Not much is new in here as far as my thoughts, but I promised I’d complete this by month’s end. I’m now going to try and put my “Bellingham Statement” into 4-5 paragraphs and see if I can’t get some other biblio-bloggers of note to weigh in on it. Here’s the rest of the Chicago Statement:
WE AFFIRM that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.
WE DENY that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.
|No disagreement here, but one needs to define “autographa.” For me, the autographa are the documents produced at the end of the entire process of inspiration, which includes edited material – the thing at the very end which God approved by Providence. While we can’t determine the exact date of this end point (and no one, with any view of the autographs, can pin down an exact date for any of the books), the believing community for whom the autographa were intended did recognize that the process had come to an end – they had the book of XYZ, for example.
WE AFFIRM that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.
WE DENY that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated.
|No disagreement in principle, but one needs to give expression to what “addresses” means (a problem we’re still talking about here). Typically, evangelicals don’t do that, then they pounce on those who try when those attempts aren’t to their liking. That’s fair (!)
Thus far I have tried to argue (well, state or “put out there”) that I think the *point* a biblical author makes (with words, of course) ought to be the focus of “addresses”-NOT the argumentation that the author might use. I want to say that I don’t care if Paul uses pre-scientific argumentation to make his point. The thing he is addressing (modesty, it would seem, in 1 Cor 11) is the important thing for inerrancy. THAT is what cannot mislead, to use the Chicago verbiage. The means to addressing that may be flawed, though, given the author’s context (in the case of 1 Cor 11, the wacky science Paul presupposes).
WE AFFIRM that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.
WE DENY that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.
|This one is problematic since it requires including the argumentation / means (see above). I would like to see this reworded so that assertions (the things addressed and thus “pronounced”) are distinguished from the culture and its limitations that the author worked under as a human being IN that culture. Not sure if I’m saying this well.
I’d bet at least half of the ETS members couldn’t sign on to this one IF it meant that “the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood” = 7 day creation and a global flood. Of course it doesn’t get that specific … so why even have it here? Removing this would take away the need for substantial rewording.
This is a good example of how the statement cheats, too. On one hand, this is in there to sound like “we’re taking a stand against non-traditional [i.e., non-literalist] views of creation and the flood, but yet it doesn’t have the guts to put the literalist language in there. It’s a façade in that respect. But a useful one – it can be pulled out to whip someone if needed. Again, what’s its point if there is no concern to enforce a particular view (and there isn’t, given the makeup of the ETS membership). Removing this “Denial” would allow flexibility in OTHER areas (like 1 Cor 11) where there is a science problem – or where there would be divergent views.
WE AFFIRM the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.
WE DENY that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.
|I have no problem here since I’d marry the “truthfulness” idea to my comments on Article XI.
WE AFFIRM the unity and internal consistency of Scripture.
WE DENY that alleged errors and discrepancies that have not yet been resolved vitiate the truth claims of the Bible.
|I can live with this, since to deny it requires omniscience – i.e., I’d have to KNOW for sure if any and all such discrepancies are beyond answering.
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.
|This (the affirmation) is exactly what I’m trying to do.
The denial is nonsensical in my view. Any communication from God to man is a condescension and accommodation in some respect. See my comments on the weaknesses of Grudem’s arguments on this
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.
|I’d agree on both, though the denial is partly true, though it need not be.
WE AFFIRM that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the Scriptures, assuring believers of the truthfulness of God’s written Word.
WE DENY that this witness of the Holy Spirit operates in isolation from or against Scripture.
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.
|Hard to believe covenantalists (like the Westminster and Princeton schools for starters!) could sign on to this, but then again, they’d get to define “grammatico-historical” how they want.
I also agree that de-historicizing as a tactic to defend inerrancy is wrong-headed. Some things that many have thought to be historical may not have been, though. For example, the dialogues of Job (do people really talk that way, or is it just literary creation – and why do we need the former with so much of the latter in Scripture anyway?).
WE AFFIRM that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ.
WE DENY that such confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences, both to the individual and to the Church.