Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Musings on the CSBI Part I

Discussion at the Tavern and at Jesus Creed has turned to the question of Biblical authority and inerrancy. Given the questions being asked about the presuppositions of "inerrancy" and "hermeneutics", and my own changing point of view regarding the interrelation of rationality and community, I thought it best to go to the source and see where I may still agree or disagree with it.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

Here, I will just deal with the Preface.

Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority. The following Statement affirms this inerrancy of Scripture afresh, making clear our understanding of it and warning against its denial. We are persuaded that to deny it is to set aside the witness of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit and to refuse that submission to the claims of God's own Word that marks true Christian faith

Not to deny the importance of recognizing the truth of Scripture, but I now think this is a bit hyperbolic. I detect a trace of foundationalism here - you cannot grasp and confess the Biblical authority without the foundation of an acceptance of its full truth. As for the part about "denying inerrancy = setting aside Christ's witness", that too is hyperbolic. Again, I am not denying the truthfulness of Scripture, but to place a recognition of that truth - especially as defined in inerrancy - on par with the Gospel is to make a secondary issue on par with the primary. I often sense the same mistake in Calvinist arguments about TULIP - "to deny TULIP is to deny the Gospel". I no longer buy that argument, because I no longer see the Gopsel as only a matter of theological propositions.

We acknowledge the limitations of a document prepared in a brief, intensive conference and do not propose that this Statement be given creedal weight.

Well, well, well. ;-}

We gladly acknowledge that many who deny the inerrancy of Scripture do not display the consequences of this denial in the rest of their belief and behavior, and we are conscious that we who confess this doctrine often deny it in life by failing to bring our thoughts and deeds, our traditions and habits, into true subjection to the divine Word.

So, who's to say the "sin" of denying inerrancy worse than the "sin" of being uncharitable in debate?

We invite response to this Statement from any who see reason to amend its affirmations about Scripture by the light of Scripture itself, under whose infallible authority we stand as we speak. We claim no personal infallibility for the witness we bear, and for any help that enables us to strengthen this testimony to God's Word we shall be grateful.

I don't know how much of a response this actually got, but I know I intend to take them up on this offer.


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