Friday, September 08, 2006

Inerrancy is a Curious Thing: Part Deux

So I post about inerrancy on August 28 and receive some very intriguing comments.

There appears to be a tip of the hat toward the meaning and purpose of the doctrine(?) of inerrancy. Inerrancy in a nutshell: God is perfect. He "breathes out," inspires, guides, superintends by the Spirit, protects the original autographs from error. Nice.

We have no originals. Nothing at hand is inerrant, except God---Father, Son and Spirit. The living God who is not subject to scribal error nor is God a product of the transmission of the text(s).

It was pointed out (in the comments) that if we seek by claiming inerrancy to protect the Bible from the eeeev-vils of liberalism or from those with a "low view" of Scripture, we ourselves have been unwittingly (or maybe wittingly) moved onto the opponents playing field. We will now have to objectively, empirically prove that the Bible is an inerrant book (ah, in the original autographs...ah, which we don't have). So, we "battle for the Bible" dressed in Saul's armour and wonder why it feels so clunky, even at times silly. The Bible was never intended to be subject to rationalist, modernist definitions of truth.

Is there another kind of truth? Yes. Relational truth. I am married to Julie. You're not. You will never know the truth of Julie that I know because you are not relationally involved with Julie. You may see her, speak with her, even like her and she might like you, but you are not ever in the same place I am to know her. God says, in effect, "That's how it is with my truth. From the outside you can know a lot about my truth, but not all. From the inside, you can know more. You can know me. You must know me to know the truth of the Bible. The last thing the Bible is...is a specimen on a glass slide under the microscope of 'lighted up' human reason. For humans to battle for the Bible is like gnats taking on a rhino."

So, I am theologically for inerrancy. It's a nice concept. But I'd just as soon trust that the living Trinitarian God working through his Word will slay any flat-footed, huffy Goliath that shouts down its truthfulness, trustworthiness, authority, integrity and most of all, its beauty.

14 Comments:

At 9/08/2006 12:33 PM, Blogger Rob said...

Excellent stuff John!

 
At 9/08/2006 1:27 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

Rob,
Thanks for the compliment!

 
At 9/09/2006 3:49 AM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

ha ha. I'm kind of a thorn on this subject, I guess.

I just don't see that the original autographs would solve the problems we have in the texts in regard to inerrancy. But that is theoretical, since we don't have them.

Usually though, it is the more difficult readings that are accepted when translators are trying to arrive to the reading, from the wealth of manuscripts, that they are about to translate.

Anyhow, I still agree with your general point here: Our confidence in the complete trustworthiness of Scripture, is grounded in our complete confidence in the total trustworthiness of our God.

Thanks John.

 
At 9/09/2006 4:59 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Ted,
It seems that those who get so exercised over inerrancy have shifted their confidence to a Book rather than to the Person who gave the Book. Thanks for your comments.

 
At 9/09/2006 7:12 AM, Blogger Scot McKnight said...

John,
Inerrancy has become the catchword and the flagship term and the flashpoint, all the while not recognizing that saying "not wrong" doesn't get to the heart of what Scripture is all about. Scripture, I confess, is true and is truth -- but what we believe (if we'll admit it) is that Scripture shapes our identity and sacramentally "atones" (bigger use of term) as we let it have its way with us.

And you're right: God is Truth, Scripture partakes in the truth Who is God.

 
At 9/09/2006 9:16 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Scot,
Thanks for your comments. I am surprised how in well-intentioned attempts to "help out" the Bible, we can actually end up reducing its wonder and worthiness, its truth and trustworthiness.

 
At 9/09/2006 12:08 PM, Anonymous kent said...

In our tribe we do not use the term inerrant, we affirm (non-creedal ya' know) that the Bible is the only perfect rule for faith doctrine and conduct. We are serious about the Bible, but we stay out of those arguments.

 
At 9/09/2006 7:24 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

Kent,
That sounds like a wise course to take.

 
At 9/10/2006 4:11 PM, Blogger sacred vapor said...

John, I know this is not your current topic when discussing 'inerrancy', but I think the current trend towards viewing the Bible as narrative, as opposed to propositional will help in refining the 'inerrancy debates.'

I know in my experience, when I started to read the Bible as 'story' rather than a 'rule-book for my life,' inerrancy became less of an issue.

 
At 9/10/2006 8:17 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

Sacred Vapor,
You have made an excellent observation. The Bible is narrative--the Great Story of God's Saving Grace--not a systematic distillation of theological statements.

 
At 10/04/2006 9:37 AM, Blogger Klaus Nurnberger said...

Do yourselves the favour and read my short blog "puzzled-bored-upset-by-the-bible". The bible is the product of ancient human history, but that does not preclude divine agency. God enters human history, picks up people where they are with their needs, assumptions and fallacies and leads them where he wants them to be. This is a historical process that can be demonstrated clearly within biblical history. Once we understand that we can be critical of biblical statements without losing the redeeming dynamic of the Word of God as the undercurrent of meaning to which it is a witness.
My web website www.klaus-nurnberger.com will give you a position paper, abstracts of my two books on the subject, and further detail.
See you on my blog,
Klaus

 
At 11/11/2006 9:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with many of your sentiments, but was disappointed with your closing affirmation (however qualified) of inerrancy. The fact is that the Bible simply is not "inerrant." I suppose you could stretch the term to cover the phenomena of the text, but such semantic stretching is meant to mislead and is unworthy of Christians.

Why not bite the bullet and admit it? The Bible is an inspired but not inerrant text?

 
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