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Bob MacDonald

I know why I dislike the doctrine of inerrancy - it is the red herring that prevents people from really talking to each other. The word is etymologically unsound to boot. If anything, the Word is errant (John 3:8).

Michael Patton

John, news travels fast in the blogsphere!

Though I don't know you except through this post and hanging out on your site for the past hour, you seem to be very well thought of and you write on some great stuff.

Having read and reread this post many times, I seriously have a hard time finding anything I disagree with. Dei verbum is an excellent summary of our belief about Scripture and its authority. The beauty of it is that is says what it needs to in very few words, leaving much to be commended.

I would also say, like you, that the Chicago statement leaves much to be desired, especially in relevance to the current state of affairs. The "slippery slope" arguments which facilitated the passions behind the particular articulations of the document have proved to be overstated and, in many cases, defamatory. These nuances still come through to those who understand the history behind it all.

Having said that, while I do have to ponder its implications while scratching my head, its basic thrust is tolerable. In other words, I will probably hold my nose and sign it when the time comes.

I have to correct something though. I said in my post you referred to that I do sign it every year. This was not true. It has been approved by ETS as a dogmatic interpretation of inerrancy that all members will soon have to sign, but, as of yet, I have not signed it. I think when I wrote that I was thinking of the future and applying it to the past. Or I was just lying...who knows? :)

Anyway, I am not in favor of ETS adopting the CSBI. I don't mind going on record concerning this. Again, while I agree with its thrust, I think it says too much and has faulty implications about the state of those who don't agree.

Thanks for your kind words and excellent blog.

JohnFH

Thank you, Michael, for stepping up to the plate and hitting a home run on the first pitch.

Besides being smart, you have a gift of spiritual discernment which will get you in trouble, but not with God.

Michael Patton

That is very kind John. God bless you my friend.

Joel Conley

Glad to read the friendly yet intelligent conversation. I would hate for two bloggers who are both in my bookmarks to not get along.
I've never read the Chicago Statement of Inerrancy (but I did go to college in Chicago). I read the "Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation" that you had linked to in your post John. Although The parts you quoted seem agreeable to me, after reading the whole page I could not sign the DCDR.

JohnFH

Hi Joel. I wouldn't either, unless I had to. It's got its own share of unfortunate emphases.

Eric Rowe

The characterization of "a fallible interpretation of a fallible canon of infallible books, the exact contents of which are also up for grabs," is pretty accurate. It's also the main objection I've encountered to any doctrine of inerrancy (or infallibility, as expressed here). Bart Ehrman in Misquoting Jesus expresses incredulity that inerrancy of Scripture can stand at all with such a qualification. But elsewhere in the same book he gives an analogy that actually clarifies precisely how inerrancy can still stand even with such a clarification.

Ehrman compares the relationship between the MSS we have and the autographa with the relationship between a black and white video copy of something originally in color (forgive me if I'm expressing this slightly differently than he did). But for me, I have no trouble at all saying that if I believed God had given His Word thousands of years ago in the form of a detailed, true color, HD, 3-d video, of which all that remained today were a variety of scratchy, black and white, sometimes re-edited, copies of copies of copies, then I would treasure those horrid copies more than gold. I would affirm without hesitation that the original from which they were made was the faithful and true Word of God, and an authority that could never be subjected to any more trustworthy source of Truth. I would have two responsibilities incumbent on me, a lesser one and a greater one. The lesser one would be to study those faulty copies as fully as possible in comparison with one another with the purpose of knowing as well as I am able just what was in the original. The greater would be to receive those faulty copies, to whatever degree they are accessible to me and , as the very Word of God, preserved for me by His providence as the most perfect and ultimate guide available for my life.

But on ETS and the Chicago Statement, as you said, it's an in-house document. There is a place for a group like ETS that affirms inerrancy, and as long as that's the case there must be some concise guide as to what that doctrine involves. The CSBE fits the bill.

JohnFH

Eric,

thanks for an excellent and insightful comment.

I would also point out that the CSBE does not represent a compromise document with a set of nuances (in tension, of course, on several fronts) that reflects the diversity of views among those who currently belong to ETS.

I think everyone knows that, and I would guess that the proposal that ETS adopt the CSBE is designed to put a damper on that diversity. It's a political move, and whether it passes or fails, it is unlikely to have much practical effect in my estimation.

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