Continuing the discussion from BioLogos Makes a Good Move on Inerrancy:
Good question @Randy.
I have not read the book, but I have read this summary very closely: https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/five_views_on_biblical_inerrancy_a_review. I think this books seems very helpful.
Van Houzer seems to articulate my view:
He starts things out by saying that while ‘inerrancy, is not essential, is nevertheless expedient.’ So inerrancy may be a helpful word to use, but for Vanhoozer, we may need what he calls ‘an account of “well-versed” inerrancy.’ This is to be distinguished from a poor-verse account of inerrancy. Vanhoozer writes:
My primary concern about inerrancy today is that too many contemporary readers lack the literacy needed for understanding the way the words go, or for rightly handling the word of truth. Biblical inerrancy in the context of biblical illiteracy makes for a dangerous proposition.’
His position may be best summed up by a quote from Augustine with which he finishes his essay:
…if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand.
For Vanhoozer, this means that if the manuscript is sound, and the translator has done his work well, and if we can understand what’s going on properly (which is what he means by having the literacy needed for understanding), then we will cease to be perplexed by the situation, and come to a place of understanding.
In my view, too many people are either:
- Arguing for a “poorly versed” understanding of inerrancy.
- Arguing against inerrancy because they can only imagine it as “poorly versed.”
This is a false choice. I’d say we should all be moving to a well-versed inerrancy. Even those who reject the term “inerrancy” often hold to the doctrine any ways. I would also add that I am a traditionalist with an ecclesial bend, which is admittedly an anachronism for a non-denominational protestant. In my view, the Lassaune Covenant is important. It includes the text regarding Scripture: “Inerrant and infallible” in all “it affirms.” I can see no good reason for Christians not to affirm those words.
Though I do not agree with everything said of him, I think Frankle is right also on this:
I do think that the point he makes about foundationalism is very strong. He continues along this line later on with a helpful distinction separating God’s knowledge from ours:
Scripture is truth written (small t), in that it provides a series of faithful witnesses to the Truth of God’s self-revelation without itself becoming a manifestation of capital-T Truth. This means that while Scripture is truthful and trustworthy, we must be careful to respect the creator-creature distinction in our use of it.
In my view, this kind of thinking is wielding postmodernism to good effect: using a more nuanced definition of ‘truth’ to have a better grasp of what scripture is trying to achieve. On this view, we each have a perspective on scripture with only our small-t truth, and only God has access to capital-T truth. And this is why scripture provides us with what Franke calls a ‘pluriform’ truth. Franke writes, ‘The Bible is polyphonic. Perhaps the presence of four gospel accounts offers the most straightforward and significant demonstration of plurality in the biblical canon.
I would very much agree with this. My issue with Ken Ham is not that he trusts God’s Word over Science. No, that is not his problem. My issue is that he replaces God’s Word with his interpretation of it, and uses his personal view of Scripture to reject both good exegesis and good science. The issue is not trusting God’s Word over science, but trusting his own word over both.