When I was in the library yesterday, I happened to come across the latest issue of JETS (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society; 57.1 2014). I don’t normally read JETS, but this issue involved the publishing of papers and a discussion about biblical inerrancy with Ben Witherington, Don Carson, and John Frame, with Tom Schreiner moderating.
The journal issue published the roundtable discussion under this title:
PLENARY DISCUSSION ON BIBLICAL INERRANCY . . . D.A. Carson, John Frame, and Ben Witherington III
It was really insightful to see Ben and Don go round and round on issues and to see where they agree (and they do agree on a few things!) and especially where they differ. It is hard for me to summarize the discussion, but I really enjoyed the engagement. Ben was definitely the odd-man-out in that group, but he handled it with grace and humility.
People often ask me why I bother with the subject of inerrancy at all, and I’d like to say that I am an “inerrantist” in a broader (lowercase “i”) sense, similar to folks like Ben Witherington, John Stott (who hesitated to use the word, but fits within that category), and Craig Blomberg. As Ben argues in the discussion, it is not helpful when it is used to exclude and condemn, but it is helpful when it affirms the trustworthiness of Scripture. Personally, I think we can live without the term, or a “Chicago Statement,” because all that needs to be said at the basic level is “Thy word is truth.” But because people like to explain what that means, sometimes clarifying terminology is useful. I will confess, it has been a long time since I was teaching at an institution with “inerrancy” in the faith statement, but you won’t hear any complaints from me! 🙂