I am currently reading a book entitled ‘The Foundations of biblical Authority’. It is a collection of essays by members of the ICBE (international council on biblical inerrancy). The council was formed to combat the attacks that are becoming ever more prevalent even from our evangelical brothers (and i use that term lightly) on the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.
My mind has really been churning this over and a few questions have come to mind as a result. Bear in mind that I am not in any way questioning the traditional understanding of inerrancy. Just working thru the logic.
The challenge to inerrancy that I have been pondering is this. Some say the testimony of scripture is not that God intended to give us a completely perfect book without any error of any sort. God used men to do his work. We see as we read scripture that the individual styles of the human authors are clearly present. This means, they say, that at least they had the liberty to communicate in their own ways the truths that God was revealing to them. If this is so then what reason do we have to say that they did not perhaps err in their communication here and there. If they had this freedom to communicate as they would then there is no reason to say that they would have been held back from any form of error.
Reminder: This is not what I believe. This is a critique of the traditional doctrine of inerrancy to which I am a firm subscriber.
A little bacground on the debate is due here. There are three (to the best of my knowledge) general views of inspiration/inerrancy within evangelicalism today. I put them together because as I am looking at them here they are kind of hard to separate.
The first is dictation theory which holds that God so captivated the biblical authors that every word they wrote was exactly what he had wanted. They wrote one might say as puppets doing everything the master puppeteer ordered them to do. This view brings up the question of exactly how then did they write in such individually different ways.
The second view we will call Hands On Guidance(I am not familiar with the real name for this position). It says that God did not inspire in a word for word way but in a thought for thought fashion. Concepts were implanted in the apostle Paul’s mind which he then went on to write down in his way but God was superintending and guiding this process in such a way as to preclude any possibility of error and to ensure that all was recorded that he willed. The tendencies of man to wander into error when explaining something they do not grasp in its entirety make one wonder if something stronger than this form of guidance is necessary.
The third view I call Hands Off Guidance. In this view as in the second God is inspiring with concepts and not word for word but God does not superintend the process to prevent error instead he lets men write as they will. He saw to it that everything necessary was recorded but for the most part as its name indicates he worked in a hands off fashion. Huge red flags fly up for most of us when we hear this. Questions naturally come concerning the trustworthiness of the scriptures and also the trustworthiness of God Himself. These questions I do not think have been answered in any satisfactory manner.
When looking at these views I go back and forth between 1 and 2. They both have strong arguments and i think some weak points. Option three I think falls by the wayside without having I think a backbone that can give any clear direction to the believer.
However it is up to scripture as always to make the final statement. Does scripture state as we would claim that it is without error in any form? Does it say in which way God inspired it? Or is the testimony of scripture such that would leave significant room for individualism and perhaps error? Questions such as these I hope you do not find blasphemous. It is not my intent to question an understanding of the nature of scripture that has been nigh universal since the beginning of the church. I only wish to lay out the arguments and to challenge you to understand what you believe and why.
All for the King!!!
And for His holy word from which we gain our knowledge of Him and His nature!!!