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Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by Romans922, Apr 16, 2008.
How would you shortly define inerrancy and infallibility (showing the difference b/n the two)?
Inerrancy = The Scriptures do not err.
Infallibility = The Scriptures cannot err.
They both are similar in definition as it has been pointed out already. Evangelicals started using the term inerrancy about 30 or so ago, because of those who were rejecting the infallibity of Scripture by stating that the Bible was only infallible in areas of doctrine. When we state that we believe that the Bible is infallible we are stating that is without error.
The issue get sticky when the word "error" Is defined as per the Enn's contoversey.
I would also point you to the discussion on inspiration by Charles Hodge on pg. 151-188 in his Systematic Theology.
This is my understanding, and so, those who agree with its infallibility, and not its inerrancy, are not consistent. Infallible, is actually, the higher standard.
inerrant - free from error
infallible - free from error in teaching
So that something must not have even one misspelling to be inerrant, but it could have such minor errors and still be infallible...so long as what it said was true.
inerrant - free from error in every detail
infallible - free from error in what is being communicated
Actually, a bit longer ago than that. Evangelical colleges and seminaries used inerrancy rather widely from sometime after the Fundamentalist-Modernist dust-up until the 1970s when institutions such as Fuller changed their doctrinal statement away from inerrancy. The Battle for the Bible, penned by former Fuller prof and Christianity Today editor, Harold Lindsell (1976) and his sequel, The Bible in the Balance (1979) followed the defections from inerrancy in a variety of denominations, including the Lutheran Church and SBC, and institutions such as Fuller (Chapter 6 - "The Strange Case of Fuller Seminary").
Dr. Dan Fuller gave an address at the Evangelical Theological Society in December of 1967, later printed as: "Benjamin B. Warfield’s View Of Faith And History * A Critique in the Light of the New Testament." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Volume 11 (11:75). His proposed "corrective" to Warfield presaged the change in Fuller Seminary's doctrinal statement that followed just a few years later. It has variously been dubbed infallibility, limited inspiration, partial inerrancy, etc. He wants to claim that the Bible is "infallible" in that it unerringly leads us to salvation. However, it is free to have historical, scientific, and factual mistakes in it.
Since then, we have witnessed numerous evangelical schools backing away from the word "inerrancy" due to the perceived cultural baggage attached to it, because of the implied conflicts with secular science, and as their professors have continued to achieve terminal degrees from secular schools inhospitable to inerrancy.
Maybe I'm just wired a little too much like brother Grymir and enjoy tweaking my liberal friends too much. But, I proudly wear the term inerrancy and enjoy my sophisticated brethren clucking their tongues and shaking their heads.
BTW, Dr. Fuller's apartment is just a couple of hundred yards away from me at the time of this writing. Talk about cognitive dissonance for a guy like me. He is the most loving, humble, gentle man you could meet. But, on this topic we are miles and miles apart.
In another thread, I observed that, strictly speaking, "inerrant" would mean that you got a 100% on the algebra test; "infallible" would mean that you knew it all perfectly. I have often been inerrant, but never infallible! It is curious how the evangelical world has fixated on the less comprehensive term as the one claiming a stricter theological position and the more ambitious term for the looser view.
Remember also that inerrancy applies to the orginal autographs. They were written without error.
Some evangelicals have moved to the more liberal view that infallibility is a less restrictive term than "inerrancy" -- as Dennis points out above with regard to Fuller Seminary.
However, the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978), in article XI, says "We deny that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated."
Further, in article XII, the Chicago statement says, "We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science."