Book Review: Vital Issues in the Inerrancy Debate (2016)

Book Review of Vital Issues in the Inerrancy Debate

Christopher T. Haun[1]

[Click here >> Book Review – Vital Issues in the Inerrancy Debate to open this review as a PDF file.]

Title:

Vital Issues in the Inerrancy Debate
Publisher: Wipf & Stock
Date: 2016
General Editor: F. David Farnell
Contributors: F. David Farnell, Norman L. Geisler, Joseph P. Holden, William C. Roach, Phil Fernandes, Robert Wilkin, Paige Patterson, Shawn Nelson, Christopher T. Haun
PAGES: 563

PRICE:

$85.00 (Hardcover), $64.00 (Paperback)[2]

Kindle: $15.00 at Amazon.com

 

In Kurosawa’s classic film The Seven Samurai, desperate farmers convince veteran warriors to help defend their village and harvest from raiding bandits. Six ronin and one apprentice accept the challenge. After fortifying the village and giving the farmers a crash course in asymmetric warfare, the seven samurai lead the defense when the marauders return. Some of this story line and imagery came to mind as I read Vital Issues in the Inerrancy Debate (VIID) because first and foremost it is a defense.

Twenty-eight of its thirty-two chapters are written by six veteran scholars (holding PhDs in various fields). Four of its chapters are written by two MDiv candidates. In every chapter the authors are, as the preface says, “earnestly contending for the faith delivered once and for all to God’s people.” Every one of its meaty pages defends the traditional, conservative evangelical views of inspiration, inerrancy, and hermeneutics from the destructive use of biblical criticism. By extension they are defending all the propositions in and doctrines derived from the Bible.

VIID is an anthology of some of the best and most recent articles on topics of inerrancy, hermeneutic, and the quest for the historical Jesus. While it does weave in some of the history of the main clashes in the battle for the Bible in the twentieth century—such as the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, Barth and Neo-Orthodoxy, Fuller, Ladd, Rogers, McKim, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI), ETS and Robert Gundry—it doesn’t linger on them. Mainly it offers fresh and intelligent responses to the newest wave of challenges to the Bible offered by evangelicals in books like The Resurrection of Jesus (IVP, 2010), The Lost World of Scripture (IVP, 2013), Ten Guidelines for Evangelical Scholarship (Baker, 2013), Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy (Zondervan, 2013), Can We Still Believe the Bible? (Brazos, 2014), Lost World of Adam and Eve (IVP, 2015), Peter: False Disciple and Apostate According to Saint Matthew (Eerdmans, 2015), and I (Still) Believe (Zondervan, 2015).

Here is a sampling of the many thought-provoking questions which are discussed: How much emphasis should genre be given when doing interpretation? What is the nature of historical narratives? How do hermeneutics and inerrancy interrelate? Are the ideas of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy still important and relevant? What do the three living framers of the Chicago statements (Sproul, Packer, and Geisler) say about the new hermeneutic and the redefinitions of inerrancy? How do we deal with difficult passages in the Bible? What did the framers of the ICBI statements really mean? Where should one turn to get clarification about the Chicago Statements? Are the academic institutions of the evangelical world failing to learn the lessons of the past? Was the Apostle Matthew an Apostate? Which view has continuity with the early church fathers, Augustine, Aquinas, the Reformers, the writers of the 12-volume The Fundamentals, and the old Princetonians? Is inerrancy just for Calvinists? How early were the gospels really written? Is inerrancy just a peripheral doctrine? Is inerrancy derived from inductive and/or deductive logic? Was Matthew really the only one to mention the raising of the saints in Matthew 27? What do the Church fathers say about Matthew 27? Did any ancient Romans detect the influence of Roman historiography in Matthew 27? Should inerrancy be used as a litmus test of orthodoxy? Are the tools of biblical criticism really neutral? Does purpose or intention determine meaning? What does “truth” really mean? Is an intentionalist view of truth an alternative to the correspondence view of truth? Why did Bart Ehrman drift from fundamentalism to liberalism? What was the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention? Is there a resurgence of neo-evangelicalism? How does postmodernism fit into all this? Should the story of Adam and Eve be taken literally? Should organizations enforce their doctrinal statements amongst their own members? Does every scholarly evangelical organization lose its grip on inerrancy by the third generation? Should apologists defend both the Faith and the Bible? Should evangelicals send their budding scholars to earn PhDs at schools that specialize in biblical criticism?

VIID is provocative. The most controversial thing about the book is probably its willingness to name the names of many influential men. I’m not just talking about the old rascals like Bacon, Barth, Bart D. Ehrman, Bultmann, Darwin, Descartes, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Lessing, Perrin, Reimarus, Schweitzer, Spinoza, Strauss, Tillich, Troeltsch, and von Harnack. VIID does mention them. But if focuses more on the also names the names of present and recent scholars, publishers, and bloggers: Ben Meyer, Birger Gerhadsson, Bruce Waltke, Carlos Bovell, Charles Talbert, Christopher Ansberry, Christopher Hays, Christian Smith, Clark Pinnock, Craig Blomberg, Craig Evans, Craig Keener, D. Brent Sandy, Daniel P. Fuller, Daniel Harlow, Daniel Wallace, Darrell Bock, David Capes, David E. Garland, Donald Hagner, Donald K. McKim, Douglas Moo, Edwin Yamauchi, E. P. Sanders, Ernst Wendland, Gary R. Habermas, George Eldon Ladd, Gerd Theissen, Grant R. Osborne, Gregory A. Boyd, H. C. Kee, Heath Thomas, I. Howard Marshall, J. Merrick, J. P. Holding, Jack B. Rogers, James Barr, James Bruckner, James Charlesworth, James Crossley, James D. G. Dunn, Jeremy Evans, James Hamilton, Joel N. Lohr, Joel Watts, John Byron, John R. Franke, John Schneider, John H. Walton, Justin Taylor, Ken Schenck, Kenton Sparks, Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Lee McDonald, Leith Anderson, Leon Morris, Martin Soskice, Matthew Montonini, Michael F. Bird, Michael Green, Michael R. Licona, Moises Silva, Murray Harris, N.T. Wright, Nick Peters, Nijya Gupta, Paul Copan, Paul Jewett, Peter E. Enns, Paul Ricouer, Peter H. Davids, Phillip Long, Richard Burridge, Richard Horsley, Robert H. Gundry, Robert W. Yarborough, Robert Webb, Scot McKnight, Stephen M. Garrett, Thomas Schreiner, Tremper Longman III, W. David Beck, Walter Liefield, William Lane Craig, William Warren, and William Webb. (I probably missed a few!) Many of these men are held in high esteem in by many evangelicals. And yet VIID says that each of these men have in some way and to some degree challenged the parameters delineated by the ICBI in The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (CSBI, 1978) and The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics (CSBH, 1983).

Standing in the watchman tradition of books like The Battle for the Bible (Lindsell, 1976), The Bible in the Balance (Lindsell, 1979), The Jesus Crisis (Thomas and Farnell, 1998), The Jesus Quest (Geisler and Farnell, 2014), and Defending Inerrancy (Geisler and Roach, 2011), an exposé of this scope runs the risk of being accused of fratricide, libel, divisiveness, disunity, faction creating, quarrelsomeness, malice, and nastiness. But really all of its authors do a remarkable job of contending without being contentious. None of the pages were stuck together with drops of venom. With a passionate concern they succeeded in “not be[ing] quarrelsome but . . . correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2 Ti. 2:4) and in “not regard[ing] him as an enemy but warn[ing] him as a brother” (2 Th. 3:15).

There is merit in the maxim “attack the idea, not the man who holds it.” Perhaps the Apostle Paul anticipated this question when he wrote, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Co. 10:5). Ultimately the good fight of faith is not against people but against opinions and thoughts. But then must the defense always preclude the naming of names? As much as we might all prefer to avoid pointing fingers, it seems unavoidable at times. When specific professors are saying specific things to specific audiences, the defense cannot be sufficiently meaningful (certainly not in any actionable sense) unless specific names are named and their actual words are exposed and evaluated.

Also, in the act of naming names of men spreading ideas they deem corrosive to the orthodox faith, these watchmen are following apostolic precedents. The Apostle John named Cain as the old rascal who should not be imitated (1 Jn. 3:2) and named Diotrephes as the noteworthy contemporary antagonist inside the network of first-century churches. He described Diotrephes as one who does not properly recognize apostolic authority, who spoke “wicked nonsense” against them, and who should not be followed (3 Jn. 9-12). Similarly the Apostle Paul named Jannes and Jambres as the old rascals who will serve as patterns for many in these last days (2 Ti. 3:1-9). He also generalized that “all who are in Asia have turned away from me” and singled out Phygelus and Hermogenes as noteworthy examples (2 Ti. 1:15). Similarly he warned about Demas—a man who had been one of Paul’s coworkers and companions—because he preferred the world (2 Ti. 4:10). Paul also wanted church leaders to be wary of “Alexander the coppersmith” who “did me great harm” and “strongly opposed our message” (2 Ti. 4:14-15). He urged Timothy to “charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths . . . which promote speculations rather than . . . a good conscience and a sincere faith.” These “certain persons” had “wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers. . . without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” (1 Ti. 13-7). He named three of them by name (“among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander” and “among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus”). These were men who also were operating inside the first-century network of apostolic churches. They were insiders who had “made shipwreck of their faith” and “swerved from the truth.” They were “upsetting the faith of some” with “irreverent babble” that will “lead people into more and more ungodliness” and “spread like gangrene” (1 Ti. 1:19-20; 2 Ti. 2:16-18). Similarly the authors of VIID are attempting to warn the Bible-believing world that many of the professors at evangelical schools (who generally earned their PhDs from prestigious post-protestant, anti-evangelical schools) are leading evangelicals away from evangelical orthodoxy through the use of unorthodox methodology.

VIID also runs the risk of being accused of trying to stymie the progress of biblical scholarship, of trying to keep us stuck in the past, of interfering with the grand quest to “follow the truth wherever it leads,” and of thus being overall anti-intellectual and anti-scholarly. But VIID is an intellectual and scholarly attempt to discourage the use of corrosive literary criticism while encouraging healthy biblical scholarship. The authors urge considering of lessons of the past which show how the higher critical path leads not to pinnacles of illumination, enlightenment, and progress but to precipices of doubt. The application of feminist criticism, form criticism, genre criticism, historical criticism, Marxist criticism, midrash criticism, mythological criticism, New Criticism, new historical criticism, post-colonial criticism, post-structuralist criticism, psychoanalytic criticism, redaction criticism, rhetorical criticism, sociological criticism, source criticism, and whatever the next flavor of literary criticism that becomes vogue among secular scholars in the next decade all have one thing in common: They are critical and revolutionary by nature. Progress is made by challenging traditions and creating new knowledge with new wisdom. VIID insists that when evangelical scholars use secular literary criticism in their biblical criticism, it will ultimately lead to the same doctrinal graveyard that the neo-orthodox and liberal/modernist scholars filled in former decades with their use of higher criticism. The speculations produced during the exercise of critical methodologies is invariably given precedence over the plain meanings in the text of the Bible, once again the word of God is nullified for the sake of human traditions.

The neo-evangelical revolution is also changing the field of historical-evidential Christian apologetics. More than once VIID touches upon the rising tendency among evangelical biblical scholars to meet the historical critics on their own turf. They often create scholarly defenses for the big things—such as the general historical reliability of the gospels and the historical likelihood of the resurrection of Jesus—while being overly willing to amputate some of the seemingly less defensible and more dispensable propositions in the Bible. This innovative (non-classical) approach seems to be creating a division between those satisfied with defending a historical, creedal, and “mere” Christianity and those who would also defend the Bible in whole and part.

Some of VIID’s chapters are derived from articles originally posted at DefendingInerrancy.com, a website that has had more than 200,000 visits, 55,000 Facebook likes, and 48,000 signatures on its petition in support of The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. These statistics suggest that the latest battle for the Bible has not been lost yet. In The Magnificent Seven, a western adaptation of The Seven Samurai, the plot is further complicated by the ongoing question of whether the villagers will allow the bandits to continue to fleece them or whether they will really rise up and join the veterans in the fight. What will the villagers in the evangelical village do about neo-evangelical and neo-orthodox scholarship that is robbing them of their doctrinal heritage? To borrow a phrase from the oaths sworn by those seeking either citizenship or high office in the United States, will we defend our constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic?” Will we fight the good fight of faith not just against the siegeworks erected outside the city walls but also against those that have been smuggled inside the walls? Or will we watch the undermined walls collapse mysteriously around us and wonder how our harvest was plundered again? For those fighting the good fight of faith, Vital Issues in the Inerrancy Debate deserves consideration.

