December 17, 2017

Inerrancy–an interview with Vern Poythress

Eclectic Web – special edition

In this excursion into eclectica, we will focus on just one issue: inerrancy. Perhaps no issue is more important to Fundamentalism than the inerrancy of the Bible. We can’t say enough about it.

The last two days, Books at a Glance has published an interview with Vern Poythress, a man who has done a good deal of work on the subject of inerrancy, among other things. Poythress is excellent in the interview, you will find some helpful material here. We include some key quotes below. Here are the links:

Quotes from Part 1:

On why ethical standards are binding:

The issue of ethical standards is a particularly revealing one. It is difficult to make sense of how ethical standards are actually binding, unless they originate in the character of God. If there are no ethical absolutes, there is no way to judge what people ought to do to pursue knowledge. Human knowledge threatens to disintegrate. In practice, people still rely on standards, as these are manifested in conscience. They rely on God, but they also make substitute accounts by telling themselves, for example, that the standards are impersonal.

On the strongest challenges to inerrancy:

Where does the strongest challenge to inerrancy come from today (e.g. linguistics, history)?

For most ordinary people living in Western cultures, I think the strongest challenge comes from pronouncements made in the name of science – that is, physical science. …

There is another major challenge to inerrancy that I should mention. For Bible scholars, I think that the most serious newer challenge comes from cultural anthropology and related social sciences. Social scientific study tacitly includes in its methods the attempt to exclude God, to treat God as if he were absent. Religion, of course, is there in human life and is subject to scientific study, but it is viewed as a merely human social phenomenon, one among many. This foundational decision – a worldview influence – leads in the long run to treating language and culture as “closed boxes” from which human beings can never escape. When people apply this framework to the Bible, the books of the Bible are treated as trapped in the cultures in which they originated. The Bible can never really rise above what is possible within the “box” of culture, and those possibilities are always human, always prosaic, never divine. So the Bible is drained of its transcendent claim to be the very voice of God.

Quotes from Part 2:

On the supposed notion that ‘infallible’ means the Bible can have errors, while ‘inerrant’ does not:

My first observation about these alternatives is that the Bible itself never makes a distinction of this kind. It never suggests that it is only reliable when it happens to speak on certain topics. It never says that it only becomes the voice of God now and then, when it addresses these reserved topics. Rather, the Bible is the voice of God all the way through. And God can address whatever topics he desires. He is, after all, Lord of all. And he demands our allegiance to him in all areas of life.

Publication of links in The Eclectic Web feature does not imply endorsement of the viewpoint or contents of any of the websites linked. The links are provided as a matter of interest to Christians.

The Eclectic Web is compiled by Don Johnson. Don Johnson is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

Submit other comments here.