Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy 5

Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

link to full text of statement

The remaining Articles 14-19 are, as far as I can see, much better.

ARTICLE 15:
WE AFFIRM that the doctrine of inerrancy is grounded in the teaching of the Bible about inspiration.
WE DENY that Jesus' teaching about Scripture may be dismissed by appeals to accommodation or to any natural limitation of His humanity.

Saying that Jesus' teaching about Scripture cannot be dismissed by those appeals solves the problem for much of the Old Testament, because it is clear that Jesus regarded it as historical rather than as collective myth or any of the other rubbish that some scholars claim.

ARTICLE 16:
WE AFFIRM that the doctrine of inerrancy has been integral to the Church's faith throughout its history.
WE DENY that inerrancy is a doctrine invented by scholastic Protestantism, or is a reactionary position postulated in response to negative higher criticism.

Need to be careful here. The doctrine underlying inerrancy - what they are trying to express about the trustworthiness of Scripture has indeed been integral to the Church's faith. Patristic writers in the early church, Reformers, Counter-Reformers all cited the Bible as true and authoritative. On the other hand, the articulation of it as "inerrancy" does seem to be invented by scholastic Protestantism in reaction to negative higher criticism, and there are some consequences of that. One example is that there does not seem to have been a move to treat 144 hour creation as a confessional point until Darwin. Indeed, many of the early Church Fathers (e.g. Augustine) argued that creation did not take place over a 144 hour period, but that the term "day" in Genesis 1 referred to longer periods. 144-hour creation as confessional probably does owe something to the newness of the specific articulation of the doctrine of inerrancy, even though the underlying doctrine goes back right to the beginning of Christianity.

ARTICLE 18:
WE AFFIRM that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.
WE DENY the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.

This is also a useful clarification. Although there is still room for a liberal view of some bits of Scripture via claiming (for example) that John's gospel is metaphorical midrash rather than history, this rules out the potential genre of pseudographia - some claim that someone who had known Peter writing later as Peter was a well-understood literary convention. This rejects that for Biblical books (and rightly so, given the second century Church's attitude to pseudographia).

Part 6 | Summary

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