 

Chapter by Chapter

The book begins with a one-page tribute to Dr. Norman Geisler by the other contributors for his decades of defending and commending the faith. Indeed he is “worthy of a double honor” (1 Tim. 5:17). The two-page foreword by Dr. Paige Patterson sets the tone well with a call to continued vigilance. Patterson also provides excellent insights into the history of the inerrancy debate. He was part of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) and remembers it well. The two-page preface acknowledges the debt to the ICBI and adds another dimension to the history of the debate. The first 115 pages are devoted to defining inerrancy. The remaining pages are devoted to defending it.

The first chapter is titled “The Historic Documents of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy.” It is 17 pages long and is largely a condensed adaptation of the book Explaining Biblical Inerrancy (Bastion Books, 2012). Geisler begins by pointing out that he is currently one of the last three living framers of the three statements produced by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. He writes to “dispel some contemporary misinterpretations of what the ICBI framers meant by inerrancy” and to set the record straight. He enumerates the four fundamental documents of the ICBI (all four of which are collected in Explaining Biblical Inerrancy) and the other important books produced by the ICBI. He explains why the ICBI view of inerrancy is important. He explains the four main areas where scholars on the more liberal end of the evangelical spectrum (and usually holding membership in the Evangelical Theological Society and signing agreement with CSBI) have ignored, misunderstood, or otherwise challenged the CSBI: (1) the meaning of “truth,” (2) the function of genre, (3) the nature of historical narratives, (4) the relationship between hermeneutics and inerrancy. He very ably bolsters these four areas. He also gives a subtle challenge to the Evangelical Theological Society to enforce their doctrinal statement among its members. This chapter also includes all the articles of affirmation and denial from the CSBI and CSBH. This may then be the first time these two statements have ever been put together in their entirely and placed into a printed book. This was an unbeatable choice for a first chapter. This is something everyone in the ETS and EPS should come to grips with. Those who appreciate this chapter will enjoy its expansion in Explaining Biblical Inerrancy.

Chapter two is titled “What Is Inerrancy and Why Should We Care?” It is only four pages long and is written by Geisler and Shawn Nelson. It begins with a brief explanation of the three “in’s”: Inspiration, Infallibility, and Inerrancy. It gives four reasons why inerrancy is important and ultimately an essential—not peripheral—doctrine. Pointing to CSBI as the standard for describing what inerrancy is and is not, it proceeds to explain that the historical view of inerrancy is under attack right now. It gives a focus on the new wave of challenges to CSBI that arguably began in 2010 with various published and spoken statements by apologist Michael Licona.

Chapter three is also by Nelson and is titled “A Voice from a New Generation: What’s at Stake?” Nelson makes it clear the attack upon inerrancy by Michael Licona in 2010 exposed a much bigger problem. Several highly esteemed scholars from the ETS (Craig Blomberg, William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, Daniel Wallace, J.P. Moreland, W. David Beck, Jeremy Evans, Craig Keener, Douglas Moo, Heath Thomas, William Warren, and Edwin Yamauchi) publically voiced their support for Licona’s right to trump both CSBI and CSBH with form criticism and historical criticism. And this despite very clear statements in both ICBI statements on inerrancy (CSBI and CSBH) that guard against the exact type of maneuver Licona was using. Nelson gives a helpful tour of the historical views of biblical inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy. He cites Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Pseudo-Barnabas, Papias, Ignatius of Antioch, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, and the Epistle to Diognetus, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Cyprian, Eusebius, Athanasius, Cyril, Jerome, and Augustine. He also gives a helpful and concise tour of how the thought of Bacon, Hobbes, Spinoza, Hume, Kant, and Darwin led to a growing popularity of biblical errancy. He distinguishes between Evangelical, Liberal, and Neo-Evangelical views. He projects that the erosion of inerrancy will lead to further doubt and uses the regress of Bart Erhman as an example we should learn from. He makes additional arguments for the importance of an uncompromising view of inerrancy and ends with recommendations for staunching the decay.

Chapter four is written by F. David Farnell and titled, “Evangelical Mentoring: The Danger from Within.” With a shepherd’s heart and a scholar’s eye, Farnell starts by contrasting faithful mentoring with radical mentoring. A considerable amount of Jesus’ earthly ministry was in opposition with those who had interpretations of the Bible that made null the Word of God null. These men were disciples in a tradition and they were making disciples in that tradition. Jesus chose disciples like Peter and Paul to carry on his traditions and make disciples. Paul was a mentor to reliable men like Timothy and Titus. These men were to be mentors to other faithful men who could teach others. Farnell reminds us that some traditions attempt to stay faithful to the apostolic tradition and to the scriptures while other traditions do not represent them faithfully. In a way, it all comes down to mentoring. Against this backdrop he explains his concerns over some of the eighteen professors showcased in the 2015 book titled I Still Believe. He focuses upon the testimonies of Donald Hagner, Bruce Waltke, James Dunn, and Scot McKnight. He’s left questioning whether many of the professors—the teachers of the future teachers—in many evangelical institutions are passing on doubts rather than faith to the students who have been entrusted to them.

Chapter five is a review by Geisler of the 2013 book Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy (FVBI). He begins by pointing out three serious problems with the approach of this book. Having five views in dialogue for inerrancy suggests that inerrancy is “up for grabs” when it really is not. There are not five views. There are ultimately two views. Either the Bible contains errors and contradictions or it does not. Also, of the five authors, only one is an actual inerrantist; the other four are varying degrees of errantists. The deck seems stacked. And since the book was to discuss the CSBI, why were none of the three living framers of the CSBI (Sproul, Packer, or Geisler) asked to participate in a dialogue? His review is 39 meaty pages in length. It’s daunting to try to summarize it. He points out that the Evangelical Theological Society officially adopted the CSBI as its definition of inerrancy. He provides five reasons for the importance and fundamental position of inerrancy. He notes that some of the authors of FVBI misunderstand “truth” and some of them wrongly assume purpose determines meaning. Propositional revelation, accommodation, lack of precision, the role of extra-biblica data, the role of hermeneutics, and the role of extra-biblical genre, pluralism, conventionalism, and foundationalism are all discussed. Geisler nails the coffin lid shut on the question of whether Licona’s views can be harmonized with CSBI and CSBH by pointing out that all three of the remaining framers of the Chicago statements (Sproul, Packer, and Geisler) have confirmed that they cannot. The story of ETS and Robert Gundry is retold. Examples of dealing with bible difficulties (what some of the authors of FBVI would call contradictions) in the OT and NT are given. Geisler also answers the errantists charges against inerrantists of being unbiblical, unhistorical, using the slippery slope argument, being parochial, unethical, divisive, and unloving. Reading this chapter reminded me that Geisler deserves the tribute that the book begins with.

Chapter six is by Dr. William Roach and is titled “The 2015 Shepherds’ Conference on Inerrancy.” John MacArthur and The Master’s Seminary hosted a conference on inerrancy in March 2015. They reaffirmed the importance of holding to total inerrancy and to defining it as the CSBI did. This seven page article reports positively on that conference.

Chapter seven is a fascinating interview William Roach conducted with Paige Patterson. They discuss the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention and how their seminaries were rescued from errantism. It discusses what interplay there was between it and the ICBI.

In chapter eight Geisler answers the question of whether one has to be a Calvinist to believe in inerrancy. Many of the leaders of the later ICBI inerrancy movement were

strong Calvinists but most of the signers of the ICBI statements on inerrancy identified as moderate Calvinists, Cal-minians, Arminians, Wesleyans, “or some other label.” Geisler establishes continuity with Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Warfield, Hodge, Wesley, and other Wesleyans. He shows how they upheld inerrancy. He concludes, “Inerrancy is neither a late nor a denominational doctrine. It is not provincial but universal. It is the foundation for every group that names the name of Christ. . .”

Chapter nine is where Geisler reexamines the relationship between inerrancy and hermeneutics. He is tackling the claim that is made by those who defend the attacks against CSBI and CSBH by saying, “Leave him alone. It’s just a matter of interpretation, not of inerrancy.” This could be the most important chapter of the book as it tackles what may be the thing that evangelicals have had the hardest time understanding. Today many evangelicals can try to claim to be inerrantists and to agree with CSBI while promoting hermeneutical gymnastics to trump inerrancy. Yet it was clear to the wise leaders of the ICBI that after producing the CSBI still had to proceed to create the CSBH. What good is it to reinforce the front door while leaving the backdoor unlocked? Geisler discusses how this played out with the controversies surrounding Jack Rodgers, Robert Gundry, Paul Jewett, and Michael Licona. He challenges various assumptions: inspiration and interpretation are separate matters, allegorical interpretation, truth is not correspondence to facts, biblical narratives are not necessarily historical, hermeneutic is neutral, and more.

In chapter ten Geisler responds to William Lane Craig’s advocacy of limited inerrancy based on inductive logic and his argument against unlimited inerrancy as based on deductive logic. Naturally Geisler begins with the question of whether inerrancy has an inductive or deductive basis. Explaining the “false disjunction,” the chapter quickly becomes a delight for those of us who appreciate logic. He then proceeds to tackle Craig’s claims that only the author’s intentions (and not all affirmations) are inerrant, that only essential matters are inerrant but not peripheral matters, and that extra-biblical genre determines the meaning of biblical texts. He discusses the question of genre and explains how inerrancy is an essential doctrine. He discusses Licona’s errors. He contrasts the evangelical and neo-evangelical views of inerrancy and reminds that the ETS adopted CSBI in 2006 as its definition of inerrancy. Geisler also makes the important correction that Kenneth Kantzer, the professor Craig claims to have learned the doctrine of inerrancy from, was actually a committed follower of the Warfield-Hodge view of total inerrancy. Kantzer would have been “clearly opposed to the Craig-Licona view of limited inerrancy.” He also reminds Craig that Packer, Sproul, and Geisler have all confirmed that Licona’s view of Mt 27 (which Craig also essentially holds) is not compatible at all with CSBI or CSBH. He concludes saying, “Thus evangelicalism is the rightful owner of unlimited inerrancy, and those professed evangelicals who modify it or limit it to redemptive matters are, at best, the rightful owners of the term Neo-Evangelical.”

Chapter eleven is by Farnell and is titled “Early Twentieth Century Challenges to Inerrancy.” Encouraging us to learn from history in order to not repeat its mistakes, Farnell compares what was happening in the early twentieth century (with the fundamentalist-modernist controversy) and what is happening here in the early twenty-first century (with the evangelical-neoevangelical controversy). The parallels seem uncanny. He explains how and why the The Fundamentals was produced and “left as a testimony by the faithful to the early twentieth-century church’s experience of the attack on orthodox Protestant beliefs, conducted aggressively by higher criticism, liberal theology, Catholicism. . . , socialism, Modernism, atheism, Christian Science, Mormonism, Millennial Dawn, Spiritualism, and evolutionism that had infiltrated its ranks and subsequently caused great damage within the church with regard to its vitality and theology. Above all, they left it as a warning to future generations in hopes of preventing a similar occurrence among God’s people in the future.” Farnell points out that after the divinity schools fell to modernism new schools like Westminster Theological Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Fuller Seminary were planted to serve as bastions of conservative, biblical doctrine, inerrancy, and the fundamentals of the faith.

In chapter twelve, Farnell picks up where he left off in chapter 11. He discusses the challenges (or crisis) in the twenty-first century caused largely by fundamentalist or evangelical scholars seeking the respect of mainline academia. Many of the young scholars were sent to Ivy League, British, or Continental European schools to earn their PhDs. Many schools began to hire professors who were from these schools that were dominated by theological liberalism. With them came the neo-orthodoxy of Karl Barth. He explains how Fuller Seminary drifted away from evangelical views about the Bible and became rather neo-evangelical. He discusses Ladd, Lindsell, Rogers, McKim, Woodbridge, Gundry, Barr, ICBI, ETS, Blomberg, Silva, Geisler, The Jesus Crisis, Bock, Webb, Osborne, The Jesus Quest, the third quest for the historical Jesus, Perrin, Ladd, Roach, Defending Inerrancy, Sparks, McCall, Thompson, Yarbrough, Linnemann, Gundry, more Blomberg, Dan Wallace, Bill Craig, Hagner, Ehrman, and more. This provides an excellent history which filled in many gaps for me. It shows that critical scholarship is still going today where it went in the past.

