On Inerrancy

Amazing isn’t it, how history repeats itself?  LCMS pastors who were in diapers during the walkout (as opposed to LCMS pastors who walked out and are now in diapers – it was almost 40 years ago…) and who long ago wearied of the seminex/inerrancy discussions, find themselves caught up once again in the battle for the bible.

The ELCA’s recent actions have spurred many a pastor to comment on the initial wedge that drove apart the ELCA and the LCMS.  FatherHollywood has an excellent post over at 4+20 about inerrancy. His point : either the bible is inerrant, and therefore useful, or errant, and therefore useless.

As Korby has pointed out, the real battle isn’t over inspiration, but over the nature of authority.  Women’s ordination (or at least women’s role in the church) would be much easier to discuss if the question of authority was not so obviously unanswered.

But FH makes a great point that, whatever you call it, either the bible has errors, or it doesn’t.  You must choose.

A couple of years ago, I went out to lunch with the local ELCA pastor (a very nice retired Episcopal Priest).  He was hoping for closer realtions between his church and ours.  At one point, he said, “The way I see it, either scripture is written by God and is perfect, or it was written by men and contains errors.”  Now, being the smart alec that I am, I was tempted to say, “Which one of those are you? Ha, Ha, Ha.”  Because, obviously, no one would be a pastor (or for that matter a Christian) if he thought the bible was just a collection of stories written by men.

I am glad that, for once, I held my tongue.  Within a couple of minutes, a cold feeling moved up my spine as I realized that he felt it was obvious that the bible could not have been “written by God”, but that men wrote it – men who made mistakes. While I don’t recall what happened after that, I do recall that he never again tried to do joint events between the churches.

So on this, I fully concur with FH : Where do you stand?  You don’t need to suddenly embrace the term “inerrant” to be an orthodox, catholic Christian.  But you must disavow that scripture can be errant to be one.


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