I got a bit carried away with Article IX, so I didn’t post all the rest of the articles and my responses to them here. Here’s Article IX:
WE AFFIRM that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical authors were moved to speak and write.
WE DENY that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, by necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God’s Word.
Readers will know that I may or may not have a problem here. It depends on what is meant. I feel like the language here is problematic since I think the intent here was to circumvent the reality that the authors were not intellectually exempt from the limitations of their worldview. And yet there are two elements of uncertainty: (1) what is meant by “matters that the authors were moved to speak and write”? and (2) what is meant by “introducing distortion and falsehood”? These are weasel words-words that allow EVERYONE to define what is meant, with the effect that ANYONE can condemn ANYONE else of violating the doctrine of inspiration as it is articulated here. Any biblical interpreter could resort to statements like “you’re taking that [problematic statement] out of context-the authors wouldn’t be saying what you think they’re saying” or “that [problematic statement] isn’t a proposition being put forth by the writers, and so they aren’t guilty of introducing distortion” and so on.
Now, you may ask if I’m doing the same thing, especially since I’ve said a number of times, for example, that I don’t think we should blame the biblical authors for making scientific blunders since they couldn’t have known better, and since scientific ideas weren’t the point of what they were arguing for or what they were claiming. Guilty as charged, but my caveat stems from what I think is a firm grasp of the obvious: the biblical writers were from the first century AD or earlier, and so their knowledge base was very limited. I’m being honest. They shouldn’t be blamed for knowing things they could not have known. The other side, I think, is trying to make the authors what they aren’t-modern thinkers-which I think is misguided. God used what he had at his disposal (since he chose the time and place for initiating the inspiration process): pre-scientific human beings. That’s what they were unless he changed them, or unless he gave them knowledge that was well beyond their time. We have no evidence for the latter Where is the 20th century scientific knowledge in the Scriptures? Oh, there are all sorts of clever allegorical ways to insert it here and there, and then claim the advanced knowledge was encrypted in the writers’ words. Try that with 1 Cor 11!
My real concern is that if one believes God gave the biblical writers each and every word they wrote, as opposed to having humans as the immediate creators of their own words, with God as ultimate originator, the presence of this kind of scientifically-flawed material in the Bible impugns God. The Chicago Statement’s Article IX puts God at fault with its disclaiming language. My view does not, for it recognizes God’s decision to condescend to limited humanity and work with what he had, by his own sovereign decision. As such, I do not believe we need to worry about what the biblical writers were “moved” to write-so long as they are not presenting flawed science (or flawed anything) as propositional truth to be embraced as coming from the mouth of God. I don’t see Paul doing this in 1 Cor 11. I see Paul arguing toward a proposition or idea (women ought to be modest on account of the angels) from a flawed basis (his pre-scientific views about fecundity, which were entirely consistent with his cultural / medical contemporaries and predecessors). Paul isn’t writing to teach the church about first century medicine as a point of belief; he’s arguing for something else while using first century medical idea. I don’t think this is introducing distortion into the text for a simple reason: the only reason we’d view it as distortion is if we presumed God was giving out the words Paul used. The Chicago Statement’s weasel wording creates a problem rather than solving one.