Chapter thirteen is titled “The Resurgence of Neo-Evangelicalism: Craig Blomberg’s Latest Book and the Future of Evangelical Theology.” Here William Roach provides a concise but helpful historical backdrop of the controversies over inerrancy. He is primarily critiquing Craig Blomberg’s book Can We Still Believe the Bible? But he also weaves in some other recent works by neo-evangelicals who advocate errantism. He corrects some inaccuracies and confirms that Blomberg is yet another scholar who is “now willing to move beyond the vision and legacy of classic evangelicalism and the ICBI.” In his critique of Blomberg’s ideas he also weaves in many other related bits with mastery of the subject matter.

In chapter fourteen Phil Fernandez describes how the battle for the Bible has begun again. He begins by saying, “This chapter is not meant to divide brothers in Christ. Rather, it is a call to honesty. Those who call themselves evangelicals must truly be evangelicals. . . . If we sign a doctrinal statement, we must actually believe what we affirmed in that statement. We should not have the liberty to redefine the doctrines addressed in that statement. . . . this chapter should not be understood as an attack on Christian brothers. Rather, it is an indictment on the present state of evangelical scholarship itself.” He explains how the battle for the Bible raged in the 1970s and how it led to the ICBI. He discusses the reason for Robert Gundry being asked to leave the ETS and how the ETS did not vote Clark Pinnock out. He also sees a revival of the battle for the Bible starting with Mike Licona in 2010. He discusses the problems of genre and historiography in a way that harmonizes well with the other chapters but which also remains distinct. One thing that stood out to me was the way Phil tied in the minimal facts case for the resurrection. He says, it “is a great way to defend the resurrection. But, we must never allow the minimal facts case to evolve into a minimal facts evangelicalism or a minimal facts New Testament scholarship.” He challenges the ETS to enforce and even enlarge their doctrinal statement.

Chapter fifteen considers the question of whether or not biblical inerrancy as a “litmus test” of evangelical orthodoxy. This was written by Christopher Haun in response to a blog post written by Daniel Wallace. Wallace had pointed out that Carl F. H. Henry remained averse to setting biblical inerrancy as the litmus test of orthodoxy. Haun attempts to show how Wallace is partially right and partially wrong. He clarifies Henry’s position using several quotes by Henry himself and some by Ronald Nash.

Farnell is asking “Can We Still Believe Critical Evangelical Scholars?” in chapter sixteen. He reminds us of how vibrant Christianity had been in the 18th and 19th centuries and then asks how so many churches and cathedrals are boarded up now. How did British and Scottish universities become spiritually dead? And why do American evangelicals still go there to get their PhDs?  He explains that the change was internal. He explains a few forces of change and talks about why things were different in the United States. One of the differences is that two wealthy laymen paid for a project that would produce the twelve volume set of The Fundamentals between 1910 and 1917. Three million of those volumes were distributed. As schools like Princeton succumbed to the forces of apostasy, schools like Westminster Theological Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Fuller Theological Seminary were started. He compares the similarities between the 20th and 21st century scenes and encourages us to learn the lessons of the past. He discusses some of the harmful ideas of Ladd, Blomberg, Hagner, and more.

In chapter seventeen Farnell discusses “The ‘Magic’ of Historical Criticism.” This is a 59 page essay.

In chapters 18 and 19, Farnell gives a “Critical Evaluation of Robert H. Gundry’s Westmont College Lecture, ‘Peter: False Disciple and Apostate according to Saint Matthew’”

In chapter 20 Geisler and Farnell provide “A Critical Review of Donald Hagner’s ‘Ten Guidelines for Evangelical Scholarship’”

Chapter 21. Geisler sets the record straight on “On Licona Muddying the Waters of the Chicago Statements of Biblical Inerrancy and Hermeneutics.”

 

Chapter 22. Geisler sets the record straight on “The Early Church Fathers and the Resurrection of the Saints in Matthew 27:51–54.”

Chapter 23. Geisler reviews Craig Blomberg’s book Can We Still Believe in the Bible? He shows how Blomberg’s views contradict, misunderstand, and attack the ICBI view on inerrancy. He responds to Blomberg’s Defense of Robert Gundry, Murray Harris, Mike Licona

Chapter 24 | ICBI Inerrancy Is Not for the Birds | Joseph Holden responds to the “current trend among evangelical New Testament scholars to utilize or approve of genre criticism (e.g., Craig Blomberg, Michael Licona, Darrell Bock, Michael Bird, Carlos Bovell, Kevin Vanhoozer, et al.) to dehistoricize the biblical text appears to stem from an aversion to the correspondence view of truth.”

Chapter 25. Contemporary Evangelical NT Genre Criticism Opening Pandora’s Box? Joseph M. Holden

Chapter 26 | Book Review: Craig Blomberg’s Can We Still Believe the Bible? |Joseph M. Holden

Chapter 27 | Book Review: The Lost World of Adam and Eve | Norman L. Geisler

Chapter 28 | An Exposition and Refutation of the Key Presuppositions of Contemporary Jesus Research | Phil Fernandes

Chapter 29 | Redating the Gospels | Phil Fernandes

Chapter 30 | Misinterpreting J. I. Packer on Inerrancy and Hermeneutics | William C. Roach and Norman L. Geisler

Chapter 31 | Can We Still Trust New Testament Professors? | Bob Wilkin

Chapter 32 | Christopher T. Haun explores the question of whether ancient Romans detected the influence of Roman historiography in Matthew 27:45–54 or not. He puts the theory that Roman historians influenced Matthew’s way of reporting history to the test by examining thirty case studies where ancient Romans referred to one or more of the events in Matthew 27:45–54. Did any of the ancients interpret these events less than literally? He also revisits the three case studies that Licona cited in The Resurrection of Jesus.

Epilogue | Historical Criticism vs. Grammatico-Historical: Quo Vadis Evangelicals? | F. David Farnell

Appendix: Statements on the Importance of Inerrancy from Prominent Christian Leaders

[1] Christopher T. Haun is a Master’s Degree candidate at Veritas Evangelical Seminary and an editorial associate at Bastion Books. This book review was written for the April 2016 issue of the Journal of the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

[2] To purchase at a 40% discount, use “inerrant” as a coupon code upon checkout at http://wipfandstock.com/vital-issues-in-the-inerrancy-debate.html. Also available at http://www.amazon.com/Vital-Issues-Inerrancy-Debate-Farnell/dp/149823724X

The Erosion of Inerrancy Among New Testament Scholars: Craig Blomberg (2012)

Blomberg_1_

Dr. Craig Blomberg

 

 

THE EROSION OF INERRANCY AMONG NEW TESTAMENT SCHOLARS:

A PRIMARY CASE IN POINT—CRAIG BLOMBERG

 Copyright © 2012 Norman L. Geisler – All rights reserved

Copyright © 2012 F. David Farnell – All rights reserved

 

Background

In a recent “Round Table” discussion at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,[1] a dialogue regarding Michael L. Licona’s work, The Resurrection of Jesus a New Historical Approach occurred wherein five scholars evaluated the “hornet’s nest” surrounding it.[2]  In this latter work, Licona commendably defends the physical, literal resurrection of Jesus.  So far, so good.  However, contained in this very same treatise was a very troubling section regarding Matthew 27:51-53 of the resurrection of the saints at Jesus’ resurrection Licona applies dubious genre hermeneutics to Matthew’s gospel known as “apocalyptic” or “eschatological Jewish texts” whereby he arbitrarily dismisses the historicity of Matthew 27:51-53 (and its recording of the resurrection of saints) which results effectively in the complete evisceration and total negation of His strong defense of Jesus’ resurrection.[3]  Despite Licona’s protest, these same apocalyptic arguments could be applied to Jesus Resurrection.

For example, James D. G. Dunn applies a similar logic to the resurrection of Jesus (cp. Acts 1:3), comparing the Passion accounts in the Gospels to that of Second Temple Judaism’s literature, relating that Jesus’ hope for resurrection reflected more of the ideas of Second Temple Judaism’s concept of vindication hope of a general and final resurrection: “The probability remains, however, that any hope of resurrection entertained by Jesus himself was hope to share in the final resurrection.”[4]  For Dunn, Jesus had in mind that “His death would introduce the final climactic period, to be followed shortly (‘after three days’?) by the general resurrection, the implementation of the new covenant, and the coming of the kingdom.”[5]  Here Dunn’s imposition of Jewish eschatology genre effectively eviscerates any idea of Jesus’ physical, literal resurrection on the Sunday after His crucifixion and places it entirely into distant future of Jewish expectations of a final resurrection at the Last Judgment.

Regarding Matthew 27:51-53, Licona labels this passage a “strange little text,”[6] and terms it “special effects” that have no historical basis.[7]  His apparent concern also rests with only the Gospel of Matthew as mentioning the event.  He concludes that “Jewish eschatological texts and thought in mind” as “most plausible” in explaining it.[8]  He concludes that “It seems best to regard this difficult text in Matthew a poetic device added to communicate that the Son of God had died and that impending judgment awaited Israel.”[9]  This is contrary to the statements of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) which was adopted the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) as a guide in understanding inerrancy. The ICBI Chicago Statement Article XVIII directly opposes such a conclusion, “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.”

 

Licona Supported by Craig Blomberg

As a result of Licona’s genre arguments, he was asked to attend this Roundtable meeting at Southeastern whereby NT scholars could discuss with him the whirlwind of controversy surrounding his genre assertions.  Four scholars met with Licona to vet the issue: Danny Akin, Craig Blomberg, Paul Copan, Michael Kruger and Charles Quarles.  Akin, Kruger and Quarles respectfully disagreed with Licona’s approach, while Copan and Blomberg vigorously defended Licona.  The title of this might have been called: “With Friends Like This Who Needs Enemies?”

The focus of this article will be on the interesting response of one of Licona’s staunch defenders, Craig Blomberg, Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, who, instead of viewing the dehistoricizing of Matthew 27:51-53 as an alarming hermeneutical trend among evangelicals, aggressively attacked scholars (i.e. Mohler, Geisler) who defended the historicity of the Gospels, especially this passage.  Both Mohler[10] and Geisler recognized that Licona’s tragic hermeneutical misstep at this point could devastate the Gospels as the only historical records of Jesus’ life by opening up a proverbial avenue for major portions of the Gospels to be labeled as non-historical in genre.  The recognized the far-reaching interpretive implications of Licona’s approach.  Startlingly, Blomberg called upon men who defended the Gospels’ historicity to apologize to someone who had dehistoriced them:  “First, Drs. Geisler and Mohler need to apologize in the same public forums in which they censured Dr. Licona, for having been inappropriately harsh and unnecessarily simplistic in their analyses. Second, all the Christian leaders who worked behind the scenes to get Dr. Licona removed from various positions, including already extended speaking invitations, likewise need to publicly seek Dr. Licona’s forgiveness. Then, if he wishes to remain within the SBC, a courageous SBC institution of at least comparable prestige to those that let him go needs to hire him.”[11]

 

Blomberg’s Shift in Hermeneutics

Such a response by Blomberg serves as an illustration of the startling erosion of inerrancy among NT scholars, especially those who have been schooled in the European continent.  Blomberg serves as a salient example in many ways of such an erosion.  Many of these European-trained scholars ignore the lessons of history that evangelicals have undergone at the turn of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first that was highlighted in the Chicago Statements of 1978 and 1982.  Significantly, Blomberg exemplifies a significant, substantive shift in hermeneutics that these evangelicals are now engaging in.  The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy in 1978 expressly commended the grammatico-historical approach in Article XVIII:

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.

