Tim Keller, Brian McLaren and Alistair McGrath recently sat together for a panel discussion about the Bible. I listened to the whole conversation last week and thought it would be worth passing on to you. On the topic of inerrancy, Keller expressed his clear support for the doctrine while McLaren voiced opposition. Alistair McGrath said he thought the term “inerrancy” was unhelpful.
First, it is striking how far evangelicals have fallen from first principles. The authority of the Bible in all its parts used to be a defining evangelical belief. But now it is considered within the evangelical pale to deny that truth. That Brian McLaren’s hackneyed objections are considered serious evangelical fare these days is a most unhappy and unwelcome declension.
Second, I have noticed that some British evangelicals are trying to do a theological end-run around the inerrancy question, and that’s precisely what McGrath does here. They simply regard inerrancy as a curious North American dispute that has no relevance anywhere else on the planet. It reminds me of N. T. Wright’s book on the authority of scripture in which he doesn’t even discuss inerrancy (see my review here). As a practical matter, this parochializing of the question will not work. Either the Bible is authoritative and true in all that it teaches, or it is not. If it is not, then who gets to decide how we distinguish which parts are reliable and which parts aren’t? Furthermore, what does this say about the character of God who then would be responsible for inspiring error? These are not small questions, and British evangelicals evade the issue by treating it as a North American peculiarity.
Watch the video. Read DeYoung’s review. The inerrancy battle is not over, and it won’t be for some time.