What difference does it make whether or not the whole Bible is inerrant? Isn’t it enough that the Bible be totally reliable on matters of faith and practice? This kind of question has been increasingly asked in conservative Christian circles over the past few decades. It used to be that those who challenged the Bible’s trustworthiness when it spoke about natural phenomena, human events, and its own literary origins also denied, doubted, or drastically reinterpreted what the Bible taught on such central doctrines as the existence of God, the lordship of Christ, and eternal life. Naturally any debates with such persons focused on the issues that were at the heart of the Good News.
But times have changed. Many Christians who have no hesitancy in affirming such fundamental doctrines as the deity of Christ, his Virgin Birth, substitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection, and the Second Coming think that affirming total biblical inerrancy is unnecessary or even harmful. From their viewpoint inerrancy is akin to a modern day pharisaism, seeking to impose on the people of God more than God himself has chosen to do. To insist on inerrancy is seen as tantamount to telling God how he must reveal himself. We are reminded that until recently many Christians were in effect telling God that he simply must have an infallible spokesman heading the church lest everything go haywire. Of course other Christians have denied the relevancy of these parallels and have been alarmed at the movement away from inerrancy. The launching of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy and its recently issued Chicago Statement is one of their responses. (See news story, Nov. 17 issue, p. 36.).
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