 

Why did they commend the grammatico-historical approach?  Because these men who expressed these two watershed statements had experienced the history of interpretive degeneration among mainstream churches and seminaries (“As go the theological seminaries, so goes the church”)[12] in terms of dismissing the gospels as historical records due to historical-critical ideologies.  Blomberg, instead, now advocates “The Historical-Critical/Grammatical View”[13] of hermeneutics for evangelicals that constitutes an alarming, and especially unstable, blend of historical-critical ideologies with the grammatico-historical hermeneutic.  Blomberg argues for a “both-and-and-and-and” position of combining grammatico-historical method with that of historical-critical ideologies.[14]

Blomberg apparently chose to ignore The Jesus Crisis (1998) and has already catalogued the evangelical disaster that such a blend of grammatico-historical and historical-critical elements precipitates in interpretive approaches.[15]  Stemming from this blending of these two elements are the following sampling of hermeneutical dehistoricizing among evangelicals:  The author of Matthew, not Jesus, created the sermon on the mount; the commissioning of the Twelve in Matthew 10 is a compilation of instructions collected and gathered but not spoken on a single occasion; Matthew 13 and Mark 4 are collections or anthologies not spoken by Jesus on a single occasion; Jesus did not preach the Olivet Discourse in its entirety as presented in the Gospels; the scribes and Pharisees were good people whom Matthew portrayed in a bad light; the magi of Matthew 2 are fictional characters; Jesus did not speak all of the parables in Matthew 5:3-12.[16]  In response to the alarm sounded by The Jesus Crisis, Blomberg angrily, aggressively responded by attacking its authors, a well-known Seminary, a highly respected pastor, as well as Bible-believing evangelicals in general who had sounded the alarm:

That such a narrow, sectarian spirit has not disappeared from the American scene is demonstrated by the 1998 publication of a book entitled The Jesus Crisis: The Inroads of Historical Criticism into Evangelical Scholarship. It is edited and partially authored by Robert L. Thomas and F. David Farnell, two professors from the seminary started by megachurch pastor John MacArthur as a fundamentalist protest against the mainstream evangelical, inerrantist perspective of the Talbot School of Theology in greater Los Angeles, from which many of the founding professors came.

Thomas in particular argues that virtually all evangelical Gospel scholars have capitulated  to liberalism and are, in essence, no different from the Jesus Seminar, because  they accept theories of literary dependence among the synoptic Gospels or embrace, even cautiously, various aspects of form, tradition or redaction criticism. Only an additive harmonization that sees all of the sayings of Jesus in the Gospels excerpted from a larger whole that contained massive reduplication of what now appears parcelled out among the four narratives is consistent, in his mind, with inerrancy.   I can scarcely imagine such a book ever being published by a major Christian press in the UK, much less it’s being publicly praised by the president of an evangelical academic society, as Norman Geisler did in last year’s presidential address to the ETS! [italics/boldness added] Or, at a more grass-roots level, television and radio preachers can through one nationally syndicated programme do more damage to the career of an evangelical academic or institution than years of patient, nuanced scholarship on his or her part do to advance it. The Christian counselling movement in the US is a frequent target for such overstated and devastating attacks. The counter-cult industry wields similar power; self-appointed, theologically untrained watchdogs can keep books out of Christian bookstores and set constituencies against their scholars through campaigns of misinformation. I experienced how this felt firsthand after I co-authored a book with Brigham Young University New Testament Professor Stephen E. Robinson, entitled How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation, in which we dared to list everything we agreed on as well as including long lists of disagreements. We also tried to model an uncharacteristically irenic spirit for Mormon-evangelical interchanges.  Fellow academics uniformly praised the book; it won an award from Christianity Today as one of the top fifteen Christian books of 1997. Several leading counter-cult ministries, however, severely criticized it, and one of the most influential ones has gone out of its way to condemn it over the airwaves (and in print) on a regular basis.   If for no other reason than that national Christian radio and television do not exist in the UK, I again cannot imagine a parallel phenomenon occurring in Britain.[17]

This section also tellingly reveals Blomberg’s “both/and” approach of combining grammatico-historical with historical-critical, a telling admission of the strong impact of British academic training on evangelical hermeneutics, as well as his willingness to create a bridge between Christian orthodoxy and Mormonism.  While Blomberg is irenic and embracing with Mormons, he has great hostility toward those who uphold the “fundamentals” of Scripture.

In his article on “The Historical-Critical/Grammatical” hermeneutic, he asserts that historical-criticism can be “shorn” of its “antisupernatural presuppositions that the framers of that method originally employed” and eagerly embraces “source, form, tradition and redaction criticism” as “all essential [italic and bold added—not in the original] tools for understanding the contents of the original document, its formation and origin, its literary genre and subgenres, the authenticity of the historical material it includes, and its theological or ideological emphases and distinctives.”[18] He labels the “The Historical-Critical/Grammatical” approach “the necessary foundation on which all other approaches must build.”[19]  However, history is replete with negative examples of those who attempted this unstable blend, from the Neologions in Griesbach’s day to that of Michael Licona’s book under discussion currently.[20]  Another example of failure is George Ladd, who while attempting to blend such elements, was criticized on both sides for either going-to far (conservatives) or for not going far enough (theologically critical scholars).  For example, Norman Perrin regarded Ladd’s passion for approval among liberals as a motivation led to Ladd’s miscontruing some of the more liberal scholars’ positions in order to make them support his own views.[21]  Perrin bluntly argued,

We have already noted Ladd’s anxiety to find support for his views on the authenticity of a saying or pericope, and this is but one aspect of what seems to be a ruling passion with him: the search for critical support for his views altogether.  To this end he is quite capable of misunderstanding the scholars concerned . . . .

Ladd’s passion for finding support for his views among critical scholars has as its counterpart an equal passion for dismissing contemptuously aspects of their work which do not support him.  These dismissals are of a most peremptory nature.[22]

 

Perrin labeled Ladd’s support for the credibility of the gospels as accurate historical sources for the life of Jesus as “an uncritical view” and that Ladd was guilty of eisegesis of liberals’ views to demonstrate any congruity of their assertions with his brand of conservative evangelical. Marsden continues:

[Ladd] saw Perrin’s review as crucial in denying him prestige in the larger academic arena. . . . The problem was the old one of the neo-evangelical efforts to reestablish world-class evangelical scholarship.  Fundamentalists and conservatives did not trust them . . . and the mainline academic community refused to take them seriously.

Perhaps Perrin had correctly perceived a trait of the new evangelical movement when he described Ladd as torn between his presuppositional critique of modern scholarship and his eagerness to find modern critical scholars on his side . . . No one quite succeeded philosophically in mapping the way this was to be done, though.  The result was confusion, as became apparent with subsequent efforts to relate evangelical theology to the social sciences at the new schools.  For . . . Ladd, who had the highest hopes for managing to be in both camps with the full respect of each, the difficulties in maintaining the balance contributed to deep personal anxiety.[23]

 

Edgar Krentz, in his The Historical-Critical Method, also described Ladd’s attempt at changing certain rationalistic presuppositions as “the uneasy truce of conservativism” with the historical-critical method.[24]  For Krentz, “The alternative to using historical criticism is an unthinking acceptance of tradition”; that “the only fruitful approach is to seek to combine theological convictions and historical methods”; and that “Ladd . . . demonstrate[s] that a new evaluation of history is abroad in conservativism.”[25]

Blomberg himself, however, constitutes a clear example that affirms the validity of warnings issuing from those whom he so readily attacks and suggests his attempts at blending historical criticism with grammatico-historical hermeneutics is ill-founded.  Several salient examples demonstrate this point.

Blomberg’s Defense of Robert Gundry

Some 26 years before Michael Licona in 2010 used genre as a means of dehistoricizing Matthew 27: 51-53, Craig Blomberg, in 1984, right after the ICBI statements (1978 and 1982), defended such genre issues regarding biblical interpretation in the Gospels.  Blomberg defended Robert Gundry’s midrashic approach to the Gospels in the following terms:

Is it possible, even inherently probable, that the NT writers at least in part never intended to have their miracle stories taken as historical or factual and that their original audiences probably recognized this? If this sounds like the identical reasoning that enabled Robert Gundry to adopt his midrashic interpretatoin of Matthew while still affirming inerrancy, that is because it is the same. The problem will not disappear simply because one author [Gundry] is dealt with ad hominem . . . how should evangelicals react? Dismissing the sociological view on the grounds that the NT miracles present themselves as historical gets us nowhere. So do almost all the other miracle stories of antiquity. Are we to believe them all?” [26]

 

It is well to remember what happened in the Gundry case. After two years of discussion on the issue, the largest society of evangelical scholars in the world (ETS) voted overwhelmingly (by 70%) to ask Robert Gundry to resign from ETS because they believed that his views on a Jewish midrash interpretation of Matthew denied the historicity of certain sections of Matthews, including the story of the Magi visiting Jesus after his birth (Mt. 2).  This was a significant decision which drew a line in the sand for ETS.

There are many implications that flow from the decision.  First, ETS affirmed that one cannot totally separate hermeneutics from inerrancy.  Second, it set an important precedent for other scholars as to how ETS understand what is meant by inerrancy.  Third, it made a clear statement that one cannot deny the historicity of any part of the Gospels without denying inerrancy.  Finally, ETS took a strong stand on the historical-grammatical hermeneutic in opposition to contemporary dilutions or denials of it.

In spite of all of this Blomberg proudly boasts that he opposed the ETS stand on inerrancy.  In view of what Blomberg believes about the Gospels (see below), we can understand why he defends his position against ETS and, as well will see, against ICBI as well.  It is also apparent why Blomberg defends Licona’s view for “birds of a feather flock together.”

 

Blomberg denied the historicity of the fish with the coin in its mouth (Matt. 17:27)

Accordingly, Blomberg denied the historicity of the account of Jesus and the coin in the fish’s mouth.  Blomberg noted, “It is often not noticed that the so-called miracle of the fish with the coin in its mouth (Matt. 17:27) is not even a narrative; it is merely a command from Jesus to go to the lake and catch such a fish.  We don’t even know if Peter obeyed the command.  Here is a good reminder to pay careful attention to the literary form.”[27]  Blomberg’s solution is directly at odds with the ICBI statement on Hermeneutics when it states in Article XIII: “generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual.”

Blomberg rehabilitates (!) Bart Ehrman’s Forged assertions

by his own advocation of False Writing

by False Authors of Canonical Books in the New Testament

 

Blomberg offers another solution toward solving problems surrounding pseudonymity in relation to some New Testament books whereby the “critical consensus approach could . . . be consistent with inerrancy, “benign pseudonymity.”[28]  Blomberg also uses the term “ghost-writer” to describe this activity.[29]  Another name for this would be pseudepigraphy (e.g. Ephesians, Colossians, Pastorals).  Blomberg contends:

A methodology consistent with evangelical convictions might argue that there was an accepted literary convention that allowed a follower, say, of Paul, in the generation after his martyrdom, to write a letter in Paul’s name to one of the churches that had come under his sphere of influence.  The church would have recognized that it could not have come from an apostle they knew had died two or three decades earlier, and they would have realized that the true author was writing  thoughts indebted to the earlier teaching of Paul.  In a world without footnotes or bibliographies, this was one way of giving credit where credit was due.  Modesty prevented the real author from using his own name, so he wrote in ways he could easily have envisioned Paul writing were the apostle still alive today.  Whether or not this is what actually happened, such a hypothesis is thoroughly consistent with a high view of Scripture and an inerrant Bible.  We simply have to recognize what is and is not being claimed by the use of name ‘Paul’ in that given letter.[30]

 

This issue was explicitly addressed by the ICBI framers when they wrote of Scripture: “We deny the legitimacy of…rejecting its claims to authorship.”(Chicago Statement, Article XVII).  In short, what claims to be written by the apostle Paul was written by the apostle Paul or else the Bible is not inerrant.

For Blomberg, the key to pseudonymity would also lie in motive behind the writing.  Blomberg argues that “One’s acceptance or rejection of the overall theory of authorship should then depend on the answers to these kinds of questions, not on some a priori determination that pseudonymity is in every instance compatible or incompatible with evangelicalism.”[31]  He argues, “[i]t is not the conclusion one comes to on the issue [pseudonymity] that determines whether one can still fairly claim to be evangelical, or even inerrantist, how one arrives at that conclusion.”[32]  Yet, how could one ever known the motive of such ghost writers?  Would not such a false writer go against all moral standards of Christianity?  Under Blomberg’s logic, Bart Ehrman’s Forged (2011) only differs in one respect: Blomberg attributes good motives to forgers, while Ehrman is honest enough to admit that these “benign” writings are really what they would be in such circumstances FORGED WRITING IN THE NAME OF GOD—WHY THE BIBLE’S AUTHORS ARE NOT WHO WE THINK THEY ARE[33]  Are apparently both of these scholars able to read the proverbial “tea leaves” and divine the motives behind such perpetrations.  Not likely!

