Monday, 15 March 2010

Scriptural inerrancy

Pay attention, if you don't want to sign up to the doctrine of inerrancy:

The claim of inerrancy is that “in all their real affirmations these books are without error.”

It's from this very useful post by Justin Taylor.


Alexb said...

One can't help but feel that the qualification of "real affirmation" is specifically designed to evade attacks on the Bible's credibility based on its numerous internal inconsistencies and scientific inaccuracies. What about the numerous historical inaccuracies and anachronisms present in the Bible? Horton writes here, "Inerrancy requires our confidence ... in the reliability of the historical narratives, laws, and promises disclosed in the Pentateuch."

Such confidence in the historical narratives of the Pentateuch requires one to remain willfully ignorant of history and archaeology. I will raise this as a challenge: the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is untenable.

Mark Earngey said...


Thanks for raising this... Ever since reading Schaeffer's Great Evangelical Disaster, I've become more and more conscious of the importance of inerrancy...


I'm not sure that Horton is implying an absolute scientific literalism when he points to the reliability of the narratives etc. He could be, but I'm not sure.

I think what he's trying to protect is a disconnect between book (eg., Genesis) and history. Basically, where you end up denying the historicity of Adam and such things. Not a pretty place to be.

Anyway, without getting bogged down there, can I point you to John Frame's definition of Inerrancy? His approach is quite helpful - what does it mean for the Bible to be true? Have a read over here:


Alexb said...


Thanks for the article, it was thankfully very short! Frame simply takes the historical position, so apparently he does not see (as Warfield and Hodge does) that there are serious problems with the naive definition of inerrancy. The latter part of his article seems to be just arguing semantics.

My point is that one cannot have confidence in the historical narratives in the Pentateuch, even in their broad outlines, because of many reasons, one of which is that the authors wrote with a strong theological bias. Another, probably stronger, reason is that the Pentateuch was composed from disparate sources, some of which were written centuries after the events they purport to describe.

So we need not quibble over variations in the approaches to inerrancy; any approach which requires the historical reliability of the Pentateuch will fail for the reasons above.

Anonymous said...

HA! Dr JP...trying to get someone to write a thesis for you again?