Three Good Posts on Inerrancy

Three Good Posts on Inerrancy

Why I Hate the Word “Inerrancy”

The Bible Isn’t Perfect and It Says So Itself

In All Things Necessary to Our Salvation

I owe a hat tip to the author of the first one for the links to the other two. All express important points, though there are certain differences of nuance between the three.

I think it is also important, however, to relate our fallible interpretation to the idea of inerrancy. If we are to be able to prove that the Bible is true, then we will have to read it correctly. (I’ll ignore another issue, that of the standard by which we judge it to be inerrant, for right now.) Here’s an extract on this point from my book:

Thus the question is not only the accuracy of the content, but rather in what is to be conveyed, and how well we are capable of understanding it. I would presume God would write his character quite perfectly in nature, and yet that may be the hardest message to interpret. Some people prefer the immediate revelation of modern prophets or of dreams and visions. I too believe that God is as capable of speaking today as ever, and as likely to do so, but in that case we have the additional burden of deciding on the authenticity of the message, and we still need to interpret what we hear, especially if it is a vision or dream. Even a verbal message must be verified as to accuracy and then applied correctly.

This is one of the reasons I believe that the doctrine of inerrancy, an evangelical standard today, is not only wrong, it is inadequate. It deals only with the source. It seems to be a way of guarding the barn door after the cattle have departed. Interpretation has gone in a thousand directions while some are arguing that the message was absolutely correct at the starting point. In addition, somehow it’s OK for us to lose part of the source in the process of copying–something acknowledged when inerrancy is postulated solely of the conveniently missing autographs–and yet if one supposes that instead something got altered on the way from God to the prophet, all revelation must immediately become suspect.

Revelation is of value when I comprehend and apply it, and assertions of its validity apart from adding the line “and you can understand it” are pointless. I think that is part of the reason why there is wisdom literature in the Bible. It’s God’s message, but you have to think about it and comprehend it. Who you are, and how you have exercised your mind will make a difference in what you will understand. Revelation is not a replacement for reason, nor in appropriate areas is reason independent of revelation.

No matter whether you are listening to a new idea, a message someone claims to have received directly from God, or the interpretation of a passage of scripture, your individual mind, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, is the final filter to separate sense from nonsense. The last person, and the decisive person, to hear from God is you. Even the firmest believer in the detailed accuracy of the text of scripture will realize that many interpretations of that scripture are nonsense. (pp. 3-4, emphasis added for this post)

 

One thought on “Three Good Posts on Inerrancy

  1. Well said, thank you! The Old Testament was penned much earlier than the New Testament and yet without understanding the the revelations chronicled were perfectly supporting the birth, life and death of the Messiah and beyond. Many recognized and followed the Messiah because of the support from the Tanakh but so very few, if any, did from those officially charged with protecting and disseminating interpretation of the Tanakh. We are all primarily responsible to our decision and indecision. I agree, “The last person, and the decisive person, to hear from God is you.” Without that living reciprocal child and parent relationship life just becomes a bunch of otherwise disorganized children choosing up sides to compete with an outcome determined only by the decisions and interpretations of the two most competitive and intimidating children on that field of play.

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