James Merrick and Stephen M. Garrett, eds. Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013. 326 pages. ISBN: 978-0-310-33136-0

Dr. Vic Reasoner

THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE. Issue 1. Spring 2014. Volume 32.
Date Posted May 28, 2014

Historically all evangelicals have affirmed the plenary inspiration of Scripture. Since the Bible was fully inspired by God, by definition it could not contain error. Thus, Richard Watson the great Methodist theologian, wrote in 1830

Plenary inspiration consisted in this, that they were kept from all lapses of memory, or inadequate conceptions, even on these [historical] subjects; and on all others the degree of communication and influence, both as to doctrine, facts, and the terms in which they were to be recorded for the edification of the Church, was proportioned to the necessity of the case, but so that the whole was authenticated or dictated by the Holy Spirit, with so full an influence, that it became truth without mixture of error.

But the philosophes found a way to affirm plenary inspiration and deny biblical inerrancy. So at a later point in history it became necessary to add the word "infallible." But the philosophes eventually decided that they could affirm that the Bible was infallible and yet contained error. So the word "inerrant" was appropriated. Now it too has come under attack. But this time the attack is coming from those who claim to be evangelical. Thus, the term "evangelical" is almost devoid of any real meaning.

This book reflects the latest attempt at mental gymnastics by creative scholars who want to have it both ways. Only Mohler comes out clearly for the inerrancy of Scripture. His bottom line is that "When the Bible speaks, God speaks." While he acknowledges that the battle never goes away, yet he only traces the battle for the Bible over the last generation. I believe I have demonstrated in my book, The Importance of Inerrancy, that early Methodism held to the same position.

The real disappointment of Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy is that the editors abandon an attempt at objectivity and argue against inerrancy in their introduction and conclusion. They appear to be offended by the Gundry-Geisler controversy within the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). In 1980 Robert Gundry advocated that a doctrine of biblical inerrancy should allow for creative editing by the human authors of Scripture to the extend of fictional embellishment and unhistorical fabrication in order to accommodate their theological agenda. Of course, we would not know when this was the case in Matthew's gospel unless we possessed Gundry's commentary. However, the editors of Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy lament the fact that Norman Geisler called Gundry's hand on this duplicity and he was forced to resign from the ETS in 1983. Yet membership in the ETS has always been contingent upon affirmation that "the Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirely, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs."I fail to see that Gundry was a martyr cut down by the swashbuckling sword of fundamentalism. However, all of this may have gained extra points with the general editor, Stanley Gundry, who is the brother of Robert Gundry.

If a definition of inerrancy can be stretched to include Gundry's views, then the term "evangelical" can also be stretched to embrace homosexuality. And that explains how confused "evangelicals" are today with such stalwart spokespersons as Joel Olsteen.

In an interview Mohler said, "Also, I fault several of my co-authors for failing actually to deal with what the book was supposed to be about, and that is the Chicago Statement [on biblical inerrancy]. Some of them, quite cleverly, avoided actually dealing with some of the issues that the book was supposed to be about." Thus, this book tends to muddy the waters.

There is a battle for the Bible and it started when Satan questioned God's Word in Genesis 3:1-4. The real question remains whether Scripture is the objective standard by which all truth claims are tested or whether we must rely on some philosophy to tell us when the Bible is trustworthy. Infallibility is an inescapable concept. Where the Bible is rejected as infallible, it is always replaced by some modern philosophy who thinks he is infallible.