For the others who did not shut down the tab, I pose the question: should evangelicals assume inerrancy when doing theology? This isn’t a sustained case for or against the doctrine of inerrancy, just some musings and personal reflections.
I should get some things out on the table: I am uncertain that Paul wrote 1-2 Timothy and Titus and Ephesians. I also think it is more likely that there are at least two parts to Isaiah. In reading about these textual and theological difficulties, I have not once considered the implications for my thoughts on inerrancy.
In doing theology, inerrancy has not mattered in any substantive way. In fact, I wonder if one could affirm a doctrine of inerrancy and affirm non-Pauline authorship of certain epistles. I tend to think the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. But this is an aside, much like this post as a whole. So moving on.
Inerrancy, then, has not factored in my theology or research. Should it? I offer these two thoughts in response:
No. Because I’m not convinced one should be considering secondary issues when doing research. The research should yield fruit, not uproot a tree in search of ghosts.So I think my perspective has been to simply let Scripture stand and say what She needs to say, regardless of my thoughts on other doctrines, authors or matters. Paul is not John, John is not Paul. Do they line up? Should they?
No. Because the diversity of Scripture should not cause evangelicals (like myself) to rush to systematize. We should first let the options and viewpoints stand.
Then one gets into the discussion about what constitutes an actual error or contradiction. A conversation that seems as helpful a discussion as a car made out of biscuits. Rather, one should assign immediate authority to the author or text that one is researching before bringing in other authors or texts to supplement or, even, correct. Or should they?
I suppose these thoughts are too scattered to be of much help. I’m still working through them myself and this post is is coming in between my Greek homework and casual exegesis. Still, in not having a doctrine looming over my shoulder, I’ve been able to simply take the text as what it appears to say and let it stand in the middle of the room, like the great, authoritative elephant that Scripture is.
Then again, do we conflate authority with inerrancy? Not going to open that can, but the thought did just cross my mind. In doing New Testament exegesis, one should simply be content to read Paul (or Deutero-Paul, if he/they exist) without pondering doctrine.
This raises a whole other question: can one actually do non-dogmatic exegesis? In a strong sense, exegesis is theological. But I suppose that is a question that must wait until I have time to think about it some more.
Suffice to say, Scripture has and will always have authority over my life. Not only because I submit to it, but because it has shown that it doesn’t quite care what I think. The reciprocity of Scripture is just that, a God offering us words written through his creation for his creation.
Would He have it any other way?
I apologize for not answering the question. Or did I? Too tired to scroll up.