Thursday, November 21, 2013

Inerrancy Review (Final)

I have been reviewing Zondervan's new Five Views of Inerrancy. I wasn't sure what I would think of the book but it has been very helpful. I have not been able to give as thorough a review (or read) as I would prefer but I'm sure Zondervan would like you to buy the book. :-)

The two previous posts were:
I only have time today to give a taste of the last two contributors: John Franke and Peter Enns.

John Franke
Franke is deep and nuanced, like Vanhoozer. His perspective, if I understand him, is quite fascinating, maybe even profound. Because we are finite and God is infinite, "God 'adjusts' and 'descends' to the limited capacities of human beings and 'lisps' to us, as adults do to infants, in order to be made known" (267).

God "pragmatically points us in the right direction without the necessity of being photographically precise or drawn exactly to scale" (268). "Inerrancy affirms that narratives, propositions, and assertions--in fact, all the genres of Scripture--are true but still relative to their context. Inerrancy should not be used to suggest, then, that the words of Scripture transcend their situatedness as a form of decontextualized, absolutist theological language" (270).

Let me see if I have understood him. The Bible reflects God on his mission to save humanity through Christ. The goal is Christ leading to the goal of humanity and the creation's restoration. Along the way, the infinite God has lisped to humanity in its varied contexts. These moments point the way forward. They point to the revelation of God in Jesus Christ.

They do not point precisely because of their situatedness. As a result, "Scripture itself authorizes multiple perspectives... circumscribed by the... canon" (276). "Scripture is inerrant in its witness to the plurality of perspectives that are indispensable to the practice of missional Christian community" (276).

Let me see if I can apply what I think he's saying (someone please correct me if I'm wrong). He's saying it's okay for some of us to believe in women in ministry and for some of us not to, because different situations in the canon at different times have called forth both directions. But I think he would also say that the missional trajectory of Christ and the kingdom make the egalitarian position superior to the other. I could have misunderstood him.

Pete Enns
Enns believes "that the term inerrancy has run its course and that evangelicals need to adopt other language with which to talk about the Bible" (115). If Mohler sees CSBI inerrancy as a matter of presupposition, no matter what the evidence seems to say, Enns largely favors an evidentiary approach.

One strength of Enns' chapter, I think, is his sense that the Bible reflects incarnated revelation. God speaks truth "through the idioms, attitudes, assumptions, and general worldviews of the ancient authors" (87). This seems obvious to me, because God wants to be understood. When you want to be understood, you speak the language of those with whom you want to communicate. "Scripture is a collection of a variety of writings that necessarily and unashamedly reflects the worlds in which those writings were produced" (115).

Interestingly, Enns does have a suggestion for how he could continue to affirm inerrancy. He suggests a "descriptive" rather than "prescriptive" approach. "A descriptive model of inerrancy would try to take its cues from biblical behavior and so draw inferences about what qualities to expect of Scripture" (114).  Rather than tell Scripture what it could say, you would listen for God in what seemed to be said.  Then, "no matter what is encountered, the reader is in the presence of the wisdom and mystery of our God."

Happy reading, if you get the book when it comes out on December 10!

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