Home » Doctrine of Scripture » How evangelicals, mainliners, and progressives share inerrancy

How evangelicals, mainliners, and progressives share inerrancy

Inerrancy continues to maintain a rather elevated status among both evangelical Christians and mainline Christians (and progressive holyscriptureChristians) alike; for the former it is in the affirmative, for the latter grouping it is in the negative. But both ‘sides’ are operating from modernist assumptions that in the end, at least from a Dogmatic point of view ought to be repudiated for something more robust, something more richly Christian in orientation, from my perspective. Todd Billings helps to clarify how a certain view of ‘inspiration’ (for or against) has contributed to this un-Dogmatic approach to the topic of Biblical inerrancy. Billings writes:

… First, we should note that frequently the doctrine of inspiration is taken out of an explicitly Trinitarian context. Emerging from the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the early twentieth century, many Christians sought to determine the nature of inspiration in advance of hearing the content of Scripture about the saving work of the triune God. In other words, the heirs of fundamentalism tended to isolate the doctrine of inspiration from the material teaching of the church in order to have indubitable grounds on which to build doctrine; the heirs of modernism often relied on the appeal to universal human capacities rather than the particularity of Israel and Jesus Christ. As a result, both left behind the Trinitarian and soteriological context for the doctrine of inspiration.[1]

This rings true, doesn’t it? When I look out over the landscape of evangelical Christian, mainline Christian, and so called ‘progressive’ Christian discourse what I largely see underwriting the disjunction between them (on a continuum) all stems from how Scripture is conceived of at a hermeneutical level (the methodological commitments each group has in regard to interpreting things and constructing things like a doctrine and ontology of Scripture). The irony I see involved in much of this, is that while there is a different slant placed on the respective and disparate emphases, pace each tradition (i.e. evangelical, mainline, progressive, etc.), they all are working from the same modernist assumptions about how we know (i.e. the relation between ontology and epistemology).

[1] J. Todd Billings, The Word Of God For The People Of God: an entryway to the theological interpretation of scripture (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 2010), 90-1.

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