Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Objections to Biblical Inerrancy #1 & #2

At the end of the twentieth century, the battlefields over the inerrancy of the Bible were as wide as the Pacific Theater and as fully engaged in close combat as Antietam. Since the commencement of the twenty-first, the battle has continued as stark and entrenched as Somme. In the cacophony of that battlefield, with its shrill war whoops, its booming weaponry, and its great effusion of ink, there is one narrow but significant target of interest on the battlefield of inerrancy.

Can a solid affirmation of inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures can be maintained with intellectual honesty?

I will first investigate some objections to Biblical inerrancy. Next I will look at what our forebears in the church have said about inerrancy. Then I will survey Jesus’ view of the Scripture and draw a conclusion.

One objection
is that the word inerrant is not found in the Bible and is based on a faulty deductive argument, viz. “The Bible comes from God. God is truthful and would not lie to us or give us error. Therefore, the Bible is inerrant.”

Let's think about that. The word Trinity is not found in the Bible either, but we believe the Bible teaches it. Neither is Sunday School, but we believe the Bible instructs us to teach others. The Bible also teaches that it is without error, that it is inerrant. Further, to argue that because a word is not in the Bible and therefore is illegitimate is to concede the point that the Bible has final authority and is therefore without error.

second objection is that inerrancy overlooks the human element of the Bible. That is, “to err is human. Scripture is human. Therefore Scripture has error.” First of all, unlike the foregoing objection, why is not this syllogism also a faulty deductive argument?

The historical-critical approach to the Bible is a naturalistic historical development methodology in which the Bible is approached like any other book. The biblical writers, they assume, are inextricably entrapped in their fallible historical setting, and therefore supernatural inspiration is denied. If, as the historical-critical method urges, we use an inductive method, then we must be genuinely thorough and include an inductive study of the Bible’s own relevant data concerning its own character.[2]

We understand that Scripture is both divine and human, but the Holy Spirit divinely superintended that transference of revelation (2 Tim 3:16-17) while respecting the unique persons and culture who actually wrote it.

That is the point of inspiration.
The dangerous implication is that God does not have sovereign control over his creatures, and to say that all genuine humanity involves fallibility is to imply that the God-man, Jesus Christ, who was also genuinely human was subject to fallibility. It is also a betrayal of evolutionary and Enlightenment views which teach that humanity is basically good and getting better over time.

[1] W. Robert Cook, “Biblical Inerrancy and Intellectual Honesty.” Bibliotheca Sacra 125, no. 498 (1968): 157-175. See also Michael Bauman, “Why the Noninerrantists are not Listening: Six Tactical Errors Evangelicals Commit,” JETS 29, no. 3 (Sept 1986): 317-24.

[2] Robert L. Saucy, “Difficulties with Inerrancy,” Bulletin of the Evangelical Theological Society 9, no. 1 (1966): 19.

Continue on to: Objections to Biblical Inerrancy #3 and #4