Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Anger and Inerrancy

This post is maybe 25 years in the making, especially with emphasis on the past 5 years in particular. A lot of this began with me being told that "Scripture is inerrant" and especially in regards to scientific and historical issues. This had been settled a hundred years ago, the folks told me, and I believed them. Or, just didn't care enough to really dig into it.

Lately, I've begun to rethink a lot of things, doctrines that I have always held but never for any particular reason. Doctrines like the Trinity, hell and others. For the most part, I think I've come down on the side of orthodoxy, albeit more or less on the more moderate side of evangelical scholarship.

But this post is something different. When I began to read Ehrman and Sparks, I was struck by a lot of seemingly contradictory elements in Scripture, both textually and theologically. The amount of this stuff was just mind-blowing.

Of course, a few years ago, I was under the assumption that the Bible was written in English. I kid, mostly.

But, in going through Biola University and getting a minor in Biblical Studies, I was struck by how little I really know of critical scholarship. Allison informed me that she learned about a lot of this at Biola while getting her Bachelors in Biblical Studies. This was news to me, because either I turned out most of my theology courses (admittedly a mild possibility) or they simply didn't mention such things.

I'm inclined to think they didn't mention them, and I'm certain I didn't get such resources in high school. When I discovered this, I was furious. I felt like I had been lied to. Allison mentioned that she knew about these things and Biola professors had worked on them, I literally shouted into the phone, "then why the hell didn't someone tell me?" Mind you, I wasn't angry at her at all. I was more angry at the fact that I found things were hidden from me.

I'm now reading through Kenton Spark's book Sacred Word, Broken Word and am now delving into critical scholarship to dissect this idea of inerrancy to see if it is applicable and actually true. I hope it is, but I've slowly come to realize that if inerrancy isn't true (or has been improperly defined) then I wouldn't have much of an issue not believing it.

So, in essence, I think my anger is and was reasonable. However, cooler heads prevailed and now the research can actually begin. My bank account may suffer a bit, but in between buying and aging beers, inerrancy seems like a more worthy hobby.


1 comment:

  1. like i've argued at my blog previously (, biblical inspiration is not contingent on inerrancy. no historical document (or collection of historical documents) are considered accurate and reliable because they've been found to be without error. that's simply ridiculous.

    historical documents are considered accurate and reliable when they pass the criteria as critical historians have established and applied over centuries. the bible is such a collection of historical documents, and show profound accuracy and reliability. as a divine collection of documents, we move from mere accuracy and reliability to godly inspiration because not only does the bible pass the criteria of historians, but it has such an incredible unity and re-occurrence of theological themes over centuries, and the way it progresses and reveals God's character and purposes and activity in his own creation.

    we believe in its godly inspiration because it passes the criteria and historians... and so much more - BUT NOT BECAUSE IT'S INERRANT. no historic document is inerrant.

    neither do I believe it has to be inerrant or that even God would require the inerrancy of scripture. God has used sinful, fallible human beings to achieve his purposes throughout history. why should he then require a rigidly inerrant bible to achieve the same now?

    keep delving into it. i think it's a worthwhile study project. and you will only grow spiritually in the process.