The Inerrancy Debate

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Today at the Evangelical Theological Society in Baltimore, MD a panel discussion embraced the topic of biblical inerrancy. The five panelists were R. Albert Mohler, Peter Enns, Michael F. Bird, John R. Franke, and via video, Kevin J. Vanhoozer. The discussion was live-blogged by biblegateway.com and the link is:

http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2013/11/biblical-inerrancy-live-discussion-ets/

The discussion is in the process of being put together in a single volume Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy, out in mid-December. I pre-ordered it and am excited to read it. This discussion prompted several thoughts within me that I want to share.

During my 7+ years of academic study of theology, scripture, history, etc. I have heard several perspectives on inerrancy, mostly from other students/ colleagues. Often at seminaries, especially non-denominational seminaries like Fuller and Ashland (the schools at which I have studied), inerrancy gets thrown around as a belief for those who haven’t yet gone through “real” academic study of scripture.

I have conversed with several students at both schools who were in the midst of fighting against this stigma (often perpetuated by their professors), in the hopes of holding to a position of inerrancy while simultaneously engaging new academic methods of reading scripture. These students usually had an uphill battle with the professors and other students. It became common for those holding to inerrancy to be mocked and/ or looked down upon by others.

I entered seminary with more or less a belief in the inerrancy of scripture, and have since have shifted to a more inspiration-centric view of scripture. This has allowed me to avoid the inerrancy discussion and/ or to disagree with it and its precepts. However, I am thankful for the panel discussion in the link above and their willingness to engage both pro and con positions regarding inerrancy.

I think Peter Enns sums up the position against inerrancy well: “Holding onto inerrancy is a high-maintenance activity. Inerrancy is not an apt descriptor of how the Bible communicates.”  Al Mohler counters, “Without inerrancy, evangelicalism will become dissolute. I do not believe evangelicalism can survive without explicit commitment to the inerrancy of the Bible.”

So, I look forward to reading the book and engaging both sides of the debate. What is your take on inerrancy? Can one be an academic/ biblical scholar and hold to the inerrancy of scripture?