” I thought I’d share an extended quote from late theologian Donald Bloesch’s book Holy Scripture: Revelation, Inspiration, and Interpretation.
In the chapter from which I quote (and in the quote itself) Bloesch refers a good bit to “fundamentalism” and he allows for a distinction between fundamentalism and evangelicalism. I wonder, given the way evangelical theology has been shifting over the past decade or so, if we are not seeing more or less an equation of fundamentalism (as he describes it here) and evangelicalism–at least in the way many evangelicals (and the institutions they lead) approach the Bible.
Here’s the quote:
The distinguishing marks of fundamentalism in the broad sense are biblical literalism, total inerrancy, including perfect factual accuracy, revelation as essentially propositional, a profound distrust of biblical criticism, especially higher criticism, premillennial eschatology; and the call to separate from apostolic churches. Instead of the older Protestant view that the Bible as a whole is infallible (meaning its overall teachings, fundamentalists claim the Bible as a perfect measuring rod in matters of history and science as well as faith and morals…As a theological position fundamentalism is open to serious criticism. Those who hold that the present Bible is unconditionally or literally infallible are compelled to ignore the thousands of available variant texts that disagree. Taking refuge in the autographs to resolve textual divergences often defies plausibility. It should be noted that Jesus, Peter and Paul appealed to extant copies, not to the autographs. For fundamentalists the authority of the Bible rests on the inspired record rather than on a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. They stress the empowering work of the Spirit but not his enlightening work in bringing people the truth of revelation. Their idea that inspiration entails inerrancy in history and science as well as in doctrine is not claimed by the Bible. Some acknowledge that inerrancy is not taught in Holy Scripture, though they insist that it is implied. Fundamentalists do not allow for the fact that copyists and editors may have been guided to improve the original copy (the autographs)…
Like liberalism, fundamentalism proves to be a kind of reductionism. It reduces truth to facticity and revelation to conceptuality or logic. Its flat view of Scripture, in which every part of Scripture is deemed equally important, is strikingly unbiblical.