We affirm that the Scriptures are the supreme written norm by which God binds the conscience, and that the authority of the Church is subordinate to that of Scripture.
We deny that church creeds, councils, or declarations have authority greater than or equal to the authority of the Bible.
The second article of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (CSBI) deals specifically with the issue of Scripture’s authority. Article II affirms that the Scriptures are the “supreme written norm” to which human conscience is bound, while other written documents, although important, do not possess authority equal or superior to that of the Scriptures. Continue reading “Scripture, Tradition, and the Question of Authority”
Kenton Sparks, professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University—an evangelical school by confession—has recently offered his contribution to an evangelical doctrine of Scripture in God’s Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship (GWHW). As the title of the book suggests and as he states clearly in the introduction, Sparks situates himself within the evangelical tradition, so he approaches his work from a “profound appreciation” for evangelicalism’s “doctrinal commitment to the inerrancy of God’s Word” (22). But Sparks is concerned over evangelicalism’s approach to assessing and using critical biblical scholarship and he considers himself as one of several emerging evangelical scholars who find the “standard critical arguments” for problems in the Bible offered by modern academics far more satisfactory than those posited in most evangelical efforts (12). Continue reading “Review of God's Word in Human Words by Kenton Sparks”
It is sometimes argued by evangelical non-inerrantists that the doctrine of inerrancy is a recent theological innovation that finds little to no precedent in the church. The early church fathers, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Bavink, and Kuyper, they claim, all held to a view of Scripture that was far different than what inerrantists advance today. Furthermore, it isn’t until we come to B. B. Warfield and the Princeton theologians in the early to late 19th century that we begin to find concentrated efforts to write on the doctrine of Scripture. Continue reading “Is Inerrancy a Recent Theological Invention?”
As I noted briefly in the last two articles, the church has always, generally speaking, held to the idea of an error-free Bible. This was true during the early church, the middle ages, and the Reformation. In the early 1600s, however, significant changes began to take shape in Western intellectual culture. Developments in philosophy would dislodge Christian presuppositions from their preeminent epistemological status, and reason would increasingly stand in judgment over Scripture rather than Scripture serving as an authority over reason. With these significant changes would come an approach to biblical studies that undermined the historical and scientific reliability of the Bible while introducing hermeneutical theories that challenged long-held beliefs about God’s supernatural action in the world. Continue reading “Inerrancy and Church History: The Post-Reformation and Modern Period”
Both Martin Luther and John Calvin spoke often of their view of Scripture. Luther’s understanding of biblical inerrancy, like his predecessors (in the early church and middle ages), grew from his belief in the divine inspiration of Scripture. As Lutheran historian Robert Preus summarizes, “Luther’s notion of biblical infallibility arose from his firm belief that the Bible is the Word of God and that God spoke to him there powerfully and authoritatively” (Preus, “Luther and Biblical Infallibility,” in Inerrancy and the Church, 110). Continue reading “Inerrancy and Church History: Calvin and Luther”
In a previous article I sought to show that although the word “inerrancy” was not used to describe Scripture until rather recently, the concept of an error-free Bible is found among the early church fathers. Theologians in the medieval church also affirmed the complete truthfulness of Scripture. Here are a few examples. Continue reading “Inerrancy and Church History: The Middle Ages”
Since 1978 and the release of Rogers and McKim’s massive The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible, it has been a strategy among evangelicals who dislike the doctrine of inerrancy to suggest that the doctrine itself has a recent origin. Why some evangelical non-inerrantists continue to hold this line is baffling, however, for it is widely acknowledged that Rogers and McKim’s thesis–that conservative efforts to uphold the doctrine of inerrancy are grounded in theological innovation rather than historical precedent–was soundly and definitively refuted by John Woodbridge’s Biblical Authority: A Critique of the Rogers/McKim Proposal. The church has always believed in an error-free Bible. Continue reading “Inerrancy and Church History: The Early Fathers”