The Erosion of Inerrancy

I just received a copy of G.K. Beale’s new book The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism from Crossway. It is a direct response to Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation. I look forward to reading the book and offering a meager response. Just to give you a flavor of where Beale is going, he attributes the current evangelical reassessment of the doctrine of inerrancy to two factors:
  1. The onset of postmodernism in evangelicalism and its subsequent loss of confidence in propositional claims in the Bible.
  2. An increasing number of conservative students graduating with doctorates in biblical studies and theology from non-evangelical institutions. These students have assimilated in part non-evangelical perspectives on authorship, dating, etc.
It should be an interesting read. You can pick the book up from Westminster this month.

2 Responses

  1. Nicholas T. Batzig

    The following post was removed due to the nature of the previous unwanted posts. My apologies to Steven Young who kindly requested his be posted again. Steven wrote:

    "I had already read most of Beale's book prior to publication since each chapter (except the introduction?, I forget) was previously published as a separate essay/article…aside from some changes here and there.

    Just for fun, Beale himself did his doctorate at a (technically speaking) non-evangelical institution: Cambridge. That said, it is well known that many of the UK doctoral programs (e.g., Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, etc.) often (not always or necessarily) function as American-Evangelical safe houses…where the evangelical will not really be forced to engage challenging points of view, scholarship, and people with whom he/she disagrees.

    Just to clarify, by “really be forced to engage” I mean having to interact with challenging and different positions in such a way that one demonstrates understanding of them while having his/her work reviewed and critiqued by others who often hold such differing positions. It is one thing to reject non-Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, while making such positions seem like outdated nonsense, in an “in-house” P&R publication. It is another to do so (in the ways most Evangelicals do in the “in-house” publications) when sitting across the table from a trained semitic-philologist (who is one of your professors) and multiple other doctoral students who hold positions with which you disagree, but who have thought through them in great detail and generally do not hold them for the reasons the P&R publication would tell you. In such a situation much of the non-sense we evangelicals spout-off would be seen for what it is, in-house nonsensical discourse. This is not to say our evangelical positions are wrong, but the ways we hold said positions and pseudo-engage with others tend to be quite insular and fundamentalistic.

    Why do I go on about this? If you blame the erosion of inerrancy partly on how numerous evangelicals do their doctorates at places where they are forced to live out such engagement with others (non-evangelical scholars and scholarship), you are sounding quite “Roman-Catholic,” in the sense people on this blog probably use such a label. Are our evangelical positions so fragile and “in-house” that they depend upon evangelicals only attending “safe” doctoral programs in which they will be socialized to believe such positions (evangelical-Tradition)? Is inerrancy, for example, so fragile that non-Traditional training (non-Evangelical brainwashing!) inherently undermines it? I happen to believe that is the case, but that is because I am not an inerrantist in they way I imagine you all mean it here. That said, according to a good Reformed-Evangelical doctrine of Scripture, an evangelical should be able to attend whatever doctoral program, engage the best and most rigorous (and challenging!) scholarship out there, and still find the Bible inerrant. If God delivered His Word in the ways Reformed-Evangelical folk say, rigorous and methodologically self-conscious study of it (what happens in most non-evangelical doctoral programs) will only support good Biblically-based Evangelical positions.

    It is humorous to me that Beale points up evangelicals attending non-Evangelical institutions as factoring into the erosion of inerrancy. I guess Beale’s evangelical doctrine of Scripture depends upon the power of Tradition to sustain it…not rigorous and honest historical study of the writings of our Bible. Of course he has a legitimate point from a sociological point of view here. But are you all willing to put our doctrines on the level of sociological phenomena, that depend upon various social conditions, group dynamics, and power-relations? Though I do so-analyze our doctrines (which, by the way, does not mean to me that they cannot be true), I do not usually see you all approach them from such sociological points of view…unless the doctrine or person is something (someone) with which (whom) you disagree.

    I hope you do not mind my quick thoughts on this. I too look forward to your “meager response.” I remain quite curious as to how various people in the Reformed world will receive it.

    Thanks for your time."

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