On The Bible (Inerrancy)

How do we judge?

Behold, I am setting a plumb line
in the midst of my people Israel;
I will never again pass by them

Amos 7:7

There is a large swath of biblical scholarship attempting to find a “better” approach to the scriptures. There is a desire to avoid term “inerrancy” when speaking of the Bible. Not me, I actually do believe “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…”

I have heard inerrantists (like myself) portrayed as people who “have it all figured out” and would never say thinks like “I don’t know…” and that certainly doesn’t describe me, quite the opposite.

For me, the standard, the “plumb line” off of which everything is judged, isn’t me, it isn’t what people thought in the 16th century, it isn’t what people thought in the 2nd or 3rd century, it isn’t what this sect or that group taught or how they lived, it’s the Bible.

To be a “conservative” is to hold closer to a standard. If you’re a conservative in the United States, you attempt to hold to the constitution. Your argumentation is to interpret that document, and you are (or at least should be) open to finding the correct interpretation because YOU ARE NOT THE ARBITER OF TRUTH, the document is.

In a similar way, as a Christian conservative, I believe it is an absolute misnomer to speak of “conservative dogmatism.” I believe the Bible is 100% true. Or stated better, I believe it is inerrant.

Unfortunately the inerrantist position has been caricatured and then (obviously) shown to be ridiculous and thus, critics say, needs to be evolved from. I believe inerrancy means the Bible doesn’t affirm anything which is untrue. The term was basically invented (in its modern iteration) by BB Warfield.

Warfield and his buddies started what was known as the fundamentalists, there’s another term that is misunderstood, or perhaps worse, it’s been twisted. Originally, it was meant to be someone who holds to the fundamentals. Not broad systems of dogmatic beliefs, but a boiled down core of belief. For me, the core fundamental is the truthfulness of the Bible.

So what happens when there’s no standard? Wanton subjectivity. At this point, the sky is the limit and there’s not anything called “truth.” There has to be the acknowledgment there is an objective standard, only then are you free to say “I’m not sure how to interpret that… but I know the truth is there”

People who are overly confident in their own interpretations, where the Bible isn’t as clear, strike me as not very good inerrantists. When you expand the doctrines which you include in the “fundamentals” you aren’t being a very good fundamentalist.

I like the word inerrancy, and I’ll keep using it, even though most people (yes, unfortunately, I think that’s correct) use the word incorrectly.

I’m an inerrantist, which is why I won’t uncritically accept your view… the truth will stand, because God’s Word is truth.

What do you think?

About John Harris

I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

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