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Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Review: Stanley N. Gundry - Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

http://gavinortlund.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/9780310331360.jpgHere is another multi-view debate on a biblical subject. With most books of this genre, we have a non-essential doctrine debated. When speaking of “the timing of the second coming” or whether “tithing is for today”, there is very little harm to the new believer or even the unbeliever when hashing out these kinds of subjects. But this volume is much more serious. I feel that in some ways it branches out a little too far.

Can a person be an evangelical and also deny that the bible is true and without error? Would that person be beyond the pale of orthodoxy?

I can not speak for the rest of Evangelicals, but I personally believe that those who deny inerrancy may well have stepped over that line. If we believe that Jesus said things that were incorrect “fact-wise” about this world, how can we believe Him when he speaks about things in the next? Doesn’t the Bible say those things that are invisible are more real than the visible? The things we see are decaying and falling apart, but those things that are not seen are eternal and will last forever.

I will have to admit that I started this book with a particular presupposition and after finishing it, I came out with (please forgive me for saying) the same "post-suppositions". I will not say the arguments against classical inerrancy could not convince some people, but I personally think they are found lacking.

As just one example, here is a quote from Peter Enns:

"This is why I feel that the term inerrancy has run its course and that evangelicals need to adopt other language with which to talk about the Bible. As referenced repeatedly in this essay, one suggestion I have articulated is an incarnational metaphor: Scripture is a collection of a variety of writings that necessarily and unashamedly reflects the worlds in which those writings were produced."

So, Enns believes that the Bible is a "reflection of" or "conforming to" the world of that day. I understand that Enns is not using the word "world" in the same since as Paul when he said we are not to be "conformed to this world", but it does sound a little weird to say God is reflecting the beliefs of the world when he spoke.

Enns believes the Bible contains errors but he will not come right out and say it. Why does he not just say what he means? "The Bible is a man-made book that contains errors - plain and simple." Why dance around with nebulas phrases that cover up the real meaning. Either the Bible is God-Breathed or man-breathed. If God wrote it, like Jesus claimed, how can we say it has mistakes and errors?

Like Calvin, I believe God uses a sort of baby-talk to speak to man. God has to, in some since, talk down to us. He is infinite and we are finite. It is like Michael Moore trying to fit into skinny jeans – It ain’t happinin’. But there is a big difference in talking down to a baby and telling that same baby a flat-out lie. I could have told my son, when he was a toddler, that the sky is blue and that would be true in some sense. Even though it is really made up of all colors, because of our atmosphere, blue is the most visible. On the other hand if I told him the moon was made of cheese...that is a lie. In the same way, if the walls of Jericho did not exist, then the Bible is not truthful when it says the walls feel down. If this were the case, the Bible is not accommodating the finite mind of man; it is misleading man all together.

Our finite minds can not comprehend an infinite God, but the little amount God allows us to comprehend is true.

I enjoyed this book and recommend it with "much" reservations.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

I received this book, free of charge, from Zondervan and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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