 

 

Blomberg Even Cast Doubt of Historical Reliability of the New Testament

He also carries this logic to the idea of “historical reliability more broadly.”  He relates, “Might some passages in the Gospels and Acts traditionally thought of as historical actually be mythical or legendary?  I see no way to exclude the answer a priori. The question would be whether any given proposal to that effect demonstrated the existence of an accepted literary form likely known to the Evangelists’ audiences, establishes as a legitimate device for communicating theological truth through historical fiction.  In each case it is not the proposal itself that should be off limits for the evangelical.  The important question is whether any given proposal has actually made its case.”[34]

Blomberg Demonizes Critics of His Critical Views

Blomberg, seemingly anticipating objections to his ideas, issues a stern warning to those who would oppose such proposals that he has discussed:

[L]et those on the ‘far right’ neither anathematize those who do explore and defend new options nor immediately seek to ban them from organizations or institutions to which they belong.”  If new proposals . . . cannot withstand scholarly rigor, then let their refutations proceed at that level, with convincing scholarship, rather than with the kind of censorship that makes one wonder whether those who object have no persuasive reply and so have to resort simply to demonizing and/or silencing the voices with which they disagree.  If evangelical scholarship proceeded in this more measured fashion, neither inherently favoring nor inherently resisting ‘critical’ conclusions, whether or not they form a consensus, then it might fairly be said to be both traditional andconstructive.[35]

 

Interestingly, recently, Craig Blomberg blames books like Harold Lindsell’sBattle For the Bible (1976) and such a book as The Jesus Crisis for people leaving the faith because of their strong stance on inerrancy as a presupposition.  In a web interview in 2008 conducted by Justin Taylor, Blomberg responded this way to books that hold to a firm view on inerrancy.  The interviewer asked, “Are there certain mistaken hermeneutical presuppositions made by conservative evangelicals that play into the hands of liberal critics?”  Blomberg replied,

Absolutely. And one of them follows directly from the last part of my answer to your last question. The approach, famously supported back in 1976 by Harold Lindsell in his Battle for the Bible (Zondervan), that it is an all-or-nothing approach to Scripture that we must hold, is both profoundly mistaken and deeply dangerous. No historian worth his or her salt functions that way. I personally believe that if inerrancy means “without error according to what most people in a given culture would have called an error” then the biblical books are inerrant in view of the standards of the cultures in which they were written. But, despite inerrancy being the touchstone of the largely American organization called the Evangelical Theological Society, there are countless evangelicals in the States and especially in other parts of the world who hold that the Scriptures are inspired and authoritative, even if not inerrant, and they are not sliding down any slippery slope of any kind. I can’t help but wonder if inerrantist evangelicals making inerrancy the watershed for so much has not, unintentionally, contributed to pilgrimages like Ehrman’s. Once someone finds one apparent mistake or contradiction that they cannot resolve, then they believe the Lindsells of the world and figure they have to chuck it all. What a tragedy![36]

To Blomberg, apparently anyone who advocates inerrancy as traditionally advocated by Lindsell (which, incidentally, was expressed in the ICBI statements and adopted as a guide by ETS) is responsible for people leaving the faith.  This would include the ICBI and the ETS for adopting the ICBI statements as a guidline on inerrancy.  This makes it very clear that Blomberg places himself outside of mainstream inerrantists.  This makes hollow the claim to inerrancy by Blomberg or Licona whom he seeks to defend.

Indeed, Blomberg distances himself from the claims to inerrancy when approaching the Gospels.  He claims that belief that the Gospels should be examined part from any considerations of inerrancy.  Indeed, inerrancy is sharply divorced from their research as something foreign to their task.  Blomberg argues regarding his The Historical Reliability of the Gospels that “Indeed, the goals of this volume remain modest.  I neither suppose nor argue for the complete inerrancy, infallibility of Scripture, even just within the Gospels.  These are the logical and/or theological corollaries of other prior commitments.  I believe that there are good reasons for holding them but a defense of that conviction would require a very different kind of book.”[37]

Indeed, they seem to distance themselves strongly from any such concepts in their analysis of Scripture.  For instance, in a self-review of his own work Key Events that involves “searching” for the concept of the “historical Jesus,” evangelical Bock argues,

As a co-editor of this volume, I should explain what this book is and is not. It is a book on historical Jesus discussion. It is not a book that uses theological arguments or categories (as legitimate as those can be) to make its case. This means we chose as a group to play by the rules of that discussion, engage it on those terms, and show even by those limiting standards that certain key events in the life of Jesus have historical credibility. So in this discussion one does not appeal to inspiration and one is asked to corroborate the claims in the sources before one can use the material. This is what we did, with a careful look at the historical context of 12 central events. To be accurate, the article by Webb accepts the resurrection as a real event, but argues for a limitation on what history (at least as normally practiced today) can say about such events. The problem here is with what history can show, not with the resurrection as an event. Many working in historical Jesus study take this approach to the resurrection. I prefer to argue that the best explanation for the resurrection is that it was a historical event since other explanations cannot adequately explain the presence of such a belief among the disciples. Webb explains these two options of how to take this in terms of the historical discussion and noted that participants in our group fell into each of these camps. Some people will appreciate the effort to play by these limiting rules and yet make important positive affirmations about Jesus. Others will complain by asking the book to do something it was not seeking to do.[38]

In doing this, evangelicals of this approach, subject the Scripture to forms of historical criticism that will always place the Bible on the defensive in that it can never be shown to reflect historical trustworthiness.  Indeed, logically, probability for one person may not be probability for another.  What is accomplished is that the Gospels are placed on shifting sands that never have any foundational certainty for “certainty” cannot be entertained by their methods.  Thus, their method is not objective but is really an ideology that is imposed upon the text.

Blomberg has a similar approach in his work to Bock and Dunn (see quotes from Dunn in this article), when he notes regarding his Historcal Reliability that “Christians may not be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Gospels are historically accurate, but they must attempt to show that there is a strong likelihood of their historicity.  Thus the approach of this book is always to argue in terms of probability rather than certainty, since this is the nature of historical hypotheses, including those that are accepted without question.”[39]  Again, Blomberg argues, “[A] good case can be made for accepting the details as well as the main contours of the Gospels as reliable. But . . . even if a few minor contradictions genuinely existed, this would not necessarily jeapordize the reliability of the rest or call into question the entire basis for belief.”[40]

Blomberg’s The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel, his “Summary of Findings” regarding John’s reliability is placed in these terms: “a surprisingly powerful case for overall historicity and the general trustworthiness of the document [i.e. John’s gospel] can be mounted.”[41]  While this summary of John’s reliability is a good start perhaps, one is still left wondering where in John’s Gospel the reader is not able to rely upon the text or where any historical problems might exist.  Moreover, Blomberg, on the cleansing of the temple in John 2:12-25 is decidedly agnostic as to John’s accurate usage of historical reportage: “The clearing of the temple (2:12-25) is a notorious crux; it is almost impossible to choose between taking this account as a reworked and relocated version of the synoptic parallels or as a similar but separate incident.  In either case, the crucial core of the passage coheres with synoptic material widely accepted as authentic.”[42]   Contrary to Blomberg’s tepid assertions of John’s historicity, if John indeed has so reworked one cleansing (at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in John) into two in comparing the Synoptics (at the end of Jesus’ ministry), then any concept of “overall historicity” or “general reliability” of John is severely contradicted and called into question.

The fact, however, is that “probability” logically rests in the “eye of the beholder” and what is probable to one may be improbable to another. For instance, what Blomberg finds “probable” may not be to critics of the Gospels who do not accept his logic.  This also places Scripture on an acutely subjective level which logical impact of these approach is to reduce the Gospels to a shifting-sand of “one-up-manship” in scholarly debate as to who accepts whose arguments for what reasons or not.  Blomberg argues that “an evenhanded treatment of the data [from analysis of the Gospel material] does not lead to a distrust of the accuracy of the Gospels.”[43]  But, this is actually exceedingly naïve, for who is to dictate to whom what is “evenhanded”?  Many liberals would think these Blomberg has imposed his own evangelical presuppositions and is VERY FAR from being “evenhanded.”  He convinces only himself with this assertion.  Blomberg admits “critical scholarship is often too skeptical.”[44]  Yet, since he has chosen to play with the rules of the critical scholars’ game in approach to the Gospels (however much he modifies their approach—they invented it), they may equally reply on a valid level that Blomberg is too accepting.  This is especially demonstrated when Blomberg accepts “criteria of authenticity” that are used to determine whether portions of the Gospels are historically reliable or not.  He argues, “Using either the older or the new criteria, even the person who is suspicious of the Gospel tradition may come to accept a large percentage of it as historically accurate.”[45] One would immediately ask Blomberg to cite an example, any example, of someone who, previously skeptical, has come to a less skeptical position, but he does not.  Criteria of authenticity are merely a priori tools that prove what one has already concluded.[46]  If one is skeptical regarding tradition, one can select criteria that enforce the already conceived position.  If one is less skeptical, then one can apply criteria that will enforce the already accepted conclusion.  Each side will not accept the data of the other.  What does suffer, however, is the Gospel record as it is torn be philosophical speculation through these criteria.  For Blomberg, one may speak only of the “general reliability” of the Gospels since he has deliberately confined himself to these philosophically-motivated criteria.

Very telling with Blomberg is that he sees two “extreme positions” on historical reliability:  The first being those who “simply . . . believe their doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture requires them to do” and the “other end of the confession spectrum” is “many radical critics” who “would answer the question [regarding reliability] negatively, thinking that proper historical method requires them to disbelieve any narrative so thoroughly permeated by supernatural events, theological interpretation and minor variation among parallels as are in the four Gospels.”  Blomberg instead asserts his position as in-between: “the Gospels must be subjected to the same type of historical scrutiny given to any other writings of antiquity but that they can stand up to such scrutiny admirably.”[47]  The naiveté of this latter position is breath-taking, since historical criticism has been shown to be replete with hostile philosophical underpinnings that apparently Blomberg is either unaware of or choosing to ignore.[48]  These presuppositions always control the outcome.  Moreover, would those who use such radical ideologies in approaching Scripture be convinced of Blomberg’s moderation of them?  Most likely, they would interpret his usage as biased.  What does suffer, however, is the Gospels historical credibility in the process.

Blomberg argues that “it is unfair to begin historical inquiry by superimposing a theological interpretation over it, it is equally unfair to ignore the theological implications that rise from it.”[49]  A much more pertinent question, however, for Blomberg to answer is” Is it fair, however, for the Gospel record to be in turn subjected to historical critical ideologies whose purpose was to negate and marginalize the Gospel record?  Blomberg is so willing and ready to remove the former but very welcoming in allowing the latter in his own subjective approach to the Gospels.

Conclusions

More examples from Blomberg’s writings could be cited.  The point is simply this: Blomberg is not in a good position to defend Licona’s position, for many of Blomberg’s positions are even worse than Licona’s.  With friends like Blomberg, Licona does not need any enemies.  Blomberg himself as well as his assertions constitutes evidence against his very own positions while affirming the warnings and concerns of Licona’s critics concerning Licona’s approach.

Further, the time has come to expose people like Blomberg who enjoy wide acceptance in certain evangelical circles but who denies the historic evangelical doctrine of inerrancy.  This is not to say, Blomberg’s views on other essential doctrines could not be orthodox.  They have not been examined here.  It is simply to note that neither his defense of Licona, nor his own views on the origin and nature of Scripture meet the evangelical test of orthodoxy.  They are not in accord with the historic position of the Christian Church (see John Hannah, Inerrancy and the Church).  Nor are they in accord with the historic Princeton view of B. B. Warfield (Limited Inspiration) and Charles Hodge.  Nor are they consistent with the heirs of the historic view in the framers of the ICBI.  Nor do they correspond to the view of the framers of ETS, nor its officially adopted ICBI approach.  Indeed, Blomberg admits that he voted contrary to these positions in the Gundry case.  There are other groups to which he can belong that do not believe in the historic view of inerrancy.  But neither he nor Licona have the right to use revisionist thought on the framers of ETS and ICBI.  If they wish to hold another view, so be it.  Let them join other groups or start their own.  But they have no right to redefine what the ETS and ICBI framers meant to suit their own liberal ideas.

