Saturday, January 26, 2008

Truth is a two-way street

Dewey Beegle was the man inerrantists sought to beat a generation ago. His Scripture, Tradition and Infallibility was the book that all inerrantists wanted to prove wanting. Yet I have to say the concluding paragraph in his chapter, "Inerrancy and the Phenomena of Scripture," will likely ring true with a number of young evangelicals:

"Truth is a two-way street or a double-edged sword. Although facts confirm the biblical record in many instances, they also disprove it in other cases. In the last analysis, we must let the truth cut both ways. The true biblical view of inspiration must account for all the evidence of Scripture. The peril of the view of inerrancy is its rigidity and all-or-nothing character. If only one of the illustrations discussed in this chapter is correct, the doctrine is invalidated." (p. 197)

That is a lot of pressure (too much for many). Every new finding, every new discovery, every new theory is potentially a threat to the inerrantist faith--and not only a threat, but also a potential faith demolisher. One fell swoop the entire scripture comes crashing down because it's all or nothing. And many times with inerrancy also goes the faith. This in itself helps account for the insularity of a number of evangelical churches in the States. It's not just that every new discovery brings with it some new piece of information, it's that with every new finding the whole faith hangs in the balance, thanks to the inerrantist ultimatum. That's why we have to wait to hear what the evangelical biblical scholars have to say, what the evangelical archaeologists have to say, what the evangelical anthropologists have to say, and what the evangelical biologists have to say, etc., before accepting some new piece of information. (Inerrantists who don't like the Roman Catholic church because of their rigid, hierarchical authority network have a tantamount authority schema right in their backyards.)

On my copy of Beegle's book, there's an endorsement by F. F. Bruce that reads:

"Dr. Beegle has rearranged and amplified his material and struck a more positive note. I endorse as emphatically as I can his depreciating of a Maginot-line mentality where the doctrine of Scripture is concerned."

That's F. F. Bruce saying this...F. F. Bruce!