Inerrancy Part 3: Why is Inerrancy So Often Under Attack?October 24, 2012
by Vern Poythress
Why is the concept of inerrancy so often under attack? How do you address it?
I am not sure of all the reasons for the attacks, but let me mention some that seem to me to be at work.
The most basic reason is sin. We fail to trust God. And this takes the form of not trusting what he says. We dishonor God and have “other gods before” him when our trust wanders among other sources. Defenders of inerrancy may be tempted to point the finger only at their opponents, but we should confess that this is a universal problem, because sin is universal. I may firmly believe in inerrancy, but still secretly want to twist the meaning of the Bible in my favor. I may firmly believe in inerrancy, but still be frightened and worried and not trust in God when I confront a family crisis or sickness or death. There is no easy remedy here. Christ died and was raised to take away sin–that is the fundamental resource for us. But we spend our whole lives as Christians growing in applying those truths to our lives, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In addition, the surrounding culture and the “subculture” of mainstream biblical scholarship may increase the difficulties and temptations. In the USA and Europe, the culture is losing its earlier Christian moorings, and becoming skeptical toward the Bible, skeptical of authority, skeptical of absolute claims, and confident in the pronouncements of science, biblical “experts,” postmodern insights, and the culturally dominant view of what makes sense. Believers who are disturbed by the trends may withdraw from interaction, but retain an uneasy feeling underneath that they do not dare to look at the difficulties, lest their own faith be destroyed. Other believers choose to interact robustly with the surrounding culture; but it takes real hardiness on their part to avoid being partly swayed by cultural assumptions. For instance, with part of their minds they may unwittingly swallow the modern view that history is bare events. Then, when they see the differences in the Gospels, they are tempted to compromise on inerrancy, even though they continue to hold on to the basics of faith. They may say to themselves, “Well, the Gospels in their core are still telling me about Jesus, and I can still believe in him, but I can’t simply trust the Gospels themselves, beyond a basic core, because they have this ‘human overlay’ of meaning.” Instead, they should reject this alternative and continue to have full confidence in the Gospels as divine words–they should see that the theological aspects in the Gospels give us aspects of divine meaning, and not a merely human “overlay” on allegedly “bare” events.
Inerrancy Part 2: How do You Reconcile the Discrepancies in the Gospels?October 23, 2012
by Vern Poythress