These evangelicals treat inerrancy as if “doctrine” is not to be placed into the academic field of scholarship, as if “inerrancy” is an “unscholarly” shield and that the NT documents need to be “objectified” by playing the game of the scholars. But in fact, they treat the NT documents with ideologies that are far from objective. The playing field is not fair. They seem to be saying, “unless you buy our biased presuppositions, you are not a scholar and we will not recognize your work.” To this we may respond with the noted evangelical philosopher Alvin Plantinga who said, “There is no compelling or even reasonably decent argument for supposing that the procedures and assumptions of [historical Biblical criticism] are to be preferred to those of traditional biblical commentary.”[50]  He goes on to say that using historical Biblical criticism to interpret the Bible is like “trying to mow your lawn a nail scissors or paint you house with a toothbrush; it might be an interesting experiment if you have time on your hands (p. 417).”[51] But it is basically a waste of time and effort.

[1] “A Roundtable Discussion with Michael Licona on TheResurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach,” Southeastern Theological Review 12/1 (Summer 2012): 71-98. (http://tinyurl.com/8uhvqur.)

[2] Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2010.

[3] Licona also casts doubt on several other NT events, claiming that “Bioi offered the ancient biographer great flexibility for rearranging material and inventing speeches . . . and they often included legend.  Because bios was a flexible genre, it is often difficult to determine where history ends and legend begins.”  Further, he presents “A possible candidate for embellishment is John 18:4-6” [bold emphasis added] where, when Jesus claimed “I am he” (cf. John 8:58), his pursuers “drew back and fell on the ground.”[3] See Licona, The Resurrection, 306 fn. 114.

[4] Dunn, Jesus Remembered, 821-824 (quote p. 824).

[5] Dunn, Jesus Remembered, 824.

[6] Licona, Resurrection, 548.

[7] Licona, Resurrection, 552.

[8] Licona, Resurrection, 552.

[9] Licona, Resurrection, 553.

[10] See for instance, Dr. Mohler’s blog, The Devil is in the Details: Biblical Inerrancy and the Licona Controversy. http://tinyurl.com/92jew5o

[11]“A Roundtable Discussion,” 92.

[12] J. Gresham Machen, The Christian Faith in the Modern World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1936) 65.

[13] Craig L. Blomberg, “The Historical-Critical/Grammatical View,” in Biblical Hermeneutics Five Views (Downers Grove: IVP, 2012): 27-47.

[14] Blomberg, “The Historical-Critical/Grammatical View,” 28.

[15] See Robert L. Thomas and F. David Farnell, The Jesus Crisis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), noting especially the “Introduction The Jesus Crisis: What is it?,” 13-34.

[16] See Robert L. Thomas, “The Jesus Crisis What is It,?” in The Jesus Crisis, 15.

[17] Craig L. Blomberg, “The past, present and future of American Evangelical Theological Scholarship,” in Solid Ground 25 Years of Evangelical Theology.  Eds. Carl R. Trueman and Tony J. Gray (Leicester: Apollos, 2000) 314-315.

[18] Blomberg, “The Historical-Critical/Grammatical View,” 46-47.

[19] Blomberg, “The Historical-Critical/Grammatical View,” 47.

[20] For Griesbach and his association with Neologians as well as its impact on his synoptic “solution,” see F. David Farnell, “How Views of Inspiration Have Impacted Synoptic Problem Discussion,” TMSJ 13/1 (Spring 2002) 33-64.

[21] Perrin commented, “One aspect of Ladd’s treatment of sayings and pericopes which the review [Perrin] found annoying is his deliberately one-sided approach to the question of authenticity.”  See Norman Perrin, “Against the Current, A Review of Jesus and the Kingdom: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism,” by George Eldon Ladd Harper & Row, Publishers, New York, 1964 inInterpretation 19 (April 1965): 228-231 (quote, p. 229) cf. George Marsden, Reforming Fundamentalism Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987) 250.

[22] Perrin, “A Review,” 230.

[23] Marsden, Reforming, 250.

[24] See Edgar Krentz, The Historical-Critical Method (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975), 76 cf. also Gerhard Hasel, New Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 19 fn. 33.

[25] Krentz, 76-77.

[26] Craig L. Blomberg, “New Testament miracles and Higher Criticism: Climbing Up the Slippery Slope,” JETS 27/4 (December 1984) 436.

[27] Blomberg, A Constructive Traditional Response to New Testament Criticism,” in Do Historical Matters Matter to the Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012) 354 fn. 32.

[28] Blomberg, “A Constructive Traditional Response to New Testament Criticism,” 353, 360.

[29] Blomberg, “A Constructive Traditional Response to New Testament Criticism,” 354, 360.

[30] Blomberg, “A Constructive Traditional Response to New Testament Criticism,” 351.

[31] Blomberg, “A Constructive Traditional Response to New Testament Criticism,” 353.

[32] Blomberg, “A Constructive Traditional Response to New Testament Criticism,” 352.

[33] See Bart Ehrman, Forged (New York: One, 2011).

[34] Blomberg, “A Constructive Traditional Response to New Testament Criticism,” 354.

[35] Blomberg, “A Constructive Traditional Response to New Testament Criticism,” 364.

[36] See the interview with Craig Blomberg by the Gospel Coalition here: http://tinyurl.com/29z53rf

[37] Craig L. Blomberg, “Introduction,” in The Historical Reliability of the Gospels.  2nd Edition (Downers Grove: IVP, 2006), 23.

[38] Amazon review at http://tinyurl.com/9p7r99j

[39] Blomberg, “Historical Reliability,” 36.

[40] Blomberg, “Historical Reliability,” 36.

[41] Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001) 283.

[42] Blomberg, “Historical Reliability,” 286.

[43] Blomberg, “Historical Reliability,” 297.

[44] Blomberg, “Historical Reliability,” 311.

[45] Blomberg, “Historical Reliability,” 312.

[46]For this see, F. David Farnell, “Form Criticism and Tradition Criticism,” in The Jesus Crisis, 185-232.

[47] Blomberg, “Historical Reliability,” 323.

[48] See F. David Farnell, “The Philosophical and Theological Bent of Historical Criticism, in The Jesus Crisis, 85-131.

[49] Blomberg, “Historical Reliability,” 325.

[50] Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief (New York: Oxford Press, 2000) 412.

[51] Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief, 417.

 

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A Response to Craig Blomberg’s “Can We Still Believe in the Bible?”

A Response to Craig Blomberg’s Can We Still Believe in the Bible?

 

by Norman L. Geisler

 

Introduction

            The real answer to the question posed by Craig Blomberg’s book title is: Yes, we can believe in the general reliability of the Bible, but No we do not believe in its inerrancy, at least not in the sense meant by the framers of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI).  Blomberg mistakenly attributes his own version of inerrancy to the ICBI.

In general there are many helpful things said by Blomberg in the first three chapters in defense of the reliability, canonicity, and transmission of the Bible.  Indeed, we have often positively cited his book on The Historical Reliability of the Gospel.  However, our focus here is on Blomberg’s strong attack on inerrancy as we presented it in our recent book, Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation (Baker Books, 2011) and in particular his personal attack on the authors of the book and some other supporters of ICBI inerrancy.

However, our response here is not with persons but with principles.  So, our critique is not against any person but only the ideas expressed.  Our evaluation is focused on what they teach, not on their character or motives.  We respect the individuals as scholars who disagree with inerrancy and love them as brothers in Christ.  Our concern is with one thing and one thing only: Is their teaching in accord with the doctrine of inerrancy as defined by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI)?  So, when we use of the word “inerrancy” in this article we mean the ICBI view of inerrancy as expressed in the following documents.

 

The ICBI Documents on Inerrancy

            There were four official documents produced by ICBI related to defining inerrancy as follows:

 

1) The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978)–CSBI

2)  The official ICBI Commentary on the Chicago Statement –CSBI Commentary

3)  The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics (1982)– CSBH

4)  The official ICBI commentary titled Explaining Hermeneutics: A Commentary on the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics—CSBH Commentary

 

These four documents are collected together in Explaining Biblical Inerrancy (Bastion Books: 2013).   Together they express the official ICBI view on the meaning of inerrancy.  Other related books were also published under the ICBI label such as, Inerrancy (Geisler, ed.), Hermeneutics, Inerrancy and the Bible (Earl Radmacher and Robert Preus, eds.), Inerrancy and the Church(John Hannah, ed.), and Biblical Errancy: Its Philosophical Roots (Geisler, ed.).

 

Blomberg’s View on the ICBI Statements

            Blomberg is aware of all these ICBI statements on inerrancy and even cites some of them (Blomberg, Can We Still Believe the Bible? [hereafter B], 136, 149, 170, 178, 222, 262).  He even goes so far as to claim agreement with everything in the “Chicago Statement’ (CSBI) on inerrancy except one implied word (B, 273), the word always in the last line.  He believes that ICBI is claiming that a denial of inerrancy always has grave consequences.  Otherwise, Blomberg even calls the “Chicago Statement” on Biblical inerrancy (CSBI) “a carefully crafted document” (B, 149).  Further, he praises Article 18 of CSBI, saying, “this affirmation reinforces everything we have been discussing” (B, 170).  In addition, he commends the “reasonably well highlighted” statement on genre criticism in CSBI (B, 178).  Strangely, Blomberg even commends one Chicago statement more than the other, declaring: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics CSBH) has not had nearly the lasting effect that the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy did, which is a shame, because in many ways it is the superior of the two documents” (B, 261, n. 98).

Blomberg’s Views on Inerrancy Contradict ICBI

A Statement of His View

Although Blomberg claims he does not personally hold many of the views which he describes below (see B, 177), nonetheless, he believes that none of them is inconsistent with belief in inerrancy.  In other words, according to Blomberg, one can hold any of the following views without denying the inerrancy of Holy Scripture:

  1. He denied the historicity of Jesus’ command about getting the coin from the mouth of the fish (in Matthew 17:27), saying, “Yet even the most superficial application of form criticism reveals that this is not a miracle story, because it is not even a story” (“NT Miracles and Higher Criticism” in JETS 27/4 [December 1984] 433).  But this is a futile attempt to defend his disbelief by diverting attention from his denial of the historicity of this text on the grounds that it was not a story but a command (B, 263, n 113).  By focusing on these factors, attention is deflected from a crucial point, namely, that Blomberg does not believe this event ever happened, as the Bible says it did.  Blomberg added, “Further problems increase the likelihood of Jesus’ command being metaphorical” (B, “NT Miracles,” 433).
  2. According to Blomberg, “The author’s intention [in Genesis] is almost entirely to narrate the “who” rather than the “how” of creation” (B, 151).  So, almost nothing informs us about how origins occurred, whether by creation or by evolution.
  3. Blomberg claims that “Some [inerrantists] opt for forms of theistic evolution in which God creates the universe with all the mechanisms built in to give rise…to each new development in the creative ‘week’” (B, 151).  This too is deemed compatible with inerrancy according to Blomberg.
  4. He adds, “Must there have been a historical Adam and Eve? . . . Many scholars, including a few evangelicals, think not” (B, 152).  Blomberg adds, “Nothing in principle should prevent the persons who uphold inerrancy from adopting a view that sees adam (“man” or Adam) and hawwa (“life or Eve) as symbols for every man and woman…” (B, 152).
  5.  Further, Blomberg believes that “None of this theology [about Job’s view on suffering] requires Job to have ever existed any more than the teaching of the parable of the Good Samaritan requires the Samaritan to have been a real person” (B, 156).  He added, “Almost nothing is at stake if Job never existed, whereas everything is at stake if Jesus never lived” (B, 223).
  6. Likewise, he asserts that “Surely, however, someone might argue, Jonah must be completely historical, because Jesus himself likens his death and resurrection to Jonah’s experience with the great fish (Matt. 12:40; Luke 11:30).  Actually, this does not follow at all” (B, 157).
  7. Further, “Ultimately, what one decides about its [the Book of Isaiah’s] composition or formation need not have anything to do with biblical inerrancy at all” (B, 162, 163), even though he admits Jesus mentioned “the prophet Isaiah” as being author of texts in both sections of Isaiah (B, 161).
  8. Isaiah may not have predicted “Cyrus” by name 150 years in advance (in Isaiah 45:1) of his reign because “Cyrus could in fact be a dynasty name (like “Pharaoh” in Egypt) rather than a personal name (B, 162).  This too is deemed compatible with inerrancy.
  9. According to Blomberg, the prophet Daniel may not have predicted all the things his book indicates because “Perhaps two works associated with the prophet Daniel and is successor, written at two different times, were combined” (B, 164).
  10. Blomberg, argues that treating sections of “Matthew as Midrash” and not as history would have been taken by his audience “who would have understood exactly what he was doing, not imagining his embellishment to be making the same kinds of truth claims as his core material from Mark and Q” (B, 166).
  11. Likewise, Blomberg believes that the story of “Lazarus” (in Luke 16) is a “parabolic fiction” (B, 150).
  12. Although Blomberg attempts to downplay it (B, 272), he has shown an openness to aberrant views in his book co-authored with a Mormon titled How Wide the Divide in that they agree on 12 affirmations, the first of which is: “1. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one eternal God.”  But anyone who has studied Mormonism knows that Mormons do not believe in the Trinity but in the heresy of Tritheism.  Further, they believe in Polytheism of which the prophet Joseph Smith said: “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man for I am going to tell you how God came to be. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity… I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see” (April 6, 1844). Since Mormons have not repudiated the prophetic office of Smith or any of the official Mormon’s many denials of essential Christian doctrines, cozying up to Mormon is not the most doctrinally discerning thing one can do (see Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Mormons).

