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The logic of many is that if you question a darling interpretation you deny inerrancy. This comes, at least in part, from Cornelius Van Til, whose books were treasured by many inerrantists.

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exactly! thanks, Scot, for this post. I don’t think I read it when it first happened.

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"Over the years when people use the term “inerrancy” I have a habit of listening to see what they mean by its use rather than assume I know. Yes, it can mean without error or true but more often than not they are affirming some authority for a specific interpretation that is part of their tribe."

Yes - that explains the tribal part of the use of inerrancy. For instance, if I believe in egalitarianism, then the other tribe says I've lost inerrancy.

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This is great stuff Scott, thank you for putting into words the terms of this "debate".

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Thank you for putting words to something I have been wrestling with. You bring up how inerrancy is so often linked to being complementarian, and I definitely see that. I have also seen damage done in the church when inerrancy is linked to Young-Earth creationism (ie, Answers in Genesis) and the slippery slope that if you don't believe in a "literal" 6-day creation then you're a few steps away from denying the resurrection!

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"What was visible was the common observation of the polemical, tribal, and interpretive senses of the term: it means for many complementarian." This was a heavy post! I have seen inerrancy to mean comp also. If people challenge comp, they are challenging inerrancy. Why? This is what people have been taught by popular, prominent pastors, seminaries, books, commentaries, Bible Studies, etc. So people were taught, then they teach others until it is a gospel truth and authority because that is what is taught! That is why I don't feel just books and people challenging comp will have a widespread effect. I feel the blue lens that Scripture is viewed in needs to be changed, and that is far more difficult than pointing out things like: People do not hold men to the scripture context around the woman verses they hold woman to in the same chapter! "1 Tim 2:8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing." So If we see a man praying without holding up their hands, in anger or dispute (including comps getting angry/disputing equals) then are they not disqualified according to this scripture?

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Yes, inerrancy has been weaponized. Such a helpful way to view the situation. Just as we didn't have a word for sexual harassment before Anita Hill, we haven't had a way to describe the way inerrancy was used against women.

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Great write up!

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I'm saddened that you are a scholar in the ACNA. All ACNA clergy should agree to the Chicago Statement. The idea that it's merely a device to short circuit interpretive debates is just wrong.

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Dear Rev. Dr. McKnight --

Having recently written in defense of Anglican reception of the Doctrine of Inerrancy (over at Stand Firm) -- I had a couple clarifying questions, which I was hoping you might answer, to ensure we are not just talking past each other, and also to see with clarity where a faithful, evangelical, Anglican, "non-inerrantist" like yourself actually differs from an inerrantist (like myself).

So, three questions:

1. Did Noah literally live to be 950 years old? If not, what *in the biblical text* suggests that this number is *less* than literal (it of course may be *more* than literal, with an additional symbolic value), and should *not* be taken literally?

2. Jesus says "Remember Lot's wife" which seems to be a verification of the Genesis account that she really did turn into a pillar of salt. I am not interested in whether it was NaCL or not -- but the idea that Lot's wife, standing right next to Lot, and therefore exposed to all the same proximate environmental factors, turned into a pillar of crystalline substance that resembled salt, while Lot did not, as an immediate miraculous judgment of God for her disobedience. Do you believe she really did?

3. 2 Peter (the epistle least believed to be authentic by Academe) begins with the standard epistolary introduction of the authors name, "Sim[e]on Peter". Since we share a commitment that "all Scripture is God-breathed", this means that God himself inspired this claim-to-authorship. If St. Peter did indeed write this letter, there is no problem. If he did not write the letter (as you seem to imply, is the most rational/reasonable interpretation), then are you not forced to say that God inspired/breathed Not-Peter to write a forgery? I know that pseudepigraphy was widespread in the culture, but among Christians who profess the 9th commandment? By God himself? If you are willing to say that God intentionally inspired a Not-Peter to pretend to write, "Sim[e]on Peter, a servant and apostle...", is this not to attach a deceptive act to God's own character? If you are unwilling to say this, how else do you square 2 Tim 3:16 with the pretension of authenticity implied by a "plain reading" of 2 Peter 1:1?

I am most interested in your answers, if you'd be so kind. I will not reply to them, because I am not trying to pick a fight, I am just trying to see how much of what you are "against" is what I am "for", or if the battle for/against the word "inerrancy" is more semantic than substantive.

Your brother in Christ,

Ben+

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Any chance of a reply?

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Hi, Scot. Thanks for your helpful framing of this history. I've been formed in some contexts with proximity to the folks and institutions that you identify, but ultimately have ended up with a quite different approach to things. I like your focus on the "truth" of Scripture (my preference would be for "truthfulness," though).

In case it is not on your radar, you should check out my 2019 monograph, Divine Scripture in Human Understanding: ow.ly/cHZ650y32g7 (University of Notre Dame Press). I engage Webster's excellent work, but my primary interlocutors are premoderns and recent Catholics (two Jesuits, in fact, Henri de Lubac and Bernard Lonergan). I didn't even want to engage the language of "inerrancy" in the book (it seems to me to be a tribal marker, as you note, or better yet a shibboleth; Bible words for Bible things ;-)), but one of the reviewers (K. Vanhoozer) suggested that I at least explain why I don't.

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I will check it out and see if I can get it on my reading list, Joe. Many thanks for this work.

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You are very welcome; I'm grateful that it has been well received (at least by most of the reviewers).

Thank you for yours. I read (and required as a textbook for a time) The Blue Parakeet when I was in seminary, and it helped me along the way to some of the ideas and means of expression that came to fruition in Divine Scripture in Human Understanding.

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This is a good post, Scot.

Webster (and by extension Wright and Bird) is playing off Barth’s taxonomy of WORD, Word, word (WORD = God; Word = Scripture; word = Proclamation/Preaching). The latter two are derived from and *participate* in the Triune God. Barth borrowed this arrangement from the Second Helvetic Confession (written by Bullinger in 1562). Thus to locate the authority of Scripture in the doctrine of God (i.e. revelation) rather than in the doctrine of the Church is a distinctly Protestant move. Evangelicals would do well to follow the historic Protestant Confessions on this score rather than modern positivist epistemology.

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It seems there are two ways anchoring inerrancy in God: one says God is pure truth so Scripture, given by God, must be inerrant; one says God loves us and communicates to us so Scripture is God's intention to speak redemption to us and it will accomplish that intention. It is not that the second view denies inerrancy, but contests the first way of framing what Scripture is.

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