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Lots of people hate the doctrine of inerrancy these days. Chris Tilling takes time to defend people who believe it, though rejecting the doctrine itself. I just want to offer a few brief thoughts.

1. A year ago, I thought one’s position on inerrancy was very important theologically, and was leaning towards rejecting it. These days I am much more favorable to the doctrine but I think it is relatively unimportant. What one believes about inerrancy is less important than, say, what one believes about believer’s/infant baptism.

2. Nobody in the blogsphere seems to like the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy. But I don’t think it’s affirming everything people think it’s affirming. For instance, in article XVIII: “We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.” It is wrong to hold scripture to a standard that it is not setting for itself, such as accurate chronology or exact qutoes. This point alone allows us to avoid the difficulties Lindsell encountered when he was forced to assume that Peter denied Jesus six times.

3. Note too article X: “We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.” Yes, there are copyist errors. Check out Ben Witherington’s comments in response to Bart Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus.

4. Vanhoozer, according to his speech-act hermeneutics, suggests that a doctrine of infallibility is perhaps more important than a doctrine of inerrancy. There is much more that is important in scripture than the propositional truth it conveys. Through scripture the Holy Spirit exhorts us, encourages us, questions us, commands us, etc. Much more than simply giving us true information (though certainly not less, as Paul Helm seems to misunderstand), the scriptures give us everything we need to walk out our covenant relationship with God.

Categories: Scripture
  1. Chris Tilling
    May 29, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks for the mention!

    “Vanhoozer, according to his speech-act hermeneutics, suggests that a doctrine of infallibility is perhaps more important than a doctrine of inerrancy.”

    I’m looking at this possibility myself at the mo.

    All the best.

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