In short, according to Blomberg, it is consistent with inerrancy to deny the historicity of Adam, Eve, Job, and Jonah, as well as the historicity of early Genesis and the doctrine of creation.  Likewise, he holds that an inerrantist need not believe that there was only one Isaiah or that he and Daniel made the supernatural predictions traditionally attributed to them.  He claims that even the Mormon cult has significant commonalities with evangelical Christianity so that the divide is not so wide as evangelicals have traditionally thought, even though Mormons deny the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and Salvation (to the highest heaven) by grace alone through faith in Christ alone, and many other evangelical beliefs (See Geisler and Rhodes,Conviction without Compromise, Harvest House, 2008).

 

Blomberg’s Views Contradict the ICBI View on Inerrancy

Blomberg’s claims to the contrary, one thing is certain: his viewsare contrary to the clear statements of the ICBI.  Consider the following ICBI declarations against Blomberg’s view on some of these very issues:

  1. Genesis 1-11 is Historical. CSBH, Article 22 “affirms that Genesis 1-11 is factual, as is the rest of the book.”  CSBI Article XIII reads: “We deny that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual.  Some for instance, take Adam to be a myth, whereas in Scripture he is presented as a real person.”
  2. Historicity of the Flood.  CSBH: Article XIX affirms “…the factual nature of the account of the creation of the universe, all living things, the special creation of man, the Fall, and the Flood. These accounts are all factual, that is, they are about space-time events which actually happened as reported in the book of Genesis (see Article XIV).”
  3. Theistic Evolution and Genesis. CSBH: Article XIX: “WE DENY that Scripture should be required to fit alien preunderstandings, inconsistent with itself, such as naturalism, evolutionism, scientism, secular humanism, and relativism.”  Further, “… it is important to apply the “literal” hermeneutic espoused (Article XV) to this question. The result was a recognition of the factual nature of the account of the creation of the universe, all living things, the special creation of man, the Fall, and the Flood. These accounts are all factual, that is, they are about space-time events which actually happened as re-ported in the book of Genesis (see Article XIV).” Further, “There was…complete agreement on denying that Genesis is mythological or unhistorical. Likewise, the use of the term ‘creation’ was meant to exclude the belief in macro-evolution, whether of the atheistic or theistic varieties” (ibid., emphasis added).
  4. Historicity of Jonah.  CSBI Article XIII reads: “We deny that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual….  Others take Jonah to be an allegory when he is presented as a historical person and [is] so referred to by Christ.”
  5. Historicity of the Gospels.  CSBI Article XVIII “We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by the grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and 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 claim to authorship.”  CSBH Article XIV says: “We affirm that the biblical record of events, discourses and sayings, though presented in a variety of appropriate literary forms, corresponds to historical fact.  We deny that any event, discourse of saying reported in Scripture was invented by the biblical writers or by the traditions they incorporated.”  Further, CSBH Article XIII asserts that “We deny that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual.”  Blomberg tries in vain to avoid the impact of this statement by presupposing that the Gospel narratives do not all “present” themselves as historical.  However, this is clearly contrary to (1) what the Gospel of Luke claims (Lk. 1:1-4); (2) the literal historical-grammatical method ICBI adopts; (3) the correspondence view of truth employed by ICBI which presumes narratives are literal unless shown to be otherwise.   
  6. The Use of Extra-Biblical Genre

            Traditionally, many have considered the Gospels to be a genre of their own (sui generis) because of their unique nature as a revelation of God.  However, Blomberg buys into the currently popular notion that the Gospels should be interpreted by extra-biblical genreHe wrote:  “Once we determine, as best we can, what a passage affirms, according to the conventions of its style, and genre, a commitment to inerrancy implies acceptance of the truth of those affirmations.  But a commitment to inerrancy does not exclude a priori any given literary style, form, or genre that is not inherently deceptive” (B, 164).  In short, we must determine first what a passage means according to its genre.  We cannot know in advance that it is going to be historical just because it is a narrative or is in a historical book.  Further, the genre can be an extra-biblical like the Greco-Roman genre.  Hence, an extra-biblical genre can determine the meaning of a biblical text.  This is, of course, contrary to the ICBI statements on genre for several reasons.

First, ICBI Article XIII forbids the use of extra-biblical genre to determine the meaning of a biblical text.  It reads “We deny that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual” (emphasis added).  Further, CSBH Article XIV says: “We affirm that the biblical record of events, discourses and sayings, though presented in a variety of appropriate literary forms, corresponds to historical facts” (emphasis added). 

            Second, ICBI demands interpreting “Scripture by Scripture” (CSBI Article 18), not the Bible by extra-biblical genre.  That is, nothing external to the New Testament text should be hermeneutically determinative of the meaning in the text.  In some cases, one can derive the meaning (use) of a term from contemporary use of the word. But the meaning of a text is discovered from studying the text in its grammatical and historical setting, as compared to related Scripture on that text.

Third, the alleged “purpose of the author” of which Blomberg speaks is not the determinative factor in understanding a text.  For there is no way to know what the author had in his mind behind the text except by what he affirmed in the text.  Hence, the appeal to the linguistic philosophy of John Austin to determine the illocutionary (purpose) act or the perlocutionarly act (results) is futile.  Usually, all we have in Scripture is the locutionary act (What is affirmed).  So, the locus of meaning has to be in what is affirmed, not why it is affirmed because often we are just guessing about that.  Thus, the genre critic Blomberg is using extra-biblical ideas to determine the meaning of the biblical text.

 

Blomberg’s Attack on Defenders of the ICBI Statements

            Not only do the ICBI statements repeatedly contradict Blomberg’s view on inerrancy, but he repeatedly distorts the ICBI statements and demeans the character of those who defend the inerrancy of Scripture.  We note first of all his unscholarly and unprofessional characterizations of those who defend the historical biblical view of inerrancy as represented in the ICBI statements.

             His Excessively Negative language about the Defenders of Inerrancy

            Blomberg often employs condemnation and exaggeration instead of refutation related to inerrantists claims.  He labels inerrantists, for example, as “very conservative” (B, 7), “overly conservative” (B, 217), “ultra conservative” (B, 11, 214), “hyperconservative” (B, 13), “extremely conservative” (B, 7).  Of course, this tends to make his views look more moderate by comparison, when, as we shall see, they are in direct opposition to those the mainstream evangelical view as reflected in the ICBI statements.  He even likens ICBI defenders of inerrancy to Nazis and Communist (B, 8)!  He quotes with approval the statement, “the far left and the far right—avoid them both, like the plague” (B, 8). At one point he stops just short of questioning the Christianity of ICBI supporters (B, 254).  What is more, he sometimes makes it very clear about whom he is speaking by name (Robert Thomas, David Farnell, William Roach, and myself)–all Ph.D. in biblical related studies who have written critical reviews of Blomberg’s positions. He also addresses Dr. Al Mohler and Master’s Seminary in negative terms.

Such exaggerated language is not only unprofessional and unscholarly, it borders on being morally libelous, as the following statements reveal.  Strangely and inconsistently, Blomberg responds strongly when other scholars use a negative term about his views (B, 254).

His Unjustified Condemnation of Alleged Motives and Character of Inerrancy Defenders

Blomberg goes further than extremist labeling of inerrancy defenders. He claims that we “simplistically” distorted the evidence in order to oust Robert Gundry from the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) over his midrash denial of the historicity of certain sections of Matthew (B, 167).  He charges that we engaged in a “political campaign” against Gundry (B, 167).  Elsewhere, he alleges that we have utilized a “standard ploy throughout his [my] career” when “trying to get someone removed from an organization” (B, 262 n. 111).  He adds the allegation that inerrancy is used as “a blunt tool to hammer into submission people whose interpretation of passages differs from ours…” (B, 125).  These charges of an alleged sinister and continuous career of unjustified activity on my part are both untrue, unjustified, and unethical. Indeed, they are serious moral judgments of motives for which Blomberg should apologize.  Someone has rightly asked why it is that those who defend inerrancy are attacked and those who attack inerrancy are defended.

Without attributing motives, one thing seems clear: “Blomberg is dead-set on broadening the acceptable borders of orthodoxy on inerrancy, the result of which would be a more inclusive statement that would embrace scholars (like Blomberg himself) who have moved well beyond inerrancy as traditionally understood and as expressed by the ICBI.  This may explain the use of such passionate and uncalled for language in describing those who wish to retain a more traditional stand on inerrancy.  Perhaps a lot of their passion and zeal arises from the fact that those who hold a more liberal view on inerrancy may fear their view may be deemed unorthodox too.

 

His Many Errors and Mischaracterizations of the Defenders of Inerrancy

 

Ironically, Blomberg’s attack on those who defend an inerrant Bible is filled with errant statements. Here is a list of some that come to mind.  Contrary to Blomberg’s charge, it is not true that:

 

  1. No one offered an “intelligent response” to Gundry (B, 167).  Even Blomgberg acknowledged that D. A. Carson wrote a critique of it, as did Doug Moo.  Not to mention the scholarly response given at ETS and articles published in the Journal of The Evangelical Theological Society (JETS, 2003).

 

  1. A majority of speakers at ETS were in favor of retainng Gundry in its membership (B, 166).  This is a misleading statement since, when given a chance to vote almost three-quarters of the membership voted to ask Gundry to resign.

 

  1. The proceeding of the ETS which resulted in Gundry’s removal from membership was not fair or representative (B, 166-167). On the contrary, it was the result of a long (two year) process, during which papers and articles were presented pro and con.  The meeting at which the vote took place was deliberate and orderly and the vote was taken properly.  Even Gundry accepted its conclusion.

 

  1. The vote for Gundry’s removal was not a bare minimum “just over” what was necessary (167).  The vote was 116 in favor of his removal and 41 opposed (as reported by Christianity Today 2/3/1984) which is almost 74% in favor of his removal.  This is nearly three-quarters of the membership present and well over the two-thirds (67%) necessary.

 

  1. ETS did not “expel” Gundry from membership (B, 167).  The vote was to ask Gundry to resign, not to expel him.  If he had refused to resign, then there could have been another vote to expel which was unnecessary because Gundry voluntarily resigned.

 

  1. The process of Gundry’s removal was a “political campaign” in which “circulating advertisements” occurred (B, 167).  This too is false.  No “campaign” was held and no “advertisements” were circulated.  Each ETS member was given a paper with quotations from Gundry’s book so that they could make an intelligent decision on how to vote.

 

  1. “Gundry’s views were simplistically presented…” at the ETS meeting (B, 167). This too is false.  Exact and complete quotations were given of Gundry’s views to each member.  There was nothing simplistic about it.

