Thursday, January 17, 2008

On Reassuring the Inerrantists

"With great themes such as these we may fairly hope for there to emerge a vital new expression of evangelical respect for the Bible. Even though the strict inerrancy assumption is lacking, there remains strong confidence in God speaking infallibly in the Scriptures, so that fears about unhindered drifting into heresy from this position should seldom be realized...I think we should respect this option as a possibility for evangelical believers and not surround it with dire predictions and sharp attacks...

The militant advocates of inerrancy are aware of this threat from the liberal side, and perceive the non-inerrancy evangelicals in collusion with the effort to undermine the Bible's authority. Of course this suspicion reveals a profound lack of trust and relationships between the protagonists and should provoke wounded and pained objection, but nevertheless it is incumbent upon the objects of this suspicion to clear away all doubt by coming forward with an unmistakably strong and enthusiastic doctrine of the unique authority of the Bible, so that our preoccupation with internal infighting can give way to a more united and profound reply to the real battle for the Bible. A polarized evangelicalism cannot fulfil her Godgiven mission in the world." (Clark Pinnock, "The Ongoing Struggle Over Biblical Inerrancy,"

Some time ago (and even today), Pinnock called for non-inerrantists to come up with an "unmistakably strong and enthusiastic doctrine of the unique authority of the Bible." I suggest in my book that once younger evangelicals find the strength to wheedle their way out of the straightjacket of inerrancy, they should reassess their beliefs and gradually try to pick up the pieces, as it were. Some inerrantists are eager to point out that no plausible God-honoring alternative to inerrancy has yet been set forth. I suggest that younger evangelicals can revisit the topic of scripture in the future when they are ready and try to sort out their options without feeling like God is now pressuring them to get it right or that he now disapproves of them. There may very well be some (or a lot of) social pressure that they feel to immediately replace inerrancy with something "better," yet I can't help but think that this pressure, whether real or imagined is an impossible trap, a sort of non-inerrantist, spiritual delusion that a non-inerrantist alternative in bibliology could ever be formulated to the inerrantists' satisfaction. Watch out for this!