It was late Saturday night in Washington, D.C. As I walked away from the huge Convention Hall in the center of the capital and headed back to my hotel, I had a good feeling. We had just concluded the final session of the Second Congress on the Bible sponsored by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI)—and had officially voted the organization out of existence.

It all began ten years ago in Chicago with a meeting of some 250 men and women who were seriously committed to a consistent evangelicalism that included a doctrine of biblical inerrancy. That meeting produced the now widely accepted “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.”

Two further scholarly sessions followed, one on biblical hermeneutics and the other on the practical application of an inerrant Bible to social, political, and moral issues of the day. Then came an interminable number of planning sessions, a spate of books and articles sponsored by the inerrancy council, a congress in 1982, and now this final meeting. Of the long-term gain for evangelicals flowing from ICBI, it is not for me to speak. Time alone will tell that tale. I do, however, see two significant gains stemming from its work.

First, we have sharpened our definition of inerrancy. More people now know what that potentially explosive term means: that the Bible is wholly true. Even Time magazine has caught on that inerrancy is not a synonym for obscurantism, and that it does not mean every statement in the Bible must be taken literally.

Second, we have had our collective consciousness raised as to the importance of this doctrine for the health of the church. The Bible, as Martin Luther taught us long ago, is the crib in which the Christ child comes to us. If we take the baby out of the ...

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