 

  1. Geisler utilized a “standard ploy throughout his career…when he is trying to get someone removed from an organization,” namely, getting all the living framers to agree with him in order to oust a member (262 n. 111). I never did and such thing.  In the Pinnock issue, Roger Nicole contacted all the founders of ETS, but I was not a founder of ETS and was not part of any such effort.  I have argued Licona’s views are contrary to the ICBI framers, but I was never part of a “ploy” or effort to get him ousted from the ETS organization, nor any other group.  Neither, have I done it “throughout my career” (which is now almost 60 years long because there was never another occasion in all those years where a group of framers were involved in getting someone removed from an organization in which I participated.  These are serious, sinister, and slanderous charges that impugns the character of another brother in Christ and call for an apology from the one who made them.

 

  1. Geisler resigned from ETS because they exonerated Clark Pinnock of the charges against him.  This is partly true.  After all, Pinnock claimed to believe in inerrancy, yet he has said in print that there were false predictions in the Bible (see Pinnock, The Most Moved Mover, 50), and he denied the Bible is the written Word of God (Scripture Principle, 128).  I was also disappointed with the process by which Pinnock was retained because it was not completely fair and open.  However, the main and underlying reason I left ETS was because I believed it has lost its integrity by allowing a scholars to join who did not have to believe the doctrinal statement on inerrancy as the founders meant it (see my article, “Why I resigned from the Evangelical Theological Socity,” at http://normangeisler.net/articles/Bible/Inspiration-Inerrancy/ETS/2003-WhyIResignedFromTheETS.htm.)

 

  1. Geisler has become increasingly more conservative over the years as indicted by the successive schools at which he has taught (B, 143-14).  This is false.  In each case my move to an established school was because I was offered what appeared to be a better opportunity for service.  In the case of the two Seminaries I helped start, they were after I retired and was asked by others to help them start two seminaries (where I still teach) which stress apologetics which has been a passion of mine from the beginning.  It had nothing to do with the degree of conservativeness of the Seminaries.  They all have sound doctrinal statements.  None of them was significantly more conservative than the others.

 

  1. Only a “tiny minority” throughout history held that inerrancy is the only legitimate form of Christianity (B, 221).  This is a purely “Straw Man” argument since almost no one holds this view.  ICBI, the view we are representing, states clearly that “We deny that such a confession is necessary for salvation” (CSBI Article 19).  It adds, “We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy has been integral to the Church’s faith throughout its history” (CSBI, Article 16).  ICBI also held that there are “grave consequence” (CBSI Article 19) for denying inerrancy.  But it never affirmed that is the only legitimate form of Christianity.  So, this criticism is an empty charge, applying to almost no one.

 

Blomberg’s Misinterpretation of the ICBI Statements

 

Not only did Blomberg attack those who defend ICBI inerrancy but he distorts the meaning of the ICBI statements.  As noted earlier, Blomberg affirms the ICBI statements and even acknowledges the official commentaries.  Nonetheless, he often distorts the meaning of these statements to support his own unorthodox views which are, in fact, contrary to the ICBI statements.  Consider the following examples.

 

ICBI View of Truth as Correspondence

 

 One of the reason Blomberg can claim he agrees with the ICBI statements (and yet hold views opposed to them) is that he misinterprets the ICBI statements. CSBI Article 13 affirms: “We deny that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose.”  But after acknowledging this, Blomberg proceeded to read his own purpose into certain texts of Scripture so as to doubt or deny their historicity (see midrash discussion below).  This he does in direct contradiction to the ICBI official commentary (that he acknowledges) which declares a correspondence view of truth, as opposed to an intentionalist view which stressed (like Blomberg) the alleged purpose of the author, not the propositional affirmation of the author in the text.  This is directly contrary to the CSBI commentary which declares: “By biblical standards of truth and error is meant the view used both in the Bible and in everyday life, viz., a correspondence view of truth.  This part of the article is directed toward those who would redefine truth to relate to merely redemptive intent, the purely personal, or the life, rather than to mean that which corresponds with reality” (emphasis added).  When truth is defined as correspondence with the fact, one cannot easily escape the fact that that the sections of the Gospels doubted or denied by Blomberg, Robert Gundry, or by Mike Licona are a denial of inerrancy (see next).

ICBI View of Genre

It is difficult to understand how Blomberg can praise the ICBI statements as a whole and yet hold a genre view which is directly contrary to the ICBI view.  A hint as to how he does this is when he praises one half of an ICBI statement on genre (which he takes out of context) and questions the other half which speaks directly against his view.  For example, he agrees with CSBI Article 18 when it affirms that “Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture,” especially to the part we highlighted.  However, he is not sure how this is consistent with the very next line which asserts: “We deny the legitimacy of any treatment of the text of quest for sources behind it that leads to relativizing, dehisorticizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claim to authorship” (emphasis added). And well he should disagree with this part because it is precisely what he approves of in the cases of Gundry, Licona, and himself.  He approves of relativizing, deshistoricisning, and rejecting the claim to authorship as consistent with inerrancy.

Relativizing.  Once the correspondence view of truth is not fully accepted, then truth becomes relativized because there is not objective reality to which it must correspond. Blomberg asserts, “What it means to say he Bible is wholly true varies widely from one genre to the next…” (B, 131).  So, the “truth” is relative to the genre, and the genre choices are not absolute by any stretch of the imagination.

Dehistoricizing.  For example, the choice of a midrash genre (Gundry) or a Greco-Roman genre (Licona) will determine whether or not the narrative is historically true or is just a legendary embellishment (see below).  So, for New Testament critics truth is relative to genre which in turn is relative to the interpreter.

Pseudonymity. Blomberg even allows for the use of an author’s name to be used when in part or in whole he did not write the biblical book with his name on it.  He himself believed that Part of 2 Peter was not written by the apostle Peter, and he allows (as consistent with inerrancy) for whole books to be such (B, 171).

Blomberg’s Defense of Robert Gundry

According to Robert Gundry, whose view is defended by Blomberg as consistent with orthodoxy, whole sections of Matthew (like the Visit of the Magi—Matthew 2) are not historical because the author’s purpose was not to affirm what corresponded with reality (as in a correspondence view of truth), but to use a midrashic embellishment understood as such by his Jewish audience (B, 164f).  So viewing “Matthew as Midrash” and not historical “would have understood exactly what he was doing, not imagining his embellishment to be making the same kinds of truth claims as his core material from Mark and Q” (B, 166).

Of course, Blomberg laments that an overwhelming majority (nearly 74%) of the ETS voted to ask Gundry to resign from ETS because of his denial of the historicity of certain passages in Matthew.  Blomberg remains proud that his is one of the small minority who voted to retain Gundry in ETS. Indeed, as even Blomberg admits (B, 168), the framers of the statement (of which I was one) “had Gundry in mind” when the CSBH statements were made which we certainly did. We wrote: “WE deny that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual” (CSBH Commentary on Article 13).   No amount of re-interpretation can override the clarity of this statement or the testimony of living framers as to its meaning.  And when the framers die, the written words of the framers (as here) will remain to vouch for the meaning of their words.

Blomberg’s Defense of Murray Harris

            There seems to be a camaraderie among many biblical scholars that blinds them to some serious errors and prompts them to put fraternity over orthodoxy. Professor Murray Harris had claimed the resurrection body was “essential immaterial” (Raised Immortal, 53-54), even though the Bible (Lk. 24:39; Acts 2:31) and the Early Creeds affirmed the resurrection in the “flesh.”  Further, Harris affirmed the ascension of Christ was a “parable” (RI, 92).  Further, he held that believers receive a spiritual resurrection body at death (RI, 44, 100) while their physical bodies remain rotting in the grave.  In spite of all this, Blomberg, in an act that seeming puts fraternity above orthodoxy, defends his fellow New Testament scholar’s view as orthodox.

Further, Blomberg was unaware of what the real issues were (see our Battle for the Resurrection, Thomas Nelson: 1989. Or see the third edition Bastion Books: 2014), namely, that we had written a whole book (titled, In Defense of the Resurrection, Witness Inc, 1993, chap. 5) responding to Harris’s objection.  Neither did Blomberg show awareness of the fact that some 90 counter-cult group pronounced Harris’s views “false doctrine,” “unorthodox,” or even “cultic” (ibid., 189).  Nor was Blomberg cognizant of the fact that Harris had been warned by Trinity that he would lose his position, if he did not change his view on the resurrection of believers.  Harris did change his view over the weekend when the Trinity appointed (not ETS related) a committee of three scholars to met with him.  One would have expected that a scholar of Blomberg’s reputation would have looked into this issue more carefully before pontificating on it.

Blomberg’s Defense of Mike Licona

It is incredible that anyone, let alone a biblical scholar, would defend the orthodoxy (i.e., compatibility with inerrancy) of Mike Licona’s Greco-Roman genre views.  Licona has yet to retract his view that the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27 is a legendary, poetic embellishment (see TheResurrection of Jesus, 552, 553, 548), even though he is now not as sure of it as he once was. Further, Licona embraces the Greco-Roman Bios which admits that it is “a flexible genre [wherein] it is often difficult to determine when history ends and legend begins” (Licona, ibid., 34).  This is ironic in view of Blomberg and Licona’s criticism that the defenders of inerrancy are imposing their modern view of what an error is on the Bible when in fact it is they who are imposing their modern view of genre criticism on the Bible.

More importantly, Licona believes there is a contradiction in the Gospels about the day on which Jesus was crucified, yet he insists this is consistent with a belief in inerrancy!  In a debate with Bart Ehrman (Spring, 2009), Licona said, “I think that John probably altered the day [on which Jesus was crucified] in order for a theological—to make a thelogical point there.  But that does not mean that Jesus wasn’t crucified” (emphasis added).

The ICBI framers condemned Licona’s kind of view in clear and unequivocal language when they spoke against “dehistoricizing” the Gospels (CSBI, Article 18).  Likewise, they affirmed: “WE deny that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual” (CSBH Commentary on Article 13).   Licona’s view  is so far from measuring up to ICBI standard for orthodoxy that R.C. Sproul wrote: “As the former and only President of ICBI during its tenure and as the original framer of the Affirmations and Denials of the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy, I can say categorically that Mr. Michael Licona’s views are not even remotely compatible with the unified Statement of ICBI”(Letter, May 22, 2012, emphasis added).

 

 

Conclusion

            One fact emerges from Blomberg’s recent book, namely, whatever merits it has, the view which he defends is contrary to the ICBI view of inerrancy.  And since the ETS has accepted the ICBI definition of inerrancy (in 2003), it is also contrary the statement of largest group of inerrantist scholars in the world!  So much for Blomberg’s charge that the defenders of the ICBI statements on inerrancy, including living framers like J. I. Packer, R. C. Sproul, and myself, are a tiny extremist minority.  And to debunk the living framers, as Blomberg did (B, 262, n 111), because they will someday be dead, misses the point, namely, they are the best testimony to the meaning of their own words while they are alive.  And their written words will still live on even after they die.

Finally, we do agree with Blomberg’s words when he wrote: we should embrace a “full-fledged inerrantist Christianity so long as we ensure that we employ all parts of a detailed exposition of inerrancy, such as that found in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy…, and not just those sections that are most amenable to our personal philosophies or theologies.  This also means that we interpret the Chicago Statement, like the Bible, in terms of what is actually written, and not merely what one of its authors might have wanted to write or might have wanted it to mean” (B, 222). Unfortunately, however, as has been shown above, such a view is not the view that Blomberg promotes, but it is the view he attacks.

 

 

About the Author

Dr. Geisler is a graduate of Wheaton College (B.A., M.A.), William Tyndale College (Th.B.), and Loyola University (Ph.D.).  He has taught at the College or graduate level for over 50 years.  He is the author or co-author of more than 100 books, including Inerrancy, General Introduction to the Bible, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties, and Defending Inerrancy.  He is a former president of The Evangelical Theological Society and co-founder and first president ofThe Evangelical Philosophical Society.  He was co-founder of theInternational Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) and was a co-drafter of the famous ICBI “Chicago Statement” on inerrancy and editor of the ICBI books.  He has taught at some of the top evangelical seminaries in America, including Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Dallas Theological Seminary.  He also co-founded two seminaries, Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC and Veritas Evangelical Seminary in Los Angeles–schools where he still teaches.