Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 9

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 1 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 4  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 5

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 1
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 4
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 5
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 6
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 7
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 8  

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 9


Why is the doctrine of Scripture's inerrancy so important? Follow the theological debates even in recent years, you will fight an all-out war among Christians over this crucial doctrine. Must we affirm that Scripture is without error or can we still be Christians who hold to inspiration and other key Christian doctrines without necessarily believing that everything the Bible says on history and other issues is accurate and true? In his systematic theology, called Christian Theology, Dr. Millard Erickson highlights the importance of inerrancy.

1. Theological Importance

First is the theological importance of this doctrine. Erickson writes:

If [Scripture is authoritative and inspired], certain implications follow. If God is omniscient, he must know all things. He cannot be ignorant of or in error on any matter. Further, if he is omnipotent, he is able to so affect the biblical author's writing that nothing erroneous enters into the final product. And being a truthful or veracious being, he will certainly desire to utilize these abilities in such a way that humans will not be misled by the Scriptures. Thus, our view of inspiration logically entails the inerrancy of the Bible. Inerrancy is a corollary of the doctrine of full inspiration. If, then, it should be shown that the Bible is not fully truthful, our view of inspiration would also be in jeopardy. -251

Clearly there is a connection between verbal, plenary inspiration (which Erickson holds) and inerrancy. Inerrancy reflects also our view of God. If God is without error, then surely when he speaks (revelation) and inspires, He does so without error.


2.  Historical Importance

The second point Erickson makes is that inerrancy has been the historical view of the Church. Erickson rightfully notes that though inerrancy is a modern doctrine, in response to the rise of attacks against the church, that does not mean that previous Christian leaders did not hold to a view that we would call inerrancy today. He then quotes from Augustine (Letter 82.3) and Martin Luther (Werke, vol. 34.1, p. 356). He then concludes:

While we are on this subject, we should note briefly the impact inerrancy has had historically. The best way to proceed is to observe what tend to be the implications for other areas of doctrine when biblical inspiration is abandoned. There is evidence that where a theologian, a school, or a movement begins by regarding biblical inerrancy as a peripheral or optional matter and abandons this doctrine, it frequently then goes on to abandon or alter other doctrines which the church has ordinarily considered quite major, such as the deity of Christ or the Trinity. Since, as we argued in the opening chapter of his book, history is the laboratory in which theology tests its ideas, we must conclude that the departure from belief in complete trustworthiness of the Bible is a very serious step, not only in terms of what it does to this one doctrine, but even more in terms of what happens to other doctrines as a result. -252

This is the key point. Think of theology two lines that lay over top of each other. The bottom line is Truth from God or pure theology. The top line is our theology. Veer ever slightly on something and you will eventually grow farther and farther away from orthodoxy. Inerrancy is one of those doctrines that is tempting to deny but always has disastrous consequences. The reason must be because it makes truth subjective on my experience and my bias. Scripture may affirm hell, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, etc., but I now choose what is true and what isn't and human depravity is more than willing to fashion God into man's image.


3.  Epistemological Importance

Erickson notes that The epistemological question is simply, How do we know? (252)  He then adds, Certain other matters, such as doctrinal statemetns about the nature of God and the atonement, trascend the realm of our sensory experience. We cannot test their truth or validity empiracally. Now if the Bible shoudl prove to be in error in those realms where its claims can be checked, on what possible basis would we logically continue to hold to its dependability in areas where we cannot verify what it says? (253)

An excellent point. Erickson's point is that philosophically and logically to deny inerrancy and yet affirm infallibility is incoherent. If we cannot trust Scripture on matters of history and geography, how can we know that the Bible is speak without error regarding the nature of God, the Person of Christ, and the work of the atonement? We can't.

These are just three key reasons why inerrancy matters. We could summarize this way, reject inerrancy and you will inevitably reject either the logic of the faith or the faith itself.


For more on Erickson:
Blogizomai - Where to Begin?: Calvin on the Starting Point of Theology - The Knowledge of God & the Knowledge of Man
Blogizomai - Wherefore Art Thou Theological Giants?
Blogizomai - On Special Revelation: Dreams, Visions, Theophanies, and the Word of God 
Blogizomai - Is Hell Real?: The Difference Between Emergent Agnostic Doctrine & Orthodoxy
Blogizomai - Condemnation But No Justification: The Purpose of General Revelation
Blogizomai - The Reservoir & Conduit of Divine Truth: Carl FH Henry on Revelation
Blogizomai - Where is the Gospel? Charles Hodge & the Insufficiency of Natural Theology 
Blogizomai - Exegetical Theology or Theological Exegesis?: DeYoung on the Both/And
Blogizomai - A New Kind of Christianity . . . Indeed: The Authority Question - Part 2



For more:
Blogizomai - The Gospel and the Story of Everything
Blogizomai - Repost Friday | What the Book of Galatians Taught Me About Politics: The Importance of Freedom, Personal Responsibility, and Community
Theology - "God's Word in Human Words": Full Series
Theology - The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 1
Theology - The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 2
Theology - The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 3
Theology - The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 4
Theology - The Real Divide:  Luther, the Reformation, and the Fight Over Perspicuity - Part 5
Theology - John MacArthur and the Authority of Scripture  
Blogizomai - The Book of the Prophet Habakkuk
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